Notes of a Lecture on the Kingdom of Heaven: Appendix

 •  28 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The Kingdom of heaven is mentioned only in Matthew, the first time in chapter 3: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In a sense, it is the same thing as the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God is more far-reaching.
In Luke and in Romans 14:1717For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17) we have the Kingdom of God presented in its moral character - righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. These things you do not see directly; you see the effects of them. The Kingdom of God is a vast moral kingdom with the Son of man at the head of it, and one aspect of it is the Kingdom of heaven.
An Absent King
In the Kingdom of heaven the King is not present; He is absent. A kingdom with the King absent is strange; in fact from all appearances it looks as though He is not even interested in His kingdom. Although His work is unnoticed by most, the King is at work with a very definite object in view in connection with His kingdom. So, really, although we do not speak of it in that way, we do have a King. In other Scriptures He is called the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and although not manifested as such yet, He will be.
Kingdom of Heaven Announced
In Matthew 11 we find John the Baptist in prison and his ministry finished. Then for the first time the Kingdom of heaven is announced. The law and the prophets were until John. We discover something entirely new introduced on the earth; it was never known before. It is a kingdom, a kingdom with the King absent, but still it is a kingdom.
If one would be in this kingdom there is a matter about violence. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:1212And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)). You must be in earnest to be in the kingdom. It is not as under the law where one was responsible to keep certain ordinances and commandments, but this kingdom has to do with the exercise of the conscience in response to a revelation, which God has given. Under law you do not learn anything, you just obey, but in this kingdom you have instruction all the way through, because it has to do with something very wonderful.
This kingdom is not of the earth at all. It is on the earth, but not of the earth; it is a kingdom that is of the heavens. The King is not here; He is in the heavens. Although all the aspects of the kingdom in connection with the Kingdom of God are really of heaven and of God, one must not confuse the Kingdom of the Son of man on earth in the millennial day with the Kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of the Son of man on earth is a kingdom where the Son of man will sit on the throne, and that does not start until the Kingdom of heaven in its present phase is over.
The Kingdom of the Father
Once the Kingdom of heaven in its present phase leaves the earth, it is referred to as the Kingdom of the Father. The day is coming when all the kingdoms in time will be the kingdoms of the Father. After the Lord Jesus subdues all things, He turns them over to the hands of God, even the Father, that God might be all in all, so ending for eternity the kingdoms in time (1 Cor. 15:27, 2827For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:27‑28)). See Matthew 8:1111And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 8:11).
Matthew 11
The Kingdom of heaven has a peculiar character. Before we look at the kingdom parables of Matthew 13, we want to notice a few points in chapters 11 and 12.
First, we have the children of “this generation” (Matt. 11:1616But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, (Matthew 11:16)). What characterizes them? Absolutely no response. What generation is He talking about? Is it a generation of just 20 or 30 years? No, beloved, it is a generation that began at Sinai (the law) and the end of it will be seen at the day of judgment. When the Lord in the Gospels says that certain things will not take place until the end of this generation, it is a moral generation - a generation who say, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do,” but who in fact do not respond to Jesus.
Children of Wisdom
We have the children of wisdom in the same chapter, “But wisdom is justified of [or, in] her children” (Matt. 11:1919The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. (Matthew 11:19)). Why is she justified? Because there is a response from the heart of wisdom’s children. It is wisdom’s children who are found in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. They have responded individually. They have taken the kingdom by violence. What kind of violence? Against all the opposition of Satan. In Christians you see moral energy - only a person with a new nature can have it.
Jesus’ Mighty Works
Next, three cities are named, where Jesus’ mighty works were done. All are at the upper end of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida was the city of Peter, John and Andrew. Capernaum was the Lord’s own city. Chorazin was one of the cities where He ministered much, but where they did not respond to His ministry. These cities rejected His ministry, though they had most of His mighty works done in them. And so He must pronounce a woe upon them.
