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- THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
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A mystery is not something secret but sacred. They are given unto MANY to know with the caveat to allow others to get their knowledge first hand, instead of unlawfully, illegally, and watered down through human attempts to explain! Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.
So, what of those of us confused by metaphor, or simply repelled by complexity. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods. Perhaps the greater danger is becoming satisfied with a terrestrial understanding and resultant lifestyle! God is patient and has given us our whole lives. DC As struggling mortals, it is gratifying to read of the initial struggle even the prophets had in learning to earn their learning. The process God used to teach Adam and then later, Joseph Smith, the skills of celestial communication included use of His divine interfaces.
When Adam and Eve humbly repented of their sin of worshiping a false god,7 Father did more than just forgive. He gave them an interface by which He could change the cause of the sin within them. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord. How appropriate that the first animal sacrifice would have been performed by He would would serve as the Lamb of God.
And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. If the specificity given to Moses is instructive in how Adam was taught, then I would have been left to wonder about innocent male lambs, firstlings, blood, no broken bones, death, and the directive to do everything, not in my own name, but in the name of Christ from then on, etc. Fortunately, Jehovah continued His explanation on symbol-use to help Adam understand, not only the rebirth metaphor of baptism and confirmation but also its value in teaching his growing posterity.
He not only admonishes Adam and Eve to teach the necessity of rebirth to their children but teaches them how to teach it…using symbols and metaphor:. It is this companionship, this comfort and direction with divine spirit communication through the heart and mind, directly from our omnipotent Godhead, that our children need before they are sent out to serve Him and endure to the end.
More than almost anything they will learn, they need to be facile with the experience of knowing, understanding, and trusting the voice of the spirit. If not convinced, note the next verse that expands the mind and helps us awaken to how we live our lives completely awash in symbols! The impression made is soon removed.
The seed sown is caught away. The poor dupe of Satan learns perhaps even to laugh at the momentary conviction, and to congratulate himself upon the wisdom of his present indifference. In the next class of hearers, the stony ground illustrates the opposition of the flesh. And for this end it is pictured, not at its worst, but at its best. This man "heareth the word, and immediately with joy receiveth it; yet has he not root in himself. The seed has rapid growth, the rocky bed forming a sort of natural hot-bed for it, so that it springs up quickly with abundant promise. But the very thing which favors this ready development forbids continuance.
The seed cannot root itself in the rock, and the sun withers it up. It is easy to see what is wanting here, and that the picture is of the stony heart of unbelief, unchanged, denying the Word admittance, where seeming most to receive it. Many such cases there are — where the gospel is apparently at once and with joy received, but where the immediate joy is just the sign of surface-work, and of unreality at bottom.
With such, the plowshare of conviction has never made way for the seed to penetrate. The work is mental and emotional only, not in the conscience. There has been no repentance, — no bringing down into the dust, in the consciousness of a lost, helpless, undone condition, which nothing but the blood and grace of Christ can meet. There has been no coming out of self — self-righteousness and self-sufficiency — to Him. Thus there is no root in the man himself, Christ is not his real and grand necessity.
So "when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended. It lacks the sign and seal of a work truly divine — permanence. It "dureth for awhile. It should admonish every workman who goes forth with the precious seed of the Word of God, that there is such a hasty springing up of the Word he carries, which in souls unexercised before is not to be caught at and rejoiced in, but just the contrary.
An easy passage into joy and peace, without any deep conviction, — any real taking the place of a lost sinner before God. It is not that experiences are to be preached, or trusted in by souls, for peace. Christ alone is our peace, most surely. But we should nevertheless be admonished, that if Christ came "to seek and to save the lost" and that is the gospel — "good news" — if any is men must know that they are lost in order to receive this gospel message.
This is the Scripture truth and necessity of repentance; and this is its place: "Repent ye, and receive the gospel. We come now to the third class of these hearers, to him "that received seed among the thorns. It is a more solemn warning, perhaps, than either of the others. For the Word here seems to have deeper hold, and it is not the violent assault of persecution that overthrows this faith, but the quiet influence of things in one form or another about us all.
No one of us but proves more or less how occupation with needful and lawful things tends to become a "care" that saps the life of all that is of God within us. Soul-care is not despised, but just crowded out. We all feel the tendency; and who does not remember cases such as this, of those in whom the seed of the Word apparently was springing up, and where, by no sudden assault or pressure of temptation, but just in the ordinary wear and tear of life, perhaps along with the unsuspected influence of prosperity so called, like seed among thorns, the promise of fruit was choked?
