The Parables of the Vineyard
Isaiah 5:1-7 gives us the words of a song that Jesus used as a model for his parable in Matt. 21:33-44. An understanding of this parable is very important in knowing the mind of God in His long-term purpose and plan. Isaiah's song says this:
(Title) 1 A Song of My Beloved Concerning His vineyard
2 My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 3 And He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones.
Isaiah later interprets this for us in verse 7:
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Because God's vineyard (Israel) did not produce good grapes, but only sour, "worthless" (NASB) grapes, God says in verses 5 and 6:
5 So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge [protection] and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall, and it will become trampled ground. 6 And I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.
Isaiah did not question the fact that God had planted and owned the vineyard. Israel and Judah were chosen to bring forth good fruit. But they did not. So what did God do with His chosen vineyard? He destroyed it.
Jesus later constructed His parable around this basic theme, but applied it more specifically to the nation of Judea in which He lived. He modified it and enlarged upon it, saying in Matt. 21,
33 Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. 34 And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves [or servants] to the vine-growers to receive his produce. 35 And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third.
The difference in these two parables is that Isaiah says the vineyard produced worthless grapes, while Jesus says that the vine-growers refused to render the fruits to the Owner of the vineyard. Either way, the Owner was deprived of the fruit of His labor, which He desired to have.
The Owner's slaves, or servants, are the prophets, whom God sent to Israel and Judah to receive the fruits of the Kingdom. But the leaders of the people beat them or killed them, as Jesus explained later in Matt. 23:29-39. This says, in part:
29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, “If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” 31 Consequently, you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.
In Jesus' parable, He prophesies His own death at the hands of the vine-growers (not the Romans, take note) in Matt. 21:37-39,
37 But afterward He sent His Son to them, saying, “They will respect My Son.” 38 But when the vine-growers saw the Son, they said among themselves, “This is the HEIR; come, let us kill Him and seize His inheritance.” 39 And they took Him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed Him.
So not only did the vine-growers refuse to render to God the fruits of the vineyard, and not only did they kill the prophets who came to bring the fruits to God, they also KNOWINGLY killed the Son, who was the HEIR of the vineyard. Why? In order to "seize His inheritance." They did NOT do this in ignorance. It was NOT a case of mistaken identity. They did it because THEY KNEW WHO HE WAS.
So the question posed by Jesus' parable is given in verse 40:
40 Therefore, when the Owner of the vineyard comes, what will He do to those vine-growers?
Jesus allowed them to judge themselves. They responded in verse 41,
41 They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to OTHER vine-growers, who will pay Him the proceeds at the proper seasons."
Jesus responded in verse 43,
43 Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God (vineyard) will be TAKEN FROM YOU and be given to a nation (ethnos, "people") producing the fruit of it.
Now my point is this: If the Kingdom of God is taken away from someone who had previously been a vine-grower of that vineyard, is that person still "chosen" in the eyes of God?
There are Scriptures that speak of the restoration of the House of Israel. Why the seeming contradiction? Is it perhaps that we do not have the same understanding that Jesus did? I know that many simply disagree with Jesus. I know also that many insist that this parable was written generations later by people who hated Jews and who thus inserted it in the Bible.
I disagree with all the above views. For one thing, Jesus' parable says nothing different from the other gospels, from the book of Acts, and from many of the writings of the Apostle Paul. In other words, it is consistent with the rest of the New Testament. So if we were to agree that Matthew's gospel is corrupt, then we have opened the door to destroy the entire New Testament.
It has become popular nowadays to blame the Romans for crucifying Jesus. The New Testament NOWHERE puts the blame on the Romans, even though Pilate was forced by blackmail to acquiesce in it (John 19:12). It is unlawful to make a false accusation, so I cannot blame the Romans, regardless of how "politically correct" it may seem. See, for example, Acts 7:52, where Stephen says,
52 Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
Well, obviously, they stoned him for making that statement, not because they misunderstood him, but because they understood him perfectly.
But in this particular study we are not focusing on who was responsible for Jesus' crucifixion. We know from prophecy that it was in the divine plan from the beginning, and that the Aaronic priests were the only ones who were allowed by law to make the Sacrifice. The Romans did not have that divine calling, and so if they had crucified Jesus, it would have violated the principle of divine law laid down by Moses, and the Scriptures would not have been fulfilled. Such a view is therefore totally unacceptable.
In this current series, it is my purpose to explain the concept of the Debt Note in prophecy. The Debt Note is what the judge gives to the sinner who cannot pay the debt that his crime (sin) incurs. In the case above, God required the fruits of the vineyard, and the vine-growers stole the fruits from the true Owner. Thus, they owed God the fruits of the Kingdom and were given a Debt Note in the Divine Court.