The Coming Kingdom 016Matthew 13:11 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 10, 2017 • The Coming Kingdom
The Coming Kingdom
5-10-17 Matthew 13:11 Lesson 16
If we could take our Bibles and open them to Matthew chapter 13 and verse11. And I want to thank Jim and J.B. for filling in the last couple of weeks. I trust you all enjoyed their ministries. I’m back from Europe and I’m going to start a new series in my Sunday School class covering the Protestant Reformation; I’m going to try to weave in some stuff from my trip, so if you’re interested in that. I don’t think it will be a marathon series like the Soteriology series or the kingdom series, maybe seven, six weeks, something like that. I encourage you to check out our sanctuary Sunday School class, 9:45-10:45 and that’s going to be taped and archived also.
And guess what? Next week is our last Bible study of the… what’s the word I’m looking for, not of the year but of the spring because we take, in this church, a summer recess. Did you guys know that we did that? It doesn’t say it in the Bible that we’re supposed to do that but we do it anyway. So we stop meeting in late May and then we reconvene the last Wednesday in August. So tonight and next week will be the last two lessons in the kingdom, so I’ll have to leave you in postponement until we get back together in August. We’ll just pick it up right where we left off. That would be tonight, the 10th, next week the 17th, the last lesson in the kingdom.
And then the 24th, you don’t want to miss that because that’s where the kids do their musical and my daughter is the voice of God in the musical. She’s been practicing around the house the voice of God. So that’ll be fun. That really is a neat time actually, just to kind of recap and see what the kids have been doing here on Wednesday nights. They actually come to this church, they don’t just goof around and play games, they actually learn Scripture and the Bible. So this presentation is very well done and it’ll kind of heighten your love for what our Wednesday night workers are doing with our children during adult Bible study. So I’d encourage you to check that out on the 24th. Are you guys clear on the schedule?
Let’s open our Bibles to the book of Matthew, chapter 13 and verse 11. And as you know we’ve been progressing through this study on what does the Bible say about the kingdom. We saw that God’s plan for the kingdom started in Eden to rule over a man, Adam. And God would rule over Adam and Adam would rule over the world for God and that was what was lost in Genesis 3, so the goal of the Bible is how that structure is brought back. And when we move into the time period of Abraham we learn that God has set aside a particular nation, the nation of Israel, through whom His kingdom program will come. And that’s when the Abrahamic Covenant is made and the nation of Israel is given promises of ownership of which three things, anybody remember? Land, seed and blessing. They haven’t materialized yet but we know they are coming.
And then we go six hundred years into the future, to the time of Moses. That takes us to Mt. Sinai where there’s the condition issued in what’s called the Mosaic Covenant. You’ll find that if/then language in Exodus 19:5-6. [Exodus 19:5-6, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;  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.”] The Abrahamic Covenant gave ownership but the Mosaic Covenant gives possession or enjoyment. So until Israel is in compliance with the Mosaic Covenant she will always be the owner but not the possessor and the kingdom will be in a state of postponement. Of course the Mosaic Covenant points to who? Christ. So Israel has to enthrone the king of God’s own choosing.
The kingdom is divided during the time of Solomon and which of the two do we keep our eye on? The north or the south? The south, because the south has a tribe in it called Judah and there’s a promise given concerning Judah in Genesis 49:10, that the king and the kingdom are going to come from Judah. [Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”]
And then that takes us to what we’re covering on Sunday mornings, the times of the Gentiles, where Daniel is raised; we’re studying Daniel 7 on Sunday mornings where Daniel is describing a time period that the nation will go through. It’s a very difficult time period while the kingdom is in postponement and that time period is called the times of the Gentiles. It started with the beginning of the Babylonian captivity and continues right up to the present hour and will reach its climax under the empire of the antichrist. And during that time period Israel will be converted; they will call Christ back to the earth to rescue them and the kingdom will come.
So while the kingdom is in postponement God raises up Old Testament prophets to give us a sketch; they take on their paint brushes, if you will, and… I listened to Jim’s message and he covered a lot of that as well. They explain to us these prophets, what the kingdom is going to be like one day, once it comes. So they function, as Peter says, “a lamp shining in a dark place.” [2 Peter 1:19, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”] So you can go through the writings of the Old Testament prophets and start to develop a description of what the kingdom is going to be like.
Then the nation comes back out of captivity under the reign of who? Anybody remember. Well, Babylon is overthrown by Persia, Cyrus and Darius of Persia and through the reign of Persia the Jews are allowed to return to the Promised Land 70 years later. And the books of Ezra and Nehemiah give us the background on that.
