"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

PONDERING THE PARABLES – Part Three

~ by James Fire

INTRODUCTION: The parables teach us many spiritually valuable lessons, but they all center around a central theme, that being “the kingdom of heaven”. Note that this isn’t just the realm of heaven, where GOD and His holy angels reside – along with the many departed saints, but the kingdom of heaven. The King of course is the LORD Jesus Christ, and there is an abundance of prophecies that talk about the coming kingdom (of GOD, or Heaven, or as its stated elsewhere (like ACTS 1:6) the kingdom of Israel.

What we covered last time in the primary parable that the LORD taught His disciples is the template by which all the other parables are interpreted (MARK 4:13). The idioms all stay the same: the seed is the Word of GOD; fowls or birds are agents of Satan (be they human or demonic). These idioms are also found in other Scripture, and consistently mean the same thing: leaven for example is always used in the negative sense (never the positive) of sin, or pride, or false doctrine.
Let’s get into the next parable then, which is very similar to the first.

MATTHEW 13:24-30
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 "but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 "But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 "So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' 28 "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' 29 "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them but gather the wheat into my barn
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We have a situation here that describes some farm work – a man is planting seed in his field – not the field of another man’s but his own field. Once the work was done, some intruders came in by night and in secret they planted these tares among the wheat and left unnoticed.
When it’s realized what was done, the servants of this man ask if he wants them to pull out the tares, but they are warned against it – because at this stage, there isn’t much different in appearance between the wheat and the tares. 

They could inadvertently mistake some wheat as tares and pull up the good crop. The servants were ordered to wait until the time of harvest, when the grain would be evident on all of the wheat – and since tares can’t produce any grain, they would stand out, easily identified, and pulled out.

The problem is, that when tares are in the same soil as a good crop, they suck up a lot of the nutrients in the soil that could have benefited the wheat. So, their very presence diminishes the productivity of the good grain.

Ultimately however, the grain is produced with enough abundance that it’s harvested and safely stored in the man’s barn and the useless, bothersome tares are burned up.
The LORD proceeds to tell other parables immediately after this one, and we will address those in short order. For now, let’s jump ahead and find out what the LORD’s interpretation of this parable is:

MATTHEW 13:36-43
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 to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 "The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 "Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 "and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

As with the prior parable, the man who is sowing, the Sower of the seed is the Son of Man – JESUS, whether directly, on a One on one basis, or indirectly where one of His children are using the Word of GOD to sow into a person’s life. In either case, ultimately, it’s still JESUS doing the planting.

The field in this parable is the world – and this will be relevant when we examine the parable of the hidden treasure. As was the custom in those days, seed was sown indiscriminately all over the field, not on neat, tidy rows as is the case today.

By this we may deduce that the Word of the LORD is going forth, not to a select few, but to everyone, everywhere, without discrimination, and this seed is bringing forth fruit – lives are being saved, children born into the kingdom: these are “the sons of the kingdom” – the kingdom of heaven, but they are not “in” heaven at this point but are heirs of the kingdom that is to come. There are other children of different parentage: these are “sons of the wicked one”, which certainly will not be in heaven, and yet they are growing side by side (in the field, in “the world”).

The word for “wicked” in the Greek is poneros meaning: hurtful, evil – referring essentially to the nature of a thing, also degeneracy from an original state; calamitous, diseased (esp. morally), mischief, expressing malice; in its masculine form, in reference to the devil or “the children of the wicked one”, sinners.

This is certainly fitting concerning the devil, as he has most certainly degenerated from his original state. He was once a holy cherub, flawlessly perfect in every way, but refused to give GOD the glory, reserving all such to himself as if his perfection was inherit within himself, with no credit to His Creator (See ISAIAH 14 and EZEKIEL 28).

Sinners, a category that we saints once all belonged to, are degenerated humans, fallen from our first estate in Adam, who was someone I would have liked to see prior to the fall.
What would a perfect, sinless human being look like? What would be his capabilities and his conduct? I picture someone that would make the best GQ models embarrassed and ashamed; with an intellect that would eclipse Einstein, with a heart far exceeding the noblest of compassionate missionaries, and a gleefulness that would make the most jovial of children seem downright morose!

How far we have fallen! We were promised mighty godhood, but we became gory monsters.
And the “enemy” spoken of here is specifically “the devil”; the Greek word used is echthros meaning, hateful, passively odious, or actively hostile, adversary (“Satan”). This is the one who is adversarial in regards to the kingdom of heaven, and particularly the King and His followers. His desire is to ruin, thwart, retard, inhibit any growth in the kingdom of GOD as well as the spiritual growth of “the sons of the kingdom” and so he plants his own children, these tares in the midst (of the church) in order to accomplish his goals.

As mentioned earlier, the tares look very much like the good grain, with the one exception that they can’t produce fruit. Yet even so, it’s still difficult to tell them apart from the good grain. There is a possibility that if one were to uproot a tare, it could mean the removal of a genuine believer.

In my opinion, this is why some Christians believe it’s possible for one to lose one’s salvation. They have seen those who have made a profession of faith, seen their works – they say the right things, do the right things, but still inwardly are not right with GOD, through the salvation of the LORD Jesus Christ.

