By James Fire
The LORD Jesus in this chapter is in the process of delivering various parables to His disciples and to the general population as well; previously we looked at why the LORD suddenly began to teach in parables, when He had never done so before.
In brief, parables are good teaching aids for those who are in fact seeking spiritual truth, as these parables have to do with spiritual truth (and not things that pertain to the mundane); for those who reject the truth, or are ambivalent of the truth, parables are a form of judgment upon them, as the spiritual truth contained in them will not be evidential to them. They will remain blind and deaf spiritually speaking and what little truth that they may have, will be taken from them. Only those who seek after and are hungry for truth will understand these parables and will receive more truth as a result (MATT. 13:11-16).
So let us continue in looking at these parables and find the precious truth contained in them, as we glorify the name of the LORD Who alone grants such truth!
Let us remind ourselves that the LORD is addressing “the kingdom of heaven”, and yet in this kingdom we see things that are undesirable (such as enemies, Satan for example; vs. 25, 39); and tares (children of the wicked one; vs. 25, 38), and fowls of the air (representing satanic influences; vs. 32; see also MATT. 13:4; REV. 18:2), leaven (representative of sin). These baneful influences are removed once the LORD returns to the Earth – so “the kingdom of heaven” is not as we might suppose, that is the realm and domain of heaven wherein God is absolute and Supreme Ruler, where entire and complete holiness, apart from any sin or iniquity, is presiding.
In these parables, we see the work of the LORD in planting the seed (the Word of God) and in an attempt to counter this work, Satan introduces those things that hinder or pervert it.
Let us further be reminded that “the kingdom of heaven” can also be translated as “the kingdom from heaven” that is, the kingdom that is soon approaching in its fullness, which was started – in the New Testament sense – when the King arrived, was rejected (temporarily) by His people Israel, established the church whereby the kingdom of heaven would be represented until such time when Israel His people will recognize and receive their Messiah – which will then commence the Millennial reign of Christ upon His second coming.
At such time, Satan and his 'children', sin and satanic influences will be dealt with in holy severity and judgment (MATT. 13:41)!
Now we will look at the parable of the mustard seed:
31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Again we see a seed planted, a mustard seed: small, humble, unimpressive and the seed of the Gospel would appear as such to the world; the world sees the Gospel and it's message of the Cross as foolishness (1 COR. 1:18). An interesting thing that I learned about mustard and its seed in an article by Ray C. Stedman is that mustard can be quite irritating and itchy; it was actually used as a weapon in WW I and so is the Word of God according to the Truth that it is; Truth that irritates and unsettles (and convicts).
When fully grown the mustard shrub can grow up to about three or four feet in height; however in this parable, this shrub grows into a tree; one large enough for birds to lodge in (birds don't usually nest in bushes only four feet in height).
While there is documentation showing mustard as a tree, this is not the same sort of mustard that the LORD here refers to (and grows in the Middle East region). So why does He speak of this mustard shrub becoming a tree? In keeping with the preceding parables and the ones following, each case has something happening that is wrong or bad. In this parable of the mustard seed, the wrong thing is that this herb mutates into something other than what was intended. There is a mutation that occurs, and according to biology, a mutation is a change in chromosomal structures and information which become 'deleted', providing less information that alters the organism.
In this parable, something happens to the seed (and the genetic information contained in it) so that it grows abnormally large. The seed is the Word of God in these parables, and so we can talk about a spiritual mutation which deletes information provided in the Word of God; essentially taking away the Word, which the fowls of the air did in the very first parable; here the information taken is not in its entirety, but in part. Satan is one who steals, kills and destroys (JOHN 10:10) and in taking away the Word of Life, he indeed is stealing our spiritual food, he is killing our spiritual vitality and he is destroying the very weapon of the church!
We see this happening today in the various translations, paraphrases and even down right blasphemous books that claim to be the 'Holy Bible' but these have been so butchered, with crucial Scriptural truth removed or revised, that they would be better referred to as the 'Holey Bible'!
If one looks at modern day American Christianity, we see these mega-churches of dozens of thousands of members; huge numbers of people that fund lavish programming, palatial sanctuaries, extraordinary salaries for the pastoral staff – and yet where is the spiritual vitality of the church of Jesus Christ in such places? Indeed, these bear little resemblance to the church that is founded upon the Rock (MATT. 16:18).
