The Coming Kingdom 020

Dr. Andy Woods | Sep 20, 2017 | Matthew 13:44-46 | The Coming Kingdom

Andy Woods

The Coming Kingdom

9-20-17     Matthew 13:44-46        Lesson 20

Let’s take our Bibles if we could take our Bibles and open them to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13, and we’re going to hopefully, if God allows, cover verses 44-46.  For those of you that have been kind of tracking along with us, I think we started this class January 1, if I remember right, or the first week in January.  Really what we’re dealing with is the kingdom and what does the Bible say about the kingdom.

We’ve developed the kingdom from the Old Testament beginning in the Garden of Eden and the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, right on up to the time of Christ.  Christ, of course, as we’ve been studying, offered the kingdom to Israel on a silver platter (first century Israel), and the nation of Israel said thanks but no thanks.  So that was the rejection of the kingdom offer.  So what has happened is since the kingdom was rejected by first century Israel and will not be accepted until a distant generation of Israel receives the offer, which is yet future even from our vantage point, Jesus begins to describe the conditions that would exist on the earth while the kingdom is absent.  And the first part of that is what’s called the interadvent age, so it’s an age of time that really started in Matthew 13 and stretches all the way, not to the rapture but beyond the rapture into the tribulation period and the interadvent age doesn’t end until the seven year tribulation period is over.

So it’s an age of time that’s been going on for the last 2,000 years as we’ve talked about.  And Jesus begins to reveal this interadvent age in the form of eight parables in Matthew 13; He’s revealing to them truths they’ve heard before.  And the first parable is what’s called the parable of the sower and that’s the idea that in this interadvent age the gospel is going to be preached but it’s only going to have fruit on one kind of soil.  So very clearly that’s different than the kingdom that’s been explained in the Old Testament up to this point in time because in the kingdom the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord and this is talking about fruit on only one of four soils.  And even on that soil the fruit is declining.  Jesus, in Matthew 13:23 talks about bearing fruit a hundred fold, sixty fold, thirty fold, and He talks about how Satan is active, snatching the seed away in the unfruitful soils.  So clearly this is not the kingdom because in the kingdom Satan is bound or incarcerated.

Then He gives parable number two which is the wheat and the tares, which is this idea that in the interim age there’s going to be wheat and tares existing side by side and it’s going to be difficult to distinguish between the saved and the unsaved within believing Christendom during this interadvent age.  And again in this parable what you see is evil increasing in the form of tares and the tares have to be bundled together at the end of this age before the kingdom can come and Satan is very active sowing the tares amongst the wheat.  So obviously that’s describing something that’s very different from the kingdom that we read about in the Old Testament.

Then last week we talked about the parable of the mustard seed which is this idea that Christendom will experience great numerical and geographical expansion from a humble beginning and yet will  ultimately result in apostate form at great variance from its pure origins.  In other words, Christianity is going to start off pure and turn into something sort of perverse, and we looked at that very carefully; that’s the whole idea of the herbs becoming a tree.  You know herbs don’t become a tree because they’re two different species.  So what starts off as one species (pure Christianity) morphs into a completely different species, apostate Christianity, by the time the age reaches its conclusion.  And that’s the significance of the birds we talked about nesting in the branches.

So that’s a little bit from last week, and then we saw the parable of the leaven, the leaven working its way through the dough.  And while most people interpret the leaven as something good I tried to make the case last week that the leaven is actually something bad.  So this is not talking about the spread of the gospel throughout the world, as much as I wish it was talking about that.  What it’s saying is Christendom will experience ever increasing internal corruption as the age progresses.  And that’s the significance of the leaven (which is always viewed as something in the Bible rather than good) working its way through the dough.

So what we move into tonight is two more parables, the parable of the earthen treasure and the pearl of great price.  Now you’ll notice that these parables, eight of them, are divided into two; the first four He gave in public, He was basically on the Sea of Galilee in a boat that was just off the shore and a throng of people had sort of gathered around to listen to what He had to say and it’s through that throng of people that He revealed the first four parables.

The remaining four parables (that we haven’t talked about yet) take place, not in a public scene but in a house.  So in Matthew 13:1-2 it says, of the first four parables, that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea and large crowds gathered to Him so He got into a boat and sat down and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.  And that’s where He reveals parables 1-4 that we’ve already covered.