Scripture speaks clearly concerning “false brethren” (2 COR 11:26; GAL 2:4) but they wouldn’t be very effective as tools of the devil if they were easily recognizable – how I wish they all wore black hats and twirly mustaches!

Yet the result of the harvest for these seeds of Satan will be hell indeed – literally! The harvest is the end of the world, that is, the end of the age, that which precedes the Second Coming of Christ. This event is a day appointed, marked on the Father’s calendar and it can’t be moved to an alternate date.

We all have an appointment when we will give an account to GOD for our lives; thankfully for the Christian, this judgment will be based solely on our sanctified work for the LORD rather than for the sins of our lives: those were judged already at the Cross where Christ took upon our sins and the penalty for them.

Not so for the world that rejects Jesus as LORD and Savior. The end of the age will come and, according to the LORD’s explanation, the angels themselves will be the reapers – they will personally escort every ‘tare’ to the Great White Throne Judgment.
Notice what it says here in vs. 41-42:

The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

The angels will gather all that offend out of His [GOD’s] kingdom. You might say, “But isn’t Satan the ruler of this world?” (2 COR 4:4). Indeed; but growing in the midst of this world that’s under Satan’s domination, is the kingdom of GOD as represented by the “invisible church”.

And everything that belongs to Christ, we the meek saints of GOD shall inherit (MATT 5:5). And the fact of the matter is, ever since Calvary, Satan has been running this world as a squatter and not a land owner, for by Christ’s blood, He has redeemed not only us, but all the globe as well (REV 5:7-10; MATT 13:44). While in the wilderness tempting the LORD, the devil could make the boast:

LUKE 4:5-6
5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish
.

But no longer! The LORD Jesus purchased the world back from Satan, who seduced the First Parents, and conned the ownership over this world from them, making it ‘Planet Rebel’.
Once the LORD returns in the fullness of His wrath and renders judgment upon the nations (2 THESS 1:7-10), separating the sheep from the goats (MATT 25:41), the devil’s squatter status will be over with! And the Millennium shall commence!

MATTHEW 13:31-32
31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 "which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.

Mustard seeds are among the smallest, and when they sprout, they produce bushes normally ranging from 3-5 feet tall. However, should the seed mutate (becoming something other than a bush) it can become a tree with a height on average of 5 to 10 feet tall, or even taller (as much as 20 feet tall!).

In the previous parables of the kingdom, starting with the Sower of the Seed, we saw some undesirable elements in three of the four environmental conditions (fowls eating up the seed before they can germinate, rocky soil and thorny soil, etc.). In the next (which we just saw), there were tares and the enemy had access to the husbandman’s field.

Here we are seeing something that we might consider a good thing: exuberant growth of a mustard seed, no longer a bush, but a tree! Isn’t such growth a good thing?
Not really – this is a situation where the seed became much larger than it was supposed to. Scripture states that “there are few who are saved” and that the way is “narrow” but “broad is the way that leads to destruction and the majority of the human race go that way (MATT 7:13-24). The LORD referred to His flock as being “little” (LUKE 12:32).

That the kingdom of GOD should be compared to a mutated mustard bush that becomes a tree indicates that something is seriously wrong.

One of the greatest fallacies in the poor theory of evolution is that biological organisms advance by means of natural selection and mutation. Yet mutation is a subtraction of available information, not an addition: information is not gained but lost. Thus any advancement to higher and more sophisticated life forms by means of natural selection is impossible, as the available information becomes lesser and lesser.

Spiritually speaking, we have the ‘inspired information’ as it were, found in GOD’s Word and are benefitted by the entire counsel of GOD (ACTS 20:27), as all Scripture is profitable to us and equips us fully in the Christian life, with nothing other needed. (2 TIM 3:16; 2 PET 1:3).

This mustard tree represents a spiritual condition of the latter ecclesial history (today’s contemporary) of the church wherein mutation is in evidence. In today’s church, more and more of the Word of GOD is being subtracted in the doctrines and fundamental teaching at our pulpits and among the many denominations. Of course, the results are deleterious in the extreme. It’s final result is what is read in REVELATION 17 and 18the Mother of Harlots.

And we know that in these parables (and elsewhere in Scripture) birds often have an evil connotation, so the fact that these birds can lodge comfortably in these branches strongly suggests that this ‘tree’, representing a condition that will be found in the kingdom, has gone bad.

We know Scripture teaches a great apostasy will come (2 THESS 2:3) as a result of lukewarmness (REV 3:16) – a condition that rejects good doctrine and breeds false doctrine (which we will deal with in the next parable). The apostle John saw something that astonished him, a “great and terrible beast” that was reined in comfortably by this bizarre woman (representing Babylon, whose spirit takes over the religious realms on Earth; we see more of these birds, aka demons in vs. 2: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” REV 18:2).

This is extremely contrary to the NAR/Dominionist/Seven Mountains Mandate, which preach that the church will witness a worldwide revival, assume its rightful place of power and replace all wicked rulers, organizations, policies, etc. and reign in their place and once all the world is submitted to the church, Christ will return – in fact, they say, He can’t return until the church takes control!

