LIFE OF THE MESSIAH – 008
DR. ARNOLD G. FRUCHTENBAUM
III. THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE KING - Paragraphs 61-62
A. The Rejection of the King by the Leaders
Paragraph 61 – The Unpardonable Sin, Mark 3:19-30; Matthew 12:22-37
In your Harmony turn to paragraph 61, we are on page 6 of your outlines. Now when we concluded last time we had began the third major division of His life, the controversy over the King that begins with the rejection of the herald and will end with the death of the herald. And now in between we come to a segment of paragraphs, 61-64, we have the major turning point in His public ministry. And if we don’t clearly understand what happens in these four paragraphs, 61-64, then the second half of His ministry doesn’t quite seem to make a lot of sense. And so we’ll be spending quite a bit of time in our initial part of our study tonight on these four paragraphs. Now capital E on your outline is where we’re at and the rejection of the king by the leaders in paragraphs 61-62 with paragraph 61, point 1 being the unpardonable sin.
In your Harmony you will notice that there are two accounts of this, Mark and Matthew. Matthew is the most detailed of the two because he’s writing to a Jewish audience where it has the most significance, and so we’ll stay mostly with Matthew’s account because of his details. But a couple of points have to be made from Mark’s version, two things in particular. First of all, Mark’s account, Mark 3:21, “And when His friends heard it, they went over to lay hold on Him: for they said, He is beside himself.” Notice who are His friends and those who have been hearing Him and listening to Him are recognizing something different is taking place. They misinterpret the situation, they think He needs to be saved from Himself because of His zeal, since He borders on insanity and therefore He is beside himself. They do recognize something different is happening here but they misinterpret the situation.
The second thing to notice in Mark is Mark 3:22, “And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem,” what it shows is that while the event takes place up in the Galilee it was instigated by priests that traveled to the Galilee from Jerusalem, which again is a three day journey. What it shows is that the period of interrogation is now complete; they’ve reached their decision and looking for a public opportunity to make the decision itself public. And it comes with the event of the casting out of the dumb or mute demon.
Now these two points from Mark, we’ll stay with Matthew because Matthew contains everything else Mark has but then has some more little details.
a. The Rejection – Matthew 12:22-24
In your outline, small “a”, the rejection, verses 22-24. The event begins in verse 22 of Matthew when He encounters the demon that caused the person controlled to be both blind and dumb; dumb meaning he was a mute so he could not speak. Now the act of casting out demons in and of itself is not all that unusual in the Jewish world of this day and age. Even the Pharisees and the rabbis and their disciples were practicing casting out demons.
But in Pharisaic control of casting out demons they have to use a specific ritual and this ritual had three specific steps. First of all, the exorcist would have to establish communication with the demon; the demon speaks using the vocal cords of the person he controls. Secondly, after establishing communication with the demon he would then have to find out the demon’s name. Thirdly, once he knew what the demon’s name was he could use the name to command the demon to go out. And these were the three basic steps of the ancient Jewish procedure.
And there are other occasions where Jesus Himself used that procedure, we’ll see an example of this later on when He’s confronted by the demoniac, He asked him the question, what is your name; his answer was my name is Legion for we are many. And the Mark 5 passage used the standard traditional Jewish approach.
Now because of the same three step procedure there was one kind of demon they could do nothing about; the kind of demon that caused the person controlled to be a mute so he could not speak. And because he could not speak there was no way of establishing communication with this kind of a demon, no way of finding out this demon’s name, and so in the framework of Pharisaic Judaism was reckoned it was impossible to cast this kind of a demon out. But the common teaching was that whenever the Messiah comes He will even cast out dumb demons.
Last week we mentioned one major unique miracle of the New Testament that I referred to as a Messianic miracle, the healing of a Jewish leper. There are two more and here’s the second one, the casting out of a mute or dumb demon. So keep in mind from the Jewish background the casting out of other demons was not uniquely Messianic. When they cast out the other kinds of demons the question they raised then was by what authority does He cast out demons? But to cast out dumb demon was unique, and that raised a different question. This was something only the Messiah was supposed to be able to do.
