Are You Idle in the Marketplace

Brenda Myree • Evangelism
In Matthew 20, Jesus tells the parable of the landowner going into the marketplace to find laborers to go into his vineyard and bring forth the harvest. He went to the marketplace at very specific intervals and found those who were "standing" or those who were in covenant, appointed and established but, were idle (inactive, unemployed, barren, useless) in the marketplace. Are you idle in the marketplace or are you prepared to go ye?


Matthew 20:1-7:

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' 7 They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive."

Jesus tells the parable about a man who went into the marketplace at the beginning of the day to hire laborers to bring in his harvest.  There is so much in these few scriptures that are very relevant for today.  So, let's start at the beginning.  It is important to notice that the landowner went out at very specific times of day to hire more laborers.  Now, in ancient Jewish time keeping, the day began at 6:00 a.m. and ran through 6:00 p.m. which is a 12 hour period.  I know we sometimes think of midnight being the "12th" hour but it is actually 6:00 p.m.  It is important that we keep this in mind while reading the remainder of this article.  We need to look at each hour and how it is relevant for today, as I believe that each hour represents the history of Christianity or the different moves of God since the birth of the Church (the Body of Christ).

The landowner when out early in the morning.  Webster's definition for "morning":  "pertaining to the first part or early part of the day; being in the early part of the day; as morning dew; morning light; morning service."  This would depict the time in which the Church was birthed and beginning on the day of Pentecost when the 120 were baptized by the Holy Spirit and they began to spread the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  There were many who were added to the Church daily.  The Apostles were sent forth from Jerusalem to the outer most parts of the earth to make disciples.  There was much persecution during this time but the Apostles continued in their labor and the Church grew.

Next, the landowner went out at the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace.  There is much in this one sentence.  The third hour, which would be about 9:00 a.m., is important at this time as the number three (3) represents the Trinity or unity - the third dimension. 

God's attributes are three - omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence.
The Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The three divisions of time - past, present and future - He that was, is and is to come.
The three dimensions of the tabernacle - outer court, inner court and the holy of holies.
Jesus' death, burial and resurrection.
Might, power and Spirit.
Faith, hope and love.
Three parts of man - spirit, soul and body.
The sum of all human ability is threefold - thought, word and deed.

The early Church was moving forward in unity and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, some would say this is not how the Church is functioning today.  There is little unity with all the different denominations which seem to be in conflict with each other and very few are being led by the Holy Spirit.  More like being led by their mind, will and emotions.  The Church, the Body of Christ will have to come back into unity with each part functioning as God wills.

Another point I would like to make is that the landowner looked to those who were standing idle in the marketplace. 

According to Strong's #2476 (Greek) "stand" means:  abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up).

He was looking for those who were already abiding, appointed, in covenant, established.  But, even though the laborers were already in covenant, appointed and established, they were idle!

"Idle" in Strong's #2041 (Greek) means:  inactive, that is, unemployed; (by implication) lazy, useless: - barren, idle, slow.

There are many in the Church, the Body of Christ, who are in covenant, appointed and established in the Word and their position in Christ but are inactive, slow, barren (have not birthed their ministry or purpose) and, thus, are useless.  They have no direction or are not sure of their purpose or where they fit in the Body.  This is much like a part in the human body which is, for whatever reason, paralyzed - it is part of the body but is idle, not working, inactive and useless.  Everyone who is part of the Body of Christ has a purpose and function.  Whether you are part of the five-fold ministry (that of apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist or teacher) or, a layperson, you have a purpose and function in the Body of Christ.  There is a work for you to do.  That brings me to the next word, "marketplace".  These laborers who were gathered in the marketplace were in covenant, appointed and established but found to be inactive or barren. 

Strongs #58 (Greek)  Marketplace:  properly the town square (as a place of public resort); by implication a market or thoroughfare: - market (-place), street.