Scripture states otherwise; that just as Israel eventually succumbed to apostasy, so too will the church at large, with only a remnant (the true church) remaining true to the LORD, but these are being marginalized and discounted by the world at large.
We can expect persecution, hardships, trials, tribulations of various kinds, and accounted as few in the world at large.

What we have seen thus far in these parables paints for us a portrait that reveals “not all is well in the kingdom” – there are tares, leaven, birds, the enemy himself all present in this domain. Eventually, “everything that offends” (MATT 13:41) will be uprooted and perpetually burned in everlasting fires. And on that day, the knowledge of the LORD will fill the Earth as the waters cover the sea (ISAIAH 11:9)!

JEREMIAH 31:33-34
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more
.

On to the next parable:

MATTHEW 13:33-35
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. 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 kept secret from the foundation of the world
.

There are some commentators who look at this as the good and healthy expansion of the church, but again, we have to look at the full counsel of GOD to determine what’s being presented here. The universal idiom for leaven in the Scripture is something corrupt (which yeast basically does to the dough) and represents an infestation of sin, pride and, or false doctrine. A cursory examination of any concordance will prove this out.

The “three measure grain offering” is to be offered up as a holy sacrifice to the LORD under the Old Testament Law; from EXODUS to DEUTERONOMY, over and over again, it’s emphasized that this grain offering is to be unleavened. Yet we see this woman – and note that this is a woman (the harlot is always a seductive woman who lures in the unsuspecting in order to make them a prey, such is the way of the Mother of Harlots).

And this representation of the kingdom of heaven portrays yet another picture of an invasive effect of iniquity in the church. Concerning today’s evangelical mess, can we not see an alarming rate of growth of pride, false doctrine and sin?

MATTHEW 13:44
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field
.

Borrowing the idiom from the first parable, teaching by means of an agricultural analogy, we see this field, and within the field there is a treasure. A man discovers this treasure, hides it and with exuberant joy (HEB 12:2) sells all that He has and purchases that field.

This is often used as an object lesson that we must forsake all in order to follow the LORD Jesus – and that is certainly true as disciples of Christ – but in keeping with the consistent idioms in the other parables, this man must be the Son of man who sows the seed in the field.

He came into this world (“the field” as explained in MATT 13:38) to find a bride for Himself, and He Who finds a wife seeks a good thing (PROV 18:22). She is a blessed treasure to the GOD-man and He gave all in order to redeem her out of the world, as was profoundly demonstrated at Calvary!

Notice that He bought the field – the world; because of His redemption, ownership of planet Earth has been transferred back to GOD, and Satan has lost his management position!
For now, Satan is still calling the shots in the last days in order to erect his One World Order ‘Babylon-reborn’ tower that overshadows the globe, but like the poly-morphic statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw and was destroyed by the “stone not cut by hands” (DAN 2) – a type of Christ – this One World Order’s days will end not too long after its establishment (officially, only seven years)!

We’ll examine just one more parable before we wrap things up in Part Three; Part Four we’ll continue in in Chapter 13 for one more, before proceeding to MATTHEW Chapter 15!

MATTHEW 13:45-46
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 "who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it
.

The thing about oysters is that they are not kosher – no shellfish are; and while strict adherence to the Rabbinical laws didn’t forbid Jews from wearing pearls, they were generally not preferred by them. Nevertheless, they did trade with them in commerce among Gentile buyers.

Here again, the one who discovered this supreme pearl of great price sells all that they had in order to buy it; just as the man in the field, who found the treasure and hid it until he could gather his finances and buy the field from its owner.
In both cases, there is something hidden: the treasure in the field, and this great pearl that was lodged in an oyster, unseen, unknown in the dark depths of the sea.

Such is the case with the church in Old Testament canon: there is no mention of the church in any overt manner; some subtle clues and innuendo's yes, but no obvious reference to the church anywhere from GENESIS to REVELATION. This revelation of the church was granted to Paul the Apostle who expounds upon this “mystery” (musterion in the Greek – a secret revealed) of the church and of Christ, the Head of the church in EPHESIANS 2:11-16; 3:4-11; 5:22-32
In the Old Testament there were two classifications of people: Jews and non-Jews, i.e., Gentiles. In the New Testament, we have three: Jews, Gentiles, and the church. Those who are in the body of Christ are neither Jew nor Gentile, but a new man (GAL 3:28; EPH 2:15; COL 3:11).

Pearls are created organically in the sense that they’re produced by a living organism. A bit of grit or sand works its way into the sensitive tissues of the oyster and irritates it. The oyster secretes a fluid (“mother of pearl”) to coat the irritant, and layer upon layer is added until what was once a source of pain, becomes something beautiful, a thing to adorn a bride, with an entire string of these spherical treasures.

Likewise the church, this hidden mystery, once revealed and introduced into the world is persecuted and in her pain, the ministry of Christ brings beauty in His bride and adorns her with His own Spirit!
There is coming a day, when we will be brought up from the depths of this devilishly dark world, raised up into the heavenlies and presented as the bride of Christ – and I say, maranatha (“the LORD approaches”)!

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