Beth Moore - What Takes 3 Years To Grow?
Isaiah chapter 5. I want to read verses 1 through 7. Do you notice, when you look on your page, and will you notice with me that this portion of scripture is written in what looks like verse. When you look just prior to it, in most of your major translations, it will look more like a paragraph. Do you see the difference? Because what we're about to see is a song or a psalm. So, let me read it to you. It begins in verse 1, Isaiah 5.
"Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, than I have done for it? hen I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; and I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. And I will make it a waste; and it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; and I will command the clouds that they will rain no more upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, and behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, and behold, an outcry"!
Please notice with me, because the coolest thing in the metaphor, the imagery that we're going to study together, really a parable, it's a song and a parable. One of the most majestic things about it is that, that God is the vine, the vineyard owner, and he is also the vinedresser. So, not only does he own it, he then works the land himself. So, he's taking part in all of these roles on behalf of his vineyard. And so the first thing the owner would do is buy a piece of land to put in the vineyard that would be suited to it, and there are certain things that make soil suitable for a vineyard.
Keep in mind, he would take that hill, a fertile hill, and he would clear it of the stones, and there would always be stones in it, because the limestone would be good for the soil that was gonna grow the vineyard, because the limestone would bleed out some of that, the necessary nutrients that would go and make it into clay that would cause the vineyard to grow, but he'd have to clear them then. So, the stones would need to be there, but he'd clear them off. He'd build a wall around it and a tower up with the very stones that he had taken from the hill where he was planting the vineyard. Then he would dig it, he'd clear it, he'd plant the choice vines, build a watchtower in the midst of it. He'd get the wine vat ready, and then he'd wait for it to come. And he said, "I looked, I looked, and this was the fruit that came from my vineyard".
Fast forward to John chapter 15, John 15, verse 1. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. But if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love".
Verse 11, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full". This is the promise that has been given to us, that if we will abide in him, he said, "I am the vine, you're the branch. You stay in me, I will do things through you, you cannot even conceive of". The vinedresser's work is personal, passionate, and palms-on. I want you to hear that, that when God says that he wants us to bear much fruit, he's taking personally responsible for it. He's being the one hands-on in it to make sure it happens. He's the one saying, "I'll make sure the field is fertile. I'll make sure every place I plant you, that I have put ground there, that you can grow and produce much fruit. I will do it. I'll prepare for you. I've given you the vine. I've done everything, everything you need to set you up to bear much fruit". And we'll see this unfold as we study together. It's personal, and it's passionate. The vinedresser is passionate about his vineyard.
I read that it takes several years for a brand-new vine to start actually producing grapes. You know how many? Three, three years, three years. First two years are all about getting it ready, finding the right soil, finding the right place, finding the right climate. And then got your first year, you've got your second year. On the third year, it begins to produce grapes, if it's gonna be a good vine. That three years fascinated me. 'Cause you know what? When Jesus gave this farewell discourse in John chapter 15, he had been with them for three years. He'd spent the first two years meticulously preparing them, teaching them, protecting them, getting them ready.
And just days before he was going to be crucified, and he was going to be raised from the dead, then days later he's gonna ascend to his Father's right hand, and he's gonna pour out his Spirit, and then it's gonna be their job to take the gospel, by the power of his Spirit, all over the globe, and he's doing that still through us today. He's with them at the end of this three years, going, "It is to your Father's glory that you bear much fruit". In other words, "I've been pruning you, I've been tending to you for two years. We're on the third year. Start producing some fruit". In God's economy, we cannot produce more fruit without having some things cut back. It's just gonna be part of it. The best thing we can do, 'cause we'll cut something away, and we just keep holding on to it. It's just like, let it go, let it go, let it go. Just lay it down. Call it a day. God bless it. But now this is what we do.
Now this is where the fruit-bearing is. A vineyard without the vine is just a yard. I thought of that myself. Get it? Vineyard, vine, and yard. Okay, passionate about his vine, and that's his Son. And so it's all about the vine. And so the vine is saying, "Listen, if you'll just stay attached to me, where the life force of my Spirit can work through you, if you'll just make sure there's not any interruption between the vine and the branch, if you will not in any way cut off that flow, I will do more than your eyes have seen, your ears have heard, and your mind has ever conceived". He says, "Because apart from me, you can do nothing".
