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The Parables of the Old Testament (6 of 15)
The Parable of the Vineyard
Imagine, if you will, a priest or a minister of
religion arising in the assemblies of the French
nation in wartime to announce to the government and
the legislators, and passing up and down the streets
of Paris to cry aloud to all the people, this message
of woe and calamity: "France is strong but not
righteous; she is patriotic but does not fear God; she
is rich, but not true. For all this she is to be
punished. Her fair kingdom will be overrun and
devastated by the enemy, for the anger of God is
kindled against the nation."
Imagine the storm of rage and protest that would break
over his head, the cries of "traitor" and "patricide"
that would go up, the scorn and obloquy which would
attend him wherever he went, the danger his very life
would be in from the rage of the mobs, and you will
understand the position of Isaiah, a young prophet, an
intense patriot, a lover of Jerusalem, when he
informed her king, her counselors and her people that
the proud nation of Judah, still glittering in the
glory of Uzziah's great reign, with one of the largest
standing armies in the world, with a mighty array of
new military inventions-huge pieces of artillery which
could batter down any fortifications-and withal,
riches, wealth, splendor, prosperity, the show and
panoply of power, was corrupt at heart and abounded in
oppression and brutal tyrannies and all
unrighteousness, and therefore God would deliver her
over to her foes; that He would call a great nation
from the north to crush and humiliate her.
The stern and terrible content of his prophecy may
perhaps account for the way in which Isaiah introduces
himself and his message of approaching doom. When God
sent Nathan to rebuke David for his sin, and pronounce
doom upon him and his house, how the sword should
never depart from it, Nathan commenced with a parable
as gentle as if it had fallen from the lips of the
Master of parables Himself. He disarmed the
apprehensions of the guilty king and skillfully led
him on until he showed him that the sin he had so
denounced was his very own. "Thou art the man!" Isaiah
used a like method. He begins with a song, and the
burden of the song is the story of a vineyard. "Let me
sing for my beloved a song of my beloved touching his
A friend of his had a vineyard in a very fruitful
hill. The hillside was kissed each day by the southern
sun, the soil was favorable for the vine, well
watered, and, moreover, there were other vineyards in
that same locality which were doing well, and yielding
some thirty, some sixty, and some even a hundred fold.
As soon as the land was his, he sent his servants to
dig it and turn up the earth and pick out the stones.
Then he went to the nursery of the husbandmen and
purchased the choicest vines, no ordinary vines, b ...
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