Matthew 13c

Matthew 13 C: The Seed, The Tree, & The Birds

It is important we review what has been revealed to us by the Lord in these first two parables in order to uncover the meaning of the remaining parables. So far we have been told:

*The Seed is the Word of God, the Message of the Kingdom- the Incorruptible Seed

*The soils represent the hearts of men

*The birds represent the evil one, the devil who comes and snatches away the Word, the Seed

*The field is the world; the Lord Jesus ( the Son of Man) is the sower

*The wheat- represents the  born again believers- the sons of the kingdom

* The tares represent the sons of the evil one

* The harvest is the end of the age.

* The harvesters are the angels who gather the tares and throw them into the fire.

The Lord then combined two brief parables known as the parable of the mustard seed and the Yeast or leaven in the bread. Let’s use the keys we have been given to unlock their meaning.

In doing so- we will discover the message regarding the apostate church.  Apostasy comes from a Greek word apostasia, which means : “ a defiance of an established system or authority; a rebellion, an abandonment or breach of faith.” The Bible warns us about apostasy, a falling away and how to recognize it.

In the parable of the mustard seed there are three basic elements that stand out: The seed, the tree, and the birds.

First we will look at the seed. What have we been told the seed is?  The seed is the Word of God, the Message of the Kingdom, the Gospel. The man who does the sowing is the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. The world is the field.  Here in this parable, the Lord Jesus further describes the Seed, the Word of God. He says the Kingdom of God is like the mustard seed. How ?  It is small, it is simple but it has great strength. Small, as a mustard seed which can take approximately 250,000 mustard seeds to make a pound  Strong in that the ground up mustard seed makes a zesty, fiery condiment that is one of the most widely used condiments in the world. Mustard has a bite to it.  Think of the mustard you put on an egg roll in a Chinese restaurant. It is pungent. Mustard plasters have been used in the past to treat a cough and bronchitis by putting the plaster on your chest.  Too much of a peppery mustard can give one heart burn. The Word of God should make our hearts burn within us.  The mustard seed is small, it is strong and it is simple. The gospel does not need a lot of flowery speaking, it’s strength is in its brevity, and simplicity. It can be stated in one verse- John 3: 16.  It can be  condensed to a simple song a child learns to sing:  “ Jesus loves me- this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”   This seed is small, strong, simple and it contains a secret within it. The seed has life within it.  How did Jesus sow this seed?  Through speaking, preaching, teaching and one on one conversations. His very words contained life.  Jesus said ;” You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scripture that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” ( John 5: 39,40) Jesus was the Word. ( John 1) And in Him was life, and that life was the light of men.   Jesus said the words I speak to you are life, they contain life. The word is the Incorruptible seed that abides forever and  produces the new life, eternal life.The Word is described in Hebrews 4 as alive and powerful. Jesus the Son of Man was the one who cast it.  It is small, it is simple, it is strong. The gospel is all of that and more. If you believe, you receive and you become a child of God, a new creature born again.

Now watch what this herb, the mustard plant becomes for there is something very wrong with this picture.  The mustard seed produces a mustard plant. It is a herb. Although it is the largest of the herbs in the herb garden, it is a plant, more like a bush that may reach a height of 6-7 feet. However here in this parable we are told it becomes a tree. A herb does not become a tree. A tree has wood, a herb does not.  A herb has no wood tissue contained in it.  Listen to what the Bible says:  “And God said, let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its own kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth and it was so.” ( Genesis 1: 11, KJV)   God made them different.  A herb never produces a tree and a tree never produces a herb.  This is not normal, it is abnormal. A mustard plant never becomes a tree and anyone who grows and processes mustard plants would tell you this is scientific fact.

This would be something that is a gross perversion of what God intended.  This is a picture of the apostate church. Let us look at what the Word of God has to say about a certain kind of tree.  In  Daniel 4: 20-22,  Daniel interprets the dream of the King of Babylon.  “ The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beast of the field and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air- you, O King, are that tree!” The King was Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon- so these tree represented the Babylonian kingdom, which in the Bible is also a  picture of an apostate religion.   Let’s look at the end to see if this holds true for we know the apostate church will be the dominant church of the Anti-Christ and the One world government and one world religion.  In Revelation 18- we read:  “ Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for  demons and a haunt for every evil spirit,  a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” Did you notice what occupied the ‘tree’?  Every unclean and detestable bird.