And notice the question this raises in Matthew 12:23, “the multitudes were amazed, and said, can this be the son of David?” This was not asking… they are not asking by what authority does He cast out demons; now the issue is, is this the son of David? As you know that’s a Messianic title. What they’re asking is: Could this be the Jewish Messiah, He’s doing what Messiah alone was supposed to be able to do. Now while they’re willing to raise the question, could this be the son of David, what they’re not willing to do is answer the question for themselves. They were looking to the leaders to make that decision for them.
Now throughout our history the Jewish people have tended to labor or belabor under a complex I call the leadership complex; whichever way the leaders go the people are sure to follow. Now we see this particularly in the pages of the Old Testament, that when the king did that was right in the eyes of the Lord the people followed; but when he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord they also followed. Even in our day when we witness to our Jewish contacts in Jewish ministries, eventually they always raise the same objection: if Jesus was the Messiah, how come the rabbis don’t believe on Him? That’s this leadership complex. In New Testament times because of the stranglehold the Pharisaism had upon the masses, because of the application of the Mishnaic law, as we detailed last weekend, this leadership complex is very strong. So again they’re willing to raise the question, could this be the Son of David, they’re not willing to answer the question for themselves. They’re still looking to the leaders to make that decision for them.
And all the while that’s happening the Pharisees have only one or two options. The first option would be to proclaim Him to be the Jewish Messiah, but as we saw previously this they don’t want to do because of His rejection of Pharisaic traditionalism. The second option would be to simply reject His Messianic claims, however, if they go with the second option and reject Him they’ll have to explain how come He can do these special miracles never done before.
And in Matthew 12:24 notice they go with the second option and they do reject His Messiahship, but then to explain away His unique abilities they claim that He Himself is possessed, not by a common demon but by the prince of demons, Beelzebub. Which, by the way, the name was not Beelzebub, it was Beelzebul, with an “l” at the end and that means the lord of the royal palace; the lord of the royal palace and Beelzebul was among the gods of the Philistines. But the rabbis began mocking some of these gods and they changed the last letter from and “l” to a “b” and changed the meaning from the lord of the royal palace to the lord of the flies. This became the official Pharisaic basis for rejecting His Messiahship; He’s not the Messiah on the basis of demon possession.
Now this is not only found here in the Gospels, it’s also found in rabbinic writings of the Talmud, as we mentioned, I defined last week. There are two passages in the Talmud that reflect the events of verse 24. One passage says this: The reason they had to execute Jesus on the Passover, though it contradicted Jewish law to have executions on Passover, has to do with the nature of His crime, and that was this: He seduced Israel by practicing sorcery. There’s a close connection between sorcery and demonism. Now a second passage in the Talmud says when He’s still living in Egypt He made these cuts in the side of the skin of His flesh and He thread into the skin the four letters of God’s name. In Hebrew God’s name comprises four letters, [sounds like: Jud He Wow He (?)], that would correspond to our Latin letters of YHVH. He thread the four letters name of God into His skin, that’s so He could do the miracles which He performed.
Neither here in the Gospels nor in these rabbinic writings do they deny the fact of His miracles. There are too many witnesses to those miracles. But in both places they ascribe it to a supernatural or demonic source. So keep in mind to understand the nature of the unpardonable sin, the given reason why they rejected Him is on the basis of demon possession.
b. The Defense – Matthew 12:25-29
Now small b, the defense of verses 25-29. Now Jesus defends Himself against this charge by making four specific points. First of all, in Matthew 12:25-26 this accusation cannot be true because it would mean a division in Satan’s kingdom. Secondly in verse 27, they themselves were teaching the gift of exorcism was the gift of God. And therefore to accuse Him of this at this point in time would make it inconsistent with their own theology. Thirdly, in verse 28 this miracle actually authenticates the message and claims of Jesus to be the Messiah. And fourthly, it proves that He is stronger than Satan and not subservient to Satan.
After rejecting their accusation on these four points, what happens on the small scene, Matthew 12:30-37, He now pronounces a special judgment upon that generation of Israel of being guilty of a very unique sin, the unpardonable sin or the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. And because this sin is what He calls it, “unpardonable,” a special is now set down against this generation, a judgment that can under no circumstances be removed or alleviated, a judgment coming in the year AD 70 with the Roman destruction of the city and the temple.
