My Beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He worked to clear the stones away, The land was good to till. He built a winepress in its midst and planted it with vines. He looked for it to yield good grapes that He might drink the wine.
But as the fruit matured He saw how wild the grapes became. And though He loved and cared for them, the vines would not be tamed. While children of Jerusalem did not a harvest yield, What more could my Beloved do to tend His wasted field?
The keeper of the vineyard -- The Lord of Hosts is He. The people are His vineyard, Oh, tell me, can't you see. That He was seeking righteousness and justice for His wine. Instead he found iniquity hanging from the vine.
For you who seek the Lord today, the lesson still holds true. For what He sought of Israel He still requires of you. So walk with Him in righteousness and be a fruitful vine. And press your life into His hand that He might drink the Wine.
**** Isaiah 5:1-7
(Written and Recorded by The Liberated Wailing Wall, Jews for Jesus)

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" **** Matthew 23:37-39

When you think of "God", what do you see ?? Have you so given in to anthropomorphism (the ascribing of human attributes to non-human entities) that you basically envision God as being a "huge, powerful, OLD man, perhaps sitting on a throne ruling over his kingdom" ?? Or are you perhaps of the more "modern, enlightened" breed who has reduced the "personal God" of the bible into some lifeless, meaningless, purposeless, non-intelligent "life-force or cosmic energy" ?? Thirdly, and worse yet, perhaps you are of that school of soulless theologians whose purpose is to dissect and categorize God into intellectual, lifeless labels, definitions and categorizations. Their concept and understanding of God is as cold, sterile and dead as were the "monastic prisons" that many of them inhabited - and their labels, such as "impassive" (without feeling or emotion), perhaps better described themselves !!

If you hold to the First concept, understand that it is basically a primitive, "childlike" view of God, and IS NOT supported by the Bible, which states that the God whom it reveals is a Spirit, and thus does NOT posses form as we would understand it. While this view MAY provide some "religious solace and comfort", it is an incorrect view based upon incorrect understanding. It will also lead to a faulty concept of God, since our tendency will be to ascribe to God those human values and features with which we are most familiar -- Hence the angry, judgmental, stern, vengeful, vindictive, wrathful "god" that WE often believe is represented in  the Old Testament.

"He says: "Listen my people! I am speaking! Listen Israel! I am accusing you! I am God, your God! When you did these things, I was silent, so you thought I was exactly like you. But now I will condemn you and state my case against you!" **** Psalms 50:7,21

"For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, says the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." **** Isaiah 55:8,9

For although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. **** Romans 1:21-23

He (God) alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see. **** 1 Timothy 6:16

"No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father (Jesus), has made God known." **** John 1:18

"God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." **** John 4:24

The Second view is profoundly NOT biblical, and it is not my purpose to discuss it here. If this is your view, then you most definitely believe in "a different god, which neither we nor our forefathers have known".

The Third view is what I want to consider here today.

First, lest you become confused by what I have said and am about to say, YES, it IS true that the Old Testament speaks of and about God in human terms, ascribing to Him human qualities and attributes. However, as C.S. Lewis argues, how else could primitive man (OR modern man for that matter) understand Him ?? Shall we speak of Him as an Effulgence, as an Eminence, as an Energy, as a Force, or perhaps as a Manifestation ?? Would these terms make it easier for us to relate to Him who is admittedly beyond description or human comprehension. NO -- God revealed Himself in terms that we could relate to, imperfect as they may be. However, God went to great effort to clarify that He IS NOT like us and that we should NOT think so. That has been and IS one of man's great errors !! The Old Testament was a very imperfect revelation of God, though it is more refined than His first revelation, Nature - His Creation. It was His purpose in the coming of Jesus Christ to reveal God - the Father in a FAR more refined and accurate way.

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 1:2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 1:3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 1:14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory -- the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 1:18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.

14:7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him." 14:8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content." 14:9 Jesus replied, "Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds. 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me, but if you do not believe me, believe because of the miraculous deeds themselves. **** John

There is an excellent book, which conveys eloquently what I am trying to say, entitled "The Language of Eden", by Don Milam. You may read two excerpts, [ HERE ] and [ HERE ]. Another book is "You Will Receive Power", by William Law.

Buy your INEXPENSIVE books at one of these sites: Amazon, Alibris, Abebooks.

Now the SPECIFIC quality of God that I want to bring to light here today is His ability to be touched and moved by our thoughts and actions. Many - influenced by certain theologians and by their own fearful, hard, sinful hearts - depict God as being "impassive" (without feeling or emotion). It is perhaps more tolerable, if one MUST believe in "a god", to believe in one that is removed from us, one who is NOT really involved in our lives, one who dwells above and aloof from the cares and concerns of humanity. Perhaps we can merely summon Him on occasion, when we "need a little help", like some "genie in a bottle", and then command Him to return to said bottle when WE are done with HIM !!

We often picture from the Old Testament (wrongly so, due to either lack of diligent study and/or spiritual blindness) a god who sits as some cold, impersonal judge, lawgiver, or potentate -- ready to deal out judgment and/or damnation much like a bureaucrat or a computer -- without compassion, without feeling, without personal involvement. Such could not be further removed from either the Truth nor from the revelation of Himself that God gives, first in the Old Testament, and finally, in the New.

