Beth Moore - The Vineyard
I have had as much fun studying for this lesson, doing the research that it's taken, getting ready for you in this particular theme, in this particular lesson's climate as I have ever had in all of these years. I cannot wait to share this with you. So, here's what I want to do, I want to give you a little bit of background about what brought me to the particular theme we have going is "The Vineyard". We're going to study the vineyard in scripture. And here's a little bit of backstory to it. I have just come off of what I can just tell you, hands down, was the trip of my life. And I want to tell you why.
I am a mom. I have two adult daughters that are in their 30s. They are not only my kids, they are my dearest friends. That's one of the wonderful things that happens when your kids are grown up is that there comes a new kind of relationship, if you and if I can let it happen and let it transition and don't continue to treat them like they're little bitty kids. So, there's that challenge, and that's a lot to fight through. I mean, I've gotta tell you, I have longed and dreamed for many, many years of taking my two daughters, just the three of us, just a mom and daughter trip, no other friends, nothing else, nobody meeting us there, nothing else, as much as we love everybody else in our sphere of relationship, no, just the three of us, a mother and two daughters to just go to Italy. And I just dreamed about it and dreamed, and planned it, and schemed it, and thought about it.
I mentioned it to the girls, and then they got into it with me, and then we started thinking when would we ever do that? And we did all this kind of conjuring what kind of dates, when would we, all this dreaming toward it. And a couple of years ago, we thought we might be getting close, and then Amanda turned up expecting my third grandchild, and we were thrilled about that. We needed to give it a little bit of time. Well, this summer then was my 60th birthday. And I looked at the girls and I said, "I can tell you what I want for my 60th birthday. I want that trip". And I said, "Let's lock down ten days". Ten days, y'all, ten days. I've gotta tell you why this was meaningful to me. For years, I've been stacking up frequent flyer miles.
Now, when you do what I do, you know, that's a lot of saying bye, a lot of getting on an airplane, a lot of leaving home, and a lot of coming back. And I thought, you know, I am gonna turn every one of these miles back to them. And so I just waited, and waited, and waited because, you know, I wanted to upgrade them. You know what I'm talking... is that all right with you? I mean, somebody's gonna write me a letter, but for somebody else that understands that what you want to say to your daughters is, "Hey, you know what? You've been really, really patient with your mother, and your mother has saved up a long time. I'm about to treat you to the trip of your life. I'm gonna spoil you so rotten, you will not know what happened to you". And that's exactly what we did.
And we got to be in lots of different places. We were very committed to going to cities in Italy that we had never, any of the three of us, been to. And we'd been to Rome and several other places, but here's a little catcher on this. Not one single time have I ever done an overseas trip for vacation, never, not one time in all these years. I may have stayed a few extra days for it, but it's always been so that I could go work. But this time was just nothing but play.
So, Florence, we did Siena, we did Naples, and several other cities. We did some of the Amalfi Coast. It was just like it was a dream. But my favorite part of all was in Tuscany. We spent four days, four solid days out in the hill country in a small resort that's just tucked up in wine country, with all of these vineyards, I mean hills and hills of all of these vineyards. Melissa said something that I thought was so appropriate. She said, "You know, every picture I've ever seen of this place I thought looked fake". And that's because it really does look like this. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. And the way the fog would lay down low in the vineyards in the morning and the way the sun would come up over the hills, it was spectacular.
And so I want to suggest to you that what I came home with was a grape crush. And what I further want to suggest to you is I'm almost convinced that maybe the Bible also has a grape crush. I want you to understand that in the scriptures, there's something very, very significant about vineyards, something very, very significant about grapes. And I want you to start with me, if you would, please, would you turn with me to Deuteronomy chapter 8. Let's build a little bit of foundation right there, Deuteronomy chapter 8. I'm gonna do a few "Did You Know Thats"? Did you know that of all the plants mentioned in the entire Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, grapes are mentioned the most often? Vineyards are mentioned the most often.
Did you know that you would find them from Genesis chapter 9 all the way to Revelation chapter 14, again and again and again? In scripture, grapes are used both literally and symbolically, and you and I are gonna make exactly those same kinds of references. We'll sometimes be talking about them as very, very physical things, like I have in front of me, and we'll also be talking about what they are to us, spiritually, in the Word of God. I want you to look first of all at Deuteronomy 8 with me, Deuteronomy 8. They are preparing, of course, to go into the land of promise. And what we're going to see in the scriptures, spoken through the mouth of Moses, is God saying, "Remember me when I bring you into your land of promise and when I meet every conceivable need of your heart with my provision. Do not forget the Lord your God".