But in all three cases, let us carefully mark that, however fair the appearance, there was, at the best, no "fruit. It wrought nothing really for God in the souls of those that had it. It brought about no judgment of sin, no brokenness of heart, no turning to God: where these are, there is fruit and real faith, and eternal life. Such shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand in whom they have believed. Of the fourth class alone is it said, "He heareth the Word and understandeth it.
And what puts us into a condition for understanding the gospel is just the understanding of ourselves. Our guilt, our impotence, our full need apprehended by the soul, opens the way to apprehend the fullness and blessedness of the gospel message. If I am a sinner, and powerless by any effort of my own to get out of this place, how sweet and simple is it that Jesus died for sinners, and that through Him God "justifieth the ungodly.
I understand it. It suits me. It is worthy of God. There is no good ground, prepared to receive the seed of the gospel, save that which has been thus broken up by the conviction, not of sin only, but of helplessness. The lessons of this parable are plain enough. It teaches that the kingdom is not established by power, but by the reception of the Word, which in an adverse world is not only not universal, but often unreal where nominally it exists. It shows that the kingdom is not territorial — that in its nature it is a kingdom of the truth, whose subjects are disciples, and the introduction to which is discipling, and which grows by individual accretions.
So much is plain; and it is the foundation of all that follows. Thus it is plain that the kingdom in its present form is not to be a universal one. From that which the prophets of the Old Testament picture, it is widely distinguished. Left to man's reception of it, and not set up by the right hand of power, it is received by some, rejected by many; and even where outwardly received, in many cases no real fruit Godward is the result. There are thus "children of the kingdom" who in the end, like those among Israel, are cast out of it; and that where there is no fault with the seed or with the sowing of it, but the fault is entirely in the nature of the soil in which the seed is sown.
But that is not the whole picture by any means. We are now to see not merely the ill success of the good seed, but the result of the introduction of seed of another character, and sown by another hand, — the positive sowing of the enemy himself, and not simply his opposition to that sown by another. Thus, in the very midst of that which the first parable has shown us springing up — good wheat, although there may be many barren and blighted ears — the enemy sows, not wheat at all, but tares.
In this case, it is not the Word of Christ that is sown, clearly, but Satan's corruption of it. The springing up of the good seed could not produce tares, nor the father of lies preach truth. The enemy of Christ " His enemy," v. On the other hand, when Christ was preached, even of envy and strife, the apostle could rejoice for the same reason Phil.
But here, not the "corn of wheat," John which would bring forth wheat if it sprang up at all, but "tares" are sown; and "tares" and nothing else spring up. The word "sown," in imitation yet in real opposition to the truth, produces under a Christian name and dress a host of real enemies to the truth and to Christ, "children of the wicked one" v. All circumstances favor this seed and its growth.
It needs no nursing; will thrive amid "cares of this world," and grow up in companionship with the "deceitfulness of riches. So it prospers. And even the children of God, — nay, "the servants " v. Sad and solemn it is to see how lightly we think of error; for it is but another way of saying how lightly we value the truth. Yet by the word of truth are we begotten, and by the truth are we sanctified James ; John It is this by which we alone know either ourselves or God.
It is of the perversion of this that the apostle said, "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" Gal. The seed springs up, then, and there are now tares among the wheat. How soon that began in the professing church! Judaism, legalism, ceremonialism, and even the denial of the resurrection itself, the keystone of Christian doctrine, you may find again and again among the churches of the apostolic days; and in the sure Word of God what solemn warnings as to the future, — a future long since present.
But for the sowing of these tares, those are responsible to whom the field has been intrusted. In the case given in the first parable, they had not power to prevent the ill-success of the Word of truth in men's hearts, or the hollowness of an external profession of the truth, which yet had no proper root in the man who made it. All who "gladly received the Word upon the day of Pentecost" were baptized "the same day. Such would "immediately with joy" receive the Word, and so baptism, and be added to the disciples. It was not failure on the part of the baptizers, if such there were, for the heart they could not read.
There each man stood on his own responsibility to God. But it was a different thing when that which was not the Word, but Satan's corruption of it, began to be sown, and that in the very midst of disciples. And, once again I say, how soon that took place! Thus were the tares already manifested. Christ was denied in His own kingdom.
The question of His actual sovereignty was raised, and He must come in sovereignty and in judgment to decide that question. The servants are not competent to decide it. A solemn lesson, from which we may, if we will, learn much; while it does not teach what so many seem disposed to learn from it. For plainly, communion at the Lord's table is not at all the question here, and it is nothing less than willful blindness to persist in this application of it in the face of the manifold Scriptures which contradict it.