But then you get to verse 36 of Matthew 13 and Matthew tells us that then He left the crowds and went into the house and His disciples came to Him and said explain the parable of the tares of the field.  So the remaining parables, what He’s doing is He is giving them a private scene or setting.  Now why does He do that?  Well, we’re not told exactly so I have to sort of guess and I think what’s going on is the disciples, who are expecting the kingdom and everything the Old Testament reveals about the kingdom are learning that the kingdom is not coming, which number 1 is very disappointing to them, and number 2 they’re learning that this age that is now the outline, not only is it not the kingdom but it represents an age where God is working but it’s also an age of deception, it’s also an age of satanic work, it’s an age of comingling between good and evil.  And I think at this point they were somewhat disappointed (that’s probably an understatement), probably a little bit despondent.

So Jesus then takes them into the house and He begins to encourage them with this good news that even though the current age is not the kingdom God is still at work; He’s doing something very significant.  Arthur Pink kind of sums up what I just said, or better said I summed up what he said as follows:  he says yes, there was every reason for the poor disciples to be perplexed and dismayed.  He had made known to them that though the outward professing cause of Christianity upon the earth would develop so tragically yet there will be no failure on the part of God.

He tells them there are two bodies and two elect people who are inexpressibly precious in His sight and that through Him He will manifest the inexhaustible riches of His grace and glory.  And that in the two realms of His dominion on the earth and in heaven, two distinct elect companies, one a treasure hid in a field, symbolizing the literal nation of Israel.  And number two, the other one, the pearl, symbolizing the body which has a heavenly calling, destiny, citizenship and inheritance.  The order of these two parables is this: to the Jew first and also to the Greek, that’s a common expression in the Book of Romans.  I think  you’ll find it in Romans 1:16.  [Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”]

Therefore, regarding the next two parables, the hidden treasure in the field, the symbol of Israel, is given before the pearl, which is the figure of the church.  So  yes, the current age is not going to be the kingdom but God is dealing still with something very significant with two bodies of people; He deals with Israel first in the parable of the hidden treasure and then He deals with the predominantly Gentile church second in the pearl of great price.

With that introduction in mind let’s take a look at these two parables.  Let’s start with the parable of the earthen treasure.  And you’ll notice what Christ says there in Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  Now for each of these parables I’m going to tell  you the popular interpretation of these, the interpretation that you get from almost every… all the Christian literature, all the ministries you’ve probably heard these common interpretations.  Then I’m going to explain to you why I think those interpretations are wrong.  And then after tearing down the wrong beliefs I’ll try to replace them with what I think is the right belief.  But you can’t really believe the right belief until your existing paradigm is dismantled.

So what I think the parable of the hidden treasure is, is this:  Israel will remain in unbelief through this interim age that we’ve now entered and will only be converted at the end of the age.   Arthur Pink writes this:  “The common interpretation” and he means by that the wrong interpretation, “of this parable, both by Calvinists and Arminians, is as far removed from what I am fully assured is its true meaning as is the explanation they give of the earlier ones in Matthew 13.  Dr. John Gill” who was a big “kingdom now” advocate, “tells us that the treasure in this parable is the gospel; that the field in which the treasure is hidden is ‘the Scriptures,’ and that the man who sought and found the treasure is ‘an elect and awakened sinner.’”  And then Arthur Pink says, “It is amazing how such an exegete of the Scriptures, and a man so deeply taught of God, could wander so far astray” from the truth “when he came to this parable.”  [A. W. Pink (2005).  The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen, Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.]

So most of the presentations of both of these parables, they’re portrayed as personal salvation.  You find the treasure in the field, they say that’s the gospel and then they sell everything, they give it all up for the gospel and they get saved.  That’s basically what people are taught over and over again on this.  Let me tell you why I don’t think that’s the correct understanding and I have seven reasons.  The first reason is the field is the world and not the Scripture, because what they’re basically arguing is the treasure hidden in the field is the gospel hidden in the Scriptures.  But when you go back to the prior parable in Matthew 13:38 what is the field.   [Matthew 13:38, “and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;”]  The field is the what?  The world.  So what you have to do is you have to start interpreting these parables consistently, you can’t come up with some interpretation of one that’s at variance with another.  So the field can’t be the Scripture because Jesus told us earlier, in a prior parable, that the field is the world.

