Friday, March 17, 2017, 8:33 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 5:1-7 (ESV).
His Vineyard (vv. 1-2)
Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.
The vineyard being spoken of here, as applied to today, is the church, the body of Christ, the house of God. The plants (grape vines) are the people of God, i.e. those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. The grapes (fruit) are the deeds, words, attitudes, values and thoughts (thinking) of those who are believers in Jesus. The grapes (fruit) are the result (yield) of what was cultivated (nurtured, and encouraged) and then produced (generated) in our lives. They are the end result (what we reap) or the outgrowth of what was sown (planted) in our lives.
God planted us in his vineyard. How did he do this? He sent his ONLY begotten Son to the earth to take on human flesh, and then to die on a cross for our sins. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When he died he put our sin to death with him, and then he rose from the dead victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, in which God persuades us of his will for our lives, we are saved from our sins. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life (born again) so that we might live to his righteousness.
On the third day after Jesus was crucified on a cross for our sins, he was resurrected from the dead. He appeared to many people for 40 days, and then he ascended back to heaven where he sits at the right hand of God the Father. After he ascended back to heaven he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell and to empower those who had trusted in Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit serves as our watchtower, keeping watch over us, observing what we do, warning of danger, cautioning against the tricks of the devil and urging us to obey our Lord. He teaches us the ways of the Lord, counsels us in what is right, encourages us when we are timid, strengthens us when we are weak, and empowers us to live holy lives.
God/Jesus Christ did all of this for us that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He did this, not just to save us from the curse of sin, and to promise us heaven when we leave this earth, but he did this that we might be delivered out of slavery (addiction, bondage) to sin so that we might become his bond-slaves to his righteousness. He called us out of darkness (sin) into his wonderful light that we might live holy lives pleasing unto him. To live holy means to be separate from this sinful world because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, but it teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).
So, based upon what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, and God’s gift to us, not only of salvation from sin, but even of the faith to believe in Jesus, and based upon us receiving this salvation and being indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, the fruit (outgrowth) we should bear should be reflective of what our Lord cultivated in our lives. We should produce love, righteousness, holiness, godliness, obedience, submission, faithfulness, purity, and honor, etc.
Yet, we are not puppets on a string. We are free to live for God or to live for self, but we have to know that we will reap what we sow. And, I don’t mean we have the liberty in Christ to do what is wrong, because we don’t, but that we still have free wills to choose to obey God or not, but if we choose to continue (in daily practice) in sin, we must know that, according to God’s Word, we don’t have the promise of eternal life, and we don’t really know God. Yet, this is not to say that Christians will not sin, or that they can’t fall back into sin and rebellion against God. Obviously this is possible (See: Rev. 2-3).
Wild Grapes (vv. 3-7)
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!
Well, it is not that God failed. God has done everything to ensure that we have all we need to live holy lives pleasing to God, so we can resist Satan, flee sin (or temptation to sin) and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. There is not anything more that God needs to do. He has done it all!
So, why do believers in Jesus fall back into sin and go astray and end up yielding “wild” (uncontrolled and unrestrained pursuit of pleasure) grapes? I believe it has everything to do with whether or not we allow what God is cultivating into our lives to sink in and to take hold or if we, instead, or in addition to what he encourages in our lives, invite in other (or outside) influences into our lives which lead us in another direction.
For example, if we spend little (or no) time with God each day in prayer and in his Word, and/or if our times with him are mostly mechanical or routine, and/or if all we do is just take in head knowledge but it never gets to our hearts, and/or if all we do is hear the Word but we don’t apply it to our daily lives, then we are ripe to be drawn back into the ways of the world. In addition to this, if we spend hours upon hours watching TV, surfing the internet, chatting on social media sites, playing video (or computer) games or doing whatever we choose to do, especially as it disregards what God wants us to do, then we are in danger. As well, if what we are consuming daily is glorifying sin or if we are allowing ourselves daily to be entertained by sin, then we are in real hot water.
There is a saying which says that “we become what we eat.” And, that basically is what this is talking about. If we take in the Word of God into our minds and hearts, and we do what it says, and we spend time talking with and listening to our Lord, and we make it a practice to do what he tells us, and to follow him wherever he leads us, we should yield good fruit in keeping with repentance and with God’s will and purposes for our lives. Yet, if we are daily taking in the garbage of this world, and we are regularly yielding to the flesh and resisting the Holy Spirit, and we are choosing the course of our own lives instead of inquiring of the Lord as to what he has for us, then we are going to produce wild fruit instead.
The Bible teaches us that God disciplines those he loves, and he scourges every son he receives. He “disciplines us for our good, so that we may share his holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See Heb. 12:1-11). Sometimes the discipline is for training purposes and other times it is to correct wrong, but the result is the same, that it might produce holiness and righteousness in our lives. Our Lord prunes us so that we might be more fruitful or he scourges us when we go astray so that we will come back to him and get back on track with God in what he has for us to be and do.
So much of today’s church, at least here in America, has become so worldly. It is barely distinguishable between the world and the church anymore. They sort of blend together. And, one of the reasons is that the church has been marketed like big business, and thus they are focused on attracting the world to the church via worldly means and methods. Sensuality even comes into play during stage productions during what are called “Worship services.” Sermons are replaced by mere “talks” and preachers now have to be entertainers and funny men (clowns) in order to keep the audience happy and coming back for more. Thus, the gospel has also been diluted to appease the people of the world.
So, God/Jesus Christ is calling out to his wayward people, who are yielding “wild” grapes, and he is asking them to repent of their idolatry, spiritual adultery, and immorality and to return to him as their “first love.” Then, they will yield good fruit in keeping with God’s holiness and righteousness.
Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016
Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9
Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.
Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.
Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.
Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.