It is the habit of Scripture to teach in this way; first to give the outline, then to supply details; and this of course involves recurrence, that is, a retracing, in part or altogether, the same subject, — new circumstances being added without the sphere being enlarged.
Many have quite overlooked this, and have read Scripture as if the order of narration were always the order of accomplishment, and as if consecutive chapters were necessarily consecutive as to time. But if Scripture be so read, confusion and mistake are certain.
We have a remarkable instance of this mode of instruction in the 1st and 2nd chapters of Genesis. The first chapter gives a rapid and comprehensive history of the whole work of creation until its accomplishment, and the rest of the seventh day. The second chapter recurs again to the same subject, and we find a description of the creation of Eve from the side of Adam.
Taken from — The Prophecy of Jesus as Contained in Matthew 24-25 (B.W.Newton)
The Mustard Tree.The Parable of the “Mustard Tree,” and the one that follows it, the “Leaven,” both begin with the phrase “The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto,” and therefore their teaching should not contradict the teaching of the Parable of the “Wheat and Tares.” The same is true of all the “Kingdom of Heaven” parables. Yet these two parables have both been used to teach the “expansion of the Church” until it shall be universal in its supremacy.
We repeat again that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is not the Church, but Christendom. Yet for clearness sake we will let the “Mustard Tree” represent the “visible” Church, composed of all churches called Christian.
Of these two Parables the “Mustard Tree” represents the “external” growth and condition of the visible Church and the “Leaven” the “internal” development.
The “Mustard Plant” is a “garden herb,” and is cultivated for its seed, used as a condiment. It grows wild, often to the height of seven or eight feet. To obtain the best results it should be cultivated in a garden. In the Parable we find the seed sown in a “Field,” (the World), not in a garden, and it grows “wild” until it is no longer called an “herb” but a “tree.” The seed does not produce, after its kind,”an humble “herb”, but becomes a vain glorious Tree, a “Monstrosity,” in which the “Birds of the Air” Lodge.
Who are these “birds?” They are the “fowls” of the Parable of the Sower, for the same word is used, and are therefore the agents of the “Wicked One,” the Devil. (Matt. 13:4,19)
It is clear then that the “birds” in this parable do not represent persons converted by the preaching of the Gospel, but the emissaries of Satan, and they do not lodge in the branches of the “Tree” so much for shelter as for worldly advantage, and they “befoul” it by their presence.
According to this Parable the “Kingdom of Heaven” is a Vast Worldly System, rooted in the earth, bearing the name of Christ, possessed of wealth, standing, and power, but sheltering the agents of the “Ruler of the Darkness of This Age.”
Such we know is the condition of the visible Church today. Where is the picture of “pure” Christianity spreading through the world until the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the deep, thus ushering in a Millennium, in this Parable? In fact,it teaches the contrary and is proof of Jesus’ own declaration that when He shall come back He shall Not Find ‘THE FAITH’ on the Earth. (Luke 18:8)
The common interpretation of the Parable of the “Leaven” (Matt. 13:33), is, that the “woman” represents the Church, the “leaven”, the Gospel, and the “three measures of meal”, Humanity; and that the “Leaven of the Gospel” is to be so introduced by the Church into the “Meal of Humanity” that the whole world will be converted to Christ.
But the “Leaven” cannot mean the “Gospel,” Leaven in the Scriptures is the Symbol of Evil.
It is a species of corruption produced by fermentation, and tends to putrefaction, and will “corrupt” everything with which it comes in contact. The Children of Israel were commanded to put it out of their houses at the time of the “Passover” on penalty of “excommunication.” Ex. 12:15. It must not come in contact with any sacrifice. (Ex. 34:25; Lev. 2:11; 10:12)
Three times Christ uses the word “Leaven” beside here in this Parable. He speaks of the “Leaven of the Pharisees,” the “Leaven of the Sadducees” and the “Leaven of Herod.” (Matt. 16:6-12; Mark 8:15) He calls the “Leaven” of the Pharisees and Sadducees “false doctrine.” The “False Doctrine” of the Pharisees was “Legalism,” the “form of godliness without the power.” The “False Doctrine” of the Sadducees was “Scepticism,” the denial of the resurrection of the body, saying there was neither angel or spirit. The “False Doctrine” of Herod was “Materialism,” a mixture of religion and worldliness.
Christ never used the word “leaven” except in an “evil” sense.
It is used in the same way by the Apostle Paul. Writing to the Corinthians he said “Purge out therefore the ‘old leaven’ that ye may be a ‘new lump.”‘ 1 Cor. 5:6-8. In the same passage he calls Leaven “malice and wickedness,” as contrasted with “sincerity and truth.” Writing to the Corinthians and Galatians about “evil practices,” he warns them that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9)
If by “leaven” is meant the Gospel we have a queer contradiction for the Gospel does not work like leaven. Leaven when put in meal works by “itself,” and if left “alone” will leaven the whole batch of dough. But this is not the way the Gospel works; if it were, every village, town, city and country where the Gospel has once been implanted, should by this time be so thoroughly “leavened” as to be now completely Christian, but this we know is not true. The Gospel as far as converting the world is concerned is a failure.
They set their faces steadily forward and never looked behind them for supplies of men and money.
That way has hope. That is the only alternative for us today.
It is not only good for us but good for those to whom we go, for it calls out spiritual service, instead of teaching them to rely on others. There is a great difference between going to people with the power of Christ, and going to them with the message that you hope one day to find a man in England [West] to hold them up.
Roland Allen — Reform of the Ministry — 1925
If we try to imagine St. Paul, for instance, setting out to serve the people of Macedonia in the sense in which we set out to serve the peoples of China or Africa; if we try to imagine him discussing the question, ‘Upon what few things should we concentrate our strength so as to be of the greatest service to the peoples of Galatia or of Macedonia,’ we find that we cannot imagine any such thing. It becomes inconceivable.
