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September 8 – The fruit of the Spirit: Israel’s unfruitfulness

My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill…and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes…Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is… – Isaiah 5:1-2

Scripture reading: Galatians 5:22-23; Isaiah 5:1-7

Most Christians today are familiar with this passage on the fruit of the Spirit. But few are aware of the significance of this passage in light of the Old Testament. Just as there is an Old Testament background to what it means to “walk by the Spirit,” so too there is an Old Testament background to Paul’s language of “fruit of the Spirit.”

In Isaiah 5:1-7 we see that God redeemed Israel as His beloved bride from slavery in Egypt. He mercifully rescued and married her when no one wanted her. He provided for her and protected her.  He gave Israel His law for how she was to live as His people in gratitude for her deliverance from Egypt. But when God looked at His vineyard, what did He see? Instead of good grapes they produced wild grapes that are of no use for wine, but only for producing vinegar. God was looking for the fruit of justice and righteousness, but instead, they produced bloodshed and an outcry. They were unfruitful. Thus, they came under God’s judgment.

Israel is a microcosm of all of fallen humanity. Apart from Christ, none of us are any better. The works of the flesh taint our record. But the good news is that True Israel would one day come in the person and work of Christ and bear the fruit of the Spirit perfectly on behalf of His chosen bride, the church, made up of Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Christ.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God that Jesus is the True Vine (John 15:1). Rest in His completed work on the cross for you. Abide in Him by faith and pray for the Spirit to unite you with Christ and His life-giving benefits more and more.

Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

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