Now what the popular interpretation is that the man is the sinner that’s getting saved; that’s what you hear over and over again.  But the problem with that is in these parables the man is never the sinner getting saved but it’s Jesus.  And if you go back to the prior parable of the wheat and the tares and you look at verse 24 it says, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,” and then  you go down to verse 37 and it says, “the one who sows the good seed is the” what? “Son of Man.”   [Matthew 13:37, “And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.”]

So therefore when you go to verse 44, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found” the man is not a sinner coming to Christ, the man is Jesus.  See that?   And beyond that, if this parable is just talking about a sinner getting saved why in the world would Jesus talk about that in private, in the house, to the disciples?  I mean, isn’t the gospel something that’s supposed to be openly proclaimed?  It would be very strange for Him to present the gospel in private.  So that really doesn’t fit.

And beyond that, how is Jesus Christ or the gospel hidden in the world?  That seems very strange also.  I thought the gospel was the power of God unto salvation.  [Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”]  I don’t really understand how the gospel being the treasure is hidden; God has made the gospel clear from the foundations of the earth.  Abraham, way back in 2000 B.C. understood the gospel.  Galatians 3:8, he may not have known the name Jesus that we know but he knew a Messiah was coming. And the gospel is revealed as early as Genesis 3;15.  [Galatians 3:8, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.’”  Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”]

And then number 5, if all of this is, is just the guy who finds the gospel and gets saved, why in the world is he hiding it again.  If you look at verse 44 it says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found,” that’s supposedly the salvation of the lost sinner, but then it goes on and it says he hid it again.  Is that what you do with the gospel when you get saved?  I’ve experienced salvation, I’m going to go hide it?  That’s not the natural reaction at all, is it?  I mean, when a person gets saved they want to share it with everybody.

And one of the things that has always bothered me about making these kind of parables about personal salvation is if that’s true it changes the gospel itself because we receive the gospel by grace as a free gift, don’t we.  But what’s happening here is it says “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found, and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  [Matthew 13:44]  That’s not how you get saved;  you don’t get saved by going and selling all you have.  Salvation is not based on what we do, it’s what Jesus did for us.  Salvation is not based on man’s work; it’s based on what Christ did in terms of work in our behalf.  So the story of the Bible is not what man does to get to God; that’s religion, religion teaches that.  The story of the Bible rather is what God has done for man and we receive what God has done for us as a free gift.

Now after a person gets saved then we graduate and we enter into, as God begins to prompt us, into a walk of discipleship where the Holy Spirit will place His finger on things in our lives that need to go and be replaced with something else.  But you see, that’s a process that happens after a person is already saved.  And so we distinguish in this church between two senses of salvation: justification and then sanctification.  Justification– the only way to be justified before God is to receive what God has done for us as a free gift.  And that’s not to be confused with progressive sanctification where the Holy Spirit begins to prompt us as children of God to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives in such a way that our lives gradually are conformed and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

But you see, to take the walk of discipleship and put in on the front end and make it a condition for justification is basically to teach a works oriented salvation.  That’s why this parable can’t be talking about a man who sells all he has and gets saved because that’s not how a person is saved initially.  And that’s why the Book of Isaiah, chapter 64 verse 6 says that our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.  [Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” KJV]

Now did you notice it says “our righteous deeds” are as filthy rags?  It didn’t say my unrighteous deeds are as filthy rags, it says my righteous deeds are as filthy rags.  In other words, righteous deeds are things that we think we can do in a spirit of religion, the same stuff Cain was doing in Genesis 4, which was why his sacrifice was rejected and Abel’s was received.  But religious deeds are things we think we can do to gain God’s favor.  You can’t do anything to gain God’s favor.  The only way to gain God’s favor is to receive what He’s done in our place.  So this interpretation of personal salvation of the hidden treasure basically teaches a works oriented gospel.

