“Be Ye Ashamed, O Ye Husbandmen”

 “Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.”
(Joel 1:11)


Here we are at verse eleven and God has re-emphasized over and over throughout this chapter in various ways; each a bit different statement but nonetheless teaching the same truth.  When we search out other commentaries on the first chapter of Joel we find most prominently that they are teaching an historic event only; one that has long since passed and holds no real meat for the believer today.  Below is a quote from one commentary of which we will not reveal the author’s name, but we will show the common interpretation that most commentaries teach.  Their interpretation is not wrong, but it stops short of revealing the overall spiritual interpretation.  Let us not forget that Old Testament Israel was merely a foreshadow or portrait of the final Israel that God had in view, and that Israel is the spiritual, heavenly, and eternal Israel which God has provided through Christ our Messiah.  This biblical fact does not rob the physical Jew of anything, since God’s elect consists of both Jew and Gentile believers in Christ.  Now, let us view a brief excerpt of today’s general consensus with regard to Joel chapter one and verse eleven:

“The Prophet says nothing new here, but only strengthens what he had said before, and is not wordy without reason; for he intends here not merely to teach, but also to produce an effect: And this is the design of heavenly teaching; for God not only wishes that what he says may be understood, but intends also to penetrate into our hearts: and the word of God, we know, consists not of doctrine only, but also of exhortations, and threatenings, and reproofs. This plan then the Prophet now pursues: Ye husband men, he says, be ashamed, and ye vinedressers, howl; for perished has the harvest of the field. The sum of the whole is, that the Jews, as we have already said, could by no excuse cover their indifference; for their clamor was everywhere heard, their complaints everywhere resounded, that the land had become a waste, that they were themselves famished that they were afflicted with many calamities; and yet no one acknowledged that God, who visited them for their sins, was the author.”

God is repeating over and over again in the first few verses of Joel chapter one and yet all that most can see or understand is to assume that God is speaking of the ancient Jew.  The above author defines the most crucial and fundamental understanding as: “The sum of the whole is, that the Jews, as we have already said, could by no excuse cover their indifference …”  The author of this commentary, as well as most, teaches that God is speaking to the Old Testament Jew and no one else.  Yes, they admit that today’s Christian will find good moral teachings to aid in our Christian walk, but this is all that these commentators can receive from the Book of Joel.  Their commentaries are not wrong; they simply stop short of what God is saying.  First of all, let us through two verses only conclude whom God has in view as the real and spiritual Jew:

Romans 2:28-29 –

28 – For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

29 – But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Of course there is essentially nothing wrong with the above commentary if all we want to learn is Jewish history.  However, Holy Scripture was not designed in such a fashion; it is without doubt the only eternal truth that is upon this earth and as such it is meant to be interpreted in and of itself only.  If one desires Jewish history, let them visit the Hebrew universities.  If one desires God’s Word to mankind, let him search out the Holy Scriptures.  

Man can mimic certain truths of God by creating their own religions, as they have done, and many centuries later their man-made religion sprouts half-truths and heresies in which they hold millions of souls captive.  Anyone can bow toward the east three times daily and be deceived into thinking he is right with God.  Anyone can bow repeatedly while slipping pray notes into the crevices of the Wailing Wall and be deceived into thinking he is right with God.  But what does God really desire of us?  

1 Peter 2:5 – Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  

What is the real and true sacrifice that God desires of us?

Hebrews 13:15 – By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Be Ye Ashamed, O Ye Husbandmen

To be ashamed carries the meaning in the Hebrew of being shameful; disappointed, confounded, dried up, etc.  The following passages are but a sampling of the word ashamed that we find in Joel 1:11.  It is the precise word that we find in our study and is number 954 in strong’s Hebrew.

Psalms 31:17 – Let me not be ashamed <954>, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed <954>, and let them be silent in the grave.

Psalms 40:14 – Let them be ashamed <954> and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

Isaiah 45:24 – Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed <954>.

Ezekiel 36:32 – Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed <954> and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.

