PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND TARES

Mt 13:24-30, 13:36-43   Jesus spoke this parable to the multitudes; He explained it to His disciples:  

–The devil is at work within the world and the Church, with the full knowledge and under the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  –false prophets and teachers (2Pt 2:1-2; Jude 4; Rev 2:20-22)
  –a deliberate activity by an enemy to sow bad seed among the good
    –God is allowing it, and it will continue till the end/harvest
      —all churches have wheat and tares within them
      –the bad seed gets sown while men sleep – both naturally and spiritually (Mk 4:27)

–In this parable, there are two sowers:  Jesus, the Son of Man; and the devil
  –the good seed are the sons of the kingdom; the bad seed are the sons of the wicked one (Gen 3:15)
    –wisdom from above is peaceable
    –wisdom from below brings confusion and every evil thing (Ja 3:16)
    –Wheat and tares (weeds; darnel) look alike while growing to maturity!  Only at the end – by their fruit – can they  be clearly and definitely distinguished.  During the growing process, Jesus allows them to grow in the same field.

How should this speak to us in our own congregation?
–We should not seek the approval of men over that of the Lord.  What if those ‘men’ are tares?
  –The measure of our life – our actions, words, character – is Jesus Christ, the Word of God.
  –Some immature believers, who are demonstrating their immaturity, may actually be wheat.  We are called to be patient as we relate to and work with others, and help bring them along to full growth.  

–We probably can not prevent tares from having influence.
  –Consider Judas Ishcariot, and how Jesus related to him among the other disciples, and their own evaluation of him along with themselves when Jesus said that one of the apostles would betray Him.  

–From the parable we learn the need to be discerning, but to wait for the Lord’s timing to deal with separating the good from the bad within a local congregation, in particular, and ultimately from His Kingdom in general.

After God’s righteous judgment – which will be seen to be just (because the fruit will be known by all) – then will the righteous shine as the sun in the Kingdom of the Father.  The Kingdom, and the manifestation of the sons of God in not realized or fulfilled until the coming again of the Lord and the First Resurrection and the ‘rapture’.

Once again, the Lord Jesus places the responsibility on each of those who hear the word:  “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

PARABLE OF THE SOWER AND THE SEED

Last week we spoke about the mystery of lawlessness that has been already at work from the Garden of Eden.  We mentioned, too, that the devil is out to try to deceive the elect, if possible – not that he can take away our salvation (it is not in his authority to do so), but to at least have us disgrace ourselves and dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ in some way.  The only way Satan can ever deceive the elect is to come seemingly as an angel of light, and to make it seem like Jesus is okay in the eyes and ears of believers; when, in fact, his whole scheme is to deceive us about that very thing.  The mark of the beast will somehow have to have something to do with Jesus; otherwise there would be very little possibility of deceiving, if possible, the elect when the antichrist is demanding people to obey and to worship him.  Do not take for granted that believers will be taken away before the antichrist is revealed:  that is a sure way to be open to deception by the devil, who wants to deceive the elect, if possible.

With this mystery of iniquity/lawlessness at work, we want to begin to look at the parables of Jesus to teach about the Kingdom of God/Heaven, and to give an understanding to His disciples.

Mt 13:1-23   The Sower and The Seed  

Some important lessons from this first parable:  

1.  Everyone — the multitude —  hears the Word of the Kingdom of Heaven/God, even if it is through the created order and heavens (Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:18-23; Lk 16:16).   Yeshua brings revelation of the mysteries of the Kingdom to His disciples.  When believers have done all they can to take the gospel to all nations, just to be sure that everyone hears, Yeshua will send out angels to preach the everlasting gospel to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people in His desire that all should repent and live before God. (Rev 14:6-7  There is individual responsibility on the part of the hearer to the Word of the Kingdom sown by Him/those who bear and sow good seed.

2.  It is possible to hear the Word, but not understand it to believe it. (Mt 13:19; Rom 10:1-4)

3.  It is possible to believe, but not abide in the faith. (Mt 13:20-21; 1Tim 1:4)

4.  It is possible to abide in faith, but not bear fruit. (Mt 13:22; 1Cor 3:11-15; Jude 20-23 

5.  It is possible to thrive as a believer because the heart and mind are given unto God until the end (Mt 13:23; Lk 8:15 

Mt 13:9; Mk 4:9-13   He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  This first parable – of the sower and the seed – is foundational for understanding all the other parables which Jesus tells.

MYSTERY OF LAWLESSNESS/INIQUITY

2Thes 2:7-8   For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until it is taken out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed . . . .

Satan is currently free to roam around seeking whom he may devour.  (1Pt 5:8)  We are all engaged in a spiritual battle against spiritual powers and authorities of darkness and wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)

These oppositions to believers all work together for our good, for the trial of our faith is much more precious than gold. (1Pt 1:7)  Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2Cor 4:17)

We also have the assurance that God will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able, but He will also make a way to escape so that we can bear it. (1Cor 10:13)

The devil – the serpent – is crafty, and needs to be taken seriously as a threat.  If so, it helps us to trust God and to obey His word with thanksgiving.  As we look through the pages of the history God has given us in the Bible, you see that ‘something’ or ‘someone’ has always acted from within the field and the people of God – and this is very clear in the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven in Mt 13.

From the Garden of Eden already (Gen 3:1-5), the serpent came to place doubt in Eve’s mind about the integrity and goodness of YHVH God.  Satan began his work to make man feel that either in him/herself or by his/her own works he can be his own savior (earn his salvation).  This glorifies man rather than glorifying Messiah, the Son of God, who alone is the true Savior and the Way to God.  The consequences of this lawlessness at work are seen in the Man blaming God, who gave him the woman, who made him disobey God!  Rather than taking and accepting personal responsibility for our decisions and sin, we shift the blame to Another, and yet we are deceived into thinking we are justified and worthy of all acceptance.