 Marketplace would mean your sphere of influence.  This would be your place of employment or wherever you function in your day-to-day life - your profession.  Whether you function in the school system, judicial system, health care, entertainment field, homemaker or whatever field of business you may be involved in, this is your marketplace.  Just because you may not be called to five-fold ministry, you are still one of the "go ye" that Jesus was talking about in Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-18 and Luke 24:44-49 when He said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."  It was never meant for any member of the Body of Christ to be inactive or idle and that includes you!

Next, we see where the landowner when back to the marketplace in the sixth hour (about 12:00 noon) and the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) and still found laborers gathered who were idle and inactive.  We will look at the sixth hour first.

The number 6 represents "humanity" or age of man.  God created man on the 6th day.  Man sins and becomes self-aware and self-centered, separated and apart from God and attempts to do things according to his knowledge, or in his own strength or will.

The ninth hour or the number 9 is not yet full or complete but coming to an end.  For many years, the Church has tried to do things its own way, trying to build the Church in its own strength, doing things its own way.  Much like King David when he was attempting to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem using a new ox cart.  (See 2 Samuel 6).  He was doing it his way rather than the way God had directed - that it should be carried upon the shoulders of the Levites.  And, of course, when David tried to do it his way, it was disastrous.  This is the way the Church has been trying to do things.  We have been trying to build the Body of Christ our way.  We have tried to come up with things that will draw people to church.  We make church "user-friendly", we have programs and have set restrictions, etc.  The Word says that God would build the Church.  If we try to build the Church in our own strength, we who labor, labor in vain.  We must do things God's way.  We need to take our hands off of what God is doing and stop trying to do things in our own strength.  Also, when God does move, we need to stop trying to control what He is doing.  We need to humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God for His use and purpose.

The number 9 again, means not yet full or complete but coming to an end.  This hour of man trying to do things his own ways in his own strength is soon coming to an end.  We are nearing the 11th hour.

Again, the landowner went into the marketplace to search for laborers and again found laborers who were standing idle in the marketplace.  Ten is ordinal perfection, so eleven is perfect organization plus one more, one extra. One more than required, an extra measure, something more than only what is required. Eleven is the number of revelation.  In the 11th hour (5:00 p.m.), man finally gets the revelation that God has a perfect plan and that every believer has a role to play in God's plan.  We finally take our hands off what God is wanting to do and, instead of trying to do things our way, we present our bodies as a living sacrifice unto God, totally submitted to Him.  In other words, we allow God to use us as His vessels to carry out His ultimate purpose and plan.

So now comes the big question.  Are you standing (in covenant with God, appointed and in place in the Body) in the marketplace (your place of influence or field of employment or career) being idle (inactive, barren [not bringing forth fruit or birthing that which God has placed in you], unemployed or useless) in the Kingdom of God?  Are you doing all you can do in your area of influence?  Does your life reflect that of Jesus?  Are you laboring with/for the Lord?  I know many people say that their relationship with God is private and is existent only when they go to Church.  It is no time to be straddling the fence.  TheWord says the "In Him we live, and move and have our being."  He is our life.  Whatever we do in thought, word or deed we are to do unto Him.  This means your job also.  You are to be an epistle, read of men.  What do men see when they look at you?  Do they see Jesus?

We are approaching the 11th hour, don't let it find you idle in the marketplace.  Submit yourself unto the Lord.  Let Him work through you rather than trying to make things work in your own strength.  It is time for the five-fold ministry to train and equip the Saints for the work of the ministry - to go ye, even if it is in your neighborhood, place of employment, etc.  That's right!  The Saints are to be doing the work of the ministry - spreading the Gospel - to be witnesses.  Ephesians 5 states that the apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.  Have you been or are you being equipped to do the work of the ministry?  Are you or will you be ready when God directs you to do something for Him?

The time is now!  Prepare yourselves for the next great move of God.  Be ready when He calls upon you.  Time is short.  Don't let Him find you idle in the marketplace.

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