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Spiritual Fruit: A Key To True Health

Most everyone is familiar with the health giving value of fruit. Fruit not only is nutritious, being free of cholesterol and blessed with fiber, but it enhances our memory and makes one feel better in eating it. Admittedly, some fruits have more benefits that others and each of us has his or her own favorite. Yet in general it may be said that fruit is beneficial in maintaining good health.

Fruit was especially important to people in biblical times. One of the great promises that the Lord made to the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt was that the land to which he was leading them was abundant in fruit (Deut. 8:8; cf. Lev. 25:19). Indeed, as Nehemiah exclaimed in his praise of God’s blessings of his people was that, that land was fertile, with such “good things “ as vineyards, olive trees and fruit trees in abundance” (Neh. 9:25).1 It is small wonder, then, that words associated with fruit can be found literally hundreds of times in the Bible.

In the following study we shall note specific cases where the imagery of fruit was used in metaphoric expressions to convey a special spiritual significance. Having noted some general teachings concerning the high value of fruit, we shall focus on certain fruits that carried distinctive emphases in the Scriptures before drawing some spiritual applications for believers.

The High Value Of A Fruit-Filled Life

General Teachings

Although the Lord promised to provide fruit for his people Israel in the land of promise, the realization of this promise was contingent upon their complete obedience. If his people were disobedient, the very ground where the fruit grew would suffer God’s judgment (cf. Deut. 29:18-19 with Jer. 4:26; 48:33). Yet upon a return to the Lord in complete obedience and to living a fruitful, faithful life, “the LORD will once more rejoice over you to make you prosperous just as he rejoiced over your ancestors, if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commandments and statues that are written in this scroll of the law. But you must turn to him with your whole mind and being” (Deut. 30:9-10).

Thus for the Old Testament believer a godless, sinful, and selfish life would produce bad fruit (cf. Prov. 1:26-31); but where the believer led a fruitful, obedient, and righteous life before God, “obeying the LORD’s commands,” his life would be “like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time” (Ps. 1:2-3). Such a life would be characterized by purity of speech, a holy walk, and producing good works (see, e.g., the virtuous wife, Prov. 31:29-31; see also Prov. 12:4; 13:2; 18:20). As we shall note below, Jesus and the apostles added even more specific details as to the fruitful nature of a spirit-filled walk, which is available and necessary for a proper Christian life.

Lessons From Specific Fruits

Grapes

As the Israelites came close to the land of promise during their wilderness wanderings following their exodus from Egypt, Moses sent twelve men, one from each tribe, “to investigate the land of Canaan” with instructions to “bring back some of the fruit of the land” (Num. 13:20). In God’s timing, it was the season for ripened grapes (Num. 13:21). After forty days in the land, the spies returned to Moses bearing “a branch with one cluster of grapes . . . as well as some pomegranates and the figs” (Num. 13:23; cf. vv. 25-27). The grapes (as well as the pomegranates and figs) were clear evidence of the fertility of the land, even as God had promised it would be. Indeed, the Lord, who is faithful, can be counted on to keep his promises (cf. Neh. 9:8). For example, Joshua declared with regard to the Lord’s promises concerning the land, “Not one of the LORD’s faithful promises to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; every one was realized” (Josh. 21:45). Solomon would also later testify as to that fact: “Not one of all the faithful promises he made through his servant Moses is left unfulfilled!” (1 Kings 8:56).

The imagery associated with grapes came to be symbolically associated with the joyous fellowship of Israel’s covenant relationship with the Lord. Through Hosea the Lord said, “When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the wilderness” (Hos. 9:10). “Yahweh fondly recalls the early days of his contact with His people (cf. Hos. 11:1-4; cf. Jer. 2:2-3). … It was a time of genuine refreshment.”2 Bad grapes, however, could symbolize God’s disappointment when his people failed to live productive, fruitful lives, which they repeatedly failed to do. Thus Hosea goes on to record Israel’s soon departure from a consistent worship of the Lord and the inconsistency of their lives: “Then they came to Baal-Peor and they dedicated themselves to shame—they became as detestable as what they loved” (Hos. 9:10b). They did this despite the fact that God had warned the early Israelites that disobedience to his commands would produce his judgment (Deut. 28:38-39; cf. Micah 6:15). Sadly, from early times the Israelites began to worship other gods and live for themselves (Num. 25:1-3).

