November 2014 Yavoh
In the book of Matthew, chapter 13, you find Yeshua the Messiah teaching parables to the people. After teaching the parable of the sower, you learn why He taught parables to the people but spoke plainly to the disciples.
- And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Yeshua 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. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.' 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."
- Matthew 13:10–17
According to Yeshua's own words, His parables contain the mysteries of the kingdom. Before we go any further, let us define what that really means. The word mystery (or mysteries) is used several times in Scripture. Yeshua used the word in this instance, but the word occurs earlier in Scripture with the Prophets. Daniel, for example, used the word to define the subject of prophetic utterances and their proper understandings. If you will recall, the King of Babylon had a message written on a wall that no one could interpret. Then Daniel was called and he explained the mystery.
- But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.
- Daniel 2:30
The king not only came to understand the meaning, but he came to understand who the God of Israel was as well.
- The king answered Daniel and said, "Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery."
- Daniel 2:47
When Yeshua came teaching mysteries and then revealed their meaning to His disciples, it was part of the proof that He was the Messiah and God. He was more than a prophet like Daniel just revealing mysteries; He was the very person defining the mysteries from the beginning.
The Apostle Paul used the word mystery multiple times to cover detailed and deeper teachings on a variety of subjects. Here are several.
- For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
- Romans 11:25
To this day, most Christians have no idea of what the "fullness of the Gentiles" means. It is one of the mysteries in Scripture. It refers to the time of captivity for Israel throughout the world. When the fullness of the Gentiles is completed, the scattered of Israel (both houses) return to the Lord with their hearts and with Judah returning to the promised land first, followed by the House of Israel. We, ourselves, are a part of this very powerful mystery today as Judah has returned to the land and the Spirit of God is moving the hearts of believers to turn to the Torah. It is a complete mystery to many churchmen.
Paul also spoke of this mystery when He explained our maturing in the faith. As we mature, the mystery is revealed with more insights and understandings.
- but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
- 1 Corinthians 2:7
Paul again used the word mystery to explain the translation of believers who are alive at the moment of the resurrection (what many call the 'rapture').
- Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
- 1 Corinthians 15:51
Today, there is some confusion concerning the rapture. Some explain it as an event prior to the Great Tribulation, some believe it occurs in the middle, and some believe it occurs after the Great Tribulation. The proper understanding of the timing of the rapture is that it is concurrent with the resurrection of the saints, which includes the Tribulation Saints after the Great Tribulation. There is no resurrection prior to or in the middle of the Great Tribulation according to Scripture. It occurs after the days of the tribulation when the Son of Man appears in the sky (Matthew 24:29–31).
The Apostle Paul uses the word mystery to explain the purposes of God in sending the Messiah and His work of redemption.
- He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Messiah, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Messiah would be to the praise of His glory.
- Ephesians 1:9–12
- This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Messiah and the church.
- Ephesians 5:32
To this day, what God purposed in Yeshua the Messiah is still a mystery to many believers and unbelievers of Him.
It should not surprise us that the word mystery shows up in the book of Revelation several times. There is the mystery of the seven stars and the seven golden lampstands of Revelation 1:20. There is the mystery of BABYLON, the woman who rides the beast with seven heads and ten horns in Revelation 17.
Once a mystery is revealed, the understanding is given. But why would God purposely withhold the understanding about his kingdom and certain prophetic topics?
Yeshua speaks directly to this question.
- Yeshua 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. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."
- Matthew 13:11–13
This answer may sound like another mystery of its own, but let's break it down a little. There are three great characteristics that every believer should strive to possess. They are knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. We also should seek to know God, to understand the things of God, and to be wise with godly wisdom in all of our dealings. A mystery occurs when we lack the understanding in a matter. So how does one gain understanding? It is the result of the Spirit revealing the truth to you; it comes by inspiration.
Paul explains this in some detail.
- But just as it is written, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him." For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they [the things of the Spirit] are foolishness to him, and he [natural man] cannot understand them, because they [the things of the Spirit] are spiritually appraised.
- 1 Corinthians 2:9–14
Natural men do not understand how the Spirit works in the heart and mind. They don't understand how to sense and read signs from God, and prejudge matters instead of consulting the Holy Spirit. Humans have the God-given instinct to do facial and voice recognition with other humans, but some of those same humans cannot recognize the voice of God their Creator. They lack the ability to understand because they have dismissed the Spirit, preferring to rely on their mortal eyes and ears. Yeshua quotes from the prophet Isaiah who makes the same point.
- In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, "You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them."
