After Jesus cleanses the temple, He begins to preach and teach in the temple. The first thing He does is to warn the chief priests and the rulers of Israel that the Kingdom of God—the promised Messianic kingdom—the kingdom of heaven is going to be taken away from them and given to a nation that bears fruit. All this He spoke in parables.
This “nation” which Jesus speaks about is the Church—which comprises believing Jews and Gentiles. Dispensationalist preachers like John Hagee, Tim Lahaye and Hal Lindsey and many others refuse to believe this in spite of Jesus Himself being the One who prophesied this.
Jesus warns the rulers of Israel that the Kingdom will be taken from them and given to another nation which is the Church comprised of Jewish and gentile believers. The old temple would be destroyed and a new temple would be raised up, not made up of marble slabs or stones; but, made of living stones, the sons and daughters of the Kingdom. These are those who repent and obey the gospel, thus being born from above, and becoming the sons and daughters of God.
Jesus warns the chief priests and the rulers of Israel of the coming judgement and that they would be replaced. Jesus made it plain and clear that the apostles would replace the chief priests, and old covenant Israel would be replaced by new covenant Israel—which is another nation—the Church (believing Jews and Gentiles) and He speaks of this through a parable:
Matthew 21:33-46 — “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a pit for its winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went on a journey. When the harvest time was near, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his portion of the crop. But the tenants seized his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first, and they treated them the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and get his inheritance!’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “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.” 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’? 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. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and the one on whom it falls will be crushed.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, because the crowds regarded him as a prophet.
The vineyard speaks of natural Israel. The vine is a symbol to show the fact that God took Israel out of Egypt and carried them on His wings and brought them to Himself,[] and then He led them across the Jordan and He planted them into the land of Canaan.
34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit.
The tenants are the chief priests and rulers of Israel—the overseers of the nation who were given the responsibility of the Kingdom and they failed to bring forth fruit. The servants sent to gather fruit were the prophets of old. God was expecting a harvest and at harvest time, He sent His servants to the tenants to receive the produce—and likewise, God has an expectation of each one of us today.
Matthew 21:35-36 — But the tenants seized his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first, and they treated them the same way.
The prophets were killed by the rulers of Israel and their religious systems. Isaiah was literally cut in half and most of the prophets were martyred by the Jewish nation.
Matthew 21:37 — Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
This parable is not an invention of Jesus, something that was fictitious. Jesus is dealing with a parable in relation to the writings of the prophet Isaiah which is the vision of the Vineyard and is recorded in Isaiah chapter 5. The reason we do not understand the prophetic nature of what Jesus spoke is that we do not know and understand the prophets.
Isaiah 5:1-2 — I will sing to my love – a song to my lover about his vineyard. My love had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 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.
This vision of Isaiah is a picture of Israel. John, in his gospel, quotes Jesus, saying to His disciples, “I am the vine and you are the branches,” [] Jesus tells His disciples that He is true Israel and we must understand this was what the prophets foretold. Not only is He the true Vine but He also chose His disciples to be new wineskins to carry the new wine of the Kingdom.
Matthew 9:17 — And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.”
The kingdom will be taken from the old and given to a new nation that will bring forth fruit—grapes, and not wild grapes. God is looking for fruit.
Isaiah begins this vision by saying it is a song sung by the Lord, also called the song of the Lamb. The book of Revelation talks about the saints—the first-century believers—who sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. These were prophetic songs about the last days and end of the old covenant Israel and the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom and the birth of the new covenant Israel.
Isaiah 53 is the prophecy of the suffering Servant of the Lord who lays down His life as a Lamb to take away the sins of the world. This is the song of the Servant of the Lord—the Son of God and He sings this song through Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit speaks through the prophet about the vineyard of the Lord.
Here, the language of the spirit of Christ was regarding Babylon, and Jesus speaks the same language when He prophesies the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by the hands of the Romans.
Isaiah 5:2 — 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.
God redeems Israel out of Egypt and gives them the land of Canaan and expects them to live righteous and godly lives. He gives them the law and his commandments, causing them to be His instruments to light the nations. They are to bring forth righteous judgements in the earth. The good grapes are righteousness, peace and joy; the nature of the Kingdom.
