At My Olive Tree, one of our programs is the planting of vineyards in the Negev. Choosing to plant grapes in the Negev desert, one of the hottest and driest places in Israel, probably does not seem to be the wisest of decisions. After all, there are other more temperate options. Yet, with Israeli technology and God’s blessings, the vineyards we are planting—because of people like you—are thriving!
Planting vineyards in the Negev has many benefits:
- It boosts Israel’s economy.
- It provides jobs in a portion of the country where there are limited employment opportunities.
- It brings people to the desert—from employment to tourism—helping to spread the population. This minimizes congestion, over-population, lack of employment opportunities, sanitation problems, etc.
- It restores God’s promised and prophesied inheritance for Israel.
- It brings life to the desert in many forms and helps people and animals to flourish.
- It provides shade for people and animals.
- It reduces CO2
- It promotes new, effective farming practices and water management.
- It is an environmental help.
- Plants—typically trees, but all plants—can help combat a rarely considered desert problem… flooding. Plants capture water in bark, leaves, roots, etc., slowing or lessening the effects of flooding. This helps protect people, animals, and existing plants, while slowing erosion.
- Additionally, plants also act as windbreakers—again more commonly trees, but all plants. This can slow wind generated erosion; lessen dust storms—partially with roots trapping soil and sand; give relief to people and animals; protect property; etc.
- It brings Hope. Hope, because Bible prophecy is being fulfilled. Hope, because the barren land is being brought back to life. Hope, because it is bringing new possibilities and new dreams to God’s people… The HOPE of knowing your inheritance.
Vineyards in the Word:
The word ‘vineyard’ in the Word is mentioned:
- 101 times in the New King James;
- 102 in the King James;
- 105 in the New Living Translation; and
- 108 times in the New International Version.
Only a few versions mention vineyards less than 100 times—though this is less than half the number of the mention of ‘wine,’ and over double that of ‘grapes.’
It would seem that given these numbers, there is indeed a biblical importance tied to vineyards—to the life-giving properties they possess—and even to their produce.
Israel’s Return to Her Inheritance:
“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them…”—Amos 9:14
In Amos 9:14, we see Amos prophesy that God returns His people to their land and they will rebuild not only what was broken, but also replant the land… a return to their inheritance.
Vineyards in the Word depict not only the literal life-giving nature of grapevines, but a spiritual refreshing… a place where life is brought forth in abundance. Thus, for God to have His people return to the land, plant vineyards, and drink the wine speaks of a Godly inheritance. A Godly rebuilding.
Since the time of Amos’ prophecy, God HAS been returning His people to the Promised Land. Today, with the help of their Gentile brothers and sisters, God’s prophecies of planting the land—planting vineyards—is also coming to pass in fullness. Vineyards have been planted and the wine of that produce is flowing. Their inheritance is being restored!
First mention of vineyards:
The first mention of vineyards is in Genesis with Noah.
‘First mentions’ in the Word have a certain importance attributed to them. Not that other mentions are less valuable, but that, just as we take care to listen to the Lord when He mentions something repeatedly, we too must take special care with His first mentioning’s.
“And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard.”—Genesis 9:20
After alighting from the ark, the first thing Noah did was offer God a sacrifice. God, in turn, gives promises to Noah, Noah’s children, and all mankind—sealing His covenant promises with the sign of the rainbow.
The second thing we are told Noah did was to begin farming; specifically, planting a vineyard. This of course has a rational importance: Noah and his family required food, and farming would be one way in which to supply it—especially during the period in which the animals they might eat were repopulating. Noah was, in essence, beginning to do what God had told them—to go forth and multiply. He was planting the ‘seeds’ into his inheritance.
However, the first thing we find that Noah did upon receiving a crop from his vineyard was to produce wine and drink it. This is also the first mention of wine within the Word.
Noah was God’s chosen, and he drank the produce of his vineyard—just as those at the wedding feast drank of the wine Jesus made. Not only that, Noah became drunk, exposing himself in his tent, and bringing forth upon his awakening both blessing and cursing to his three sons. For one gazed upon him and instead of covering his father, went to ridicule and expose him to his brothers; brothers who would not gaze upon him, but instead covered his nakedness.
Because of what some might think of as a moment of weakness on Noah’s part, the path of his children—all of us—was put in place, only able to be overruled by God Himself. An inheritance was laid down. Further still, without the vineyard Noah had planted, the first man-spoken and God-fulfilled blessings and cursing may not have come to pass…
Great blessing for the two brothers and their offspring who understood honor and respect for their earthly father; great cursing for the brother and his offspring who did not know honor or respect.