- Matthew 13:14–15
Many people simply dismiss the Spirit of the Lord; they are "natural men." But such is not the case of believers who are seeking to know God and learn His ways. They are the ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness. This was the case of the disciples following Yeshua and He acknowledged that before them.
- 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.
- Matthew 13:16–17
So Yeshua taught in parables to define the mysteries of the kingdom, but there were some whom the understanding of the mystery was given to. Those were the brethren who accepted the Spirit of God and desired to know the things of God.
In Matthew chapter 13, Yeshua told the parable of the sower twice, once as a parable and then again with explanation. Let's examine that for a moment.
Here it is as a parable with no understanding.
- And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear."
- Matthew 13:3–9
Yeshua's last words are challenging us to hear and understand the parable with the aid of the Spirit, because there are mysterious elements in the parable. First, we have the different places where the seed falls (beside the road, on rocky places, among the thorns, and in good soil). Secondly, there are the different yields from the good soil (a hundredfold, sixty, and thirty).
Some explanation is readily available. Birds eat the seed by the road before it takes root. Seed among the rocks offers no ground for the roots to grow, even though it might be watered. Seed among the weeds will grow but will be choked out by the weeds. And good ground provides a place to take root with water but it now depends on how many nutrients are in the ground and how much water is present. But there is still more here!
Here is the same parable with Yeshua's explanation to the disciples.
- Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.
- Matthew 13:18–23
According to Yeshua, the parable is not really a lesson in how to sow seed properly. This is not an agricultural lesson; it is a lesson about how various people react to the Word of God. Some people are subject to the evil one; some treat everything within their personal sphere in a temporary way (nothing takes root); and some are so involved with the world that they don't have time for the Lord. Finally, He speaks of those who believe and bring forth fruit for the kingdom. He speaks of different bounties (100, 60, and 30).
But a question still remains. How did the guy get 100 versus the 60 and the 30? The sequence of numbers is also intriguing. If it were just different yields and that is all that it meant, then why weren't the numbers 30, 60, and 90? Why wasn't it 100, 50, and 25? Is there some other understanding about the numbers 100, 60, and 30 elsewhere in Scripture?
The meaning of the hundred-fold, sixty-fold, and the thirty-fold has been the subject of various teachings over the years by different teachers. I am not going to delve into them, but instead look at another parable found in the book of Matthew that is somewhat similar in this matter. Let us let the Scripture interpret the Bible if we can.
- "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away and dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' Also the one also who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.' But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. 'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- Matthew 25:14–30
The parable of the master on a journey is about the kingdom, just as the parable of the sower. Reference is made to sowing seed in both stories, and they have similar sequences of numbers concerning the fruit and reward of labors (30, 60, and100 as compared to 1, 2, and 5). Like the parable of the sower, the expression "For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him." is repeated in the parable of the master on a journey.
It seems that the one hundred-fold compares to the five talents which became ten talents. The sixty-fold compares to the two talents that became four talents; whereas, the thirty-fold compares to the servant with one talent who buried it. It is also noteworthy that in the judgment by the master the one talent is taken from the one servant and handed to the servant with the ten.
It appears then that when the Word of God is sown in the hearts of believers, they are to produce a harvest based on what they are able to do: "each according to his own ability." Not everyone is able to increase the kingdom by the same amount or in the same manner. Some are able to do a little and some are able to do much. The idea is for each to do as they are able, and everyone has something to contribute to the kingdom.
The parable of the master on a journey focuses on the least amount and the servant who essentially does nothing to increase the kingdom. He is chastised by the master and his talent is given to another.
It is a fact that the kingdom of God (Messianic Age) is not a structure where everyone is equal. There are some who are greater and some who are lesser in the kingdom. For me, understanding this, I am motivated to do better, to do all that I can to increase the kingdom. Consider how a farmer sows his seed, hoping for a "bumper crop." A man who invests his money in a business tries to maximize profits. As servants of God, we should be motivated to "increase" His kingdom.
But as you know, many believers don't maximize their time or their resources to increase the kingdom. In particular, many believers think that this principle and teaching only has to do with giving money. Instead of giving their time and energy, they just write a check. While the money is a resource to accomplish much, I believe our Master really desires the full return on His investment in us, which includes our life energy and whole-hearted effort. He wants to see the hundred-fold—the one hundred percent return.
Yeshua then goes on after teaching the parable of the sower to present another aspect to the parable. It is called the parable of the wheat and the tares.