The Lord Jesus was there as the One who was serving God, and so He pronounces woe in these three cities, saying, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
Then, in verse 25 it says, “At that time Jesus answered.” Whom did He answer? The Father. Why? He was always in communion with His Father. He just answers His Father as though it were a continuation of a conversation. So He says, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” In like manner, He desires those who are in the new Kingdom of heaven to be in constant communion with heaven.
Jesus goes on to thank the Father for having “hid these things from the wise and prudent.” These “wise and prudent” are contrasted to wisdom’s children (Luke 7:3535But wisdom is justified of all her children. (Luke 7:35)). The former think themselves wise; they are the religious teachers who should have known the Scriptures. Many did know them in their heads, but not in their hearts.
He had revealed His Word to babes. Who are the babes? Those who are going to begin in the new order of the kingdom and who have it revealed to them according to the Father’s will - “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.”
The Lord Jesus told His disciples in John 14, “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” This peace is demonstrated in these verses at the end of Matthew 11. In the midst of the complete rejection by Israel, He accepts the Father’s decisions with peace and thanksgiving, a kind of peace He leaves to the children of the Kingdom of heaven. “Peace I leave with you.”
Do you want that kind of peace, or are you going to try to carry a burden alone, only to find out later that what the Father does is best, always the best? The Lord Jesus was willing to accept the Father’s decision. Everything He had done, as it were, is gone; Israel has rejected it. Yet He accepts it all in peace from the Father. Matthew 12:1414Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. (Matthew 12:14) shows the formal rejection of Christ by the leaders of Israel. They wanted to kill Him. The Lord accepts it all with thanksgiving. That is the peace He leaves with us, if we want it.
At the end of chapter 11 the Lord invites any who have a soul need. He is not inviting them to take up the sacrifices of the Jews or the ordinances. He is just saying, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This invitation is in connection with the Kingdom of heaven. It was not yet formed, not until He left and went on high, but He introduced it and gave the character of it before He went.
Matthew 12
Notice the verses in chapter 12 about the Gentiles. The new order of the kingdom would be among the Gentiles, although not altogether, because the early part of the testimony after Christ went on high was among the Jews, until the Gentiles were brought in. Most believers today are Gentiles. Because that is the order, we find the Gentiles mentioned in verses 18 and 21: “And in His name shall the Gentiles trust.” He is leading up to the subject of the new testimony of the kingdom which is to be introduced in chapter 13.
Gathering to Jesus
In chapter 12:30 the Lord says, “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” This principle is unlike being under the law and all of its ordinances; that is all past. It is an entirely new order of things introduced with the kingdom. Just, “He that is not with Me is against Me.” It is a good word for our consciences. He does not say, “He that gathereth not with this company or that company scattereth abroad,” but, “He that gathereth not with Me.” Notice it is the person of Christ before us. First, He says, “Come unto Me,” and now He speaks of gathering unto Him.
In verse 38 the Pharisees test the Lord Jesus, asking for a sign. Signs do not belong to the new order of the kingdom, but to the old order. So He says, I will tell you a sign, a sign of judgment. It is the only sign I am going to give you. But He adds, using Jonah in the fish as a figure, I will take the judgment for you, if you will only believe. (Matt. 12:3840.) Then He speaks about Nineveh because He is going to introduce the new order.
Repentance and Desire
The Lord gave two illustrations to introduce the new order of the Kingdom of heaven, both concerning Gentiles. The first is Nineveh repenting at the preaching of Jonah. Jonah did not preach of the grace of God; he preached, “Forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” From the king down to the lowest beast, everyone repented and all were spared. They repented -the first requirement to enter the Kingdom of heaven. He says, “A greater than Jonas is here.”
What is the next requirement? We have the answer in the second illustration. The queen of Sheba, a Gentile, heard a report, coming from 1300 or more miles away. She was not like the children of “this generation” who do not respond to the piping or dancing or mourning. She, the queen, gets down from her throne and braves the desert sand for 1300 miles, just to hear about the true God from the lips of King Solomon.
