Jeremiah had already used a number of illustrations to prepare Israel for the coming invasion by the Babylonians. He used the image of a ravenous lion that would come from the north. He said a wolf would ravage them from the 18 gospeldesert and that a leopard would prowl through their populated cities. Now he uses another image; a grapevine. According to Jeremiah 2:21, God planted Israel to be a choice vine bearing much good fruit. She failed to produce. In Jeremiah 5:10, he speaks once again by God giving instructions to the invading armies; “Go up through her vine rows and destroy, but make not a full end; strip away her branches, for they are not the LORD’s.” Both Isaiah and Ezekiel use the same language regarding God’s people being compared to vines and branches.

As one commentator observes, some “branches are to be stripped off because they are fruitless and no longer belong to the Lord. But because God has not forgotten that he promised Abraham an eternal nation, he will not allow the complete destruction of his people. Furthermore, the immediate context that speaks of stripping away the branches is a full pruning, not a complete desolation. Only the branches are involved, not the root or stock.”[1] Even after proving how ungrateful and wicked Israel had become, God swears to keep His promises to Abraham. They were unfaithful, but God remains faithful. No matter what trial, difficulty or hardship that may pass through God’s permissive will to us, He will never leave us without hope. There is always Hope, because He always has our best interest foremost in mind regardless of the circumstances we might find ourselves in.

Just as God would prune the Nation of Israel for failure to produce fruit, He does so only with the intention of correcting not destroying them. Jesus used a similar analogy when he explained God’s motive for pruning in John 15. Here Jesus explains that the pruning process, as every good gardener knows is to make the branch productive again. In John 15:1-2, God is presented as the gardener and the purpose for pruning is always so that the branch, “…may bear more fruit.” God will never forsake His ultimate promise to us either, yet He allows the enemy to bring great suffering into our lives at times. Paul explains His purpose for this in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. He writes, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

[1] Charles L. Feinberg, “Jeremiah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 414.