By Michael Harley
Matthew 21:33-43New King James Version (NKJV)
The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers
33 “Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”
41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? [a] 43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.
The nation of Israel was brought into existence by God to be a special treasure to Him above all people – above all the nations of the earth – to be to God a Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation, to rule over all the nations of the earth so that God could bless all the nations through Israel. The governmental structure in which rule is accomplished has two realms over the earth: heavenly and earthly. Israel was called into existence to rule from both realms.
Though Israel never reached the heights to which they were called they had ruled the earthly sphere in the land of Israel. When their Messiah Jesus Christ came to them, He came and presented the heavenly realm to them. Had the nation of Israel repented and turned back to God by receiving their Messiah and His message, He would have then set up the Kingdom and they would have begun to rule over the nations and fulfilled their calling. But they rejected the Christ and His message and Killed Him.
And this is where this Scripture in Matthew chapter 21 brings us. Christians, as a nation, have been brought into existence to receive that which the nation of Israel rejected: the Kingdom of heaven.
The certain landowner is God. The vineyard, the hedge, the winepress, and tower is the land of Israel, the Ten Commandments, the laws concerning the nation of Israel conduct as priests of God, the tabernacle, and various other things that pertain to Israel. The vinedressers are the Jews – the people of Israel. The far country is God’s dwelling place in the farthest places in the north- past all the heavens – the northernmost part of the universe. His servants are the old Testament prophets. The fruits other prophets came to receive is obedience to God’s word so that God to bless all the nations of the world through Israel. And the son is Jesus Christ Himself.
God had been patient with Israel’s disobedience over the centuries since Moses brought them out of Egypt, but God’s patience had run out by the time they were in the process of rejecting and Killing His Son.
When Jesus put this parable forth to the chief priests and the elders of the people of Israel and ended with the question: “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” The leaders of Israel said with their own mouths: “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.
And this is exactly what you find taking place at the end of Paul’s ministry in Acts Chapter 28 ‘God taking the Kingdom of heaven from the nation of Israel and giving it to Christians: “Therefore let it be known to you (Jews) that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”
There are a few other things that should be noted: thought the nation of Israel as a whole has lost the heavenly portion of their inheritance, they have not and never will lose the earthly portion – the land of Israel. In the near future, after the Great Tribulation, the Jews that are alive and those resurrected from the dead will rule the nations from the land of Israel. And though the nation as a whole has lost the heavenly portion of their inheritance, there has always been individual Jews throughout time who have been obedient to God and will inherit the Kingdom of heaven. And the most important thing that all Christians should be aware of is: That Christians can lose their inheritance through disobedience. “Now all these things happened to them (to the Jews – the nation of Israel) as examples (Greek, tupos, exact types) and they were written for our (Christians) admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let him (the Christian) who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:11,12)