First, there must be repentance, but there must also be a burning desire for the Word of God, because the kingdom is entered by violence. Do you have this burning desire for the Word of God?
In the old order there wasn’t any exercise with the Jew about his position, because all he had to do was bring a sacrifice to the priest once a year and then he was all right for a year. There was no purged conscience in those days. But in the Kingdom of heaven there must be the continual exercise of consciences. Again, as in the first illustration, He reminds them that one who is greater than Solomon is there.
In verse 46 Jesus’ mother and brethren represent Israel, but something new is introduced. What is it? “For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Before, it was an order of natural relationships or even of formality, as in the economy of Israel; now, it is to be, “These which hear the word of God, and do it.” It is a question of conscience - he that hears the Word of God and does it. It is important to notice that it is “the will of My Father,” because that is partly what we have to do with in the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of the Father.
The parables of Matthew 13 show the planting of the seed and the results of that planting, which apply to the Kingdom of heaven. After the Kingdom of heaven was set up, Jesus sat beside His Father on the Father’s throne, unseen on earth. Also, according to the Father’s will, He sent the Holy Spirit to minister to the Church.
Matthew 13
When reading Matthew 13, notice especially the following things:
1. The disorder in the kingdom;
2. God’s purpose and method of blessing as superior to human disorder, the judgment of the disorder, and the method and result of God’s plan of grace;
3. Christ’s prophetic testimony after being rejected by Israel as their Messiah;
4. The order of the divine kingdom during the absence of the Son of man;
5. The assumption by the Son of man of His own throne and the administration of power in His hands;
6. The closing scenes of the disorder;
7. The righteous (the saints) in the Father’s kingdom in the brightness of the Sun (Christ Himself);
8. The purging of the Son of man’s kingdom;
9. The declaration of the intrinsic excellence, value and beauty of the kingdom;
10. The judgment of the professing Church;
11. Christ as the eternal Mediator (position as Great High Priest) when official mediation is over and the kingdom on earth is given up to God (1 Peter 1:1111Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1 Peter 1:11)).
The House of Israel
“The same day went Jesus out of the house [Israel], and sat by the sea side [Gentiles]. And great multitudes were gathered together unto Him, so that He went into a ship.” (Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-231The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:1‑9)
18Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:18‑23)
.) The first four parables are given to the multitudes by the seaside and the last three are given to the disciples in the house.
In the first parable a sower sows seed. The results of the sowing are divided into two groups, the next three parables and the last three. The parables in the first group give the effects of the sowing in the hand of Satan, accomplishing his purposes here in this world - that is Christendom. The result is no fruit. The parables in the second group present the effects produced by the Father with the good seed - that is Christianity. The result is fruit for God.
Picture a field with a road around it, possibly where carriages and horses go. You can see along the wayside the places where the sower would cast seed that would go out onto the stony ground. In some spots of the field you can see thorns. The Lord uses this natural setting to bring before us deep truths that have to do with the soul for all eternity.
If the seed is sown by the wayside and is not valued, the enemy will pluck it up. Satan is the one who takes that seed, using his emissaries, the demons, or the birds of the air. He takes that seed away, but remember, in all cases the seed is sown in the heart. He can take it away, but there will be a religious profession remaining. This is Christendom. He won’t allow it to reach the conscience. In the second case the seed falls on stony ground - a stubborn heart. In the third instance, the seed falls among thorns - the cares of this life. We who are Christians must be careful about this danger more than the others. The cares of this life are like a man sinking in quicksand; gradually it will engulf him completely. That is the way this age ends - completely engulfed in the cares of this life.
Good Ground
The seed sown in good ground bears fruit, some bears an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. The fact that it produces varying degrees of fruit should exercise our hearts. How much of it have we really laid hold of?