And then the man then hides the treasure again and he buys the field.  The field is the what?  The world.  Now that doesn’t make any real sense, does it.  When do sinners ever purchase the world?  Do we purchase the world?  I thought the world belonged to who?  Satan, until Jesus evicts Satan in the events related to the Second Coming.  So what I’ve hopefully tried to do is tear down the popular idea that this is talking about personal salvation.  And I don’t just want to tear things down, I want to replace them with something better so let me give you what I think is the right interpretation of this.

Number one, the man is not a sinner getting saved but the man is who?  Jesus.  And you’ll see that in verse 37, where the Son of Man who sowed the seed in the prior parable is Jesus Christ.  [Matthew 13:37, “And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,”]

Number two, what’s the treasure?  The treasure is not the gospel, the treasure, on the other hand, is the nation of Israel.  Now why would I say that?  Because Israel throughout the Old Testament is always referred to as the special treasure of God.  The church, to my knowledge, is never called the treasure of God; the church is called a lot of other wonderful things but never God’s special treasure.

And when you go all the way back to Exodus 19:4, when God entered into the covenant at Mount Sinai with the nation of Israel, God says this: “Now then if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own” what? “possession” or treasure, “amongst all the peoples.”  And if you go over to the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 14 and verse 2 you’ll have another reference there to Israel being God’s special treasure.  He says in Deuteronomy 14:2,  For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own” what? “possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”  In other words, of all the people on the face of the earth God looks at the nation of Israel differently, as His special treasure.  Now remember, Jesus, when He’s talking this way is talking to Jewish disciples who would understand all of this Old Testament background.

And when you go over to Psalm 135:4 you’ll see another reference to Israel as God’s special treasure.  He says in verse 4, “For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own” what? “possession.”  So the man in this parable is not the sinner but it’s Jesus Christ; the treasure is not the church, the treasure is the nation of Israel.

Now when the man, or Jesus, comes the treasure is what?  When He comes the first time where is the treasure?  [someone says hidden]   Hidden, thank you, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure” what? “hidden in the field,” now why would Israel be hidden?  Because Israel is in an apostate condition.  The nation of Israel, as  you know from the Old Testament, mistreated all of the prophets that were sent to it; in Matthew 12 they even rejected their own king, Jesus Christ.  And so the hidden treasure is not the gospel hidden in the Scripture or something to that effect.  It’s speaking of the apostate condition of the nation of Israel.

Then the man (or Jesus) comes and He finds the treasure, or Israel, which is hidden and He does what with it?  He finds it, He seems to uncover it, perhaps, you can’t find something unless you uncover it, right?  And what would that be speaking of?  That is speaking of the offer that had just been extended to the nation of Israel.  That offer was extended in what we call the offer of the… (I’ll give you a big hint, it’s what this class is all about) the offer of the kingdom.  And it was faithfully preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the twelve apostles and the seventy.  And it went like this: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven” is what? “is at hand” or it’s near.  He’s not saying it’s here, it’s “near.”

So if Israel had enthroned the king of God’s choosing the kingdom would have come.  That’s what John the Baptist taught.  Jesus taught the same thing, Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Then Jesus sent out the disciples, they taught the same thing, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  This is an authentic, as we’ve studied, bona fide offer to the nation of Israel.  That’s why when Jesus sent out the disciples He said, “Do not go the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans, [6] but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7]  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’’”  So this, as we’ve studied it, is a unique offer that was given to the nation of Israel.  That’s why in Matthew 15:24 Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

So that’s what’s happening in the first half of Matthew’s Gospel, and that’s what Jesus is referring to here when He comes to this treasure that’s hidden and He uncovers it.  He’s giving to the nation of Israel a golden opportunity to receive the King and the kingdom.

But then you go down, and you keep reading this parable, it says [verse 44] “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found” and then what did he do, “he hid it again.”  Now what is that talking about?  What is the re-hiding?  It’s talking about Israel’s rejection of the kingdom offer.  And that happened in which chapter in Matthew’s Gospel?  Matthew 12, that’s the pivotal chapter.  And what we’re reading about here is Matthew what?  13, so Jesus in this parable is describing what just happened in the prior chapter.

