The Vine

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
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The vine, as the symbol of a fruit-bearing system on the earth, is used in a remarkable manner, and runs through a large body of Scripture. We read in Psalm 80:88Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. (Psalm 80:8), that the nation of Israel is likened to a vine which the Lord brought out of Egypt, casting out the heathen from Canaan and placing it there to bring forth fruit. Then in Isaiah 5:1-71Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2And 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. 3And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4What 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? 5And 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: 6And 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. 7For 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. (Isaiah 5:1‑7), we learn all the care and culture He bestowed on His vine that it might bring forth grapes, “fruit meet for him by whom it was dressed.” The result was that, instead of fruit answering His culture, it brought forth “wild grapes.” And He says in Jer. 2:2121Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? (Jeremiah 2:21), “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed; how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” And so the Lord permitted the “wild boar out of the wood” to waste it. He also says, “I will take away the hedge thereof”; “I will lay it waste”; and “I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.” It was only fruitful in iniquity and false to Jehovah. “Israel,” He says, “is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself” (Hos. 10:11Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. (Hosea 10:1)). So the Lord gave him up to the Gentile king, Nebuchadnezzar, to rule over him, commanding him to submit to this punishment as of the Lord. (Read Jer. 27:1-121In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2Thus saith the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck, 3And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah; 4And command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters; 5I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. 6And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. 7And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. 8And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. 9Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: 10For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish. 11But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the Lord; and they shall till it, and dwell therein. 12I spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live. (Jeremiah 27:1‑12), especially verse 12.) Under their last king, Zedekiah, they might have remained tributary, as we read in Ezek. 17, the kingdom might have remained “a spreading vine of low stature” under the Gentile king; who took an oath from Zedekiah, and allowed him to remain in his land. But this “vine of low stature,” instead of observing the oath which Nebuchadnezzar accepted of Zedekiah, and remaining tributary, he sent his ambassadors to Egypt. Or, as the parable in Ezek. 17 says, “this vine did bend her roots towards him,” and so the king of Babylon took him captive, and broke down his city and laid it waste, and so it ceased to be the “vine” of God in the earth, it ceased to be fit for anything but “fuel for the fire.” (See Ezek. 5.)
And into this vineyard which had been laid waste, at last came the Lord Jesus. Israel, as Jehovah’s vine, had been brought out of Egypt. So Jesus replaces and recommences morally the history of that people, and we read, “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Hos. 11:11When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. (Hosea 11:1); Matt. 2:1515And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (Matthew 2:15)). The Lord then replaces Israel, which had been set aside as a fruit-bearing system on the earth. He presents Himself not as the best branch of that vine, but, “I am the true vine.” The root of the new fruit-bearing system on the earth; and the disciples then become the branches. Abiding in Christ, and Christ in them, they would be fruit-bearing branches — the Father glorified in them — and so they would practically be Jesus’ disciples. This lasts in principle all through the time of the calling out of the Church, but the point is fruit-bearing on the earth; not as raised and seated together in Christ in heaven, where there is no purging or pruning, nor fruit-bearing.
When the present time of the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:11Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; (Hebrews 3:1)) shall have passed, and the Church shall be taken away, Israel comes before God again, not yet as owned, but previous to the kingdom being established in the world. We find their state in Isaiah 18 aptly described as a “vine,” returned to their land by the help of some great maritime power, but not yet owned of God. “Afore the harvest [the harvest and vintage are figures of the last acts of judgment which take place before the kingdom is set up in glory], when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape ripening in the flower”; when all seems to man’s eye to go on well, the Lord does not interfere but considers apart in His dwelling, and then suffers the apparently re-established, fruit-bearing vine to be again trodden down and destroyed by the Gentile powers. And the end of what is again a corrupt fruit-bearing system in the world finds its judgment at the hand of the Lord in Revelation 14:15-2015And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. 17And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. (Revelation 14:15‑20), as the “vine of the earth” whose grapes were fully ripe and which are then sent into the great winepress of the wrath of God. The Lord Jesus-Jehovah is sees in Isaiah 63:1-61Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. 2Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? 3I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. 5And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. 6And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth. (Isaiah 63:1‑6) coming from this judgment of the vine of the earth and winepress of the wrath of God, in which the nations of the world share (see Isa. 34), His garments red with judgment; and He comes to renew His relationship with the spared remnant of Israel, for the “year of His redeemed is come.” And the result of all this is, that Israel again becomes His fruit-bearing “vine” in the world. “A vineyard of red wine,” which the Lord Himself (now that they had failed under the old covenant) will keep night and day watering it every moment; and “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and till the face of the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:2-62In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine. 3I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. 4Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. 5Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. 6He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. (Isaiah 27:2‑6)).
Bible Treasury 6:224.