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In Matthew 21:44 Jesus made mention of the feet of the Image in a warning to the Jewish leaders, which came at the conclusion of a prophetic parable. Not many today have caught the significance of this warning, because it was somewhat veiled. But anyone familiar with Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great Image in Daniel 2 will recognize the reference.
The parable, which begins in Matt. 21:33, was derived from Isaiah's "Song for My Well Beloved" recorded in Isaiah 5. The "Well-Beloved" is Jesus Himself, for He is identified as such at His baptism in Matthew 3:17. In the song, Isaiah wrote that his "well-beloved" planted "a vineyard on a fertile hill," removed the stones, built a tower in the middle, and also a winepress. He then planted the best grapevine, expecting it to produce the best of grapes.
However, the grapes were extremely sour and unfit to eat. So he uprooted the vines, uprooted its hedge, broke down the wall around it, and laid it waste, saying in verse 6 that briars and thorns would grow in place of the grapevines. The vineyard itself, Isaiah wrote, was Israel, and the grapevine was Judah.
Jesus' parable in Matthew 21 gives us its prophetic application, focusing more specifically upon the grapevine of Judah that had produced inedible grapes. He spoke of the vineyard, the tower, the winepress, and the protective wall around it. But Jesus introduced caretakers of the vineyard--a detail that Isaiah sets forth only in the fact that the "men of Judah" were the grapevine. The grapevines were also the caretakers from the nation of Judah.
Thus, inedible grapes from the vines were identified with the "sour" heart-attitude of the vineyard keepers themselves, to whom the vineyard had been entrusted. Their hearts did not bring forth the fruits that He required--at least nothing that was edible.
The chief priests and Pharisees who heard Jesus speak this parable understood that Jesus was speaking about them (Matt. 21:45). So we are not left to speculate on the meaning and application of this parable. It is plainly given.
Jesus' parable thus enlarges upon the outworking of this bad heart attitude on the part of these "men of Judah." He says that the owner of the vineyard, the "Well-beloved" of Isaiah 5:1, sent servants (the prophets) to receive the wine at the time of harvest, but these prophets were stoned, beaten, and killed. Luke 13:33-35 says,
" (33) . . . it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem. (34) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! (35) Behold, your house is left to you desolate. . ."
Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, the prophets of God were killed at Jerusalem at the hands of the priesthood of Levi. In so doing, they followed in the footsteps of their father, Levi. In Genesis 49:7, his father Jacob cursed him along with his brother Simeon because of their cruel and murderous treachery recorded in Genesis 34.
Yet it is interesting to see how Jacob's "curse" could have been a blessing to them, if they had truly repented. Levi and Simeon were both "scattered in Israel," as Jacob had prophesied, because Simeon was south of Judah and was actually absorbed into Judah, losing its tribal status over time. The Levites received no land inheritance, but were made priests to shed the blood of the sacrifices. This was a positive task meant to redeem and reconcile men back to God.
But instead, as time passed, they sacrificed the prophets and finally the Heir Himself. This was both good and evil, depending upon one's point of view. As a manifestation of their hearts, it was evil. But God used their evil for good. The prophets became types of Christ in their martyrdoms, and Christ Himself became the great Sacrifice for sin.
In rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, they fulfilled two prophecies identified in this passage. The first is mentioned in Matt. 21:42,
"Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures, The Stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes."
This is a quotation from Psalm 118:22, 23. The second prophecy is given in Matt. 21:44,
"And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust."
This is a reference to Daniel 2:34, 35, which says,
" (34) You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them, (35) Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth."
In other words, the Stone would crush the Image on its feet, and only then, "all at the same time," the entire Image would be ground to powder and become "like chaff" carried away by the wind of the Holy Spirit. Today, that Stone is about to hit those "feet." The feet represent the final phase of Mystery Babylon--the Edomite phase.
Jesus was actually giving the chief priests and Pharisees a warning not to take control of the Babylonian system, for if they were ever to do so, their kingdom would become the feet of the Image that would be crushed by the Stone at the end of the age.
They did not believe Him, nor did they heed His warning. Through the Federal Reserve Act, they became Mystery Babylon, and their final kingdom, the Israeli state, became the visible manifestation of their power. They became the "chosen people" at the end of this age, recognized first by governments and by the evangelical and Pentecostal churches, and finally in the year 2000 by the Roman Catholic Church as well.
But Jesus also prophesied of another "nation" that would be given the Kingdom of God. Jesus let the "men of Judah" judge themselves by asking them in verses 40 and 41,
" (40) Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers? (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."
Jesus' verdict in verse 43 is based upon their own mouth,
"Therefore I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it."
To say that Judah would be given the Kingdom of God in the future would make Jesus a liar. No, the Kingdom of God will be given to the overcomers--those who, by definition, actually produce the fruits that God desires. God has been forming a new "Israel" nation, not based upon race or nationality, but upon the character of their hearts. Like Jacob, who became Israel only when his character fit his name, so also will God make Israelites out of those whose character fit that name. This new nation will be a cross-section of creation that may represent all nations before Him.