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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898) - Contents
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    Ms 149, 1898

    He Spoke to Them by Parables


    October 26, 1898

    Previously unpublished.

    “Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his Lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry, said to his servant, God out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” [Luke 14:16-23.]13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 1

    The invitation to the supper was given, and for their refusal to come the guests were excluded from the feast. “I say unto you,” He said, “That none of these men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” [Verse 24.]13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 2

    In the second parable of the invitation (Matthew 22:1-22), a deeper insult is brought to view and the punishment is more dreadful. It is a king’s invitation, it comes from one who is vested with power to command. This feast involved much, but the king’s command met with no more favorable response than had the householder's; and a deeper guilt lay at the door of those who refused this invitation. They made light of it, pleading circumstances and supposed duties for their failure to comply with his request. They treated his messengers with scorn, despitefully using them and slaying them. This brought upon them the wrath of the king. More than exclusion from his presence and his table was their punishment. He sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their cities.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 3

    Again Christ spoke a parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went on to a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent his husbandmen to the servant, that they should give him of the fruit of his vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, this is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.” [Luke 20:9-15.]13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 4

    In the closing part of the parable the husbandmen are so plainly presented that the whole audience is carried away; and when Christ asked, “What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?” They say with one voice, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their season. Jesus said unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” [Luke 20:15; Matthew 21:41, 42.] Then he applies the lesson: “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 5

    “When the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude because they took him for a prophet.” [Verses 43-46.] The wily Pharisees and Herodians agreed together to bring a question before Christ, which, whatever position He should take, would surely entangle Him. “And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he said unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” [Mark 12:14-17.]13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 6

    In the parable Christ speaks of the invitation being given in the highways and hedges. “As many as ye shall find,” He says, “bid to the marriage.” [Matthew 22:9.] The Lord required just as implicit obedience and high-principled service from the newly invited guests as from those first called. There must be no mistake made in regard to those called to the heavenly banquet. But “when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having the wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for many are called, but few are chosen.” [Verses 11-14.]13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 7

    This parable has more especial application to the Christian world today who claim to believe in Christ. The Jewish nation was deciding its own destiny. As a nation it had already divorced itself from God. Christ’s prophetic eye saw in them the man without the wedding garment, those who had all the privileges and opportunities of enjoying the richest banquet every presented to man. They had consented to come, and had accepted the invitation, but they had refused the garments of Christ’s righteousness. In rejecting the only begotten Son of God, they had forever separated themselves from God.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 8

    The Jewish nation had been tested and proved. For two thousand years the covenant with Jacob had been preserved. For more than a thousand years the nation had been granted every favor from the Lord that would call forth their gratitude and cause them to sense their obligation to Him. But they had sought their own selfish interests, their own glory. Their religion was peculiar. The moral law was kept ever before them. The Sabbath was to be observed by them as the memorial of creation. The moral principles of government were in every respect superior to the principles which controlled other nations. The vineyard was hedged in by sea and mountains. “I, saith the Lord, will be a wall of fire round about.” [Zechariah 2:5.] “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so is the Lord round about his people.” [Psalm 125:2.] Every facility in richest abundance was furnished them, that they might become all that the Lord designed they should be.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 9

    As a nation, Israel was exalted above every people upon the face of the earth. At Mount Sinai, they were fully organized, the ordinance of public worship was established, and God’s law, engraven with his own finger upon tables of stone, was placed in the ark. In Canaan they were indeed as a vineyard enclosed. To this people was committed the oracles of God. If obeyed, these would preserve them pure and uncorrupted, a nation godly among ungodly nations.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 10

    But they were unfaithful, disobedient, unthankful, unholy. The Jewish nation rejected the Son of God and the moral government of Jehovah. They taught for doctrine the commandments of men. They were favored with the instruction from the highest Teacher the world had ever known. In Christ, the light of heaven shone upon them and they were instructed as to what constituted true holiness, love for God, and for their neighbor as themselves. But they refused to obey God. They rejected their Ruler and Governor. They were constantly longing to adopt the customs of other nations, and they rejected the ambassadors represented by Christ in the parables.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 11

    These messengers were sent by God. The Lord made known to His people that He must receive from them in their tithes and offerings acknowledgments of their obligations to Him for their spiritual and temporal blessings. They were taught to avoid every species of idolatry, for by this they would misapply their Lord’s goods to their own advantage; they would glorify themselves and gather to themselves riches by dealing unjustly, and by every kind of deceitful practice withhold from God His own. But they committed robbery with their fellowmen and with God. God marked this, and He reproved them through His servants.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 12