So the nation of Israel is in the land 400 years before Jesus ever shows up, which is a long time. And during the times of the Gentiles, and we studied some of this last Sunday, Persia would be replaced by who? Greece, and Greece would be replaced by who? Rome. And so Rome is in power and lo and behold, Jesus Christ shows up and He offers the nation of Israel an opportunity of multiple generations. He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is” what? At hand. So that’s what we call the offer of the kingdom. So had the nation of Israel enthroned Christ, the kingdom, the long awaited kingdom hypothetically could have come, but tragically we know the story, as we’ve studied the gospels, that the nation of Israel turned down the offer of the king and the kingdom. Had the nation of Israel enthroned Christ they would have not just been the owner but the what? Possessor, they would have been in compliance with the Mosaic Covenant and the kingdom would have come. But because they rejected Christ and rejected the offer of the kingdom Israel, right up to the present day is the owner but not the possessor of her blessings. So the kingdom remains in a state of postponement.
So it’s during this time in Christ’s ministry it’s very apparent they’re going to reject Him. Christ begins to describe an interim period of time and that’s where we come in. It’s an age of time where God is doing something unique that isn’t related to the kingdom but clearly in the present age God is at work. And so we start to get a hint of a time period where God is going to do something, not bring in the kingdom but He’s going to work. And it’s during this time period He’s at work that the kingdom is in a state of postponement. And this interim age, to discover what God is doing, and it’s really important to understand this or you don’t know what God is doing in the present time. This is why so many people today are confused about this subject, because they’ve never really consulted the Bible carefully the way we are and they really have unrealistic expectations of what God is doing. God is clearly working but He’s not bringing in the kingdom presently. That’s where the amillennial system and the postmillennial system, both of which argue for the presence of the kingdom of God now really are in error.
So God is doing something special, God is doing something unique in this interim age. This interim age has been going on for the last two thousand years; it really started on the Day of Pentecost and I don’t know when it will end. I have my suspicions that God is getting ready to wrap things up but I can’t guarantee that. But to discover the plan of God and the program of God during this interim age you have to consult two sections of Scripture. Number 1, you’ve got to consult the Matthew 13 parables which we’re going to get into tonight.
The second thing you have to consult is God’s plan and program and blueprint for His church. So the Matthew 13 parables, which describe the interadvent age, the work of God in between the two comings of Christ, and specifically Paul’s letters which reveal the church age, which is the age of time we’re in now, those two sections of Scripture tell you exactly what God is doing in the present while the kingdom is in a state of postponement.
So I am not out there today trying to bring in the kingdom; I am not trying to do kingdom work because I understand that we’re in a time period today where the kingdom is not present, yet God is still working. And if we don’t understand what God is doing now versus what He has done and will do related to the kingdom, we start to lose focus of what we are supposed to be doing presently as God’s people.
So the interadvent age and the church age run concurrently and simultaneously, they overlap. And those two sections of Scripture become really important to understand what God is doing in the interim age.
Now you’ll recall that we made about five preliminary observations about the interim age. Number 1, it’s a real age of time. Jesus started to explain it in the parable of the minas you remember, where He was going to be gone for a very long time and this is the first time we’ve heard anywhere in the Gospels that Jesus is going to be absent for a season, and He’s entrusting His people with talents. A talent in the Bible was like a monetary sum or a denomination; in the parable of the minas it’s called a mina which is also a monetary sum. He’s entrusting us to be good stewards of what He has given us but one of these days the interim age will be over and He’s going to hold us accountable related to what we did with what He has entrusted to us.
So this is a real age and a legitimate period of time. It was caused by Israel’s unbelief; it’s a mystery. Anybody remember what a mystery is? It’s something hidden but now revealed. So this mystery age you’re not going to find in the Old Testament. You’re only going to get hints of it in the Gospels. You really have to consult the latter teachings of Christ and Paul’s 13 letters where he describes the church age to describe what God is doing in this mystery age. It’s an age of time that we call a priestly age; Jesus right now is not functioning as king but He is functioning as what? High priest, not on David’s throne on the earth but which throne is He on? On the Father’s throne in heaven. And He is not just an ordinary priest after Aaron’s lineage; He is a priest after the order of who? Melchizedek. And so the book of Hebrews explains the priestly ministry of Christ and the present while Jesus is not reigning as king.
