The Folly of Fruitlessness.
“And this is what the Sovereign Lord says: The people of Jerusalem are like grapevines growing among the trees of the forest. Since they are useless, I have thrown them on the fire to be burned.” – Ezekiel 15:6 NLT
Where was the fruit? God had planted Israel as His choice vine. He had placed them in a prominent place right in the middle of all the nations of the world. He had blessed them and made them His own. He had great plans for them. He wanted them to prosper and be fruitful, so that they and the nations around them might know that Yahweh is Lord. But Israel proved fruitless and unfaithful. “But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock — the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine” (Jeremiah 2:21 NLT). “The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence.” – Isaiah 5:7 NLT
Israel had a singular purpose: To produce fruit. They were to be a conduit through which God would work, producing the fruit of righteousness in a land that desperately needed it. God makes it clear to Ezekiel that the wood of a vine is worthless for anything but the production of grapes. If it is not producing fruit, it is worthless. If Israel was not going to do what God had chosen it to do, it was of no use to Him. God had no need for Israel to become a great nation if it was not going to be dedicated to Him alone and committed to the job of fruit-bearing. It had one purpose and one purpose only. And God drives that point home. “Is vine wood ever used to make anything? Is it used to make pegs to hang things from?” (Ezekiel 15:3 MSG).
But Israel wanted to be great. It wanted to be significant. It desired to be a major player in terms of both military might and political power. Fruitfulness was not high on its list of priorities. And while it had become a great nation, wealthy and highly influential; in God’s eyes, Israel had become expendable. They were no longer doing what they had been created to do. From the day God had called Abram out of Ur, He had a clear plan for His chosen people. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you’” (Genesis 12:1-3 NLT). Ultimately, the blessing God was talking about would come through Jesus Christ, the Savior. But even before the coming of Christ, Israel was to be a beacon of light in the midst of the darkness. They were to reveal to the world the one true God as they lived in faithful obedience and dependence upon Him. He was to be their God and they were to be His people. God was their vinekeeper. He had planted them, nourished them, cared for and protected them. But when all was said and done, something was missing: Fruit. “What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not already done? When I expected sweet grapes, why did my vineyard give me bitter grapes?” (Isaiah 5:4 NLT). God was looking for fruit – the byproduct of a relationship with Him. And He is looking for the same thing in our lives today. God wants to see fruit in our lives. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT). Producing fruit is the purpose for why we exist. We have been chosen by God for that purpose and that purpose alone. Like grapevines that no longer produce grapes, Christians who are not bearing fruit in their lives are missing their calling. May we come to realize that we are here for one reason alone – to allow God to produce His fruit through our lives so that we might be a blessing to those among whom we live.
Father, I want to be a fruit-bearer for You. Forgive me for the many times I get off task and decide to give my life another purpose other than the one for which You have chosen me. May I learn to be satisfied with my role as a fruit-bearer for You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men