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Revelation Insights #4

The Corrupted
Vineyard

Introduction:

In module four we saw how various types and symbols in the book of Revelation piece together into a tapestry of a valley scene, and we spent some time picturing that valley scene. In the heart of the valley we pictured a vineyard and we noticed how some of the components in the valley contributed to fruit production and how others worked decidedly against fruit production.

We also pictured a few horses in the valley and we concluded that horses represent organizations or industries, and that these organizations or industries could work for or against humanity.

We then completed module four by piecing together a few interpretive keys - these being indicators as to what we can expect to find as we seek to identify the four horses of Revelation 6.

In this module, we will be considering God's vineyard in an entirely different framework. First we will be focusing on the four special provisions that God has made to ensure the fruitfulness of His vineyard, then we will consider how, through the lethargy of Laodicea, Satan has been given opportunity to establish counterfeits to all four of these special provisions.

Then, in the modules to follow, we will use this logical framework, together with all of our interpretive keys, to positively identify each of the four horses of Revelation 6.

In The Interests of Fruit:

Bearing in mind that fruit (character) is the ultimate purpose of God's vineyard, let us carefully consider the words of Jesus:

"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower." (Matthew 21:33)

We have been told that "this figure represents the advantages and opportunities given to Israel." (RH 07-10-00). In other words, this figure represents God's special provisions for His vineyard.

Let us now tabulate this information:

 

In The Interests Of Fruit . . .

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

Wine-yard Owner

Wall

Winepress

Watchtower

Meditational Nugget: `The householder (landowner) made every provision that the vineyard should receive the best of attention. Nothing was left undone that could be done to make the vineyard an honor to the one who owned it [to make it fruitful].' (RH 07-10-00)

As to the actual identity of these four special provisions, we have been told that . . .

`[1] The householder [wine-yard owner] represented God, the vineyard the Jewish nation, and [2] the hedge [wall] the divine law which was their protection. [4] The tower was a symbol of the temple. The Lord of the vineyard had done [3] everything needful for its prosperity.' (DA596)

In the light of the above, we may draw the following conclusions:

[1] Wine-yard Owner: There is no question that God is the "landowner" or proprietor of the vineyard.

[2] Wall: Because the purpose of a wall is to protect whatever lies behind it, the wall around God's vineyard represents God's divine law, which law ultimately serves to protect us and to guide us down safe paths.

`The Lord has given His holy commandments to be a wall of protection around His created beings.' (SD53.2)

`In his obedience to God's law he is surrounded as with a hedge [wall] and kept from the evil. (RC56)

It is important to note at this juncture that God's divine law includes His spiritual laws as well as His physical laws . . .

`Our first duty, one which we owe to God, to ourselves, and to our fellow man, is to obey the laws of God, which include the laws of health?' (3T164)

[3] Winepress: The winepress represents the provision that God has made for the prosperity of His vineyard or, in other words, God's provision for our temporal needs. How has God provided for our temporal needs? Through Nature and through the various laws of Nature. For as long as we respect Nature and her laws, we can depend on her to yield all that is needful for the support of life.

[4] Watchtower: According to the statement above, the watchtower is "a symbol of the temple?" In order to better appreciate the significance of this representation, we need to carefully consider what Scripture has to tell us about the temple.

  It is the dwelling place and the throne room of God: (Habakkuk 2:20; 2 Samuel 22:7; 1 Kings 8:13)

  God's glory is evident in the temple: (Haggai 2:7)

  Jesus Himself is the foundation and cornerstone of the temple: (Ephesians 2:21)

  It serves as a daily meeting place with God: (Acts 2:46; Acts 5:42)

  It is a consecrated place where we may dedicate our lives to the Lord. (1 Chronicles 28:10; 2 Chronicles 29:31; Psalm 5:7)

  It is a place of prayer, of praise, and of worship, a place where we learn about God and salvation; where we learn of His love, His kindness, His truth and His word. (Mark 14:49; Luke 20:1; Psalm 48:9; Psalm 138:2; Isaiah 64:11; Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:17)