So Christ has three offices, prophet, priest and king. He was prophet in His first coming; He’ll be king in His second coming. And currently He is not functioning as king or prophet; He’s functioning as priest at the Father’s right hand. And the book of Hebrews develops that for us.
And you shouldn’t look at this age as some kind of afterthought of God. It’s an important age. The Book of Ephesians, chapter 3, verse 11 tells us that the age of time that we’re now in is part of the predetermined plan of God. So God always knew that Israel would reject His Son and He knew the time period that we would find ourselves in because of that rejection, and the kingdom’s postponement. And God had not disclosed that time period in the Old Testament but He knew it would come.
So the present age of time is part of the plan of God although it hadn’t been revealed yet in detail until you get into the writings of the Apostle Paul. So it’s an authentic age, it’s an age caused by Israel’s unbelief; it’s a mystery age, it’s a priestly age and it’s an important age. So to understand this interim age you have to understand two areas of divine truth: you have to understand the Matthew 13 parables and then you have to understand information about the church. So what we’re going to wade into gently this evening is the Matthew 13 parables.
The Matthew 13 parables start to fill out what God is doing in the interim advent age. So that’s why I had you open up to Matthew 13:11. Now if we have time we’re going to get into tonight the first of the eight parables, the parable of the sower, but before we get to the parable of the sower what I want to do is I want to make seven preliminary background observations about the Matthew 13 parables and this information is necessary to interpret Matthew 13 correctly.
So I have seven points to make. The first is this; notice the position of the parables in Matthew’s Gospel. The turning point in Matthew’s Gospel is which chapter. Anybody remember? Matthew 12. Matthew 12 is where it becomes very clear that the religious leaders are hardened against Christ and they’re going to reject the offer of the kingdom. The turning point is in Matthew 12:24 where they attribute Christ’s clear miracles, that He was doing right there in their midst, they attribute that miracle to whose power? Satan’s, and that happens in Matthew 12:24. And the moment that happens it’s a pivot point in Matthew’s Gospel. In Matthew 12:24 it says, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man” that’s Jesus, “casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” And that shifts Christ’s entire ministry.
Matthew 1-12 is part one of Christ’s ministry when He’s offering the kingdom to Israel but Matthew 13-28 is the second part of Christ’s ministry because of the rejection and the hardness of the Jewish leaders. The focus of part 1 is the nation of Israel; the focus of part 2 is the remnant. See, in part 2 He’s not focusing any more on the nation. The nation is going to reject Him; it’s very clear. He’s focusing on a tiny remnant, a minority of people that are believing in Him and He’s trying to build them because they’re going to become the foundation stones of the soon to be birthed church. The purpose of His miracles shift: in the first part of His ministry His miracles are trying to prove to the nation He’s the King. In the second part of His ministry His miracles are aimed at training the remnant, so He’s trying to increase their faith because of the role they’re going to be playing in the book of Acts.
The first part of His ministry you keep hearing this expression, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Once you reach Matthew 12:24 and they attribute His miracles to Satan that expression disappears from Matthew’s Gospel. It doesn’t appear again until the Olivet Discourse which is a description of the tribulation period, which involves Israel’s conversion under distress after the church has been removed from the earth. The first part of His ministry He spoke in open discourse form; the second part of His ministry He starts talking in parables, and I’ll explain why that is in just a second. The first part of His ministry He never mentions an interim age. But once you get outside of Matthew 12, into Matthew 13-28 you start to get more clarity on the interim age of time that we’re in now that will exist while the kingdom is in postponement.
His crucifixion and His resurrection are not mentioned in the first part of His ministry but now that it’s very clear that the nation is going to reject Him He begins to talk openly about His crucifixion and He begins to talk openly about His resurrection and He begins to talk openly about the soon to be birthed church. So Matthew 12:24 is a shift in the whole program of God.
Now Cindy was showing me some chiastic structures in the book of Genesis. This is another chiastic structure, it’s a way to outline all of Matthew’s Gospel. The key point in a chiasm is what’s in the center; the center is the shift. And so you can see from this chiastic structure of the book of Matthew, and you guys, if you’re with us on Sundays you’re familiar with chiasms because Daniel 2-7 is sort of laid out like a chiasm. The shift in this chiasm is Matthew 11 and 12, particularly Matthew 12 where it’s very clear that the Jewish leaders are going to reject the King, leading to the kingdom’s, not cancellation but what? Postponement. And it’s at this point that Jesus gives the Matthew 13 parables. He doesn’t just say hey, how about some parables? Do you guys want to hear some parables, this ought to be fun. These are strategically placed in Matthew’s Gospel in Matthew 13 after the key rejection of the offer of the king and the kingdom in Matthew 12. Do you guys all agree with me that Matthew 13 comes after Matthew 12?
