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Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Sower and the Seed – Matthew 13:3-23

        The first parable about the kingdom of heaven is about the Sower, the seed and the soils. Perhaps Jesus from the boat saw a farmer sowing seed in a field. He would use this “natural” event to teach the multitudes and his disciples about the “spiritual” kingdom of heaven.
In biblical times, a farmer would have a bag of seed that he would throw out by hand to the ground. They didn’t have machines that tilled the soil and made straight rows for the seed as we do today. The seed would grow where it was tossed. Apparently in the field, there were hardened paths that the sowers had walked on making the soil compressed and hard. There were also rocky sections and places where thorns were growing. Then there were sections that were fertile ground with no obstacles. If a wind came up, it would scatter the seed that had been tossed. In the “spiritual,” the wind of the Holy Spirit scatters the seed of the Word to humanity.
Luke in 8:11 says that “the seed is the Word of God,” and Mark calls it “the Word.” Matthew says it is the “message of the Kingdom.”
            Jesus is sowing the Seed of His Word from the boat to different types of hearts. The Seed of God, Jesus, who is the Word of God in fullness, had to be removed from earth in His physical form so the Holy Spirit could be poured out on all flesh and scatter the Seed of His Word  to the four corners of the earth.   

The Sower

        Jesus is the Supreme Sower as the Living Word of God. All Truth is in Him. His “seed” began in a small (humble) section of the land of Israel. For the seed to grow, it must be planted in the ground. Jesus had to die in His flesh body, so the seed of His Word could grow and multiply through the Holy Spirit of Truth and His disciples. John 13:16: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and He will tell you things to come.” The kingdom of God began in little, humble Israel. Jesus, the Savior of the world, planted His seed of Truth in the small nation of Israel in the hearts and minds of both Jews and Gentiles in the land. His Word has now spread throughout the world. God does not despise small beginnings, and He loves humble hearts.
            Jesus will reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of God to His disciples who will in turn cast the Seed of Truth to others. Those who love and follow Jesus become sowers of truth also. Before one can be a sower, however, he or she must first be a receiver and eater of the Word. Then they can be a sower of the seed of God’s Word, and God mysteriously will do His part in making it take root and grow in the hearts and minds of some who receive it. The Word of God is powerful and can give spiritual life and reproduce itself by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the natural, God sends the rain, dew, and the sun to cause earthly, sown seed to grow. In the spiritual, He sends the dew and rain of His Holy Spirit to water the sown seed of the Word, along with the Light of the Son to cause His spiritual seed to grow. Mankind does not have the power to make the seed grow in the hearts of the hearers. The power of God must do this. The life placed within the Seed of the Word is by God Himself! The task of the believer is to know and understand the Truth and send it forth to others as clearly as possible. God will give the increase.
             Not everyone will receive the seed of truth we sow by faith. That is not our concern. We are to continue sowing and God will produce the results. God wants that none will perish, but there will be those who reject God and His Truth as Jesus indicated in this parable. The Seed of the Word will not be received by the hardened heart, but to those who are spiritually sensitive and open to receive it more revelation of truth will be given. (see Matthew 13:12) Those who receive and understand Jesus’ parables are truly blessed.
            There is another sower – the devil. He will sow false truth and twist God’s Word to change its meaning in order to manipulate and weaken God’s people. God told His people in the Law that they were not to plant mixed seed. Deuteronomy 22:9-11: Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled. There are two types of spiritual seed that can be sown – the good seed (Truth) and the evil seed (untruth). If you mix these, the fruit of the vineyard (Christ’s Church) will be defiled. The devil is not only in the world sowing untruth, he is also in the Church sowing untruth. For this reason, we are to hunger and thirst for the truth of the Word of God. When Jesus was speaking His parables, there was a gross rebellion of unbelief and spiritual misunderstanding of God’s Word.
God’s Word will divide the believer from the unbeliever, then multiply and unite believers by the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit. Unity can only come through pure truth. If false truth is being spoken, it will divide rather than unite. Love for Jesus, faith and obedience to His Word will indicate whether one is in the kingdom of God or not.
In this parable, Jesus made the distinction between the crowds and His disciples. His disciples at times didn’t fully understand Jesus’ words, but they followed Him by faith and asked Jesus to interpret His words for them when they didn’t understand. Jesus gave His disciples further revelation but not to those who rejected Him and His teachings. Some of the hearers even accused Him of being satanic.
        This parable of Christ is an important one in its depth of teaching about the seed of the Word being sown and how it works in the field of spiritual life. The soil conditions will affect its growth in the heart of the hearer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Seven Parables of the Mysterious Kingdom of God -- Matthew 13