  It is a place where we may make confession. (1 Kings 8:38; Ezra 6:3)

  It is a place where we can find the assurance of forgiveness. (1 Kings 8:33-34)

  It is a place to which we may bring our love offerings and our thank offerings: (Luke 21:1; 2 Chronicles 29:31)

In summary, therefore, the temple is a place of worship, a place to which we come to meet with God by faith. It is a place where we bask in His glory, a place where we learn of Him and where we learn to put our full trust in His promises and in His faithfulness in keeping His promises. It is a place where we come to satisfy our spiritual needs - to learn of truth, humility and righteousness, of mercy and love and compassion, a place where we learn of His amazing grace - that amazing grace which motivates and inspires us to bear fruit as the grafted-in branches of the True Vine.

Just as the earthly temple lay at the heart of the spiritual economy of Israel, so today, the antitypical [actual] temple in heaven is central to our belief in God and to our trust in His promises - and it is on the the strength of what He is, and on the strength of His promises, that we come to worship Him.

Bearing in mind, therefore, that the ultimate purpose of a vineyard is fruit, and that "the Lord of the vineyard had done everything needful for its prosperity," these are God's special provisions for a fruitful vineyard . . .

  A God to love and honour

  Moral Laws (spiritual and physical) to obey

  Natural Laws to respect and obey

  Worship

 

In The Interests Of Fruit . . .

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

Wine-yard Owner

Wall

Winepress

Watchtower

God

Moral Law

Natural Law

Temple

A God To
Love

A Moral Law
To Obey

A Natural Law To Obey

(A Place Of)
Worship

Meditational Nugget: `The husbandman chooses a piece of land from the wilderness; he fences, clears, and tills it, and plants it with choice vines, expecting a rich harvest. This plot of ground, in its superiority to the uncultivated waste, he expects to do him honor by showing the results of his care and toil in its cultivation. So God had chosen a people from the world to be trained and educated by Christ. The prophet says, "The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant." Isaiah. 5:7. Upon this people God had bestowed great privileges, blessing them richly from His abundant goodness. He looked for them to honor Him by yielding fruit. They were to reveal the principles of His kingdom. In the midst of a fallen, wicked world they were to represent the character of God.' (COL285)

In order to further expand our understanding of the four special provisions that God has made for His vineyard, let us turn our attention to yet another passage of Scripture - this time from the Old Testament.

`Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord [Proprietor], [I] watch over it [Promise]; I water it continually [Provision]. I guard it day and night so that no-one may harm it [Protection].' (Isaiah 27:2,3)

There can be no doubt that God is extremely active in every corner of His vineyard. It is obvious that He is working with unwavering zeal in the interests of fruit production - that being "the reproduction of Christ's character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others." (COL67)

As our gracious Father Himself has stated: `What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?' (Isaiah 5:4)

Thus we might find comfort and rest in the knowledge that God is intensely interested and personally involved in caring for His vineyard - that is, in nurturing our faith and in cultivating the fruits of our faith?

 

In The Interests Of Fruit . . .

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

Wine-yard Owner

Wall

Winepress

Watchtower

God

Moral Law

Natural Law

Temple

A God To
Love

A Law To
Obey

A Nature To
Depend On

(A Place Of)
Worship

Rest In His Proprietorship

Rest In His
Protection

Rest In His
Provision

Rest In His
Promises

Life Giver

Life Guard

Life Support

Life Line

Know Me

Obey My
Moral Laws

Obey My
Natural Laws

Trust Me

`As in (3) obedience to His natural laws the earth should produce its treasures, so in (2) obedience to His moral law the hearts of the people were to reflect the attributes of His character.' (COL289)

Meditational Nuggets: `Genuine faith has its foundation in the (4) promises and (3) provisions of the Scriptures. . . . (1) God will (2) preserve [protect] all who walk in the path of obedience.' (DA126)

`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 of the vineyard, God placed in the midst of the land His holy temple.' (PK18)

To recap, therefore, let us again consider the four major provisions that God has put in place in the interests of "fruit production."

