Psalms 118:14-27 NLTse The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. (15) Songs of
joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! (16) The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! (17) I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the LORD has done. (18) The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not let me die. (19) Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. (20) These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. (21) I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! (22) The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (23) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. (24) This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (25) Please, LORD, please save us. Please, LORD, please give us success. (26) Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. (27) The LORD is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
The obvious prophecy in Psalm 118 is, The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is a verse Jesus quoted, one we’ve studied before. As we know, when God repeats Himself it’s time to pay attention.
g at the introduction to Psalm 118 it’s easy to see why we need to pay attention. This prophecy is a song of victory. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! What are those glorious things? Have we been looking close enough to see them?
The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not let me die. This obviously points to Jesus, and in a spiritual sense points to us who read His Word and take it lightly. Once we study the fulfillment we’ll understand how we actually suffer when we don’t dig deep enough, pray long enough, and listen hard enough to everything God’s Spirit wants to reveal.
It’s time we enter into God’s presence and listen, Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. This points us to the fundamental rule of Bible Study where we rely on God’s Spirit to reveal the lessons.
The Lord will reveal everything we need to understand about His prophecies and their fulfillment. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. Notice how the blessing comes from the House of the LORD! It doesn’t come from human understanding, science, or religion. The blessing comes directly from God, from His House! This prophecy is quoted by Jesus in three gospels, but we’ll concentrate on one of these and look at the symbolism used. The symbolism Jesus wanted them to see. The summation in Mark 12 tells us how simple it is to understand and how little God asks of us.
Mark 12:1-12 NLTse Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. (2) At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. (3) But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. (4) The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. (5) The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, (6) until there was only one left–his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ (7) “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ (8) So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. (9) “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you–he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. (10) Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (11) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.‘” (12) The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.
Most people know Jesus used symbols to illustrate important points in His parables. This parable is no exception. There are a few ways we can find the spiritual meaning of those symbols. We can do a simple key word search. We can look up other texts using the key word until we understand the spiritual meaning. Although this is a good method, it often leads to many paths which increase the chances of getting lost by using the wrong spiritual meaning. Most key words have more than one spiritual meaning. That’s why context is important. Here we use context of more than one chapter to understand its spiritual meaning by comparing the entire chapter of the prophecies to their fulfillment. It’s like a combination lock. A combination lock using one digit is not secure at all. A lock using two digits is not as secure as a lock using four or five tumblers. Keep this in mind when you read or listen to people teach scripture. Using one proof text is not safe at all.
The key word vineyard is a simple word to explain in spiritual terms. The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence. (Isaiah 5:7 NLTse).
Although it seems Isaiah summed up the meaning of the spiritual vineyard in Jesus’ parable, this doesn’t tell the full story. So far with one verse we see the vineyard represents the nation of Israel and the garden is the people of Judah. This includes the two southern tribes and ten northern tribes. Now we can assume…. but wait — why should WE assume anything? The prophecy tells us to enter into God’s gates where the righteous enter to bless you from the house of the LORD! Why would we come only so far then turn away to our own understanding? We need to look to God’s Word further, enter into His House and listen harder.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-2, 5 NLTse).
By looking at a few more verses we learn a lot more. We see the Father is the gardener. This also explains the man who built the vineyard is God. We also see another vital point when we compare all the details in the parable. Now that we understand Jesus’ Father is the gardener, we know the son in the parable represents Jesus. Looking at John chapter 15 we also see the vine in the vineyard represents Jesus. This adds a new view to the parable. The farmers thought they could secure the vineyard for themselves by killing the SON. What they didn’t see was the SON was in the center of the vineyard all along.
Look at this from the context in John 15. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:9-14 NLTse).
Jesus didn’t come to this world to introduce God’s love. He came to reveal it! This also points us to the spiritual meaning of another key word, wall. In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. I will give them–within the walls of my house– a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. (Isaiah 26:1-2, 56:5-6 NLTse).
One verse tells us a wall can represent salvation. Another verse shows us there is a condition to enter into those walls. We have to remain committed to serving and loving God by holding fast to His covenant. This is where the farmers went wrong. Of course the farmers are identified in each of the gospels this parable is found. The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. That’s one of the mistakes the religious leaders made. They didn’t know God’s law was a covenant.
The religious leaders thought they were specially gifted. They thought they were above the law. They forgot they were supposed to be a light onto the law by keeping parts of the law centered on their duty as priests. Moses told them to help the poor, the neglected people, widows, orphans, strangers, and foreigners. Priests were held to a higher standard. They didn’t receive land. In exchange for land, they were free from everyday toil. People brought them gifts and offerings they were responsible for sharing. God could have blessed them more and more as they taught people how to live together in peace by honoring God’s law. The more the people were blessed, the more the priests would receive, the more they could work to end poverty in Israel and God’s law would be a light upon all nations who would come to them to learn the secret of their success.
They also lost sight of God’s original plan. They claimed to be descendants of Abraham. In Abraham’s day the head of the household was the priest. This was handed down from father to the first born son. The father as priest of the home turned the hearts of the sons onto God. The role of priest of the home was restored to the fathers at the first Passover before leaving Egypt. Later God revealed His plan to make Israel a kingdom of priests. Once they turned down the chance to become a nation to take God’s law and light into the world, God choose Aaron as His high priest and the tribe of Levites as His first born son and servants.
The priests looked at only a small portion of the story. In their eyes the tribe of Levi was chosen because they didn’t take part in the worship of the golden calf when Moses was on the mountain receiving God’s commandment. They thought this placed them above the other tribes. They looked at what the Levites did and assumed that was their role as priests. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the LORD’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him. Moses told them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone–even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.” The Levites obeyed Moses’ command, and about 3,000 people died that day. Then Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.” (Exodus 32:26-29 NLTse).
This shows how dangerous it is to take one text and assume it tells the full story. Did they forget it was Aaron, the first high priest who made the calf? They forgot a lot of details. This method of picking and choosing particular texts to produce an assumption is dangerous and only leads to destruction.
We see the same mistakes repeated today. Religious leaders want to take up swords against anyone who doesn’t believe exactly what they believe. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a video drifting all over the Internet. A pastor took it upon himself to attack other churches. He claims to keep one of God’s commandments above all else and that gives him the right to manipulate or side track other commandments. He doesn’t view his actions as breaking commandments, but twisting the truth is a lie. Keeping one commandment never allows anyone the right to break a number of other commandments no matter how justified the assumptions are. Sure this pastor feels he is leading a worthy cause, but at what cost? His first mistake was delivering a message before praying. Where God is opening windows to pour out a blessing, he is slamming doors shut.
The servants in the parable are another easy symbol to define. At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. The LORD said through his servants the prophets: They refuse to listen to me, though I have spoken to them repeatedly through the prophets I sent. And you who are in exile have not listened either,” says the LORD. (1 Kings 18:36, 2 Kings 21:10, Jeremiah 29:19 NLTse).
The servants in the parable represent God’s prophets who they killed. It wasn’t unusual for kings and priests to ignore God’s prophets. Elijah had to stand up to 400 prophets of Baal appointed by king Ahab’s wife Jezebel. No one helped Elijah with the twelve heavy stones he moved to erect the alter. The people stood by and watched Elijah struggle. They didn’t want to make a public stand until after God sent down fire to consume the sacrifice. Doubt and fear clouded their minds.
Jeremiah had to stand up against a host of prophets when he delivered his message. Some were appointed by the king, others by priests. Neither wanted to believe Jeremiah because it wasn’t the news they wanted to hear. Instead of listening they made up their own interpretations without praying to God. All of their interpretations were designed to benefit themselves because they were centered around what the priests, king, and people wanted to hear. That’s what that pastor wanted to accomplish with his video. I’m sure he feels good about himself as he checks the number of views recorded and convinces himself popular belief out weighs God’s advise and commandments.
The fact remains, the religious leaders knew the parable was about them. Once again we see religious leader understanding one little part and making assumptions on the remaining portions of the parable. We see this all the time. I tried reaching out to that pastor and a host of his followers pointing out the video. I’ve also contended with that pastor and his followers on a few other issues. I know that pastor’s ability to study the Bible is limited to proof texts. I’ve read his studies and seen how shallow and one dimensional they are. I pointed out other texts. I also pointed out how his proof texts are taken out of context. But that doesn’t interest him. Instead he tried to lead his church to a unified form of Bible Study – which is simple proof texts and adopt it as a standard. He wanted to go one step further by convincing the church only qualified, educated individuals should be allowed to interpret scripture. This is another example of how far people will go to maintain control. The main weapon they use is to control knowledge by controlling access to God’s Word. They use many means to accomplish their goal.
My goal isn’t to tell anyone what to believe or provide any answers to questions people have. I know that pastor and many others are not ready for some of the details I’ve been shown in God’s Word. They wouldn’t believe them unless they discovered the details themselves. They are like the priests who wondered why a prophet would reveal himself to a leper before coming to them. All their spiritual education is better left up to God’s Spirit. Only He knows what they are prepared to see and understand and at what pace they are able to learn. All I want to do is share a few fundamental study methods they can use and let God’s Spirit lead them. The next one for us to review is the comparison between the introductions of these two chapters. First the prophecy.