 Why Jesus spoke in Parables 
        Jesus came to earth not only to save lost humanity but to also draw people into His Kingdom. Those who reject Jesus and His words like the Pharisees, Sadducees, many Jews and Gentiles cannot understand the mysteries of His Kingdom and are therefore spiritually blind and deaf. Jesus called them “blind leaders of the blind.”  Matthew 15:14
           Jesus used the 7 parables of Matthew 13 to speak truth about His Kingdom, its growth and the separation at the end of the age. These seven parables have a paralleled theme. The word parable comes from the word "parabole," which means to "cast alongside." Jesus cast His kingdom truth alongside an earthly event. Within His parables is Divine truth. Jesus used the things of the earth (natural) to reveal spiritual truth. Why? Jesus is Divine Truth, and because all things were created through Him, He understands all things. The Bible says that "the earth is full of God's glory." Therefore, the whole earth has a divine message from Him.
          Therefore, I speak to them in parables because while seeing, they do not see and while hearing, they do not hear, nor do they understand." Jesus is showing these religious leaders that He and they are fulfilling Isaiah 6:10. Jesus ‘words show the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and the will of God as well as the rebellion of unbelief and a lack of spiritual knowledge by the multitudes.
Often Jesus’ parables are double-edged. They divide the true believer from the unbeliever. Because the Pharisees and other unbelievers had hard and unbelieving hearts, they could not see the truth of God’s Kingdom. The Pharisees were teachers of the law and should have seen through Jesus’ words and actions that He was the Messiah for whom they had been awaiting. Jesus kept quoting the very Older Testament scriptures He was fulfilling in their seeing and hearing. Because of their unbelief of Jesus, they did not see that the Kingdom of God had come. They expected an earthly Messiah (king) who would defeat their earthly enemies and set up his kingdom in earthly Israel. Jesus’ kingdom is eternal and spiritual. During His millennial reign, Jesus will establish an earthly, spiritual kingdom in the land of Israel, but ultimately His Kingdom will be an eternal heavenly Kingdom. The earthly kingdom and the heavenly Kingdom will become one in Him.
          While on earth, Jesus wants His disciples to know the character of His Kingdom that they must accept and obey.

Jesus Teaches a Crowd

        Jesus begins by speaking His parables to the multitudes. Because the crowd was getting so large, Jesus " got into a boat, sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach." The One who walks on water is in a boat teaching. The symbolism of Jesus walking on water in the gospels is that He walks on the water of Divine Truth and He wants His disciples to also do so if they are to be effective in establishing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus is the Divine Teacher; the crowd are the hearers. There is a marked difference in the hearing of those hearing His words.
 Perhaps it was a fishing boat that Jesus sat in a few feet from shore, since He is the Divine fisher of men who uses His Divine Word anointed by the Holy Spirit to draw people to Him. Here Jesus teaches His Word on the earthly water as the Holy Spirit teaches people today on the water of the Word anointed by the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus is the Anointed Word, all truth leads to Him.
The truth was veiled to those who didn’t believe in Jesus. His disciples already believed in and knew Jesus, so He did not have to reveal Himself to them. He came to not only save but also to call people into His Kingdom that He will reveal. Jesus had already said that the “Kingdom of God is at hand.” (see Mark 1:15) It was at hand in Him and is different from an earthly kingdom.
The parables of Jesus will harden the hearts of some but enlighten His disciples.  This is the double-edged sword of His Word. The prophet Amos spoke of a time when there would be a famine of the hearing of the Word of God. “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” Amos 8:11 This was true during the two testaments of the Word. God was silent for over 400 years! It is also true when Jesus walked the earth. Many would not hear the truth of His Words.
 Jesus tells His disciples that their “eyes are blessed, because you see; and your ears, because you hear.” 13:16 after quoting Isaiah 6:9-10 about those who “keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.”  Jesus went on to say,  “For truly 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.” 13:17 Many of those under the Law could not understand the words of Jesus because of their rejection of Jesus who is Divine Truth. The Older Testament prophets and believers only saw in part, but Jesus is the fullness of God’s Truth. His disciples are seeing and hearing from Jesus face-to-face.  Those with spiritual eyes and ears are blessed. Although Christ’s followers have the whole Word of God and Jesus’ words, we too only see in part, “for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 We too will eventually see Jesus face to face and fully understand everything the Word of God speaks.
In revealing the Kingdom of heaven, Jesus begins most of the parables in Matthew 13 with, “the kingdom of heaven is like…..” This parable on the Sower and the seed was so important that it is recorded in three gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke 8:4-6 reveals that people from each city were coming to hear Jesus.