Psalms 97:7 – Confounded <954>be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.  <Confoundedis the same Hebrew word as is ashamed, and many times is used together as a phrase “ashamed and confounded.”  We surely see the contrast that God is making.  Those who are not genuinely true worshippers of Christ hold in their spirit the sense of being ashamed and confounded, and that is a trait of outer darkness. God’s truth is sometimes harsh in our sight; nonetheless we are living in a world of fallen souls.  This life is not meant to be a playground for mankind; one in which we can defile our souls with the pleasures of this world.  Those who practice idol worship – and make no mistake about it, there are thousands of modern ways in which to do so – are in essence ashamed and confounded within their souls.>

Psalms 22:5 – They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded <954>. 

<Those who truly worship Christ will in no way be ashamed or confounded.  They will be given the gift of eternal life forevermore.>

Psalms 44:7 – But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame <954> that hated us.

<Again we see another word, shame, which is translated in the Hebrew as ashamed or confounded.  This verse is reiterating the fact that all of God’s enemies will be put to shame (ashamed or confounded), and that shame is a spiritual parting from God at death.  Yes, these verses may be extremely hard to swallow for most, but don’t forget that God has provided a way out; an escape or refuge in which we are to flee, and that escape is the Cross of Christ.  Flee to the safety of Christ, that you be not counted among the ashamed and confounded!>

Psalms 14:6 – Ye have shamed<954>the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge.

<The LORD is the refuge (trust, hope, shelter) for the counsel of the poor.  Recall that Christ spoke “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  God often uses the term poor to denote His elect.>

Be Ye Ashamed,O Ye Husbandmen

We have seen that the phrase to be ashamed carries much more than a worldly emotion of one being embarrassed or uncomfortable.  It is a term that signifies one being out of God’s will.  In the first section of Joel one and verse eleven God is telling the husbandmen to be ashamed!  What do we make of this?  What precisely is being taught with the word husbandmen?  This word is defined in the Hebrew (406) as ploughman or farmer and comes from an unused root, meaning to dig.   

Jeremiah 31:24 – And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen <406>, and they that go forth with flocks. 

<This passage appears to indicate that the husbandmen care for their flocks.>

At this point let us look at the singular form of husbandmen, which is husbandman.

Genesis 9:20 – And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

<This passage appears to indicate that a husbandman cares for the vineyard.>

Jeremiah 51:23 – I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers. 

<The above passage tells us that the shepherd attends his flock while the husbandman attends to his oxen.  The analogy is farm work in which the common people laboured in during Old Testament days.>

Amos 5:16 – ¶Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.

Zechariah 13:5 – But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.

<”I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.”  Yes, it appears that a husbandman is one who attends cattle.   Before we examine husbandman in the New Testament let us emphasize the fact that the word cattle in sections of the Old Testament does appear to hold significant and symbolical illustrations or depictions of Christ’s flocks of believers. A couple of examples follow:

Cattle

Ezekiel 34:22 – Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

In Isaiah chapter thirty we see a host of spiritual language that would take quite some time to remotely scratch the surface of its meaning.  However, that chapter, and many more like it, are brushed off by many as being futuristic in nature; a period of a thousand year reign of Christ upon this sin-cursed earth.  Of course we know that Christ is not coming back to rule and reign upon this earth.  Those verses (and there are a great many) ultimately teach of a grand time wherein the words of Christ (kingdom of God/Christ) will rule and reign upon the earth.  This has been fulfilled by the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ.  These rich and beautiful passages have all been dumped into a category called “millennial type verses” and are simply misunderstood; therefore the pastors, ministers, laymen, etc. assign them to a future one-thousand-year fictitious utopia upon the earth.  It is worth noting that many, if not all, cults teach a future utopia upon this earth.  Red flags should sound at that point.   

As we scan through the thirtieth chapter of Isaiah, we learn that it alludes to the glorious time in which the Gospel of Salvation goes into all the earth. 

Isaiah 30:21 – And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

The above is a clear reference to Christ’s Gospel: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John 14:6.

