Harold Hilton - Mountain Ranch, California - 2008

A year ago we were studying Zechariah 3 and 4.

Zechariah 3:10, "'In that day,' saith the Lord of hosts, 'shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.'"

One way to express the Gospel call is under the vine and under the fig tree. In that day for our families, friends, enemies, this is the call. Maybe we remember in our American history learning about our founding fathers. When they reached the time of retirement, this term was often used: "under the vine and under the fig tree." George Washington loved his wife Martha and Mt. Vernon and all his life, he wanted to get back to Martha and Mt. Vernon. As commander, he was out for eight years but twice a week, he would write a letter to Martha and the overseers. When he left the White House and went home, it was finally, "I get back to the vine and the fig tree." We don't have to wait until retirement to do this. We enter into it to enjoy the security, the salvation, and the forgiveness of this family. The other references is from the Old Testament and it is in 1 Kings 4:25, "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon."

 

From the top to the bottom of the country, there was safety under the vine and under the fig tree. This becomes individualized, his vine, his tree. The kingdom of God is open to all and we all will have an individual place in this day. For every man, woman, and child, there is a place. Trisha told us last night that she was glad the other night it was dark. Last Saturday night, I was glad I was the only one in the dorm and I just laid on my bunk and thought of my great life in this Kingdom of God. I am sure I just lay there with a goofy grin. It can't get any better. It was sweet, and a great convention and you would be coming this week; one more day and a new band of brethren would come and there is life under the vine and the fig tree. You can't tell everyone what they mean to us.


You know about the man who lived and worked in north Nevada. After a Sunday night meeting, he said, "I'd like to turn in my year round pass at Kirkwood for the lifelong privilege of serving in this ministry, under the vine and the fig tree." Uncle Dick accepted his offer. He got an email from his high school and college buddies; his friend now lives in Atlanta and he wrote and said, "If you ever want to leave your business, I'll give you one of the best in Atlanta." He answered, "You must think I am crazy to leave the best job in the world for the best job in Atlanta. I'm not crazy and I'm not coming to Atlanta."


Five years ago, we walked into Clint's cabin and there was a box of Starbucks coffee. Where did this come from? From the sister workers? Starbucks? Wow! We found out that five years ago, three of our young women who worked at Starbucks got a free pound of coffee every week and they started saving the coffee for convention. The sweet part of it all is that one girl was a prodigal, not professing and she also contributed a pound of coffee. Five years ago Saturday night, Julie made her choice and yesterday, I asked how many years has it been and she said five years and she gave her testimony. You have, with the Spirit of God and the Son of God, given us a wonderful life under the Kingdom of God.

 

John 1:47-48, "Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him, and saith of him, 'Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!' Nathaniel saith unto Him, 'Whence knowest Thou me?' Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.'" Nathaniel was already under the fig tree and Jesus drew near and said, "I saw you, I remember you, and here is a place in the Kingdom of God. You wonder why I saw you; you will see angels ascending and descending and you will see and feel the spirit of God and the Son of God administering and caring for you." This is just the beginning of life under the fig tree.

 

Luke 19:3-4, "And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said unto him, 'Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house.'"

 

Zacchaeus was in the sycamore tree; that is a species of fig. Zacchaeus had to come out of the fig tree to live under the tree. We were up or down when the call came to us to come out and He will give you life under the fig tree. As we live under the vine, what have we been encouraged to do? Abide in the vine: we live under the vine by abiding in the vine; remain, continue to stand fast, and abide. Abide in the vine and continue and stand fast. We like and want to be like Jesus so we stay in the way as Jesus. We abide in the Father's love. Do your homework. Count how many times "abide" is used in this chapter. You abide in my father's love, your joy will be full; your life will be full, we can say that tonight. When we think of the vine we think of the sacrifice, don't we? Jesus was the sacrifice and every week we have and we partake of the fruit of the vine that reminds us of His sacrifice.

 

A year ago, we were in Korea and we were picked up and went to the first home and the first dinner with some of the Korean staff. I told my stomach to get ready for kimchee. The worker in the car asked if there was any place I would like to go. Yes, there was one place I would like to go. I would like to see Uncle Sprolie Denio's grave. They said, "We can do that," so next day, we went to the grave. The great thing about sacrifice is that at different times in our life the different sides of sacrifice will be revealed to us and the sacrifice of today may not bear fruit for many, many years. Uncle Sprolie was at our house for his last birthday. I was a senior in high school and my folks said, "Harry, today is Uncle Sprolie's birthday and we are going to invite a couple of the friends and my sisters." We knew he wasn't well. Here I was a high school senior, the center of the universe, arrogant and obnoxious. I'll tell you this, this sacrifice stopped me. I knew this man was dying and I knew he wanted to go to Korea to die. I didn't leave home that night. That night I thought, "Harry, you've taken so much out of the pot, it's about time you put something back in." Sacrifice can have life long consequences. The fruit of sacrifice can be eternal, an eternal salvation for many in every country.

 

At the Seoul convention, I met an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Chung. Mrs. Chung was among the first to profess in Korea and they hadn't been back for eleven years. They came and I was so thankful to meet Mrs. Chung. I remember when we would get a letter from Uncle Sprolie and he would talk about the first contacts and the first interest and Mrs. Chung as she took the first baby to the first convention in Korea. You talk about history! The greatest histories in the world are the living histories in the Kingdom. We love pulling their luggage and taking their eating tray to the washing area and we loved being around them. We loved it! As it turned out, they were at every convention that we were and it was sweet. Would you like to know what happened to that first baby at the first convention in Korea? Check the Colorado workers' list and you will find Ken Chung. They moved to Chicago and Ken started out in the work in Illinois then went to New England and now Colorado. We have no idea the influence of sacrifice. We cannot imagine or predict the influence of one faithful life. Get settled under the vine and the fig tree. We cannot imagine the influence of just going on of only one, one faithful life. The fruit of the vine is the sacrifice of Christ. All sacrifice has a foundation in Jesus, the sacrifice of our fellow servants who first went to Korea, those that came here or go to other countries today. It wasn't until Uncle Sprolie or Don Garland, it was back before the foundation of the world when the sacrifice started that our joy would be full. Abide in His love and abide in His vine.

 

We are sleeping all over this property. We could say, or I will say, our convention couldn't be more peaceful or pleasant. How could it be? We are grateful to Warren and Sue and the caretakers who take care of us. Here is a place under the vine and under the fig tree.

 

There is one more story. Last night, I was invited to sit with some of you young people and if is appropriate and possible, I love to sit with our youth. They took such good care of me and even gave me a bench pad. I thought while sitting there that this is the third anniversary of Heather's last convention. I sat with her and others three years ago. When Heather died, there was a little band of California brethren and some of her little friends from convention and the parents with their travel miles scraped together to take Heather's friends back to Georgia for the funeral. If you are 15, Heather was 15 when she passed away. She was 13 when she professed. She has been gone for three years and she walked with God only two years. God is much greater and fairer for any of us and I will tell our youth again that this is the place, the family, this is the kingdom where we belong. Sacrifice only enriches, only increases the peace, the contentment, and security and contributes to our salvation.

 

I don't want to forget there are a lot of sacrifices in this kingdom and we come out way ahead when we give God our all. We are sleeping all over here, some in the Dorms, some in Tents and RVs, the House on the Hill, the Rack, Clem's cabin, the Bunk House, the Ranch House, wherever we are staying we can give thanks to God tonight there is salvation under the vine and the fig tree for Jesus' sake.