                                                         (to be continued)

Monday, March 23, 2020

Parable of the Dragnet -- Part 2

For Part 1, go to my website: www.sandrakingministries.com

        Jesus says that “the Kingdom of Heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones.” Matthew 13:47-48

Separation of fish began in the Older Testament. God made a distinction in the Law about what He considers clean and unclean fish. The Older Testament always ties into the New Testament. In the Law, God is distinguishing between earthly (natural) fish that are edible from those that are not. Jesus takes the natural into the spiritual because He is spiritual.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Clean and Unclean Fish According to the Law – Leviticus 11:9

        “This is what you may eat from all that is in the water: You may eat everything in the water that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or streams. But these are abhorrent to you: everything in the seas or streams that does not have fins and scales among all the swarming things and other living creatures in the water. They are to remain abhorrent to you….”    Vv9-12  In the Law, God had restrictions upon what the Israelites were to consume. He had clean and unclean animals, aquatic animals, birds, flying insects, swarming creatures. God distinguishes between the clean and the unclean. God is teaching His people about clean and unclean, holy and unholy, so they will receive the fullness of His blessing. In the New Testament, God distinguishes between the righteous (clean) and the wicked (unclean). It is not what we eat that concerns the Lord in the New Testament, but how we walk. Are we walking in the righteousness of God in Christ? God wants to us to differentiate between the holy and the profane and between truth and false doctrine.

 Peter in the New Testament had a vision of clean and unclean in Acts 10:11-47.  In God’s vision to Peter, the sky opened and “an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” V11-14 Peter was a Jew who obeyed the Law. He did not want to disobey it. God came to him a second time and said, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” God was using the clean and unclean of the Law to speak a spiritual truth to Peter. God tells Peter that he is to no longer consider what God has cleansed as unholy. Peter did not understand what God was saying to him at first. Everyone who believes in Jesus are considered clean to God. They have been cleansed by the water and blood that flowed from Jesus’ side.  Peter was somewhat confused by this. It was when he got to the house of Cornelius that Peter understood the vision. He knew that God did not show partiality “but in every nation the person who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all_-- (both Jew and Gentile). Israel as well as the Gentiles must receive God’s Son Jesus in order to be declared clean in God’s eyes.

The dragnet is the final parable of the seven in Matthew 13. The fishnet and catch of fish represent the final judgment. Hebrews 9:27-28

“Do you understand these things?” Jesus asks His disciples – Matthew 13:51

        It was important to Jesus that His disciples understand what He was teaching them in the parables. They answered, “yes.”  It is important to Jesus that His disciples understand and know the Truth. Jesus told His disciples in John 15:15 and Matthew 13:16-17 that they are blessed because they see (understand) and hear the truth. “For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people (Older Testament saints) longed to see the things you see but didn’t see them, to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.” In John 15: 15, Jesus tells His disciples, “I have called you friends because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.”  A friend learns who we are and love us. Those who love Jesus and learn of Him are His friends. 

The Storehouse of Truth  (The Head of the Household)

        Jesus is the storehouse of Truth and the Head of God’s House. He is the Truth – the Word of God – brought to life. After His disciples said they understood, Jesus told them that “every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom treasures new and old.” Matthew 13:52    Jesus is the only way you can become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven. The only way you can know and understand His truth – the Word of God – is to work hard studying it. He wants us to hunger and thirst for His truth to free our spirit even more than we hunger and thirst for earthly food to feed our bodies. Jesus upholds His House by His Truth.

            Jesus says every teacher of the Law who becomes His disciple should bring treasures out of His storeroom both new and old – out of the Old and New Testaments. The Godhead used the “earthly” in the Older Testament to paint a picture of the New in Christ. We are to draw truths from the Older Testament as well as see their fulfillment in the teachings and acts of Jesus. Jesus brought the Older Testament scriptures into the New to show that He was fulfilling that scripture in their seeing and in their hearing.

There is a distinction between the Old and the New. But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been established on better promises. For if the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second one.” Hebrews 8:6-7 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days: I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.”

            It is the fullness of Truth in Jesus and the New Testament that helps us understand the Older Testament. Jesus fulfilled and explained the Older Testament, so His disciples understood. We must appreciate the treasure of the Word of God that He has given us. The Older Testament points us to Christ. Knowledge and understanding of the Word is the purpose and duty of the Body of Christ. Those who follow Christ’s teachings are taught about the kingdom of heaven and do it. They are knowledgeable and full of wisdom. They will instruct others in both the Older and New Testaments. Peter did this in His first sermon in Acts 2:14-16. Paul also did this. It is thought that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews which contrasts the Old with the New.

           Proverbs 24:3-4: By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

           Proverbs 3:13-15: How blessed is the person who finds wisdom and the person who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her.

        The promises made to the patriarchs were not made through Law, but through faith. Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law opened the door for the Gentiles to be included in the promise God gave to Abraham that through Abraham’s natural see a spiritual Seed Jesus would come to conquer the land of earth and multiply like the stars of heaven.

        The dragnet is used in the last chapter of John. Some of Jesus’ disciples are fishing with a dragnet when Jesus in His resurrected body appeared on the shore.  While He was on earth in His flesh body, He taught the parable of the dragnet to His disciples. He returns to them in His resurrected body to find them fishing with a dragnet. He will use this fishing trip to further teach them about His Kingdom. Jesus had told them earlier that they would be “fishers of men.”