Spirit-filled People celebrate justice & righteousness

Posted by Fr. Tere on 08/13/2016


My beloved had a vineyard ... he dug it ... cleared it … planted it with choice vines … built a watchtower … hewed out a wine vat … looked for grapes, … but it yielded wild grapes. Isaiah 5:1-7

You can imagine how disappointing this scenario to the one telling about it. In fact, we’ve all heard how disappointing it is, or we have experienced that type of disappointment.

I’ve certainly heard the disappointment when someone comes to talk about a child (of any age) who has decided to not listen to anyone or remember anything we’ve taught them their entire life, by word and example. We see them heading off in a direction that we know is going to cause them pain, if not actual harm, and we mourn. We sometimes get angry, and we can certainly react very badly, striking out with our words or actions. I’ve heard of children being disinherited, or much worse, of them being kicked out of their families and never spoken to again. We can certainly beg, cajole, threaten, weep, lay on the floor and kick our feet … but nothing changes.

Anyone who has ever taught has known this type of disappointment.

Business people know of this disappointment.

vineyard on hillThose looking forward desperately toward retirement too often experience this kind of disappointment. They have looked forward for years to retiring, have stuck with a job they didn’t like because it paid well, with good retirement benefits. They planned trips with long walks on the beach. The time comes – they find they cannot stand not working, hating it. Or, as has happened too frequently, the company goes bankrupt and all the retirement funds go with the disruption. Even worse, just after retirement an incurable disease is discovered that either kills one partner or all the savings are spent on medical expenses. These situations can lead to debilitating disappointments.

Isaiah, though, is talking about the creator of the universe. The vineyard he planted was the promised land – promised first to Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, eventually to Moses, who led God’s chosen people from slavery to the edge of the promised land. He led them from victory to victory, glory to glory, establishing their kingdoms and keeping them safe. The vineyard was dug, cleared, planted, built, hewed, and waited.

The grapes (his people), who he planted in the vineyard, complained, disobeyed, sinned, ran after false gods, and refused to acknowledge their creator. It was so bad they eventually were keeping only a form of the Law that God had taught them, thumbed their nose at him, and walked away.

The crop he had been waiting for was abundant, but the grapes had turn wild – worthless. The reading today, a prophecy through Isaiah, is telling them they are going to be on their own – he’s pulling down the protections, removing the hedges, sending away the rain. As a hymn we sing says, “he is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.”

God has look for justice, but found only bloodshed; he looked for righteousness and only found an outcry. He is, indeed, from Israel and Judah, “marching on.”

Justice and righteousness – these two words are used together in the ESV translation 44 times. In Proverbs we read, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (21:3) Isaiah (5:16) says, “But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.”

These words are important to God – important enough to tear down his own vineyard, his own protective hedge, trampling it to dust. That means they should be important to us.

A vineyard of justiceHow’s your vineyard doing? What’s happening with your justice and righteousness practices? 

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