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Studies in Bible Prophecy: The Parable Of The Weeds

by Robert Garrett

In our last article  we briefly examined the parable of the sower.  You will remember that Jesus gave us seven parables in Matthew 13 and he said these were mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. We learned that a Bible definition of a Bible mystery that it is not the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophesy, but, instead, it is the revelation of a new truth.  According to Colossians 1:26 Bible mystery is something that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.

We saw that these parables are not describing the kingdom prophesied by Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets, for their kingdom cannot be until Christ returns.  But these parables describe the Church age in which we are now living and has now lasted near 2000 years.  It is the mystery phase of the kingdom during the absence of the king.

Our second parable is the parable of the tares or weeds of Mathew 13:24-30.  Jesus said:  The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared.  The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  “An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?”  “No,’ he answered, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”

Then next we pick up the story in verse 36 to 43.  Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”   He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear”.

Now here are the major parts of this explanation. Number one, the one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. Number two, the field is the world. Three, the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. Four, the weeds are the sons of the evil one. Five, the enemy who sows them is the devil. Six, the harvest is the end of the age and the harvesters are angels.  Seven, as the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Eight, the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Let us look at part two, the field is the world.  It should be obvious that the field stands for the kingdom. The field is owned by the one who sowed the good seed, verse 24. The one who sowed good seed is the Son of Man. He is the owner of the field which is the world.  It is his kingdom.  The weeds, the sons of the evil one, are not sown in the Church. They are sown in the world.

The Bible declares that this world belongs to the Lord. It is part of his kingdom. How awesome is the Lord most high, the great king over all the earth, as in Psalms 47:2.  But within God’s kingdom there is a rebellious element led by Satan.  Jesus is describing the activity of Satan within the kingdom. And Jesus tells us the evil one will continue this evil work until the end of the age when the sons of the evil one will be weeded out of God’s kingdom.

The kingdom in view here is the field which is the world, not the Church. The Church, as far as this parable is concerned, is the sons of the kingdom which are in the world. The parable does not show a mixture of good and evil in the Church.  It shows a mixture of good and evil in the world. Therefore, this is not a parable about the Church, as such. It is a mystery of the kingdom. It is a parable that reveals a phase of the kingdom that was hidden from men in ages past.   The rest of the New Testament bears this out. Let’s look at Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Colossians 1:9-14 and see how it corresponds to with what is taught in the first two parables. The Church is here in this world being surrounded by the sons of the evil one.  And in those circumstances we should live a life worthy of the Lord. We are to bear fruit in every good work. We must grow in the knowledge of God and we need to be strengthened with all power and we need to have great endurance and patience. That is the apostle’s prayer for the child of God as we live in this present world which is described in Philippians 2:15 as a crooked and perverse generation.

If one tries to find in the Church the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the kingdom, one will only sow confusion and may fall into error. The prophetic declarations concerning the kingdom of the Messiah are at absolute variance with what Jesus is describing in these parables. If we had time, we could read Isaiah 9:67, Isaiah 11:1-16, Psalm 72, Isaiah 32:1-5, Jeremiah 23:5-8, Psalms chapter two.  In those passages we see a government over this world ruling in absolute justice and righteousness and that has never been true in the history of mankind. Instead we see evil prospering, the sons of the evil one outnumber the sons of God and often persecute the children of God.  There has never been a century since the beginning of the Church that Christians have not been persecuted in some place or the other.

Today there is increasing persecution in places like China, North Korea, Indonesia, India, Nigeria and most or all of the Muslim countries. Jesus has yet to strike the earth with the rod of his mouth or slay the wicked with the breath of his lips as in Isaiah 11:4. The apostle Paul informs us that that will take place at the return of Christ.   He declares in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

What we learn here is that the kingdom as prophesied by Isaiah will be ushered in with glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is at his return that he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth.  He will slay the wicked one, the lawless one, the beast of Revelation 13.  This is portrayed for us in Revelation 19:11-21. It is then that the kingdom as prophesied by Isaiah will commence as described in Revelation 20:1-6.