In verse twenty-three of Isaiah chapter thirty we read of the spiritual ground tillers, (husbandmen).  Please read it carefully:

Isaiah 30:23 – Then shall he give the rain of thy seed <appears to be manna from heaven; words of Christ>, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.  

<Yes, once God’s precious Gospel of Salvation is rained upon the earth; God’s cattle (spiritual flocks) will feed in large pastures.  This is the New Testament Age.>

Isaiah 30:24 -The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground <work or till the ground: husbandmenshall eat clean provender<Gospel: Manna from heaven>, which hath been winnowed <scattered; spread about> with the shovel <winnowing fork; as blowing the chaff away> and with the fan <winnowing shovel: blowing the chaff away>.

What beautiful and rich words we have from God to enrich our faith!  Now let us see what the New Testament says about the husbandman.

John 15:1 – ¶I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

<We know that Christ and the Father are one, 1 John 5:7.  Nonetheless, our Heavenly Father is our husbandman.>

2 Timothy 2:6 – The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

<We saw from the Old Testament that the husbandman was one who attended his cattle.  From the New Testament we see that the husbandman labors and partakes from the fruits of his work.  The idea is altogether dealing with the labors of one working his crops, fields and vineyards hand in hand with his cattle.  This is a simplified picture of Christ’s church working the fields of salvation.  God, our husbandman, has planted an earthly harvest of souls from before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4.  We, as His children, are entrusted to this labor in the harvesting of souls.  We are in essence field laborers … “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;” Matthew 9:37.  God Himself is the LORD of this global harvest:  “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest,” Matthew 9:38.”

Husbandry

1 Corinthians 3:9 – For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.  

<The word husbandry is used only once in the New Testament and once only in the Old Testament.  It is defined in the New Testament as cultivable, that is, a farm: – husbandry.  Our English language tells us that cultivable is defined as: “Capable of undergoing cultivation: cultivable land.”  In order to perform in the task of husbandry, one would have to be a husbandman or husbandmen.    As we have seen, the triune (three in one; constituting a trinity in unity, as the Godhead.) God is our Husbandman.  We, as confessing believers, are His field workers, or husbandmen.>

James 5:7 – Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

<Our Heavenly Father, as our Husbandman, is patient for the harvest of souls.

“¶The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9.

We as His husbandmen are also commanded to be patient.>

As we mentioned, there is one verse in the Old Testament that uses the word Husbandry, and that is found in 2 Chronicles 26:10 –

“Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.”

God’s Word is endless and filled with indescribable blessings, yet most people who dare bother with the study of Scripture can only begin to scratch the surface of these riches.  It is a delight to search out God’s Word, and yet many feel it is a burden.  It is no wonder God does not reveal these truths to those who lead among the thousands of congregations.  These people are much too busy in promoting their own congregations and pouring thousands, and even millions of dollars into their buildings.  They have made merchandise of God’s Word – “And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise,” John 2:16.  The Old Testament Temple was turned into a house of merchandise, so too has what was intended to be the spiritual temple (church) been made into a house of merchandise.  The ambitions of church administrations today have degraded into a great financial enterprise; a competitive frenzy to lure and attract the populous in by way of worldly means.

As we look to 2 Chronicles 26:10 we see that this entire chapter deals with the Godly king of Judah, King Uzziah.  We see a chapter overflowing with spiritual riches; eternal truths that are foreshadowed by the life of this king.  Such is the style in which God foreshadows His salvation plan.  In verse ten God tells us that King Uzziah loved husbandry.  Upon examining this word, we see that it is defined as soil, country, earth, ground, land, and husbandry or husbandman.  As we have stated, husbandry encompasses the love of working one’s land.  

As our heavenly Father is our Husbandman, each confessing believer in the church, both wheat and tares, are to reflect God’s work by caring for the flocks.  We are to work in the fields of salvation as God’s husbandmen.  

Howl, O Ye Vinedressers

In every instance where the word Howl (# 3213 Strong’s Hebrew) is used in the Old Testament, it is used in a negative sense, commonly in reaction to God’s judgment.  The following are a sampling of some passages:

Isaiah 13:6 – ¶Howl <3213>ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

Isaiah 23:14 – Howl <3213>, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.