The Kingdom of God
What meaning could "Put out from among yourselves that wicked person," addressed to the church at Corinth, have for those who here learn from the lips of the Lord Himself, as they say, that tares and wheat are to grow up together in the church, and that it is vain and wrong to attempt any such separation? And what mean even their own feeble efforts to put out some notorious offenders, if this be so? If this be to gather up tares, why attempt it in the case of even the worst, when the principle they maintain is not to do it at all? On the other hand, this passage does teach us that it is one thing to know and own the evil that has come in, and quite another to have power or authority to set things right again.
Men slept, and the tares were sown. No after-vigilance or earnestness could repair the mischief. The gathering up must be left for angels' hands in the day of harvest. Jude's remedy for the state of things is just the same. Of the ungodly men of whom he speaks as having crept in among the disciples, he says, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, 'Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
It is quite another thing to purge ourselves, according to the apostle's word to Timothy 2 Tim. The purging of the house itself the Lord alone will and can do. Meanwhile, tares and wheat do grow together. The dishonor done to Christ in Christendom no means of ours can ever efface or rectify. No, not even the most zealous preaching of the gospel, however blessed the result of that, will ever turn the tares of Unitarianism, Universalism, annihilationism, popery, and what not, into good wheat for God's granary.
Nor can we escape their being numbered with us as Christians in the common profession of the day. If we meet them at the Lord's table, as if it were no matter, ,or we could not help it, we should proclaim ourselves "one bread, one body" with them 1 Cor. Nor if we had power, have we skill to separate infallibly the Lord's people, many of them mixed up with most of the various forms of error. He will make no mistake. And "Behold, the Lord cometh," is the only available remedy which faith looks for, for the state of things at large.
The separation, which men's hands are thus declared incompetent for, remains for angels' hands in the day of the harvest of Christendom. They are the reapers then. The field is to be cleared of wheat and tares alike; and at one moment it is bidden both to gather the tares in bundles to be burnt, and to gather the wheat into the barn.
Thus solemnly the day of Christian profession ends. But let us look a little more closely at the order and manner of it, which is of the greatest importance in order to understand it rightly. It is a separation of the tares in the field, so as to leave the wheat distinct and ready for the ingathering.
In what manner, we must refrain from conjecturing; whether it will be gradually or suddenly effected, we do not know. The separation will be, however, made, and the true people of the Lord will stand in their own distinct company at last when that day is come. There will follow then, not the removal of the tares, but of the wheat. The tares are left in bundles on the field; the wheat are gathered into the barn. We know what this is very well; and how many joyful hopes are crowded into that brief sentence. The scene is pictured for us in 1 Thess.
The descent of the Lord into the air; the shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; the resurrection of the dead in Christ, the myriads fallen asleep in Him through the ages of the past; the change of the living saints throughout the earth; the rise of that glorious company; the meeting and the welcome; the henceforth "ever with the Lord," — all these are the various parts and features of that which these words figure to us: "Gather the wheat into My barn.
And where are the barren and blighted ears of false profession? Where is he of the stony ground? We have seen that the "tares" are not simply such, but the fruit of Satan's perversion of the Word. They are not those of whom the apostle speaks as "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof;" but rather they are those, whether teachers or taught, to whom apply the words of another apostle, concerning "false teachers, who shall privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them," and whose "pernicious ways" many shall follow, "by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of" 2 Peter 2.
These are the tares of the devil's sowing, and it is important to distinguish them from the mere formalist and unfruitful professor of the truth. It is on account of these, as both Peter and Jude tell us, that the swift and terrible judgment which ends the whole comes. I cannot do more than allude to this just now: but it is completely contradicted in the words of the parable before us.
And yet the formalist, the man of mere profession, will not escape. In the judgment of the dead before the great white throne they will receive according to their deeds as surely as any, but that is long after the scene before us in this parable. Here is a simple question of good wheat for the granary or of tares for the burning. Nothing else is in the field at all. There is no middle class, no unfruitful orthodox profession; all seem to have taken sides, before the solemn close of the time of harvest, either manifestly for Christ, or as manifestly against Him.
Is this indeed so? The answer to this is a very solemn one; and we shall find it in the second epistle to the Thessalonians. In the first epistle, the apostle had spoken of "the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him. Thus, when He "appeared" to judge the world, they would appear with Him in glory Col. He could therefore in His second epistle beseech the Thessalonian Christians, by their knowledge of this coming, and this "gathering," not to be shaken in mind, or troubled, as supposing or being persuaded that the day of the Lord had already come.