And as we have studied carefully in this class Israel has a covenant called the Mosaic Covenant; it’s a conditional covenant and in that covenant is built blessings and cursings, right?  So this is sort of the spine of the Old Testament, it explains why Israel went under discipline so frequently in the Old Testament, why she went into the captivity.  And it explains what was going to happen 40 years in the future from the time of Christ, about the Romans coming and destroying the city and the sanctuary.  And basically it’s a description of why Israel today is persecuted and hated.  It’s an outworking of the covenant curses that God said would happen to the nation when they refused to acknowledge their king.  It’s why Israel today is in the condition that she is in.  The United Nations rules against Israel over and over again.  Israel is bullied by the Gentile nations of the earth.  Almost everywhere Israel goes into Gentile territory she’s always persecuted.  So this is what is being portrayed when it talks about this treasure on earth and then hidden again, it’s talking about Israel’s rejection of the offer and then the subsequent discipline that Israel would be under.

Now you’ll keep reading this and it says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again, and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  So this is speaking of what is going to happen subsequent to Israel’s rejection of the kingdom offer.  The rejection of the kingdom offer is going to be ratified through the crucifixion because Israel is going to take Jesus and rush Him through their judicial system to get Him dead as fast as possible.  The Romans had come to power and had taken away from the Jews the power of capital punishment so their whole name of the game is we’ve got to get this guy declared guilty and sent over to the Romans to get Him killed.

That’s an outworking of Israel’s rejection of the kingdom offer.  But what we learn in the Bible is God takes lemons and turns them into what?  Lemonade.  God knows exactly what He’s doing; He can take an event that’s tragic and use it to pay the sin debt for the whole world, which is what the crucifixion of Christ is about, right?  And when Jesus died on that cross He was paying for the very sins of the nation that was mistreating Him.  Isn’t that amazing grace there?  I mean, the very nation that was trying to kill Him, effectively and successfully the way they twisted the legal rules of evidence around to get Christ rushed though the judicial system, as they’re doing that they’re getting their sin debt paid for without even knowing it.

So the death of Christ resulted in the sin debt of the world being removed, even for Israel.  In 2 Peter 2:1 it talks about unbelieving false prophets and it says this: “But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among  you who secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them…. You see that?  The death of Christ even paid for the sins of the false teachers that Peter is talking about.  So through this tragedy of events the Lord is purchasing this field (or the world) and paying for Israel’s sin debt.  Now Israel is still in guilt, right?  Until they receive as a gift what Jesus did, but Israel, just like the entire world is now not necessarily saved but savable because of the sacrifice of Christ.  So I think that is what is meant by verse 44, the man hiding the treasure again and then selling all that he has and buys a field.  The guy that sells all he has is not a sinner getting saved; the guy that sells all he has is who?  Is Jesus Christ.

And then we would assume, since the man purchased the field, that he’s going to come again at one point and find the treasure that he purchased.  Right?  So that’s not mentioned directly in the parable but it’s sort of implicit; it’s talking about an implicit coming again which would refer to Israel’s conversion at the end of the age.  So in the present age Israel is in unbelief,  having her sins paid for but when the age ends Israel will be the receiver, she will have received what Christ did for her.

But the parable doesn’t focus on number seven, the implicit coming again which would refer to Israel’s conversion at the end of the age.  Why not?  Why doesn’t the parable go into that detail?  Because that detail has already been given in prior Scripture.  We know that when the kingdom arrives Israel will be converted.  That’s spoken of in Amos 9:11-15 and Ezekiel 36 and 37 and countless prophecies that I can think of.  So Jesus is not going to go into that subject because he’s focused on mystery realm truth that has never before been disclosed, which is the interadvent age.  He’s not going to start going into a bunch of detail which happens at the age’s conclusion, which the Scripture prior to this already informs us about.

So Arthur Pink says this: “First we have the treasure hid in the field,” that takes us back to the beginning of Israel’s history as a nation. “Second we have the man finding that treasure; that is Christ coming to this earth and confining His message to the Jews in Palestine.  Third, we have the Man hiding the treasure; that is Christ’s judgment upon Israel because of their rejection of Him referring to their dispersion abroad through the earth. Fourth, we have the Man purchasing the treasure and the whole field in which is was found, referring to the death of Christ….”  And then Pink says, “Now have you noticed there is a fifth point omitted? – the logical completion of the parable would be the Man actually possessing the treasure that he purchased.  He hid it, then He purchased it.  Logically, the parable needs this to complete it–the Man owning and possessing the treasure.  Why is that left out?”  Great question; answer,  “Because it lies outside the scope of Matthew 13.  This chapter, dealing with ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,’ has to do with the history of Christendom.”