Isaiah 52:5 – Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl <3213>, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.

Isaiah 65:14 – Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl <3213>for vexation of spirit.

Jeremiah 25:34 – Howl <3213>, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel.

Jeremiah 51:8 – Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl <3213> for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.

Joel 1:5 – Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl <3213>, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.

Joel 1:13 – Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl <3213>, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.

Zechariah 11:2 – Howl <3213>, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down.

<God’s Word is a lifelong search of eternal riches.  Just look at the above verse.  “Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen.”  What spiritual nuggets might we find in searching out the term fir tree?  The cedar is fallen!  What do the cedars of Lebanon symbolize?  Or the oaks of Bashan?  For the forest of the vintage is come down!  What might we expect to find in this forest of the vintage?  God’s Word is endless! 1 Peter 1:25 >

Jeremiah 25:36 – A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling <3213> of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD hath spoiled their pasture.

Zechariah 11:3 – There is a voice of the howling <3213> of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.

Amos 8:3 – And the songs of the temple shall be howlings <3213> in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.

There is but one passage in the New Testament which uses the word howl, and the meaning is basically the same as in the Old Testament:

James 5:1 – ¶Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Howl, O Ye Vinedressers

God is utilizing this negative term “howl” as He is addressing the vinedressers.  We must realize that within Christ’s external earthly assembly there consist believers and non-believers (wheat and tares).  These are contrasted only by their hearts, in which only God can know.  Nonetheless workers in the vineyard will work together until the end of the age

Matthew 13:30 – Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

In our study of Joel 1:11 God is speaking to the husbandmen and vinedressers.  These are of course metaphoric terms.  If this verse were meant to be interpreted in the literal sense, we might read it this way:

Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil; wail, O vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field has perished. (English Standard Version)

But God’s Word says….

Joel 1:11 – Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.

The word husbandmen is a term meaning tillers of the soil.  It is a symbolic word and appears to represent all of the field workers in God’s vineyard.  In today’s world it might represent all, both wheat and tares, within the Church of Christ.  

DETOUR

God is also addressing the vinedressers in our study of Joel 1:11.  Before we examine this word, let us take a brief detour to Isaiah Chapter sixty-one.  In this chapter we will discover an eternal truth concerning God’s vinedressers.

Isaiah 61:1-9:

1 –   ¶The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

<We read in the Book of Luke that Christ went into the city of Nazareth, where He was brought up, and visited a synagogue on the Sabbath day.  He stood up among all of the people in the synagogue and began to read from Isaiah 61:1.  After He finished He closed the book and sat down.  The eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him, Luke 4:19.  Christ then stated: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” Luke 4:21.  Filled with great wrath, the people cast Him out of their city, Luke 4:29.  Christ confirmed who He was that very day. Keep reading ->  

Isaiah 61:2-9

Continuing in the prophecy of Christ:

2 – To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3 – To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

<God’s entire salvation program is a metaphor of a vineyard planted by our Lord.>

4 – ¶And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

<Up until verse 4 God has stated in symbolical terms that His Christ will at that day proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.  He (Christ the Messiah) will appoint beauty for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness … that these whom Christ will appoint will be called trees of righteousness, Isaiah 61:3.  Each remedy such as “beauty” to remedy the ashes (spirit of death) signifies Christ’s Gospel.  The oil of joy is the Holy Spirit that remedies the soul’s mourning.  The garment of praise is the true believer’s worship to God that remedies the spirit of heaviness.  This is the result of the Gospel of Salvation in which Christ brought to this world.  Those whose lives are touched by this Gospel are viewed through the eyes of God as being trees of righteousness planted in God’s vineyard.  