That day, he assures them, shall not come unless there come a falling away an apostasy first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped. It is the only proper rendering. The generality of editors also read "the day of the Lord" instead of "the day of Christ.
Now, my object is not any special application or interpretation of this. So much is manifest, that this "man of sin," whoever he may be, is one who heads up an, or rather "the" apostasy of the latter days. The evil, the mystery of iniquity, was already at work even in the apostles' days v. There was, however, for the present, a restraint upon it. When that should be removed, the wicked one would be revealed, who was to be destroyed alone, mark, by the Lord's coming v.
Thus we are evidently in view of the same period as that contemplated in the parable before us, as well as of the judgment which Jude warns of. The passage in the Thessalonians exhibits, however, the "man of sin" as the distinct head and leader of the latter-day apostasy, and, moreover, declares to us how far this apostasy shall extend. The coming of the "wicked one" is declared to be with a terrible power of delusion which will carry away captive the masses of the unconverted among professing Christians until none of that middle or neutral class remain.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they may believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" v. Thus terribly shall close the history of Christendom. The true saints once taken out of it, the door of grace will be closed forever upon those who have rejected grace. They will be given over to become, as they speedily will become, from being unbelievers of the truth, believers of a lie. The wheat being gathered out of the field, tares alone will be found in it.
The actual burning of the tares is not found in the parable itself, but in the interpretation of it which the Lord afterward gives to His disciples. 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; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" v.
This is when the Lord comes as Son of Man to take that throne which He has promised to share with His people. Then, when the time of "patience" is over, and the rod of iron shall break in pieces all resistance to the King of kings. Then "judgment" — long separated from it — "shall return unto righteousness," and the earth shall be freed from the yoke of oppression and the bondage of corruption. It is the time of which the thirty-seventh Psalm speaks, when "evil doers shall be cut off: but those who wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth" v.
Sometime before will the gathering for heaven have taken place, and the saints have met their Lord, as we have seen.
Seven Truths From Jesus Christ About the Real Secret: The Kingdom of God
Now, in this day of the judgment, which prepares the way for the blessing of the earth, they are seen in their heavenly place. But "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. With Christ, like Him, they shine; themselves subject in one sphere, if rulers in another; but subject with all the heart's deep devotion, where service is fullest liberty, serving as sons Him whom they call, at the same time, God and Father.
Thus we have compassed the whole history of the kingdom of the absent One, up to its solemn close in judgment at His coming. The two parables now before us take us back from this, to look at the same scenes in other aspects. And the two parables, however dissimilar in other respects, have this in common wherein they differ from the former two , that they speak, not of individuals, but of the mass, as such. They give us the outward form as well as the inward spiritual reality of what Christendom as a whole becomes — of what it has become, we may very simply say, for the facts are plain enough to all, whether men question or not the application of the parables to those facts.
Of this parable the Lord gives us no direct interpretation. It is stated, however, to be another similitude of the same kingdom spoken of by the former ones. And as Scripture must ever be its own interpreter, and we are certainly intended to understand the Lord's words here, we may be confident the key to the understanding of it is not far off.
Let any one read the following passage from the book of Daniel, and say if it does not furnish that key at once the words are the words of the king of Babylon. The tree grew and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth. The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it" Dan.
This is interpreted of the king himself v. But the strange thing in Matt. For the seed, here as elsewhere, is "the Word of the kingdom" v. And we have seen already how men treated that Word. The kingdom of the Crucified could have but little attraction for the children of the men who crucified Him. Human hearts are sadly too much alike for that. How could, then, a great worldly power come of the sowing of the gospel in the world?
Granted that it has become this, is this a sign for good, or the reverse? How could "My kingdom is not of this world" shape with this? And what proper mastery of this world could there be, — what overcoming of its evil with divine good, where three parts of the professed disciples were, according to the first parable, unfruitful hearers merely, and according to the second, Satan's tares had been sown broadcast among the wheat? But if we want plain words as to all this, we may find them in abundance; and if, on the one hand, we know by what is round us that professing Christianity has become a power in the world, we may know on the other, both by practical experience and the sure Word of God, that it has become such by making its terms of accommodation with the world.
