The People of God: God's Field or Vineyard
A third metaphor the Bible uses to describe God's people is that of a field or vineyard. In this metaphor, God is the farmer, the gardener, or the vinedresser. Several very important truths arise from this metaphor.
1. The vineyard or the field is productive ONLY because God prepares it properly and completely and because God constantly nurtures the plants by providing everything they need for healthy growth. The following passages emphasize this point:
Psalm 80:8-11 [The psalmist is praying to God]:
"You [God] brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
and it took root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
It sent out its boughs to the Sea,
its shoots as far as the River."
Jeremiah 2:21a-b (God is speaking to his people Judah):
"I had planted you as a choice vine
of sound and reliable stock."
Isaiah 5:1-2d, 4a-b:
"Let me (the prophet) sing for my beloved (God)
a song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
And he dug it and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in the midst of it
and hewed out a winepress therein. . . .
What more could have been done for my vineyard
that I have not done in it? . . ."
1 Corinthians 3:6-9 [Paul is describint the establishment and growth of the people of God in Corinth]:
"I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building."
The people of God owe their very existence and any and all spiritual growth they have experienced to God, and to God alone. God uses human beings like Paul and Apollos and Isaiah and Jeremiah to form and develop his people, but all the wisdom and power and love for this great enterprise comes from God alone. And God overlooks nothing. He knows all our needs and supplies them. He asks:
"What more could have been done for my vineyard
that I have not done for it?" (Isaiah 5:4a-b).
The obvious, indeed the only, answer to this rhetorical question is: "Nothing." God has completely and thoroughly supplied all our needs to be his people. May our response be reciprocal love which leads to devotion and service out of gratitude for his wonderful gifts and blessings which we do not deserve and which are absolutely necessary for our survival and productivity.