Vineyards of Lessons:
Both the Old and New Testament contain many mentions of vineyards. While some are used to give us the law, others leave a lesson. Jesus’ parables featuring vineyards are perhaps the most well-known, yet many non-parable uses of vineyards leave a legacy as well.
In Israel, there was an evil king named Ahab—husband of Jezebel—who coveted Naboth’s vineyard.
When Naboth refused Ahab’s offers to buy or trade for the vineyard due to it being his inheritance, the king went to his bed sick, prompting his wife to see that Naboth was killed to gain the vineyard for her husband.
Once Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he immediately went to take possession of it—despite knowing Jezebel had a hand in his death—thus compounding the severity of his crimes. So much so, that God sent Elijah to prophesy of Ahab and Jezebel’s untimely demise. Thus, while Naboth did die to protect his inheritance, God did not let those responsible go unpunished. God did not accept murder, nor the theft of inheritance.
Therefore, Naboth’s vineyard, despite his dying for it, is an example of the inheritance God gives to each of us. The inheritance of our Father.
The enemy never wants us to maintain this inheritance, because when we understand its value—and our value in turn, as the recipients of God’s perfect gifts—we become a threat to the darkness.
Because of this, the enemy sends distractions to ‘bargain’ our inheritance from us. When that does not work, he sends thieves to try to steal it. The enemy fears the light. The enemy fears us knowing our true worth to God; our identity and inheritance.
While in the natural these attempts to steal our inheritance may appear insurmountable, God has given us His Spirit within us, to continually remind us who we are in HIM. That we might know our inheritance.
It takes a little faith and the willingness to ask for God’s glory to rest upon us, but He NEVER fails us. He refreshes us and leads us into our inheritance.
Jesus spoke of vineyards and, as was often the case, He used them in parables. Parables used primarily to teach us about who God is, what we are to do, and what our inheritance is in Him.
There were four unique parables Jesus gave with vineyards as the prominent location—two found exclusively in Matthew, one found only in Luke, and another found in Mathew, Mark, and Luke.
The first found in the New Testament speaks of a man who went out to find workers for his vineyard. He went out early in the morning and hired men for a denarius a day. Then he went out at the 3rd hour and agreed to whatever they thought was fair. Then he went out at the 6th, 9th, and 11th hours, agreeing they would be paid what was fair.
Thus, when the day was done he told his steward to pay them, starting with the last hired and ending with the first. So, the last were paid a denarius though they worked very little, while the first were paid equally though they worked much. All the workers receiving the same payment—the same blessing.
This parable has many applications in our lives. Yet, like with the story of Naboth’s inheritance, it can also speak of our inheritance from God…
He has given each of us an inheritance, yet many do not take possession of it until the final hour. Yes, God appreciates and loves those who from the start seized their inheritance, yet—at first glance—the inheritance is the same.
We may ask, “Why is the inheritance of someone who decided to receive it a week before their transfer to heaven the same as the one who seized their inheritance over eighty years prior?”
Well, the end may be the same, but with accepting the inheritance from the start, we are able to answer our call to a higher level. We are able to spend our lives knowing the blessing of our inheritance, living as kings and priests instead of slaves or outcasts. That is a blessing that those who waited to receive their inheritance from the Father may not fully know on earth, though God will never deny it to them.
It is as with those men that first answered the call to work in the vineyard. They were able to harvest more; they did not know idleness as they fulfilled their destiny and were assured of their inheritance from the start.
Yet, when those who first knew their reward found that the same blessing came to those who had scarcely worked… they were jealous. Offended. They did not understand the honor of answering the call at the first hour. They did not understand that living your life knowing your inheritance is assured, while also answering your call, is one of the greatest blessings God can bestow.
One of the ways God uses vineyards in the Word is to tell us of the importance of our inheritance. This inheritance is our heritage, and a part of God’s legacy of love.
Today, at My Olive Tree, we are working to spread that legacy of love by bringing the inheritance of Israel to life. By restoring desert land—land not deemed of much value—the inheritance is not only being brought to life, it is breeding hope. It is reminding the people of Israel that they—like us—have an inheritance from God. It shows them God’s unending love in a new way and blesses us in turn as we tap into our own inheritance—the shared inheritance of God’s children.