"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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Thursday, February 17, 2022

PONDERING THE PARABLES – Part Five

~ by James Fire

INTRODUCTION: Let’s remember why the LORD JESUS CHRIST spoke in parables:
As we all know, He went about doing miracles and healing people by the droves, all of which were not only blessings upon those that He bestowed them, but also fulfillment of prophecy as well as signs and proof of His Messianic authority.

ISAIAH 35:5-6a
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing

The whole thing with parables started in MATTHEW 13, but prior to that, when Jesus had cast out demons on two different occasions, the Pharisees made a major blunder and attributed the LORD’s miracles to the power of Satan, rather than to GOD (MATT 9:32-35). But the LORD didn’t respond to their accusation (vs. 35):

Jewish exorcists were often able to cast out demons once they learned their name (LUKE 11:19), and as was their custom, they would seek to learn the demon’s name.
But there were demons that were able to cause their victim to become mute, unable to speak – and so the demon was safe from exorcists because they couldn’t learn its name. There was hope however that when the Messiah came, He would be able to do what the Jewish exorcists could not: make “the tongue of the dumb [to] sing…”. The Hebrew word for dumb means ‘mute’ based on its root word (“to bind up”) as in one’s tongue, or ability to speak.

So when mute-inflicting demons that possessed these two individuals were brought before the LORD, and He cast them out – people were astonished “It was never seen like this in Israel!” This alone tells us that these weren’t ordinary exorcisms, but extraordinary ones, specifically because of these unusual circumstances.

Another situation in MATTHEW 12 was very much like the first. There, the LORD was once again casting out demons (MATT12:22-37).

The miracles, the healings, and the exorcisms that the LORD performed, and most especially those he performed in releasing the demon-enforced silenced victims were signs of the Messiah. The LORD Jesus fulfilled these signs perfectly as He Himself was anointed of the Spirit of GOD to do so. It was the Spirit of GOD that pointed to the Messiah as One of His primary witnesses. Therefore to reject Jesus in spite of these Messianic signs was likewise a rejection of the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

It was such testimony that would lead a person to the truth as mentioned in MATTHEW 16:16b: …You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. He Who alone is the Savior of the world. Thus to reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit is blasphemy which disparages salvation through Jesus Christ.

GOD grants truth in stewardship to the souls; He evaluates how we handle it. If we seek it out, hear and understand, value, and obey that truth, GOD sees that we are faithful in the stewardship of such, and grants even more truth. If we ignore it, lend a deaf ear to it, disparage it, then GOD will diminish further truth from us, seeing how we are unfaithful in our stewardship.

This is why the LORD began to speak in parables to the people and they are useful teaching apparatuses – but only for those who seek and love the truth, who are open to the Holy Spirit and receive His testimony. For those who reject the truth, parables are a form of judgment but couched in mercy.

Because they reject the truth from the One Who is the Truth, they commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and therefore judgment will fall upon them. Were they exposed to more truth, they’d be liable for rejecting it as well, and judgment would be more severe. So even though they will be judged for the truth that they rejected, parables would ensure that they’d be denied understanding more truth that they’d reject and incur further judgment:

MATTHEW 13:10-17
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.' 16 "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 "for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it
.

So let’s continue in our examination of the parables of the Parable Preacher, the Revealer of dark sayings (PSALM 78:2)!

MATTHEW 21:28-32
28 "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' 29 "He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 "Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. 31 "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 "For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him
.

The vineyard is representative of the nation of Israel as seen elsewhere in ISAIAH 5. GOD calls His people to obey His voice and to work in His kingdom, but there are those who hear and obey and there are those who don’t. Note that it says, “today [work] in my vineyard”. Not tomorrow, not “after I’ve had my fun”, not when I retire but today! The LORD is looking for those who will immediately obey once He commands His servants. He doesn’t look kindly on procrastination!

Here our LORD is indicating that these religious leaders make a good show of working for GOD but aren’t really involved nor interested: they’d rather be self-employed and take all the profits for themselves.

Yet there were those who were the least likely employees for GOD but when the LORD beckoned to them, they at the first said, “Not!” but then repented, heard and obeyed. Even John the Baptist saw these results himself! I love the LORD, how He can take the motley crew that we all were (or are!) and turn us into capable saints that honor Him, bless the souls of this world, and baffle the religious experts!
LUKE 10:21-24
21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 22 "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 23 Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; 24 "for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it
.
This is a lambast that must have stung the ears of these religious hypocrites – and such a scathing indictment still stings the ears of the religious today who know nothing of the Spirit of Christ and the spiritual rebirth we saints are blessed with!

The following parable likewise reflects back to ISAIAH 5, and in fact, this would strike a chord with those who knew the Scriptures for its similarities with the Old Testament passage.

MATTHEW 21:33-46 (Compare with its parallel passage: LUKE 20:9-19)
33 "Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 "Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 "And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 "Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 "Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 38 "But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.' 39 "So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?" 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." 42 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'? 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." 45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.

Connotatively, Israel is seen as GOD’s vineyard, however in a very denotative sense, we can narrow our focus on “the city of peace” – Jerusalem, the place where GOD has ordained that His Son should reign from (See PSALM 2). He established the nation, this vineyard and then “went to a far country” – and the time of His First Advent brought the kingdom that much closer to fruition but for one problem!

Just as the rebellious reject the reign of the King Who GOD will “set on Zion”, so the vinedressers refused the landowner what was his due, and not only rejected his son, but took him outside of the vineyard and killed him, so it was with Jesus the Christ.

The LORD was putting these religious leaders in the spotlight, letting them know that He was on to them, was aware of their plan (JOHN 8:40). In fact, this is exactly what happened: the earlier prophets who had gone before (the “servants” in this parable) were persecuted and martyred by apostate Israel (LUKE 11:50-51).

Then He sent “other servants”- the latter prophets that warned of coming judgment before the Babylonian captivity, and these were likewise martyred.
The religious leaders arrested the LORD Jesus on trumped up charges, conducted several illegal trials, threatened to revolt if the Roman government (via Pontius Pilate) didn’t bow to their wishes and crucify Him – and as we know, they did bring the LORD outside of the city of Jerusalem and killed Him on Calvary.

When the LORD asked these religious leaders what the landowner will do to the vinedressers, their answer was disturbing because of their hypocrisy (“He will destroy those wicked men miserably…”). They were able to see the sinfulness of these vinedressers in the parable but couldn’t recognize in themselves this same evil that resided in them.
This reminds me of the event when Judas cast the blood money of thirty pieces of silver on to the temple floor in front of the religious leaders who made this bargain to betray Jesus with him: “But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood" (MATT 27:6).

They were more concerned about the prohibition in offering blood money as an offering in the Temple than they were about the innocent blood shed in murderous malice of the sinless Lamb of GOD!!

Likewise when these religious leaders finally perceived that the parable was about them and their intentions, they wanted to take the LORD then and there – and not for lunch!

MATTHEW 22:1-14
1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 "and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 "Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding."'5 "But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 "And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 "But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 'Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' 10 "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 "So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are called, but few are chosen
.

I somewhat recently watched a DVD by Brent Miller, Before the Wrath, narrated by Kevin Sorbo, and in this film the concept of a Galilean marriage was examined and between that examination and some knowledge about the seder meal conducted during the Jewish Passover – and what the film concluded is that Christ came to this world to save sinners most certainly, but specifically He was in search of a bride, which we know as born again believers who’ve been baptized into the body of Christ.

This bride is destined to sit beside her bridegroom Who also happens to be Creator GOD, King of Israel, and LORD of all! This is truly an astounding destiny that we have before us saints, all by the blessed and awesome grace of GOD!

The parable we have before us is that of a king who arranged a marriage for his son – a celebration that can’t even begin until the father – not the son – says so! On the day of the marriage, the king sent his servants out to bring in the guests who had been invited. And none of those who had reservations decided to go! Though all the meats were prepared, and the celebration meal was ready – but the tables remained sadly unattended by the invited guests.
Others of these guests actually killed the servants who came bearing the good news that the wedding day had come! The king heard of these atrocities and sent his armies out to slay these offenders.

These who were invited as guests to the king’s son’s wedding is Israel, and the LORD sent prophets and apostles to the Jews, revealing the plan of GOD, calling them to repentance, and inviting them to this wedding – but they not only rejected the invitation, but as we know, they killed GOD’s messengers (MATT 23:34-35). Because of this rejection of their Messiah, the LORD has put upon them “a spirit of slumber” (ROM 11:8-10). Yet because of their fall, this blessing of the Gospel has been presented to us (Gentiles; ROM 11:11)!

Those who were brought in from the highways and byways, both the good and the bad (ROM 10:13-15), are the Gentiles (moral and immoral), who were all far away from the covenants of the LORD (EPH 2:12).
Remember what the LORD Jesus said about one particular Roman Centurion and his amazing faith?
MATTHEW 8:10-12
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth
.
Note that in the parable both the “good and the bad”, who were about the highways and byways were brought in to the wedding feast. This speaks to those saved who came from a very moral upbringing as well as those that had a very immoral life – “because no one is so good that they don’t need salvation; no one is so bad that they can’t be saved!”
Yet here we have a man who stood out from the crowd of guests; they were all dressed in wedding garments except for him.

Wedding garments were provided at royal weddings, because the best clothing of commoners can’t compare to what the king could provide – and the wedding must be regal in all of its aspects and reflect well on the king.

Likewise, we must be clothed in the righteousness of Christ if we are to be acceptable to our King (no other righteousness can compare! ISAIAH 64:6), and yet this man seemed to think like too, too many in society: “I’m good enough, GOD will accept me as I am!”
Yet he was confronted by the king who asked him how he came to be at the wedding feast without a wedding garment and the man had no answer; he was speechless.

Those who would trust in anything at all for their salvation and, or right standing before GOD other than by faith in the LORD Jesus Christ and His Gospel cannot and will not be acceptable to GOD because of the highest standard He holds to: the Holy Law of GOD:
ROMANS 3:19-24
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
,
The day is coming when the LORD will return, and deal with the murderers and rebels of this world and “burn up their city”, that is, the world itself (2 PET 3:10-12). These “who were invited were not worthy” just as with this man, and all who reject the kingdom of GOD and despise His servants, the saints, and ambassadors of GOD (2 COR 5:20-21) – they will be cast away into “outer darkness”.

MATTHEW 24:32-34
(see also: JOEL 1:7; MATT 21:19; MARK 13:28; LUKE 13:6; LUKE 21:29)
32 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 "So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near--at the doors! 34 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

Israel is referred to as a vine or vineyard, as we have just seen previously; also as a fig tree (JOEL 1:7). The LORD Jesus saw a fig tree and expected fruit (from the previous fruiting season as such trees can still have them, even up to the next flowering season) but found none – and cursed it and within a day is withered. This testified to the fact that He expected to find fruit in national Israel but didn’t even find any “fruits acceptable unto repentance” (MATT 3:8); MATT 21:19.

In MARK 13:28 (as well as LUKE 21:29-33) the LORD refers to a fig tree in relation to the last days, and I believe this speaks to the regathering of the nation of Israel (ISAIAH 11:11) that occurred in 1948, and yet while they are to this day (more or less) not bearing fruit of repentance (LUKE 13:6-9), their leaves are sprouting, and GOD’s plan for them is progressing (EZEK 37:3-14; ROM 11:26).

In the above reference from EZEKIEL, you will note that the bones, sinews and flesh all came together, and breath was granted to the body (vs. 4-10); however, there is no evidence of the Spirit of GOD in that body. This doesn’t happen until later in the future (vs. 14). We see this today – the physical existence of the nation of Israel, but the Spirit of GOD is not yet in them, but the LORD has promised that He will dwell in them (EZEK 36:26-27).

There are so many who count the years since the formation of the nation of Israel or the retaking of the city of Jerusalem and then debate on how long a “generation” is, and whether it’s 40 years or 60, or 70 years, what we must understand is that this word in the Greek refers to genealogy, rather than strictly “a generation”. In other words, the LORD is declaring that this genealogical family that is Israel will not pass away (or be destroyed by her enemies) before He returns and saves Israel from the Beast and his armies (REV 19:11-21).

Scour the Scriptures as much as you want, but you won’t find any prophecy where GOD will regather His people Israel a third time, or a fourth; He regathers His people, the nation of Israel a second time (as ISAIAH prophesied in chapter 11), and that’s the last regathering.
The next time we see Israel prophetically is in the book of REVELATION, which, as we examine the text, we can see where prophecies are well on the way to being fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ. To that I say, MARANATHA!

This ends this segment of the study on PONDERING The PARABLES. Next time we’ll pick up with MATTHEW 25 and finish off the parables spoken in this Gospel account; there are a couple in MARK and JOHN, but the vast majority are found in the Gospel of LUKE.
Until then, Keep your eyes on the skies and don’t believe the lies, the LORD Jesus Christ returns soon from on high!

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