Would it surprise you to learn that, in a metaphorical sense, God weeps much over His creation, over His lost children, and is often times very hurt by our actions ?? We see a clear example of this in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem at their upcoming judgment.

23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 23:38 Look, your house is left to you desolate! 23:39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’" **** Matthew

Also, in the parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son), we see the Father's love of and concern for His lost and wayward children in Luke 15:11-32. Well, yes, that was Jesus you say, but certainly NOT the God of the Old Testament !! I can ONLY conclude that those who would utter these words have either NEVER truly read and studied the OT, or else that their eyes are closed by spiritual blindness. The OT reveals MANY more instances of God, through His prophets, weeping and expressing personal hurt over His people (Israel) than are there for Jesus in the NT.

One theme relating to God's heartache that is repeated over and over, both in the OT and in the NT, is that of Man's Ingratitude -- that God gives His ALL and man, in return, takes EVERYTHING and gives NOTHING.  How often do we hear some unbeliever (or believer) railing against God for some supposed unfairness, loss or calamity that he/she attributes to God ? Do we ever stop to consider the pain that WE render to God through OUR failures (sins) and ingratitude ?? Do we ever stop to consider how HE must feel to see how WE have rendered His beautiful creation into a moral and physical cesspool ??

We see the pattern beginning in the Book of Genesis, when God places Adam and Eve in an idyllic garden where they want or lack for nothing -- all of their needs are provided for. Soon, along comes the serpent with his accusations, innuendoes, and lies, "God doesn't REALLY have your best interests at heart. He is holding back some good thing. He REALLY just wants to put you under restraint -- to keep you from being all that you can. He can not be trusted. You need to BE yourself and DO IT yourself." What was the outcome ?? Both Adam and Eve believed him, patterns for mankind down to the present day !!

One of the most graphic and heart-rending accounts of this tragic ingratitude is recounted in Ezekiel Chapter 16. It is a parable of a young woman (representing Jerusalem). God finds her abandoned in an open field, near death, of no account to those around her and rejected -- coming from a despised background and having nothing to recommend her. God takes her in, cleans, nurtures, and raises her as His own. When she becomes of age, He takes her as His own bride. He lavishes His love, care and riches upon her, withholding nothing that is His. As she matures, her beauty and abilities grow and blossom, until she is desired by many suitors. Soon she grows tired of her husband, and goes whoring after new pleasures, considering what had been so lovingly and freely GIVEN to her as being her own right and possession. If this were not bad enough, she even goes so far as to sacrifice the children of this union to her prostitution and depravity.

What is even sadder is that it tells the TRUE tale of what often happens between God and His children. I know personally of one instance where God redeemed a young woman who had very little in herself, and was at the "end of her rope". Under God's care, guidance and love, she grew and prospered into an exceedingly capable, gracious and lovely young woman. In time, she came to view her gifts and accomplishments as being her OWN achievements and belonging to herself. She ultimately decided that it was time to step out into the world, going her OWN way, being her OWN person, leaving God and His life for her behind.

This same basic theme, of ingratitude and betrayal,  is recounted in Isaiah 5:1-7, under the similitude of a vineyard. God makes this heart-rendering complaint:

"What more can I do for my vineyard (my people) beyond what I have already done? When I waited for it to produce edible grapes, why did it produce sour ones instead?" **** Isaiah 5:4

However, there was ONE thing more that He could do, which many years later He DID do:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? **** Romans 5:10

Jesus later uses this same parable to describe the treatment that He would receive:

21:33 "Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a pit for its winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went on a journey. 21:34 When the harvest time was near, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his portion of the crop. 21:35 But the tenants seized his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 21:36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first, and they treated them the same way. 21:37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 21:38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and get his inheritance!’ 21:39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. **** Matthew

This similitude of a "wife or bride" is used throughout the OT. Israel (or more specifically Jerusalem) is portrayed a being God's chosen "bride", and the people of Israel as His "children through this union". The bride rejects her lawful husband and goes whoring after other suitors (idols, false gods). God must deal with her (rather harshly) to turn her from her chosen path and back to Him. He vows that no matter what the intervening events, however, He WILL be there to comfort and restore her back into the "marriage bond".