In other words, the interadvent age, which we don’t have any prophecies about up to this point in time is what Jesus is talking about.  It describes the cause of Christ on this earth during the period of His absence, and therefore there is nothing in this parable about the restoration of Israel and the Lord possessing His earthly treasure, because that … comes after this dispensation is over, after the history of  Christendom has been wound up, after the new age has been inaugurated, namely, the Millennium!  Now, have you noticed there is a fifth point omitted?  —the logical completion of the parable.  How perfect is Scripture in its omissions!  For passages treating of Christ’s recovery and possession of the treasure see Amos 9:14, 15; Acts 15:17.  In due time the Jews shall be manifested as God’s peculiar ‘treasure’ on ‘earth’—see Isaiah 62:1-4.”

In other words, Jesus is not go into information that the Scripture has already revealed.  He’s revealing a new age of truth and what’s new is that in this coming age Israel is buried, not forgotten but buried, not unloved but buried, not having her sins paid for but still buried in unbelief.  That’s what Christ is describing.  I get this by putting these seven points together.  So what is the parable of the hidden treasure about?  It’s not about people getting saved.  What it’s saying is Israel will remain in unbelief in this age (that was coming and we’re in now) and will only be converted at the age’s conclusion.  That’s what Jesus is revealing here.  And that’s what we see today.?  You go around the world and you look at born again Christians and the majority of them are not Jewish; a few Jews get saved but the majority of people in the church and saved are Gentiles.   And yet one of these days this age is going to end and there’s going to be a wide scale conversion of the nation of Israel.  Andy you have to put what has been revealed prior to this point in time together with what Jesus is talking about here to get the whole picture.

So what does this teach us?  It teaches us that the present age cannot be the kingdom because as we have studied the kingdom and its coming to the earth has been bound up in Israel’s response.  Right?  That’s as old as Mount Sinai.  Remember what God said to Israel gathered at Mount Sinai?  [Exodus 19:5] “’Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then” it’s an if/then statement, “then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; [6] and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests [and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”]  but they’re not going to be that kingdom of priests until they respond to God’s condition, which they haven’t done.  So as long as they’re in that condition they’re the owner of her blessings but not the what?  Possessor and the kingdom remains not in cancellation but in what?  Postponement, because the kingdom can’t come until Israel enthrones her King, Deuteronomy 17:15, “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, [one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.”]

Until that happens the kingdom won’t come.  And Jesus made this very clear at the end of Matthew 23 where He said, [37] “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets and stoned those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and  you were unwilling.  [38] Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!  [39] For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until” and that “until” is a very important word, “until you” Israel, “say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”  That’s Psalm 118:26 which is a Messianic Psalm.  And what He’s saying is this nation is not going to see Me and  you’re not going to see My kingdom until you acknowledge Me as King.

So therefore in the present age, when the treasure is buried, we can’t be in the kingdom.  Right, because the kingdom can’t come until Israel acknowledges her King.  Jesus just revealed a time period where that won’t happen.  That’s going to continue throughout the interadvent age and therefore the kingdom can’t be here.  It can’t be here until Israel is converted and we know that won’t happen  until this age is over.  That’s probably an interpretation of the earthen treasure you may have never heard before.

Now that flows very nicely into the pearl of great price, which I think I can to a lot faster, believe it or not.  Look at [Matthew 13] verses 45 and 46. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, [46] and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Now the interpretation of this that I wanted to defend is in the present age the Lord is going to gain a treasure from amongst the Gentiles.  We are “the pearl of great price.”  Even though it’s an age of deception, even though it’s an age of apostasy, even though it’s an age of confusion, God is still doing something good.  His sin debt paid the penalty for Israel’s sin and His death on the cross also paid for whose sins?  My sins and  your sins because we’re in the field as well, right?  Because the field is the what?  The world.