Isaiah warned the people of his day that spiritual disobedience would surely bring God’s judgment (Isa. 5:1-5). He points out further that it is the Lord who has very often brought many nations to the “winepress of judgment” (Isa. 63:1-6). Jeremiah laments that such an act of judgment had also been brought against Judah (Lam. 1:15). Joel uses similar imagery in prophesying the future day of the Lord’s judgment upon the peoples of earth:

Let the nations be roused and let them go up to the valley of Jehoshaphat,
for there I will sit in judgment on all the surrounding nations.
Rush forth with the sickle, for the harvest is ripe!
Come, stomp the grapes, for the winepress is full!
The vats overflow.
Indeed, their evil is great! (Joel 3:12-13 [MT, 4:12-13])

Perhaps one of the most graphic portrayals of God’s coming day of worldwide wrath upon a disobedient, unfaithful mankind is given in Revelation, chapter fourteen. There we read that one of God’s angels who held a “sharp sickle” was instructed to “use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes off the vine of the earth, because its grapes are now ripe” (v. 18). As he was commanded, “The angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered from the vineyard of the earth and tossed them into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Then the winepress was stomped outside the city, and blood poured out of the winepress up to the height of horses’ bridles for a distance of almost 200 miles” (vv. 19-20). As Beale explains, “The conclusion that vv 17-20 concerns judgment is supported by the fact that the image of ‘treading a winepress’ is without exception a metaphor of judgment in the OT. . . . Imagery of the harvest both in the Gospels and Revelation 14 is developed from Joel 4:13. . . . Since Joel 4:13 [MT 3:13] is a prophecy of God’s judgment of the evil nations, the same theme of judgment is expressed in both metaphors here.”3 Although the metaphorical language here is hyperbolic, the intent is to emphasize the fact that, “Jerusalem will be the center of the final carnage where the armies of the world will be gathered at the time of the second coming of Christ.” 4

Yet this is only one aspect of God’s complete design for earth’s history. On the on hand, it includes awesome judgment for a sinful, disobedient world. On the other hand, God’s renewed blessings will come for a repentant, faithful people: “‘Be sure of this, the time is coming,’ says the LORD, ‘when the plowman will catch up to the reaper and the one who stomps the grapes will overtake the planter. Justice will run down the slopes, it will flow down all the hillsides’” (Amos 9:13). Like fruit in general, then, the imagery associated with grapes can not only serve to depict the judgment of disobedient, even wicked, people but can also portray God’s restoration and blessings for those who are faithful. Such is a frequent double theme conveyed by God’s prophets to the people of Israel (see, for example, Hosea 2:14-23; Joel 3:9-21 [MT, 4:9-21]).

We shall return to the importance of grapes as we consider the biblical data concerning imagery associated with the vine and the vineyard. Before doing so, however, we shall consider imagery associated with two additional fruits, which those whom Moses sent to spy out the land brought back to Moses, the pomegranate and the fig.

Pomegranates

As we previously noted, when those whom Moses sent to examine the land of promise returned, they brought back with them, “a branch with one cluster of grapes… as well as pomegranates” (Num. 13:23; cf. vv. 26-27). The pomegranate came to be viewed as a symbol of fertility (Deut. 8:7-10). In the Song of Solomon the pomegranate could also be used in connection with conditions that seemed to be idyllic (6:11), especially for enjoying that which was very desirable (7:12). The pleasantness associated with the pomegranate made it ideal for use in ornamentation. Accordingly, they appeared on the two bronze pillars of the temple in Jerusalem (Jer. 52:22-23; cf. I Kings 7:20).

As mentioned earlier, the fertility associated with the pomegranate was dependent on God’s provision, which could be given or withheld in accordance with his blessing or his judgment (Hag. 2:14-19). Thus Joel chided the farmers and vinedressers of his day,

Be distressed, farmers;
Wail, vinedressers, over the wheat and the barley.
For the harvest of the field has perished.
The vine has dried up;
The fig tree languishes—
the pomegranate, date and apple as well. (Joel 1:11-12)

To be sure, such products were vital to the economy, but they served as reminders to the people that fruitfulness and true enjoyment of life come from the Lord. Due to the peoples’ disobedience to God and his standards, the experience of a fullness of life that could and should have been theirs was gone. Therefore, Joel goes on to encourage his people to repent and to assemble themselves in the temple and “cry out to the Lord” (vv. 13-14, 16-20), lest an even worse judgment overtake them (vv. 15; 2:1-11).

