Only a few years ago, the housing market and the economy were booming. Life was looking financially rosy. Then the housing market crashed, bringing the economy down with it. While we haven’t had another terrorist attack comparable to 9/11, our enemies have not ceased in their continual attempts to destroy us, even corrupting one of our own military members to kill his peers. Yet, we have prevailed against our enemy by bringing down various terrorist leaders including Osama bin Laden. This week more of the top terrorist leaders were brought down.
While this is encouraging, we are also faced with a break down in our southern border. Many have been brutally killed by the Mex-ican drug cartel that is waging its own war against the citizens of America. If that is not enough to keep Homeland Security on alert, this past summer in a Chicago suburb, a radical Muslim group held a national conference to encourage its members that the time is near for the downfall of America. The leaders of this group advocate Sharia Law in place of the Constitution of the United States. In the meantime, demonstrators are protesting against the banks of Wall Street, demanding the end of capitalism. Although it is only a small group at this time, their goal is to hold protests in several of the major cities throughout the nation in hopes of bringing the ‘Arab Spring’ to the shores of America.
Meanwhile, a lone Christian pastor in Iran is facing death by hanging unless he renounces Christ and embraces Islam. While we look upon this in horror as an aberration, sadly, it could be-come the norm here in America if Sharia Law prevails. The precarious fate of this young Christian pastor is the future planned by Muslim jihadists for all those who refuse to bow to Allah. Shariah Law demands full and complete submission of all citizens not only in religious matters, but also lifestyles that are not in compliance with the Law of Muhammed. Even Muslim dress codes are imposed upon the general populace. Just look to Iran for our enemies’ planned future of America.
Now I know that this seems exaggerated to most people, but we have only to look at the history of the People of God in the scrip-tures to know that God allows bad things to happen to His people, when they have replaced Him with other gods. The prophet Isaiah in writing to the people of God warned them of God’s coming wrath in response to their abandoning His ways.
God had chosen the people of Israel to be His light among the nations, but they embraced other gods. So He took away their prosperity and allowed their enemies to attack them from all sides. Their only hope was to repent and turn back to the Lord who had showered them with His blessings and sworn His love to them.
In the gospel reading for today from Matthew, Jesus told the Par-able of the Evil Vinedressers. In this story, Jesus warned those who were listening of what would happen to those who rejected Him as the Messiah.
While Isaiah compared the people of God to the vineyard planted by the Lord, Jesus compared the people of God to those in charge of caring for the vineyard. The owner of the vineyard went away and left hired help to care for the vines. When the harvest came, the owner sent his slaves to collect what was owed to him. The tenants beat the slaves and even killed some of them. Then the owner sent his only son hoping that the tenants would do what was right.
Matthew writes, “Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.”
The traditional interpretation of this parable is that the tenants are the religious leaders of the Jewish people. The owner is God and the slaves are His prophets who were sent to bring the harvest to the Lord. After the prophets were beaten and killed, God sent His only begotten Son to them. The tenants killed the owner’s son, just as the religious leaders would hand Jesus, the Son of God, over to the Romans to be crucified.
After Jesus told His hearers the story, He asked them how they thought the owner of the vineyard would respond to the tenants. Their response was, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” Jesus then tells them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”? There-fore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” The key phrase we need to remember here today is ‘the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom”.
Less than forty years after the Jewish elite turned the Messiah over to the Romans to be crucified, the city of Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans. Only one wall of the Tem-ple was left as a reminder of the Roman power that had demo-lished Jerusalem. The altar of the Lord was destroyed and the Jews no longer had a place to offer up their sacrifices unto the Lord God Almighty. Even today, the Temple of Jerusalem has not been rebuilt. In its place is the Dome of the Rock, which is a Muslim mosque. The remaining wall left by the Romans is known as the ‘Wailing Wall’ for it is the place where Jews from all over the world come and cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness.
We, who have accepted Jesus, the Son of God as our Lord and Savior need not gloat; for we also are expected to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, this nation has abandoned the Judea-Christian roots that were planted by our forefathers to bear fruit for the Lord God Almighty. This nation founded upon the principles and laws of the Bible to be the light for the nations is now in jeopardy. We have replaced the principles of God with those of secularism and humanism. What happened to the chosen People of God, could easily become our fate, also.
As the prophet Isaiah wrote, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” Although the time is short, it is not too late! If we will repent of our ungodly ways and return to the Lord God, then He will forgive us and restore us once again to the nation that He has called us to be – a light of hope among the nations.
In closing, we are encouraged by God’s promise from the Second Book of Chronicles, “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
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