On occasion scripture presents us with expressions unfamiliar to us. When God warns of judgement for wickedness, the Lord uses an unfamiliar saying about grapes: “’As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and people say, “‘Don’t destroy it, there is still a blessing in it,” so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all’” (Isaiah 65:8).

Though we have never spoken about blessings being found in grapes, we get the point; God will judge Israel, but some will receive the blessings promised to God’s people (showing they have a “blessing in them”) and others will be excluded. This prepares the way for the teachings of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostle Paul years later when they warned that not all children of Abraham are true children of Abraham, resembling him in character and faith (see Romans 9:7-13). God doesn’t rescind the promises of a remnant of Jacob’s line that would receive His blessings (Isaiah 65:9); instead He considers as children of Jacob both his physical descendants characterized by faith, and the faithful who are not physical descendants. John the Baptist paints it clearly and stands obviously in Isaiah’s tradition when he says, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:9-10).

Faith is the only pleasing response to God’s kindness, forbearance, and kingdom. May we be glad that Christ was bent on rescuing a remnant and welcoming in more children of Abraham that we might have life.