But look what God promises.
Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven
Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains [artesian wells] in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. Can you imagine such a fabulous scene?
Deserts becoming green, fertile, garden lands of trees, shrubs, bubbling springs and brooks; mountains brought low, and made inhabitable. Some years ago, in a dry, dusty canyon deep in the profusion of hills between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, California, a minor earthquake struck. The proprietors of a small resort, now almost totally ignored, and nearly always deserted because of the parched conditions of the area, were considering closing up and moving elsewhere.
Suddenly, a groaning, jolting earthquake rippled through the arid hills. Not long after the earth rocked and groaned beneath their feet, they heard a faint gurgling sound. They ran to the dry, dusty creek bed that coursed through their property—and were utterly amazed to see water flowing swiftly along. As the creek gradually cleared up, they found the water to be crystal clear and pure—sweet and refreshing to drink. Somehow, the earthquake had broken open an underground water source, sending it cascading through their property. Think about the vast wastes of this earth.
Does it sound incredible, unbelievable that God could make them blossom like a rose? Why should it? The mountains were formed. Great forces caused gigantic upheavals, or huge cracks and slippages in the crust of the earth. Massive blocks of granite lunged up into the sky—the earth rocking and reeling in the throes of the greatest earthquakes in its history. The God of all power, who formed the hills and mountains Amos ; Psalm , will reform them—will reshape the surface of this earth.
Read of the huge earthquakes yet to come that will directly accomplish much of the rehabilitation of the land surfaces. See Revelation ; Zechariah Man recognizes much of the wealth of the world lies beneath the seas. Oil, gold, silver, and dozens of minerals—these all remain unobtainable today, lying untapped deep under the vast oceans. Many areas of the earth are ravaged by tidal action—by the ceaseless pounding of the surf that gradually wears away additional land. The lowlands of Europe, Holland in particular, consist to quite an extent of land reclaimed from the sea. And God says they shall be!
When Jesus Christ becomes the great Ruler of this earth, he will use that great power. In vision, John saw the angels praising Christ at his coming to rule this earth. The combined force of right education about true health, and healing of all sickness, when it is repented of, will mean perfect, utopian health.
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. God describes the rewards for obedience to his laws of mercy and love. Why should we be so willing to believe such a perfect state of health and joy is impossible?
Why are all these scriptures ignored by professing Christian preaching? Instead they picture going to heaven with idleness and ease and no accomplishment. There are blessings for observing the laws of health—absolute guarantees good health will result—and that sickness and disease will become in the third and fourth generations a thing of the past. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Also, God shows individual races returning to their own lands, repopulating them.
Read the whole chapter of Ezekiel Think what an almost unbelievable step forward it would be, if all nations and peoples everywhere spoke, and read, and wrote the same language. But today, vast areas of the earth do not even possess a written language. Millions upon millions are illiterate—cannot read or write, even their own names. Once the returning Christ conquers this earth, he will usher in an era of total literacy, total education—and give the world one, new, pure language.
This subject by itself needs a book to describe. The whole literary processes of the whole earth changed. Today, all languages are corrupt. They are literally filled with pagan, heathen terms—superstition—misnomers—exceptions to rules—peculiar idioms. Think of the new era of good literature, good music, and of the avoiding of duplicated effort, misunderstandings through linguistic difficulties and thousands of painstaking hours of translations. What an age it will be, when all the world becomes truly educated—and speaks the same language.
God shows Jerusalem will become the financial capital, as well as the spiritual capital, of earth. God says this vast wealth will become available for use during the reign of Jesus Christ on this earth. God says the wealth of the world will be centered in Jerusalem, and that the vast rebuilding programs, rehabilitation processes and new-age pioneering that begin will be backed by that wealth.
No gold bricks, reposing in deep, subterranean vaults—utterly useless except for their meaning—no fear of thievery, or robbery. But breathtakingly beautiful decorations for the capital building, the Temple in which Christ will dwell. Never again will any person become rich from investing in the labors and creative ability of another person. No more stock markets, world banks, financing centers, insurance companies, mortgage companies, loan agencies, or time payments. No more interest. And no more taxes. But God requires only ten percent. And out of that ten percent will be financed the entire governmental, educational and spiritual leadership of the whole earth.
Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. And what a blessing that will be. None of the financial burdens that curse most peoples today. Take away thievery, robbery, accidents, weather damage, rust, rot and decay, from plants, stores, manufacturing concerns. How much less could merchandise then sell for—and at how much greater profits? Take away weather problems, insect damage, blight and fungus from farmers—losses through government price controls and overflooding of markets—and what would be their lot in life?
And God wants every child of his to truly prosper. How truly happy are they? And all will be on the giving basis. And until God breaks the haughty spirit of man Isaiah , 17 —the peoples of earth will not be ready to accept such a wonderful, loving, generous, honest, giving standard for the whole economy.
It would require a thick book to begin to describe the wonderful conditions that could prevail on this earth—and that will finally prevail, when the human heart is humbled, converted—given the very nature of God 2 Peter No more strings-attached government grants to industry, to science and space technology, to schools and institutions for research.
Instead, every necessary industry, educational institution, and business will be in sound financial condition. Now notice just how the new world government will function during the next thousand years. It will not be so-called democracy. It will not be socialism. It will not be communism or fascism. It will not be human monarchy, oligarchy or plutocracy. Man has proven his utter incapability of ruling himself.
It will be divine government—theocracy—the government of God ruling over humans. It will not be government from the bottom up. The people will have no votes. It will not be government of or by the people—but it will be government for the people. It will be government from the top God Almighty down. It will be hierarchy in form.
There will be no election campaigns. No campaign fund-raising dinners. No dirty political campaigns, where each candidate attempts to put himself forward in the most favorable light, defaming, denouncing, discrediting his opponents. No time will be wasted in mudslinging campaigns in the lust for power. No human will be given any government office. All in government service will then be divine Spirit beings, in the kingdom of God—the God family. Remember, God is the Supreme One who is love—who gives—who rules with outgoing concern for the ruled.
He will rule for the highest good of the people. The most able, the most righteous, those best fitted for office will be placed in all offices of responsibility and power. Think of it—no money wasted on political campaigns. No splits in political parties with quarreling and hatreds. No political parties! In short, under the New Covenant, which Christ is coming to usher in, what we shall see on earth is happiness, peace, abundance and justice for all.
Did you ever read just what this New Covenant will consist of? Exactly the opposite. They will be still unconverted. But Christ and the governing kingdom of God, then set up as the governing family, will bring about the coming utopia by two basic courses of action. God gave seven annual Festivals and Holy Days he commanded to be observed.
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They contained great and important meaning. They were established forever. Jesus observed them, setting us an example. The apostles observed them Acts ; , 16; 1 Corinthians ; The true, original Church—including gentile converts—kept them. People did what seemed right to themselves. The ways that seem right to a man have been ways contrary to the ways that produce peace, happiness and abundant living. These same wrong ways seem right to most people today!
We realize they seem right—not wrong—to most who will be reading these words. Proverbs They may not mean any wrong. They are deceived. He thinks he is right. Yet God says he will not accept that kind of observance or worship. But it is those who have been deceived, whose eyes God will open to his truth when Christ returns to rule all nations of mortals still left alive.
Then he will enforce obedience to his customs. This Feast of Tabernacles is one of the seven annual Festivals God commanded his people to observe. But ancient Israel rebelled. The Jewish people, after Ezra and Nehemiah, observed them. Notice what this scripture says:. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
Yes, Jesus Christ very soon is going to return to this earth. He is coming in power and glory. He is coming to rule all nations! But he is not going to do this ruling, supervising, all alone, by himself. He is coming to set up world government. It will be a highly organized government. There will be many positions of authority.
First, it is the government of God—not human government. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. Right government. The government of God! In this, and many other passages, God shows in his Word to mankind how utterly helpless man is to govern himself and his fellows.