It has bought off the old, inherent enmity of the world at the cost of its Lord's dishonor, by the sacrifice of its own divine, unworldly principles. He who runs may read the "perilous times" of the latter days written upon the forefront of the present days 2 Tim. Yes, the little seed has become indeed a tree, but the "birds of the air" are in its branches. Satan himself cp. The opposition to Christ and His truth is from within now, instead of from without; none the less on that account, but all the more deadly. Rome is the loudest assertor of this claim of power in the world, and what has Rome not done to maintain her claim?
Her photograph is in Rev. Successor to the "tree"-like power of old Babel, she is called "Babylon the Great. And alas! This is the full ripe result. The beginning of it is already seen at Corinth even in the apostle's day: "Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised" 1 Cor. Thus early was the little seed developing; thus quickly did the Christianity of even apostolic days diverge from that of the apostles.
Paul lived to say of the scene of his earliest and most successful labors, "All that are in Asia have departed from me. Men that quote to us the Christianity of a hundred or two hundred years from that had need to pause and ask themselves what type of it they are following, — whether that of degenerate Asia, or "honorable," worldly Corinth, or what else. That is the external view, then, which this parable presents, of the state of the kingdom during the King's absence. It had struck its roots down deep into the earth and flourished.
Such a power in the world is Christendom this day. Beneath its ample cloak of respectable profession it has gathered in the hypocrite, the formalist, the unfruitful, — in short, the world; and the deadliest foes of Christ and of His cross are those nurtured in its own bosom. Now what is "leaven"? It is a figure not unfrequently used in Scripture, and it will not be hard to gather up the instances to which it is applied and explained in the New Testament. We surely cannot go wrong in allowing it thus to interpret itself to us, instead of following our own conjectures.
In 1 Cor. 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; 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. There the "leaven" is moral evil, as in the Gospels it was doctrinal evil. In Gal. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
This persuasion cometh not from Him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. If we take Scripture, then, as its own interpreter, it must be admitted that "leaven" is always a figure of evil, moral or doctrinal, never of good. But it is possible to define its meaning and that of the parable still more clearly. It is Lev. Among the offerings which this book opens with all of which, I need scarce say, speak of Christ , the meat or "food" offering is the only one in which no life is taken, no blood shed.
It is an offering of "fine flour," — Christ, not in the grace, therefore, of His atoning death, but in His personal perfectness and preciousness as the bread of life, offered to God, no doubt, and first of all satisfying Him, but as that, man's food also, as He declares, "He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me" John Now it is with this meat-offering that leaven is positively forbidden to be mixed v. Now in the parable, the "three measures of meal" are just this "fine flour" of the offering. The words are identical in meaning.
The flour is man's food, plainly, as the offering is, and thus interpreted spiritually can alone apply to Christ. But here, the woman is doing precisely the thing forbidden in the law of the offering, — she is mixing the leaven with the fine flour. She is corrupting the pure "bread of life" with evil and with error.
And who is this "woman" herself? There is meaning, surely, in the figure. And he who only remembers Eph. It may be also, as we have already seen, the figure of the professing body, as the "woman," Babylon the Great, is. In this sense, the whole parable itself is simple. It is the too fitting climax of what has preceded it: it is she who has drugged the cup in Rev.
The "leaven of the Pharisees" legality and superstition , the "leaven of the Sadducees" infidelity and rationalism , the "leaven of Herod" courtierlike pandering to the world , things not of past merely, but of current history, have been mixed with and corrupted the truth of God. All must own this, whatever his own point of view. The Romanists will say Protestants have done so; the Protestants will in turn accuse Rome; the myriads of jarring sects will tax each other; the heathen will say to one and all, "We know not which of you to believe; each contradicts and disagrees with the other.
Go and settle your own differences first, and then come, if you will, to us. The leaven is leavening the whole lump. The evil is nowise diminishing, but growing worse. No doubt God is working. And no doubt, as long as the Lord has a people in the midst of Christendom, things will not be permitted to reach the extreme point. But the tendency is downward; and once let that restraint be removed, the apostasy which we have seen Scripture predicts will then have come.
But men do not like to think of this. And I am prepared for the question one which people have often put, where these things have been so stated how can the kingdom of heaven be like "leaven" if leaven be always evil. Must not the figure here have a different meaning from that which you have given it? Must it not be a figure rather of the secret yet powerful influence of the gospel, permeating and transforming the world?
This is contrary to the tenor of Scripture, which assures us that, instead of Christianity working real spiritual transformation of the world at large, the "mystery of iniquity" was already "working" in the apostle's days in it, and that it would work on though for a certain season under restraint until the general apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin 2 Thess. It is contrary to the tenor of these parables themselves, which have already shown us in the very first of them how little universal would be the reception of the truth: three out of four casts of seed failing to bring forth fruit.
