Matthew 21:33-46 (The Parable of the Wicked Tenants, Part 2)

What walls of protection do men build for themselves, and why can they never provide the same security as the Lord?  Cf. Isa 31:1-3.  In what way do people often look to religion for a hedge of protection?  Cf. Mat 23:27-28, 2Ti 3:5, Tit 1:16.  Although being religious may provide a measure of security because of the material benefits derived from its outward appearance, against Whom will it afford no protection?  See Isa 5:5, Psa 80:12, 89:40-41.  Why is that?  See 1Sa 16:7.  What does Scripture teach about such walls of man-made religion and those who build them, as well as those who trust in them?  See Eze 13:1-16, 22:26-31.  In what way is a true wall or hedge of protection exactly the promised blessing of God as we faithfully abide by the terms of the covenant agreement we enter into with the landowner?  See Deut 28:1-14.  When we disobey the terms of that covenant agreement to pay Him the proceeds of the vineyard, in what way is that hedge removed, and what is the result?  See again Isa 5:5 and cf. Deut 28:15ff, Mat 3:10.

What does the harvest time represent in this parable?  Notice the NAS text note that gives the literal rendering as “the season of fruits”; when one plants a vineyard or other fruit orchard, does it immediately begin producing fruit?  What time is necessary for the vines or fruit trees to become mature before a harvest can be obtained?  When they do become mature, do they bear fruit continually throughout the year, or does it take time each year for the fruits to mature before they can be harvested?  What does this teach us about the nature of spiritual fruits and there being a season of harvest for them?  Should we expect that a new believer will immediately mature and bear fruit any more than a new planting in a vineyard will?  What does this also help us to understand about why Paul spent a substantial period of time in each of the places he ministered?  Should we expect that even mature believers will always live in a state of fruitful harvest without the much longer season of spiritual preparation that precedes that harvest?  Consider in this regard the apostle Paul who before his conversion had arguably the best education possible having been taught by the great Gamaliel (Act 22:3) so that he “was advancing in Judaism beyond many of [his] contemporaries among [his] countrymen” (Gal 1:14); is it significant that after his conversion even he spent 13 years in obscurity before he joined Barnabas in Antioch, and another 5 years before his first missionary journey?  And what seasons of time and events passed between the writing of each of his 13 epistles that were penned over a period of 17 or more years?

What do these truths help us understand about the need for plural leadership in a true Biblical church (Act 14:23, 20:17, Tit 1:5) if it is to be always thriving and growing, nourished with fresh fruits in their season?  Cf. Rev 22:2, Eph 4:11-13.  What is it that may make it seem like some teachers are always in a state of fruitful harvest?  See Lev 25:20-22, 26:5,9-10, Amos 9:13.  What work of faith that sees no immediate fruits for its efforts is necessary before a planting’s very first harvest, and throughout each year after that before “the season of fruits” during which there is a large ingathering of the crop?  Cf. Jam 5:7-8.  In the same way, what potentially long season of spiritual preparation may be necessary for a relatively short season of great spiritual harvest?  What does this teach us about our need to persevere in our personal spiritual growth and preparations even though they may seem fruitless compared to others and we do not see their potential harvest?  See Gal 6:9.  How should this help our children understand the importance of their education and their need to persevere even when they don’t see its immediate relevance?  Consider: would it have been possible for Paul to have been as spiritually fruitful as he was later in his life if he had not diligently pursued his earlier education under Gamaliel, or been faithful to seek and to serve God during the years of obscurity before he was called to Antioch and his missionary journeys?  Or what about John the Baptist, or Jesus, and the great percentage of their lives spent in obscurity before their relatively short times of immensely fruitful ministry?

If we are not now in a season of harvest, are we being faithful stewards to prepare for one?  In what ways do we prepare for a spiritual harvest?  See 1Ti 2:1-4, 4:12-16, 2Ti 2:15.  Are we patiently and diligently devoting ourselves to prayer and the study of God’s word and to living a holy life in faith that God will bless our efforts for a bountiful harvest during the season of fruits?

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