What’s a grape topic that’s ripe for discussion? Um, grapes!
Grapes seem to pop up everywhere. They’re in jams, jellies, and juices. They’re made into wines, vinegar, and grape seed oil. They can be eaten raw, fresh from the vine, or dried into raisins. And there are several kinds of raisins, too. Although any type of dried grapes are classed as raisins, currants are produced by specifically drying Black Corinth grapes. Sultanas are made from white or red grapes.
Grapes are actually a type of berry; and despite there being many different varieties, all grapes are the fruit of the deciduous (leaf-shedding) vines of the botanical genus Vitis. (No need to remember this word, there’s no test.) Seventy-two million tons of these berries are grown worldwide annually. Most of this fruit is used to produce wine — 7.2 trillion gallons of it each year! Hic!
Grapes grow in clusters of 15 to 300, and are frequently distinguished by their colors: crimson, black, dark blue, yellow, green, orange, and pink. And for some reason green grapes are often marketed as “white” grapes. That’s okay, but if you ever see something that looks like a grape but actually is white, you’ll probably be better off not eating it!
Grapes and vineyards were prominent in Israel during Biblical times, and still are today. Because of their abundance, God uses them to teach His people several spiritual principles. For instance, all God’s people share a few qualities with grapes. Yes, like these berries, we come in all colors, but the comparison doesn’t end there. Grapes grow in clusters, and their dense groupings remind us that, again like the fruit, we were never created as independent beings. To the contrary, God designed humans to be interdependent.
People thrive in clusters. We are relational beings, who draw strength from the fellowship of others. In fact, when we’re isolated and alone for long periods, we tend to grow loony! That’s why God stated, “It is not good for man to be alone….” (Genesis 2:18)
Although this verse specifically refers to marriage, the first institution created by God, it also illustrates our Heavenly Father’s intention that His people form mutually beneficial relationships — not only relationships with others, but also a relationship with Him! God didn’t create us just to have something to do; He created us to have fellowship with Him! This is why the “greatest commandment” is to “Love God” … closely followed by “Love your Neighbor”! (Matthew 22:37-40) Oh, and by “neighbor” God means everyone!
Clusters of grapes grow in vineyards … with other clusters; and people, in addition to being a part of a family unit, congregation, club, company or other association, are social beings designed to be members of a larger community. We call that community the human race.
In order to grow properly, grapes need a little help. The vines need a stronger, supporting structure upon which to grow. Without a trellis, or similar framework, the vines will trail through the mud and their fruit will rot. Similarly, we all need a little help from time to time — the support of a friend (or even a stranger). The Apostle Paul wrote, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:22 NLT)
We have yet another support mechanism in God: “…The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB) God supports His children because He doesn’t want us “growing in the dirt” like an unsupported vine heavy with rotting grapes. Instead, He lifts us up so that we can flourish and become all He intended us to be! After all, we are created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:26), for good works! You might say that, for each and everyone of us, God has Grape Expectations!