Now 6, years of human experience have brought mankind to the very brink of world suicide. Put another way, God marked out six millennial days to allow man to indulge in the spiritual labor of sin, followed by a millennium of spiritual rest, under the enforced government of God. Now we come to a revealed insight into the wonderful planning, preparing and organizing of the perfect government of God. There will be no incompetent and selfishly ambitious politicians seeking to get their covetous hands on the throttle of government power by the deceptive political methods of this world.
Today people are asked to vote into office men they know little about—men whose qualifications are largely misrepresented. The fact illustrates the purpose and necessity of the Church. God has planned ahead, but not only for his government to rule the earth. But in sentencing man to 6, years of being cut off from God, he reserved the prerogative of calling to special service and contact with God such as he should choose for his purpose. During this day of man, God has prepared for his own millennial civilization, in all its phases—governmental, educational, religious—his whole civilization.
That man was Abraham. God began training men for top positions of authority in his coming world, with Abraham. There was no argument. Why must I give up all the pleasures of this civilization—give up even my relatives and friends? Abraham was put to severe tests. Abraham was being trained for high position in the government of God, now soon to rule the world.
Abraham was given the promises on which the salvation of every person, through Christ, is based. He is called the father humanly of the faithful Galatians When Abraham proved obedient, God blessed his labors and allowed him to become wealthy. God gave him experience in the wise handling of wealth and in directing a great force of men. He became heir along with his father Abraham. He too, was trained in obedience, and also in directing and ruling over others. Then Jacob, born with this rich heredity, was educated to follow through on the same pattern Abraham and Isaac had learned.
Even though his father-in-law deceived him, and held him down, Jacob also became wealthy. He was human—as were Abraham and Isaac and all humans. He made mistakes. But he overcame. He repented. He prevailed with God. He never quit! He developed the qualities and character of leadership. He became the father of the twelve greatest nations-to-be in the soon-coming world tomorrow. God has not told us, in so many words, precisely how his coming world super government will be organized.
Yet he has given us the general pattern. He has told us specifically where 14 high executives including Christ will fit in. And from them we may deduce a great deal of the remaining governmental structure. Much of the coming structure of government is at least strongly indicated by what is plainly revealed. We know it will be the government of God. We know that Jesus Christ is to be King of kings, and Lord of lords—over both state and church, united through him. We know that King David of ancient Israel details later will be king over the twelve great nations composed of literal descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel.
We know the twelve apostles will each be a king, sitting on a throne, over one of those great nations descended from the tribes of Israel. We know it will be government from the top down. There is to be a definite chain of authority. No one will be elected by the people. Mortal humans have proved they do not know how to judge qualifications, and do not know the inner minds, hearts, intents and abilities of men. All will be divinely appointed from above. All, in positions of governmental authority, will be resurrected immortals, born of God—no longer flesh-and-blood humans.
What is plainly revealed indicates, then, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will function as a topflight team, with Abraham as chairman of the team, next under Christ in the coming world government of God. Jesus himself said, definitely, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob shall be in that glorious and glorified kingdom Luke There will be one government, over all nations.
There will be one Church—one God—one religion—one educational system—one social order. Three men—Peter, James and John, among the original twelve disciples—were privileged to see the kingdom of God in a vision Matthew In this vision, Jesus, who was actually with them in person, became transfigured—appearing as the glorified Christ.
His face became bright, shining as the sun, his clothing white as light. Two others appeared with him in this vision—this glimpse into the coming kingdom—and they were Moses and Elijah. Both Moses and Elijah qualified in their human lifetime for very high positions in the kingdom of God. Moses was the one through whom Christ yes, he was the God of the Old Testament, as many, many scriptures prove gave the laws and the statutes of government for the nation Israel.
Moses was trained as a son of a pharaoh king of Egypt. His training and experience were among gentiles, as well as the children of Israel. Elijah, above all others, is represented in Scripture as the prophet who restored the worship of the true God—and obedience to his commandments.
The vision of the Transfiguration Matthew through gave the apostles Peter, James and John a preview of Christ coming in his kingdom—as he shall come. The indication is thus given that Moses and Elijah represented the heads, under Christ, of state or national world government under Moses , and church or religious activity under Elijah. Actually, the gospel and religious development is merely spiritual education. On the purely national level, the nations descended from the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh descended from Joseph , will become the two leading nations of the world Jeremiah ; , ; Isaiah ; Deuteronomy But, next to them will be the nations descended from the other tribes of Israel.
