Sabbath, May 11, 2019

Lesson 19 – Given to a People That Bears Fruit

“The Saviour Himself, during His earthly ministry, foretold the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles. In the parable of the vineyard He declared to the impenitent Jews, ‘The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.’ Matthew 21:43. And after His resurrection He commissioned His disciples to go ‘into all the world’ and ‘teach all nations.’ They were to leave none unwarned, but were to ‘preach the gospel to every creature.’ Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 174.

Spiritual goods entrusted to husbandmen
1. What parable did Jesus present to show the great blessing of receiving the kingdom of God? After one prepares the soil and plants a vineyard, what does he naturally expect?
Matthew 21:33 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.

“In the parable the householder represented God, the vineyard the Jewish 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 represented God’s unwearied care for Israel.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 596.

“To this people were committed the oracles of God. They were hedged about by the precepts of His law, the everlasting principles of truth, justice, and purity. Obedience to these principles was to be their protection, for it would save them from destroying themselves by sinful practices. And as the tower in the vineyard, God placed in the midst of the land His holy temple.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 287, 288.

2. How conscious were the workers of their great privileges and responsibilities in the vineyard? How ready were they to meet the expectations of the owner by giving him the fruit that was his?
Mark 12:2, 3 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 
Matthew 21:34, 35 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. 

“If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations, and would be blessed with vigor of intellect. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth….

“But Israel did not fulfill God’s purpose. The Lord declared, ‘I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?’ Jeremiah 2:21. ‘Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself.’ Hosea 10:1.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 288, 290.

“… 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. 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.

Expecting and asking for the fruit
3. Instead of being grateful for the great benefits that they had received, how did the husbandmen treat the messengers sent by the Lord of the vineyard a second and a third time?
Matthew 21:36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
Luke 20:11, 12 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.

“For centuries God looked with patience and forbearance upon the cruel treatment given to His ambassadors, at His holy law prostrate, despised, trampled underfoot. He swept away the inhabitants of the Noachian world with a flood. But when the earth was again peopled, men drew away from God, and renewed their hostility to Him, manifesting bold defiance. Those whom God rescued from Egyptian bondage followed in the footsteps of those who had preceded them. Cause was followed by effect; the earth was being corrupted.” –Review and Herald, July 17, 1900.

4. Having one son, what did the owner of the vineyard decide to do? Did the workers respect the son and give him what they owed him?
Mark 12:6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
Luke 20:13 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.
Matthew 21:37-39 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.

“Christ, the Beloved of God, came to assert the claims of the Owner of the vineyard; but the husbandmen treated Him with marked contempt, saying, We will not have this man to rule over us. They envied Christ’s beauty of character. His manner of teaching was far superior to theirs, and they dreaded His success. He remonstrated with them, unveiling their hypocrisy, and showing them the sure results of their course of action. This stirred them to madness. They smarted under the rebukes they could not silence. They hated the high standard of righteousness which Christ continually presented. They saw that His teaching was placing them where their selfishness would be uncloaked, and they determined to kill Him. They hated His example of truthfulness and piety and the elevated spirituality revealed in all He did. His whole life was a reproof to their selfishness, and when the final test came, the test which meant obedience unto eternal life or disobedience unto eternal death, they rejected the Holy One of Israel.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 293, 294.

Change of workers
5. In the parable, who is represented by the son who was slain and also by the stone that was rejected in the prophecy? How deserving were those husbandmen to continue working in the vineyard?
Matthew 21:40-42 When 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. 42Jesus 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: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Mark 12:9 What shall therefore the Lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

“Christ designed that the Pharisees should answer as they did. He designed that they should condemn themselves. His warnings, failing to arouse them to repentance, would seal their doom, and He wished them to see that they had brought ruin on themselves. He designed to show them the justice of God in the withdrawal of their national privileges, which had already begun, and which would end, not only in the destruction of their temple and their city, but in the dispersion of the nation.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 597.

6. What is represented by the vineyard that was placed in the hands of the husbandmen? Was the kingdom of God a future gift that they had been blessed to work with, or was it also a gift for the present?
Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

“Christ would have averted the doom of the Jewish nation if the people had received Him. But envy and jealousy made them implacable. 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….

“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 Lessons, pp. 295, 296.

Special privileges for the church
7. After studying this parable, who do you believe the husbandmen were who received this great gift and forfeited it? How does this parable apply to the church today, for it has also received the divine oracles of God’s kingdom to work with and produce fruit for the Master?
Matthew 21:44-46 And whosoever 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. 46But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

“The parable of the vineyard applies not alone to the Jewish nation. It has a lesson for us. The church in this generation has been endowed by God with great privileges and blessings, and He expects corresponding returns.

“We have been redeemed by a costly ransom. Only by the greatness of this ransom can we conceive of its results. On this earth, the earth whose soil has been moistened by the tears and blood of the Son of God, are to be brought forth the precious fruits of Paradise. In the lives of God’s people the truths of His word are to reveal their glory and excellence. Through His people Christ is to manifest His character and the principles of His kingdom.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 296.

For additional study
Do you think that we are bringing forth more fruit than did those in Jesus’ generation?
What are you doing to give to the Lord the expected fruit of your work?
What do you expect to do in the future?

“The Jews had often repeated the words of this prophecy while teaching the people in the synagogues, applying it to the coming Messiah. But Jesus connected the heir so cruelly slain with the stone which the builders rejected, but which eventually became the principal stone of the whole building. Christ Himself was the originator of the Jewish system, the very foundation of the costly temple, the antitype to whom all the sacrificial services pointed. The Jews had watched with apparent anxiety for the coming of Christ. The scribes, who were learned in the law and acquainted with the declarations of the prophets regarding His coming, knew from prophetic history that the time of looking and waiting for His advent to the world had expired. Through the parables which Jesus spoke to the Jews, He brought their minds to prophecies which had foretold the very things which were then being enacted. He sought by every means within His power to awaken their
consciences and to enlighten their understanding, that they might consider well the steps they were meditating.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 35.