Thoughts on the Similitudes of the Kingdom; Part 8

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Verses 24-30.-Here we have a picture of the kingdom of heaven which no. doubt surprised those who heard. All that they could have known about the kingdom was from 'their own Scriptures. But nowhere is such an apparent failure to be found as this parable shows. Enemies are destroyed, rebels are executed, and the King rules in equity. "He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." See, also, the magnificent description of the coming kingdom in Isa. 65:17-2517For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 20There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. 24And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 65:17‑25). The sinner, though an hundred years old, will die accursed by direct intervention of justice, as a malefactor now dies by the law, for death will no longer be the natural term of life as now; for in that time, as well as in the resurrection, "He shall swallow up death in victory:" But the sinner will be held in detestation; that is, people will be at least outwardly righteous, and the kingdom in appearance will be a field of Wheat. How astonishing then to hear that the field would be full of tares. Apparently it was clean contrary to what the prophets had predicted. The servants of the householder wished to restore it to its normal condition by rooting out the tares. But this could not be. The kingdom, as de- lineated by the prophets, was deferred, and something far different was to be established for _a time, which the Lord calls the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven."
Why "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven?" Because the King would be absent from the scene of government, and instead of ruling in equity and judgment, would manifest the utmost forbearance towards sinners. Both wheat and tares are to grow together until the harvest. Grace would be the dominant principle. The° King having been rejected by his rebellious people, retires to his Father's throne, and instead of the kingdom proper, brings in a state and condition which He calls the mysteries of the kingdom, characterized by grace. Hence wicked men increase rapidly, and evil triumph in the very place where good had been sown.
But an interesting question here presents itself. When did the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven begin? It is clear that it is between the first and second parables, for the first is only preparatory, while the second supposes its existence, and gives a similitude of it. Now that which makes the present form of the kingdom mysterious is, not only that nominally the authority of the King is acknowledged, but really denied, save by a very small minority who are despised and persecuted, and that evil of the very worst kind is paramount inner in power, but chiefly that the King himself is personally absent from the sphere of his authority. Therefore, the time of the Lord's ascension seems to mark definitely the commencement of the kingdom. The absence of the King is a chief feature of the mysteries; the return and presence, of the kingdom proper.
The sphere of the kingdom is on the earth, but it does not include the whole earth. Bye-and-by, it will be from the rising to the setting of the sun, and from shore to shore. The saints then will shout, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ." All the world will be then included. It is not so now. But what places are included now within the limits of the kingdom? Clearly every place where the name of Jesus has been preached, and really or nominally believed in. If so, it is evident that many places now given up to Mahommedanism are included. Looking around upon the places where the name of Christ has been preached, what a sad, frightful picture is seen of the terrible effect of the tares sown by the enemy. How small a proportion of wheat! How thoroughly the kingdom takes its appearance from the tares! Ruin is everywhere inscribed upon it. Apparently the labor of the sower who sowed good seed in his field has been profitless and in vain. Let us adore the sovereign grace of our God who of His own will and power as preserved a remnant for Himself.
It is a solemn truth that the kingdom takes its character from the professors of Christianity, and among them the tares so outnumber the wheat that the whole aspect of the kingdom is spoiled. The tares were sowed by the enemy for the express purpose of marring the work of the Lord. They do not represent all the evil that is in the world, but that which is connected with the kingdom. We say the kingdom is marred in its present state, but the purpose of God cannot fail. He will establish it in sovereign grace, in His own time: But more than this, God had another purpose, namely, to form his church, and this, humanly 'speaking, was contingent upon the rejection of the King, and the establishment of the mysteries. So that the triumph of the enemy in the Jews' rejection of the Messiah, and sowing tares in the field, was a necessary state of things for the calling of the Church, and its existence here below, according to the wisdom of God. Not that this frees man from his responsibility, and judgment for rejecting Christ. But we see in it the wisdom of God who foresaw all and molded all to bring about His own eternal purpose. The enemy only did what he was permitted to do, and God all the time was accomplishing His own will. -
But returning to the parable, at first the tares were not visible, "but when the blade was sprung up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also." The servants are astonished. " Sir, didst thou not sow good seed'?" &c. It was the work of an enemy. But how could an enemy get into the field? What were the servants about that they did not prevent it'? Alas, they slept. Thus they gave an opportunity to the enemy to enter and sow his tares. But thus it is even when the responsibility of man is in question.
From 'Adam downwards they failed. There is only One who never failed.
(To be continued, D. V.)