However, that’s not the view that you’re going to get from most teachers.  Arthur Pink writes, “The general conception of its meaning is this! Christianity is likened unto one who earnestly desired and diligently sought salvation.”  So the man who makes a sacrifice is a sinner getting saved.  “Ultimately his efforts were rewarded by his finding Christ, the Pearl of great price.”  So the pearl of great price in the popular conception is Jesus and the guy that pays the price to get the pearl is the sinner getting saved.  “Having found Him, as presented in the Gospel, the sinner sold all that he had: that is to say, he forsook all that the flesh held dear, he abandoned his worldly companions, he surrendered his will, he dedicated his life to God; and in that way, secured his salvation.”  Isn’t how the gospel is taught today in many places?  “The awful thing is that this interpretation is the one which, substantially, is given out almost everywhere throughout Christendom today.   [The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen –  A. W. Pink]

Now Arthur Pink wrote that in 1940 something and I would say that’s what people are still teaching.  That is “what is taught in the great majority of the denominational Sunday School periodicals.  During the last twenty years” Arthur Pink says “I have examined scores of Sunday School teacher’ aids in which the exposition of this parable has been found.  The one which I have just given is an outline of that which has commonly been advanced [A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software]  .”

So the parable of the pearl of great price, just like the parable of the hidden treasure, which we just studied, is about a guy who gives everything up to get saved.  So just like with the prior parable let me tear down the existing paradigm and replace it with what I think is truly going on here.  First of all, the man in the parable of the pearl of great price is not a sinner getting saved but the man is Jesus.  Now how do I know that?  Because that’s who the man is in all these parables.  That’s who he was as we saw in verse 24 and verse 37, the wheat and the tares.  That’s who the man was in the prior parable that we just looked at, the hidden treasure.  So you can’t come to the parable of the pearl of great price and make the man an elect sinner.  I mean, that’s interpreting that parable at odds with how you’ve interpreted all the other parables.

And then what really is a deal sealer for me is if verses 45 and 46 are talking about conversion,  I mean if you have to go and sell all that you have and buy Christ (who they think is the pearl) then what kind of salvation have we just taught here?  Works oriented salvation.  And that contradicts everything the Bible says.  Isaiah 64:6 says that our works of righteousness are as what?  filthy rags.  Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is a free gift of God.  Romans 6:23 tells us that salvation is a free gift of God.   [Isaiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”  Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—[9] not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”]

Receiving salvation is not based on what I do; it’s based on what He has done for me and me receiving it as a gift.  Now I was teaching this interpretation I’m giving you in a Sunday School class in Dallas, Texas, and there was a guy in there whose father had given his whole life to the Southern Baptist Denomination and his son was there.  And as I was teaching I could see his body language; I mean, he was extremely uneasy with what I was saying because what I was saying was the opposite of everything that he had been taught and believed and heard; he had always been taught that the gospel is all about coming forward, surrendering, giving your life to Christ, all of these kinds of things.  And I could just see his body language and fortunately he was a nice guy about it, afterwards he said if what you just said is true that’s just a total paradigm shift for me.  And I appreciate people who think a certain way and  yet when they see the evidence they’re willing to have their views changed.  But a lot of people aren’t that way.

Nobody likes their file drawers rearranged and so when you teach something that’s different than everything they’ve heard what they end up doing many times is they end up getting angry at you.  And I hope that when I get old and I believe something wrongly, which no doubt there’s got to be something I’m wrong about… pride, there we go, prideful.  But I hope if I have been flat out wrong about something and I see the evidence I hope my heart will be soft enough where I can adjust my view.  So if the popular conception of this is correct then the whole thing teaches works salvation and that can’t be true because that contracts everything else in the Bible concerning how salvation is gained.

And beyond that you’ll notice that in this parable if the man is the sinner and the pearl is Jesus then the sinner is seeking God.  Is that what we know about in the Bible?  Do sinners naturally seek God?  When Adam and Eve sinned, Genesis 3:8-10, were they seeking God?  No!  They were running from God; God was seeking them.  [Genesis 3:8-10, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. [9] Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” [10] He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”’]

How about the call of Abraham, was Abraham seeking God?   No, Abraham was an idolater and  you’ll find that in Joshua 24:2-3, but God was seeking Abraham. [Joshua 24:2-3, “And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.  [3] ‘Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.”]