Now, look again at verse 4.  These trees of righteousness – otherwise known as Christians – are given the task of:

A – Building the old wastes

B – Raising up the former desolations

C – Repairing the waste cities (the desolations of many generations

Luke chapter four is of course a New Testament passage, even though it transpires in the Old Testament Era shortly before the advent of the New Testament Age.  Luke 4:18-19 corresponds perfectly with Isaiah 61:1-2.  Believers in the New Testament assembly have been appointed to build the old wastes; to raise up the former desolations; and to repair the wastes cities.  Now, unless we travel to the Holy Land with carpenter tools in hand to repair these wastes cities and to raise up these former desolations…how are we to fulfill these passages?   Quite simply these are beautiful similes (a figure of speech) told in parabolic fashion.  The New Testament believer is a spiritual Jew and as such God “bridges” Old Testament and New Testament together.  We (through Scripture) build up the old wastes and raise up the former desolations and we do this simply by adjoining Old Testament scripture to our Christian teachings.  This perhaps may sound a bit far fetched to some, but how else might God’s revealing of the Messiah raise up former desolations and repair the old wastes cities?   It appears in some instances that God defines the old cities of Judah and Israel in the spiritual essence of being the congregations of the world.  From Old Testament synagogues to New Testament churches, Christ’s Words are repairing these waste cites and raising up the former desolations of many generations.  Christ’s words are fulfilling all of these Old Testament teachings and prophesies.  Had Christ not atoned (at the Cross) for the sins of His people, the former desolations would certainly not have been raised.>  

5 – And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

<Remaining in Isaiah 61:5 we read that a new era was coming in which strangers shall feed the flocks and sons of the alien shall be the plowmen and vinedressers.  The Hebrew word “strangers” and “alien” can mean foreigner.  In a great many instances in Scripture, the word “stranger” signifies the ungodly of Old Testament days.  This, however, is not always the case.  God’s Word was first given to the physical Jew and then, at the time of Christ, dispersed to the Gentiles (foreigners).  Yes, the Gentiles would inherit salvation and as a result, the physical Jew would see strangers (foreigners) feeding the spiritual flocks rather than themselves.  The physical Jew would see the plowman and vinedressers (workers in the Gospel) as “sons of the alien” (Gentiles) rather than of Jewish descent. 

6 – But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

<Ye, as the above verse states, appears to be a reference to all believers in Christ, both Jew and Gentile.

7 – For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.

8 – For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

<The everlasting covenant is, of course, the covenant between Christ and His Bride – His Elect.>

Jeremiah 31:33 – But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

9 – And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.

<The true seed (once again God uses the analogy of farming) that receives God’s blessing is all those of the spiritual House of Israel called into the bosom of Christ.>

Matthew 15:24 – But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

<Christ came into the world to save sinners.  These were saved from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and are known to God as the lost sheep of the house of Israel.>

We have detoured to Isaiah chapter sixty-one in order to show how Christ references the New Testament believers as vinedressers (Isaiah 61:5).  These aliens or strangers were at one time known as pagans to the ancient Jews, but God in His mercy reached out and brought salvation to all peoples.

Acts 18:6 – And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.

Romans 11:11 – I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 

Back To The Vinedressers

“Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers …”

The Hebrew word that is translated vinedressers is nearly the identical word for vineyard or vineyards.  Vinedresser or vine dresser comes from the word vineyard and carries the same meaning: a garden or vineyard; vines or vintage.  The first use of the word vineyard is found in Genesis 9:20. Noah’s Ark was without question a symbolical portrait of the Church of Christ.  It did indeed exist, no doubt, because God says it did.  God has inserted much information into the passages that pertain to Noah’s Ark; information that New Testament believers can certainly glean riches from.

In Genesis 9:20 we read the following:

“And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:”

Noah’s Ark signified the spiritual refuge and safety that one has in Christ Jesus.  Back in the early days of the Old Testament Era God was beginning to plant His vineyard:

Matthew 13:31-32 –

31 – Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

32 – Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Notice how God, through the use of parables, utilizes the analogy of farming or tilling the soil in speaking of His Gospel going forth.  When Noah and his family exited the Ark they began to plant vineyards and Noah, along with his sons, no doubt, became husbandmen.  Yes, this is to be understood quite literally, but on the other hand God is painting a spiritual portrait of just how this mustard seed (the Gospel of Salvation) will glow in His vineyard.  It requires field workers; that is to say it requires vine dressers and husbandmen to labour in the fields of salvation. 