As with fruit in general as well as grapes, the pomegranate stood as a symbolic reminder of the need for faithfulness to the Lord and his standards, and the dangerous results of infidelity.5 It may be said of today’s believers that they, too, need to live a life of intimate, heartfelt devotion to the Lord. In a far deeper way than the lovers in the Song of Solomon, each believer can come to the “garden of God’s presence” where,

He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.6

Figs

Figs were commonly used in the Scriptures as symbols of abundance or prosperity. Together with grapes and pomegranates, the spies whom Moses had sent returned to him bringing samples of figs from the land of promise (Num. 13:23)—once again testifying to the abundant fruitfulness of the country. Imagery associated with figs included not only that of abundance or prosperity, but of peace. Thus in telling of Israel’s conditions in Solomon’s day the author of Kings describes the wealth, splendor, and fame of Solomon and his kingdom as well as how greatly the people fared: “The people of Judah and Israel were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore; they had plenty to eat and drink and were happy” (1 Kings 4:20). Not only were those times happy ones of genuine contentment for all, but there was peace and security, “All the people of Judah and Israel had security; everyone from Dan to Beer Sheba enjoyed the produce of their vines and fig trees throughout Solomon’s lifetime” (1 Kings 4:25).

Micah speaks of the coming Messianic age as a time when a greater than Solomon will rule over not only Israel and the surrounding peoples, but everywhere. So secure will those days be that, “Each will sit under his own grapevine or under his own fig tree without any fear. The LORD who commands armies has decreed it” (Mic. 4:4). There will be peace and security, and abundance and contentment. It will also be a time of friendship and fellowship: “Everyone will invite his friend to fellowship under his vine and under his fig tree” (Zech. 3:10; see NET text note; cf. Isa. 65:20-25). “The phrase ‘under his vine and fig tree’ existed in antiquity and conveyed the ultimate joy and satisfaction that God’s people had so-longed to experience (see 1 Kgs 4:25; 2 Kgs 18:31; cf. John 1:48).”7

It is understandable, then, that this familiar imagery would be used by the Assyrian official during the time when King Sennacherib of Assyria and his army laid siege to Jerusalem. In seeking to undermine Hezekiah’s refusal to surrender, the official attempts to persuade the people by pointing out the benefits of doing so. Rather than being annihilated by the seemingly superior Assyrian forces, they would be far better off under Assyrian rule: “Send me a token of your submission and surrender to me. Then each of you may eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land just like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards” (Isa. 36:16-17; cf. 2 Kings 18:31-32). He adds that any thought that the people of Judah had that their God would deliver them was contrary to fact, for the Assyrians had already shown that they were superior to the nations and their gods (vv. 18-20). “As Oswalt wisely remarks, “Why should they surrender? Very simply, because Sennacherib is stronger than God. There is neither help nor hope for them in their faith.” 8 He points out further that not to surrender would be contrary to the will of Yahweh, their God. They should understand that even Sennacherib himself testified, “It was by the command of the LORD that I marched up against this place to destroy it. The LORD told me, ‘March up against this land and destroy it’” (2 Kings 18:25). Fortunately, the people did not succumb to the Assyrian official’s enticing words, but followed Hezekiah’s order “Don’ respond to him” (2 Kings Therefore, in accordance with Isaiah’s assurance to Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:20-34) Jerusalem and God’s people were delivered. and Sennacherib’s forces were utterly devastated (2 Kings 19:35-36).