We should make it very clear in our minds exactly what the unpardonable sin is in the context in which it is found and keep in mind this is the only context the sin is mentioned, and must be interpreted by virtue of the context. One definition of the unpardonable sin is this: The national rejection by Israel of the Messiahship of Yeshua, while He was present here on earth, on the basis of being demon possessed. Again, the unpardonable sin is national rejection by Israel of the Messiahship of Jesus while He was present on the basis of being demon possessed.
Now to make it clearer I’m going to make four ramifications based upon this definition that derives from the context. First of all, this is a national sin, not an individual sin. Individual members of that day, and that generation could and did escape the judgment by becoming believers, nor is this a sin anyone could commit today. One thing the Bible makes clear is that any sin is forgivable to an individual that will come to God through the blood of the Messiah, and the nature of the sin is irrelevant. When He died on the cross He didn’t only die for some types of sins but not for others; He died for every type of sin which renders every type of sin forgivable to any individual that will come to God through the blood of the Messiah, but for a nation as a nation it is now unpardonable. Again to summarize, this sin is a national sin, not individual.
Now a second implication: This is a sin that is unique to the Jewish generation of Jesus’ day and not applicable to all subsequent generations, Jewish generations, as Roman Catholicism has often tried to do. It was to this generation that He visibly physically came, offering Himself as the Messiah, offering to set up the Messianic Kingdom, and it was this generation that rejected Him. So from now on the gospels, the rest of this weekend and next weekend we are going to see two words coming out frequently: “this generation,” this generation because this generation alone is guilty of this unique sin. So to summarize, this is a sin that’s unique to the Jewish generation of Jesus’ day, not applicable to all subsequent Jewish generations.
And notice that He specifies that they will not see the Kingdom in verse Matthew 12:32, neither in this world nor in the world to come, that is, neither in this age nor the age to come. And Jewish people in first century Israel only saw two ages: the present age, the one in which we now live, and the age to come is always the Messianic age, the Messianic Kingdom period. That’s the way Jewish people use this terminology. So what He’s citing is that this nation will not only fail to see the Kingdom in this point, they will also fail to see it when it’s finally established in the future; neither in this age nor in the age to come.
The third ramification is this: although this is a national sin no other nation could be guilty of this sin because Jesus is not now visibly physically present with any other nation offering Himself as that nation’s Messiah. That was unique, His relationship to Israel; His relationship is to no other nation but Israel, and keep in mind there is only one covenant people and that’s the Jewish people. So to summarize, thirdly, this is not a sin that nation could commit today.
Now the fourth ramification is this: the commitment of the unpardonable sin by this generation for this generation means two things. First of all, remember the offer of the Messianic Kingdom is now rescinded and withdrawn. He will now cease to offer the Messianic Kingdom to them. It is withdrawn from this generation; it is destined to be reoffered to a future Jewish generation who will accept it, the Jewish generation living in the days of the tribulation, something we’ll see next weekend when we talk about Matthew 24-25, but this specific generation has lost out on the opportunity to have the Kingdom established in their day. Further summarized, the offer of the Messianic Kingdom is now revoked from that generation.
The second thing it means is they are now under a special divine judgment, a judgment of destruction that will finally come in the year AD 70. And the focus here is on the physical judgment now hanging over that generation and because their sins are unpardonable they cannot be revoked; it will come finally in the year AD 70, because what’s happened here is this: now a specific generation has gone beyond the point of no return and when God is dealing with His covenant people, once a generation goes beyond the point of no return no amount of repenting can change the fact of coming physical judgment.
And the events of paragraph 61 is actually the third time this has taken place. The first time we see this happening is in the book of Numbers chapters 13-14, the sin of Kadesh-barnea. Kadesh-barnea is an oasis right on the Promised Land and from that oasis Moses sent out twelve spies who came back forty days later, all agreeing at one point, the land is all that God called it, a land that flows with milk and honey. Then came the key point of disagreement; only two of the twelve men said: God is with us, we can take the land. But ten men said no, because of the numerical strength of the Canaanites and their military forces there’s no way we can take the land.