And, after them, but still prosperous and full of abundant blessings, the gentile nations. King David, resurrected, immortal, in power and glory, will be king, under Moses, over all twelve nations of Israel Jeremiah ; Ezekiel ; Each of the original twelve apostles will be king, under David, over one of these then super-prosperous nations Matthew Under the apostles, each now king over a great nation, will be the rulers over districts, states, shires, counties or provinces, and over cities.
But, in every case, these kings and rulers will be resurrected immortals, born into the kingdom family of God as Spirit beings—not flesh-and-blood mortals. The parables of the pounds Luke and talents Matthew makes this very clear. The one who multiplied his spiritual abilities ten times over is pictured as ruling over ten cities. The parable of the talents shows the same thing, but also we are to be judged by how well we do with what we have to do with. That is, one of lesser ability will be judged according to motivation, application, diligence and persistence according to ability. To whom much—in natural ability, and spiritual gifts—is inherited and given, much will be required.
There is strong indication—not a definite, specific statement—but indication, according to principles and specific assignments that are revealed, that the prophet Daniel will be made king over them all, directly under Moses. And what man refused to follow pagan ways and customs, even while serving next in authority to the king himself? What man proved loyal to God, and the worship of God, and obedient to the laws of God—even while serving at the top in the first world empire?
At first thought, one might suppose Christ will put the apostle Paul at the head—under Moses and under Christ—of all gentile nations. And indeed Paul qualified for high position over gentiles. He was used, to reveal to King Nebuchadnezzar, and immediate successors, that it is God who rules over all kingdoms. He prayed three times a day to God, even though it meant being thrown into the den of lions. He trusted God to protect and deliver him from the lions. He gained knowledge and wisdom in the affairs and administration of government over nations.
When God, through the prophet Ezekiel, named three of the most righteous men who ever lived, he named Daniel as one of them. The other two were Noah and Job Ezekiel , And it is evident that God will assign Noah and Job to offices of very great magnitude.
More of that, later. God in his Word gave Daniel the assurance that he shall be in the kingdom of God, at the time of resurrection Daniel In fact, there are a number of such teams that appear to be possibilities. But what about Paul? As the twelve original apostles were sent to the lost house of Israel, Paul was the apostle to the gentiles. That is the key. Christ himself said specifically that each of the twelve shall be a king over one of the nations of Israel. It is inconceivable that Paul would be over no more than one gentile nation.
It might even be inferred that Paul rated a little higher in ability and accomplishment than any one of the twelve apostles. And, again, no gentile nation will be as great as one of the Israelite nations. The indication, then, seems to be that Paul will be given position over all gentile nations, but under Daniel. Of course there will be kings appointed by Christ over every gentile nation. And district rulers under them, and rulers over cities. There is no indication as to the identity of any of these, except that those apostles and evangelists who worked with and directly under Paul—Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus, Luke, Mark, Philemon, etc.
And what of other saints of that same time, in the first flush years of the Church, when its membership at first multiplied in number of converts? And what of many converted since, and down to our present day? We can mention, here, only what seems to be rather clearly indicated from what God has already revealed. Besides these revealed and indicated assignments of government over nations and groups of nations on the national level, there will be positions of great magnitude on the international level in the areas of scientific and social functions.
And there are a few indications of what some of those operations will be, and the possible—if not probable—personnel. Since Noah lived first, we now take a look at Noah. God had set the boundary lines for the nations and the races at the beginning Deuteronomy ; Acts But men had refused to remain in the lands to which God had assigned them. That was the cause of the corruption and violence that ended that world. At that time, even as today, that world faced a population explosion.
Noah merely preached to people in his human lifetime. It seems evident that the resurrected Noah will head a vast project of the relocation of the races and nations, within the boundaries God has set, for their own best good, happiness and richest blessings. This will be a tremendous operation. It will require great and vast organization, reinforced with power to move whole nations and races.
