Be you ashamed, O you farmers; howl, O you vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley…
The prophet still lingers on the theme of his solemn and faithful discourses and urges all classes to attend to him that their sin and sorrow may be removed. He did not seek new or pleasing themes on which to address the nation. He was. anxious to produce a deep and lasting conviction, and hence dwelt long on the subject which he felt to be of the greatest importance.
I. IT IS DESTRUCTIVE OF HUMAN LABOUR. "Because the harvest of the field is perished." The tillers of Judah had taken a great deal of pains in cultivating their soil; they had ploughed and sowed it, and certainly expected as the result a rich and golden harvest. Also the vine dressers had worked hard in the vineyards in watering and pruning the vines, and anticipated their reward. But the wheat and barley were destroyed before they were ripe; and the vines were withered. Thus we see how sin destroys the products of human labour and industry; how it utterly wastes those things which are designed by God to supply the wants of man, and to be remunerative of his energy.
1. Sin is destructive by incapacitating man for industrious labour. There are many men so enfeebled by sin that they are really unable to go into the fields and attend to advancing harvests, they are unable to look after the growth of the vines and the pomegranate tree. They are divested of their vital energy and of their muscular power by a continued habit of transgression against the laws of purity and temperance.
2. Sin is destructive by rendering men prodigal of the time which should be occupied by industrious labour. There are men who will only work three or four days in a week; the rest they spend in idleness. Thus fields are untilled, the vines are neglected, while indolent pleasures are pursued.
3. Sin is destructive by diminishing the ultimate utility of industrious labour. The fields and the vines may be productive of crops and fruits, but if man were a saint instead of a sinner he would enhance their value by putting them to the best and highest use. Sin makes the labour of men tess useful than otherwise it would be.
II. IT IS DESTRUCTIVE OF THE GOOD AND BEAUTEOUS THINGS OF THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE.
1. Sin destroys the beautiful things of the material universe. We can well imagine the desolated condition of the land of Judah robbed of all its harvests and fruits. The corn stricken. The vines withered. The trees peeled of their bark. Nature, divested of her beautiful vesture of green and gay life, a complete wreck. The difference between Eden and the world as we now see it is entirely occasioned by sin. How lovely would this universe appear were all sin removed from amidst its fields and vines!
2. Sin destroys the valuable things of the material universe. It destroys the things which are appointed to sustain the very life of man, and failing which the grave is immediately sure. It does not merely destroy the little superfluities of the universe, but its most essential and strongest things.
III. IT IS DESTRUCTIVE OF THAT JOY WHICH IS THE DESTINED HERITAGE OF MAN. "Because joy is withered away from the sons of men."
1. It is certain that God designed that man should experience enjoyment in a wise use of the things around him. God does not wish man to be miserable in the universe which He has made for his welfare. But the use of His creatures must be wise. They must not he abused by excess or ingratitude, or they will be withdrawn, and the joy they should give will be turned into mourning. Let us not rest in the creature, but in the Creator, and seek all our joy in Him, then it shall never fail.
2. Sin is destructive of those things which should inspire joy in the soul of man. It destroys the harvests to which he had looked forward as the reward of earnest toil. It brings him into great need and destitution. It hushes the joy of a nation. Lessons —
1. That sin is destructive of human toil.
2. That sin divests the world of its beauty.
3. That sin is incompatible with true joy.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.