As this monstrous 'church' grows even larger, the habitation is so hellish that even the fowls (satanic forces of the kingdom of darkness) find comfortable lodgings in its branches! As mentioned before, this can be none other than the Whore of Babylon of REV. 17 and REV. 18 (Note: REV. 18:2).
We have dealt with this issue and the emergence of the Mother Harlot in a TTUF series previously:
The MOTHER of HARLOTS EMERGES - Pt. 1
Let us proceed to the next parable:
33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Modern interpretation of these parables insist that in each case, the growth observed is a good thing; that it indicates the expansion of the Kingdom of God as a result of faithful Gospel preaching. This is poor exegesis simply because no where in Scripture are fowls, thorns, stoniness, tares, and leaven perceived as a good thing. They are idioms employed in Scripture that denote satanic forces, the curse of sin, hardness of heart, false brethren and malice and pride.
And here we have the parable of the leaven which speaks of corruption, malice, sin, pride and false doctrine:
1 COR. 5:7-8
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (See also MATT. 16:6-11).
The LORD admonished the church at Ephesus in the writings of REV. 2:1-7, to be either hot or cold, but not lukewarm. It's an interesting point of fact that the lukewarm temperature of water is ideal for the rapid growth of yeast (leaven). Cold water would render it inactive, hot water would kill it.
The lukewarm state of the church, bereft of a passionate love for the LORD, finds itself either unable or uncaring where doctrinal purity is concerned and as a result becomes the dwelling place of the “doctrines of demons” (1 TIM. 4:1) leading of course to apostasy. Today we see how doctrine is disparaged with increasing intensity and the resulting apostasy that is likewise increasing at an alarming rate.
Again, something is added that corrupts and defiles, in this case, leaven is added into the three measures of meal, which is to be an unleavened bread.
This is the apparent state of the church as the ages go by; she falls into an increasing state of spiritual dilapidation and decay; so much so that the LORD asks the question:
. . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
Scriptural secrets and sayings that were perplexing and beyond the understanding of saints in gone by eras have been brought to light by the Light of the LORD: The Messiah of Israel Himself, but for those who have hated the light (JOHN 3:20), these sayings remained dark, as dark as their unconverted hearts. The truth that these parables revealed would remain a mystery to them. All the harsher will judgment fall upon such souls, for the Truth Personified was in their midst, and He was rejected.
Likewise the truth of the Gospel is heralded today, and likewise rejected; there are Bibles aplenty still in our nation, and programming on radio, television, in print and preaching that declares the salvation of Jesus Christ. Judgment for such rejection will be more severe than we can conceive but will nonetheless be witnessed by the rebellious of this world!
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
The LORD sends the multitude away; these are among those who will not hear the Word of Truth, who will not obey it, and so for them, these spoken words of Jesus remain mere parables: interesting little stories that aren't readily understood by them. The LORD then goes into a house and the disciples ask Him what this parable means, and because they are seekers and lovers of the Truth, the LORD grants them the privilege of an explanation. Remember, that we are responsible to God for any truth that He reveals to us: responsible to obey said truth and in so doing, not only be granted deeper understanding of it, but also granted more truth!
Again, this is the kingdom of heaven we are talking about: and yet the LORD declares that “the field is the world” which plainly tells us that the kingdom of heaven is not (necessarily) located in heaven (alone) but a domain that interacts, influences and will one day dominate this world under the righteous reign of the LORD Jesus Christ!
There is the good seed, representing the children of the kingdom and in opposition to these, there are the tares, which are the children of the wicked one, who has planted them in our midst, just as the Sower Who is the LORD, has planted us in this world.
There is an old saying: “Bloom where you're planted” - it is no mistake or coincidence that you are planted where you are: where you live, where you work, the family you inherited, the friends and neighbors around you; each and every circumstance. God has engineered it for His great purpose and has a plan to bring glory to His name through such things, as we yield to Him, learn of Him, follow Him and display Him through our shining lives in the midst of this “crooked and perverse generation”
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain (Contrariwise compare this with DEUT. 32:4-6).