This time, peoples and nations will move where God has planned for them, and no defiance will be tolerated. What a paradox. People are going to be forced to be happy, to have peace, to find abundant and joyful living! Above, we said we would come back, later, to Joseph, son of Israel and great-grandson of Abraham. Joseph became food administrator of the greatest nation on earth of that time—Egypt. But his specialty was dealing with the economy—with prosperity. These systems will be on the international level, the same in every nation.
Undoubtedly Joseph will develop a large and perfectly efficient organization of immortals made perfect, with and under him in this vast administration. This will be an administration that will eliminate famine, starvation, poverty. There will be no poverty-stricken slums. There will be universal prosperity! Another tremendous project on the worldwide international level will be that of rebuilding the waste places, and the construction of whatever really great and large buildings or structures Christ will require for the world he will create.
Job was the wealthiest and greatest man of the east Job and a noted builder. He was so upright and perfect, God even dared Satan to find a flaw in his character. Actually, there was a terrible sin in his life—self-righteousness. But God brought him to repentance. See Job, chapters At least one other man seems indicated as a top assistant in this vast administration. That is Zerubbabel Haggai, and Zechariah 4. Now we come to the world tomorrow on the individual level—the Church—the religion—the educational system.
When Jesus Christ returns to earth in the full supreme power and glory of the Creator God, he is coming, this time, to save the world, spiritually. When he sits on the throne of his glory, in Jerusalem, all nations composed of flesh-and-blood mortal humans will be there before him. Those converted, now, are heirs. The dead in Christ shall be resurrected, rising first—changed to Spirit immortality. We that are then alive, in Christ, shall be instantaneously changed to Spirit immortality, and caught up with the resurrected ones, to meet the descending Christ in the air.
Wherever Jesus is, from there, we shall be ever with him. Where, then, will he be? His feet shall stand that same day on the Mount of Olives Zechariah It is after this that he separates the sheep those who repent, believe, and receive his Holy Spirit from the goats those who rebel. The pure truth of God will be proclaimed to all people. No one will be deceived any longer. To Christ, then, will the gentiles seek Isaiah Christ will set his hand to save all Israel verse See also Romans But all this work of world evangelism—of spiritually saving the world as a whole, not necessarily every individual but surely a majority —will require, simultaneously, reeducating the world.
One of the great problems facing the returned glorified Christ, will be that of reeducating the supposedly educated. It may actually take them longer to come to a knowledge of truth—to become truly educated—than the illiterate of this world. But they have been trained to hold this true foundation in prejudiced contempt. Yes, indeed, the educating and reeducating of the world will be one of the most important tasks the kingdom of God will face, after Christ returns to rule. Today people follow the false and deceptive values. Their entire thinking will require a reorientation—a change of direction.
We have seen that the earth, after this thousand-year period begins, will be as full of the true knowledge of God as the oceans are full of water Isaiah How will this be brought about? Now continue:. Christ, himself, will be ruling from Jerusalem. Stationed there with Christ, under immediate direction of Elijah, it is indicated, will be those immortals chosen by Christ to constitute the Headquarters Church. Next, in this all-important Headquarters Church organization, working with and directly under Elijah, it appears, will be the resurrected John the Baptist.
He was the Elijah prophesied to come Matthew Jesus said that no man who ever lived was greater than John the Baptist. Yet, even the least in the resurrected kingdom will be greater Matthew It is evident that John the Baptist will be placed in very high office. It seems logical that he should be placed with, or immediately under, Elijah. As Jesus said in Matthew, the prophecy of Malachi applied to John the Baptist in type; but if you will continue reading through verse 5, it becomes very clear that the prophecy is speaking of one to prepare the way before the Second Coming of Christ.
John the Baptist was a voice crying out in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River, preparing the way for the First Coming of Christ, as a physical human being, to his physical Temple at Jerusalem and to the physical people of Judah, announcing the advance good news that the kingdom of God would in the future be established. But also preparing the way before his Second Coming was a messenger of whom Elijah was a type. A voice crying out in the worldwide spiritual wilderness of religious confusion, preparing the way for the spiritual glorified King of kings and Lord of lords to come in the supreme power and glory of God to his spiritual temple, the Church Ephesians , to actually establish the kingdom of God.
