14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. 15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.This text is Christ speaking to his bride, the Church. We will only look at v. 15, the little foxes.
At the time this was written, vineyards had protective walls around them. The purpose of the walls was to keep out the animals that would harm the grapes. Foxes is a generic term, and includes jackals. These animals would not eat the flowers nor the vines, but only the fruit, the grapes. If the vineyard was not closely watched as the fruit came on, these animals would destroy the fruit of the vine.
The spiritual truth in this verse is quite obvious:
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.Christians to bear spiritual fruit, as listed in Galatians 5. Christians are also to bear physical fruit :
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.This passage clearly speaks of fruit in reference to the conversion of souls:
1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.And
John 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.The fruit of the Spirit includes the spiritual fruit as listed: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, that is, self control. The fruit of the Spirit also includes the conversion of souls.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.The enemy knows he cannot uproot the vine nor the branches, for Christ is the vine and we are the branches :
John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.The foxes do not eat the vine nor the flower. But they will destroy the fruit. And it does not take much to stop that fruit.
First, the little foxes are the ones that destroy the fruit.
Second, they spoil the vines.
Third, the vines have tender grapes.
Fourth, therefore, the little foxes ruin the tender fruit.
First, LITTLE FOXES, not big foxes spoil the vines. The branches that bear the fruit are the Christians. The danger to those of us sitting in here today is not from the big foxes.
It is not adultery as David was involved in.
It is not murder as Cain did to his brother.
It is not robbery as carried out against the certain man:
Luke 10:30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.It is not sodomy as defined in Romans 1:
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
It is not fornication like the Midianitish woman and the Israelite man in Numbers 25:
6 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.It is not drunkenness like Noah.
It is the little sins that spoil the vine and destroy the fruit. It is not the big foxes, or sins like stealing cars, embezzling money, worshiping Buddha nor drunkenness.
It is the little foxes that can wiggle through the smallest hole into the vineyard. It is the little sins that creep in unawares --- those little things ruin the Christian's testimony. It is the little things that destroy the fruit that a Christian is required to bear.
Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.We live in a day where it seems everyone is given over to their own lusts. They do not care who they run over as long as they get their own thing. It is very easy to become bitter over the way people act against us or against those we might care about.
Did someone not treat us fair?
Did someone "unload" on you?
The little fox of bitterness that will spoil the vine and destroy the fruit.
Ezekiel 13:1-6 is an important passage concerning the foxes. God calls the false prophets foxes in the deserts. That is, these men handle the word of God with craftiness and cunning in order to deceive the people and lead them contrary to the word of God.
Isaiah 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:Those who have a problem following sound doctrine are fair game for the little foxes --- that is, the teaching of things that are just a little off from God's word. It is not long before those people are off the deep end following something openly contrary to Scripture.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of every person knowing the Scriptures for him or her self.
There are the little foxes found in,
1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,Malice is a desire to injure someone, maybe because of what they did to us or to someone we love.
Guile is craftiness, or deceit --- that is, deceiving others or being very crafty in order to obtain what we desire. The Devil is subtle, crafty and deceitful, and he uses these abilities to spoil the vines and destroy the fruit.
Envy is a felling of displeasure upon hearing of the prosperity of another.
Hypocrisy is an act, or a stage player -- that is, living two lives. Living one life for public consumption, and another for home and private. "I LIVED TWO LIVES." An old TV series about a double agent.
Evil speaking is backbiting and gossips, which normally comes from hard feelings against someone.
Rebellion or inner resistance to God's word and to the place we have been given according to the Lord and his word. This leads to rebellion against proper authority in the home and in the work place. It leads to bitterness against God for not doing what we think he should do for us.
Pride must also be considered. Pride will demand to be always right, and it refuses to admit wrong.
Second, these little things spoil the vines.
The little sins are the danger.
Someone has said, "If you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves." If we will watch for the little sins, the big ones will take care of themselves.
Third, the vines have tender grapes.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.Note the fruit that is in danger --- love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness and temperance, self control.
Also in danger is the salvation of souls around us.
1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.The vines are easily spoiled, and the grapes are tender.
All of the fruit listed above is the result of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. Ephesians 4:30 tells us that it does not take much to grieve the holy Spirit of God.
Fourth, therefore, the little foxes ruin the tender fruit.
Corrupt communication, bitterness, wrath, anger, evil speaking, malice do not seem near as bad as David's adultery and murder. They do not seem near as bad as sodomy and drunkenness.
But it is God's Holy Spirit that must give us the love, joy, peace, patience, good works, faith, meekness and self control.
It is God's Holy Spirit that must work in the heart of those around us by making our living testimony effective in reaching them for the Lord Jesus Christ.
The foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. It is those little things that creep into our lives that prevents the Holy Spirit of God from producing HIS FRUIT in our lives. They must be watched at all times.