We have the good ground brought before us to show that the seed was received, how it was received, and the measure of reception. All the seed was good, but reception and fruit-bearing vary with the type of ground where the seed lands. It is possible for a believer to hear the Word and to harden his heart against it. The point is - how is the seed received?
Birds-Evil Spirits
The birds (evil spirits) take the seed that falls by the wayside. The seed that falls on stony ground produces no root, at least no deep root. These wretched hearts of ours would resist the truth, and the cares of this life would choke it.
We are creatures of habit. If we do not form good habits, we will form bad ones; be sure of it.
The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. So, if you want the hundredfold fruit, remember that the violent take it by force. There has to be the energy of faith to lay hold of these precious things.
Tares and Wheat
The seed was sown and the effects of the sowing are seen in the following parables. Satan, for one, seeks to make something of it for himself. Some have heard God’s testimony and have refused it. By refusing it they have become the tools of Satan. So although the seed is good, suddenly up spring the tares. Who did this? An enemy has done it. But the inference is that man has done it, because the enemy is using man. Just as the glorious gospel is being preached by men today, so false teachers shall arise, Scripture says, not sparing the flock.
The principle is that all of this work is in the hands of man, but either under the Spirit of God or Satan. It is solemn to think that some religious organizations, which often proclaim the gospel message, are still being promoted by Satan. Isn’t that solemn? It is hard to believe, isn’t it? But that is what He is telling us in this parable.
Shall we go out and pluck up the tares? You know what that would mean - you would pull the wheat right with it. No, God has a plan. Satan might be doing his own work, but God is in control. The good seed is still there, bearing its fruit. When harvest time comes, God has His reapers who will take care of the good wheat.
At harvest time the reapers are going to gather these tares and put them in bundles to burn them. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Christian Science and all other groups who refuse the truth of God, yet still bear the mark of Christianity, are bundles. Tares are being gathered into these bundles today to be burned at harvest time. In the bundles, the organizations of Satan in Christendom, there may be those who, through lack of understanding of the truth, are mixed with the tares. We do not speak of them as tares, but those whom Satan himself has gathered into religious bundles, who deny the person of Christ.
Before the bundles are burned, the wheat is going to be gathered into the barn. The wheat are the children of the Kingdom of heaven.
A Mustard Seed
Next, we have a mustard seed which was sown to grow for the good of man, but in the hands of Satan it becomes a tree, full of branches - religious sects. Why the branches? The tree has to have something to support the birds of the air - the wicked spirits of the heavens with their false doctrines. They are busy at work in the vast religious system called Christendom.
The tree pictures another aspect of what has become of the kingdom in the hands of Satan while the King is absent. Although not seen, the King is working, and He knows all about it. We saw that He is going to gather the wheat into His barn. It may look as though He is not interested, but He is.
The mustard seed is the least of all seeds, very small. It is very humbling for us, but it is intended that the testimony be such. Anything of glamour or of the character of this world does not belong with true Christianity. The seed is small, and if anything attaches to it in the way of greatness or the things of this world, whatever it may be, it is because Satan is at work.
“But when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree.” It was supposed to be an herb, but now it is greater than an herb. It becomes something it wasn’t intended to be, a tree instead of an herb. It becomes something great in the earth and men are attracted to it, because they have rejected the true testimony.
Those who have been exposed to the testimony and reject it carry a profession of that testimony. It is profession without reality. So in order to preserve a conscience before men, they join themselves to something that is religious and great, satisfying the flesh which likes to be great in a religious way. There is nothing in this world as evil as religious evil, and yet for most men it is the greatest thing to be in some way attached to religion. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” is the Lord’s call, but men backed by Satan have introduced something else, a great tree.
What else do we have? In the next downward step of evil in Christendom we have the Kingdom of heaven likened unto leaven. Leaven is always a sign of evil, nothing else. A woman’s place is in the home, hidden inside, as Sarah was within the tent door. The woman in Scripture either pictures something very blessed or something evil, depending on the context. In the parable she is doing something evil inside that no one can see, a picture of a vast religious organization in this world within which we have the three measures of meal, the testimony of Christianity.