Romans 14:17 — For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
God not only saw Israel as a Vine, but He also planted it with His mighty right hand for His Son.
Psalms 80:8-17 — You uprooted a vine from Egypt; you drove out nations and transplanted it. You cleared the ground for it; it took root, and filled the land. The mountains were covered by its shadow, the highest cedars by its branches. Its branches reached the Mediterranean Sea, and its shoots the Euphrates River. Why did you break down its walls, so that all who pass by pluck its fruit? The wild boars of the forest ruin it; the insects of the field feed on it. O God of Heaven’s Armies, come back! Look down from heaven and take notice! Take care of this vine, the root your right hand planted, the shoot you made to grow! It is burned and cut down. They die because you are displeased with them. May you give support to the one you have chosen, to the one whom you raised up for yourself!
The king of the Jews was Herod, an Edomite. He was a descendant of Esau, and not a descendant of Jacob. He sat on the throne and ruled the Jews under the government of the Roman Empire. The house of David had fallen into significant disorder, disrepair and ruins; and great darkness filled the land of Israel.
The Lord is looking for true shepherds to pastor His sheep. Leaders were the issue at that time as they are now. Selfish, hired, money-minded leaders turn the vineyard into a wilderness and do not care about the Kingdom. The only true and good Shepherd is the Lord Jesus Himself.
Jeremiah 12:10 — Many foreign rulers will ruin the land where I planted my people. They will trample all over my chosen land. They will turn my beautiful land into a desolate wilderness.
John 10:11 — “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
God was looking for a nation to bring forth fruit, as He is still even today. How many of us have received the Spirit since we believed? God gives us His Spirit so that by the Spirit we can mortify the deeds of the body and can overcome the flesh. []
We have the Word, the Holy Scriptures and His Spirit so that by the Word we can renew our minds. We can mortify or discipline ourselves to live righteous and godly lives through the power of the Spirit indwelling within us, become a light in our family, neighbourhood, and the market place and become instruments of His righteous judgements in the earth.
Isaiah 5:3 — So now, residents of Jerusalem, people of Judah, you decide between me and my vineyard!
God is King and He deals with nations; however, He has a standard. He cannot discipline, judge or govern the nations without His light, without His revelation and without His will being made known to men. We see Jesus do this very thing as He asks the chief priests and rulers to judge themselves.
Isaiah 5:4 — What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
God expected Israel to bring forth godliness and life; however, they produced wickedness, rebellion and religion.
Isaiah 5:5 — And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down…”
This is the spirit of Christ speaking through Isaiah, prophesying judgement that was going to come on apostate Israel. The Lord said that He would remove its hedge which was the restraining influence, and would withdraw His protection and allow its enemies to destroy them.
This happened through Babylon and also later as Jesus prophesied through the Romans in 70 A.D. The Roman armies laid siege to Jerusalem, sacked the city, burned it to the ground and destroyed the temple.
This was to fulfil the prophecy that not one stone would be left upon another and those that are not killed by the sword would be carried away into captivity.
Psalms 80:12 — Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
Isaiah 5:5-6 — And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor hoed; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
Jesus makes a summed-up reference to laying it waste, with thorns and briers and trampled ground in Luke 21:20 as the “desolation,”
Luke 21:20 — “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.
Jesus prophesied about the kingdom being taken from natural Israel and given to a nation made up of people who are sons and daughters—saints, made up of believing Jews and Gentiles bringing forth fruit.
This is a holy nation—a chosen race—the royal priesthood—a people purchased by His own blood. A nation that once was not a people, but now is God’s people and has obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
This language of prophecy was present in the Old Testament times, long before Jesus showed up and came into Jerusalem on a donkey; even before He cleanses the temple and warns the chief priests and rulers of Israel.
Matthew 21:37 — But afterward he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
Here, Jesus is speaking of Himself and what the rulers of Israel would do to Him. He knew their hearts. After He raised Lazarus from the dead they determined in their hearts that He must be killed because of the importance and significance of that miracle. That was the final straw—the final miracle—which pushed the rulers over the edge and they were all set to kill him. They not only wanted to kill Jesus but also Lazarus.