So Matthew 12 is the shift; Matthew 13 we start hearing these parables. Arthur Pink, whose work on the 13 parables, I have a very high opinion of, he puts it this way. He says, “In Matthew 12 we are told, ‘But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons’—there they committed the sin” Pink says, “for which there was no forgiveness. Following our Lord’s sentence upon the Pharisees for their unpardonable blasphemy, we are next told, ‘Then certain of the scribes and the Pharisees answered, Master, we would see a sign from Thee’ (verse 38). His response was that the only sign which should be given to that evil and unfaithful generation” speaking of first century Israel, “should be that of ‘the sign of the prophet Jonah’—i.e., that after three days in the place of death the Servant of God should come forth and go unto the Gentiles. Following this,” see what Pink is doing here is he’s laying out the chronology. “Following this the Lord solemnly pronounced the coming judgment of Heaven upon that wicked generation, so that their last state should be worse than the first (vv. 43–45). . . .”
That’s basically a description of A.D. 70 that’s coming because of Israel’s rejection of her king.
And then Pink goes on and he says, “The parables of this chapter [Matthew 13] were spoken by Christ ‘the same day’ as when the Pharisees had taken council together to destroy Him, as when they had committed the unpardonable sin, as when He had pronounced solemn judgment upon the Nation, and as when He had severed the fleshly ties which united Him to the Jews and had intimated that henceforth there should be a people united to Him by spiritual bonds.” Now watch this very carefully. “Thus the relation between Matthew 12 and Matthew 13 is that of cause and effect;” do you see that? “in other words, Matthew 12 makes known the cause which led up to Christ’s acting as He did in the thirteenth chapter: that cause was Israel’s rejection of their king and His rejection of them. His action in Matthew 13:1” watch this very carefully, “was indicative of a great dispensational crisis, it was an anticipation of what is found developed at length in the books of Acts—God, temporarily, turning away from the Jews and turning unto the Gentiles.”
[A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.]
So you have what Arthur Pink calls cause and effect; Matthew 12 is the rejection of the nation at Christ, Matthew 13 are the parables. It’s what we would call a dispensational crisis. What we’ve been led to believe up to this point in the Bible is that once the king comes they would embrace the king and the kingdom would manifest itself, and now we’ve got a crisis on our hands because the nation has rejected their King. So what’s God going to do now? Well, God is going to turns lemons into what? Lemonade, and He’s going to use this circumstance to number one, pay the sin debt for the world. And number two, bring something into effect, this new interim age of time, that was always in the mind of God but just had never been revealed. So that becomes the significance of these Matthew 13 parables. You have to begin to understand that these parables aren’t revealed until Matthew 13 for a reason. So we have number one, concerning the background of the Matthew 13 parables, number one, their position in Matthew’s Gospel.
The second point that needs to be understood is the mystery nature of these parables. So that’s why I had you open to Matthew 13:11 and as Jesus is giving these parables it says this: “Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the” what? “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them” that’s Israel, unbelieving Israel, “ it has not been granted.’” So one of the things to understand about these parables is not only are they strategically placed in Matthew’s Gospel for a particular reason, but number 2, they are a mystery.
Now do you all remember what a mystery is? It’s a truth concealed now what? revealed. Before I’ve given you this definition from Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words, I think we’ve talked about this word before, haven’t we? Basically the word mystery is something new that’s never before been revealed. So Jesus, in Matthew 13:11 applies this word “mystery” to these parables. In other words, He is going to tell them something that has never been revealed before. You can’t find this era of time anywhere in the Old Testament; it’s only at this particular point in Christ’s ministry, given what happened in Matthew 12, that He’s ready to unfold a new period of time which is a mystery, something unknown now revealed.
And drop down to Matthew 13:16-17 and he continues to talk this way. He says, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” In other words you’re blessed because of the teaching you’re about to get through these parables.  “For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
And what He’s saying is Moses and Abraham and Daniel and Isaiah and all of the greats of the Old Testament era would have loved to have the insight that I’m about to give you concerning this new age of time but they couldn’t see it because it was a mystery, it was hidden. But now, because of what the nation has done to Me, they’ve rejected Me, leading to a dispensational crisis, leading to postponement of the kingdom, I’m going to give you something brand new, that God always wanted to do and always knew He would do, but it has never before been revealed.
So it’s really important to understand that these parables are mystery truths. Drop down, if you could, to Matthew 13:35, it says this: “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS” what? “HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” So you take verse 11, verses 16-17, and verse 35 and you put those verses together and it couldn’t be clearer that Jesus is giving something totally new at this particular point in His ministry.
So Arthur Pink says, “The eleventh verse of Matthew 13 supplies yet another key, in the word “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” In Scripture the term “mystery” signifies a Divine secret made known by the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by what is told us in verse 35, namely, that Christ was here uttering “things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Thus, in these parables, Christ was making known that which was outside the scope of O. T. prediction, something which God had not made known to Israel through the prophets. This needs to be carefully noted, for it refutes the popular interpretation of these parables.” [A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software]
And what many people will tell you is well, what these parables represent is the kingdom of God coming to the earth. Well, if that’s true then how could these parables be called a mystery, something new? Isn’t the kingdom well developed in the Old Testament? I mean, haven’t we spent week after week after week building point after point after point after point showing everybody that the kingdom and the kingdom program is well developed in the Old Testament? Well how can these Matthew 13 parables then be a mystery or something new? How could they be the kingdom, rather, when Matthew 13 is very clear that they are something brand new.
So the definition of mystery itself, if you buy into that, it shows you that what Christ is disclosing here can’t be the kingdom because the kingdom isn’t something new, is it? The kingdom is fully revealed in the Old Testament. You guys with me on this?
So number 1, notice the position of these parables in Matthew’s Gospel. They are strategically placed. Number 2, notice their mystery nature. Number 3, notice (and we made this point a little earlier) that these parables have nothing to do with the kingdom, or the kingdom of God. They do not represent the kingdom of God.
Arthur Pink again says this: “There are many who regard the parables of Matthew 13 as containing predictions of the ushering in of the Millennium: those of the Mustard-tree and the Leaven are regarded as being parallel with the promise that “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.”’ So many people talk about the yeast going through the dough in one of the parables and they say that’s the coming forth of the kingdom, that’s the knowledge breaking forth all over the earth, as Isaiah 11:9 predicts. [Isaiah 11:9, “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.”] But Arthur Pink says, “But that statement is found in Isaiah 11:9: that was no “secret” in O. T. times! Therefore, none of the parables” let me say that again—therefore none of the parables in Matthew 13 can be treating of the same subject as Isaiah 11:9….”
[A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software]
If Jesus is coming along and just rehashing Isaiah 11:9 then these parables can’t be a what? They can’t be a mystery, they would just be a restatement of something that’s already been said. But we’re learning here very specifically that these are mystery parables. So this is not a rehash of Old Testament information concerning the kingdom. The word “mystery” denies that understanding.
“Therefore, none of the parables in Matthew 13 can be treating of the same subject as Isaiah 11:9, or what is stated in verse 35” that’s where Jesus says I’m going to give you secrets, not known from the foundation of the earth, “or what is stated in verse 35 would not be true. No; Matthew 13 deals with something nowhere revealed in the O.T.; it is an entirely new revelation].” [A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software]
So number one, note the strategic position of these parables in Matthew’s Gospel. Number 2, note their mystery nature. Number 3, note the fact that the teachings that Jesus is giving have nothing to do with the Old Testament revelation we have studied thus far concerning the kingdom of God. That takes us to number four, what do these parables represent? What the parables represent is not the manifestation of the kingdom of God on the earth but the course of the present age while the kingdom is in a state of postponement.
What in the world is God doing? What in the world has God been doing for the last 2,000 years while His nation is in unbelief and the kingdom is in a state of postponement? You take these parables and you put them together and you see exactly what God is doing. It’s a different program entirely and it doesn’t concern the kingdom.
Now there are here eight parables: the parable of the sower, the parable of the wheat and the tares, the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the leaven, the parable of the earthen treasure, the parable of the pearl of great price, the parable of the dragnet, and the parable of the householder. And it’s not until you take all eight and put them together comprehensively that you can begin to understand what God is doing today. And so what I’m going to be doing is going through each of these parables, obviously we won’t finish these tonight, or even next week, we’ll pick it up in August, but I’m going to be showing you specifically what each parable is, what each parable represents; it doesn’t represent the kingdom but it does represent an action of God in the present. So these eight parables strung together, studied comprehensively, reveal the spiritual conditions that will prevail upon the earth until the kingdom comes one day.
