The Way of the Husbandman: Placement
Isaiah 5:1b—My Well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill.
The Father-Husbandman is a master at placement. God knew exactly where His chosen people were to be planted. He outlined her borders and ordained Jerusalem as the center of worship where He would dwell with them and be worshipped. But let’s make some key observations in getting her there.
Consider the time involved. From the time God called Abraham until the time David actually brought the Ark of the Covenant into the city was 14 generations (Matthew 1:17).
Point: God has a place to which He wants to get us, and He’s not in a hurry because He is already there.
Consider the key players along the way. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, Samuel, David, etc. All had a part in God’s development, progress, and planting of His vineyard, Israel.
Point: God uses many people and personalities to reach his ultimate finish. No one superhero can facilitate God’s plan from start to finish.
Consider the “roller-coaster” ride God was willing to endure with His servants in this venture. Consider the rabbit trails of bad decisions.
Point: God was faithful again and again to use what man meant for evil to become a servant for the good (Genesis 50:20).
Consider the seemingly odd placements of people that became God-placements of protection and providential provision. Both the Old and New Testaments are full of examples like this. A barren womb becomes a nation, a mountain sacrifice reveals a lamb in the thicket, a slave in Egypt becomes a prince that saves his family from starvation, the backside of the desert becomes the stage for a divine call, a Roman prison serves as a channel for the gospel to the Roman empire, and an island exile becomes the setting for John the revelator.
Point: Some of God’s greatest exploits are launched from man’s strangest exports! His heart is to bring redemption through our private integrity as well as public ministry. In fact, the first usually begets the second.
Now fast forward to your stewardship of the vine and your faith in the Father.
Do things seem slow?
Must someone else lead the next watch
Are there fires to put out? Time wasters?
Are you and your stewardship in an awkward place?
Does your situation mirror some part of the biblical narrative?
Let me encourage your faith and refresh your hope with words from the oldest Psalm in the Psalter, penned by Moses, the man of God who the Lord knew “face to face” and, of course, was a major player in the idea of God’s placement. Listen carefully to what he says: “LORD, you have been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). That’s it! God Himself is our placement, our sanctuary for protection, sustenance, and stability. Our ministry is always going to be a mixture of themes of an eternal God and frail humans, a holy God and sinful man, life, and death, and the meaning of life in a confused and difficult world. But our dwelling is always God Himself. The mystery of His ways is solved by dwelling with Him on our journey.
So, while we have a tendency to evaluate our ministries by their demographics and geography, God limits them only by His sovereignty. Who would’ve thought that a barren womb could have brought forth a nation or that a death on a cross could result in an empty tomb (I Corinthians 15:3-4)? In reality, Israel didn’t go bad because she left her designated territory, but because she left God who was to be her only beloved (Jeremiah 2:13). Here are some types of questions we should be asking.
Are we developing the depth of our relationship with God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)?
Are we hanging on to His every word (Jeremiah 15:16)?
Are we transparently honest about our dependence on Him (Psalm 139:23-24)?
Are we clothed with humility in all we believe and practice (I Peter 5:5-6)?
Do we have a growing fascination with the sufficiency of Jesus (Colossians 2:8-10)?
The Scriptures are abundantly clear. We can seek the Lord and find Him if we seek Him with our whole heart (Jeremiah 29:11-14). And that’s exactly the fruitful hill where our beloved Husbandman wants us planted. With God, earthly arrivals happen through heavenly dwellings.
God has a destination for His people.
He is not in a hurry.
He uses many people to get them there.
God is faithful when no one else is.
Odd placements become God placements.
God is our dwelling place always.
Camp with Him and wait for the cloud to move (Exodus 40:34-38). Don’t let the “if onlys” rob your joy.
A Touch of Tozer
The mighty liner of God’s sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history. God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfillment of those eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began.
We know that God will fulfill every promise made to the prophets; we know that sinners will some day be cleansed out of the earth; we know that a ransomed company will enter into the joy of God and that the righteous will shine forth in the kingdom of their Father; we know that God’s perfections will yet receive universal acclamation. That all created intelligences will own Jesus Christ Lord to the glory of God the Father, that the present imperfect order will be done away, and a new heaven and a new earth be established forever.
Toward all this God is moving with infinite wisdom and perfect precision of action. No one can dissuade Him from His purposes, nothing turn Him aside from His plans.
The Knowledge of the Holy, pg. 118