Luke 19:10 says, “The Son of man” that’s Jesus, “has come to” what?  “seek and save that which is lost.”  John 3:19-21 tells us that what we do as sinners, when the light comes is we hide from the light, don’t we, for fear that our deeds be exposed.  [John 3:19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. [20] For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. [21] But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”]

And that’s why Christ sent the Spirit into the world, there’s a reference to that just before He left the earth in John 16;7-11 where the  Spirit is convicting the unsaved person of sin, righteousness and judgment.  [John 16:7-11, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. [8] And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; [9] concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; [10] and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; [11]and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”]  Now that ministry would be unnecessary, wouldn’t it, if people on their own were seeking God.

John 12:32 says that when the Son of man is lifted up then He will do what?  “Draw all men to Himself.  [John 12:32, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”]  Why would He have to do that if people actually seek God on their own?

Romans 3:11 basically says if we’re left to our natural state none of us seek God.  [Romans 3:11, “THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD.”  I mean I can look back on my own salvation and I thought at 16, when I got saved, I got up one day and found Christ on my own.  But all you’ve got to do is put the details together and you can see the hand of God in our lives before we get saved, where He sets up the conversations, He sets up the personal feelings or the emptiness or whatever it is that draws us to Him.  But, you know, this parable changes the whole thing around and makes it sound like people are seeking God on their own.

So you put those three reasons together, the man is Jesus, this can’t be personal salvation or it’s teaching works, and men don’t seek God on their own and the popular interpretation of personal salvation in the pearl of great price can’t be right.  So what is the proper interpretation? Well, the man is not the sinner but Jesus; the pearl is not Jesus but the Gentiles, that would be us, that He goes to the cross and pays the price for our sins.  We don’t purchase Him, He purchases us.  Therefore what is the pearl of great price about, backing up just a moment here?  It’s that the Lord is going to gain a treasure from among the Gentiles in this age of apostasy and satanic deception that the disciples were entering into.

So some concluding thoughts when you put these two parables together.  Jesus’ death is going to redeem many Jews and Gentiles.  The Jews will not receive the gift until the end of the age but the primary people that will receive the gift in this age will be Gentiles.

Number 2, this parable is about how Jesus values us rather than how we value Jesus.  We look at this and we think it’s the story of how much we value God.  The reality is we don’t really value God, it’s God who values us.  That’s what these parables reveal.  These two parables, the earthen treasure and the pearl of great price reveal what God does for man rather than what man does for God.  If you learn nothing else in this church but you learn this one thing you’ll be so far ahead of the game.  The story of the Bible is NOT what man does for God.  Every other religious system out there, that’s what they are focused on.  They’re focused on a process.  The story of the Bible is you don’t focus on a process, you focus on a person, Christ.  The story of the Bible is not what man does for God, it’s what God has done for man.

And these two parables would comfort the disciples, wouldn’t they, who were imminently expecting what?   The kingdom, and they just learned in the first four parables as Jesus was talking to them off the shore that this age is an age of deception.  But He takes them inside and He sees, I think their dejected state and He reminds them that although this is a difficult age that’s coming I want you to understand that God is still working.

So despite apostasy God is still at work in this age: number 1, amongst the Jews, the hidden treasure parable, and number 2 He’s at work amongst the Gentiles, the pearl of great price parable.  So that’s the parable of the earthly treasure and the pearl of great price and next week we’ll look at the dragnet, the householder and then we’ll get into a subject some of you have been asking me about, are we in not the millennial kingdom now but are we in what’s called a mystery form of the kingdom.  And a lot of the traditional dispensational interpreters like Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Dwight Pentecost, John Walvoord, the good guys, have used these Matthew 13 parables to teach that no, we’re not in the Davidic kingdom, we’re in something called the mystery form of the kingdom.  And I’m going to make the case that we are not in a mystery form of the kingdom, we’re not in any form of the kingdom today.  We’re not in the Davidic kingdom, we’re not in the millennial kingdom, we’re not in some mystery form of the kingdom.  These parables don’t reveal that and I’ll try to explain why next week.