Before we proceed, allow me to say that for me, doing God’s work is the most fulfilling task one can do. Walking in the joy, peace and will of the Lord is fantastic. To experience His presence every day is the most precious thing on earth. It is so much fun sitting down and sharing these things.
Everyone knows the familiar parable of the vineyard, but for the sake of our study, let us just recap. In short, it says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers to work in his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them to his vineyard. Let us say, that a denarius is worth one hundred and fifty dollars today for a day’s work. The landowner went out in the third hour, which is nine o’clock in the morning. Let us imagine that he saw me standing idle in the marketplace. Then he said, “You go out and work for me too.” So I went to work.
At mid-day he went out again. Again, he went out at three o’clock in the afternoon, being the ninth hour of the day. Both times, he invited laborers to work in his field. At five o’clock in the afternoon, at the eleventh hour, he went out again and he said to some men: “Why are you still standing here?” They reply: “No one hired us.” He said: “You also go into the vineyard and do whatever is right and you will receive.”
“So when the evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, and said ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:8-16)
People do various tasks in a vineyard. They don’t only sort and collect fruit, but also, they cut off any dead wood and damaged branches. The pickers can then pack useable fruit into tubs, which then have to be checked and packed ready for market. Nothing is wasted for second grade fruit is used for wine making. It’s hot and sweaty work and only good workers keep their jobs! (Beach goers know that between ten and two each day, you get sunburned very quickly.) The heat and the pressure to work fast would be draining. So these laborers have worked hard all day, but when they see new workers arriving at the eleventh hour, they assume that these people would receive only a small pay.
At the close of the day, when wages were to be paid, the late arrivals were paid first – a denarius. The other workers were amazed at the generosity of the boss. They would have immediately surmised that they would receive far more than what they had expected. Those who began early calculated silently that they would receive an hourly rate, not a daily rate, of one denarius, but instead they only received the same as those who had only worked one hour. This made them really angry. A denarius was the agreed wage for the day, but in light of the late arrivals, it was totally unfair!
In this parable, the full-day hard workers were angry at the landowner’s grace shown to the late workers! But do you realize that many people even today, get angry at God’s grace towards sinners? Mostly these people are legalistic believers.
What is the practical application of this parable today? There are two different ways to look at it, but first, we will look at it prophetically. In the last days there is going to be a massive harvest.
I have heard a prophecy from several sources—a person from Western Australia, from Rick Joyner in America, from another well known prophet, and the Lord has told me personally—that much of the very last move of God is going to be done by unknown people—people with no reputation. They come from nowhere. They just rise up in the last days and have massive ministries. They do amazing work for God and everyone in the ministry will be saying, “Who are these people? Where did they come from?”
These Christians will move so fast in ministry gifting that they will not even have a reputation: their names will be unfamiliar! They will appear right in the last hour and do tremendous signs and wonders and reap a huge part of the harvest. Well, prophetically speaking, these are the people who were hired in the last hour. It seems that many of these people come into the Kingdom, they will only be saved a very short time and then they will be ministering in signs and wonders.
These late-hour ministers will be supernaturally touched and then go out and touch other people. Now, the people who have been in ministry for twenty years or more will see someone doing five times the amount of ministry and saving five times the amount of people in a short space of time. Feelings of resentment or jealousy could very easily rob these former faithful people: they had put in the hard years of opposition through every form of media and had far less technological advantages to promote the Gospel than these late arrivals, yet all the glory goes to the new ministers and the former hard slogging workers seem to be forgotten!
You may have been faithfully serving in the local church for many years, with not much fruit for your hard labor. You have been waiting for the great outpouring of the Lord in the last days where multitudes are saved and the Holy Spirit comes with power. Yet, when the big move comes, you are not the hero of the day. Some unknown and relatively new Christian is getting all the glory. That is one interpretation: Jesus was speaking prophetically in this parable.
Jesus was also speaking to the Jews in His day. They seemed to be stuck in a rut and were not going anywhere. Yet, unlike the gentiles, the Jews had been God’s chosen people since the time of Abraham! They actually received the Ten Commandments by the very finger of God. Yet, Jesus had an amazing effect on people and these new converts were being seen as the great achievers, far more than the religious leaders. It seemed that there was no end to the popularity of this Rabbi Jesus. Judaism was being threatened and the followers of Christ were the new kids on the block. The Jews who had the word of God for so long were outraged and jealous. These last hour Christians were turning the world upside down. Christianity spread through the known world in a very short time. So, to the Jews, the parable had already been fulfilled.
Yet, I believe this is a parable for the modern day Christian. We are living in the last days before the return of Jesus. As I have already pointed out: only ten percent of American Spirit-filled Christians know their spiritual gifts. I believe that I am currently using all of my spiritual gifts. Therefore I don’t feel frustrated. Yet, in America, ninety percent of Christians may be feeling unfulfilled or frustrated. Actually only one percent of Americans knows their gifting and actually minister in that gifting
Therefore there is much room for late bloomers to rise to the occasion! So, what is the application? You need to find out what your spiritual gifts are. You need to do a spiritual gifts test. Every one of you reading this can be one of these eleventh hour workers. You can come in. There is still time. While you still breathe, you still have time. You have dreams. You have desires. You have un-birthed talents and gifting rising up within you. Read this whole book and contact me. Do whatever you need to do. Become one of those last days’ workers. The true Bride of Christ will not be jealous of you, but you can be one of those last people that become first in the parades of Heaven.