Vineyards and Inheritance:
The word ‘vineyard’ in the Word is mentioned 101 times in the New King James Version; 102 in the King James; 105 in the New Living Translation; and 108 times in the New International Version of the Bible. Only a few versions mention vineyards less than 100 times—though this is less than half the number of mentioning’s of ‘wine,’ and over double that of ‘grape(s)’. It would seem that given these numbers, there is a biblical importance tied to vineyards; to the life-giving properties they possess, and even to their produce.
Interestingly, vineyards and inheritance are often closely tied together. Indeed, while fields also have a biblical relation to inheritance, vineyards from Genesis to the time of Jesus have their own unique connection… they teach of the vineyards of our inheritance.
Israel’s Return to Her Inheritance:
“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them…”—Amos 9:14
Amos 9:14 speaks of a return to inheritance. The return of Israel not only to the Promised Land, but the rebuilding of it… the replanting of their inheritance. Interestingly the first thing prophesied for them to replant are the vineyards of Israel.
In the Word, vineyards depict not only the literal life giving nature of grapevines, but a spiritual refreshing… a place where life is brought forth in abundance. Thus, for God to have His people return, plant vineyards, and drink the wine speaks of a Godly inheritance. A Godly rebuilding.
God’s promised inheritance.
Since the time of Amos’ prophecy, God HAS been returning His people to the Promised Land. The inheritance has been returned, and with the help of their Gentile brothers and sisters, God’s prophecies of planting the land—planting vineyards—is also coming to pass in fullness. Vineyards have been planted and the wine of that produce is flowing. Inheritance is being restored!
First mention of vineyards:
The first mention of vineyards is in Genesis with Noah.
‘First mentions’ in the Word have a unique importance to them. Not that other mentions are less valuable, but that, just as we take care to listen to the Lord when He mentions something repeatedly, we too must take special care with His first mentioning’s.
“And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard.”—Genesis 9:20
After alighting from the ark, the first thing Noah did was offer God a sacrifice. God, in turn, making His promises to Noah, Noah’s children, and all mankind—sealing His covenant promises with the sign of the rainbow.
The second thing we are told Noah did was to begin farming; specifically, planting a vineyard. This of course has a rational importance: Noah and his family required food, and farming would be one way in which to supply it—especially during the period in which the animals they might eat were repopulating. Noah was, in essence, beginning what God had told them—to go forth and multiply. He was planting ‘seeds’ into his inheritance.
Interestingly, the first thing we find that Noah did upon receiving a crop from his vineyard was to produce wine and drink it—thus including the first mention of wine in the Word.
Noah, God’s chosen, drank the produce of his inheritance—just as those at the wedding feast drank of the wine Jesus made. Thus, Noah became drunk, exposing himself in his tent and bringing forth upon his awakening both blessing and cursing to his three sons. For one gazed upon him and instead of covering his father, went to ridicule and expose him to his brothers; brothers who would not gaze upon him, but instead covered his nakedness.
Because of what some might think of as a moment of weakness on Noah’s part, the path of his children—all of us—was put in place, only able to be overruled by God Himself. An inheritance was laid down. Further still, without the vineyard Noah planted, the first man-spoken and God-fulfilled blessings and cursing, post-flood, would not have come to pass…
Great blessing—increased inheritance—for the two brothers and their offspring who understood honor and respect for their earthly father. Great cursing—removal of inheritance—for the brother and his offspring who did not know honor or respect.
Lessons and Vineyards:
Both the Old and New Testaments contain many mentions of vineyards. While some are used to give us the law, others leave a lesson. Jesus’ parables featuring vineyards are perhaps the most well-known, yet many non-parable uses of vineyards leave a legacy of inheritance as well.
In Israel there was an evil king named Ahab—husband of Jezebel—who coveted Naboth’s vineyard.
When Naboth refused Ahab’s offers to buy or trade for the vineyard due to it being his inheritance, the king went to his bed sick, prompting his wife to see that Naboth was killed to gain the vineyard for her husband.
