Monday, August 10, 2015

The Garden of the Lord

Anita Clark

“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed” Gen. 2:8. The Lord planted the first garden as a refuge for man. It was a beautiful fruitful place with every provision for man’s comfort. But, more than that, it was a place where God could have sweet fellowship with man as they walked together in the cool of the day, communing with one another. This peaceful atmosphere was broken by the entering in of disobedience and sin. Man was driven out of the beautiful garden and was never allowed to enter into it again.

The Lord sought to make a spiritual garden of Israel. He calls them His garden or vineyard. Isa. 61:3 tells us that when Messiah would come, He would “appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give 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.” Through the centuries of God’s dealings with them, they rejected His commandments, slew His prophets, and finally when the Son of God was sent to them, they rejected and crucified Him. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” Jn. 1:11.

This is exactly what Jesus sought to show in the parable that He told, recorded in Luke 20:9-16. A certain man planted a vineyard and let husbandmen take care of it while he was gone. After sometime, he sent His servant to receive fruit of the vineyard but they beat him and sent him away empty-handed. After trying this three times with the same results, the landowner sent his own son, whom the husbandmen promptly killed and cast out of the vineyard. How the Father’s heart has grieved over Israel and their heartless disregard for His love to them.

In Jeremiah 12:10, it says “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.” The pastors or leaders of Israel’s day were held responsible for the care of God’s vineyard. God expected fruit from Israel and received none. This is exemplified by Jesus desiring fruit from the fig tree in Mark 11:12-14, and finding nothing but leaves. There is no less responsibility placed upon God’s pastors and leaders today to be faithful, to care properly for God’s garden.

Yes, we today are God’s garden. I Cor. 3:9 says, “Ye are God’s husbandry.” One translation says, “Ye are God’s cultivated field.” Not only are we His “cultivated field” but we are also “laborers together with God.” The work that God has called us to do is like a garden plot. Some labor in gardens in Kansas or Missouri or other places. God wants us to tend these plots faithfully as we work together with Him by His enabling. “Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase” I Cor. 3:7.

Proverbs 24:30-34, tells us of the field of the slothful. As Solomon looked at this neglected field he realized this gardener was “void of understanding.” So many who try to labor for the Lord are ill equipped ignorant persons because they haven’t taken time to study God’s Word and become established in the Truth. Further observance of this fruitless patch, showed it to be overgrown with thorns and nettles. According to Jesus’ word in Matthew 13:22, this speaks of the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches which choke the Word and cause spiritual barrenness. How many Christians today are defeated because they are taken up with gaining material things? All these things shall perish with the using and be totally destroyed very soon when the Lord comes. They are not worth wasting our time over. Other Christians are absorbed with the hard trials and adversity. They moan and groan and have no joy. A secret of not letting the hard thorns of trial gouge us and cause roots of bitterness to spring up in our lives, is to learn to rejoice in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Solomon also saw that the “wall was broken down.” A broken wall speaks of a lack of separation unto the Lord. God has translated us “from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son,” but many of us still walk as though there’s been no separation made. This broken wall speaks not only of lack of separation from the worldly, fleshly things but also from the religious evils and false doctrine. The wall doesn’t fall down suddenly, but one day a little stone falls off. We may thing, “one little stone doesn’t matter too much.” But, soon another stone falls off, and then another. If the wall is not repaired, there soon will be a large breach where the enemy can come in easily and steal the  precious fruit. “Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vine, for our vines have tender grapes.”

The sleepy condition of the slothful is spoken of in verse 33. Very soon their poverty and travail will come upon them because they failed to be watchful. In I Thess. 5:1-7, Paul warns us that Christ will come as a thief in the night and some will be in a slumbering condition, taken up with life and intoxicated with the world. He says, “Let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”

In Song of Solomon 1:6, the Shulemite woman says, “My mother’s children were angry with me, they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.” Satan, using other people, makes us feel that other things are more important than “keeping our own vineyard.” We an easily be encumbered with “much serving: but its more important to be close to Jesus, in love and fellowship then anything in the whole world.

In contrast to Proverbs 24:30, we see what sort of gardener the Lord is as recorded in Isaiah 5:1-7. “My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill. And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it.” The Lord knows all about gardening. He chooses the most fertile soil and prepares it well. All care is taken to choose the choicest vines. Only “grade A” will do. The plot is laid for the best sunlight and water absorption. Proper planting procedures are always followed. Just the right amount of water and perfect cultivation are always provided as God is not dependent upon the weather as we natural gardeners are. He gives the rain in abundance and then the perfect amount of “Sonshine.”

A crop doesn’t grow in a day. It takes time and God’s work in us to produce fruit takes time, but He is patient. “The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it” James. 5:7. Though the Lord is speaking to Israel in these verses, we can receive instruction also. He wants to find fruit in our lives. He “looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” The Lord says, “Judge now between thee and me, what could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” Can the Lord be blamed that Israel did not produce fruit for His pleasure? Can we blame God or accuse Him of not doing enough to make our lives bare satisfying fruit unto Him? No! God has made all provision through the cross of the Lord Jesus for our total victory, growth, and fruitfulness.

In Song of Solomon 4:12 – 5:1, we read of the Lord’s beautiful garden. These verses portray the deep work that is being done in the lives of those believers of this Church Age who want to satisfy the heart of Jesus with beautiful fruit of love for His pleasure. This beautiful bride is spoken of as a garden inclosed, (v. 12) shut up by a wall that isn’t crumbled and broken down, This wall shuts her up as a private garden for the pleasure and fellowship of the Beloved Son of God. There He walks with her in the cool of the evening in deepest fellowship, much deeper than Adam ever experienced with God in the first garden.

In this garden are all sorts of fruitful trees, and fragrant spicy plants. These speak to us of the fragrant life of Jesus Christ as spoken of in Ephesians 5:2, “As Christ who hath given Himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” The only thing wafting up to God that thrills His heart and tantalizes His divine nostrils is Jesus Christ His Son. As the life of Christ is made manifest in our lives through our yieldedness to Him, a fragrance arises to the throne which is sweet and wonderful. Christ smells it. It is for His pleasure. “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ” II Cor. 2:15.

Nearly all the spices and fragrances mentioned here are obtained by crushing, grinding, or stripping. And we find that the fragrance exudes from the believers lives to the greatest extent when they suffer the crushing blow of sorrow, trial, and test and yet rejoice and praise and walk in victory before the Lord. In verse 16, the bride calls upon the north wind (the adverse conditions) and the south wind (the balmy happy times) to blow on her garden that the spices may flow out. It takes both, and God in His great wisdom knows how much of each. Paul said in Phillipians 4:11-13, “I’ve learned whatsoever state I’m in to be content…I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. I can do all things through Christ which strengeth me.”

In Song of Solomon 5:1, the Lord says, “I am come into my garden.” Yes, the Lord has been enjoying fruit from His garden, feasting on love and devotion of His bride for all this Church Age. Many saints gone before were a garden to Him and now in this endtime He has found some others who are a beautiful, fruitful oasis of love and fellowship. Some are still waiting, faithfully watching and longing to see Him face to face.

I am reminded of the precious verse in Zephaniah 3:17 – “He will rejoice over thee with joy…He will joy over thee with singing.”