The language from which this is argued — "the kingdom of heaven is like unto it" — does not simply mean that it is itself like "leaven," as they put it, but like "leaven leavening three measures of meal. Let any one compare the language of the second parable with this, and he cannot fail to see the truth of this. Is it not plain that the kingdom is no more simply compared to the "leaven" in verse 33 than to the "man" in verse 24?
In each case the whole parable is the likeness. The kingdom, therefore, need not be bad because the leaven is, nor the leaven good because the kingdom is. And into a picture of the kingdom in its present form evil may — and, alas! There is indeed but too plain consistency in the view of the kingdom which these parables present; and a uniform progression of evil and not of good.
First, the ill success of the good seed in the first parable; then, the introduction and growth of bad seed in the second. Then the whole form and fashion of the kingdom changes into the form and fashion of one of the kingdoms of the world. This is the Babylonish captivity of the Church. And lastly, the very food of the children of God is tampered with, and corrupted, until complete apostasy from the faith ensues. Christ is wholly lost, and Antichrist is come. Here, thank God, the darkness has its bound; and in the last three parables of the chapter, we are to see another side of things, and trace that work of God which never ceases amid all the darkness; His — Whose "every act pure blessing is; His path, unsullied light.
The three parables which remain to be considered have found interpretations more various and conflicting than the preceding ones, and require, therefore, an examination proportionately the more careful. The former were all spoken with the exception of the interpretation of the second one, in the presence of the whole multitude, and they refer to a condition of things to which the world at large is this day witness.
But "Then," we read, these four parables having been delivered, "Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house, and His disciples came unto Him" v. To these alone He speaks the parables which follow, for they contain, not external history merely, but the divine mind surely fulfilling amid all this outward confusion and ruin, which the former parables have shown Him not ignorant of who foretold it from the beginning. For as there are seven in all, the number from creation onward the type and symbol of completeness, — so this number seven is divided further into four and three.
Here, then, the first four parables give us the world-aspect of the kingdom of heaven; the last three, the divine mind accomplishing with regard to it. It will not be necessary to advert to different views prevailing as to the meaning of the parables before us, but only to seek to show from Scripture itself, as fully as possible, the grounds for that which will here be considered as the true.
The first two parables we shall put together, as they invite comparison by their evident resemblance to one another: —. The parables are alike in this, that they both present to us the action of a man who purchases what has value in his eyes at the cost of all he has.
The question is, who is presented here? The common voice replies that it is man as the seeker of salvation or of Christ, — that we have here the story of individual effort after the "one thing needful," flinging aside all other things in order to obtain it. But is this consistent with the constant representations of Scripture, or with the facts themselves? Do we thus buy Christ at the cost of all we have? It is true we have in the prophet the exhortation to "buy" Isa. But there that there may be no mistake in such a matter , the "buying" is distinctly said to be "without money and without price.
The prodigal seeks, but not until perishing with hunger. He comes back beggared, driven by necessity, and only so. And all who have ever come back really to the Father know this to be the truthful representation of the matter. The figure in both parables is most evidently His. The same Person is represented in each, and the same work too, though under different aspects. In the first parable, it is treasure hid in a field that is the object of the Buyer.
So in this parable He is represented as buying "that field" — buying the world. He buys the field to get the treasure in it.
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Most certainly no man ever bought the world to get Christ, so that the believer is not the "man" represented in the parable. Did Christ, then, buy the world by His sufferings? Turn to the last chapter of this gospel, and hear Him say, as risen from the dead, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and earth. Thus He takes the throne in the day of His appearing and His kingdom.
It is because of that wondrous descent of One "in the form of God" down to the fathomless depths of "the death of the cross," that "therefore bath God highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name above every name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" Phil.
It is that explains, what perplexes some, that Peter can speak of those who, "denying the Lord that bought them, bring upon themselves swift destruction" 2 Peter These are not at all redeemed ones, but they are "bought," for all men and all the world belong to Him as the fruit of His sufferings, — of that cross, where He, for the sake of that which had beauty in His eyes, sold all that He had. Thus I conceive it unquestionable, that it is Christ Himself who is the central figure in these two parables. We may now compare the two sides of His work presented in them.
In that of the treasure, we have seen it is the field of the "world" that is bought for the sake of the treasure in it; while in that of the pearl, no field is bought at all, but simply the pearl itself. Are these two figures, then, the treasure and the pearl, different aspects of the same thing, or different things?
