Monday, November 19, 2007

The Sons of the Kingdom

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.

So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’

The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’

But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24-30)
The previous parable was about four different soils and how they each received the Word of the Kingdom. This parable is about two very different kinds of seed: wheat and tares.

Jesus gives us the interpretive key to this parable.
Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said to them:

“He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:36-43)
This is the key:
  • The field = the world.
  • The good seeds = the sons of the kingdom.
  • The tares = the sons of the wicked one.
  • The enemy = the devil.
  • The harvest = the end of the angels.
  • The reapers = the angels.
Here is how we know that this parable is about the kingdom of Heaven on Earth — there are no tares in heaven. One day there will be no tares in the kingdom of Heaven on Earth, but for now, we are living in the in-between time, between Jesus’ first coming, when He announced that the kingdom was now here, and His second coming, when it will be here on earth in all its fullness. That is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come.”

In the previous parable, satan comes to snatch away seed (the Word of the Kingdom). In this parable, satan comes to sow seed (tares). Now the thing about tares is that, when it is long, it looks very much like wheat. But when it matures and bears fruit, it is quite different — and poisonous.

What is the difference between the fruit of the tare and that of the wheat? Paul gives us a good example in the contrast between the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23)
James also gives us a good comparison:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)
Satan sows his tares to cultivate the works of the flesh and bring forth a wisdom that is full of envy, selfishness, confusion and every evil thing. God is, for the present, allowing it to remain in the field. For the tares get intertwined with the wheat, and to remove them would end up damaging the good as well. That is why, although the kingdom of Heaven on Earth has already begun, we still find evil in the world. But the day is coming, and is fast approaching, when God when send His angels to separate the tares from the wheat, the bad from the good, to destroy that which is evil and preserve that which is good. “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

The “word of the kingdom” produces the sons of the kingdom, bearing the fruit of the Spirit and the wisdom that is from above. Do not worry about the tares; God will deal with them at the appropriate time.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.