Here again we see that in order to enjoy the blessings symbolized by a specific fruit faithfulness and obedience to God and his standards are essential. This is also illustrated in the case of the people of Jerusalem in Jesus day. This was graphically shown to them when Jesus cursed the fig tree because of its failure to be productive (see Mark 11:12-25; cf. Luke 13:6-9). This episode was a symbolic portrayal of the peoples’ failure to respond properly to Jesus and his teachings. As Bruce explains, “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the fig tree represents the city of Jerusalem, unresponsive to Jesus as he came to it with the message of God, and thereby incurring destruction.”9

Thus like the other fruits mentioned above figs could be utilized to symbolize either God’s blessings or his judgment. But the fig has another distinctive function in that it is used as a figure of God’s covenant with Israel, especially as linked with the imagery associated with the vine and the vineyard (see below). For example, we noted in our discussion on grapes that the prophet Hosea (see Hos. 9:1-17) cited God’s great disappointment with his covenant people:

When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the wilderness. I viewed your ancestors like an early fig on a fig tree in its first season. Then they came to Baal-Peor and they dedicated themselves to shame—they became as detestable as what they loved (Hos. 9:10).10

It was as though in the case of eighth century B.C. Israel the Lord was witnessing a replay of those early days during Israel’s trek through the wilderness toward the land of promise. “The implication is clear: If God so judged the vile, spiritual and physical harlotry of that day so harshly, His justice would dictate that the Israel of Hosea’s day was in grave danger of judgment.”11 Indeed, Hosea often reminded his hearers that Israel stood in special covenant relation with their Lord (e.g., Hos. 2:16-25; 6:7; 8:1). Therefore, they were to be faithful to their divine calling. If they were faithful, they would experience his abundant blessings; if not, the warnings of judgment would be enforced (see, for example, Deut. 28-30).

The Vine And The Vineyard.

Hosea’s recording of God’s fond, yet painful, remembrance of those early days in Israel’s history brings us once more to the imagery associated with grapes. For like the fig, grapes and the vine are strongly linked with the covenant relation between the Lord and his people, Israel. Indeed, the figure of the vine is especially employed to symbolize this relationship and its implications.

Isaiah calls special attention to this. He compares God to a man who planted a vine in a protected vineyard expecting it to produce fine grapes only to find that despite his best efforts, the fruit proved to be inedible (Isa. 5:1-2). Turning directly to his covenant people the Lord says,

So now, residents of Jerusalem, people of Judah,
you decide between me and my vineyard!
What more can I do for my vineyard
beyond what I have already done?
When I waited for it to produce edible grapes,
why did it produce sour ones instead? (Isa. 5:3-4)

Therefore God’s vineyard, Israel, was to be demolished (vv. 5-6). Because of its infidelity, and immoral and unethical practices, God’s people would soon face his judgment:

Indeed Israel is the vineyard of the LORD who commands armies,
the people of Judah are the cultivated place in which he took delight.
He looked for justice, but look what he got—disobedience!
He looked for fairness, but look what he got—cries for help! (vv. 7-8).

The psalmist also recalls those earlier blessings that the Lord had bestowed on Israel, tracing their roots back to its time in Egyptian captivity and then its subsequent successes in the land, which God had promised to them:

You planted a vine from Egypt;
you drove out nations and transplanted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
it took root, and filled the land.
The mountains were covered by its shadow,
the highest cedars by its branches.
Its branches reached the Mediterranean Sea,
and its shoots to the Euphrates River. (Ps. 80:8-11).

He goes on, however, to lament the fact that God’s people now suffered devastation due to the Lord’s judgment (vv. 14-16). Therefore, he prays for God’s restored favor (vv. 17-19). As VanGemeren observes, “The psalmist repeatedly asks the Lord for his gracious restoration to his covenant mercies. The people have broken the covenant and are the objects of his wrath. Only the Lord can ‘revive’ (v. 18) the people by forgiving their sins, renewing the covenant, and driving out the enemies.”12

As noted in connection with the imagery associated with grapes and figs, so also the vine stood as a symbolic reminder of covenant Israel’s spiritual failures. Although God had greatly blessed his people and their land, Israel’s very success became a source of stumbling. Rather than remaining faithful to Yahweh, their covenant Lord, God’s people came to account the fertility and productivity of the land with the fertility god Baal. Israel then became an unproductive vine—a bad vine. Thus Hosea laments the spiritual condition of his day, which will bring the inevitable judgment of God:

Israel was a fertile vine that yielded fruit.
As his fruit multiplied, he multiplied altars to Baal.
As his land prospered, they adorned the fertility pillars.
Their heart is slipping;
soon they will be punished for their guilt.
The LORD will break their altars;
he will completely destroy their fertility pillars. (Hosea 10:1-2)

