Matthew 21:41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”
41 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?[j]
43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
Some commentators have rightly noticed that this second statement about a stone also has an OT background, this time from Daniel 2:34-35: “A stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue … and crushed [it],” and it “became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away.” The statue in Daniel represented the evil world empires that oppress God’s people, and the stone symbolized God’s Kingdom of Israel that would destroy and judge these unbelieving Kingdoms. Now, unbelieving Israel as become identified with pagan Kingdoms and is portrayed as being judged along with them by also being ‘broken to pieces’ and ‘scattered like dust.’
Thus Jesus sees Israel as becoming indistinguishable from the ungodly nations and accordingly judged in the very same way. That is, Israel as a nation will no longer exist as God’s true covenant people, just as the pagan nations to be judged at the eschaton will no loner exist. Remember also that the ‘stone’ of Daniel, after smashing the colossus, representing the evil kingdoms, ‘became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.’ Jesus identifies himself with Daniel’s stone that smashes the ungodly nations, which also includes here Israel, which is seen as being allied with these nations. That an aspect of the new form of the kingdom in this passage is the temple, centered in both Jesus and a new ‘people producing fruit,’ is further indicated by the fact that the parable of the vineyard in Is. 57, to which Jesus alludes in the directly preceding context, was interpreted by early Judaism to represent Israel’s temple.
That Jesus identifies himself with the cornerstone of the new temple is pointed to further by how in Dan. 2 the stone that struck the statue and then ‘filled the earth’ represented the foundation stone of the temple. That foundation stone grew and grew until it expanded to cover the entire the earth. A further indication that Israel identified itself with the nations instead of God’s true Israel, Jesus, is seen in Pilate’s question to the Jews, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ to which the chief priests responded, ‘We have no King but Caesar’ [John 19:15]. This develops the earlier statement by the Jewish crowd addressing Pilate, ‘if you release this man [Jesus], you are no friend of Caesar’ (John 19:12). In the parallel in Mt. 27:25 the Jews responded to Caesar saying, ‘ His blood be on us and our children,’ another radical expression of disassociating themselves from Jesus as the center of the newly emerging Israel, kingdom, and temple.
G. K. Beale
A New Testament Theology — 682
How can Beale remain amillennial and write material like this? Like Vos before him, Beale recognizes the “now, not yet” hermeneutic and constantly properly refers to the distinction between the Kingdom inaugurated and the Kingdom consummated. Yet, for Beale, again, like Vos before him always tends to front load the “not yet” in his hermeneutic over the “now.” I think this amillennial front loading of the “now” over the “not yet” is a Redemptive historical mistake. It was in the Old Testament where we find the front loading of the “not yet” over the “now,” in the coming of the Kingdom. However, with the coming of Christ who Himself is the Kingdom, the Redemptive-Historical anticipation has been realized so that with the new and better covenant the “now” of the “already, now, not-yet” Redemptive-Historical hermeneutic is front-loaded so that we anticipate that the inaugurated Kingdom that came with Christ goes from nowness unto nowness. This is the hermeneutical basis for postmillennialism. The front loading of the “not yet” has passed with the coming of Christ and with Christ’s victory we read the Scripture with the “now,” not consummated but indeed front loaded.
Also note that geo-political Israel is of no eschatological import to God as it has been overthrown, never to rise again. Geo-political Israel has absolutely zero claims to God’s promises of the OT. God has crushed Israel, divorced Israel, and served Israel divorce papers in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Indeed, I might go so far as to say that those who see Israel as remaining God’s chosen people, are trying to reverse God’s judgment and so are enemies of God and His people.