There’s a verse tucked away in the Old Testament book of Song of Solomon. It is vaguely familiar in that we have heard it quoted and even misquoted. In chapter 2, a love song is played out, and in verse 15, the reference is given to the vineyard and the attack on the harvest - “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”
These passages are a direct comparison to the church and its role as the bride and Jesus Christ the bride groom. But notice the emphasis is given to just two things: the vineyard and all it produces against the foxes and all they destroy. First of all, foxes are not large animals. They never seem to be a major threat because they always appear harmless. Samson took 300 of these small animals and torched with fire the Philistine’s grain and olive harvest. He used the smallest of weapons to attack the largest enemy.
Jesus compared himself to being the bread of life in John chapter 6. The Philistine fields that were destroyed by the little foxes were strategically attacked by Samson to eliminate their oil and grain. Without these two ingredients, there can be no bread. It didn’t diminish their current supply of grain and oil, but the future harvest was placed in jeopardy. Foxes feed on the tender grapes of the vine. They do not bother the bloom or the flower. They also burrow into the ground, thus they slowly attack the integrity of the plant. The vine will produce leaves and blooms. It will go through its process of producing fruit, all the while the fox continues to burrow into the root system of the plant, and, by the time the grapes are beginning to produce, the host has already been compromised.
The plant is under attack from a lack of sustenance, and the fruit is either eaten by the fox or withers and dies on the vine, and all of this happens because of the little things that are left unattended. I call these “little g’s.” They’re the little gods in our lives that seem cute and bushy-tailed. They first appear as small and insignificant. We give them attention, and ignore the fact that they are eating away at the victory or harvest that lies ahead for us. The problem with the “little g’s” is, that like the foxes, they’re small, they seem harmless, their attack is hidden, and, by the time we notice them, the harvest has been compromised. They show up early in the form of work, sports, hobbies, laziness, and indifference to name a few. They seem harmless at first until you realize you haven’t opened your Bible in weeks or attended service in a while. These little things continually nip away until you realize you’ve just given the torch to the fox to burn down your fields.
You can’t make bread without the oil and grain, and you will never produce wine without the grape, but neither the vine nor the wheat will grow without the soil. God is the soil to our relationship, and we are the branch. It’s our job to keep the foxes out, and these foxes are little gods that produce nothing but destruction. They burrow between us and God, they cut off nutrients to the relationship, and they wait patiently for the harvest. They devour everything they can and leave the rest to die on the vine, and we allow it to happen because they’re seemingly cute and harmless.
Take note that vineyards can withstand the largest of storms. The grape will hang on the vine through the most violent of winds. It pulls nutrients from a bitter soil to produce the sweetest fruit, yet the greatest damage is done through the smallest intruder.
It’s 2021, whether this year is better or worse than the last remains to be seen. Some threats and storms are out of our control, but the “little g’s” are like the smallest of foxes that spoil the greatest of potential and can only be removed by us. I challenge you to begin this new year by clearing the foxes from the field. What happens today will have an impact on what is produced later on at the harvest. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the enemy only attacks at the end when the grain is full and the vine heavy. He knows every end has a beginning and every harvest has to begin with planting. Jesus recorded in the books of Matthew and Luke that foxes have holes where they reside and set up their home. Our job is to make sure those holes aren’t dug in our vineyard because the harvest depends on it. I’ll see you at “The Point” this Sunday for a safe and powerful time of gathering. We’re on the square in Sparta. Service times are 9 a.m. and 11 am. We’re real people, living real lives, serving a God. Welcome home.