We do well to remember that we might be the only Light that souls lost in the dark will ever see (MATT. 5:14-16).
The LORD has planted us with expectation that we will bring forth fruit for the glory of the Father, and He bears long with us, showing patience for those of us who are not producing as we ought, tenderly working in us to remove fallow ground, stony hearts, thorns and thistles and anything else that impedes our spiritual growth and progress (JOHN 15:1-8; LUKE 13:6-9).
Note here that the LORD reveals that the harvest is the “end of the world” which among those who are not conversant with the Scriptures assume the meaning of the actual destruction of the planet – a doom's day scenario. What is meant here, of course is not the end of the planet, but the end of this present age in which Satan (the tare sower) is ruling as the 'god' of this world (2 COR. 4:4) and the era of rebellious man which will come to a close at Judgment Day.
Angels will escort souls to this dreadful event where they will be judged based upon their own (unworthy) merit and summarily condemned because they are spiritually poor with not a shred of holiness or righteousness integral to themselves.
We Christians have only the righteousness of Christ ourselves, by the grace of God and because we have received salvation via the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is open to any and all who would seek salvation, but as the Word says “few there are who are saved” (LUKE 13:23-24) because people “love darkness rather than light” (JOHN 3:19).
The LORD will 'clean house' and remove all those sinful influences that corrupt and oppress this world (see vs. 30, 41); He will then burn those tares with unquenchable fire (vs. 30) which speaks of hell fire. The sensibilities of 'post-modern' Christianity (read that apostate) refute the notion of hell but the Bible plainly speaks of such in literal terms, not to be mistaken as allegory or a 'scary story to keep the flock in oppressive submission to religion' (which unfortunately has been the case in certain circumstances).
Here is a video presentation (56 mins) of a teaching I was able to deliver recently at The HOUSE of TRUTH Fellowship on the doctrine of Hell.
Lastly in regards to this particular parable, the LORD declares that the righteous shall shine as the sun (no doubt with the glory of God upon them!) in their Father's kingdom (LUKE 12:32). We are as undeserving of this Kingdom as we are in calling Almighty God our “Father” but such is the grace of God through our LORD Jesus Christ. The bestowing of these magnificent Gifts above all gifts is solely based on God's grace and love (ROM. 8:32) for His souls which He has created (EZEK. 18:4).
Now we read about another parable, but this is a different situation than any parable spoken beforehand; this one (and the next two following) are told only to His disciples and not to the general public! These parables speak directly of the church, the body of Christ and centers on this great treasure to the exclusion of any and all baneful influences representative of Satan and his kingdom:
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Again, the field represents the world; in the world this Man – Who I believe is the LORD Jesus Christ – finds this treasure hidden. He hides it (that which was already hidden? Interesting: He had to uncover it, perhaps dig it up from the earth, which makes me think of those who were once spiritually dead, raised to life eternal!) and sells all that He has to buy the field.
The LORD Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, only He didn't buy us back from the slave market of sin with His possessions of wealth, but rather with Himself: His own blood, His very Life which He gave for the sins of the world, actually becoming sin for us Who has no sin, nor any sin-nature (2 COR. 5:21; JOHN 1:29). Not only has He purchased us, but He also bought “the field” - that is, the world; we see this in REVELATION 5:1-9
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Take note of vs. 1 where the scroll is described: it states that there is writing on it, within and also on the back. Typically in those days, scrolls only had writing on one side, not both. One exception was any legal document, such as title deeds. Here in these verses, the title deed of the whole Earth is revealed, and no one was worthy to loose those seven seals which would then grant them authority to possess the deed, except for one: none other than the LORD Jesus Christ Himself! GLORY to HIS NAME!
He has redeemed souls from every kindred and language and people and nation – all of us are treasures beyond price, such is His love for us. It's important to realize that His love for us is not based on our intrinsic value, but upon His agape love, His unconditional nature of love and the value He would place within us by beautifying us with salvation, and His Spirit, clothing us in His holy robes of righteousness and the garments of salvation. Thus with joy He finds us and redeems us (HEB. 12:2; IS. 61:10)!
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Here the LORD is portrayed as a merchant man, one who actively seeks out precious and costly items, such as “goodly pearls” that is, those of finest quality. He finds a singular pearl of great price and like in the previous parable, this merchant sells all that He has to buy it.