Not much later, Cain, the first child in history, murdered his younger brother Abel out of envy and hatred without cause.  Before the flood, only Noah and his family were left who did not entirely forsake the holiness and righteousness of YHVH.  Later on, Esau wanted to do what Cain had done, and murder his brother Jacob, whom God had chosen to be in the line of covenant, and God had to protect Jacob by sending him away.

When the children of Israel were in Egypt, Pharaoh tried to kill all the male children of the Hebrews, but God saved Moses and even had him brought up in Pharaoh’s house!  Korach complained and rebelled regarding the priesthood; Balaam sought unrighteous gain even as he prophesied truly the Word of the Lord.  Within King David and his descendants, the enemy worked to try to wipe out the royal line of Messiah, which God had promised.  Through Ahab and Jezebel, the false but spiritually powerful worship of Baal came into Israel to challenge the faith in the one true God.  Hundreds of years after, Haman schemed to destroy all of the Jews in the world, but God worked in His own sovereign wisdom to save the people through whom the Messiah was to come, and to whom He has made many other covenant promises.

When the time came for Messiah to be born, then the Jewish leaders themselves became instruments of this mystery of lawlessness, seeking to prevent Yeshua from living and to put doubt in the minds of the people and of the Gentiles, that they should agree with them that the Word of God through Moses and the Prophets is not truth, that YHVH God is not faithful to His promises He made in covenant.

Then as we continue in reading the New Testament and study history, we see that from within the Church and Christianity, the mystery of lawlessness/iniquity continues till our own day.  Once again, so-called Christians have tried to destroy the Jewish people; have persecuted real believers; have cast doubt on whether YHVH God is the same God of both Israel and of the Church and keeps all His covenantal promises; and have allowed things which God forbids and forbidden things which He allows.

WHAT is this mystery of lawlessness?  Even though God is in control, He has allowed evil to exist and to have power in our hearts, our minds, in the world.  For those within the Church of God, we see it at work by those who speak of Jesus in what seems to be a positive way, but they deny the faith, and the power of the gospel, thus effectively denying the Lord who bought them and making the gospel ineffective.  It is another Jesus, another gospel, another spirit at work within the Body of Christ.

WHAT is lawlessness (iniquity)?  Sin is lawlessness. (1Jn 3:4)  It is not recognizing any law as having authority over oneself or others.

WHY is it important for us to know something about it?  Because the enemy wants to deceive the elect, if possible. (Mt 24:24)

HOW does Satan accomplish his successes against believers?  He cheapens the righteous standard of grace. (Rom 6:1; Jude 3-4)  He continues –as he successfully did in the Garden with Eve, and as he failed to do in the desert with Yeshua — to appeal to the lust of the flesh, of the eyes, and of the pride of life, seeking to lure us away from complete trust and obedience to the love of the truth of God and His word.

PARABLES, AND THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

As we look at the “mysteries of the faith, of the Kingdom of God”, we come to the well-known passages in Mt 13 (Mk 4; Lk 8).  Jesus uses a series of parables to describe what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.  

What is a parable?  A parable (mashal in Heb.) is a representation of something real in life or nature, from which a moral is drawn for instruction. (definition from Noah Webster Dict.)  A parable, with a Hebrew root word for governance, helps us govern our life from the story or proverb told.  

Who learns from parables?  Those who want to, in order to increase in maturity, understanding, and wisdom in the fear of YHVH.  (Pr 1:1-7 

Why did Jesus use parables when He was speaking to the people?
  —Mt 13:34-35 (Ps 78:2)   He was fulfilling the Word of God
  —Lk 8:10 (Is 6:8-10)   the spiritual condition of the people was very low and far from YHVH.  Their hearts were hardened, and most were not really interested in hearing the plain and simple truth.

God has given nature, which He created, as a parable for our lives:  the heavens declare the glory of God.
  —Character of Animals
     –Jesus spoke of Herod as a fox
     –Jesus is known as the Lamb of God, and as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah
     –Satan is called a dragon and a serpent  

  —Quality of Plants (Trees)
     –Jesus is the Branch/Plant of YHVH
     –Jesus says a person is known by his fruit, whether he is a good tree or a bad tree
     –In Jud 9:7-15, Jotham, the surviving son of Gideon (Jerubbaal) speaks to the people after they made Abimelech king, even though he had killed all the other 69 children of Gideon.  Jotham spoke in a parable, using the olive tree, the fig tree, and the grapevine as positive examples, and used the bramble (atad) as a bad example to describe Abimelech.  

When taking the Lord’s Supper, we use bread and the fruit of the vine – each of which is rich in meaning to help us understand more of the significance of Jesus telling His disciples that the bread is His body given for us, and the grape juice or wine is the blood of the New Covenant for the forgiveness and putting away of our sins.  Jesus is the supreme sacrifice given and accepted by God to redeem the entire creation back for Himself, and to save all who repent and believe the good news.  When He says that ‘unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood there is no life in us’, He is in a sense speaking a parable, with the peace offering and all the other blood sacrifices which Yeshua fulfilled in His death on the cross as the reference.

Knowing who Jesus is is the key to unlocking the parables and the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.  Christ is our wisdom, and we will grow in understanding and wisdom for governing our own lives in the fear of God.  This will greatly impact how we relate to God’s thoughts and ways, how we relate to “the world”, and how we relate to one another.

Let us have ears to hear and eyes to see so that the Holy Spirit will open the understanding of our heart to the Word of our Lord and God.