So take a look at Matthew 13:40-41, notice where these parables end. This is the wheat and the tares. “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,” so it’s describing a spiritual condition, and when does that condition end? At the end of the age. What’s the end of the age? When the kingdom finally what? Comes. Well, until the kingdom comes what is God doing? This parable explains it.
Take a look at Matthew 13:49-50, “So it will be at the end of the” what? “the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” What is that talking about? It’s talking about the manifestation of the kingdom, the manifestation of judgment. Well what in the world is God doing until the manifestation of judgment in the kingdom? That parable explains to you the spiritual course of things in the present age, in the interim. That’s the significance of these parables. And most Christians I would say have never actually backed up and looked at this whole list because if you were to back up and you understood what each parable stood for and you took all eight together you would understand exactly what God is doing because He’s revealed Himself in this mystery.
So number 1, notice their strategic position in the book of Matthew. Number 2, notice their mystery nature. Number 3, notice that they do not represent the kingdom of God; if they represented the kingdom of God then they couldn’t be what? A mystery! Well, if they don’t represent the kingdom of God what do they represent?
Number 4, they represent the course of the present age while the kingdom is in a state of postponement. This takes us to number 5, the fifth point of observation or background is these parables are describing the experiences of the sons of the kingdom although the kingdom is not here. They’re not talking about the manifestation of the kingdom; they’re talking about the experiences that the sons of the kingdom will experience while the kingdom is not here.
Take a look if you will at Matthew 13:38, “and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the” what? “sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;” now what is a son in the Bible, s-o-n, son? Doesn’t Paul say in Galatians 4:7, “If a son, then” then a what? “then an heir.” We’re not in the kingdom right now but guess what? I’m going to inherit the kingdom one day. I’m a son of the kingdom? Are you a son of the kingdom or a daughter of the kingdom? If you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you’re going into the kingdom even though the kingdom is not here. So what does that make your present position? It makes you a son or a daughter or an inheritor of the kingdom.
Well if you’re a son or a daughter and an inheritor of the kingdom don’t you want to know what your life is going to be like in the interim time period until the kingdom comes? We all want to know that, don’t we? Where do we fit in? What is God doing with me? Well, Matthew 13 and the eight parables there are an explanation of it. I like the way Toussaint and Quine, in their BibSac article, that’s Dallas Seminaries academic Journal, explain this. They say this: “When Jesus explained in Matthew 13:36–43 His parable of the tares among the wheat (vv. 24–30), He said ‘the sons of the kingdom’ and ‘the sons of the evil one’ are represented by the good seed and the tares, respectively (v. 38). The latter” that would be sons of the evil one, “are obviously unbelievers, and the former are sons of the kingdom not” watch this very carefully, “not in the sense that the kingdom is present but in the sense that as believers they will inherit the millennial kingdom.” [Stanley D. Toussaint and Jay A. Quine, “No, Not Yet: The Contingency of God’s Promised Kingdom,” Biblioteca Sacra 164 (April–June 2007): 140.]
So that is our current position. We are inheritors of the millennial kingdom, we are kingdom bound but the kingdom is not here now so what does that make me? That makes me a son of the kingdom or a daughter of the kingdom or an inheritor of the kingdom. Matthew 13 is brand new teaching because it’s explaining here’s what the inheritors of the kingdom are going to experience through eight parables while the kingdom is in a state of absence and postponement.
So again notice the position of these parables in Matthew’s Gospel. Notice their mystery nature. Notice that they do not represent the kingdom itself. Notice that they represent the spiritual course of the present age while the kingdom is in postponement. And notice that they represent the experiences of the kingdom’s sons (or daughters) while the kingdom is not here.
And this takes us to number 6, notice very specifically that Jesus revealed these truths, which are brand new, in parabolic form. He deliberately teaches in parables here. Now when you go through Matthew’s Gospel what you’ll discover is that there are five major sermons that Jesus gave. We know that there are five because Matthew gives us a structural clue; it says, “And when Jesus had finished saying these things,” so whenever Matthew uses the expression “And when Jesus had finished saying these things” you know that he was wrapping up a major discourse. So you’ll find that expression at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, His first major discourse, Matthew 5-7. He uses that identical expression at the end of Matthew 10, after the missions discourse. He uses that same expression in the section that we’re looking at, starting to look at tonight, the kingdom parables, Matthew 13. He uses that same expression at the end of Matthew 18 in what’s called the humility discourse. And then He uses that same expression in His end times discourse at the end called the Olivet Discourse.
