Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Review and Herald

July 10, 1900

The Lord's Vineyard

Mrs. E. G. White

“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it; and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.”

A description of this vineyard is given in Isaiah: “Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein.”

This figure represents the advantages and opportunities given to Israel. To them as his church God committed his oracles. Through Moses they received divine precepts and commandments. Guides and ministers were appointed them. God gave them riches and prosperity. They had every temporal and every spiritual advantage. They were hedged about by the law of ten commandments. This was what distinguished Israel from every other nation on the face of the earth.

The church is God's peculiar treasure, precious in his sight, and dear to his heart of infinite love. Christ gave the parable of the vineyard to set before his hearers the wonderful history of his church. The householder made every provision that the vineyard should receive the best of attention. Nothing was left undone that could be done to make the vineyard an honor to the one who owned it.

“Moreover, brethren,” Paul writes, “I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”

When the children of Israel were in bondage to the Egyptians, God revealed himself as a God above all human authority, all human greatness. The signs and miracles he wrought in behalf of his people show his power over nature, and over the greatest among those who worshiped nature, who ignored the power that made nature. God went through the proud land of Egypt just as he will go through the earth in the last days. With fire and tempest and death the great I AM redeemed his people, to make them glorious as his special representatives. He took them out of the land of bondage. He bore them as upon eagles’ wings, and brought them unto himself, that they might dwell under the shadow of the Most High.

Christ was the invisible leader of the children of Israel in their wilderness wanderings. Enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, he led and guided them. In their behalf he constantly manifested the riches of his love and patience.

Moses was appointed by God to be the visible leader of the people. He received a special education for this work; and though he had little confidence in himself, he had confidence in God. But often the people whom he was leading lost faith in God. At one time, when Moses was in the mount communing with God, they went to Aaron, saying, “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” Aaron had been left as the guardian of the church; and had he been faithful to his duty, had he held the people to their allegiance, this terrible record of idolatry need never have been written. But he yielded to the clamor of the people. He betrayed sacred trust; and had not Moses interposed in his behalf, death would have been his penalty.

When Moses came down from the mount and saw what the people were doing, he said to Aaron, “What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, ... we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.”

Once more the Lord showed his forbearance in dealing with his erring people. Opportunity was given for them to save themselves from the punishment that had been ordered. “Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate through the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.”

In calling for this division of the people, Moses exposed himself to the wrath of those who would not repent, the boldest and most obstinate, who might have fallen upon him in an attempt to take his life. But God was there to sustain his servant; he placed around him a bulwark of unseen angels.

“And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” It may seem to us that this punishment was severe. But God pronounced it an act of consecration to put to death all who justified their idolatry. It was not the choice of the children of Levi to do this fearful work; God had said that the unrepenting should be slain.

After the command of the Lord was obeyed, Moses said to the people, “Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—” Here Moses paused, as if not knowing what to say. He knew that the request he had presented was a great one. “And if not,” he continued, “blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Moses was speaking to Jesus Christ, who had given himself as a propitiation for the sins of the world. As he pleaded before his Lord, the depth of his love for his people was revealed. God saw it all, and he was honored by his servant's love and compassion. “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book,” he said. “Therefore now go, and lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine angel shall go before thee.”

The children of Israel were indeed given great privileges. They witnessed a most wonderful manifestation of God's power when they passed through the Red Sea. And day by day they journeyed under the pillar of cloud, the symbol of the divine presence. Why did they not value the privilege of being taught by the living God? Christ was their instructor. He was their guardian, their shield, their defense. He desired them to render perfect obedience to his commands. This would be a hedge about them, keeping them from destroying themselves by sinful practices. With wonderful patience, Christ strove to educate the people to believe in him as the author and finisher of their faith. He intrusted to them the everlasting principles of truth, justice, and purity.

God desired his people to obey him because they realized that obedience would make them men and women of understanding. He drew the willing and obedient to him with cords of love. He desired his people to go forth conquering and to conquer. It was their privilege to reveal in their lives the character of their leader. The souls of men and women are of infinite value in God's sight, not because, as many declare, they have natural immortality, but because it is possible for them through faith in Christ to gain immortality. Christ only has immortality. Belief in him is to the repentant soul the germ of a new life.

With such a leader, with such manifestations of his greatness and power, the children of Israel should have been inspired with faith and courage to go forward. But they failed to carry out God's purpose. “With many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” Only two of those who crossed the Red Sea lived to go over into the promised land.

“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” In the place of offering praise and thanksgiving to God, acknowledging his blessings, calling the attention of those associated with them to him, they drew minds away from him by their wrong course of action.

“Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

We need to beware lest we suffer the same fate as did ancient Israel. The history of their disobedience and downfall has been recorded for our instruction, that we may avoid doing as they did. It has been written “for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” If we pass by these cautions and warnings, developing the same traits of character developed by the Israelites, what excuse can we plead?

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»