A Song of Unreturned Love

KEY VERSE: “The vineyard of the LORD of Hosts is the house of Israel … and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” —Isaiah 5:7


THIS PROPHECY CONCERNS the nation of Israel, and is described as ‘a song’ about God’s vineyard. In reality it is a parable using a vineyard as an illustration. The seventh verse plainly identifies this vineyard as the nation of Israel. God did everything possible to make this vineyard productive. But, as Isaiah said, “He [Jehovah] looked that it should bring forth grapes,” and instead it brought forth “wild grapes,” or, “worthless things.”—vs. 2, Rotherham’s Translation

The remainder of this prophecy tells how God took away the protection which he had formerly given to that vineyard, and permitted it to become desolate, and a wasteland. This prophetic utterance was fulfilled at the time when Jesus rejected the nation, because they had rejected him. (Matt. 23:34-39) And later it was still more completely fulfilled when the nation of Israel was destroyed, and the people dispersed throughout all the other nations of the world.

Jesus gave a similar parable, which is recorded in Matthew 21:33-46. There the picture is slanted toward Israel’s leaders as being the ‘husbandmen’ of the vineyard. Note the similar language employed in Isaiah 5:2 and Matthew 21:33. However, in this parable more detail is given concerning what went wrong. God, the “householder,” sent servants to the husbandmen to reap the fruitage of the vineyard for him, but they were beaten, stoned, and even killed by the husbandmen. Finally, the Lord, pictured by the householder, sent them his son, saying, “They will reverence my son.” (vs. 37) But, instead, the husbandmen said, “This is the heir; come let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” (vs. 38) And, in reality, this is what Israel did when they refused Jesus as their Messiah.

Jesus gave this parable for the benefit of the chief priests and elders of the people who had sought him in the Temple. They asked, “By what authority doest thou these things?” (Matt. 21:23) In turn, Jesus asked them a question about the ministry of John the Baptist, which they could not answer. He avoided giving a direct reply to their question.—vs. 24

Instead, Jesus gave two parables—the husbandman and the vineyard parable, being the second. He turned to the chief priests and elders and inquired, “When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” (Matt. 21:40) The answer given by the chief priests and elders was an accurate prophecy of events that took place not very long after this. “They 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.”—vs. 41

They could not have phrased it better! But they did not realize that they were speaking of themselves! The account continues: “Jesus 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 marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” (Matt. 21:42-45) Praise God, this cast off condition will not last forever. Israel will be restored, and will, indeed, yield fruitage to God!

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |