UNVEILED - THE HISTORY OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (3) - (II) The Parables of the Contamination of the
John Griffiths, Port Talbot, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Parable No. 2
The Wheat and the Tares
Parable No. 3
The Mustard Seed
Parable No. 4
Parable No. 2 – The Wheat and the Tares vv. 24-30; 36-43 – False Disciples
This is not the kingdom in its purity and genuine composition. This is what the kingdom has become, due to infiltration and the enemy’s work. Profession of a religious sort is stealthily introduced.
This time we are left in no doubt who the sower is. He is the Son of Man, v. 37.
The good seed is equated with the children of the kingdom. The genuine subjects of the kingdom are sown in the field, that is, the King places His subjects wherever He wants them on the face of the earth. ‘The field is the world’, v. 38. An example of this is seen in the ‘diaspora’, the scattering of believers belonging to the Jerusalem assembly far and wide. Peter writes to ‘the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia’, 1. 1. The word ‘scattered’ is our word ‘sown’. They were not randomly scattered, due to persecution, but moved to other parts under the sovereign act of God.
‘But while men slept’. Though there is no criticism of those that slept, for sleep is a legitimate and necessary process, there are occasions when folk slept when they should have been wide awake. The need for spiritual alertness is seen and the disciples asleep in the garden of Gethsemane illustrates the need to remain awake, alert and watchful.
The Sphere (of sowing)
‘The field is the world’, v. 38.
Satan, the enemy, has been busy while men slept. How cunning the devil is! If this is a night scene, Satan performs his nefarious deed under cover of darkness.
The wheat represents the children of the kingdom; ‘the tares are the children of the wicked one’. Satan is counterfeiting the genuine. The tares are an imitation of the wheat, until the fruit appears. Then the distinction becomes apparent. The devil is a past master at counterfeiting. He has imitated the gospel, Gal. 1. 6-9; he has imitated believers, the wheat and the tares; he has imitated the church, Rev. 17; and he will soon imitate Christ, with the antichrist. The tares represent religious profession. Christ described religious hypocrites thus, ‘Ye are of your father the devil’. The wheat and the tares are allowed to grow side by side in the world. There is no support here for saved and unsaved to grow side by side in the assembly, though.
The Separation and Severance
The separation of wheat and tares takes place at ‘the end of the world’, or, better, ‘the consummation of the age’. This equates with the time of our Lord’s return to earth. It cannot refer to the rapture; this takes place at the end of a dispensation not the end of the age. Further, angels are the reapers and the tares are dealt with before the wheat. The tares are ‘gathered out’ for burning. The wheat is gathered into the barn, i.e., the millennial kingdom.
The servants are the angels. They are linked with Christ in relation to future judgements. In this chapter they are associated with Christ in judgement in the parable of the dragnet.
‘And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth’, v. 42. Eternal punishment, however unpalatable to modern man, is a fundamental plank of Bible truth.
‘The righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father’, v. 43. ‘And they that be mine shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever’, Dan. 12. 3.
The genuine will enjoy millennial blessedness. The cameo of the coming millennial kingdom witnessed by Peter, James and John at the Mount of Transfiguration portrays Jesus with glowing face and glistening garments. The saints will almost certainly share these features in the millennium.1 The ‘kingdom of their Father’ is the millennial kingdom. The use of different expressions involving different persons of the Godhead does not imply three distinct kingdoms.2
The wheat and the tares (darnel) can only be distinguished by experts prior to the appearance of the fruit. Pulling them up before harvest is not recommended as their root systems become so intertwined. Once the fruit appears, separation is easily undertaken. The wheat has its golden ear of corn. The darnel’s fruit is black and poisonous to humans.
Parable No. 3 – The Mustard Seed, vv. 31, 32 – False Development
The identity of the sower, as in the first parable is not stated. However, the similarity of the second parable, ‘a man which sowed good seed’, with this parable, ‘a man took and sowed’, is strong evidence that the sower is the Son of Man.
What crop was expected in the first parable we are not told, but it is wheat in the second and mustard seed here.
It is the contrast that is remarkable between the size of the seed and the spread of the shrub. The sower expected a bush but got a tree! Whether the mustard seed was the smallest seed or not, it was the accepted wisdom of the time.3
The kingdom stemmed from a small beginning; Christ, the twelve and the seventy. The expected growth was to be shrub-like not tree-like. The question of the disciples – ‘Are there few that be saved’? – only reinforces the expectation.
Why the abnormal growth? The kingdom’s exceptional growth is due to the addition of religious professors. The genuine and counterfeit, the wheat and the tares, exist side by side in the kingdom.
‘And becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches’. Both Ezekiel and Daniel use trees to represent kingdoms, Ezek. 17; Dan. 4. The tree represents the kingdom as inclusive of confession and profession, possessors and professors. A comparison of verses 4 and 19 leads us to believe the birds are Satan’s agents or emissaries in the first parable, hence here too. The kingdom of heaven is now so extensive, so broad that Satan’s representatives ‘lodge in the branches thereof’. This expansion, almost explosion, in the volume of the kingdom began with the Emperor Constantine. State and church were merged causing abnormal growth.4
On a practical note, this state of affairs should make us wary of Christendom. There has never been a greater need for separation from the pernicious religious system all about us than there is today.
Parable No. 4 – The Leaven, v. 33 – False Doctrine
The three features of this parable are the meal, the leaven and the woman.
This consisted of three measures or an ephah. The law of first mention takes us to Genesis chapter 18 verse 6 where Abraham presses Sarah to ‘make ready quickly three measures of fine meal . . . and make cakes’. The Lord and two of His angels have called in for lunch.5
The meal offering was significant for the fact that leaven was prohibited. The only exception being in Leviticus chapter 23 verses 15-21 where the two loaves symbolize Jew and Gentile in the church on the day of Pentecost. Until the rapture sin will always be present in believers’ lives.
The meal offering represents Christ in His perfect humanity, holy, harmless and undefiled.
Leaven, or yeast, is used for puffing things up, such as making bread rise. It also has great permeating power. ‘A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump’, is Paul’s comment, 1 Cor. 5. 6.
Though leaven is prohibited in relation to the offerings and the feast of unleavened bread in the Old Testament, it is always used literally. Only in the New Testament is it used literally and metaphorically.6
Leaven not only puffs up, and permeates but it also adulterates. In this parable the meal is adulterated with leaven. W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary concludes, ‘the history of Christendom confirms the fact that the pure meal of the doctrine of Christ has been adulterated with error’. Beware of false teaching from the cults and their clerics particularly where it impinges on the Person of Christ.
A sister who is subject to God and His word is a real treasure but a woman out of her place is a serious danger. The scriptures are clear as to the role of the sister in an assembly. The opportunity to teach publicly is denied to the godly sister. Yet, here, we discover a woman who surreptitiously introduces leaven into the meal knowing that quickly the whole lump would be leavened. She is deliberately contaminating teaching about Christ with false doctrine. The whole of the kingdom of heaven will be affected by this action.7
What a contrast with Mary, Dorcas, Phoebe, and other named sisters who helped Paul. Thank God for sisters like these in our assemblies today!
- This is hinted at in the description of the bride, the Lamb’s wife. Her garments are ‘clean and white’. ‘White’ here is bright or radiant.
- This may be illustrated by three references to Christ and the drinking of wine in the coming kingdom. ‘My Father’s kingdom’, Matt. 26. 29; ‘the kingdom of God’, Mark 14. 25; ‘My kingdom’, Luke 22. 30. All refer to the millennial kingdom on earth.
- As illustrated in Matthew chapter 17 verse 20, ‘faith as a grain of mustard seed’.
- However, the identification of the birds of the air with Satan’s agents is reinforced by referring to Genesis chapter 15; Jeremiah chapter 5 verse 27; Isaiah chapter 34 verses 11-15 and Revelation chapter 18 verse 2. This last reference is particularly meaningful, ‘the cage of every unclean and hateful bird’. The verse mentions demons, spirits and birds. The birds clearly are not literal birds but of the same order as demons and spirits. The kingdom, embracing profession, includes all manner of false cults and their teachings; these are the birds, Satan’s agents.
- Further examples of this quantity of meal may be seen in Judges chapter 6 verses 19-21; 1 Samuel chapter 1 verse 24 and Ezekiel chapter 45 verse 24.
- See Matt. 16. 6, 11; Mark 8. 15; 1 Cor. 5. 6-8; and Gal. 5. 9.
- Concerning women out of their place, think of Jezebel; the whore, Babylon the Great; the woman with the ephah, ‘this is wickedness’; Rev. 2. 20; 17. 3, 18; Zech. 5. 7. Historically, review some of the following: Ellen White, Seventh Day Adventism; The Fox Sisters, Spiritism; Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science; Mdme. Helena Blavatsky, Theosophy; Ann Lee, The Shakers; Agnes Oozman (America), Tongues Revival.