- Yeshua presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
- Matthew 13:24–30
Yeshua also explains this parable, but let us consider it ourselves with the aid of the Holy Spirit and try to understand it. I believe that it is a natural extension of the parable of the sower. The good ground receives the good seed, but an enemy is present and he is attempting to limit the harvest by mixing tares (weeds) amongst it. This is what we see living out our spiritual lives. We are constantly fighting against things mixed in with the Lord's instructions, trying to wipe us out, corrupt us, or substitute other things in place of the Lord's Word.
When I was a teen, I worked on a harvest crew one summer. We harvested wheat from the Texas/Oklahoma border up through Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and finally into North Dakota near the Montana and Canadian borders. It was a great adventure for me as a youth driving a combine and seeing vast fields of grain. I distinctly remember one field in Nebraska that had weeds (tares) in it. It appeared all green from the weeds and we were shocked when the boss said there was wheat in the field that needed to be harvested. The combine labored to cut the field separating out the weeds from the wheat, The combine was clogged with weeds many times and it was laborious to complete the task, but we did it. When I read the parable of the wheat and the tares I'm reminded of that field and the difficulty we had harvesting the grain.
Just as the parable said, the matter was concluded at the harvest, and we know that the harvest of souls at the end will include the gathering of all peoples. Some will be gathered to judgment; some will be gathered to the kingdom. But there is another spiritual lesson here.
We need to be part of the good seed, not part of the tares sown by the enemy. It is interesting that God uses the term "seed" to speak in particular of the Messiah. Paul stresses this point in re-enforcing our faith in Messiah Yeshua.
- Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Messiah.
- Galatians 3:16
The Apostles pick up on the word "seed" to explain how God's Word works in our lives just as the parable of the sower spoke.
- And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
- James 3:18
- …for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
- 1 Peter 1:23
- No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
- 1 John 3:9
Now let us hear the explanation of Yeshua to His disciples.
- Then He left the crowds, and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 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, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
- Matthew 13:36–43
Yeshua's explanation matches our explanation and that of the Apostles. Again, did you notice the final exhortation to hear the parable with the aid of the Holy Spirit? We have all seen a host of evidences where men have mixed and substituted God's seed (His Word and Torah) with the precepts and traditions of men. This gets confusing for everyone and, like the field I saw in my youth with weeds and wheat, it only looks green with weeds instead of golden with ripe wheat.
Yeshua spoke many parables, more than I can explain in this single article. Matthew had the same problem and he summarized the parables of Yeshua saying this:
- All these things Yeshua spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. 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."
- Matthew 13:34–35
The things hidden since the foundation of the world are what Yeshua and others called mysteries of the kingdom. But they are to be revealed to us just as Moses said.
- The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
- Deuteronomy 29:29
Moses has also explained to us why God has secret things to begin with. They have to do with our obedience to the LORD. Those whose hearts are stubborn and disobedient are not going to have the eyes to see or the ears to hear.
Let us not be like the generation that entered the promised land who first received the Torah.
- Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.
- Deuteronomy 29:4
Let us be a different generation; let us be the generation that turns back to the instruction of Torah. Let us return from the nations with our hearts, intent on hearing and obeying His instructions. Let us, I pray, be the people that God looks down upon with compassion and pours out His Spirit on us so that we all see, hear, and understand the mysteries of the kingdom—the hidden things from the foundation of the world.
As a last point, let me share with you how Yeshua concluded His teaching of the parables. It is even more mysterious than the parables He taught. He first questioned His disciples as to their understanding of what He had taught in the parables. When they told Him that they did understand, He spoke of an even greater mystery that goes beyond parables.
- "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes." And Yeshua said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old."
- Matthew 13:51–52
What incredible thing is Yeshua referring to here? What does a scribe do, and if he becomes a believer, what is it that he will be able to do that compares to Yeshua's parables?
With the aid of the Holy Spirit consider these things: Scribes are the writers and teachers of the Torah scroll. They know the structure of the Scripture and how every word and letter makes up the Torah. They are also the men responsible for the "jots and tittles" (special scribal marks) found in the text embedded in the Scripture. They know the deepest meanings of each word and the letters forming each word. Now here is the amazing part of Yeshua's statement. The Hebrew word "baruch," which means "blessing," at the deepest level of the definition means "the head of the house who brings forth treasures." The word picture in this definition is that of a father laying hands on his son giving him the inheritance (the treasures) of the house.
Yeshua has said that the greatest mysteries (treasures of the kingdom) are in the Torah and that a believing Torah teacher will reveal them to us for our benefit! These are treasures that go beyond the parables that He taught!
I want to encourage you to continue in your study of Torah. It is the path to the kingdom and it is filled with mysteries and treasures along the way. It is how we come to believe and mature in our Messiah King.
- …that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Messiah Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
- Colossians 2:2–3