“The stone the builders have rejected has become the cornerstone; The LORD has done this and it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Matthew 21:42)
The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Without this cornerstone there can be no solid foundation upon which to build. The elections are now over in Israel and it looks like Prime Minister Netanyahu will once again take the top job. It is a crucial time for Israel as we see their implacable enemies gathering on all sides. There is no doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu will continue to seek ways and means of protecting Israelis and defending Israel and taking whatever means are necessary as he has done in the past. He is a corageous leader and has no problem dealing with rogue nations such as Iran, hell-bent on Israel’s destruction.
While there are those in Israel, even among non religious Jews who believe that God gave them the Land of Israel, they are still by and large living pagan lifestyles as they embrace the ways of the nations that do not know the God of our forefathers of faith Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Added to this the people of Israel as a nation to this day reject their Messiah our Lord Jesus and by their persistent hedonistic lifestyles are saying to God concerning their Messiah, “we will not have this man to reign over us!” (Luke 19:14)
While God raises up leaders and deposes others He still expects those leaders He raises up to seek His wisdom to govern and to lead His people. While He sovereignly raises leaders up they have a responsibility to do the right thing before the LORD or He will remove them. (Daniel 2:21) When you consider the parable of the tenants that the Lord Jesus spoke about it is as relevant today as it was in the time of our Lord Jesus when He lived and ministered among His Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel. Let’s briefly look at this parable found in Matthew 21:33-45. While it applies to Israel it also applies to the Church.
The Vineyard is the nation of Israel and by extension and inclusion the Church. They are like two sides of the same coin, separate, yet one. (Romans 11:15-29) (Ephesians 2:11-22). It is also clear that the Vineyard belongs to the LORD as He is the owner. God owns the Land of Israel and He has rented it to the Jewish people through Isaac and Jacob (not through Ishmael or Esau) so that they might plough up the soil of their hearts to receive the seed of his Word and so produce spiritual fruit for Him to collect in due season.
Down through the centuries God has been looking for spiritual fruit from His people whether they are Israelites or by extension and inclusion Christians. Once the Israelites were in the Land of Israel God expected them to become spiritually fruitful so that the pagan nations would also be able to come to a knowledge of the God of Israel. When it was time to collect the harvest He sent His prophets to check whether his people were following Him with their whole hearts or entertaining idolatry and the ways and practices of the nations.
These servants of God were sent by Him to sow the seed of His Word, to uproot sin and idolatry and to plant good seed in their heart soil that they might produce more spiritual fruit for His purposes on earth. Likewise down through the history of the Church God has sent His servants, men such as Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, George Whitfield, D.L. Moody, William Booth and many others to sow the seed of God’s Word into the heart soil of His people. What happened in Israel mirrors what has happened in the Church since the time of the apostles themselves.
What did Israel do with the prophets God sent to them? Well we are told in the parable that they beat, stoned and killed the prophets God had sent to them. The false prophets were always popular with the people of Israel because they only told them what they wanted to hear and not what they needed to hear. The people who embraced the false prophets had ‘itching ears’ to be scratched! (2 Timothy 4:3)
Today within wider Christendom it is the same thing. We see an infestation of so called prophets (profits) and most of them are very popular today and do not in any way, shape or form experience beatings, stoning or martyrdom at the hands of their brethren and many of them are favoured even by the unsaved and unenlightened. When you look at the ministries of Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, George Whitfield and William Booth or D.L. Moody they had plenty of opposition not only from the unsaved but from within the rank and file of Christendom and in many cases from the clergy.
As the apostasy Paul spoke about in 2nd Thessalonians spreads within Christendom many, if not most of those who remain faithful to the Word of God, will be maligned, and attacked and in some cases even handed over to the secular courts by their supposed brethren to be judged. This will happen because of spiritual deception perpetrated by the false prophets and because of the increase of wickedness. (Matthew 24:9-10) (Luke 21:12-19)
God the owner of the Vineyard, in His love and patience with Israel, after sending them even more of His prophets, whom they treated in the same way as the others before them, He decided to send them His one and only begotten Son in the hope they might receive Him and be saved. However, in their greed they decided to kill Him and claim the Land as their own and disregarding the God who had rented it out to them and entrusted them to produce spiritual fruitfulness for Him and for the nations.
