So now my friend says, ‘You people who live in Jerusalem and Judah, judge between my vineyard and me. Is there anything I failed to do for it? Why then did it produce sour grapes and not good grapes I expected? ‘This is what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge around it, break down the walls that protects it, and let wild animals eat it and trample it down.’ (verses 3-5)
Read Isaiah 5:1-7
I enjoy listening to talkback gardening sessions on the radio. I frequently hear stories of how someone planted a fruit tree, tended it and watered it, watched it blossom and finally bear fruit, only to find that the fruit was sour and inedible. The distress in their voice is obvious — all that work, all the watching and waiting, only to find that it has been in vain.
The same sentiment is echoed in the picture of the vineyard that is painted here. The vineyard was Israel. When God looked for justice and righteousness among his people, he found none. History tells of the defeat and captivity of God’s people in ancient times — times when it appeared that all had been in vain.
Fortunately the story does not stop there. In Isaiah we read of God’s promise that ‘just as new branches sprout from a stump, so a new king will arise from among David’s descendants’ (Isaiah 11:1). God in his grace did not destroy the whole vineyard but left a shoot in his Son, Jesus, a shoot that has sprouted and grown to become the church of today.
Thank you, Lord, that you are a loving gardener, tending and watering your people with your word and sacraments. Amen.
by Anne Maczkowiack in ‘Renewed Hope for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2000)
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