And it says in Deuteronomy 8, 7 through 10, "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out of the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, and of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, and of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full. And you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you".
Go back with me to 8 and would you count off with me every single time I mention some kind of produce? Would you count with me from the first one to the last one in this one verse? A land of wheat. Barley. Vines. Fig trees. Pomegranates. Olive trees. Honey. Seven, seven kinds of produce that he is describing to them. When you get there, it's not that there would be nothing else but those seven things. It said in the Word of God a list of seven conveyed perfection and completion. He says it so beautifully in the very next verse when he tells them, "You will lack absolutely nothing, because in mentioning all seven of these, I have completely prepared for you. You will have everything you need. You will have copper to dig out of those hills and among those". So, from the very beginning, the promise was you will have vines. That's gonna be our grapes.
Now, leave something here in Deuteronomy, because we're coming right back to it, but I want to show you something else very significant about vineyards and grapes, that we're gonna find in Leviticus, and then we're coming right back to Deuteronomy. So, go with me to Leviticus 19, 9 and 10. It says this. "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God".
Now, almost every single time, you see him give a commandment and end it with, "I am the Lord your God". That's him saying, like, "I'm not kidding. This is me saying to you, 'I am the Lord your God.'" Look what he's saying about the vineyard. Look what he planned for the poor and for the sojourner. He said, "When you go in and you glean that vineyard, when you go in and you harvest it, do not harvest it all the way to the edges. Do not harvest it where there's nothing left. Always leave something there, because that's going to be for the poor. That's gonna be for the hungry. That's gonna be for the people that are just passing through". Such a beautiful provision from the very beginning. When you go in, go in knowing I have given you this provision. I've given you this harvest, but always, always leave food for the poor. Leave food for the traveler.
Notice with me, he's gonna be talking now again about the vineyards. But notice what the context is now. Deuteronomy 23:24, "If you go into your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag". This was life among neighbors where what's mine is yours. Have at it. Please come and share what I have. But it was meant to be shared, not stolen. Is anybody stepping in that with me? But he said, you know, don't put it in your purse. What you can put in your stomach, do, do. I don't even think it's necessarily saying we have to go and knock on the door and ask permission, not in the day that he was talking about and the culture he was talking about.
This was the idea of love your neighbor. It was, what do I have that you would like? Please come share with me. But you're not gonna take it and put it in your purse. You're not gonna come fill up your trunk with it and roll off with it, because we're not taking advantage of one another. We're sharing with one another. This was the law of the harvest, sharing, not stealing. What I have is yours. Take, eat, refresh yourself, but you don't have to stick it down in your purse for later. What's mine is yours. What was yours is mine. Okay, there's no place that is bigger on grapes, and I mean that as just a slight little pun.
Then Numbers chapter 13. So, you have to go to it next. Because if you and I are to understand what symbolically this is going to mean to us, we've got to see these very foundational passages early in the scriptures, in the books of the law, in those first five books of the Bible. So now we're going to Numbers 13. So, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Go back one book. Numbers chapter 13, verse 17, "Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and said to them, 'Go up into the Negeb and go into the hill country, and see what the land is, whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds, and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be of good courage and bring out some of the fruit of the land".
Now it tells us, very next, very next sentence in the same verse, in verse 20. "Now, the time was the season of the first ripe grapes". Very important. So, God, who was the God not only of time, but also the God of timing, made absolutely sure that when these spies went in to the land of Canaan, the promised land, it was gonna be in the season of the very first ripe grapes. So, it says that they went into the land and out through that wilderness, and it says then in verse 23, "And they came to the Valley of Eshcol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between the two of them; they also brought out some pomegranates and figs".
I want you to understand that when the spies came out of the land of promise, they came out with a single cluster of grapes that had to be carried on a pole between two men. So, picture with me a single cluster of grapes so heavy with fruit that it had to be hung on a pole between two men. This was the fruit of the land of promise. This was the same land that all the spies, but two, were too afraid to enter. I want you to wrap your mind around the kind of fear that would say, after all God has promised, "We are too scared he will not take care of us if we go into the land".
I want you to see a couple of other things about grapes that make them extremely significant in the Word of God and very significant in the parallels that we're going to draw this weekend, because I want you to see that there are many things that set them apart, but there is one thing in particular that may be really unrivaled among the fruit that we would see in the Word of God, and that was the long-lasting fruit of the vine. And I want you to think in terms of that with me. And let me grab this, because this will be extremely significant to us this weekend. There was a long life in the fruit bearing of the vine, because there was the immediacy of the grape, the ripe grape that could be eaten right then.
