Bless the Lord, O my soul,   
And all that is within me,   
bless His holy name.   
Bless the Lord, O my soul,   
And forget none of His benefits.   
- Psalms 103:1-2   
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God's Vineyard

We read in Deuteronomy 7:6-8 "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt." This is how God felt concerning the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God loved them very much and established a great nation with them. When Moses spoke to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 32:6 he chided them with these words "Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?" Moses was pleading with the people to see the blessings that God had showered them with and being the recipients they should have requited God with the glory and honor that He so richly deserved. Isaiah presents this same thought in Isaiah 5:1-7 where we read " Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: 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 his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry." Please notice the words of Isaiah of how much care was given to the people of Israel by God and what He had done for them. It was a very fruitful hill and able to produce in order to satisfy every need that they had. God's divine protection was there as it was fenced about. He had gathered and cast out other nations like removing stones out of His vineyard. Imagine in your mind the beauty of the vineyard, the choicest of soil, the protection of the fencing to prevent any harm to the vines, the tower sitting in the midst and the beautiful grape vines that were planted. And with such divine care God looked in return to the fruit that would be produced by these choice vines that were planted and cared for by Him. But what God received in return was the fruit of wild grapes. Israel did not return glory and honor to God. And what more could God have done that He had not already done? Therefore since Israel did not bestow glory and honor to God He would take away His divine protection and the hedge and wall would be removed. He would no longer care for the vineyard and briers and thorns would consume the once beautiful ground. And we see other nations come in and overthrow Israel and take them captive leading them to foreign lands as prisoners. The vineyard was surely laid to waste. The application for us today as individual Christians is to return to God the glory and honor that He so richly deserves due to His divine protection and blessings that He bestows upon His children. To enjoy the benefits of God's love and care and not return unto Him the glory and honor is a very despising attitude toward God. If we maintain this attitude we can surely expect God to remove His loving care and protection from our lives just as He withdrew from His vineyard that He had planted. - Larry Bumgardner