What a beautiful verse!
Probably all of us at one time or another have planted a small garden, cared for it through all sorts of weather conditions and looked upon the harvest with great pride and satisfaction. It’s the great cycle of life, compacted into a few months but it permits us to understand the greater cycles of decades and centuries. We can compare our small gardens to the Vineyard of the Lord where Jesus said, “I am the true vine and the husbandman (owner) is God.”
And this is the Beauty!
You and I may have planted a vegetable garden, or a flower garden, maybe a tomato garden. We can easily identify such a garden. And to us, it is beauty.
That God refers to His garden as a vineyard is revealed, among other places, in Isaiah 5: 7 where He equates His Vineyard to the House of Israel and He equates the men of Judah as a pleasant plant.
With this in mind and with the Lord God Almighty as the Great Gardener, we can see that God’s description of His Vineyard at that time in not like the description of the Vineyard today. What started out so promising at Sinai ended so disgracefully? Relating the words of Isaiah to conditions today, the Vineyard has become a withered plant, rotten at the root, which will suddenly crumble away in a breeze. Her rot then and the recent rot stemmed from the contemptuous rejection of God’s Word. And so, at that time, a foreign power was permitted to begin a series of conquests, beginning with the House of Israel. Fortunately, it was all part of the Great Gardener’s Plan to re-plant His Vineyard, for as He conveyed to Nathan two centuries earlier, “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more…” (2 Samuel 7:10)
Well, that happened just as Nathan prophesied, first to the isles in the sea and ultimately to America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other places around the globe. Probably the most beautiful flowering of the Garden took place at the time of the Reformation, the Bible calls it the Philadelphia Church age, which began around 1558 AD, when Elizabeth I began her reign. Jesus described those times and the people in Revelation 3:8 as, “thou hast keep my word and hast not denied my name.” This is not the say there were not the evil ones among them but the nations and their people held Jesus Christ very much in the centre of their lives. It is the prime reason why the French historian, Tocqueville, was able to praise America’s greatness in the early 1800’s and point to Christian principles as the reason. Remember, he said, “America is great because America is good.” Well that was pretty well true of all the True Israel nations at the time.
Well, that was then and this is now! It has also been proven true that as True Israel is no longer good, she can no longer be great. And just as with Israel of old, “Rot” has set in and again it has resulted from our contemptuous rejection of God’s Word. I like the way a former correspondent, Charles Cadwallader, described what was already taking place fifty years ago. Even he would be astonished to see how much further we have fallen since then. Anyway, in slightly abridged form he wrote, “A moral landslide has struck our civilization with the impact of an earthquake, with the wicked straining every effort to get rid of the Bible and all Christian restraint. There is an undoubted feeling that the various churches have been tried, and are found wanting. There is a famine for the true bread of life as these perilous times wax worse and worse. Most certainly there is “distress of nations with perplexity.” In churches where modernism holds sway, the Word of God is held to be a myth; miracles are considered fairy stories, and so on, until, in presumptuous blasphemy, even the Ten Commandments are being subdued and some today even want them softened.”
This then is the Beast!
In a 2005 article, “Guilty On All Counts” I highlighted the seven counts of transgression of Israel at the time and suggested that while the circumstances behind each charge may differ slightly, we should think of the decline of our Israel nations, especially over the past fifty years. In considering the charges, you might even add to them, for example, to the 5th charge how our modern society denigrates Jesus Christ or adding drug use to the sixth.
- Guilty of selfish greed.
- Guilty of frivolous pleasure-seeking and vicious dissipation.
- Guilty of cynical materialism.
- Guilty of reversing the standards of morality.
- Guilty of intellectual pride and self-sufficiency.
- Guilty of alcoholic indulgence.
- Guilty of corruption.
Yes, the rot goes on. And the more our nations and people ignore God’s Word, the more rapid the downhill slide. Like Israel of old, True Israel today, particularly the Anglo-Saxon countries, has gone into captivity, a different type perhaps, but captivity nevertheless, as debt and taxes have the entire nations in bondage, where sports, drugs and pleasure are the new gods, where homes are being lost at an unprecedented rate, where crime keeps us behind locked doors and the future looks dimmer and dimmer. How can anyone imagine that the richest countries in the world, bequeathed by Jacob in his blessing of Joseph (Genesis 49:25-26), could be in such a state of devastation today. Is it as simple, as Isaiah wrote in 5:13, that the captivity is caused through an absence of knowledge? Hosea used even stronger language when he wrote, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (4:6)
Who has stolen this knowledge from True Israel? Who has destroyed God’s Vineyard this time? Jeremiah describes it very aptly when he wrote (12:10) “My pastors [and leaders] have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion underfoot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.” Those pastors who promote false doctrine are no better than the political and economic leaders who work against the welfare of the people. They are all a part of the Beast system the Bible calls Mystery Babylon. But we know from Revelation and other parts of Scripture (like James 5:1-6) that their day of their reckoning is coming and will arrive very soon.
So, fear not, the Beauty will return and the Beast will be destroyed.
And we who have been blessed with a greater understanding of the Bible through an understanding of the Israel identity must spend much of our time in prayer and Psalm 80:3 is a great starting point, “Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” When our people turned to evil, as Hosea 5:15 states, “I [God] will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face…..” Pray our brethren will listen.
You know, over the past decade, great calamities have visited the Israel lands, most notably to the United States. In all likelihood, the greatest calamity of all is set to befall all the Israel nations and maybe then we will call out, “Return, we beseech thee, O God of Hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of your countenance. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” (Psalm 80: 14-19)
What about our children, the lost generation who mostly believe that Bible stories are a myth. What are we to tell them to get them to search the truth for themselves, rather than listening to teachers, friends and others who have fallen away from God’s Word? Maybe we can relate the story of when David, Israel’s greatest king, was about to hand over the government of the kingdom to his son, Solomon. In words of warning, he said to his son, “The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginings of the thoughts. If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee, but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off forever.”(1Chronicles 28:9)
Somehow, we have to double our efforts to reach out to young and old alike, to convince them of the beautiful story of the Kingdom and hope our efforts will result in their coming under the Blood of Christ. Mr. Cadwallader wrote his words fifty years ago and if we extrapolate them to today’s sorry scenario, we will quickly realize that time is very short.