Now, I want to challenge that for a minute, because we live in such a secular society now, so post-Christian, that we know many, many people that do a whole lot of things that don't have any faith at all in Christ. So, what does it mean when he says, "Without me, you can do nothing"? Because that's what he's saying to his disciples. And so take that on for a minute, because there are a lot of people that have been extremely successful in Fortune 500 companies that have no faith in Christ whatsoever. So, a lot of people are doing a lot of things that don't know him. What does it mean you can do nothing? I want to throw this out to you because I believe that what he's saying to them is, "Without me, you can do nothing that you can't do".
You see, Jesus is wanting to bring about a supernatural work. Jesus does not have in mind to use your life to do what you could've done anyway without him. Somebody needs to hear that tonight, because I'm not sure we've got that. God is not just trying to make you a better version of what you can already do. God is not coming with his Holy Spirit to upgrade your work into better quality. No, what he's saying is, "No, I want to do something through you, you are incapable of doing, that you flat out can't do". Because when we are fulling operating in the Spirit, through the power of God, we honestly cannot take credit for it, because we know good and well we can't do it.
He's not interested in you just doing what you would've done anyway. He's interested in making a miracle out of you, and he's interested in bringing forth a supernatural harvest from your life that cannot be explained by any natural means. Can I get any hallelujah and amen on that? Any hallelujah and amen. I want to show you something. This is number three, and this is what we'll end with over the next few minutes tonight. But this just blows my mind. The divine gardener appointed great rejoicing over grape harvesting.
Deuteronomy chapter 16, I want to read to you verses 13 through 15. Notice with me that this chapter in Deuteronomy is about the feast of the Lord that God ordained for his people, Israel. And what we're going to look at in just a moment is the fourth one that he gives them. Throughout the course of the year, he gave them seven major feasts, three of the great feasts, and then seven in all that he ordained through the year for them to get together and feast and celebrate. Let me tell you, when people think... I mean what kind of downer it would be to be people devoted to God... who else has a God that appoints that we celebrate and have a feast and have a festival year round, that periodically all year round he was appointing for them times to get together and celebrate, times to get together and have a feast. And here's what he does in 13 through 15. Listen to this. "You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress".
So, we know that's our imagery for the wine and the grapes. "You shall rejoice in your feasts, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be", oh, I love these two words, I'm reading out of the ESV, "altogether joyful".
Now listen carefully to what I'm about to tell you, because this has everything to do with the vineyard. This was the Feast of Booths, B-O-O-T-H-S, or ingathering. This was a time of year when the people of Israel would go out into the vineyards and out onto the hillsides, and they would live in little tabernacles, tiny little tabernacles made for their families, almost like tents, but they would be making them out of branches, and leaves, and those kinds of things, and they would literally live outdoors in these little booths for this seven-day period of time, and it was to remember the provision of the Lord for them in the wilderness, when they were there for 40 years and they lived out, that God cared for them out there in the middle of the desert, that he provided for them and performed miracles for them. But it all was around the ingathering of the vineyards.
And do you know that in biblical times, God ordained them. He said, "When you go out and you pick that harvest, it is to be a time of joy". And they would literally, there's reference to it later in the book of Isaiah, and, in fact, he's talking about a time of mourning when there was known of this joy and none of this singing. And so it tells us again that it is his intention that fruit-bearing is meant to be, that when we are able to harvest that fruit, we're supposed to be joyful about it. They would literally be up and down those rows in the vineyards and clipping off those clusters, and they'd be singing songs of the harvest. They'd be giving joyful shouts to one another. "Look, look what the Lord has done! Look what the Lord has done"!
I want to tell you something. Not only is it to your Father's glory that your life bear much fruit; you get to actually have joy in it. And when something happens that you realize that he brought a harvest through something he used you to do, do you know that you get to be happy about it? Isn't that wild? In Luke chapter 10, when he sends out the 72, and he says, "You're going to be able to do this, that, this, that, this, that, and nothing is going to be impossible for you. I'm sending you out to be sheep among wolves. Go out there. Do what I've called you", they come back, and they're all like, "You're not gonna believe this, but exactly what you said we could do, we were able to do".