Now what I want you to see is He never gave the Sermon on the Mount in parables. He never gave the missions discourse in parables. But here, all of a sudden, out of the blue Jesus starts talking in this unusual teaching form, which is a parable. Why in the world is Jesus now speaking in parables when He never gave His prior discourses in parabolic form? There is a twofold answer to that. Number 1, it’s to fulfill prophecy. Drop down to Matthew 13:34-35. If you drop down to Matthew 13:34-35 it says this: “this was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:” now the prophet He’s quoting from is the Psalms, He’s quoting Psalm 78:2, “this was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet, “I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.”
So the first reason Jesus spoke in parables at this point was to fulfill Old Testament prophecy. However, there is a second reason that Jesus spoke in parables. He didn’t just pick this teaching style because it was in vogue, He picked it deliberately. What is a parable? A parable is designed to do two things; number one, conceal truth, and number two, to reveal truth. He started speaking in parables to conceal and also to reveal.
If you look at Matthew 13:16-17, it says, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”] Question—who is He concealing truth from and who is He revealing it to? The first group He’s concealing truth from is this crowd here, the Pharisees, the leadership of the nation of Israel and the bulk of the nation in unbelief that’s blindly following their leaders. He is not revealing new truth to them, in fact, He’s hiding it from them. You say well how could He do that? Well, He didn’t hide it from them in the first twelve chapters; He was trying to get them to receive the kingdom, which they rejected. But now it’s clear they’re not going to reject Him so He takes truth and puts it below the radar screen where they can’t get at it.
So He’s concealing truth from the Pharisees because there’s been a shift in His ministry from public to private. Jesus concealed truth from the Pharisees out of compassion. Why is that? “Because to whom much is given much is” what? “required.” [Luke 12:48] The more truth a person has the greater their degree of accountability on the day of judgment.
Matthew 11:20-24 which happened just a couple chapters earlier, Jesus said this: “Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.  “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable” see that, “for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom” that was a pretty wicked city, wasn’t it? “had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.  Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”
And what He’s saying is here’s a whole bunch of Old Testament cities, Sodom and Gomorrah being of them, Tyre an Sidon being another group, that are going off into judgment and here’s some New Testament cities, Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. The Old Testament cities are going off into judgment, the New Testament cities are going off into judgment but the judgment is going to fall harder on which group? The New Testament. Why is that? Because the New Testament cities saw something the Old Testament cities never saw. What did they see? The incarnate Son of God in their presence teaching and performing miracles.
So all of these cities are going to be judged but the ones with the higher revelation are going to be judged more severely. So, “To whom much is given much is” what? “required.” This is why Jesus stops publicly teaching to the nation at this point because He already knows what they’re going to do, they’re going to reject Him. That’s a done deal. So if He just gave them more truth what would that do? It wouldn’t help them, it would just increase the wrath of God upon them in the day of judgment.
So that’s why Jesus is speaking in parables at this point. He’s deliberately concealing truth from the nation but who is He revealing it to? The remnant, that’s why Jesus says to the remnant, [Matthew 13:16] “But blessed are your eyes,” who’s “you”? Or “your”? That’s the tiny remnant of believers. “…blessed are your eyes because they see; and your ears because they hear.  For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desire to see what you see and do not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.”
Christ has His eyes, at this point, on the apostles because the apostles are going to become the what? The foundation of the church. So these parables are not designed for the nation as a whole; these parables are designed for the babes in Christ, this tiny group that’s following Him, among whom are the twelve apostles, because we know from Paul’s teaching, Ephesians 2:20, that the church itself is going to be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. [Ephesians 2:20, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,”]
And this is why Jesus is speaking in parables. See, many people are confused as to why Jesus is speaking in parables at all; is He just… I don’t know, winging it? Is He just trying something new? Is He just trying something in vogue? No, when you understand the flow of Matthew’s Gospel you see that He chose this method of discourse or communication intentionally to conceal truth from one group and reveal truth to another group. Are you guys with me on this?