The treasure in the parable prior and the pearl of great price are both symbolic of the church. Here, however, this great treasure takes on a different tone. First of all, pearls are not Levitically clean, so this pearl could not represent Israel. Pearls are prized among Gentiles, and so we can readily attribute this symbol as the church (composed primarily, but certainly not exclusively, Gentiles).
Pearls, unlike other costly items like gems, are created organically in oysters. What happens is a bit of grit or sand works its way inside the oyster's mouth and begins to irritate it, causing the oyster to secrete an enzyme (mother of pearl) that coats the irritant with layer upon layer of the enzyme. These precious orbs are created silently, secretly where no eye can witness its making and later harvested to be adorned upon such people as brides.
Likewise the church, that is brought to life by the Spirit brings irritation to this world, but in all of our sufferings, the Spirit of God secretes His ministering salve that beautifies us who are the redeemed (PSALM 90:17; 149:4; ISAIAH 61:3) and makes us costly items greatly treasured by the Father.
The church is not an organization, a mere thing, but a living and breathing entity – an organism with the very Spirit of Life coursing through our beings (JOHN 17:3; COL. 3:4; 2 TIM. 1:1). We are an adornment to our LORD and a beautiful Bride which awaits the Bridegroom Who is soon to return! In the meanwhile, we continue to sow the seed of the Gospel, being careful not to cast those precious things which are intrinsic to our very beings, before “swine” (MATT. 7:6).
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
In this last parable, the LORD revisits the sort of exposition He previously taught the people, but here He addresses those that He declared would be “fishers of men” (MATT. 4:19).
The same idea is presented here as before; there are the good that are safely stored away, and there are the bad that are rejected. Then the reiteration of the former statement: the lot of the lost and unredeemed is the furnace of fire where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The net may be seen as the inevitable procession of time which closes in on us mortal creatures. It may seem that, for a while, we escape the net, but it only seems that way. Eventually it will catch every single soul that lives in this world, just as it already has with souls gone by.
The net may also be seen as judgment, which follows the end of our life in this world (HEB. 9:27); we shall either appear before the judgment seat of Christ as saints (1 COR. 3:14-16; 2 COR. 5:9-11), or we shall be brought to the Great White Throne Judgment of the Lamb of God (Who is Christ, of course; see REV. 20:11-15) as sinners.
There is coming a day when the net will be “full”, that is, every soul shall be harvested and scrutinized to determine before the eyes of our Holy God, who and what they are. May any and all unredeemed souls reading this article, flee to the LORD Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Refuge from the Holy Wrath and Judgment of God!
51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
Instruction regarding the kingdom of heaven entails biblical truth that is found in both Testaments “new and old”, treasure troves of truth indeed! As has been said before, the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.
We learn so much about the kingdom of Heaven through the teaching of the MESSIAH, the King, as well as what He Himself inspired prophets under the Old Testament to write about. The Millennial reign of Christ is spoken of (yet not specific to the term 'Millennial') throughout the Old Testament, and in particular the latter prophets which the LORD raised up before that time of silence lasting over 400 years, prior to the arrival of the messenger of the Messiah, John the Baptist and the Messiah-King Himself, the LORD Jesus: the Supreme Authority of Heaven and Earth who proclaimed that "the kingdom of Heaven draws near"!
Yet even He Who is the Highest found that He was disregarded and disparaged by those who were familiar with Him as a family member or a neighbor:
54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Let us therefore not become discouraged when we ourselves are rejected by those that know us, who do not recognize us as children of God, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ and children of the Kingdom of God. If they treated the LORD Jesus like this, there can be no doubt that we will likewise be treated the same way: with hatred, resentment, mockery and persecution.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (See also LUKE 6:22-23; 23:31; HEB. 11:36-40; 1 PET. 4:1-7).
Thus ends this rather long chapter in the Gospel of MATTHEW: we shall continue soon, LORD willing with Chapter 14 which, when completed, will mark the half-way point in our exposition of this Gospel account. Matthew 14 has in its content, the feeding of the thousands and the calming of the storm on Galilee among many other blessings! May the LORD bless and keep you until we meet again: either here or There, or IN THE AIR! AMEN!