Our Eleventh Hour?
The global events during the past couple of months, and more recently the events of the past couple of weeks in our own nation, make us realize as never before the vulnerable nature of civilization as we’ve known it. Some say that the changes brought about by Covid-19 are permanent and that the world will never be the same. This may indeed be true. Meanwhile, violent clashes between law enforcement officers and protesters across this country have left all of us sobered.
When warning the Jews about the coming destruction of their nation, Jesus told the following story (drawing at least in part from two Old Testament passages that would’ve been familiar to His audience).
The Parable of the Vineyard Owner
Hear another parable: There was a certain land owner who planted a vineyard, placed a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. And he leased it out to tenant farmers, and went into a far country.
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenant famers so they might receive its fruit. And the farmers took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did the same thing to them.
Finally, he sent unto them his son, saying, “They will reverence my son.”
But when the farmers saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir; come, let’s kill him, and take his inheritance!” And they seized him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
Therefore, when the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do unto those tenant farmers? (They say unto him,) “He will miserably destroy those terrible men, and will let out his vineyard to other farmers, who will render unto him the fruits in their seasons.”
Our Lord Jesus summarized the message of this parable by declaring:
“Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”
Are there any parallels for us to learn from this prophetic message given many centuries ago to the nation of Israel? Yes!
Parallels to ponder:
- The Jews had been given a vineyard; this was symbolic of their inheritance of the kingdom of God
- This vineyard had a hedge around it; this may be symbolic of protection and freedom
- This vineyard had a watchtower; this may also be symbolic of protection from the enemy
- The vineyard had a winepress; the technology needed to process the fruits from the harvest
The nation of Israel came under the judgement of God for their rejection of the true heir of the vineyard; they knew not the time of their visitation. The peace and prosperity of Jerusalem did not last forever. Only a few decades after Christ walked the dusty streets of this capital city, enemies surrounded and completely destroyed it!
How much time remains for us as western Christians to use the blessings of peace, freedom of travel, and protection from persecution that have been so common in our civilization for many centuries?
Friends, the handwriting for our civilization is on the wall—the eleventh hour of our prosperity and peace appears to be almost past—and midnight is at hand!
And still, the Lord of the Harvest commands us to go and labor now while it is day, “for the night cometh when no man can work.”
Let’s commit to faithfully steward the many blessings God has given us to advance His kingdom before it is forever too late. Peace, technology, protection, and prosperity have all been given to us at such a time as this. Why? To seek first and advance the kingdom of God!
In your costly temples praying, “Let your kingdom come, we pray.” Are but words of idle meaning, if with these we turn away. Boundless wealth to you is given, from His hand who owns it all, and His eye beholds in heaven, what you render back for all!
Church of God awake arise, Christ your Head and Master cries, send the Gospel’s joyful sound, unto earth's remotest bound.
Psalm 80, Isaiah 5 ↩