As people often do today, they make the faulty assumption the majority must always be right and there was a massive rebellion against Aaron and Moses. The two men were almost killed till God intervened. At that point God entered into judgment with the Exodus generation and the decree was they would now have to continue wandering in the desert till forty years passed. In that forty year period all that came out of Egypt will die out except for the two good spies and those below the age of 20. So forty years later there was a new nation, a nation that was born as free men in the wilderness and not as slaves in Egypt that could enter the land under Joshua. What happened is that God withdrew the offer of the Promised Land from the Exodus generation, just as here in paragraph 61 He will withdraw the offer of the Kingdom from this generation. The land was reoffered to the wilderness generation if they’d accept it and therefore enter the land under Joshua, and in the tribulation generation they will accept it and enter the Messianic Kingdom.
Now again, once a point of no return is reached no amount of repenting can change the fact of coming physical judgment. And Numbers 14 does say the people repented; verse 20 even says God did forgive their sin; it did not affect anyone’s salvation but they had to pay the physical consequences of going beyond the point of no return which was physical death outside the land. And keep in mind even Moses had to die outside of the land because of a sin he committed, but it did not affect his own individual salvation. Here we’re dealing with the physical consequences of going beyond the point of no return.
The second time this happened was in the days of Manasseh and the details are 2 Kings 23; 2 Chronicles 34. Manasseh was the most cruel king Jerusalem ever had. And a great amount of the blood of the remnant was shed in his day. The temple that was built by Solomon for the glory of the true God was turned into a center of idolatry. He even resulted to human sacrifices. And finally a point of no return was reached and God decreed the Babylonian destruction of the city and the temple and the 70 years of Babylonian captivity.
Now here again once a point of no return is reached no amount of repenting can change the fact of coming physical judgment. And the Bible tells us toward the end of his life Manasseh did repent; he became a saved man. He was followed in his reign by the righteous ruler, King Josiah, who brought revival throughout the land. But God simply said He would not bring on the calamity in Josiah’s day but the calamity itself was inevitable, the point of no return was reached. Not long after Uzziah’s death the Babylonians came and Jerusalem was destroyed and the seventy years of captivity occurred.
And now here in paragraph 61, for the third time a specific generation goes beyond the point of no return. What it means is that no matter how many Jews will believe and myriads, as we will see, will come to believe, it cannot change the fact of coming physical judgment. The AD 70 judgment is now inevitable and it will strike them.
2. The New Policy Concerning Signs
a. The sign for that Generation - Paragraph 62 – Matthew 12:38-45
Let’s go on to paragraph 62, the new policy concerning signs. Now the Scribes and the Pharisees have been listening to these words of rebuke and then interrupt what He says in verse 38 asking for another sign, as if He had not done anything so far to authenticate His Messianic claims. But since He went public with His miracles at the first Passover until this point of time, which a year and a half has passed, He performed numerous miracles including those same miracles they themselves called uniquely (?) Messianic. In spite of this they rejected Him and so now He announces a new policy concerning the purpose of the signs in verses 39-40.
Now again, until this point the purpose of His signs was to serve as signs for Israel to get them to make a decision. And now this decision has been made and made irrevocably; the unpardonable sin is just that, unpardonable. And so He announces a new purpose of His miracles. From now on the purpose of His miracles would be to train the twelve disciples for the new kind of work they’ll have to conduct because of this rejection, the kind of work we’ll find them conducting in the book of Acts. But for the nation no more signs except one sign, the sign of Jonah, the sign of resurrection. And while He will continue to perform many miracles after this point the purpose of His miracles is now changed. They will be for the training of the twelve, and not for the people to determine who He is.
But He will give them one miracle publicly, the sign of Jonah, the sign of resurrection. And that will come to Israel three different times. First will be the resurrection of Lazarus. Secondly will be the resurrection of Jesus. And then thirdly will be the resurrection of the two witnesses during the tribulation. What’s common in all of these resurrection accounts is a three day period of time.
b. The Judgment of that Generation – Matthew 12:41-45
Now having announced His new policy concerning the purpose of His signs, notice he comes back to the theme that was interrupted, the theme of judgment. But note also now the new emphasis on this specific generation. Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it….” verse 42, “The queen of the south shall rise up the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it….” He now brings in two Gentile examples from the Old Testament; the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba. These were Gentiles who had a lot less light to respond to but they did respond to lesser light. And so at the great white throne judgment, these Gentiles will be able to stand and witness against the Jewish generation of being guilty of rejecting the greater light and being guilty of the unpardonable sin.