  (1) He Himself, as the responsible, gracious, loving and caring proprietor,

  (2) His moral laws of love and life to protect us from spiritual, mental and physical ills,

  (3) His natural laws to provide for our temporal needs, and

  (4) Worship - that we may know Him better, that we may be inspired to obey His laws, that we may learn to respect and to depend on His bounteous provision, and that we might place our absolute trust in His unfailing promises.

God's Promises To The
Occupants Of His Vineyard.

Having provided all that was needful for life, and for the production of fruit, God promised the occupants of His vineyard that if they would respect His various laws, that if they would depend on Him and trust in Him, they would lack nothing, all would go well with them, and they would be a spectacle to the world, . . .

  `Walk in all the ways that I command you, that it might go well with you.' (Jeremiah 7:23)

  `Obey Me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey.' (Jeremiah 11:4,5).

  `If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.' (Exodus 19:5)

  `If you . . . obey My commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit . . . you will eat all the food you want.' (Leviticus 26:3-5)

  `If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations, and would be blessed with vigor of intellect.' (COL288)

                 
 

`By close investigations, God's innumerable providences in the natural world are found to have connection one with another; and in tracing these links in the chain of Providence, we are led to become better acquainted with the great Center. This is a truth worthy of our careful study.' (YI, August 19, 1897 par.6)

         

And so it was that God provided in a wonderful way for His vineyard - just as He is still doing today. For as long as His children (1) loved Him, (2) obeyed Him, (3) depended on Him, and (4) trusted in Him, all would go well with them and their land would be extremely productive, their immune systems would be fortified through right living and eating habits, they would be blessed with physical vigor and strength of intellect, their numbers would increase and their crops would multiply - and all the nations of the world would marvel at these blessed people. As a natural consequence of their connection with God, and their allegiance to the principles of His kingdom, they would develop symmetrical characters and would fulfill the ultimate purpose of the vineyard - that being to bear fruit to the glory of God.

Message To A Dying World

In summary, therefore, it has ever been God's cherished dream that His children (a) would love and revere Him, (b) that they would obey His various laws and depend on Him (on the resultant blessing), and (c) that they would worship Him. These are God's special provisions for a fruitful vineyard and, ultimately, these are the keys to utopia.

In pursuit of this treasured dream, God has called out a special people and He has entrusted them with a very special message - a message regarding His vineyard - a message that holds out to a dying world the promise of holiness, health, happiness and harmony. This three part message, otherwise known as the first angel's message, reads as follows:

"(a) Fear God and (b) give Him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. (c) Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." (Revelation 14:6)

(a) Fear God . . . revere and love God - for He first loved us and He is worthy of our love - and He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing! (Revelation 5:12; 13)

(b) Give Him glory . . . if we (a) revere God and we enjoy a loving daily relationship with Him, and we (c) worship Him, we will respect and obey His moral and His natural laws from the heart, and we will bear fruit to His glory.

(c) Worship Him . . .  for He is the Creator, and we are His creatures. We are His both by creation and by redemption, and the worship of Him "elevates, ennobles, and exalts" all who worship Him. (4BC1145.5)

In The Interests Of Fruit . . .

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

Wine-yard Owner

Wall

Winepress

Watchtower

God

Moral Law

Natural Law

Temple

A God To
Love

A Law To
Obey

A Nature To
Depend On

(A Place Of)
Worship

Rest In His Proprietorship

Rest In His
Protection

Rest In His
Provision

Rest In His
Promises

Life Giver

Life Guard

Life Support

Life Line

Know Me

Obey My
Moral Laws

Obey My Natural Laws

Trust Me

"Fear God"

"Give Glory to Him"

"Worship Him"

`As in (3) obedience to His natural laws the earth should produce its treasures, so in (2) obedience to His moral law the hearts of the people were to reflect the attributes of His character.' (COL289)

Prophecies of a Corrupted Vineyard

Ultimately the war between good and evil revolves around "fruit" or character. As such, we may rest assured that Satan has always worked with fiendish zeal and with intense cunning to mar God's vineyard and to hinder fruit production or character development.

