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The purpose and intent of this site is twofold:

1. Share the Word of God as found in the Bible.

2. Comment on current events as they relate to Bible prophecy


Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Judeans Reject Themselves



THE JUDEANS REJECT THEMSELVES

As an introduction to the vineyard parable Matthew 21 begins with Jesus and His disciples returning to Jerusalem.  Two men are sent to get a donkey and her colt which they will find waiting for them.  Riding on the colt, Jesus goes through town and stops at the temple, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9.

Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your king is coming to you: he is legitimate and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey — on a young donkey, the foal of a female donkey.  (Zechariah 9:9 NET)

Arriving at the temple courtyard Jesus drives out the buyers and sellers, money changers, those selling doves, and turns over their tables.  Charles Swindoll claims this group was controlled by Annas a former high priest who had been replaced with Caiaphas.  According to Swindoll, Annas remained in power as a type of mob boss and was responsible for the mafia type corruption of the temple courtyard of buying and selling for profit.  This courtyard cleansing apparently infuriated the Sadducees who were profiting from the sales.  The next day Jesus returned to the temple courtyard and began teaching.  The chief priests approached Him and asked “by what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority”?  Jesus answered them with a question concerning John the Baptist and then a series of parables.

The Vineyard and Two Sons
Matthew 21:28-31 NET  "What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'  (29)  The boy answered, 'I will not.' But later he had a change of heart and went.  (30)  The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, 'I will, sir,' but did not go.  (31) Which of the two did his father's will?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God!

Two sons are individually requested by their father to work in the vineyard.  The first son answers that he will not, but later changes his mind and goes to work.  The second son answers that he will go and work but does not go at all.  When asked which son did the will of the father, the listening crowd answers the first son.  Jesus explains the first son represents tax collectors and prostitutes who will enter the Kingdom of God, but the self-righteous, represented by the second son, did not accept the repentance and baptism offered by John the Baptist although they initially showed interest.

Warren Wiersbe:  When John came ministering, the religious crowd showed great interest in his work, but they would not repent and humble themselves and be baptized. The nonreligious crowd, however, confessed their sins and obeyed John’s words and were baptized.  The leaders committed two sins: They would not believe John’s message and they would not repent of their sins. Of course, the leaders felt that they had no need to repent. But when they saw what repentance did for the publicans and sinners, they should have been convinced that John’s message was true and salvation was real. Again and again, the religious rulers rejected the clear evidence God gave them.

Is has been said the rejection of John the Baptist was actually a rejection of God the Father who had sent John. Rather than sending judgment, due to the graciousness of God, He instead sends His Son, which is the subject of the next parable.

The Landowner and the Vineyard
Matthew 21:33-41 KJV  Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:  (34)  And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.  (35)  And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.  (36)  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.  (37)  But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.  (38)  But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.  (39)  And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.  (40)  When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?  (41)  They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

A landowner planted a vineyard complete with a surrounding hedge, a winepress within it, and a tower.  This parable has a strong resemblance to a message in Isaiah 5 from God to the Israelites. 

The vineyard is frequently a symbol for the nation and people of Israel. This particular parable is the most allegorical of the three presented in Matthew 21. The servants represent the prophets. The son represents the Messiah (notice there is a son in each of the parables in this chapter, but used in different senses). The tenants represent the nation of Israel or at least the religious leaders.

When the Hebrews entered the area of Canaan after their deliverance from Egypt it was described as a land of “milk and honey”.  Conquest was simple if they remained faithful to God.  Under David and Solomon the kingdom almost, according to some, expanded to the limits as promised to Abraham.  The nation of Israel was extremely wealthy during this period of time and the majority of the inhabitants were prosperous.  However, with prosperity comes self-reliance and the sense that trust in God and the protection of God are no longer needed or necessary.  This leads to idolatry and false religious systems along with promiscuity and degenerate behavior. 

He built a hedge around it, removed its stones, and planted a vine. He built a tower in the middle of it, and constructed a winepress. He waited for it to produce edible grapes, but it produced sour ones instead. So now, residents of Jerusalem, people of Judah, you decide between me and my vineyard!  (Isaiah 5:2-3 NET)

God provided the Israelites with material and spiritual blessings and asked only that they bear fruit for His glory symbolized by edible grapes. On occasion, God would send His prophets, symbolized as servants, to the people to receive the fruit. But the people, particularly the leaders, refused to listen to the prophets on many occasions.  They also mistreated the prophets (symbolized as servants), and even killed some of them.  During Old Testament days God would send armies to destroy the Israelites and the current Judeans were occupied by Rome and Roman soldiers. 

On this occasion, the landowner, represented as God the Father, sends his Son.  Surely, thought the landowner, the tenants will respect my Son.  In the parable the tenants kill the landowner’s son thinking to gain his inheritance.  At this point in the parable, Jesus asks the listeners a question, “When the vineyard owner arrives, what will he do to the tenants who killed his son”?  The listeners replied, “He will utterly destroy those evil men! Then he will lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his portion at the harvest.

The listening audience was completely immersed within the story-telling and did not realize they had just implicated themselves and that they had passed sentence on themselves as guilty of the same crime in the near future.  They would be future participants in the crucifixion of the Son the Father had sent.

The Stone
Matthew 21:42-46 NET  Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?  (43)  For this reason I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.  (44)  The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and the one on whom it falls will be crushed."  (45)  When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.  (46)  They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, because the crowds regarded him as a prophet.

Jesus quoted from Psalm 118:22-23 as an explanation that He was that Son sent by the Father and the religious leaders were the husbandmen. The crowds had quoted from Psalm 118:26 when Jesus rode through the city on the back of a colt, so this Scripture should have been fresh in the minds of the religious leaders and the people.

The Jewish religious leaders must have known the messianic prophecy associated with the Psalm quoted by Jesus.  They were the builders who were rejecting the stone.  They may have accepted a warrior Messiah if they could retain their leadership privileges and opulent lifestyle, but apparently were not interested in a righteous life as a subject in the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone.  (Acts 4:11 NET)

The consequences of the crucifixion of Jesus resulted in the kingdom primarily being taken away from Israel (not totally) and given to another nation, or all the nations of the world referred to as gentiles which came to be called the Church.  In his first letter, Peter reiterates the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 118.
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For it says in scripture, "Look, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and priceless cornerstone, and whoever believes in him will never be put to shame." So you who believe see his value, but for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.   (1 Peter 2:6-8 NET)

Those who attack this stone would and will be tripped and broken into pieces, while those whom Christ judges will be crushed by the weight of the stone.  I view the current population of the world turning away from the Kingdom of God. This turning away began several years ago but is presently more aggressive and violent in some parts of the world. The identical trials and issues of the early church appear to be returning as distress and anguish (tribulation) begin to apply to the end of the age church.  Yes, I believe we are close.  How close?  I don’t know but keep watch and don’t allow your house to be broken into.

But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into.   (Matthew 24:43 NET)



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