The seven prophetic parables of Mtt 13. (H.A. Ironside)
The body of Christ has “fumbled the ball” for much of the last 2000 years regarding the parables of Mtt 13. If you were to read the commentaries of 20 men on these parables you would get 20 different opinions! Go ahead and try it!!
“Some say leaven is like an invisible virus for good, others say it is evil and ‘deterioration by rotting’. Some say the birds ‘in the branches’ are believers, some say demons. Some say the tree is a symbol of abnormal growth and worldliness, others say it is the gospel impact on all nations…”
The veil to the mystery comes off, however, when we realize that the “kingdom of heaven” is NOT heaven itself but is the “form” it will take place BETWEEN the two advents of our Lord; a kingdom full of mixture and compromise (“wheat and tares” / “leaven”) as a result of Jesus’ rejection by the Jews, God’s chosen people. The book of Matthew points to His continual rejection by the Jews and Jesus ends up separating Himself from them at the end of Mtt. 12
“Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mtt. 12:48-50)
It is important to grasp this as we read Mtt. 13. Here Jesus lays down, for the first time, what the “kingdom of heaven” will look like on earth as a result of His rejection of Israel and His disowning them.
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.” (Mtt 21:48)
I offer my readers here an expended quote from some 100 years ago to suggest that the parables of the kingdom of heaven are indeed a picture of the kingdom on earth during the King’s absence and not a picture of heaven itself.
“In these parables our Lord set forth the condition which He saw the kingdom would take on earth as a result of His rejection. This was all foreknown to God and provision was made for it. Christ, refused by the leaders of the nation of Israel, made propitiation for sin by His sacrificial death upon the cross (Acts 2:23; 1 John 4:10), and then, as the rejected Man, left this scene, ascending to heaven, where He sits exalted at God’s right hand.
The kingdom of the prophets is in abeyance [a state of suspension] until His promised return to build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down (Acts 15:16); but during His personal absence the Holy Spirit has come in a new way as the Comforter, to enable His servants to preach the Word in convicting power (John 16:7-11). Wherever the gospel is carried, it is the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11).
As a result we see in the world today a great body of people who recognize in the Lord Jesus earth’s rightful King and give Him heart allegiance. There are millions more who give Him lip service and in an outward way own His authority, though their hearts are far from Him. These together constitute the kingdom in its mystical form (v. 11).”
Henry Allen “Harry” Ironside (1876-1951) was a Canadian-American Bible teacher, preacher, theologian, pastor, and author.