Matthew 21:38-41 — But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
This is exactly what the chief priests and the rulers of Israel did to Jesus. They threw Him out of the vineyard—out of the city and gave Him a gruesome death on a cross. Jesus then asks them what the owner of the vineyard will do to the tenants. He makes them judge themselves.
The new nation—the church—is the saints prophesied by Daniel the prophet,
Daniel 7:18 — But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
Daniel 7:22 — until the ancient of days came, and judgement was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Daniel 7:27 — And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
The New American Standard Bible,
Matthew 21:41 — 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.”
How did Jesus interpret their judgement on themselves of a wretched end? This is what Jesus spoke about in the last days—the end of the old covenant Israel. They understood the parable in which Jesus told and they also understood God’s expectation and judgement. They are echoing the prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 32,
Deuteronomy 32:20 — And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.
The dispensationalist—futurist—postponement preachers believe the Jews are still the chosen people. They believe the church must be raptured out of the world before God’s prophetic purpose for the nations must be fulfilled. They believe the temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem. They expect Jesus to come in the midst of great tribulation and destroy the anti-Christ. He will then establish the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem and restore an earthly Jewish kingdom in order to fulfil the prophets. They believe this in spite of the things Jesus said,
John 18:36 — Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
The apostles of Jesus, being Jews, asked Him this question after His resurrection, just before His ascension,
Acts 1:6-8 — So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He told them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”
The apostles of the Lamb expected an earthly Jewish Kingdom as did the other Jews. The question of the restoration of the kingdom comes from inquisitive yet delighted minds that have seen their Lord, Master and Christ now resurrected, appearing and disappearing at will. They expected Him to overthrow the Romans and establish His Kingdom which He had taught them. They still looked at the natural plane and Jesus wanted them to understand the spiritual.
It is likely to read into these words the idea that there was to be, in some future “times or seasons,” a restoration of an earthly dominion to Israel. On the other hand, it is not difficult to ascribe to the words of our Lord, quoted above, a meaning that accords perfectly with the Scriptures we have been examining; and this, of course, is what we are bound to do.
Careful consideration and quiet pondering of those words lead to the conclusion that here, as on many other occasions, our Lord simply ignored what was in the minds of His disciples for His thoughts were not their thoughts, neither were their ways His ways. He might well have administered to them on this occasion the same rebuke He had administered to Peter when that disciple spoke to Him under the influence of the same Jewish expectation,
Matthew 16:23 — But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
However, at this moment He completely ignored the thoughts of their hearts and simply impressed upon them the fact that their all-engrossing occupation was to be that of bearing testimony to His resurrection, enthronement and the establishment of His Kingdom.
It was to be their ultimate business to declare that mighty truth of the gospel of the kingship of Jesus Christ and His kingdom to the whole world; and for the accomplishment of that great mission, power would be given them through the coming of the Holy Spirit from heaven, in a few days.
To understand the spiritual, they needed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and He would open their eyes to the higher dimensions of the Spirit. Jesus’ kingdom was from this higher dimension which is from above. Once they were born again from above—a higher realm of the spirit, they would understand heavenly or spiritual things. []
This is why Jesus answered,
Acts 1:7-8 — He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Besides, a new order of things was then at hand; for after they had received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, these apostles would never again speak of that sort of a kingdom (earthly Jewish kingdom) again.
Acts 8:12 — But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 19:8 — And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
Acts 20:25 — And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
Acts 28:23 — When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
Acts 28:31 — proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
The Holy Spirit would remove the veil from their eyes and reveal all truth to them.
John 16:13 — When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
This question of the apostles was in accordance with what Jesus had already spoken to them,
Luke 12:32 — “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
There were many things which they would not yet understand as the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit of God. They were not as yet ready to receive them; things they were to learn later on through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
The “all truth” also included the truth of Israel’s relationship to the kingdom; for to any natural person, especially to a natural Jew that truth is unbearable. They also had to learn and perceive that “this Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” []
Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world. His kingdom was not an earthly Jewish kingdom; but, His kingdom is a heavenly kingdom, an everlasting kingdom and a kingdom that can never be destroyed. The church is the Israel of God. Jesus is the true Israel—the true Vine and we are the branches. The branches are growing and spreading and filling the whole earth today.