Within the sphere where Christ (who is the meal) is preached, she is at work. Roman Catholicism, like a huge octopus, reaches out her tentacles until she encloses the whole - “till the whole [is] leavened.” It gives the end condition of Christendom, the whole thing leavened.
Every woman who has baked bread knows how to stop the working of leaven. She places the bread in the heat of the oven, and that is what is going to happen at the judgment. At present there are tares in the field with the wheat, and the three measures of meal are in a vast religious system, but the true will be removed from the false and the fire of judgment will finish it all. These are the things which Jesus spoke unto the multitudes.
The House of the Kingdom
Jesus went out of the house (verse 1), then he told of those truths which had been kept secret from the foundation of the world, which concern this new order. Then Jesus sent the multitudes away (verse 36), and He goes into the new house, which is the Kingdom of heaven. He went out of the old house of Judaism, which has rejected Him, and goes into the new house. We have the end of the old house in Matthew 23 when the Lord wept over Jerusalem. Matthew 23:3737O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37) will be fulfilled when His people repent and He covers them with His wings, or feathers (Psalm 91). His desire will be fulfilled.
Now we have a new house, true instruction. Aren’t you glad that there is a place on earth where God has preserved the truth for you and me? Aren’t you glad of that? In the house Jesus Himself is in the midst, instructing His disciples. Does that mean anything to you?
To Him they say, “Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” So he explains it to them. He that sows the good seed is the Son of man. (How simple the truth is when you hear it.) The field is the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. The tares are the children 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, who can discern between the tares and the wheat and separate them.
Judgment and Millennium
Now we have the time of the judgment fire. “The Son of man shall send forth His angels.” The time is coming when the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and the power that was in the hands of angels will be transferred into the hands of Christ and the Church. That fact is given in Hebrews 12:26-2926Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:26‑29) and referred to in Matthew and Mark. The powers of the heavens, which are the angels, will be shaken, and then angels will keep the gates of that beautiful city. No more will they be in administration, for the Church with Christ will take their administrative place.
“The Son of man shall send forth His angels,” and what do they do? “They shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.” That is the day when the Lord Himself sets up His kingdom on the earth, cleansing it, even before He comes. He sends His angels to cleanse the kingdom, then He sets it up in power and glory.
Kingdom of the Father
“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun” (Matt. 13:4343Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43)). The sun represents supreme authority. It speaks of the time when we reign with Christ, and the Kingdom of heaven is the Kingdom of the Father. This could not be said of any but those who belong to the Kingdom of heaven during these 2000 years. After the millennium “cometh the end” (1 Cor. 15:2424Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:24)) when the Lord Jesus, who has gathered all things into His hand, delivers up the kingdom to God, even the Father. It will all then be the Kingdom of the Father.
The Treasure
We have three more pictures of the kingdom, first the treasure, then the pearl, and last of all the fish in the vessel. These are the good effects, in the hands of the Father, of the sowing of the seed and it bearing fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold.
The treasure is composed of many individual pieces. It includes every believer. The Lord Jesus, as He goes through this world, is attracted to something. He takes it and hides it. Your life is hid with Christ in God; nothing can touch it. He values this treasure so much that He paid all He had to get it.
When a king received visitors, he would bring out his treasure, and each jewel would be examined. “This one was secured in battle, this was mined from the earth,” etc. Each had a history. This is true of every believer. He has a history and is part of the treasure. It is not Israel, for Israel was never something found; it was always here. This treasure is the Church.
A stone is very hard, formed in the lower parts of the earth under pressure and heat. “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isa. 54:1111O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11)). The twelve stones of Revelation 21 are all sapphires. How did they get the varied colors? From pressure and heat. They represent the believer. Each one passes through the trials of life when pressure and heat are applied. Every one of his jewels experiences this forming process, some by sudden pressure and others through constant irritation all their lives. A certain color has to be formed in each stone. That is the treasure.
