260 – THE VINEYARD OF JEHOVAH
In the book of the prophet Ezekiel, we read: “The word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Son of man, what is the vine tree more than any tree, the vine-branch which is among the trees of the forest? Shall wood be taken of it to make any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire has devoured both its ends, and its midst is burned: is it profitable for any work? Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less, when the fire has devoured it, and it is burned, shall it yet be meet for any work! Therefore thus says the Lord Jehovah: As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will set my face against them; they shall go forth from the fire, but the fire shall devour them; and you shall know that I am Yahweh, when I set my face against them. I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, says the Lord Yahweh” (Ezek. 15:1-8). Now the prophet will say something from Jehovah: “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed. How then have you turned into the degenerate branches of a foreign vine to me?” (Jer. 2:21). The prophet Isaiah made the same prophecy 135 years before: “Let me sing for my well beloved a song of my beloved about his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up, gathered out its stones, planted it with the choicest vine, built a tower in its midst, and also cut out a winepress therein. He looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, please judge between me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Why, when I looked for it to yield grapes, did it yield wild grapes? Now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away its hedge, and it will be eaten up. I will break down its wall of it, and it will be trampled down. I will lay it a wasteland. It won’t be pruned nor hoed, but it will grow briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain on it. For the vineyard of Jehovah of Armies is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for justice, but, behold, oppression; for righteousness, but, behold, a cry of distress” (Is. 5:1-7). Now Hoseah, the prophet, speaks:“Israel is a luxuriant vine that puts forth his fruit. According to the abundance of his fruit he has multiplied his altars. As their land has prospered, they have adorned their sacred stones” (Hos. 10:1).
Jehovah, nevertheless, declares that Israel is a pliable mass in his hands, and shapes it as he desires. He said: “When the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jer. 18:4). “Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, house of Israel” (Jer. 18:6). The apostle Paul explains with clarity the plan of Jehovah: “Or hasn’t the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath made for destruction, and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom. 9:21-23).
These texts will lead us to conclude that Israel is the vessel of wrath, prepared by Jehovah, the potter, for destruction. They were disobedient because Jehovah made them so. How did that happen? Jacob and his house were taken to Egypt, and, for 400 hundred years, they were perverted there. As they were perverted, they were clay in the hands of the potter. They were morally and spiritually perverted. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law on the tables of stone, the people asked Aaron to smelt an ox of gold, a faithful copy of Apis, the ox-god of the Egyptians. Jehovah compares the evil works of the Egyptians with the evil works of the Canaanites (Lev. 18:3). Jehovah declared by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah that Israel was a prevaricator from the womb—the womb where Israel was begotten and formed was Egypt. And Jehovah knew about this, and even proclaims it. It is obvious that he did not want a faithful people, for he formed it among the unfaithful. After introducing Israel in Canaan, he left seven nations to pervert them. “Now these are the nations which Jehovah left, to prove Israel by them, even as many [of Israel] as had not known all the wars of Canaan; only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing of it: [namely], the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath” (Judg. 3:1-3). “The children of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons and served their gods” (Judg. 3:5-6). It is important to remember that the Canaanites were all Sodomites (the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were Canaanite) (Gen. 10:19-21). The corruption of the people of Israel began in Egypt, and was established in Canaan. As the intermingling with those nations did not seem enough, Jehovah delivered them to be slaves, so that no one would escape. They were eight years of slavery in the hands of Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia (Judg. 3:8). After that he delivered them into the hands of Eglon, king of the Moabites, for eighteen years (Judg. 3:14). Twenty years in the hands of Jabin, king of Canaan (Judg. 4:2-3). Seven years in the hands of the Midianites (Judg. 6:1). Eighteen years in the hands of the Philistines and the Amonites (Judg. 10:7-8). Again, Jehovah delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for 40 years (Judg. 13:1). They were close to 120 years of various captivities. Slaves were submitted to all kinds of humiliation. Women and virgins were abused. Jeremiah gives us an idea of the yokes: “Servants rule over us: There is none to deliver us out of their hand” (Lam. 5:8). “Our skin is black like an oven, because of the burning heat of famine. They ravished the women in Zion, the virgins in the cities of Judah” (Lam. 5:10-11). “Princes were hanged up by their hand: The faces of elders were not honored. The young men bare the mill; the children stumbled under the wood” (Judg. 5:12-13). At the end of the 348 years of the book of Judges, the people of Israel lived already as the Sodomites, for the potter had willed that. At the end of the book, chapters 18 through 20, we read the story of a Levite wandering in the land with his concubine. An old man returning from his work felt compassion for them and offered the Levite and the concubine a sleeping place in his house. A few men from Belial, Benjamites, knocked at the old man’s door and said, “Bring this man outside so that we may have relations with him.” All of the people in Gibeah were Sodomites. And why was that? Because the potter placed them in the hands of Sodomites for 120 years, as slaves, completely submitted. The Israelites were never free from the costumes of Sodom. The very Jehovah calls Sodom, Israel and Gomorrah, Jerusalem. The story of the Levite is found in Judg. 19:14-25; 20:1-5). Four hundred years later, Isaiah spoke from Jehovah, saying: “Hear the word of Yahweh, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!” (Is. 1:10). Ezekiel, the prophet, is also making reference to two kingdoms like Sodom and Gomorrah (Ezek. 16:44-56).
Two things do not have an explanation. The first one is that Jehovah affirmed that he kept his vineyard, and he did not: “In that day, sing to her, ‘A pleasant vineyard! I, Jehovah, am its keeper. I will water it every moment. Lest anyone damage it, I will keep it night and day’” (Is. 27:2-3). The second is that Jehovah affirmed to be the potter, and Israel the clay. Jehovah made them evil. He blinded them to not understand, hardened their heart to not get converted, closed their ears to not hear(Is. 6:10; John 12:37-41). But one thing is made clear in the New Testament: The God and Father of Jesus Christ wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4). And he saves everyone (1 Tim. 4:10).
by Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira