Grapes and a Staff a Prophecy
Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 4, 2009
1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2. Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. 3. And Moses by the commandment of the Lord sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel. 18. And see the land, what it is, and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; 19. And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; 20. And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes. 23. And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. 24. The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. 25. And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
Carefully compare what you may have been taught about this chapter with the actual words. I have often heard people teach, “the cluster of grapes was so large it had to be carried on a spear between two men.” Is this what the chapter teaches? No, God never reveals the size of the grapes. Imagine witnessing this event. If you had seen grapes as large as watermelons, wouldn’t you find it difficult to omit further descriptions of the size? Any writer would jump at the chance to describe how many people a single grape would feed, or how the grapes were prepared, cut and divided. It would be difficult to grow a world record fruit or vegetable without providing a proper record, or landing a world record fish without carefully recording the measurements. If God wanted to put the emphasis on the size of the grapes, wouldn’t He have written a definitive description? God simply states, “one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff” We have to study what God has given us.
Is there a spiritual meaning to this act? The first clue is the fact one cluster of grapes is carried by two men. Because there is no further description of the size and weight of the grapes we can not assume anything out of the ordinary. We must take God at His word, the words He has placed in this text. If the men had been carrying many clusters of grapes, it would explain why they were carrying them on a staff between two men. This would be a normal occurrence. Based on the facts given, two men are carrying a normal cluster of grapes on a staff between two men. Consider this in a spiritual sense. This would have looked very unusual. It should have been questioned by every person witnessing the event. They should have been asking the question, “why are these men carrying one cluster of grapes on a staff between them?” There could only be two explanations. They started out carrying many clusters and ate the rest along the way, or there must be a spiritual meaning behind this event.
The second clue lies in the fact, searching out the promised land does not happen every day. Everyone will agree, there
is a spiritual meaning behind the opening of the Red Sea. There is also a spiritual meaning taught in the manna, which appeared every morning. We do not see either of these happening today. The act of searching out the promised land falls in the same spiritual category. Just as the opening of the Red Sea and the spiritual meaning of manna is found in the Bible, so must the spiritual lesson of the one cluster of grapes carried on a staff between two men.
KJV 1 Corinthians 10:1. Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2. And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3. And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4. And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
To interpret the spiritual meaning of an acted parable we first need to identify the key words. In this study we will look at the key words, staff and grape. Cluster, pomegranates, and fig are also key words, leading to additional understanding. Other texts containing the word staff must be compared to reveal the spiritual interpretation.
KJV Psalms 23:4
4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
A staff is referred to as a source of comfort.
KJV Zechariah 11:10. And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. 11. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord. 12. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. 14. Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. 15. And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. 16. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.
KJV Mark 6:8. And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:
Since Zechariah 11 is a prophecy about Jesus, it is easy to see a staff can represent Jesus. It is also interesting to notice when Jesus sent out His disciples, they were to take only a staff. In a way Jesus’ disciples were standing on the boarder of a new promised land. After spending time being taught by Jesus, it was their opportunity to spread the truth about forgiveness. Was the staff a symbol of the presence of Jesus?
KJV Hosea 9:10. I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
Grapes can be used as a metaphor to represent Israel.
KJV Deuteronomy 32:9. For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
14. Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. 28. For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. 31. For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. 32. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: 33. Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. 34. Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?
Deuteronomy 32 describes grapes in two distinct terms. The first being the pure blood of the grape, which is what God originally supplied. The second is described as the vine of Sodom, grapes of gall, and poison of dragons, describing the conditions Israel used, “the pure blood of the grape.” In spiritual terms, grapes can have opposite meanings, which may seem confusing. How does one determine which spiritual meaning to use in a particular text? One easy method is to substitute each spiritual meaning for the key word to find which meaning better fits the context. Searching additional texts may also provide an answer. In this case the word cluster leads us to Isaiah 65.
KJV Isaiah 65:8. Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all. 9. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.
Once again we find a prophecy about Jesus, the seed of Jacob and inheritor of God’s mountain. From these texts we see a grape can represent the promise of a savior through the line of Jacob and Judah.
Thus far we have found a staff can represent Jesus, while the grapes can represent Israel or the promise of a savior. From the spiritual interpretations of the key words we can see, this acted parable is providing a prophecy showing the nation of Israel will be carried by Jesus. The scriptures reveal this prophecy will be fulfilled when Israel displays a belief in a savior.
This prophecy provides two messages. Jesus, the staff, will provide all the support Israel, symbolized by the grapes, will require. This message was given at a time it was needed most. The cluster of grapes also represents the savior. The two men were carrying the promise of a savior, symbolized by the cluster if grapes. Deuteronomy 32 describes the two directions available to Israel. In the pure blood of the grape is found the promise of a savior. But knowledge of the saviour was altered by the Israel, turning it into a poisonous curse.
It is also interesting to note the verse indicates two men were carrying the cluster of grapes. As explained later in Numbers 13, only two of the twelve men returning from the promised land supplied an accurate report.
KJV Numbers 14: 36. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, 37. Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord. 38. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.
This may be an additional point of the prophecy, which at that particular time was in the making. As these two men were seen carrying the cluster of grapes upon a staff, it may have signified, only two of the appointed leaders will be carrying the truth about the promised land. Reading the rest of numbers 13 we see this portion of the prophecy fulfilled.
26. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. 27. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 28. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. 30. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. 31. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. 32. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 33. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
The men could not agree on what they saw in the promised land. Some brought word of land flowing with milk and honey, showing the fruit of the land, while others claimed it was a rough and hard land capable of eating up the inhabitants. Most of the men claimed the land was full of giants. Regardless of the inhabitants, Caleb insisted the nation of Israel should obey the word of God and immediately go in and possess it. This seems to be the point where the exaggerations intensify. Why were the ten representatives against possessing the promised land? What changed their minds? What could have caused these people to forget all the miracles and blessings God had provided over the past year? What turned these people away from God to the extent they lied to make a point?
Nevertheless, God knew what was going to happen and revealed His promise in the form of a cluster of grapes on a staff carried between two men.