This is what the prophets foretold: to fill the whole earth with righteousness, peace, joy and the glory of God. This is why we must see the need to pray kingdom prayers and why we must understand prophecy and learn how to prophesy.
The Spirit of God prophesies the end of the old covenant Israel through Moses,
Deuteronomy 32:21 — They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
What is God saying here? He says that He is going to bring the old covenant nation to an end and replace them with a new covenant nation—the Church. The Church will provoke old covenant Israel to jealousy and because of that jealousy, they will repent and obey the gospel and be added to Christ and to His Church. Before Jesus comes back, the Jews also have equal opportunity to believe and be converted through the gospel of the King and His kingdom.
Let me assert that I am not anti-Semitic. I present that the old covenant Israel had a distinct role to play in God’s plan of the ages. When this purpose was fulfilled, the old covenant Israel ceased to be God’s exclusive chosen people. The holocausts against the Jews throughout history are a scar on humanity. There is unequivocally no defence, from either a Biblical or humanitarian perspective, for “anti-Semitism.”
God still loves natural Israel as He would love any other race or people and wants them saved not wanting any to perish. The Jews are beloved for the sake of their fathers; they are beloved for the sake of the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and to David.[]
However, they cannot be saved just because they are Jews, the physical descendants of Abraham;[] no matter, what the so-called end-time teachers teach. What they teach today denies what Jesus Himself taught of the old covenant Israel and its end and the establishment of the new.
God’s ways are progressive for mankind leading them to perfection. We must be busy discipling the nations including natural Israel and teaching them to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ.
We are not living in the times of the feast of Pentecost anymore which ended in 70 A.D. Pentecost is the feast of first fruits. It began with the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost and it ended with the gathering of the remnant of the Jews and the first fruits of the Gentiles; both together are new covenant Israel—the new nation—the Church of Jesus Christ. The destruction of the temple and the City ended the age of the Old covenant and Messiah’s Day or the Kingdom Age dawned and the times of the gentiles began.
What are the times of the Gentiles? This is the time when God’s Messiah—His anointed King is dealing with the nations through His Church. We are the holy nation to light the gentiles and the times of the gentiles will continue till the fullness of the Gentiles comes in.
What does the fullness of the gentiles mean?
Romans 11:25 — Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
This is what Paul talked about in Romans 11. The fullness of the Gentiles has different meanings and timelines in the words of Jesus and Paul. Paul implies this when all nations have been disciples. Paul says when the Jews see the blessing of Abraham which is the blessing of the Messiah’s kingdom coming on gentiles and on nations; they will be provoked to jealousy and their eyes will be opened. This will push them to accept Christ as their Messiah and King, and the scales will be removed from their eyes. They will be converted and added to the Church.
Today, we are Israel—of the true circumcision, not external but internal—the true Jews,[] and the nations are being discipled by us to whom the promises belong. The nations belong to us and the whole earth is being filled with the glory of the knowledge of the kingdom of God.
Matthew 21:42 — Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; This was from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes?
Who are the builders? In the analogy of the vineyard, the chief priests and rulers of Israel are tenants and in the analogy of the house of God, they are builders. God gave David this promise that David’s son would be King and sit on His throne and this Kingdom would be an everlasting Kingdom.[]
Also, David’s son would build God a house; and the house of David would be the house of God and it would last forever. God gave David a great promise but He also gave him a great revelation of how that promise would be fulfilled.
The Spirit of Christ revealed that David’s Son would be rejected by the builders. He would suffer and die on the cross and would triumph over Satan by being raised from the dead. He would ascend to the right hand of God and be seated on the throne of His father David. He would govern the nations as King. He would judge the nations from the right hand of God. He revealed all these things centuries before the Word was made flesh.
God exalted the stone which the house of Israel rejected and He raised it up and laid it as a foundation stone in heaven; this is the chief cornerstone of the house and chief cornerstone of the city.[]
 Exodus 19:4-6
 John 15:5
 Colossians 3:5; Romans 8:13
 John 8:23
 Romans 14:17
 Romans 11:28
 Romans 9:27
 Romans 2:29
 2 Samuel 7:12-16
 Psalm 118:22; Acts 4:11; Luke 20:17; Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10