The Faithful City - Part 3


By Nate Hartman

October 24, 2020

“My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest of vines...Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.” (Isaiah 5:1-3)

We are His vineyard. He offers us all of this — care beyond what we deserve or can do for ourselves, a clearing of our hearts, planting of Himself there. But do we desire relationship with Him...or our own plans and purposes?

“What more could have been done for my vineyard? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? ... The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.”

Yes, the fruitless vineyard is none other than God’s holy nation, HIS people, whom He has redeemed. We can’t point the finger and say, “They’re different than us. We’re not like them.” We can’t assume that our lives are immune to their disobedience.

He looks for justice, but we know that our motives are not just. He seeks righteousness, but we cannot deny that our hearts are not so. Are we hopeless, then? Are we destined for destruction and exile, like the nation of Israel?

Will we choose to build our legacies out of our own plans and purposes, with no room for His direction? Those ways will be made desolate and lonely. (v 8-9)

Will we insist daily on chasing pleasure and satisfaction in our pursuits without giving regard to how God is at work — without turning our steps to follow His leading, without considering that His way is better? If so, our destiny is separation from Him; our feasting will turn to famine, and though we revel, we will be “parched with thirst”. (v 11-13)

Will we taunt God by putting Him on our own timeline, refusing to wait on Him because our plans are too important?

Will we challenge God to “hasten his work so we may see it”, all the while intending to reject it in favor of the superiority of own vision? Our arrogance will be our downfall; the One who truly is just and righteous will reveal our lowliness. (v 15-19)

Will we define goodness and evil for ourselves, confuse others who follow our lead? Will we be “wise in [our] own eyes”?

Will we demonstrate our greatness by accomplishing feats of meaninglessness? (v 20-23). For it is all meaningless, is all rubbish, is all folly, apart from having purpose that is rooted in Him — in first knowing the One who planted us and offers His way, His goodness, His promise to cause us to flourish.

Yet we run ahead and seek our own way without Him. It seems so good; it seems better. It makes us feel comfortable ... ... ... ... ... It makes us anxious and insistent and proud and restless and discouraged and confused and lost and hopeless.

We heed our own wisdom, but understand nothing. We see our way, but can’t navigate to anywhere. Our hearts are hard; we plug our ears and clench our fists and cover our eyes. We don’t want to understand anyone’s perspective but our own; we believe ourselves to be right, to be able. (Isaiah 6:9). We know we are not.

“How long, Lord?”

Until our routines are ruined. Until our destinations are deserted. Until our ways are laid waste and our fortresses are forsaken. Until our idols are obliterated.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is full of his glory.”

Let my days be full of His gentle humbling, that I might gaze upon His teaching with open eyes and attentive ears. Let my footsteps be guided by His teaching, and let me be filled with relationship with Him that leaves no room for that which is fleeting and false.

Let the fruit that grows in me be a crop of good grapes.

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