So number one, notice their position in Matthew’s Gospel. Notice their mystery nature. Notice that they don’t represent the kingdom. Notice that they represent the course of the present age. Notice that they represent the experiences of the kingdom’s sons. Notice why Jesus taught in parables. Finally number 7, and with this we’ll close: notice that the parables, eight of them, are divided into two. A great many commentators miss this point but if you look at Matthew 13:1-2 this is what it says. “That day Jesus went out of the house” so He’s in public, right? He’s not speaking to the nation but He’s speaking to a fairly large remnant that’s following Him. “That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea.  And large crowds gathered to Him,” not the religious leaders, they have already rejected Him, but seekers. “…large crowds gathered to Him so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.”
So in public, in this sense He gives the first four parables. There’s eight parables total. He gives four. And then if you drop down to Matthew 13:36 it says this: “Then He left the crowds and went into the house.” See the first four parables He comes out of the house, He’s sort of… the way I envision it He’s sort of floating on a boat near the bank of the Sea of Galilee because of the masses and He’s addressing them. But then you go to verse… and that’s where He gives four parables about the interim age, then you go to verse 36 and it says “Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him” that would be privately, Jesus come here, private conversation, private meeting, “And His disciples came to Him” in the house “and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”’ In the house he gives four more parables.
So what I want you to see is Matthew’s chapter divides the eight parables into two equal groups of four; four public parables outside of the house, four private parables inside of the house. Now the big question is why does Matthew intentionally divide the chapters this way. Why does Matthew bring this two-fold division to our attention? The answer is we don’t know because Matthew doesn’t tell us why, but I’m prepared to offer you my theory on it.
My theory on it is this: when Christ got finished with the first four parables the disciples were totally dejected because in those first four parables, sower, wheat and tares, mustard seed and leaven it is very clear that the kingdom is not coming immediately. Not only is that clear but the age of time that is coming while the kingdom is not here is a terrible age of deception and apostasy and drifting away from truth. That’s what you get from the sower, the wheat and tares, the mustard seed and the leaven, as I’ll be explaining in this series.
So if you were a Jew who was following Christ Luke 19:11 says they expected the kingdom to come any minute. [Luke 19:11, “While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.”] And Christ unloads this teaching on you with four parables and tells you, number 1, not only is the kingdom not going to come but the age of time that it’s coming is a terrible age of deception and apostasy and drifting away from truth. You could see how that would depress them, can’t you?
So therefore He gathers them in private, beginning in verse 36, and He says this: But God is still working. And that’s where He unloads the earthen treasure, the pearl of great price, the dragnet and the householder. So what He’s saying is Satan is at work in this age, the first four parables are very clear about that, Satan is doing everything he can and many, many people are drifting away from truth during this new age of time that you’re entering, parables 1-4.
But in parables 5-8 guys, in private, don’t be dejected, don’t be down because the devil is working but who else is working? God’s working. There’s a simultaneous work happening, God is sowing, Satan is doing his counterfeit sowing; Satan is sowing, God is doing His true sowing. See that?
So therefore if the current age is the program of God where evil and good are working concurrently side by side can this age be the kingdom? It can’t be the kingdom because in the kingdom where is Satan? Satan is bound; there is no competition going on. So He’s revealing this new period of time where you have the co-existence of good and evil.
Parables 1-4 are really the work of the devil but parables 5-8 is the work of God. Parables 1-4 would have depressed the daylights out of these guys who thought the kingdom was going to come. Here they learned it’s not going to come and this age is going to deteriorate and it’s not going to get better until the return of Christ. Man, these guys are down, so He gets them together privately in the house and He says don’t be too dejected guys, God is still doing a work.
So that is the background to these Matthew 13 parables. Number 1, note their position in Matthew’s Gospel. Number 2, note their mystery nature. Number 3 note that they do not represent the kingdom. Number 4, note that they do represent the course of the present age, the coexistence of good and evil; the devil is at work and God is at work. Number 5, note that they are the natural and normal experiences of the inheritors of the kingdom until the kingdom comes. Number 6, note specifically why Christ taught these things in parables. He’s concealing this truth from the nation as a whole and instead of revealing it to the remnant. And number 7, note the two-fold division of these parables, why He taught four in open and four more in private. The first four are the progress of evil, the latter four are the progress of God.
So your homework for next week is to read chapter…what chapter are we in in that book? I think it’s chapter 10 isn’t it? So read chapter 10 in my book but more importantly read God’s book and read the first four parables; read the sower, read the wheat and tares, read the mustard seed, read the leaven now that you have this background and see what Jesus is talking about.
So anyway I’m going to stop talking at this point, 8:04 and folks that need to collect their young ones and dismiss themselves are free to do that and we can open it up for Q&A.