`Satan and his angels are wide awake and intensely active, working with energy and perseverance through human instrumentalities to bring about his purpose of obliterating the knowledge of God.' (3SM406)

`When the Lord has a special channel of light, there are always plenty of counterfeits.' (1SM22)

`With a subtlety gained through centuries of conflict, the prince of evil works under a disguise. He appears clothed as an angel of light, and multitudes are "giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." ' (DA257)

Thanks largely to the fact that we, as Laodicean believers, have been ineffectual in carrying God's special message to the world, Satan has been more than marginally successful in hindering the plans of God and in spoiling the fruit of God's vineyard . . .

`My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside [wine yard owner]. He dug it up and cleared it of stones [and he used those stones to build a protecting wall] and planted it with the choicest of vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.' (Isaiah 5:1-2)

`Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?' (Isaiah 5:3-7)

"Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard:" says the Lord, "I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it." (Isaiah 5:5-6)

So why is it that the vineyard yielded bad fruit?

Simply because an ineffectual church has enabled Satan to establish "counterfeits" - and to engineer a situation wherein "human instrumentalities" are working "under a disguise" in order to "obliterate the knowledge of God." As a direct result, millions and even billions do not acknowledge God, and of those who do acknowledge Him only but a small minority are aware of His true character - only but a small minority know the merciful and gracious God who is longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, the God who forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases, the God who redeems our life from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion, the God who satisfies our desires with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle's, the gracious God who is full of compassion, slow to anger and good to all. (Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 103:3-5; 145:8-9)

 

The True Vineyard

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

Wine-yard Owner

Wall

Winepress

Watchtower

God

Moral Law

Natural Law

Temple

A God To
Love

A Law To
Obey

A Nature To
Depend On

(A Place Of)
Worship

Rest In His Proprietorship

Rest In His
Protection

Rest In His
Provision

Rest In His
Promises

Life Giver

Life Guard

Life Support

Life Line

Know Me

Obey My
Moral Laws

Obey My
Natural Laws

Trust Me

"Fear God"

"Give Glory to Him"

"Worship Him"

Freedom

The Corrupted "Wasteland"

A human instrumentality posing as God

Human instrumentalities posing as our great protectors

Human instrumentalities posing as our great providers

Human instrumentalities posing as great promise-keepers

A man-made alternative to God

Man-made alternatives to obeying God

Man-made alternatives to depending on God

Man-made alternatives to trusting in God

Promoting Godlessness

Promoting Disobedience

Promoting
Self-Dependance

Promoting
Self-Belief

Resulting In
Guilt, Skepticism, Pride & Infidelity

Resulting In
Spiritual, Mental
& Physical Ills

Resulting In Poverty, Want,
& Hardship

Resulting In
Fear, Anxiety &
Insecurity

Fear Man

Trust Man And Give Glory to Man

Slavery

`There is a religion of man [that leads to slavery] and a religion of God [that leads to freedom].' (2SM379) `Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.' (Proverbs 29:25)

Meditational Nuggets: `As the end approaches, the testimony of God's servants will become more decided and more powerful, flashing the light of truth upon the systems of error and oppression that have so long held the supremacy.' (3SM407)

`The high places of the powers of earth have been polluted with corruption and base idolatries.' (3SM429)

`The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed.' (Psalm 2:2)

`From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.' (Jeremiah 6:14)

`With the great masses of mankind there is no unity, except as men confederate to accomplish their selfish purposes.' (Mar138)

`The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.' (Genesis 8:21)

`The Lord enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of His people: "It is you who have ruined my vineyard: the plunder from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?" ' (Isaiah 3:14,15)

`Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.' (Isaiah 5:5-6)

And well might we respond: 'You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.' (Jeremiah 32:19 - see Colossians 3:25)

Thirteenth Interpretive Key: In view of the importance of the four special provisions that God has made for His vineyard, and considering that "when the Lord has a special channel of light, there are always plenty of counterfeits," there is every reason to believe that Satan has established counterfeits to each of God's special provisions. As we seek to identify these counterfeits, therefore, we can expect to discover that "human instrumentalities" are at their helm.