Similarly, a bit later Jeremiah conveys God’s condemnation of seventh century B.C. Judah: “I planted you in the land like a special vine of the very best stock. Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes?” (Jer. 2:21). Judah also had turned to Baal, so much so that they even practiced the child sacrifices associated with the Molech rites (Jer. 2:23; cf. 1 Kings 16:3; 23:10; Jer. 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35).13 Both kingdoms had come to deserve God’s judgment (cf. Isa. 5:5-6; Jer. 5:15-17; 6:9; Zeph. 1:13). The Lord’s judgment was not arbitrary but based on the facts and tradition of his covenant relation with Israel (cf. Deut. 7-11).14 So vile had they become that the citizens of the land scarcely reflected being God’s own people (Jer. 5:10-12).15

The vine and the vineyard also appear together in prophecies concerning God’s future renewed blessings upon his restored, obedient, and faithful covenant people: “’Be assured of this, the time is coming,’ says the LORD, ‘when the plowman will catch up to the reaper and the one who stomps the grapes will overtake the planter. Juice will run down the slopes; it will flow down all the hillsides.’” (Amos 9:13). This is especially true due to its basis in God’s promised New Covenant that he will enact with his people (see Jer. 31; 33; Ezek. 34:20-31; 37:22-28). Speaking through his prophet Jeremiah the Lord declared,

“I will rebuild you, my dear children Israel,
so that you will once again be built up.
Once again you will take up the tambourine
and join the throng of dancers.
Once again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria.
Those who plant them
will once again enjoy their fruit” (Jer. 31:4-5).

The vine and the vineyard were thus often used in the Old Testament to express God’s covenant relation with his people, both in the past and the future.

Concluding Observations And Applications

In the preceding discussion we have observed that fruit, which was a basic staple in ancient Israel, also became symbolic of the need of believers to be faithful to the Lord in every area of their lives, We saw that that those fruits that were brought back to Moses by those whom Moses sent to spy out the land of promise came to carry special spiritual significance, including the promise of God’s continued blessings for faithfulness but his judgment for disobedience or infidelity. Fidelity was especially incumbent upon God’s people because Israel was the Lord’s covenant nation. These standards were stipulated clearly in the terms of their covenant with the Lord. We also noted, however, that once judgment for disobedience or infidelity had been administered, there was a gracious promise of restoration to God’s favor and great blessings for a repentant and once again faithful people. In fact, God’s people were assured that in the future Israel will become the center of a peaceful, productive, God-blessed earth (Micah 4:1-4).

During his first advent Jesus called particular attention to two of these fruits, the fig tree and the grapevine. Jesus cursing of the fig tree was a lesson to all that everyone needs to be ready to respond positively to his words of instruction (Mark 11:12-25). Jesus used the imagery associated with the grapevine even more dramatically. Jesus warned the Jewish officials of the danger of not properly attending to their responsibilities of being God’s guardians of his vineyard by their rejection of God’s son, Jesus Christ (Matt. 21:33-46). Jesus reminded his disciples that they should be good “vinedressers” if they were to experience God’s full blessings rather than his disapproval (Matt. 20:1-16). Thus theirs was to be a life of faithful service.

This same truth is preserved in the Lord’s teaching with regard to the fruit of the vine in connection with his instructions concerning the communion ceremony. As Jesus’ blood was to be poured out for all mankind, his followers are to be those whose lives are poured out in faithful service to the Lord (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:24-25; Luke 22:17-18). Not only was this to be a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice and an assurance that he is truly coming again to establish his kingdom, but an encouragement to believers to emulate the total commitment of their master.

