Go you up on her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD's.
I. Look AT THE FIGURE WHICH UNDERLIES THIS EXHORTATION. We find in other parts of Scripture passages curiously rich in illustration of the emphatic exhortation here. Turn to Isaiah 5:1-7: here is presented to us the picture of a vineyard protected by a fence against marauders and wild beasts, planted with the choicest vine, and tilled in the most complete and careful manner. But when the vineyard, in spite of all care, only yields wild grapes, then the hedge and the wall are taken away and the cultivated land lapses into wilderness. Psalm 80. contains a very similar passage, save that it is the language of appeal from a suffering people instead of a warning from a disappointed God. God is described as having cast out the heathen to make room for the vine which he had brought from Egypt. And in the land where he planted it, it grew downwards and upwards and outwards, spreading far and wide. "Why then," say the people, "hast thou broken down her hedges, so that all which pass by the way do pluck her? The bear out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it." Once again, there is a very striking passage in Proverbs 24:30, 31. The wise man passes the vineyard of the man void of understanding, and finds it full of thorns and nettles, and the stone wall thereof broken down. Hence the vineyard, with its need of a strong wall kept in good repair, comes before us almost as distinctly as if it were a familiar sight.
II. CONSIDER NOW THE EXHORTATION ITSELF. The wall round this vineyard of God, even this vineyard which he so plainly set apart and has cared for so much, is to be broken down. We have not far to seek for the reason. The branches of the vine are not Jehovah's. "I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?" (Jeremiah 2:21). The wall is not yet in such case as that round the vineyard of the man void of understanding. It has not dropped to pieces through sloth. Its fate, it may be said, is even worse, for it has to come down by an act of judgment. Protection is a mockery and reproach when the thing protected fails to reward the care that has been lavished upon it. God breaks down the fence that he may make a clear way for the removing of the branches. The branches, one may say, are fixed in a true vine and draw nourishment from good soil; yet wild, sour, deluding, discreditable grapes are all the result. The branches, therefore, are to go, but only the branches. A full end is not to be made. The trunk, the roots, still stay. For indeed a word has, by-and-by, to be spoken by Jesus, concerning the vine and the branches, and the branches which are to abjure in the vine that they may bring forth fruit. God will destroy all profitless connection with himself. If men avail themselves of the strength and opportunity which he gives to bring forth fruit, not such as will glorify him, but such as suits the perverted taste of men, then all the branches on which such fruit comes must be unsparingly cut away. And what a thought that fruit which men so much value is after all in God's sight, which gives the true estimation, a sour and worthless thing! - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD'S.