“And the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which is joy to God and men, and shall I go to dominate the trees?’” (Judges 9:13)
And thus, the “New King Search Committee” has received their third rejection. On one level, we might be tempted to feel sorry for these trees, working hard to find a candidate but no one wants to do so. At the same time, we ought to see this as a mark of God’s grace, restraining the people from sin for a season. How often, when God holds us back from what we wish to do, we see that as a frustration, yet how often it is a gift of God’s restraint…we just cannot see it at that point in time.
Do you see the irony of the contrast here? The trees are seeking to meet what they perceive as their immediate need and the vine is looking at the long-term ramifications of this act. How so? He speaks of the sacrifice of his new wine, but it is new wine that replenishes the stock-pile of old wine. So, unlike the fruit of the Olive or the Fig, for the fruit of the grapevine to be genuinely valuable, it must age for five, ten, or twenty years.
How often, in our churches, leadership finds itself stuck in the challenges of the immediate rather than forward planning for the life of the church decades from now. Obviously there are changes that we cannot predict, but wisdom seeks to both prepare for the lean years and come out stronger and more focused from the challenges the body faces. This cannot be done unless the leadership is prayerfully evaluating their direction and vision. That cannot be done without the wisdom of the vine that recognizes the long term ramifications of meeting the short-term-perceived-need of these bully trees (how often church leaders miss that reality).