Lesson 17 | Sabbath, 21 October 2023
“When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” Matthew 21:40.
“Even fruitful branches may display too much foliage and appear what they really are not. The followers of Christ may be doing some work for the Master and yet not be doing half what they might do. He then prunes them, because worldliness, self-indulgence, and pride are cropping out in their lives. Husbandmen clip off the surplus tendrils of the vines that are grasping the rubbish of earth, thus making them more fruitful. These hindering causes must be removed and the defective overgrowth cut away, to give room for the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness.” –Testi- monies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 354.
GOD’S PURPOSE FOR HIS PEOPLE
1.What parable did Jesus give that showed God’s desires for His people? To whom did the vineyard belong, and what was the purpose of the hedge around it?
Matthew 21:33. Hear another parable: There was a certain house- holder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husband- men, and went into a far country.
Isaiah 5:7. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant.
Deuteronomy 5:29. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
“In the parable the householder represented God, the vineyard the Jew- ish nation, and the hedge the divine law which was their protection. The tower was a symbol of the temple. The lord of the vineyard had done everything needful for its prosperity. ‘What could have been done more to my vineyard,’ he says, ‘that I have not done in it.’ Isaiah 5:4. Thus was rep- resented God’s unwearied care for Israel. And as the husbandmen were to return to the Lord a due proportion of the fruits of the vineyard, so God’s people were to honor Him by a life corresponding to their sacred privileges.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 596.
2.Why was the vineyard planted? What function did the tower have in the vineyard?
Isaiah 16:10. And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.
Micah 4:6-8. In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; 7And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. 8And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 56:7. Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
“Through the Jewish nation it was God’s purpose to impart rich blessings to all peoples. Through Israel the way was to be prepared for the diffusion of His light to the whole world. The nations of the world, through following corrupt practices, had lost the knowledge of God. Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence. He purposed to give them opportunity for becoming acquainted with Him through His church. He designed that the principles revealed through His people should be the means of re- storing the moral image of God in man.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 286.
3.What did Israel do with the wine–the spiritual teachings? Who were sent to gather the fruits of the vineyard, and what did the husbandmen do to them?
Isaiah 1:22. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water.
Jeremiah 7:23, 24. But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have com- manded you, that it may be well unto you. 24But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went back- ward, and not forward.
Matthew 21:34-36. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
“But as the husbandmen had killed the servants whom the master sent to them for fruit, so the Jews had put to death the prophets whom God sent to call them to repentance. Messenger after messenger had been slain.”–The Desire of Ages, p. 596.
4.Finally, whom did the Father especially send, and how did the husbandmen accept Him? Therefore, what punishment would they receive?
Matthew 21:37-41. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41They say unto him, 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 determined that they would not receive Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. They rejected the Light of the world, and thenceforth their lives were surrounded with darkness as the darkness of midnight. The doom foretold came upon the Jewish nation. Their own fierce passions, uncontrolled, wrought their ruin. In their blind rage they destroyed one another. Their rebellious, stubborn pride brought upon them the wrath of their Roman conquerors. Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple laid in ruins, and its site plowed like a field. The children of Judah perished by the most horrible forms of death. Millions were sold, to serve as bondmen in heathen lands. “As a people the Jews had failed of fulfilling God’s purpose, and the vineyard was taken from them. The privileges they had abused, the work they had slighted, was entrusted to others.” –Christ’s Object Les- sons, pp. 295, 296.
THE MESSIAH’S FEELINGS FOR HIS PEOPLE
5.What feelings did God’s Son express when He saw Israel’s future? Why did the Jewish leaders fail to grasp the parable’s terrible conclusion?
Matthew 23:37, 38; 21:43-45. 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! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 21:43Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44And who- soever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
“The Jewish people cherished the idea that they were the favorites of heaven, and that they were always to be exalted as the church of God. They were the children of Abraham, they declared, and so firm did the foundation of their prosperity seem to them that they defied earth and heaven to dispossess them of their rights. But by lives of unfaithfulness they were preparing for the condemnation of heaven and for separation from God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 294.
BUILDING FOR ETERNITY
6.What were the new plants in the vineyard called? What would Jesus’ faithful followers be willing to do?
Acts 11:25, 26. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Philippians 1:29. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.
Matthew 5:16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
“‘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 fat- ness of the olive tree; boast not…. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.’ Romans 11:17-21.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 306.
7.What was the Father’s plan for His Son? In turn, what would the Son do for His faithful followers?
Matthew 21:42. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?
Revelation 5:6, 10. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth…. 10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
“Then I saw thrones, and Jesus and the redeemed saints sat upon them; and the saints reigned as kings and priests unto God. Christ, in union with His people, judged the wicked dead, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Word of God, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then they meted out to the wicked the portion which they must suffer, according to their works; and it was written against their names in the book of death. Satan also and his angels were judged by Jesus and the saints. Satan’s punishment was to be far greater than that of those whom he had deceived. His suffering would so far exceed theirs as to bear no comparison with it. After all those whom he had deceived had perished, Satan was still to live and suffer on much longer.” –Early Writings, p. 290.
For Additional Study
“Are they less guilty than was the Jewish church?”–Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 303.