December 6, 2014
Isaiah 5:1-8; 13-17
I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.
“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could have been done for my vineyard
than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
why did it yield only bad?
Now I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
and it will be trampled.
I will make it a wasteland,
neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.”
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.
Therefore my people will go into exile
for lack of understanding;
those of high rank will die of hunger
and the common people will be parched with thirst.
Therefore Death expands its jaws,
opening wide its mouth;
into it will descend their nobles and masses
with all their brawlers and revelers.
So people will be brought low
and everyone humbled,
the eyes of the arrogant humbled.
But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts.
Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture;
lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich.
Joseph: Mary, we’ve got to get on the road. The traffic is picking up and it’s going to be a parking lot out there soon.
Mary: I know. And all this because of Caesar’s stupid census. Seems like everybody is having to go somewhere else just to pay more taxes. Will it always be this way for us Joseph?
Joseph: I hope not. I think our fathers and mothers who lived out their lives in Babylonian exile would think we have it pretty good compared to them.
Mary: Sure, but this return from exile hasn’t been all it’s cracked up to be either.
Joseph: I think it would do us good to remember how we got expelled from our homeland. As they say, those who can’t remember their past are destined to repeat it.
Mary: Wouldn’t it have been something to know Isaiah? He gave it his best didn’t he?
Joseph:Yep, he didn’t pull any punches. He gave it to them straight.
Mary: And he even sang. That song of the vineyard was powerful. God did everything possible to help our people thrive in this land and it’s like they spit in his face. God has so much patience and mercy, but when it’s over it’s over.
Joseph: We just keep doing the same things. God blesses us. He gives us commands to protect us. We don’t listen. We don’t trust. We don’t obey. And God finally lets us face the consequences of our failures. The exile was like a final Reset.
Mary: And still he never lets go. Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and those 40 years of wandering, and all those horrible Kings and amazing prophets. Just like Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, our people were expelled from the Promised Land. When trust fails, everything falls.
Joseph: Can you imagine what it must have been like in Babylon? They desecrated our Temple and reduced it to ruins. They were horrible, especially that Nebuchadnezzar. They forced our people to sing our songs as they wept by the rivers of Babylon.
Mary: Yet we have to remember Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and their unflinching trust in God. And even in exile God kept sending prophets. He never gave up on us. Floods, fiery furnaces, lions, He stuck with us.
Joseph: You are right. We must keep trusting, Mary, even when it seems like all hope is lost. I keep hearing what that Angel said to me over and over in my head, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Mary: Why does it have to be so hard? I mean, this census coming at exactly the time Jesus is to be born. I’m trusting though, Joe.
Joseph: Mary, I thank God for you. Your faith and courage keeps me going.
Mary: Thanks Joseph. I feel the same about you. You were right about this traffic though. We aren’t getting anywhere today. Let’s just call it a day and get an early start tomorrow.
Note to Parents and Leaders: Let’s remember the big point of all this dialogue in week one of RESET. We are working to bring ourselves and our families into this big storyline of God’s love for the world. Remember the big five movements.
Creation. Israel. Jesus. Church. New Creation.
Let’s try and help our kids (and ourselves) to remember this framework by using our five fingers. And let’s continually reiterate where we are in the story– i.e. the Church.
This week we have focused on Creation and Israel setting the stage for Jesus.
Israel includes Genesis 12 through the end of the Old Testament. This week we hit Abraham to Egypt, Moses to the Promised Land and the Kings and Prophets to the Exile.
I am asked, where is sin in that five part movement? I am including sin and the fall in the epic of Creation which continues all the way through chapter 11 of Genesis. It’s so important to begin with the blessing of God and not the curses of sin and death. I saw a family advent devotional the other day from a popular ministry and it began with Sin. The Gospel is a Good News-Bad News-Good News Story. I find that if you begin with sin and bad news you tend to define the whole story around sin and bad news. When we begin with God and his glorious Creation we tend to define the whole story around God and his creational intent. We don’t minimize sin. We just don’t let it take center stage.
We will pick back up with Mary and Joseph as we near Christmas.
PEOPLE GET READY! JESUS IS COMING!
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