You see the devil is not against religion- he wants to be the center of all religion.  Now do you see what the Lord Jesus is telling us?  Beware there is an apostate church coming- that is in fact growing right before our eyes in this time and even in this country.  It is abnormal. It is a monstrosity- but we can  be confident the Lord knew it was coming and is warning us against it.

There can be no mistake who these birds are- having been clearly identified for us in this series of parables told together- the bird is the evil one- and the unclean birds are the sons of the evil one- the tares in the field trying to overcome the wheat. These birds represent the power of the evil one to take away the word of God. Something the enemy of our soul has been doing since the Garden of Eden.  The enemy has stolen the Word of God from the forum of public education. Prayer and the reading of the Word of God are banned from our nations’ public schools. This has spread to corporate  America, where the discussion of faith, Biblical faiths, and beliefs regarding sin are carefully weaned from the discussion. Tolerance and political correctness replace the Gospel. Certain life styles will not be treated as abnormal or sinful, but as alternatives that are acceptable. Sensitivity training is on the agenda of every human resource department in politically correct corporate America.  Diversity is celebrated.  This is even true in our military. Unfortunately it is now become the trend in what was once considered mainstream, Bible believing denominations.

Next we read the parable of the leaven in the bread, which tells us:  “ The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven(yeast), which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” ( Matthew 13: 33, KJV)   Now let us remember what these parables are about. These parables are a picture of what happens to the Word of God, the Seed, on this earth during the interval between when the Lord Jesus first came and was rejected and died on the cross and when He will return and set up His kingdom.

The three measures of meal ( referred to as the large amount of flour in NIV) represents the Gospel, the Message of the Kingdom, the Word of God. Why?  Because meal is made out of the grain or seed and the Lord has told us the seed is the Word of God. But a woman came and hid leaven or yeast in the mixture.  What is yeast or leaven?  Yeast is an agent of fermentation. It is used for example in making beer. Leaven in scripture is used as a symbol of sin . The Spirit never uses yeast as a symbol of anything good.

Yeast causes dough to rise- it puffs up. Yeast adds flavor- it is tasty.  Thus this mixture adds to the pure Gospel that message which is tasty to those who eat it. It smells good- its very odor draws one to it. It is tasty.  It is an addition that makes it more palatable. But it is something added and we are warned we should add nothing to the Word of God nor should we take anything away from the Word of God. Beware of those who come with something added to the Word of God or taken away from the Word of God.  The enemy is constantly trying to add to the Word of God, or take away from the Word of God- for he knows we are born again of the Incorruptible Seed, the pure Word of God.  How does the enemy make is more palatable?  He adds to it something that will taste good to mankind.  He knows what itching ears want to hear. It is the pop psychology of our era- ‘ I’m okay- you’re okay.’ He says we must continue to change the Word of God as our culture changes. Therefore- those sins the Bible called sin- are really no longer sin- they are accepted alternative life styles which are just as honorable.

Isaiah 5 tells us:  ‘ Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness….for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people and his hand is raised and he strikes them down.’

Paul was ‘astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ  and turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached let them be eternally condemned. ‘ ( Galatians 1)

The Lord Jesus told us what to expect when His Gospel is spread.   The enemy will  promote religion. In other words, if you can’t beat ‘em- join ‘em.

Jude, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus, wrote this:  “  For there are certain men crept ( slipped NIV) in unawares , who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” ( Jude 4, KJV)   Theologians say this is the only time the word crept is used in the Bible. In the original Greek it is used to described the cunning craftiness of a lawyer who, through clever arguments infiltrates the minds of the courtroom officials and corrupts their thinking. The NIV uses the word – slipped- which actually gives us a picture of one sliding in sideways, sneaking in, hard to detect.  Notice in the parable of the leaven, the woman hid the leaven. You can see her looking around to make sure no one sees her .

We know the devil always presents himself as the Lord in an opposite way. Here he presents himself as an advocate, a lawyer just as our Lord Jesus is our Advocate- but he is an advocate for evil. Providing thinking and arguments that evil is acutally – good.