3:20 But, you have been unfaithful to me, nation of Israel, like an unfaithful wife who has left her husband," says the Lord. 3:21 "A noise is heard on the hilltops. It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods. Indeed they have followed sinful ways; they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God. **** Jeremiah

54:4 Don’t be afraid, for you will not be put to shame! Don’t be intimidated, for you will not be humiliated! You will forget about the shame you experienced in your youth; you will no longer remember the disgrace of your abandonment. 54:5 For your husband is the one who made you -- the Lord who commands armies is his name. He is your protector, the Holy One of Israel. He is called "God of the entire earth." 54:6 "Indeed, the Lord will call you back like a wife who has been abandoned and suffers from depression, like a young wife when she has been rejected," says your God. 54:7 "For a short time I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. 54:8 In a burst of anger I rejected you momentarily, but with lasting devotion I will have compassion on you," says your protector, the Lord. 54:9 "As far as I am concerned, this is like in Noah’s time, when I vowed that the waters of Noah’s flood would never again cover the earth. In the same way I have vowed that I will not be angry at you or shout at you. 54:10 Even if the mountains are removed and the hills displaced, my devotion will not be removed from you, nor will my covenant of friendship be displaced," says the Lord, the one who has compassion on you. **** Isaiah

It seems that in the Divine Vocabulary, Contentment, Gratitude and Thanks (Thanksgiving) share a common family relationship. As within the so-called, "Trinity of the Godhead", so within THIS trinity, each element flows and intertwines within the other in a continual dance -- Transforming and being transformed. You cannot possess one without possessing (or being possessed) by ALL THREE. They appear to truly be the "Keys to the Kingdom", the "Sacrifice that God finds well pleasing" !! To lack them is to be "Shut up into Outer Darkness".

There is an interesting chapter from a book by Wallace D. Wattles concerning, "The Power or The Law of Gratitude". You may read it [ HERE ]. There is also an eBook on the subject that you may download [ HERE ].

You might also wish to read THIS essay: "Guilt, Mercy and Forgiveness"

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! **** Psalm 100:4

And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. {rejoicing: Heb. singing} **** Psalm 107:22

I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. **** Psalm 116:17

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name. **** Hebrews 13:15

4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. 4:12 I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. 4:13 I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. **** Philippians

5:16 Always rejoice, 5:17 constantly pray, 5:18 in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. **** 1 Thessalonians

6:6 Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. 6:7 For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. 6:8 But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. 6:9 Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains. **** 1 Timothy

In the Gospel of Luke, there is an entire account whose sole point seems to be that of Thankfulness vs. UNthankfulness. It notes that the ONLY one to express gratitude to Jesus was a Samaritan. As far as the Jews were concerned, the Samaritans were a heathen, bastard people who had NO standing at all before God. They were the 'unclean", the outsiders, the "Sinners".

17:11 Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 17:12 As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, 17:13 raised their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." 17:14 When he saw them he said, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went along, they were cleansed. 17:15 Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 17:16 He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus' feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.) 17:17 Then Jesus said, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 17:18 Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 17:19 Then he said to the man, "Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well." **** Luke

Ingratitude, lack of contentment and unthankfulness appear to be a "Spiritual Cancer" that eats away at the soul (and ultimately the body). It seems to begin with ingratitude toward God for who He is and what He has given us, and goes on to corrupt and erupt into a whole array of spiritual and soulish diseases.

Read an outstanding sermon by C. H. Spurgeon on  Romans 1:1-25  [ HERE ].

1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 1:20 .... So people are without excuse. 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. **** Romans

Moreover, these three comprise a contagious condition that can and WILL infect others in the vicinity. You have seen how a bitter, grumbling, ungrateful person can spread their malcontent to those around them.

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root (lest any root of bitterness) springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled. **** Hebrews 12:15

This trio can even go so far as to rob one of the blessings and gifts that God intended for their life. In the account below in Genesis, Esau had absolutely no appreciation at all for the value of his position as Firstborn -- to be in line as the one to inherit the blessings that God had promised to Abraham.

See to it that no one becomes an immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that later when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance, although he sought the blessing with tears. **** Hebrews 12:16,17 (See Genesis 25:29-34 and chapter 27 for the details of this event)

I am not saying that this will affect one's SALVATION (though it may). I am saying that it will hinder God's Spirit from imparting into a life that which He desires, just as it is said that Jesus could do no great works in Nazareth because of their unbelief.

13:53 Now when Jesus finished these parables, he moved on from there. 13:54 Then he came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, "Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers? 13:55 Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? ...... Where did he get all this?" 13:57 And so they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own house." 13:58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief **** Matthew

Consider also the Hebrews that God delivered from the slavery of Egypt under Moses. Their ultimate end was to die in the wilderness after 40 years of wandering, all except for two (see the account in Numbers Chapters 13 and 14). Why was this? -- because they had grumbling hearts full of ingratitude, lack of contentment and unthankfulness !!

3:15 As it says, "Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." 3:16 For which ones heard and rebelled? Was it not all who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership? 3:17 And against whom was God provoked for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness? 3:18 And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient? 3:19 So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief. **** Hebrews

Those who first reject the Light of Truth and Goodness soon grow unable to bear the Light, and PREFER to live in Darkness:

3:19 Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. 3:20 For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. 3:21 But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. **** John

It is one of the characteristics of the final, frightful degeneration of mankind. I do not in any way claim that we are living in the "Last Days", but I do know from observation that ingratitude, lack of contentment and unthankfulness are three (really only one) of the major characteristics and diseases of our present day society, and are a massive cancer within homes and families.

3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful (ungrateful), unholy, 3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, {false...: or, one who foments strife} 4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. **** 2 Timothy

I also STRONGLY recommend the reading of THIS essay: "The Wrath of God vs. the Love of God"

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