The Song of the Vineyard is an allegory that is to be understood at two levels. It refers to a specific time and place as well as it holds good in general sense since it is hinged on the divine nature. Thus Israel is the vineyard and in general sense the church is to be bountiful being a branch of the vine. (Jn.15:2) Love and Righteousness of God drive the allegory and as in the case of the Parable of the Tares judgment must round it off.
God’s zeal to lead Israel is illustrated by the care the husbandman took to nourish his vineyard. When the prophet speaks of its walls being taken down and hedges displaced in v.5 it is to be understood that the fault lay entirely with the fruits being contrary to all expectation. Divine care and love did not make Israel cleave entirely onto God. So wild grapes must reveal their nature. At the time God would lead the children of Israel with pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night no other nation could have claimed such close relationship. It is characterized as ‘apple of his eye’. Despite of it how easily did they take to the golden calf? As soon as Moses was long in coming from top of the mount they forced Aaron to make one. Next they wanted to have a king they could follow than God whose very voice frightened them. When the prophet says, “I will take away the hedge thereof’, it does not mean in a literal sense but Israel, instead being preserved in the place where they were placed, went after foreign gods and followed the worship and manners of the Gentile nations. So wars and other calamities which are natural to worldly powers would visit upon them. That much is for sure. When we do not care for abiding life as ‘hidden in Christ’ the lure of bling bling must indeed become the bait to trip us up. The epistle of James speaks this lure as lust or greed.(Jas.4:1-4) Indeed Prosperity theology did not come from God but from the manner modern evangelicalism explained away their worldliness with activism could accordingly cobble up a doctrine. James nevertheless calls them as ‘Adulterers'”Know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God:(Jas.4:4)?. The pillars of the church may hasten to the White House and before media glare endorse President Trump as their champion but shall not escape the odium of being worldly. In short what was wrong with Israel is so well established in the worldliness of modern churches.
“Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.(vv.8-10)”
Problem of sin does not just go away by lip-service. Israel backslid and in wanting to be like other nations they would make a statement about their material circumstance. What does Haggai say? “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.(Hag.1:6-NIV) Compare this with v.4”Is this time to attend to superficials while the house is caving from within?” is an alternate reading.
“Woe unto them… Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: …(vv.11-13)
Captivity of Israel was foregone conclusion and dispersion of the nation under the onslaught of the Gentile nations is part of human history as their regathering and their final destiny are even now set in motion. God’s Will and its fulfillment is past human understanding and must happen in God’s Time. So shall we learn of their example and watch as faithful servants to be found diligent in our service.
Those who delight in the Word is compared to a tree planted by the waters(Ps.1) Our fruitfulness can never be from hobnobbing with rich and the famous and they are the least illumined by what they seem to possess,- and the foolish would want to be part of their pomp and circumstance. Forget them. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest(Pro.6:6-8)”.Such diligence and industry despite contrary circumstances can only be cultivated by grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.
(To be Continued)