When we see the term- ‘ the last days’ in the New Testament we must realize they are speaking of the time beginning with Christ’s first coming and the time in between His second coming. These last days have  been since the Lord ascended to heaven 2000 years ago. That is when they started and they will end when He returns. The Lord Jesus is telling  us through His Word what will happen.

Paul writes to Timothy and says to him and us: “ But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days. People will become lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. ….. always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (2 Timothy 3)

Some of the truth is mixed with the subtle lies. Remember there were 3 parts of meal mixed with one part of leaven. There was wheat among the tares- we will see there were good fish mixed with the bad.

So how does one know and recognize the truth?

The first thing we do is we ask what is the source of your information. Where did it come from? Did it come from a book a man or woman wrote? Not that men and women who are true believers cannot write studies and guides that help us understand. But  their material must always align with the Word of God.  The source of their information reveals the source of their authority. We believe the Bible is God –Breathed. It is absolute truth, infallible and inerrant.

Second thing one can do is question is what does this source, this book, this person or group believe about Jesus Christ. John told us:  “ Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming into the world and even now is already in the world.” ( I John 4)

Third thing you want to test is what is the subject of their preaching. What is the theme of their message? Is it the Gospel. The Gospel tells us all have sinned; but Christ has died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised on the third day.  Their preaching agrees with the Word of God what sin is and also what the results of sin are and what happens to one who does not receive the Lord Jesus as Savior- they will spend an eternity separated from God in a place called Hell.

Fourth and very important question to ask the person bringing the question- have you been born again?  Has the Incorruptible Seed taken root in your new heart?  Are you regenerated? Nicodemus was a preacher. He was a religious man, a teacher, a Master Rabbi. But he was lost and had to be born again.

So the Lord tells us what is going to happen and is happening right up to the day He returns.  In the last couple of years there has risen a movement led by a pastor named Rob Bell. He was educated at Wheaton College. He pastored one of the largest churches in America, the Mars Hill church.

He has written a couple of books, is a popular speaker and Oprah interviewed him and recommended his books. Time magazine recognized him as one of 100 influential people in 2011.

His books include:  Love Wins and Velvet Elvis.   Here is a quote from his best selling book, “ Love Wins.” “ It has been clearly communicated by many that the belief of hell as a conscious eternal place of torment is a central truth of Christian faith and to reject it, is to reject Jesus. This is a misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ love, peace, forgiveness that the world so desperately needs to hear.”

Bell is currently drawing sold out crowds in cities across North America.

Do you see the leaven he introduces into the 3 parts of meal?  His church asked him to leave for his beliefs.

We are to continue to speak the truth, the absolute truth- the Word of God. We are to speak it in love.  Isn’t it ironic, but prophetic , that we tell the people the truth out of love and our speech is labeled hate speech and evil.  While those who lie to them and present the paths of destruction are considered peacemakers.

Woe to them who call good evil and evil good.  Woe to them who call darkness light dark.

Now let us reconnect to something Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount. “ You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they might see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” ( Matthew 5)

Do you know what may be the greatest need of the church?  Notice I said church. It is for the church , the believers , to see the Holiness and Glory of God. When Isaiah saw the Glory of the Lord, High and lifted up- what was his response?  “Woe to me! I cried. I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips who lives among a people of unclean lips! And my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!”

When we see the glory of the Lord, we recognize afresh and anew how unholy and sinful we are in the His Presence. Notice the progression.- Woe. I cried. I am ruined. I am a man of unclean lips living in the midst of unclean people. Woe is a word that describes a state of grief, distress and regrets. This is godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Notice Isaiah cried then confessed- I am ruined and a man of unclean lips.

Then we begin to see the Lord.  A glimpse of His Glory. The angels brought a live coal and touched Isaiah’s lips and his guilt was taken away. My guilt is gone- I’ve been set free. Then we can hear the voice of the Lord. And what did the Lord say? “ Whom shall I send and who will go for us? And Isaiah answered: Here am I. Send me.”

And the result is we can be sent to tell the people the Truth that sets them free.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14