And I mean, they were beside themselves. They came back to him with joy. And it says that Jesus, full of joy from the Holy Spirit, said to his Father, "I thank you, God, you have hidden this from the wise and learned, but you have revealed it to your little children". Listen to me. Do you know that if we could differentiate between having joy over the privilege to bear fruit, and being prideful over it, can you imagine what God would use us to do? If we could handle being entrusted with pure Holy Ghost unction, if our egos would not get in the way of us bearing much fruit, and we didn't have to act miserable about it, we could even be joyful. You could even, like, go in your room, shut the door where nobody could hear you, and look up at God, go, "High five right here"! You get to be someone who walks away from a situation and go, "I don't know who that just was 'cause that couldn't have been me. I can't even do that. I can't do that".
I have a friend back in Houston that's becoming a mighty, mighty teacher of God's Word. And she has to teach in a long skirt, because her knees knock together like this the whole time she does it. But she's producing much fruit. Listen, when she goes home, 'cause she knows it's so unlike her, when she gets to the car, she gets to go, "Can you believe that just happened"?
I want you to turn with me to Genesis 9. I'm gonna show you the weirdest thing. I'm gonna show you the very first time a vineyard ever comes up in the scriptures. This is after the flood, and it says in verse 20, "Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent". Lord, that's what you have for us? In the first mention of the vine, this is what you hand us? Could we not have started better than this?
Now, I don't know why we read it this way. Maybe it's not you. Maybe it's just me. But we tend to read this in time lapse, where we think, I mean, the man got off the boat and got drunk and was uncovered in his tent. And it's like, that's not what it says. He planted a vineyard. So, all this time had to go by, because he's got to clear the field. Do you remember all the steps? He's got to pick the fertile field. He's got to clear it of all the stones. He's gonna put the stones around it to keep varmints and animals out of it. He's gonna probably build some kind of tower in the middle of it. He's gotta plant it there, and then it's got to come up, and it might even be the third year that he's gonna see the first grape.
So, a lot of time has gone by, in case we're thinking, like, he just, like, partied and got drunk as soon as he got off the boat. What happened? Well, I mean, this is such a weird portion. It's like, no. Noah forgot the no in Noah. No. What happened to him? Well, one of the scholars, and I'm just willing to go here with him. I'm willing to go here, because I always thought it was, you know, I want to believe in Noah. I mean, I want Noah to hang in there with us. And by all means, keep your robe on. I just don't, I don't want to go there with Noah at all, at all. Well, so, one of the scholars points out that, you know, he's built, he's built his vineyard. He's brought about his grapes. Like, all of this he's doing, it is our understanding, for the first time, so there's every possibility he has no idea that he is about to not be able to sit up. You understand what I'm saying?
And so what the scholar went on to say, and I'm just like, I'm all right with this, is that the reason why he took off his robe is because he was flushed. I'm good with that, I'm good with that. That makes sense to me. But now, I'm about to really stretch this metaphor farther than some people are gonna be able to go. But what I think is happening in our part of the world in cultural Christianity is that we have become so self-centered, so celebrity driven, so trying to be beautiful out there and impressive, that we're drunk on our own fruit. Does that make any sense to anybody?
When, really, our fruit was supposed to be something that a lot of people could eat from and sip from. But we're like just either not bearing any fruit at all or bearing a lot of fruit and sloppy drunk over it. But what if 5300 women of the west committed themselves, in the great name of Jesus. I want to exalt your name alone, because I can't handle exalting my own name. I will implode. I will destroy myself. I cannot make an idol of myself nor anyone else in human flesh and blood. I want to be a branch without any interruption to the vine. I want you to be able to pour your Spirit through me and do through me what I cannot do, so that I know above anybody else, when a harvest comes from the work you've given me to do, that it could only have been you. What if, what if, what if he could trust us to keep our egos under control, so that he could powerfully use us?