When the Oklahoma Territory opened for settlement, some Sooners staked their claim before the appointed time.
It’s not a fair way to start a land rush. And according the Teacher, it’s no way to stake a claim in the kingdom of God either!
Actually, He says it’s the other way around - So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
In this parable, the Teacher attacks the seniority system of work-based religion.
The landowner in the story does a scandalous thing. He pays the same wage to all His workers, whether they worked twelve hours or one hour!
Those who worked all day began to grumble. It isn’t fair!
No. No it isn’t! It’s grace!
The landowner asks – Are you envious because I am generous?
Here is the occupational hazard of work-based religion. We are tempted to think spiritual seniority has its perks. Priority goes to rank, and rank is earned by time and quality of service.
Some evidently think they are going to heaven on the installment plan. Mostly by their own merit and a little of God's grace added in to make up the difference! This is why they become envious of those who appear to need more grace because they seem to have less merit.
The grace of God sweeps away all such human convention. All works-oriented boasting passes away as we freely enter God’s Kingdom. Or at least they should.
But they don’t seem to go gently into that good night, do they?