Understanding God’s Judgment, Receiving God’s Grace

by Stephen Rhoda

Bible Reading: Matthew 21:33-44

Matthew 21:41

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.”

If you invited someone to be your house guest and they proceeded to claim and seize your property, ignoring you and even denying your existence, would you allow that person to stay?  And would you invite them back into your house a second time?  If not, then you can understand why a good God will one day judge the world with righteousness and justice. 

When Jesus told the parable of the tenants, the leaders of the people recognized the outrageous behavior of these wicked people.  They called for the maximum penalty for those who would seize someone else’s property as their own while failing to acknowledge the true owner.  What they did not recognize was themselves and their own behavior as represented by the wicked tenants.

People today are no different, except perhaps to be even more blind.  We struggle to understand how a good God will judge the world one day and punish sin, and some deny that such a thing will ever happen.  But mankind is exactly represented by the wicked tenants.  We live every day within God’s creation.  We breathe God’s air, we eat God’s food, and we take pleasure in the goodness of all that God has made.  And all the while we fail to acknowledge God as the owner of all things, and we neglect to give Him thanks for what He has created and given us to enjoy.  Some outrightly deny that God even exists, but all deny Him the fullness of what is rightly due Him.

Should we then expect God to be so weak-willed and gullible?  Should He simply shrug and allow such behavior to go unanswered?  No, “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.”  Just as we would never invite back a rude and obnoxious house guest, so God will not admit into His new creation those who have seized and abused His first creation and denied His ownership and even His existence.  Thus, even our own sense of justice proves the rightness and sureness of His judgment upon this world.

How then shall we escape?  The call of God’s Word is to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.  Once again, God has provided what we need and we can trust Him for it.  In Christ God has provided forgiveness for our rebellion and even the credit of Christ’s perfect obedience.  The question is whether we will acknowledge our dependence upon God and His grace or continue in the outrageous behavior that we know must be judged and punished by a good God.