The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven
One of the great teachings of the Bible is on the kingdom of heaven coming to earth and the reign of God — once and for all — to cover the face of the whole earth. The apostle Paul wrote of it like this:“So that God may be all in all” both in heaven and on earth.”(I Cor 15; Eph 1)
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” (Mtt 13: 10-11
Jesus expresses it this way when He taught His disciples to pray: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mtt 5)
Can you imagine a world without the Fall? Without original sin? God would still be walking around with His children in the garden by the Tree of Life. The earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Hab. 2; Isaiah 11)
Well, sin did enter into this world and thereby death! Not only physically death but also spiritual death – eternal separation from God. But the glorious news of the Gospel is that “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. “ (I Cor 15) Yet until that day when we see Him face to face (1 Cor.13), when we will be like Him (1 John 3), the kingdom of heaven is a mixture here on earth. In heaven it is pure, but here on earth, since the King has left it temporarily, it is seen in the New testament as a place were both good and evil co-exist. In a sense it takes on “new form”. This may be a new thought for you but that doesn’t make it unbiblical!
Mixture in the kingdom of heaven.
Because Israel rejected their King, He temporarily rejected them, and therefore the setting up of His Messianic kingdom on this earth was postponed. The King would depart from this world and be absent for a lengthy season, before He returned again and set up His kingdom (Luke 19). In the interval of His absence the “kingdom” takes another form. It is now His kingdom among the Gentiles, and is found wherever His authority is publicly owned; it is the sphere of Christian profession. (A. W. Pink)
Here is where we will see that Jesus is introducing to the world the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven, in its present state, will be a mixture of good and bad. Until the Son of Man returns and rules and reigns from Jerusalem, the kingdom will be a mixture of good fish and bad fish, wheat and tares. In a word: Christendom. A kingdom where there are “professors of Christ” growing side by side with “possessors of Christ”. John Calvin said it this way: “The visible church is composed of wheat and tares. But the invisible church is the wheat itself.” (John Calvin)
The separation belongs to the Judge of all the earth!
Believers readily acknowledges that Jesus said the kingdom of heaven would include both wheat and tares, and that the tares, which were sown by the devil, were to remain in the kingdom until the harvest. The tares, which imitate wheat, by the way, would not be removed from the field until the end of this age — at the Second Coming.
“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,” (Mtt 13:40-41)
Jesus goes on to tell His disciples a parable of the kingdom of heaven that has a fishing net of both good fish and bad fish .
Later Jesus told a parable of the kingdom of heaven was like a King giving his son a wedding feast to describe that both “good and evil” guests were invited to sit at the table, until the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. Here again is a depiction of the mixture in the kingdom of heaven.
Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. (Mtt 22:10)
The mixture of the kingdom of heaven is also seen in the parable of the Mustard Seed, wherein Jesus depicted a mustard seed which is planted in a field but when it is full grown [i.e. at the end of the age] it will have grown into a tree, so large that the [evil] birds of the air can nest in its branches.
But surely Jesus will separate out of the tree the birds of the air and their nests, won’t He? Sadly, the evangelical church of the last 1800s of years, rather than study the parables for themselves, have clung on to a faulty interpretation that was passed down from the time of the Church Fathers to the Reformation. An interpretation that expressly speaks against the teaching of Jesus in Mtt 5-7 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mtt 7)
In Matthew 13 we are asked to believe that the great tree with the birds and nests “at the end of the age” equates with a universal acceptance and success of the gospel. Jesus Himself tells us that the birds of the air that pick up the seed He sowed on the road was the devil!
“If He speaks about the birds of the air, and in the parable of the sower, He says the birds of the air were the evil one; then, when He says that the birds of the air find a place in the great tree, He means the same thing. The same words mean the same thing every time.” T. Austin Sparks
It is only by realizing these shades of meaning that we can do justice to the parables of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven!
Yours for the coming King,
For further contemplation:
Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
The Church is:
> The Floor, where the wheat and the chaff are often mingled, Matthew 3:12.
> The Field, where the bastard wheat and the true grain grow together, Mtt 13:26,27
> The Net, which collects of all kinds, both good and bad, Mtt 13:48.
> The Wedding Hall, which gathered together all – both bad and good – into what is generally termed the visible Church of Christ. Mtt 22:10
> The House, in which the wise and foolish are found, Mtt 25:1
> The Fold, in which there are both sheep and goats, Mtt 25:33