Fourteenth Interpretive Key: Because Satan's evil designs are always most effective when they are cloaked in a garb of righteousness, we can expect these counterfeits to serve under a cloak of holiness and/or morality and/or respectability and or public "service."

Fifteenth Interpretive Key: Because God Himself is the proprietor of the vineyard, and because He is the most important of the four "provisions," and because He is the One whom Satan hates most of all, we can expect that all of Satan's counterfeits will serve, either directly or indirectly, to obliterate the knowledge of God.

Sixteenth Interpretive Key: Because Satan's ultimate objective is to turn our eyes away from God, we can expect that at least one of Satan's counterfeits will present mankind with an alternative to God.

Seventeenth Interpretive Key: Because it is through obedience that we reveal our love to God, and because it is through obedience that we give glory to God, and because obedience attracts the blessing of God's protection - besides other things, we can expect that at least one of Satan's counterfeits will present mankind with an alternative to obedience.

Eighteenth Interpretive Key: Because dependence on God is the natural consequence of loving and obeying God, and because our dependence on Him shows that we accept Him as our Great Provider, we can expect that at least one of Satan's counterfeits will present mankind with an alternative to depending on God.

Nineteenth Interpretive Key: Because our trust in God reveals that we accept Him as our Father and Friend, and because our trust in Him reveals that we accept Him as our Protector, we can expect that at least one of Satan's counterfeits will present mankind with an alternative to trusting in God.

To conclude this module, let us gather together all of our interpretive keys. By so doing, we will have a very good idea of what to expect and what to look for as we seek to identify the four horses (organizations/institutions) of Revelation 6.

 

In prophecy, horses
may represent organizations . . .

Key 1

that thrive on "meeting the needs" of people.

Key 2

that do not have the best interests of people at heart - although they may profess "to care" (heard that before?).

Key 3

that are large and powerful.

Key 4

that are generally admired and highly regarded.

Key 5

that "satisfy" a widely felt public and/or social need.

Key 6

that have a great public following (even though they do not always act in the best interests of the public).

Key 7

that work in "corrupt harmony" against the best interests of society.

Key 8

that have a global presence and a world-wide influence.

Key 9

that could fill the office of merchant, guardian or official.

Key 10

that are pretty much a law unto themselves.

Key 11

that existed prior to 1844, but that have become especially corrupted since 1844.

Key 12

that could be described as either an organization, an institution, or an industry.

Key 13

that are led by "human instrumentalities."

Key 14

that are cloaked in a garb of holiness and/or morality and/or respectability and/or public "service."

Key 15

all of which might serve in one way or another to misrepresent the character of God and to obliterate the knowledge of God.

Key 16

one of which presents mankind with "another God."

Key 17

one of which might present mankind with an alternative to obedience.

Key 18

one of which might present mankind with an alternative to depending on God.

Key 19

one of which might present mankind with an alternative to trusting in God.

`Truly, this only I have found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.' (Ecclesiastes 7:29). `The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.' (Luke 22:25) `If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official [locusts?] watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.' (Ecclesiastes 5:8). `What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten [you may read about the results of this locust invasion in Joel 1 and 2].' (Joel 1:4). `The snorting of the enemy's horses is heard from Dan; at the neighing of their stallions the whole land trembles. They have come to devour the land and everything in it, the city and all who live there.' (Jeremiah 8:16)

`Look at the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians [including their merchants], that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on - guilty men, whose own strength is their god.' (Habakkuk 1:5-11)

`Have you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder? Can you frighten him like a locust? His majestic snorting strikes terror. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; he gallops into the clash of arms. He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; nor does he turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, the glittering spear and javelin. He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; nor does he stand firm, because the trumpet has sounded. At the blast of the trumpet he says, 'Aha!' He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of captains and shouting.' (Job 39:19-25)

`In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, "No, we will flee on horses." Therefore your pursuers will be swift.' (Isa 30:15,16).

`The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn  . . . because no one buys their cargoes any more . . . ' (Revelation 18:11)

Proceed to Module 5

 
     

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