Summary: Wild grapes look a lot like good grapes. What weeds are choking out the Garden of God’s delight in your heart?
1. I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
2. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a wine-press as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
Make no mistake. Isaiah sings a ballad to Israel. It is a message from God’s prophet to His people Israel. Those guys. Way over there. A long, long time ago. It is a parable with a terribly sad ending. You see, Israel had failed God again. And we shrug our shoulders and sigh. We shake our heads. Why? Why would Israel reject God and His call to Holiness again and again. If only we had the signs and wonders they had, why we’d never fall away!
We just celebrated our 65th anniversary as a church. I assembled historical notes to make a historical overview of the church in those 65 years. But think about Israel’s history! The entire Old Testament! Can you imagine being able to include things like "In 1706 BC our pastor parted the Red Sea…or, our Church Board prayed for direction and God led them as great cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night…Or, our church needed some property to expand so God told our pastor to have us to march around the Grand Casino 7 times and blow some trumpets real loud. So we did it and do you know the whole building collapsed! The owners gave us the property for free provided that we promised never to set foot on any more of their properties!" Israel had those kind of supernatural manifestations all throughout their history. But they failed God…again.
"1. I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
2. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a wine-press as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit."
God’s message to Israel.
One thing I’ve noticed about siblings…Brothers and sisters…is that younger brothers and sisters never learn from the mistakes of the older ones. You’d think they would. You’d think they would learn not to do the things that got big brother or sister in trouble. Instead, they try to learn from brother or sisters mistakes so that maybe they’ll get away with it when they try it….
You’d think that they would hear Mom or Dad’s yelling…see their finger waving in the air…watch as privilege after privilege after privilege is taken away…punishment after punishment is given out…and get the message.
Israel –God’ s chosen people has a spiritual younger sister.
Her name is…The Church.
And I’m sad to report this morning, that even as we watch as God’s man Isaiah spells it out for Israel, "You’re Father God and I are very disappointed. We give you a home, we get you all the best things, we make sure you have the best opportunities for success – and you just throw it back in our face!"
The Church listens… but she doesn’t learn.
Pride was Israel’s downfall. Israel thought that because they were "God’s chosen" they couldn’t fall…They failed to maintain God’s holy standards because they thought that being God’s elect meant that the most moral gentile was hopelessly lost and the most immoral Jew was ever yet redeemable. Pride. It was a bad seed that grew and grew until it choked out all that God had done for them; until the beautiful vineyard was nothing more than rows and rows of wild vines, bitter grapes…weeds.
A recent survey uncovered the greatest spiritual challenges and failures among Christians. What do you think was number one? Lust? Anger?
2. Pride… 3. self-centeredness… and 4) Laziness round out the top 4
Surprised? We shouldn’t be. Wild grapes look an awful lot like good grapes. Any weed that looks like a weed gets pulled up. But the more it looks like the money crop, the less likely we are to disturb it.
For Israel the destructive pride that led them into compromise in serving false gods and not fulfilling their religious duties looked a lot like national pride…it looked a lot like trust in God who had made them so many promises of prosperity. It was a false pride that caused them to act without regard to God’s instruction or warnings. It gave them a false security.
Materialism looks a lot like a prosperity blessing from God.
Besides, we want to do our best for God, don’t we? We’re not chasing our false god "The Dollar" … we’re working so we can give more tithe to the church…or, we’re working to have more so we have something to give to those in need. It’s not Materialism…It’s good work ethic that robs us of time with our families, time spent with God in deep, personal meditation and Bible study… It’s not materialism…It’s our dedication to our work that keeps us so busy we can’t call a brother or sister in Christ to say "hey, we missed you in Sunday School" or visit someone in the hospital who doesn’t know Christ, just to let them know Jesus loves them and God’s people are praying for them…It’s not materialism that keeps us from giving a cup of cold water in His name…It’s just that we work hard for our money, we have a right to spend it on ourselves. We earned it. It can’t be materialism. Not in this sanctified garden.