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Keep Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard (Isa. 5:1-14) in the back of your mind as we take a look at John 15:12-25. This parable has a lot of symbolism embedded in it. Let’s define the symbols in this parable.
- Well-beloved: YHVH of hosts
- Vineyard: Israel, men of Yehudah
- Tower: Safety and Security
- Grapes: Behavior of the people
- Wine: Outcome of the people’s behavior
- Viticulture: Word and Spirit of YHVH
- Hedge: Protection against invasion
- Punchline: Conquest will renew Israel’s thirst for YHVH
Israel didn’t want to obey and respect the one who created their nation and took them into the Land, cleared it out and protected it. Since they were not interested in obeying and respecting God, God took His protection away. They were left to protect themselves but there were larger powers in the area: Assyria and Babylon.
Israel were given over to an insatiable thirst. Israel were to be a nation of priest and a light to the nations but when they didn’t want to do that job anymore, God had to give them a reboot and remind them of why they were called out in the first place.
In Isaiah, justice was contrasted with murder, righteousness contrasted with oppression, contentment with greed. When they no longer wanted to pursue knowledge of God, the pursued partying, entertainment and drunkenness instead. All they wanted was a good time all the time. This is what dragged them down. If the partying, entertainment and drink are taken away, what are you? When the Israelites were hauled away, what did they have left? Who were they?
The prophet Daniel also asked the question: Are you going to assimilate with the nations or remain separate?
When you look at this, you see how Yeshua sets this up. The “reset button” is coming to Israel again and very soon.
John 15 talks a lot about love, loving others as Yeshua loves us. It’s in the golden rule. John 15:12 and John 15:17 are the book ends to the core of our discussion.
We first encountered Yeshua’s making personal the “second-greatest commandment” in Jn. 13:34 at the beginning of His “farewell discourse.”
There are four main types of love in the Greek:
- ἀγαπάω agapaō (Strong’s lexicon No. G25): it’s a veneration type of love, holding in high esteem. It’s translated as “charity” in some English because you are thinking of the recipient of that love as someone to be lifted up.
- φιλέω fileō (G5368): brotherly love
- στέργω stergo: This is the mutual love of parents and children, love of subjects for a ruler. It’s a master/servant love.
- ἔρως erōs: This is not word that is used in the Scriptures at all. There’s a reason for that. It is the love between a man and a woman, it’s a craving, a desire, it’s sensual. It is also the type of love that some Greeks had for their deities that is a spiritual love above the physical. This comes from Greek dualism in which the physical was inherently evil and the spiritual was inherently good. The pursuit of the physical became a pursuit of the spiritual. This is why do you not see the word eros in Scripture.
The only two Greek concepts of love used in Scripture are agape and fileo. Agape is the primary type of love described in scripture, while fileo is more rare. Agape is the type of love that God has for His creation.
Matthew 5:44 says, “love your enemies.” This is an agape love, esteeming your enemies higher than yourself. Agape is a type of love that you have to consciously do while fileo love is a more emotional response. 1Corinthians 13 is only about the agape love. This is a love that is chosen.
This is what the people were facing in Isaiah 5. Were the people going to pursue an agape love for their God who brought them into the land and nurtured them into it or were they going to party all the time and pursue physical pleasure?
“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
Friends of God
Agapeo love is a choice to esteem someone higher than yourself. There are a couple of people who are called “Friends of God” which are Abraham and Moses. Let’s explore why they were given that title.
The account in Genesis 18 of the LORD appearing the Abraham and having lunch with him doesn’t use the Hebrew word most often used for friend, רֵעַ or רֵיעַ reʿa (H7453). Yet the LORD did meet with him in person, face to face. God revealed His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. God didn’t keep this secret from Him.
“‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.'” (Gen. 18:17–19)
God spoke to Abraham so plainly that Abraham urged the LORD to consider through mercy by asking Him to reconsider for the sake of 10 people. The prophets and the Apostles saw Abraham as God’s friend
King Yehoshafat (Jehoshaphat) speaks prophetically after prayer and fasting following a rebuke through God’s Spirit:
“‘Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (2Chr. 20:7)
We also see Isaiah repeat this as God loving Abraham in the present tense and into the future.
“‘But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend….’” (Isa. 41:8)
The Apostle James also affirms this:
You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (Jas. 2:22–24)
The Septuagint referred to Abraham as the one God had agapeo for but James uses the fileo word for love. It’s the trust that Abraham had in God’s promises. This is why God was fond of Abraham. James’ message ties this fondness to Abraham’s imputed righteousness through trust in God’s promises.
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16)
The vineyard in Isaiah 5 was supposed to produce fruit and be a blessing but it did not produce fruit and did not produce blessings so God had to hit the “reset button” which He did through the Apostles.
From the vineyard parable of Isaiah 5, we can see that the 12 are being commissioned to continue the task the LORD originally gave Israel: to be a nation of priests and a light to the world about the agape the Creator wants to have with mankind.
We see how God related to Moses.
“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex. 33:11)
“ ‘If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD.’ ” (Num. 12:6–8)
“… no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face …” (Dt. 34:10)
The friends of God are those who trust the promises and testimony of God and want to communicate with God face to face, despite knowing how disastrous that could be for one’s casual observance of God.
Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.