Lesson 13 | Sabbath, 23 September 2023
“But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.” Matthew 21:28-30.
“In this parable the father represents God; the vineyard, the church. By the two sons are represented two classes of people. The son who refused to obey the command, saying, ‘I will not,’ represented those who were living in open transgression, who made no profession of piety, who openly refused to come under the yoke of restraint and obedience which the law of God imposes. But many of these afterward repented and obeyed the call of God. When the gospel came to them in the message of John the Baptist, ‘Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ they repented, and confessed their sins. Matthew 3:2.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 275.
UNDERSTANDING THE SONS’ CHARACTERS
1.In Jesus’ parable, whom did the two sons represent in terms of behavior and obedience? Of whom is the second son’s reply a reminder?
Exodus 19:8. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.
“The priests and elders of Israel spent their lives in religious ceremonies, which they regarded as too sacred to be connected with secular business. Therefore, their lives were supposed to be wholly religious. But they per- formed their ceremonies to be seen by men that they might be thought by the world to be pious and devoted. While professing to obey they re- fused to render obedience to God. They were not doers of the truth which they professed to teach.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 278.
2.Similarly, what two other children differed in their response to God’s command? What made them especially different from each other?
Génesis 4:1-2, 5, 8. And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. 2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground…. 5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell…. 8And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
“Cain hated and killed his brother, not for any wrong that Abel had done, but ‘because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.’ 1 John 3:12. So in all ages the wicked have hated those who were better than themselves. Abel’s life of obedience and unswerving faith was to Cain a perpetual reproof. ‘Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither com- eth to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.’ John 3:20.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 74.
3.What characterized Abraham’s first two sons? Unlike the sons of Adam, who had the same two parents, what made Abraham’s sons different?
Genesis 21:3, 9-13. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac…. 9And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. 12And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 13And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
“Separated from his father, and embittered by the strife and contention of a home destitute of the love and fear of God, Ishmael was driven to choose the wild, marauding life of the desert chief, ‘his hand’ ‘against every man, and every man’s hand against him.’ Genesis 16:12. In his latter days he repented of his evil ways and returned to his father’s God, but the stamp of character given to his posterity remained. The powerful nation descended from him were a turbulent, heathen people, who were ever an annoyance and affliction to the descendants of Isaac.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 174.
4.If Ishmael gave rise to the Arab nations, who were Isaac’s descendants?
Genesis 25:27; 32:28; 49:28. And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 32:28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 49:28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
“The sons of Jacob were not all righteous. They were affected in some degree with idolatry.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 125.
“He [Jacob] reaped a second harvest, as the evils of his own character were seen to crop out in his sons–all but too true a picture of the retributions of human life.” –Education, p. 147.
5.To what mountains were the twelve tribes of Israel led when they entered Canaan? On which of the two mountains did the tribes that descended from the sons of Jacob’s two concubines stand? Who of his sons lost his birthright and stood on that mountain as well?
Deuteronomy 11:29; 27:12, 13. And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal…. 27:12These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: 13And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Ash- er, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
Genesis 35:22. And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bil- hah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve..
6.In Jesus’ parable, whom did the two sons represent? How was the proclamation that the older would serve the younger fulfilled in this parable?
Matthew 21:29, 30, 32; 8:11, 12. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not…. 32For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him…. 8:11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Romans 11:20, 24. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear…. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
“In the company before Christ there were scribes and Pharisees, priests and rulers, and after giving the parable of the two sons, Christ addressed to His hearers the question, ‘Whether of them twain did the will of his father?’ Forgetting themselves, the Pharisees answered, ‘The first.’ This they said without realizing that they were pronouncing sentence against them- selves. Then there fell from Christ’s lips the denunciation, ‘Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.’” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 276.
CARRYING OUT THE DIVINE WILL
7.Like Cain, what did the descendants of the disobedient son ultimately do with the Messiah when He came to His vineyard?
Matthew 7:21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
John 8:39, 40. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
“The eternal God has drawn the line of distinction between the saint and the sinner, between converted and unconverted. The two classes do not blend into each other imperceptibly, like the colors of a rainbow, but are as distinct as midday and midnight. God’s people cannot with safety enter into intimate associations with those who know the truth, but do not practice it. The patriarch Jacob, when speaking of certain deeds of his sons, which he contemplated with horror, exclaimed, ‘O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly mine honor, be not thou united.’ He felt that his own honor would be compromised if he associated with sinners in their doings. He lifted the danger signal, warning us to shun wrong associations, lest we become tainted with evil. And the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, utters a similar warning, ‘Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.’” –Messages to Young People, p. 390.
For Additional Study
“The children of Adam present the earliest example of the two different courses pursued by men with regard to the claims of God. Abel saw Christ figured in the sacrificial offerings. Cain was an unbeliever in regard to the necessity of sacrifices; he refused to discern that Christ was typified by the slain lamb; the blood of beasts appeared to him without virtue. The gospel was preached to Cain as well as to his brother; but it was to him a savor of death unto death, because he would not recognize, in the blood of the sacrificial lamb, Jesus Christ the only provision made for man’s salvation.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 231.