This is much like the spiritual application of the Old Testament drink offering. According to Old Testament practice, the drink offering occupied the high point of spiritual expression. Made from wine, symbolizing the fruitfulness of life that God produces in the believer (cf. Gen. 49:22), the drink offering signified the full consecration of the believer whose life was poured out in joyous, dedicated service to God. It was employed chiefly to accompany and cap those sweet savor offerings that symbolized full dedication (the burnt offering, together with the meal offering signifying active service) and loving communion with the Lord (the peace offering; cf. Num. 15:1-10 with Num. 28:26-31; 29:30).16

In another setting Jesus instructed his disciples concerning the key to being fruit-bearing, faithful servants of Christ: “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing” (John 15:5). New Testament believers need to learn that if they are not to repeat the mistakes of God’s Old Testament covenant people, “The ability of God’s people, the branches, to produce good fruit is now located in their connection to Jesus, the Vine.”17 Thus Morris remarks, “There is a mutual indwelling and this is the condition of fruitfulness. The man who abides in Christ and has Christ abide in him keeps on bearing fruit in quantity. . . . These are strong words which emphasize the necessity of remaining in vital contact with Christ if fruitfulness is to continue.”18

Moreover, as heirs of the New Covenant, today’s believers have been taken into a vital, spiritual union with Christ so that in yielding to him and being faithful to the standards in God’s Word, they need not be cast away as an unprofitable branch (John 15:6). Rather, he has a true source of help in Christ Jesus (John 15:7), who also has in accordance his promised provision sent the Holy Spirit to take up his residence in the believer. As I have noted elsewhere, “Under His guidance the believer need no longer be controlled by carnality or false religion . . . but rather produce the fruit of the spirit-led life.”19 Indeed, such a fruitful life is truly the way of wisdom:

The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace (James 3:17-18; cf. Col. 1:9-10).

It is also witnessed in the believer’s desire to proclaim the gospel to all people in order that they too may bear spiritual fruit (cf. Col. 1:3-8). May our lives be characterized by a faith that produces such a total dedication that it issues forth in fruitful service for Christ, lives that are consciously poured out in joyous surrender to him who poured out his soul unto death for mankind’s redemption (cf. Isa. 53:12). Indeed, in doing so,

We give Thee but Thine own,
Whate’er the gift may be:
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.
May we Thy bounties thus
As stewards true receive,
And gladly, as Thou blessest us,
To Thee our first-fruits give.20


1 All scriptural citations are taken from the NET.

2 Richard D. Patterson, Hosea (Richardson, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 2009), 88-89. See also below the discussions concerning figs, and the vine and the vineyard.

3 G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary 47 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 775, 776. For discussion of Joel 3:12-17 [MT, 4:12-17], see Richard D. Patterson, “Joel,” in Daniel-Malachi, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Rev. ed. 2008) 8:343.

4 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody, 1996), 223.

5 Not to be overlooked also is the olive tree, whose oil was highly prized in Israel for use in such things as cooking, cosmetics, and fuel. “A full-sized tree yields a half a ton of oil yearly”; Winifred Walker, All the Plants of the Bible (New York: Harper, 1957), 154. Like the pomegranate the olive could at times symbolize divine blessings, but which could be withdrawn for a spiritually fruitless life.

6C. Austin Miles, “In the Garden.”

7 George L. Klein, Zechariah, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2008), 152.

8 John N. Oswalt, Isaiah, Chapters 1-39, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 642. Gary V. Smith. Isaiah 1-39, The New American Commentary ( Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2007), 604, adds concerning the Assyrian official that, “as a smooth-talking political propagandist he proposes a way to get the Hebrews out of their present impossible predicament.”

9 F. F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1983), 209.

10 See further, Num. 25:1-9; 31:16; Deut. 4:3; Ps. 106:28; Rev. 2:14.

11 Patterson, Hosea, 89.

12 Wilhelm A. Van Gemeren, Psalms, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Rev. ed., 2008), 5:613.

13 The Molech issue is a complex and oft-debated problem. For suggested solutions, see the discussion in Richard D. Patterson and H. J. Austel, “1 and 2 Kings,” in 1 Samuel – 2 Kings, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Rev. ed., 2009), 3:891, 893-94).

14 Other messages associated with the vine or vineyard include laziness in the case of failure to attend to the vine (Prov. 24:30-34) but success where hard work was involved (Prov. 31:15-16).

15 For imagery of the vine associated with God’s judgment of other nations, see Isaiah 16:8.

16 See further Paul’s use of this imagery in Phil. 2:17-18.

17 John A. Beck, ed. Zondervan Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 133.

18 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 671.

19 Richard D. Patterson, “Fruit of the Spirit” (Richardson, Tx: Biblical Studies Press, 2010), 1.

20 William Walsham How, “We give Thee but Thine own.”

Related Topics: Spiritual Life, Faith, Sanctification