If we look for a moment at what has been already pointed out as to "the kingdom of heaven" of which these parables are both similitudes, we shall see that there are two spheres which it embraces, answering to those words of the Lord we have just quoted, "All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. But before "the appearing and kingdom," this purpose having been accomplished, and the heavenly saints caught up to meet the Lord, — He will gather to Himself, for blessing upon the earth, a remnant of Israel and an election of the Gentiles.
Take the two purposes of Christ's death as expressed in John , 52, you have it as the inspired comment upon Caiaphas' advice to the Jewish council, — "And this spake he, not of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only," adds the inspired writer, "but that also He should gather together in one the children of God which are scattered abroad. Is it not, then, permissible and natural to turn to the other with the anticipation of finding in it "that nation" of Israel, for which also Jesus died, under the figure of the "treasure hid in the field"?
Thus would Israel on the one hand and the Church upon the other be the representatives of earthly and of heavenly blessing: the Gentile nations coming in to share with Israel the one as the departed saints of the past dispensations come in to share with the Church the other.
The reason why these two alone should be spoken of, and not along with the Church the saints of former times, or along with Israel the Gentiles of the future, will, I think, be plain to those who consider the Scripture mode of putting these same things. Thus to Israel belong the "promises," as Rom. The Gentiles no more come into view there than they do in the parable of the treasure here. Yet many a Scripture promises the blessing of the Gentiles on a future day. But they come in under the skirts of the now despised Jew Zech.
Then again, as to the Church, it is the only company of people gathered openly and avowedly for heavenly blessing. And moreover, it is the company that is being gathered now, and began to be with the sowing of the gospel-seed in the first parable of those before us. But at the time when He who had so chosen them came unto His own, there was but little appearance in the condition of the people of the place they had thus in Jehovah's heart.
They were even then scattered among the Gentiles. The figure of the treasure hid in the field was the true similitude of their condition, watched over as "beloved for the father's sake," and yet trodden down by the foot of the oppressor, to none but Him who yet longed over them known as having preciousness for God. But there was One who recognized the value of this treasure.
And those who knew best His thoughts were ever expecting the time when He would bring forth this treasure and display it openly. That question which they had proposed to Him after His resurrection shows what had long been in their hearts, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And they understood not when they saw the gleam of brightness which had shone out for them when He rode in the meekest of triumphs, amidst the acclamations of the multitude, into Jerusalem, fade and die out in the midday darkness which so shortly after fell on Calvary. They understood not yet how He was in all this but the "man" in His own parable, who, finding treasure in the field, hideth it, and for joy thereof goeth forth and selleth all that He bath, and buyeth that field.
And the treasure is hidden still. Calvary is come and gone, — Joseph's new tomb is emptied of its Guest, — they have stood upon the mount called Olivet, and seen Him whom they have owned King of the Jews go up to take another throne than that of David. Then they are found charging the people with their denial of the Holy One and the Just, bidding them still repent and be converted, and even now, He who had left them would be sent back to them, and the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord.
Scenes before the council follow; one at last in which a man, whose face shines with the glory of heaven, stands and charges the leaders of the nation with the accumulated guilt of ages, — "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do alway resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. Those that were bidden have been called to the marriage, and they will not come.
The city is destroyed, and the people scattered. Israel are still a treasure hid. The parable gives no bringing forth. Simply the field is bought. It is now but "Ask, and I will give Thee. But He waits, and has waited for nearly twenty centuries, as if the treasure were nothing to Him now and He had forgotten His purpose.
Then the second parable comes in as what is needed by way of explanation of the long delay. The "one pearl of great price" speaks of the preciousness to Him of another object upon which He has set His heart. Israel has still the earthly "promises. This Church is one — one pearl. Brought up out of the depth of the sea, and taken out of the rough shell in which it is first incased — taken out at the cost of the life of that to which it owes its being, the pearl is a fitting type of that which has been drawn out of the sea of Gentile waters, and out of the roughness of its natural condition, at the cost of the life of Him in whom it was seen and chosen before the foundation of the world.
Of how "great price" to Him, that death of His may witness. The title which the Christian heart so commonly and naturally takes to be His alone, it is sweet to see that His heart can give His people. We, dear fellow believers, are His precious pearl. Nor is there any "hiding again" here, or suspension of this purpose. This is the second meaning of the cross, "who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. In the last chapter of this final three, we find, as I believe, not another aspect of the divine dealings with the mingled crop in the field of Christendom, but a new acting, whether in grace or judgment, after the merchant man has possessed himself of his pearl, or in other words, after the saints of the past and present time are caught up to Christ.