In 33AD the Jewish nation crucified their Messiah. He was the ultimate prophet, priest and king and they rejected Him. He was the cornerstone that could hold Israel together nationally but more so spiritually but they rejected Him the only fountain of living water and hewed out for themselves cisterns that could not hold the water of eternal life but instead be filled with the filthy liquid of sin and rebellion. The building would collapse in 70AD.
In the same way within Christendom the same applies today. There is a widespread rejection of the authority of God’s Word. Many within Israel and within Christendom are doing good works and deeds of charity and this is to be commended yet much of it is being done without providing the spiritual nourishment that is desperately needed. The Lord Jesus placed a strong emphasis on the value of the eternal soul. (Matthew 16:26)
Of course people’s physical needs must be met otherwise our faith is hypocritical and pharisaic yet if we only give people physical sustenance but withhold the spiritual nourishment for their eternal souls then we are as guilty as those who stoned and killed the prophets and rejected God’s Word and we will not escape sentencing.
In 70AD Israel as a nation were crushed by the Romans and after the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-136AD) Israel as a nation virtually ceased to exist. From that time the Gospel of the kingdom went out to those who were not connected to Israel or part of the Vineyard but through receiving the Messiah as their saviour and lord were grafted into the vineyard because as far as God was concerned the vineyard was still intact. There have always been Jews who have believed in their Messiah our Lord Jesus. Added to this in God’s thinking Israel is still a nation before Him and the apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8)
Centuries before the Lord Jesus came the Hebrew prophets foretold of a time when Israel would not only be restored nationally but also spiritually at the end of this present age. According to the prophet Ezekiel they would be brought back into the land of Israel in unbelief (Ezekiel 37:1-8) After this they will be spiritually restored as a nation and receive the Messiah as the stone of salvation they have rejected. (Ezekiel 37:9-14) Since 70AD God has been reaping spiritual fruit from the Gentile nations for well over 2,000 years but the time is coming, and I am persuaded it is now upon us, when the times of the Gentiles are coming to a close and God is once again looking for spiritual fruit on His Vineyard being the nation of Israel.
Once again God’s threshing floor will be filled with wheat but only after the chaff has been taken out. (Joel 2:24) The chaff is sin and rebellion and because of the rejection of the Torah and the Messiah in Israel the nation is yet to face God’s refining crucible in order to have the chaff shaken and blown away and in the refining process have God extract the gold from the dross. Not only is God going to refine Israel but also be extension and inclusion Christendom. In 70AD and in 132-136 AD He used the Romans and today He is using Islam. Once He has finished using islam He will destroy it from the face of the earth.
Both Israel and Christendom are to face a time of affliction and tribulation unequalled in past history and never to be equalled again. However, for the sake of His elect saints both faithful Israel and by extension and inclusion the faithful Church He will cut those days of tribulation short, rapture and resurrect the saints, destroy Islam, judge the nations and bring about the Messianic Kingdom under the Messiah our Lord Jesus. (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-31)
As we are told in Genesis; “The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between His feet, until He to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be His.” (Genesis 49:10)
Whether it is Prime Minister Netanyahu or any other leader elected in the future for that matter, there is only one leader that can save the nation of Israel from their enemies and out of the hands of all who hate them and that is their Messiah our Lord Jesus, Israel’s Passover Lamb sacrificed for their sins. He alone is the one that Israel, in their greatest hour of tribulation, will look upon, the one whom they pierced and in that day when this happens the weeping in Israel will be one of repentance and joy and deliverance. (Zechariah 12:10-14) Indeed in that day the stone the builders rejected will become their cornerstone and their cry will be heard around the world “The LORD has done this and it is marvellous in our eyes!”