But here now is the mystery phase of the kingdom.  Instead of being established upon the earth in power and glory as the prophets declared it would be, the kingdom resembles a field in which wheat and weeds are growing together. It is the form the kingdom assumes under the administration of men during the absence of the king. And the kingdom of Old Testament prophecy cannot come until the king returns.

What can we learn from part four and five? Four, the weeds are the sons of the evil one. Five, the enemy who sows them is the devil.   This world is also the scene of Satan’s activity.  Satan, the evil one, our arch enemy is at work. We must contend with him. The rest of the New Testament bears witness to this. An example is Acts 13:9-10.   Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?”

And then in Ephesians 4:27 we are exhorted: Do not give the devil a foothold.

In 2 Timothy 2:25-26 he describes certain ones who oppose the truth saying that they are in the trap of the devil who has taken them captive to do his will.  And he urges Timothy to instruct them in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil.

In James chapter four verse seven to eight we are exhorted. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.    Likewise in 1 Peter 5:8-9 we are warned and exhorted.  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.  And the apostle John adds his warning and exhortation in 1 John chapter three verse 7-10.  Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.  And in verse eight.   He who does what is sinful is of the devil.  And in verse 10. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

The Lord Jesus speaks to the church in Smyrna in Revelation 2:10.  He says, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

And we summarize with 1 John 5:19.  We know that we are children of God and the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

 

Next we look at part six. The harvest is the end of the age and the harvesters are angels. The age is this present evil age spoken of in Galatians 1:3-5 which tells us that the Lord Jesus gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.  This present evil age cannot be the kingdom as prophesied in Isaiah because it is said of the Christ in Isaiah 9:6-7 that the government will be on his shoulders and of the increasing of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on forever. The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this. For when that takes place it cannot be called an evil age. This present evil age will be brought to an end with the bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 11:4 tells us that at the beginning of his rule, he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.   This is described for us in Revelation 19 as we saw earlier by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:8.    Isaiah goes on to describe the nature of that rule.  Not only would it be a wonderfully righteous government, but there would also be changes in nature because the wolf will live with the lamb. The leopard will lie down with the goat and the calf and the lion and the yearling together. The little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear. Their young will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The infant will play near the hole of the cobra. The young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mount.

The apostle Paul describes this in Romans 8:17-25 and tells us that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.   Verse nine of Isaiah 11 then concludes his description of the future kingdom with the awesome statement that the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

It should be obvious that that cannot be our present evil age.  Only when our blessed hope is fulfilled, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Only when Christ returns and shall rule the nations in justice and righteousness and Satan is removed from this earth, bound into the abyss to keep him from deceiving the nations until the thousand years are ended, only then will it be possible for the earth to be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  But now during this present evil age the whole world is under the control of the evil one, 1 John 5:19.  And Satan is called the god of this age who has blinded the minds of unbelievers, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Lastly, we look at part eight. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. That is the inheritance that is promised to us in James 2:5.   Listen, my dear brothers. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

And the promise of our Lord to the apostles in Luke 22:29-30.  “I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”   And his promise to us in Luke 12:32.   “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” And Revelation 20 verse four to six tells us that those who are in the first resurrection will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for 1000 years. And Jesus made these promises to us in Revelation 2:26-27.  He said:  “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

And in chapter 3:21-22:  “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”  So there we have the righteous shining like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

And so, my friend, are you counted among the righteous who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father? Or are you a son of the evil one?  If so, you are doomed to eternal fire.  But you need not remain in that lost condition.  Jesus appeals to you. You can become a son of the kingdom if you will only believe in him. Repent and confess him as the Christ, the Son of God. Accept and confess him as Lord. Be baptized for the remission of your sins and he will wipe away your sins by his blood and give you the gift.

-Robert Garrett lives in Louisville, KY. He  does  Mission work in Zimbabwe 4-6 month a  year. His  family has been ministering there since 1930

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10