The Review and Herald


July 17, 1900

The Lord's Vineyard


During the Jewish economy, at appointed times God sent prophets and messengers to receive his portion from the husbandmen. These messengers saw that everything was being appropriated to a wrong use, and the Spirit of God inspired them to warn the people of their unfaithfulness. But though the people were convicted in regard to their unrighteous course, they would not yield, but became more stubborn. Entreaties and arguments were of no avail. They hated reproof. RH July 17, 1900, par. 1

“When the time of the fruit drew near,” Christ said, in giving the parable of the vineyard, “he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 2

Paul records the treatment received by God's messengers. “Women received their dead raised to life again,” he declares; “and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented (of whom the world was not worthy); they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 3

For centuries God looked with patience and forbearance upon the cruel treatment given to his ambassadors, at his holy law prostrate, despised, trampled underfoot. He swept away the inhabitants of the Noachian world with a flood. But when the earth was again peopled, men drew away from God, and renewed their hostility to him, manifesting bold defiance. Those whom God rescued from Egyptian bondage followed in the footsteps of those who had preceded them. Cause was followed by effect; the earth was being corrupted. RH July 17, 1900, par. 4

A crisis had arrived in the government of God. The earth was filled with transgression. The voices of those who had been sacrificed to human envy and hatred were crying beneath the altar for retribution. All heaven was prepared at the word of God to move to the help of his elect. One word from him, and the bolts of heaven would have fallen upon the earth, filling it with fire and flame. God had but to speak, and there would have been thunderings and lightnings and earthquakes and destruction. RH July 17, 1900, par. 5

The heavenly intelligences were prepared for a fearful manifestation of Almighty power. Every move was watched with intense anxiety. The exercise of justice was expected. The angels looked for God to punish the inhabitants of the earth. But “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “I will send my beloved Son,” he said. “It may be they will reverence him.” Amazing grace! Christ came not to condemn the world, but to save the world. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 6

The heavenly universe was amazed at God's patience and love. To save fallen humanity the Son of God took humanity upon himself, laying aside his kingly crown and royal robe. He became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. One with God, he alone was capable of accomplishing the work of redemption, and he consented to an actual union with man. In his sinlessness, he would bear every transgression. RH July 17, 1900, par. 7

The love that Christ manifested can not be comprehended by mortal man. It is a mystery too deep for the human mind to fathom. Christ did in reality unite the offending nature of man with his own sinless nature, because by this act of condescension he would be enabled to pour out his blessings in behalf of the fallen race. Thus he has made it possible for us to partake of his nature. By making himself an offering for sin, he opened a way whereby human beings might be made one with him. He placed himself in man's position, becoming capable of suffering. The whole of his earthly life was a preparation for the altar. RH July 17, 1900, par. 8

Christ points us to the key of all his suffering and humiliation,—the love of God. We read in the parable, “Last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.” Again and again the Jewish nation had apostatized. Christ came to see what he could do for his vineyard that he had not done. With his divinity clothed with humanity, he stood before the people, presenting to them their true condition. RH July 17, 1900, par. 9

How was the Son of God received?—When the husbandmen saw him, they said, within themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” Christ came to his own, but his own received him not. They rewarded him evil for good, and hatred for love. His soul was filled with grief as he saw the backsliding of Israel. As he looked at the devoted city, and thought of the punishment to come upon it, he exclaimed, with weeping, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 10

Christ was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” By wicked hands he was taken and crucified. Speaking of his death, the psalmist writes: “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled: the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 11

After giving the parable of the vineyard, Christ put to his hearers the question, “When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those wicked husbandmen?” Among Christ's hearers were the very men then planning how they could take his life. But so engrossed had they become in the narrative, that they answered, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” They did not realize that by their denunciation of the husbandmen they had pronounced their own sentence. But Jesus now fastened the guilt where it belonged. RH July 17, 1900, par. 12

“Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?” he asked. “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 13

As Christ made the application of his words, the Pharisees saw the meaning of the parable. His words struck home to their hearts, and they cried out, in dismay, “God forbid.” The Lord permitted them to see and realize their peril. They saw a true picture of their condition. They were given a vivid, momentary view of their course of action and its result. But they closed their eyes against light, and hardened their hearts against conviction. They were determined to carry out their satanic purpose. RH July 17, 1900, par. 14

“And whosoever shall fall on this stone,” Christ continued, “shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Those who remain impenitent will understand the meaning of the wrath of the Lamb. The punishment that was to fall upon the Jewish people would be all the more terrible because of the poor return they had made for God's great mercy and love. Not long after this parable was given, the Son of God stood in Pilate's judgment hall, before a human tribunal, and there he was condemned by false witnesses. Though declared innocent by a heathen judge, he was delivered into the hands of the cruelest power that earth can produce,—a mob inspired by Satan. RH July 17, 1900, par. 15

“What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” God asks. “Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes brought it forth wild grapes?” When God called for fruit in its season, the Jewish people were surprised that he expected anything of the kind. They professed to be the most pious people on the earth. They had been employed as guardians and almoners of truth, and they should have used the Lord's goods to bless and benefit the world. But they abused the messengers sent to them; and when God sent his Son, the heir to the inheritance, they lifted him upon the cross of Calvary. One day they will see the result of their impenitence. No longer will be heard the pleadings of infinite love; but the wrath of the Lamb, the power they defied, will fall upon them as a rock, grinding them to powder. RH July 17, 1900, par. 16

“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” But that which would have been their greatest blessing became their condemnation, because they were disobedient, unthankful, unholy. RH July 17, 1900, par. 17

The Lord declared that he required his husbandmen to give him the returns of his vineyard. Men are not to use their possessions as their own, but only as intrusted to them. The Lord's portion is to be faithfully returned to him. “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord. He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 18

The statutes regarding the Lord's portion were often repeated that the people might not forget them. They were to return to God his rental money. This he claimed as his portion. Their physical and mental powers as well as their money were to be used for him. His vineyard was to be faithfully cultivated, so that a large income could be returned to him in tithes and offerings. A portion was to be set apart for the sustenance of the ministry, and was to be used for no other purpose. Gifts and offerings were to be made to relieve the necessity of the church. Means was to be appropriated for the relief of the poor and suffering. RH July 17, 1900, par. 19

The history of the children of Israel shows us the many privileges they enjoyed. And the richest blessings were in store for them if they kept the Lord's commandments. “Know therefore,” God declared, “that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” “Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.” “What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” RH July 17, 1900, par. 20

Shall we profit by the teaching of the parable of the vineyard? “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 21

Christ has a church in every age. Obedience to the commandments of God gives us a right to the privileges of this church. There are those in the church who are made no better by their connection with it. They themselves break the terms of their election. If we comply with the conditions God has made, we shall secure our election to salvation. Perfect obedience to his commandments is the evidence that we love God. RH July 17, 1900, par. 22

“I had planted thee a noble vine,” God declares, “wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” The lesson is for us. Paul declares, “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear.” This message comes to all who share the privileges once given to ancient Israel. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” RH July 17, 1900, par. 23