Psalms 118:1-4 NLTse Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. (2) Let all Israel repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.” (3) Let Aaron’s descendants, the priests, repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.” (4) Let all who fear the LORD repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.”
The introduction to the prophecy in Psalm 118 repeats the same phrase four times. It must have a significant meaning, It’s something Aaron’s descendants are supposed to repeat so it must be pointing to something they forgot when the plotted to arrest Jesus. When we compare it to the first verse in Mark 12, we see a connection. Then Jesus began teaching them with stories:
Jesus stories were taught through the faithful love that endures forever! Jesus’ stories weren’t designed to make Him look better by making the priests look bad. Jesus was sending the religious leaders back to Isiah chapter 5 as well as other scripture in the Old Testament. If the religious leaders were the experts in scripture they claimed to be, they would have found more than enough scripture to explain the parable Jesus told them. Neither did Jesus explain the symbols in those parables. He left that up to them and their relationship with God’s Spirit. One of the lessons we need to learn.
That is a major fault I’ve seen in the video being spread on the Internet as well as other videos. Preachers like to take a text, especially a prophecy and leave you with the impression they know every detail. They never seem to share any ideas or instructions teaching how you can study on your own or find answers for yourselves. In essence, they are stealing glory away from God and His Spirit. How many commandments are they breaking? They need to rethink their process to lead you to the open gates inside God’s walls where, “His faithful love endures forever.”
Jesus didn’t make it a habit of interpreting all the symbols. He did it for a few of His parables. Just enough to teach His disciples how to find answers on their own. Jesus sent people back to scripture and God’s Spirit. That’s how Jesus taught and that’s the example we’re given to follow. Psalm 118 explained this.
Psalms 118:5-13 NLTse In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free. (6) The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? (7) Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. (8) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. (9) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. (10) Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (11) Yes, they surrounded and attacked me, but I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (12) They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (13) My enemies did their best to kill me, but the LORD rescued me.
What did Jesus do when He was in distress? He prayed to the LORD! What happened? The LORD answered me and set me free. No one set Jesus free except for God. The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? We may ask, what can mere people do for me? It seems mere people do more to draw people away from God than putting them in a position to draw closer to God. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. Sure Jesus defended Himself. How did He do it? With words and with the authority of the LORD. You can’t have one without the other. Look at how Jesus tried to reach the religious leaders. They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. My enemies did their best to kill me, but the LORD rescued me. Sure enemies can be pests. Sure they can look for ways to destroy you. Sure they can do their best to discredit you and try to silence you. Did they succeed in silencing Jesus? No! Because Jesus silenced them. He answered them with God’s authority which was given to Jesus at the right time with the right words and with enough scripture to back up what He said. Not one or two verse, but chapters.
What does it take to receive that kind of power? Is it available to everyone? We’ve already studied the summation to Mark 12 in this book, but Psalm 118 adds a new dimension in a whole new light. A light none of us could have seen without His Spirit.
Psalms 118:28-29 NLTse You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! (29) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Mark 12:41-44 NLTse Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. (42) Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. (43) Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. (44) For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Once again we see the phrase, “His faithful love endures forever.” Now we have a little more information to explain how to express the faithful love we receive from God. The key is in the related words in the summation to Psalm 118. We praise, exalt, and give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! This is what the widow did when she dropped in two little coins. Those coins had little value, but the message is priceless. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver. You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. (Psalms 119:72-73, Proverbs 3:13-15, Proverbs 8:8-11 NLTse).
After listening to Jesus preach in the temple courtyard, a few coins were a small price to pay for the knowledge the poor widow gained. She wanted others to hear the messages Jesus brought. The widow is a symbol of those giving to the church to spread the message they hear with their own ears, read with their own eyes, and feel with their own heart. The widow symbolizes all those people who trust religious leaders have heard Jesus speak and understand His message. The widow had no way of knowing those religious leaders were planning on killing Jesus any more than people today know if their churches are going to preach how, “His faithful love endures forever.” All they can do is trust. The poor widow was also a reminder to the priests of their responsibility. Did they offer that widow a meal, or the orphan a home? Did they welcome and care for the poor, depressed, or strangers in the courtyard that day? Did they fulfill their vows and duty? What happened to those coins? If we looked ahead what would we find the priests doing with money from their treasury?