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This parable is so important that it appears in one form or another in three of the four Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament, with the one in Matthew's Gospel being the most thematically and symbolically developed. Before I share what this parable means, and why it is so important, let's read this parable together as it appears in the Gospel of Matthew:
~*~ The Wicked Vinedressers, Matthew 21:33-46 ~*~
“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. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.
“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”
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.”
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’?
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.”First and foremost, we need to place this parable in its historical context, which encompasses the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel under the Israelite Kings Saul and David up to the time of Yahshua's First Advent during the First Century AD. Viewing it from this perspective, we can see that this parable is a stern warning aimed at the Temple priesthood, and the Pharisees, which was one of the governing bodies that lorded it over the Jewish people. The illustration linked to below shows many other meanings hidden within this parable that help us to understand its full message:
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For those who can't view images in my blog posts, here is the list of symbols and meanings in the parable that appear on the graphic:
Vineyard Owner: Yahweh God the Father
Vineyard: The House of All Israel
Vineyard Owner's Son: Yahshua or Jesus
Hedge: God's Word as Hedge of Protection
Winepress: God's Word for Reproof, Correction
Tower: God's Word as Strong Tower, Light of Truth
Son Cast Out of Vineyard: Christ Rejected by Jews,
Christ's Crucifixion Outside of City Walls
Murder of Son: Christ's Crucifixion
Vinedressers: Spiritual Leaders of Israel
Servants Sent to Collect Fruit: Prophets of Israel
Fruit: Servants of God That Produce Fruits of Faith
Son Sent Last: Christ as Final Leader of Israel,
All Other Apostles, Prophets Built on Rock of Christ
Mistreatment of Servants: Rejection of Prophets
In affect, any type of priesthood that lords itself over their congregations, and makes them beholden to a paid priesthood robs these believers of their spiritual authority in Christ. This causes them to become ineffectual witnesses of God's Kingdom, and it also dangerously exposes them to be oppressed, attacked and deceived by the demons and demonic strongholds of the Devil!
Although churches do need to have full-time ministers and preachers that deserve to be paid for their services, they are not supposed to steal the tithes for themselves so they can live lavishly, or to build huge and costly church buildings that sit empty most of the time, and eat up the tithes. Instead, they are only supposed to serve as judges within the congregation to help settle disputes between brethren, and to serve as overseers, helping to organize meetings at public places or within the homes of believers, and saving and distributing tithes as they are needed to help the poor and the sick in the congregation.
But most of all, the leaders in the churches are supposed to make sure that everyone in the congregation is being adequately spiritually equipped to be able to resist and flee from sin and evil so that they can enter the Kingdom of God via God's indwelling Spirit. Without the Spirit of God within, it is impossible for believers to effectively minister to the lost and seeking souls they come into contact with in this wicked world on an everyday basis. We all need to be born again, and many of those who attend churches with a paid priesthood are NOT born again because it would directly threaten the power and wealth of the priesthood if they were! As a result, they often do not have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to aid them in making good decisions, and they usually lack the good spiritual discernment they need to avoid the wiles of the Devil.
If this describes your Church, then you need to get out of it! Because you are missing out on so much blessing if you are enslaved by a priesthood! To see what you are missing, just imagine a congregation full of born again witnesses of Christ that speak in tongues, preach God's Word with authority, love one another by helping one another to stay true to God's Word and Will, and perform exorcisms, baptisms, and healings as a matter of course.
If every Church were like this, no priest would ever be needed, for the believers in the Church would serve as their own priesthood, just as they should. After all, we are all part of a royal priesthood in Christ, and none of those who are fully mature in Christ should ever be held in higher regard than another, or prohibited from sharing their gifts freely with their spiritual brothers and sisters as there is need. As it says in 1 Peter 2:4-10;
“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
“Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,
“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling
And a rock of offense.”
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”This message is further enhanced upon reading all of Chapter 12 in the Book of Romans, which explains that all believers should not lord it over one another, but humbly submit themselves to sacrificial service within their congregation, and within the worldly community their congregations must function in, even while striving to remain separate and spiritually pure. This means that all believers are called to identify and utilize the spiritual gifts that they have been given by the Holy Spirit so that they can serve to aid and bless the other members of their Church. As it says in Romans 12:3-6;
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them...”What this means is that each congregation should be equipped with individuals with differing but complimentary spiritual gifts, and every congregation is given all that it needs via the Holy Spirit to create healthy and powerful witnesses of God's Kingdom. But this is only evident in a congregation when every able-bodied person within that congregation or community pitches in and helps one another as there is need.
This was the model that the early Church operated under, and there are few Churches in the West today that fully operate under this model. Instead, nearly all of them have erected Church buildings and paid for full time preachers to minister to the congregations that these buildings attract. In addition, the focus of all the people that attend these churches is always on the pastor and his helpers, and not on the congregation. As a result, few people within the congregation ever get to really know and love one another, or to utilize and share their spiritual gifts with the rest of the Church, and this is patently unfair, and a real tragedy. It is also a tragedy that many of the pastors or priests shepherding believers today are false teachers that don't really love God, or teach the truth about how to enter His Kingdom.
This is also why many believers have stopped going to Church at all, and now find themselves without the spiritual help and physical aid they need when in distress, or when they are sick or out of work. It is therefore a terrible shame that both Christian and Messianic communities have done so little to break this sense of isolation and alienation that so many within the Church experience today, and I believe that this is the main reason why there are so many within the Church today that do not really know God, or how to serve Him and those who love Him.
It is therefore every believer's call to work against this trend, and to seek to form their own personal groups where one on one ministering to one another, and a greater sense of intimacy with God and one another can be explored and encouraged in a safe and secure environment, such as in one's home. In addition, all believers who do not attend a specific Church need to pray that God would equip them with believing friends within their own neighborhood that they can seek fellowship with one another, and intimacy with Christ in a group setting.
I am praying for that right now as I await the coming of our Lord and Savior Yahshua the Messiah, or Jesus the Christ, Who is coming very soon. All the signs in the heavens and on the Earth today are loudly proclaiming this fact! In the meantime, as we watch and wait for our Savior's Glorious Appearing in the Rapture, let us all be about our Heavenly Father's business by preaching the Word of God to the lost, and loving and leading others to serve God and one another within the Kingdom of God that is formed by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.
A Bible Teaching from
Your Sister in Yahshua,
Scholar, Author and Artist for
The Language of God Book Series, and
Webmaster for the Pillar of Enoch Ministry Site
Ministry Web Site: http://pillar-of-enoch.com