Scripture is packed with the words vineyard or vineyards.  

Matthew 20:1– ¶For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourersinto his vineyard.

Because of man’s sins, most verses that mention God’s vineyard or vineyards are done so in a negative manner.  God’s earthly vineyard will consist of both the saved and the unsaved, and thus we understand why there is so much sin within the vineyards.  Having said that, let us look to the cause of the howling of these vinedressers.

Be Ye Ashamed, O Ye Husbandmen; 

Howl, O Ye Vinedressers,

For the Wheat and for the Barley; 

Because the Harvest of the Field is Perished. (Joel 1:11)

Luke 10:2 – Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

The Jews of Old Testament days planted literal vineyards along with many other fruits and vegetables.  As we have stated, God uses these plantings to symbolize the spiritual Jew planting the seeds of faith.  We can’t possibly lay out all of the different metaphors in this short study.  Each believer must search out the scriptures on his or her own time for these eternal riches.

The husbandmen are ashamed and the vinedressers howl in agony over the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is perished!  There were many droughts during the years of the Old Testament Jews.  God, as He pens these historic occurrences into His Word, ultimately has a more severe drought in view.  These are but earthly instances in which the Jews of ancient days suffered a loss of crops through various droughts, locust infestations, etc.  All of these Old Testament events are written for a purpose and that purpose holds a higher and heavenly meaning to them rather than mere history lessons of Old Testament plagues.  These occurrences may teach God’s judgment upon Judah and Israel for their unfaithfulness at various times, no doubt.  The ultimate teachings, as we have stated over and over again, are to show the final state of God’s vineyard at the end of time.  Precisely as Israel of old sinned against God continually, so too has the New Testament church sinned continually.  As the Old Testament crops failed in many different ways, so too will the New Testament spiritual crops fail.  This is the final outcome and is taught as the Abomination of Desolation.  It is the perishing of the harvest of the field.  A great many souls down through the centuries of generations have been eternally saved; a great multitude which no man can number, Revelation 7:9.  However, when viewed among the people who have lived upon the earth, it is but a few in comparison.

Luke 13:24 – Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.  

The Harvest

The harvest of the field is perished, Joel 1:11 tells us.  There are two sides to the harvest: those who will be taken to heaven and those who will be left for judgment.

Matthew 24:40-41 –

40 – Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 – Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 

16 – For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 – Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

John 6:40 – And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Matthew 13:30 – Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Joel 3:13 – Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

Revelation 14:15 – And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

What does Joel mean by stating that the harvest is perished?  God, through the prophet Joel, is clearly stating that the harvest of the good souls is perished.  God tells the vinedressers to howl for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest is perished!  In all probability God is telling us that the possibility of any further salvation of souls has perished and judgment is rapidly approaching.  Howl for the wheat and the barley!  But aren’t wheat and barley symbolic terms representing the believer?  Yes, in many cases these terms certainly signify the true believer.  But how can a true believer not take part in the good harvest?  Every true believer will partake of the good harvest, however the tares within the churches will have no further opportunity to respond to the Gospel.

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”  (Jeremiah 8:20)

God is speaking through the prophet Joel and is telling those within the church to wail or howl for the wheat and the barley because the harvest is perished!  God has sealed His Bride and no more will be brought into the fold.  As Noah shut the door to the ark, it ensured that no more would be saved from the flood other than those in the ship.  In the account of the Apostle Paul’s shipwreck we see a great spiritual parallel to the ark (being a symbol of the Church represented by a ship) in that no one could possibly be saved if they were outside of the ship:

Acts 27:31– Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 

This metaphor holds true to all who are in Christ Jesus, for we cannot possibly be saved if we are outside of Christ.  God’s bride, the true Church, is symbolized as a ship in Scripture.  We are not certain as to the length of time that will transpire from the shutting off of salvation (closing of the door) until the judgment at the last day, however it appears that the birth pangs of judgment will commence even before the good harvest is perished.  

2 Corinthians 6:2 – (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)


(Adapted)

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