So, there was the ripe grape, and then there was the dry grape, and that's where we've got our raisins. So, just a little while later, the grapes turn into raisins, and then there was a whole lot later that the grape then that could've turned into the raisins and stayed right there was instead turned into the wine for very long term fruit bearing, fruit that would last. Is anybody getting into that with me? Because it is not only a now kind of fruit bearing. It's a kind of fruit bearing even when you get a little dry. Anybody feel a little like a raisin? And then there's that long term fruit bearing where the grape has gone into the wine. And I want you to see with me there's ripe grapes, there's dry grapes, and there's aged grapes. The long length that we'll see so perfectly illustrated for us in John chapter 15, and we're just about to head there.
I want to say something to you. Some of us are still living on last decade's raisins. And there can be a lot of reasons for that. Somebody broke your heart. A leader let you down. The church you loved is not the same as it used to be. You can't find a place where you really feel like you can be yourself. There can be all sorts of reasons. You got replaced in the position that you were in. You didn't get the position that you want. There's all sorts of things that can get us out of sorts. We can go through a season of illness, and we just got out of the habit of being a part of how the body of Christ was operating and serving in our community or in our city, just get out of the habit of it.
We can, for some reason, have had other kinds of distractions that just got us out of it, and we didn't know how to get back in. There was great fruit bearing back about ten years ago, back about five years ago, but something's happened in the last couple of years, and there really hasn't been any fresh, ripe fruit coming from the life. And I just want to tell you that I believe, by faith, that's over, that really it's time now to go ahead and like do something with those raisins. God bless them. Put them in a jar, put a lid on it and hide it from yourself, because it's time for some fresh fruit. Look around at somebody and go, "It's time for some fresh fruit". We've gotta have us some fresh fruit around here. We can't just be living on last year's raisins. It's time for us to have us some fresh fruit.
I thought to myself today, I started praying out loud to the Lord. And sometimes, you know, you just hear what you said out loud, and you go jot it down. And so I was just praying, I said, "Lord, there are gonna be people there this weekend who've lived years with the fruit of terrible decisions". That was me. I know what it's like to have made such disastrous decisions, that like years later, you're going, "I'm still eating the fruit of that mistake I made 15 years ago". Can anybody relate to that? Can I see your hand? You just think, "I mean, there's no change in this fruit".
I did a little study on the word "vintage". You know, when we say that's vintage so and so, that's a vintage such and such car, that was the vintage 2005 high school senior song. Vintage this, vintage that. What does that mean? Vintage, of course, comes, you see that V-I-N, comes from vine or vineyard. It's something that is produced, that becomes a predominant way of describing that particular object. It is a season's yield of grapes or wine from a vineyard. And so think of this, because I wonder, what have some of your vintage crops been like in your life? 'Cause, boy, did I have some rough ones. Like many of you, I come from a very rough background. I do not come from a pretty family. We had so much upheaval, so much instability. I was molested as a child. I know what it's like to live in fear, not of what is outside of your home, but what is inside of your home.
I don't have a pretty story for you from my past. That's just not me, and it just was not my life. And so when I look back on it, and I think what was a vintage year, for if anything put me in a nutshell, this was it. One relational decision after another that was just like disastrous, disastrous. Now, meanwhile, very successful at school, trying to keep it together on the outside, trying to live the thing just as successfully as I knew how, but inside my heart was a wreck, I mean a wreck. And I could've looked back on that and thought, "This is it forever". I mean, that's vintage me. That decision that I made back in 1998 will haunt me for the rest of my life. I will have fruit of that poor decision for the rest of my days.
Anybody thinking that? How about a new vintage? How about a new kind of fruit bearing? Hasn't it been long enough? Long enough just to live out of that mindset. The way I have been is the way I will always be. My history reads like prophecy, and it is a lie. It is a lie. It is the will of God for your life to be profoundly impactful in your sphere of influence, profoundly influential, bearing much fruit. I've gotta tell you one more thing I just really love about grapes, and this is not true of many fruits. So, it's something very, very special about them and spectacular for us.
One thing about grapes is that they come in a variety of colors. Can I have anybody say an amen in the house? You have your green grapes, you have your purple grapes, and you have your red grapes. There are even white grapes. Beautiful thing about it is there are all sorts of grapes, all sorts of colors. And what makes them so pretty is that in one basket you've got nothing but a spray of variety in the fruit bearing, and that is a gorgeous, gorgeous part of the vineyard.