So shall it be at the end of the world or age : the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" v. The parable closes thus in so far, just as the parable of the tares of the field, with the judgment executed at the appearing of the Lord. The common application of it is to the going forth of the gospel during the present time, and the final separation of bad and good when the Lord comes.
That is, the meaning is considered to be almost identical with the tare-parable. I believe there are some plain reasons against such an interpretation. For, in the first place, the parallelism of the two parables in that case is certainly against it. There would be little in the picture of the net cast into the sea that was not simply repetition of what had already been given. And this, at first sight, would not seem natural Or likely. But beside this, it is to be considered that Scripture plainly gives us another going forth of the gospel of the kingdom, and as the result of it a discriminative judgment when the Son of Man comes, apart altogether from the present going forth of the gospel, and the judgment of the tares of Christendom.
The company of sheep and goats in Matt. For there will be no such separation as is there depicted between these sheep and goats, of the true and false among Christian professors, "when the Son of Man shall" have "come in His glory. The judgment of Christendom will not then be discriminative at all: the wheat having been already removed from the field, tares alone will remain in it. Thus in Matt. But after the saints of the present time have been caught up to the Lord, and Christendom has become a tare-field simply, a new work of the Lord will begin in Israel and among the surrounding nations, to gather out a people for earthly blessing.
The Mystery of the Kingdom G.E. Ladd
It is when God's judgments are upon the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. And this will be a time of "great tribulation," such as for Israel Matt. Antichrist is there, and the "abomination of desolation" stands in the holy place; yet amid all the evil and sorrow of the time, the "everlasting gospel" goes forth Rev.
Plainly, one could not say that yet. We say it is "the accepted time, the day of salvation," not of judgment. Only after the present day is closed could the everlasting gospel be preached after that fashion, — the old "gospel of the kingdom" indeed, but with the new addition to it of the hour of God's judgment being come. It is this proclamation of the everlasting gospel that is the key to that company of sheep and goats standing before the throne of the Son of Man when He is come.
Now, if we look a little closely, it is just such a state of things as that amid which the everlasting gospel goes forth, that this parable brings before us. A "net cast into the sea" is the picture of the gospel going forth in the midst of unquiet and commotion, the lawless will of man at work every where, the wicked "like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt" Isa.
Moreover, if we turn to the very earliest of Scripture types — to Genesis 1 — we shall find confirmation of this view, which is exceedingly striking. In those creative days we find, day by day, the successive steps by which God brought out of ruin the beauty of a scene where at length He could rest, because all was "very good. These days in their respective meaning it is not the place here to point out. The third day, however, speaks of the separation of Israel from among the Gentiles.
The waters of the salt and barren sea are the representative of man left to the lusts and passions of his own heart according to the figure in Isaiah just referred to , or in other words, the Gentiles. The third day speaks of this separation of Israel from the Gentiles, as the first parable of the three we are now looking at speaks of her as God's earthly treasure. This is a scene all on earth. The next creative day gives us however, the furnishing of the heavens, as we have already seen the second parable of the "pearl" does. And if the sun be a type of Christ as it surely is , that which brings in and rules the day, — the moon is no less a type of the Church, the reflection, however feeble and unstable, of Christ to the world in the night of His absence.
The present time, then, is here figured, — the time of the revelation, in testimony, both of Christ and of the Church. And now, if we pass on to the sixth day, we have as plainly in figure the kingdom of Christ come. The rule of the man and woman over the earth, — not rule over the clay or night, not the light of testimony, but rule over the earth itself, — is a picture of what we call millennial blessing.
Finally, in this series comes the Sabbath, God's own rest: He sanctifies the whole day, and blesses it; no other day succeeds. Now between the fourth and the sixth days, the Church and the millennial dispensations, what intervenes? A period, short indeed in duration, but important enough to occupy thirteen out of the twenty-two chapters of the book of Revelation: the very time to which, as I believe, the parable of the net refers.
And then, what is its type, if the fifth day represents it?
- The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Eyes Like the Sea?
- Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Once again, the "sea," but the waters now supernaturally productive, teeming with life through the fiat of the Almighty. And so it will be in the day of Rev. These are the gathering out of the people for earthly blessing, as the fruit of the everlasting gospel. These passages, then, mutually confirm each other as applying to a time characterized by Gentile lawlessness, Israel fully partaking of this character, and not yet owned of God, though He be working in her midst.
Into this "sea" the net is cast, and, gathering of every kind, when it is full, is drawn to shore.