Sometimes I think grapes must be God’s favorite fruit. The symbolism in the scriptures begins in Genesis where both Judah and Joseph are described as grapevines, and travels on throughout the scriptures. The promise of the Messiah is pictured as a time when shall sit every man under his vine…and none shall make them afraid, Micah 4:4. Both Old Testament Israel and New Testament spiritual Israel, the church, are called vineyards (Isa 5:1-7; Mt 20:1-16). Jesus says, I am the vine in John 15, and in the memorial feast we partake of every first day of the week, we drink the fruit of the vine, grape juice, which symbolizes his shedding of blood—not that he simply cut himself and bled one day, but that he died for our sins.
But the symbolism is not always pleasant. In a prophecy about Judah’s coming destruction the prophet Zephaniah says, And their wealth shall become a spoil, and their houses a desolation; yes, they shall build houses, but shall not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but shall not drink the wine thereof, 1:13.
One of the most terrifying prophecies in the Old Testament also contains the symbolism of grapes and grape juice.
Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? He who is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength?
I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
Why are you red in your apparel, and your garments like him that treads in the wine vat?
I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment For the day of vengeance was in my heart.. . And I trod down the people in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth. Isa 63:1-4,6.
Every evening I once again have the opportunity to reflect on how I want the symbolism of the grapes to manifest itself in my life. Do I want it to be my blood sprinkling the robe of an angry God, who tramples the wicked like grapes in a winepress, or will I accept the blood of the spotless Lamb of God, who died for me, so I can sit under my vine and not be afraid?
Don’t ever forget that the choice is ours to make.
I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it will be done unto you. Herein is the Father glorified: that you bear much fruit; and so shall you be my disciples, John 15:5-8.