    Before the flood the truth was presented by righteous men. Seth, Enoch, Noah, Methuselah, and others kept the knowledge of God continually before the world. But the people despised the truth as they despise the truth today. The imaginations of their hearts was evil, and only evil continually. Secret societies were formed to work in the darkness to do violence. And the Lord destroyed that long-lived race by a flood.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 13

    The Jewish nation was entering into the same corrupting practices. The Lord had let His vineyard to them to be cultivated. Their invisible Leader had gone before them, teaching them correct principles by the mouth of Moses; and after they were established in Canaan He committed His church to their care. In the parable the owner of the heritage is represented as going away to test their fidelity, and the commission was given to His agents to work the Lord’s farm. But when messengers were sent to receive the Lord’s share, in the place of showing respect to them, His professed people refused to return to Him His own. They appropriated the Lord’s goods for selfish indulgence, to enrich and glorify themselves. Those in positions of trust were exacting of others, and took advantage of their entrusted talents to make good their own deficiencies. They laid upon their fellowmen burdens which they would not touch with one of their fingers, and worked in every way to supply by unfair and dishonest means the deficiencies of the treasury.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 14

    These wretched, selfish practices dishonored God. When the Lord sent His messengers to ask for that which was His own, they were insulted, abused, and murdered. Then the Lord sent more responsible men, but they were despitefully used. Then the only one God had in reserve was sent to call them to their duty—even One equal with Himself, His only begotten Son. He said, “Surely they will reverence my Son.” But when they saw the Son they said among themselves, “This is the heir: Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” [Matthew 21:37-39; Mark 12:7.]13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 15

    All this was fulfilled in the Jew’s treatment of Christ. Here we may see to what a pass men will go to carry out their own wicked purposes. The Jewish people were determined to have their own way, and they instituted scheme after scheme to secure their ends. When Joshua and the elders and rulers who were steadfast sentinels for right and for the honor of God, died, God raised up righteous kings. The history of this nation is given from Joshua to David, from Rehoboam to the captivity, and from age after age until the Son of God came to our world to call Israel to their allegiance.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 16

    The mournful lamentation of Christ over Jerusalem shows the determination of Israel to be stubborn and disloyal to the bitter end. Overlooking Jerusalem, in mournful tones He exclaimed, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thee together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, but ye would not”—Ye could not? No, ye would not. [Matthew 23:37.]13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 17

    The sacred trust was taken from them and transferred to other peoples and to other nations. The Jews had been told that this would be unless they should repent and be converted, but they did not believe it. They held exalted views of themselves. They thought themselves the favorites of heaven. They claimed to be the only people of God. They had the truth, the law of God, but Christ told them that they did not keep the law. They believed themselves the children of Abraham, but Abraham was called the friend of God because he bore the trying test. Had he hesitated to obey the command of God until he could reason the matter out, he would not have started on that long, painful journey to offer up his only son who God had promised him should become a great nation.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 18

    The forbearance of God with the Jewish nation is marvelous. In Bible history this nation stands out as a wonderful revelation of His condescension and love. But this people, borne with so long and patiently, were uplifted in selfish pride. The long forbearance of God has a limit, and signal punish will come upon men when they pass the boundary line. The longer the forbearance, the greater the favors bestowed, the heavier will be the sentence from an offended God.13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 19

    The Lord would have bestowed upon this people His perpetual favor. He would have manifested Himself more and more largely unto them; but they provoked Him to anger by their dishonesty and intrigue. They turned aside from their God-given rights, and committed thefts and robberies. They brought God into contempt by mingling His precepts with their prayers and teachings. God was calling them to repentance. He manifested His mercy to them, that He might not be dishonored by the heathen. God had a father’s heart, and He bore with them in mercies given and mercies withdrawn. Patiently He set their sins before them, and in patience and forbearance waited for their acknowledgements. But they served themselves, they put the knowledge of God from them. Listen to the sentence God pronounced upon this nation:13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 20

    “Did ye never read in the Scriptures,
    The stone which the builders rejected,
    The same is become the head of the corner:
    This is the work of God, And wonderful in our eyes?
    Therefore I say unto you,
    The kingdom of God shall be taken from you,
    And given to another nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
    And whosoever shall fall against this stone shall be bruised:
    And on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.”
    13LtMs, Ms 149, 1898, par. 21

    [Matthew 21:42-44.]

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