And the reason? ‘Because times have changed?’ Certainly not; it is because there is a great gulf between our ideas of direct social service as the work of a missionary of the gospel and his conception of his work as a missionary of the gospel. He could not have contemplated the possibility of undertaking ‘a few things.’ He had one end, one purpose, one work.
St. Paul could not have looked upon the service of the people of Macedonia, in our sense of the words, as his work; he could not have attempted to reform social evils directly; he could not have dreamed of attempting to impress the people of Macedonia with the excellence of his social activities, so that they might hail him as a benefactor and welcome him because he provided schools for their children, orphanages for their waifs, or hospitals for their sick; he could not have imagined the possibility of revealing the power of the gospel in any such manner, or by such activities.
The churches he established did those things, or things like them; they soon began to bury outcast dead, to purchase the freedom of slaves, and to do other pious works which appealed to them as proper expressions of Christian charity; but St. Paul himself never directly engaged in any such work nor endeavored to direct the Christian churches of his foundation in the doing of them. He could not have done so.
Social activity of this kind was a fruit of the Spirit and it could not be expected to appear UNTIL the apostles had done their work and had ministered the Spirit.
Then the charity of the Spirit expressed itself in these forms. It was the business of the missionary to minister the Spirit, it was the business of the [newly founded] Church to express the Spirit in social service… When we do this kind of work as missionaries we simply confound the work of a missionary with the work of a [local] leader of a settled Christian church. But that is what we are always doing; and the result is hopeless confusion.”
Roland Allen (1868-1947) — “I was ill, and came home for two years, and began to study the methods of the Apostle St. Paul. From that day forward I began to see light.”
“From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.”(Mk 10:6)
The Greek word for “beginning” — archēs (Strong’s 746) — expresses beginning in this way: “from the initial starting point”. Therefore we can truthfully translate this verse:
”From the initial starting point of creation God made them male and female.”
Right away this takes out the argument that there are supposed “gaps” or “ages” in the seven days of creation or millions and millions of years since the beginning of creation. No one, neither saint nor sinner, even hints that Adam and Eve were created millions of years ago…
Sadly, the modern church has difficulty believing the literal meaning from the Bible, even when it spells it out so clearly:
”And there was evening and there was morning, one day… And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”(Gen 1:5,31)
Author B.W. Newton accurately describes the intention of Genesis: “The book of Genesis professes to be what it indeed is — a PLAIN, LITERAL narrative of creation”.
But we in our “insight” stumble over the clear truth of the Holy Spirit inspired words and cling regrettably to man’s wisdom and a form of religion, a religion that picks and chooses what to interpret figuratively (in this case depending on science) and what to interpret literally.
In essence, from the very first page of the Bible we have “lost our way” and doubt the straightforward meaning from God’s Word! Just think for a moment what conflicting conclusions we will come up with using this “pick and choose” method of interpretation by the time we reach the last few pages of our Bibles!
John Wesley, an 18th century Anglican evangelist and founder of the Wesleyan Tradition, offers us helpful comments on this verse –
‘From the beginning of the creation’ – Therefore Moses in the first of Genesis gives us an account of things from “the beginning of the creation”. Does it not clearly follow, that there was no creation previous to that which Moses describes?
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth…”
In the second book of the Bible, in Exodus, Moses is given the 10 Commandments straight from the finger of God. God highlights the “seven days of creation” in comparison to the seven days of a literal week!
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work… For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Ex 20:11)
We can find helpful interpretation from scholars of the past, if we will but listen:
This verse shows that the days in the first chapter of Genesis were real twenty four hour days. For you compare like things to like. Just as God worked six days and rested on the seventh, so the Israelites were to do also. The comparison would make no sense if the days were “seven ages” or were “seven ages” that overlapped each other (Day Age Theory) or if there was a huge gap between the days (Gap Theory). These are modern compromises to accommodate the alleged geological ages with the Biblical account of creation. — Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)
I understand the “modern compromises” to the Biblical account. I am not blind to the fact that I can see the Andromeda Galaxy at night with my naked eye and that the light I am seeing is supposedly 2 million years old!! Yet who is to say that when God created the heavens and the earth He didn’t created them “full grown”, like Adam and Eve, and therefore the light has already traveled its full grown distance…
“Day can sometimes be used as an ‘extended period of time’, such as ‘the day of man’ or ‘the day of Solomon’ — but never when used with numerals. One day means one day; and six days means six days; nor is there any departure from this obvious rule from one end of the Scriptures to the other.” (B.W. Newton, Mosaic Cosmogony, 1882)
I know this: I will find “God to be true, though every man be found a liar”. (Romans 3:4)
Adam was a historical person.
Adam was a historical person. He lived and died. He had a beginning “at the beginning of creation”… and lived for 930 years. Let’s say he died in the year 930. His son Seth lived and died as a real historical person, too. He died in year 1042. Seth’s son, Enosh lived and died. Enosh died in the year 1140.
Using the Bible as OUR ONLY guideline we can literally count the number of years from the“initial starting point of creation” through the death of Jacob in the year 2257. If we then add about 800 years to that and we have the time of King David and King Solomon – men who secular education and science know of. Then add about 1000 years to that and we come to the time of Christ.
The Bible itself gives us the timeline. Earth cannot be much more than 6000 years old if we believe that God made them male and female at the the initial starting point of creation!
If, on the other hand, we can not take the Bible literally (i.e. “it says what it means and means what it says”) then we have no basis or foundation for any interpretation and cannot hold THE TRUTH in our hands! We are like those who play an indistinct, unrecognized sound on the trumpet and do not warn of coming war.
“If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (I Cor 14:8)
Yours for the coming Kingdom,