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Grapevines; why are they biblically important? What do they have to do with Jesus? And why would anyone grow them in the desert?
Join us as we answer these and other questions, and realize some of the promises God has been sending us through the fruit of the vine!
Plants in the Word
References to grapevines, olive trees, and a variety of other fruiting plants are present throughout the Word of God. At times these appear to be simply that—references found within a story, but not vital to it. However, if we look a bit closer, we are able to discover that they actually serve as teaching tools within these tales, and that God’s promises also echo through them, especially the fruit of the vine.
Take the story of the fig tree, where Jesus cursed it for not producing fruit when called upon. While the fig tree represents us, and the fruit we produce or fail to in every season, Jesus used this physical tree as a way to teach. A reminder to always bear good fruit and believe that all things are possible in Him (see Mark 11:12-14 and 20-24).
Remember when Noah sent out the dove? Noah knew the waters were receding because of the olive leaf the dove brought back. Yet, it was more than that. Not only was God making good on His promises to Noah, but through the olive leaf, those promises and the fullness of life to come were echoed in that tiny portion of olive tree.
On and on, throughout the Word, plants echo promises of God, serve as teaching tools, and of course, fulfill their God-given purpose for us. Reminding us of the goodness of our great God!
“…The goodness of God endures continually.”—Psalm 52:1
The Fruit of the Vine in the Bible
Of all the plants found in God’s Word, the fruit of the vine or grapevines, are one of the most common. The reasons for this vary, but one reason may rest in the fact that grapes were an important crop in the Promised Land and surrounding areas where the majority of the biblical stories occurred…
However, their importance goes beyond that. For grapes, and the wine produced from them, are mentioned from Genesis, on through nearly every book, and all the way to Revelation. Not only that, but grape(s), wine, and fruit of the vine, collectively exceed 300 unique uses throughout the Bible!
A few examples of these uses include:
- The cup-bearer’s dream which Joseph interpreted (see Genesis 40)
- The wedding where Jesus turned water to wine, which is said to be the first miracle Jesus performed (see John 2)
- The drink offering given to God (see Leviticus 23:13)
- Part of the blessing for God’s chosen people (see Deuteronomy 7)
- One of the things the spies brought back from the Promised Land to Moses and the people (see Numbers 13:23)
- A portion of the Passover ceremony which consists of four cups, each with a unique purpose to remember four promises of God (see Exodus 6:6-7)
- The taking of the communion cup—believed to be the third cup of Passover—which Jesus said was the new covenant in His Blood (see Luke 22:20)
While there are many other instances where grapes, wine, and the fruit of the vine are used, even these few alone display a pattern. One where God uses them to reveal promise, to seal covenants, and to display the splendor of His Majesty.
Still, of these examples, Passover and communion perhaps hold the greatest connections between God and man… and some of the highest blessings! Because they are each connected with covenant AND the blessings which come with covenant!
The Connection Between the Fruit of the Vine, Passover, and Communion
Passover consists of many parts, and no matter what your views on Passover are, the connection to God is undeniable. God ordained Passover as an everlasting ordinance; one which, among Believers, has largely been ignored. This is unfortunate in many respects as it denies us the covenant connection, blessings, and divine meeting with God that come when we place our feet under our Father’s table. Additionally, it denies us the deeper understanding of communion that comes through the roots of our faith!
Many prayers are spoken at Passover, but the one which is connected to the wine of Passover and communion is: Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, borei p’ri hagafen.
A typical English translation reads: Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
This prayer is quite simple and is often combined with other prayers. However, it also holds key truths of the power of God! Truths such as, it is He who creates not only the covenant, blessings, relationship, and promises of Passover and communion, but the very grapes needed for it.
Planting Promise through the Fruit of the Vine
When we consider the various uses of grapes, wine, and the fruit of the vine in the Word—from teachings, to miracles, to promises, and beyond—it is easy to see why they are important. Particularly within covenant acts and prophetic truths!
It is easy to see why the fruit of the vine, and the planting of the vines, continues to be important today…
Yet, even with this importance, why would anyone plant grapevines in Israel’s Negev desert?
One of the reasons why My Olive Tree is playing a part in planting grapevines in the Negev desert is biblical prophecy. Many prophetic words in Scripture speak of the Gentiles helping the seed of Abraham rebuild the nation of Israel. Further, one prophecy in particular speaks of Israel’s desert, and how it will blossom as a rose, with the parched land having streams flowing through it (see Isaiah 35)!
By planting grapevines, not only are we causing the desert to bloom, but we are also providing jobs and a refreshing of the nation of Israel… we are being a part of the fulfillment of biblical prophecy!
Another reason for our involvement is tied to Genesis 12, which speaks of God’s promises to Abraham—known then as Abram—and his descendants. Not only do we find that God made a covenant of promise with Abraham in Genesis 12, but we also discover a promise of blessing for those who bless them (see Genesis 12:3). Further, there are other promises of blessings which come from blessing Israel, such as the call to pray for the peace of Jerusalem found in Psalm 122:6-9, which add additional weight to an already weighty promise of blessing.
Beyond these reasons are many more. Tied to people who need help, but desire work, not handouts; to a country that God loves and wants us to build up; to a land those who love God long to see flourish; to God’s call for us to take care of widows and orphans…
On and on are beautiful reasons to help, and to bring life to the desert in particular. Yet, one portion of the question remains… why grapevines?
While this answer is tied to many of the biblical examples of grapes, wine, and fruit of the vine we explored, and even to prophecies and blessings spoken of in the Word, one beautiful reason is found in Numbers 13.
“Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole…”—Numbers 13:23
The twelve spies were gathering produce to bring to Moses and the Children of Israel; including a cluster of grapes which many believe to have been enormous due to the fact that it was carried on a pole between two of them.
This demonstrated the bounty of what God had promised to them; not only through the size and fruitfulness of the cluster, but also through where they gathered it. They were in the Promised Land. Perhaps around 60-100 miles from the Negev. Only two of those twelve spies would ever see the land again, because those two believed in the promises and power of God, while the others believed the lies of the enemy. Only two would see the fruit of the vine and everything else that God promised for them in the Promised Land.
This connection of Israel, the fruit of the vine, God’s promises, and faith, are all a part of our choice to plant grapevines in the desert of Israel—trusting in God’s Word.
Centuries upon centuries have passed since the events of Numbers 13. In that time, the Children of Israel lived in the Promised Land, were driven away, returned to it, and were driven away again… but now they are back! God’s promises are springing forth; and as the land teems with life, God’s Words prove their truth!
Biblical prophecy proclaims that the Promised Land will be restored. The Children of Israel have returned, and indeed, much of the land has been restored to a state of prosperity and life not seen for thousands of years. However, there is still more to do. The land has not fully bloomed like a rose…This is why we at My Olive Tree, through sponsorships, are planting grapevines in the desert. Long ago twelve spies returned with a cluster of grapes from the Promised Land; today we are returning those grapes to the land by planting grapevines in Israel’s Negev desert!