The Pearl
The pearl is formed in a living organism, an oyster. If the little grain of sand had not entered the shell to irritate, if the little seed had not been planted, there never would have been a pearl - no irritation, no pearl. That little oyster could have spent its whole life using the secretion (nacre), which makes the pearl, only to ornament the inside of the shell - a beautiful shell radiating the colors of the rainbow. But the moment the irritation begins in the very material that formed the glorious shell, then the material turns to making the pearl, something of real worth. When the outside is gone, when the shell is broken and the oyster is dead, there is that precious pearl. It is a picture of the Church - one pearl, a picture of graciousness. In Philippians 2, as the example of graciousness, the Lord went down to the lowest place and then was exalted to the highest. His bride will have the same character - graciousness.
The Net
A net is cast into the sea of the nations (Gentiles). All kinds of fish are enclosed in the net, both good and bad. The net is drawn to shore and the servants of the Lord, not angels, separate the good from the bad - the precious from the worthless. The preaching of the gospel has gathered a large profession; some are believers in name only.
The good (the saints) are gathered into vessels; the bad are left on the shore as worthless. The servants, those who labor in the name of Christ, are occupied only with the good. The fulness of the Gentiles has come in.
In Matthew 14 we have dispensational truth which gives us a broad outline of events during the 2000-year period of the Kingdom of heaven on the earth. It is given in three parts: a hundredfold, sixtyfold and thirtyfold.
As Jesus prepared to feed the five thousand, He commanded the multitude to sit on the grass. He then blessed the provision and gave it to the disciples who gave it to the multitude.
What a picture of the full provision during the first seventy years of the Church’s history. The disciples were given the bread which they gave to the multitude. The full truth of God’s counsels was opened up to the apostles and prophets who ministered to the multitudes, and they were filled. This is the hundredfold.
The multitudes are sent away, and the disciples are constrained to enter into a ship to go to the other side of the sea, while Jesus goes up into a mountain to pray, interceding for His own - a picture of Jesus as our High Priest and Advocate. Jesus was there alone while His disciples were tossed about on a contrary sea. This pictures the Dark Ages of the Church’s history with its persecutions.
This is a Gentile watch. The Jews have three watches. At the first the testimony was given to the Jews, then the Gentiles were brought in, and now it is primarily Gentile.
Jesus came to the disciples, walking on the sea. Seeing Him walking on the sea, the disciples were troubled, thinking they saw a spirit, and cried out for fear.
Jesus said, first, “Be of good cheer” - the Lord’s coming; second, “It is I” - Jesus, the center of gathering unto His name; and third, “Be not afraid” - a word of encouragement for those of us who are living in this wicked world, just before the Lord comes for us. The thirtyfold is the present period in which we live as we await His coming, the Day star.
Peter answered Jesus, saying, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.” Today the waters are perilous, perhaps more so than ever before. Flesh cannot walk on them. It is a picture of faith rising above circumstances, trusting Christ for everything. Few are able for this.
Jesus said, “Come,” and when Peter came out of the ship - free from all man-made religious organization -he walked on the water to go to Jesus. “In order that we may be no longer babes, tossed and carried about by every wind of that teaching [which is] in the sleight of men, in unprincipled cunning with a view to systematized error” (Eph. 4:1414That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:14) JND).
But when Peter saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried, “Lord, save me.” Jesus has said, “Be not afraid,” yet our poor hearts are slow to trust Him. Jesus, catching Peter, said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Such are the hundredfold, the sixtyfold, and thirtyfold - three periods of the Church’s history on the earth. They end with Peter walking with Jesus, trembling but above circumstances. What a path for the Church! This is a part of the mystery of the Kingdom of heaven during which the Church is being formed.
C. E. Lunden
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