What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.(Isaiah 5:7-9)
The LORD created and planted a people, Israel , in the Holy Land. He gave them the Torah, the Prophets and His own Wisdom. Furthermore the Most High descended in a cloud and dwelt in a Holy House in the midst of the people of Israel. There he ordained a system of sacrifice, and the services of mercy through priests,(the forgiveness of sins), and the teaching of His holy Word, which was an attraction to people all over the world. The Law was to go out of Zion and bring the pagan world to the knowledge of the only true God.
For all of the privileges and advantages, there was only one expectation; that Israel would bear fruit unto God. The LORD expected them to bring forth the fruit of repentance, Love, Faith and loyalty to Him.
Everything was calculated to bring Israel to a deep repentance, a hatred of sin, a love for God and for our brother, a compassion for the needy and helpless above all else.
The tabernacle itself was a constant teaching, bearing witness to the great themes of sin, judgment, cleansing, separation unto God, the need for the shedding of innocent blood for the remission of sins. The sacred furniture, the holy Priests and especially the High Priest, were all types of the Messiah to come and illustrated the work He would do.
The various sacrifices were also teachings of the person of the coming “seed of the woman” and how he would reverse the ancient curse upon all of us by his death. The OX which portrays the strong one bearing the burden of the weak and helpless, the lamb who lays his head back meekly submitting to be slaughtered, the pair of turtle doves; heavenly (flying) creatures but one slain under running water, and the other set free for the cleansing of the leper, all of this taught the Holy nation, for centuries of the coming Messiah.
Every Passover was a mini enactment, a portrayal of the coming deliverance from sin, through the inspected lamb, the shedding of his blood and its application on the household door posts, the complete sacrifice of the lamb, leaving nothing left over, and even the specific admonition to not break so much as a bone of the Lamb. “He keeps all of his bones, not one of them shall be broken”(Psalm 34).
I could spend the rest of my life portraying the centuries of Temple services, blessings, scriptures, the rivers of sacrificial blood which flowed out of the temple, and the countless dramatic services through which God sought to incline the people of Israel to recognize and to believe in the coming Messiah.
How could these people do anything other, than to turn to God, away from their sin and to await and receive the Messiah when He came? After all of that preparation, which was designed to incline them towards such fruitfulness, how could they yield instead , the fruit of unbelief, ingratitude, hatred and oppression?
We must translate this message to we who consider ourselves the heirs of the Judeo Christian civilization.
Everything we have been given, down through the centuries, has also been calculated to bring us to the point of faith in God, belief in Jesus, repentance and true love for our God and fellow man!
Consider the English speaking world. God gave us brave men who stood up to the Papacy and shed their blood that the Bible be available in the English language? In the very center of Oxford University is a monument to three martyrs, Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley, who allowed themselves to be burned alive at the stake in public rather than compromise with the Roman premise that the wafer is actually Christ incarnate! They died in loyalty to truth!
Why was I born and raised in the mid west of the United States, a place of Protestantism, and evangelically shaped values? How is it that I born into a nation founded by British Puritans who sought a place to worship God? Why have I been blessed to live in relative peace in an orderly (Judeo Christian)part of the world?
These are the preparations of the LORD of the Vineyard in my life, He put these things in my life to incline me to turn to Him(Fruit) , to accept Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of my sins,He sent people into my life at critical times who were Christians and witnesses of Him, He even used my parents who tho Catholic, taught me that there was a God, a heaven and a Hell and a Judgment and that there was the Son of God, Jesus Christ who died for my sins.
In the Mass I recited every Sunday of my life, we said “I believe in Jesus Christ His only son who was born of the virgin Mary, conceived under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried…and on the third day he arose from the dead…”, This is how God prepared the soil of my life, He primed me to come to a point… everything was his preparation for fruit.
The ultimate disaster would be if after all of that, I still would have remained fruitless! This is the lesson and warning of Isaiah’s version of the parable of the Vineyard. Jesus will develop these themes…