Keeper of the Vineyard
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me. (Songs 8:12)
I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” (Isaiah 27:3)
These verses bring to us very vividly the picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, who keeps His own vineyard. His vineyard is His church: His church worldwide, His church in our country, and our own churches. He is the Lord of the vineyard. And if you are in any way a gardener or a vine dresser, you will know how precious you can be about your garden and your flowers. I remember reading in Amy Carmichael that she had made a garden, I think a kind of indoor garden on a tray, which she had given to somebody else to keep, but when she came back after a length of time it had all withered and died. She remembered thinking to herself that if that other person had made the garden themself they would have kept it better; they hadn’t cared for it.
How comforting it is for us to remember that the vineyard of the church is Christ’s own. It is His own planting, and it is planted in a rich and fertile soil, rooted deeply into Calvary. He is the Master; He is the One who cares; He loves His church. It’s a tremendous, incomprehensible love for all mankind, and so how much for those who are His own! And He waters His vineyard night and day lest any harm it. I pray that all of you where you are in your own home are finding that there is water, the living water; that Christ is caring, God is caring, for you; and that your soul is being fed wherever you are, whether you are a new Christian or a mature one. We need that daily manna, we need the care of Christ.
And in this let our confidence be rooted, that He loves. In the face of all anxiety, worry and fear for the future, we are in the hands of a loving heavenly Father, and all is well, for He is a safekeeper.
But there is another verse that says:
They made me keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept. (Songs 1:6)
This verse also brings to us immediately a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. He keeps His vineyard in the sense of our lives, but He didn’t keep His own. He gave it, He suffered, He was a willing sacrifice. He shared our sorrows and far more that we cannot share in. He did not please Himself. He left His Father’s side and came to a world of woe, worse than what we are experiencing just now.
While following the book of Leviticus recently in my Daily Reading Bible, I have been reading some chapters quite carefully and am very struck by the fact that in the Aaronic priesthood those of his family who had any scar, any blemish or any physical defect at all, were not allowed to minister in the Holy Place. No animal could be offered that had the slightest scar or blemish upon it: each one had to be perfect.
And I thought of how these people must have felt who were not allowed to minister as their brothers were – how rejected they must have felt, and with what a different view of God than what has been given us through Christ! The holiness of God had to be emphasized – and it still is to us. Our way of approach is through Jesus Christ, who is the perfect sacrifice, and because of Him we can approach God and find Him as our heavenly Father.
And I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ: His form was marred, His visage was scarred, more than any man’s. He was not presented in an outward sense as perfect. He was wounded so that He was hardly recognizable. He could say: “I am a worm and no man.” And yet in becoming that sacrifice, with such suffering, He has opened a door for all the lame, the blind, the halt, the weary, the burdened, the sinful. Blemished within and without, with all our defects, we find the way into the Holy Place is not barred; indeed, the way into the very inner sanctuary, the deep presence of God, is open to us because of that Christ who, while a bleeding sacrifice, was innocent and perfect in His inner being.
And from Him there still shines out to us the perfection of beauty, the perfection of holiness, that causes us to become one with Him and with His Father.
You might be finding at this time God very close to you. It might suit your temperament to have a lot of aloneness and solitude. But there are others that will be struggling: struggling with temptation, struggling with their own temperament, struggling with fear, anxiety and worry. Come to Him just as you are. Come and find the great Redeemer. Come and find the solace, the comforter, the strengthener, the peace. Remember again His words to us:
“Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” (Matt.14:27)
Amen. God bless you all,
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