Israel was in a prosperous time. They were a spreading vine. (See Isaiah 5 & Psalm 80). However, many times when Israel is shown as God's vineyard they are shown to have fell short of expectations. While they were physically prosperous experiencing a great economy, prosperity and safety they were spiritually falling away and failing in the economy of God. It's as if the more God blessed them the further they ran from him; the greater the harvest the more prominent the idols became in Israel. They became more comfortable and devoted to idol worship in their prosperity. The people were worshiping Baal and God and because of prosperity they thought this was working out just fine. See also 1 Kings 18:20 and James 1:8.
But they had a divided heart. And our God is a jealous God because all the blessings come from His hand. He doesn't need to, nor should He have to, share the glory of a bountiful harvest.
This reflects the heart and attitude of the people in this day. They admit they didn't revere the Lord, but they figure it wouldn't have mattered anyway. What would he do for them? They had lost the concept of the soveriengnty of God; they had this 'what have you done for me lately' attitude. Yes, they believed in God, but they saw benefit in setting Him on the sidelines of their heart and pursuring other gods.
I believe this so reflects the heart of man in our time. Most seem to believe in God at some level. The belief is immature, shallow and undeveloped. We want God on the sideline should we need to put Him into the game if things get bad, otherwise we'll go about life our own way. We pursue other gods and shop around for whoever and whatever pleases our heart and flesh.
Will the God who created you and blessed you with every breath and every heartbeat stay on the sidelines? This is a low view of God and high view of our self. It's as if we say, "I'm so special, God will be pleased to quietly wait on the sidelines for a chance to play in my game." But God would remind his it's his game, He's the head coach, trainer, referee, physician; he controls the plays, the announcer and media coverage. More importantly, He knows the score and when the final buzzer will sound.
Words were spoken, but they were just sounds made with the mouth. They weren't meaningful and from the heart. They weren't good to their word; honesty and integrity apparently meant nothing. False oaths were given, agreements were forgotten and promises broken.
This caused problems in the culture and the land. A lack of honesty and integrity caused an increase in lawsuits. People would lie to protect their own interest, even to the detriment of others. The fallout of the meaningless words was like poison growing among them; in the same place they grew their food. It was quiet and subtle growingn quietly among the fruit of the land, waiting for the harvest; to be blended in with good and bring death.
In not protecting their words, their honesty and integrity they had invited death in among them. It was a blending of poison in with the good, hoping for a good outcome. Does this explain our culture?
The people feared for the safety of their idol. The people could not see how powerless and useless their calf god was when they had to fret over its existence. Very Ironic! It doesn't seem to occur to them that God Most High was their hope and source of blessing and protection.
The high places of wickedness(Aven) would be destroyed and be barren of grown over. The cry for the mountains to cover them and for the hills to fall on them reflects the hopelessness of the situation they had put themselves in. Mankind will find themselves in a similar situation when Revelation 6 is fulfilled and the wrath of the lamb in unveiled to the world (Revelation 6:16).
Gibeah was Saul's hometown. The days of Gibeah refer to the couple that stopped there to stay overnight. Wicked men gathered around the house and demanded the man come out of the house so they could have sex with him. The traveler gave them his concubine instead. She was raped and abused all night and left for dead. (Judges 19:14-30) Gibeah represents cruelty and wickedness.
There they stood against the sin of Gibeah. Yet, they were not united. Benjamin stood with the hose of Gibeah to defend them. Taking that stand against iniquity was the right thing to do to avoid being overtaken with it. We might refer back to the hemlock in the rows of crops. We must weed out the poison before its too late.
Verse ten reminds us of God's timing and sovereignty. When it is His desire the chastening will come.
The trained heifer had an easy life threshing grain; it was leisurely with plenty of food before it. But this neck of the heifer would now be fit with the yoke of a plow. It was time for hard work, pulling the plow. Judah would also be plowing. Through hard work and diligence, they might once again sow righteousness. And if they could break up this ground that had been laid fallow they might harvest mercy. Sowing righteousness reaps the mercy of God's unfailing love.
This was a call to seek the Lord and acknowledge Him in all their ways until He comes and rains righteousness on you.
What they had been doing wasn't working. Could they not see that? They planted wickedness and reaped evil. Eating the fruit of deception is from listening to the father of lies. The fruit of deception started in Eden and still is passed around today. It started with a little quesiton, "Did God really say….?"
The insistence to stay the course would bring judgment. It would be an uproar among the people, a plundering of their life; experiencing a cruelty that comes from the wickedness they embraced. Thus it shall be done.
A divided heart cannot stand. It is the halting between two opinions. One must choose who they will serve. To remain God's child will bring a chastening and correction; He will purge the evil from the land and see to the carrying away of the idol-gods by the enemy. Those who turn from God and long for their idols, the wrath is stored up against them.
It's God's vine. It always has been and always will be. It's God's wilderness. To be found by God as a fruitful vine in the wilderness is be in God's joy. God enjoys His vine that grows and bears fruit. Our history tells us that the prosperity that comes from God is a life blessed by Him. But we also know that prosperity seems to harm our relationship with God. We don't seem to be able to handle it. Instead of see God's goodness and being led to repentance, we forget God and the blessing of His hand leads us to others.
©2016 Doug Ford