Septuagesima Sunday                               09 February 2020 A.D.                 Morning Prayer

 

                  Psalm 80      First lesson. Isaiah 5:1-7        Second lesson. Matthew 21:23-32

 

                                     O Lord, we beseech thee favorable to hear the

                                      prayers of thy people, that we, who are justly

                                      punished for our offenses, may be mercifully

                                     delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name, through

                                      Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with

                                      thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.                                                                                                                                             Amen.

 

 

 

                                           Walls, hedges, vineyards, and Heaven”

 

             The three selections of scripture that are part of the overall lecionary today focus on grape vineyards.  When the psalmist reminisced about years immediately following the Exodus from Egypt he focused on a healthy vine planted deep in the soul/soil of the promised land.

He recounted the pain and suffering, the sorrow that was depicted as bread of tears and tears of beverage because His people had rejected God. In the 80th Psalm we see God’s people abandon the true way, they suffer for it, all the while the psalmist cries out to God to “come and save us.”

 

Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.

Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

 

 He is begging or beseeching as it is depicted in the prayer book, that the Lord God would save His own.  “3Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

 

  Now Isaiah writes about a vineyard in the most choice area of land, it has all of the best going for it, it is on a hill, well watered, the best vines, (most productive) are planted there. A watch tower is built to keep an eye on the foxes that would spoil the grapes, a wine press is carved into the stone in anticipation of a great and continuous harvest of good grapes. But what happens?

 

Wild grapes come from the vines. All the birds and animals of the area love wild grapes, they are tiny and produce little juice, but provide food for them.  But they do not produce much juice, which is essential for a good harvest and a good wine.  The illustration is very important. God favored the house of Judah and yet they did the opposite of what God wanted. He wanted justice, they oppressed those around them, He wanted righteousness, but there was a cry,(of injustice).

So God allowed for the vineyard to go to seed, He allowed for the plants to be trampled under, the hedge and wall around the vineyard to be torn down all leading to destruction of what should have been a productive place.  Is this a lesson for us today?  We need to turn from our wickedness and repent. We need to turn to God our Father seeking forgiveness for all that we have done against Him and true justice. 

        So now as we read the passage from Matthew’s gospel are we seeing prophecy being fulfilled?  Did Isaiah write about this very action that would be taken by those in Judah, now the primary home of the Hebrew state?  The very ones who had been intrusted with God’s promise where now hiding it from the people.  Jesus comes to the temple teaching with great authority, the elders and religious leaders in the temple area question Him about where His authority to teach comes from.  And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things”.

The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?

 

26But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

 

27And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

 

     Now the genius of Jesus, being God the Son, is revealed in the following parable.

 

28But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

 

29He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

 

30And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

 

31Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

 

32For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

 

 

  In so many ways this parable is an almost parallel of Isaiah’s recounting of the good vineyard that went bad.  Those who had the Truth did not share or live that Truth.  They squandered the treasure that had been given them by the Lord God of Israel.  Jesus shines the Light on what was even more obvious, the mission of John the baptizer, crying out in the wilderness, scores of simple folk flocked to him, seeking the Truth. They would repent and be baptized by John with the understanding that One far greater than John would be coming soon to establish His kingdom.  The scribes and Pharisee would go to the Jordan river to see what John was doing, but they would scoff at him and those who entered the waters of baptism.  Jesus parable of the two sons reflected this very behavior.

  As we reflect on the various passages of scripture set aside for this day, let us thank God for the protection and the providence that He has provided us, His children. He does hedge us in, protects us from spiritual harm, keeps us from mortal danger in His way, by His way, and in His time.  We must endeavor to understand that we do not know the mind of God and yet we can get a bit of understanding of His way by immersing ourselves in His Word, daily.

Everyday on our journey we must thank God for all that He has provided us.

Lord help us to ever be mindful of ALL the blessings you have bestowed upon us.

 

Let us pray:

 

ALMIGHTY and ever lasting God, who of thy great mercy didst save Noah and his family in the ark from perishing by water, and also didst safely lead the children of Israel thy people through the Red Sea, figuring thereby thy Holy Baptism and by the Baptism of thy well beloved Son Jesus Christ, in the river Jordan, didst sanctify the element of water to the mystical washing away of sin; We beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt mercifully look upon these thy Servants; wash them and sanctify them with the Holy Ghost; that they, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ's Church; and being stedfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally they may come to the land of everlasting life, there to reign with thee world without end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

 

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

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