Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:Matthew 21:33
The Fence: “and hedged it round about,” Jesus tells a parable to the chief priests and the scribes in the temple. This is very much like Isaiah’s parable or song of the vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-8. They both begin the same way with the planting of the vineyard and then its fencing. In both Isaiah and Matthew the vineyard represents God’s people. Under the new covenant we know this group as the church; God’s chosen, called-out people. In both parables the vineyard is fenced or hedged about.
A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.Song of Songs 4:12
The fence has a purpose. The purpose is to keep out the wild beasts. Look at Isaiah 5:5 when the Lord removes the hedge it is eaten up and when the wall is broken down it is trodden under foot. There is a fence around the people of God that only the Lord can maintain. He protects us based on his jealousy over us. His love and care surround the church like an impenetrable barrier. How often do we minimize his care when things don’t seem to go our way. Without the hedge, the hurricane force winds of human tragedy would wreck us.
The Press: “and digged a winepress in it,” This speaks of the industry of he people of God. This is a principle for the individual and for the community of faith. Diligence and patience with the fruit is required. Our God has given the church the means by which to manufacture fruit. One of those means by which we process the fruit of the vineyard is meditation.
Guigo II, the Carthusian, said in The Ladder of the Monks, “I would like to say that reading brings the substantial food to the mouth; meditation grinds and chews it; prayer tastes it, and contemplation is the sweetness itself that delights and restores.” We are given meditation by which we can take the word of God and render the sweet juice which delights the believer.
This same process is a powerful draw to the world. The necessary food (Proverbs 30:8) can only be found in the word and the church is the only one able to properly handle it, process it and minister it to the world. With it, the church feeds the babes and entices the lost ones to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
The Tower: “and built a tower,” The tower allows the husbandmen to look down on the vines. This perspective provides insight, on a macro scale, concerning the health of the vineyard. It also gives a view of the hedge and allows the watcher to see any predators that might try to climb over.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.Psalm 18:2
It allows us to see into the past and learn the lessons recorded in God’s word. The very thing that Jesus rebukes the chief priests for not doing (Matt 21:42). It also allows us to watch into the future. Why watch? Because the householder is coming again. When he comes, we must be ready.