At the time the disciples asked this question, John the Baptist had come and been put to death. This could not possibly refer to John the Baptist. John the Baptist restored nothing, but called on people to repent in preparation for the First Coming of Jesus as a physical human.
Also Malachi pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age—at a time when, if this end-time message were not proclaimed, the glorified Christ would come and smite the world with total destruction. Also the indication is that the teaching of spiritual truth—of the true gospel, the spiritual conversion of the world—will be directed, worldwide, from this Headquarters Church, under Elijah and the overall direct supervision of Jesus Christ. The principal purpose for which Christ is returning to earth is to spiritually develop in humanity godly character, and to save the world.
Most religious people, ministers, and evangelists fundamentalist have supposed that this time, now, is the only day of salvation. The verse of Scripture they rely on is a mistranslation 2 Corinthians But the real world evangelism will be administered by this Headquarters Church, composed of resurrected immortals, under direct personal supervision of Christ himself.
There was no such doctrinal committee in the first century Headquarters Church at Jerusalem. All teaching came from Christ through the apostles—and a few times Christ communicated to apostles via the prophets. One other tremendous organizational function will be directed from this Headquarters Church—that of direction of all the local churches over the world.
These churches will be composed of those who become converted—begotten of God by receiving his Holy Spirit—though still mortal. Just as the converted Christian in this present age must continue to live a life of overcoming, and of spiritual growth and development 2 Peter , so will they in the millennium. Happily they then will not have to overcome Satan. But they shall have to overcome all evil impulses, habits or temptations, innate within themselves.
With only one Church—one religion—one faith—there will be many church congregations in every city, others scattered through rural areas. There will be district superintendents over areas, and pastors, elders, deacons and deaconesses in every local church. Meanwhile, we have covered how the prophets were a pre-foundation of the Church of God. And the apostle Peter mentioned 1 Peter that the judgment had begun with the Church.
Those God has called to come to him through Jesus Christ during this Church age have been here and now judged, during this life.
But judgment has not yet come to the world. Does that mean the world is freed to commit sin? Not at all. God allows people to sin, but they are not now as yet judged for their sins. A criminal may have committed a great crime—even murder. But until caught, and brought to trial before a judge, he has not yet been judged or condemned.
In the final judgment, with Christ on the judgment seat, every human who has lived in this world shall be brought back to life Revelation They shall then give account for their sins committed in their first life. They shall rule and teach with and under Christ during the thousand years. But all others who have died shall not live again until the end of the millennium Revelation The 37th chapter of Ezekiel also shows the resurrection at the time of the judgment. Next this prophecy tells of the Great White Throne Judgment when this whole house of Israel, who sinned so greatly against God, shall be resurrected.
And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. This shows being brought back to mortal life, sustained by breathing of air, just as in their original life. That is, mortal life—still unconverted.
All the ancient Israelites are resurrected mortal, precisely as in their first life. Then what? And upon their repentance they shall receive the Holy Spirit and with it salvation and eternal life. All who had lived, previously unjudged, not only Israel, but of all nations, will be resurrected mortal, physical, as they were in their first life up to the time of death. Those in this judgment will be mortals. They will then give account and be judged. There will be punishments. But the penalty for sin is death in the final last judgment.
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.
Conjectured Stages of Transmission
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. 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. 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.
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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. 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. 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? 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. It is not till after this that the sorting begins: "which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, and cast the bad away.
And it is thus the same thing evidently as that which the interpretation speaks of: "So shall it be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from the just. When the saints are removed, at the coming of the Lord for His own which 1 Thess. The righteous will be taken, and the wicked left. Here it is the reverse of this — the wicked taken and the righteous left. Thus, with the divine accuracy of the inspired Word, which invites scrutiny and rewards attention to its minutest details, it is said in the judgment of the tare-field of Christendom, "They shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity," but not, "they shall sever the wicked from among the just, " for the just have been before removed.