Once Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he immediately went to take possession of it—despite knowing Jezebel had a hand in Naboth’s death—thus compounding the severity of his crimes. So much so, that God sent Elijah to prophesy of Ahab and Jezebel’s untimely demise. Thus, while Naboth did die to protect his inheritance, God did not let those responsible go unpunished. God did not accept murder, nor the theft of inheritance.
Therefore, Naboth’s vineyard, despite his dying for it, is an example of the inheritance God gives to each of us. The inheritance of our Father.
The enemy never wants us to maintain this inheritance, because when we understand its value, and our value in turn as the recipients of God’s perfect gifts… we become a threat to the darkness.
Because of this, the enemy sends distractions to ‘bargain’ our inheritance from us. When that does not work he sends thieves to try to steal it.
The enemy fears the light. The enemy fears us knowing our true worth to God; our identity and inheritance.
While in the natural these attempts to steal our inheritance may appear insurmountable, God has given us His spirit within us, to continually remind us who we are in HIM—so that we might know our inheritance…
It takes a little faith, and the willingness to ask for God’s glory to rest upon us, but He NEVER fails us. He refreshes us and leads us into our inheritance.
Jesus spoke of vineyards and, as was often the case, He used them in parables. Parables to teach us about who God is, what we are to do, and what our inheritance is in Him. There were four unique parables Jesus gave with vineyards as the prominent location—two found exclusively in Matthew, one found only in Luke, and another found in Mathew, Mark, and Luke.
The first found in the New Testament is the one we will focus on today. It speaks of a man who went out to find workers for his vineyard…
This man went out early in the morning and hired men for a denarius a day. Then he went out at the 3rd hour and agreed to whatever the additional workers thought was fair. Then he went out at the 6th, 9th, and 11th hours, agreeing that his new hires would be paid a fair wage.
Thus, when the day was done he told his steward to pay them, starting with the last hired and ending with the first. So, the last were paid a denarius, though they worked very little, while the first were paid equally, though they worked much. All the workers receiving the same payment—the same blessing.
This parable has many applications within our lives. Yet, like with the story of Naboth’s inheritance, it can also speak of our inheritance from God…
He has given each of us an inheritance, yet, many do not take possession of it until the final hour. Yes, God appreciates and loves those who, from the start, seize their inheritance, yet, at first glance all receive the same inheritance for their work. Their loyalty.
We may ask, “Why is the inheritance of someone who decided to receive it a week before their transfer to heaven the same as the one who seized their inheritance over eighty years prior?”
Well, the end may be the same, but with accepting the inheritance from the start, we are able to answer our call to a higher level. We are able to spend our lives knowing the blessing of our inheritance, living as kings and priests instead of slaves or outcasts. That is a blessing that those who waited to receive their inheritance from the Father may not fully know on earth, though God will never deny it to them.
It is as with those men that first answered the call to work in the vineyard. They were able to harvest more; they did not know idleness as they fulfilled their destiny; they were assured of their inheritance from the start…
Yet, when those who first knew their reward found that the same blessing came to those who had scarcely worked… they were jealous. Offended.
They did not understand the honor of answering the call at the first hour. They did not understand that living your life knowing your inheritance is assured, while also answering your call, is one of the greatest blessings God can bestow. The blessing, the inheritance of one is not diminished by another sharing an equal portion—God is an endless God, He never runs out of love, blessings, or inheritance for His children.
One way God uses vineyards in the Word is to teach us of the importance of our inheritance.
This inheritance is our heritage, and a part of God’s legacy of love. Yet, we can choose to ignore it; reject it. Even if we follow God with all of our heart, we can be like the first workers called to the vineyard, believing that by God blessing others there is nothing left for us. Or, alternatively, we can believe ourselves to be orphans, not worthy of God’s love… not worthy of an inheritance.
We need to remember that God is not a man that He should lie. That He is a never-changing God. He promised His children an inheritance. Since we are His children, it is ours. We just have to be willing to accept it…
It is time to accept the vineyard of our inheritance.