The story of judgment finally comes to a close in Matthew 12:43-45 with a different demon involved. He talks about a demon that was indwelling a person but then chose to leave; he was not cast out, he left on his own free will looking for a better apartment in which to live. He searches for a while but when he can find no vacancies he decides to go back to the person he was indwelling earlier. When he finds him again, we’re told in verse 44, he finds him swept, he finds him garnished. But also notice he finds him still empty, because in this interval period when a man was freed of the bodily indwelling he was not indwelt by some other spirit, be it the Holy Spirit or a demonic spirit. So because he remained empty this demon was able to go back in. But he doesn’t want to live by himself any more; he invites seven of his buddies to join him and Yeshua says in verse 45, “the last state of that man has become worse than the first.” Because at first he only had one demon in him and now because he remained empty he now has eight demons in him.
But the point of the story is made in the last phrase of verse 45, “Even so will it be also unto this evil generation.” Notice again the emphasis and focus on this specific generation. Now when this generation began it began with the preaching of John the Baptist; the calling of John was to move them to … and speak to them to get them to accept the Messiahship of Yeshua, of Jesus, and by means of the preaching of John the generation was swept, and this was generation was garnished. But now with the rejection of Messiahship they also remain empty. And because the generation remains empty the last state will be worse than the first.
At the first they were under Roman domination; they had to pay annual tribute to Rome but Rome allowed them to retain their national entity. Jerusalem was standing; the temple was functioning with all its glory, they even had a somewhat autonomous government in the Sanhedrin. But forty years after these words are spoken the legions of Rome will invade the land and after a four year war and a two year siege the city will be destroyed, the temple torn down till there is not one stone on top of another, and the Jews dispersed all over the world. The last state of that (?) meant they had become worse than the first. And to this day the worldwide dispersion is with us. There are still more Jews outside the land than inside the land. In fact, the Jewish people mention the fact that the Jews are so widely scattered they even find the Jews in the Antarctica because by now you’ve heard about the icebergs. If you know something about Jewish names you’ll get the pun.
F. Revelation in View of Rejection
Now we go to paragraph 63 but look at your outline for a moment, we’re down to capital F, the revelation in view of rejection. I just noticed that here once again, it’s one of the few occasions A. T. Robertson violated Luke’s order and as Luke tells us he put his material into chronological sequence we should keep it that way. I’ll go ahead and discuss paragraph 63 at this stage but just keep in mind it really belongs to the middle of paragraph 64 because in paragraph 64 He tells, first of all public parables, then secondly private parables, and the story of paragraph 63 belongs in the middle of paragraph 64, between the public parables and the private parables. Let me discuss it here so we don’t interrupt paragraph (?) but keep in mind chronologically that’s where it fits.
2. The Repudiation of all Earthly Relationships
Paragraph 63 – Mark 3:31-35; Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21
What happens here is the repudiation of all earthly relationships and choosing to deal only with the spiritual ones. Now, “While He was yet speaking to the multitudes,” in Matthew 12:46, that contextual don’t happen until after speaking the first few parables, His mother and His half-brothers tried to approach Him to try to rescue Him out of the situation. And someone mentions to Him that His mother and His brother want to get to Him. But in Matthew 12:48, “But He answered and said unto him that told Him, Who is My mother? Who are My brethren?  He stretched forth His hand towards His disciples, and said, Behold, My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall be My brother, and sister, and mother.”
With this statement He rejects earthly ties and favors only spiritual ones in light of the unpardonable sin. And what we have here is something that was prophesied by Hosea the prophet. The Jewish people were ammi, meaning my people, ruhamah, those who obtained mercy; for a long period of time they there will be Lo-ammi, meaning not my people, and Lo-ruhamah meaning not having obtained mercy. But in the future they will become ammi, My people again, and ruhamah, again receiving mercy. That’s what happened essential here. Now covenantally the Jewish people are always the people of God—covenantally; but they never receive the benefits of being the covenant people, the disciplines yes, but not the benefits until they finally come back to Him. And so what happens here is a rejection of earthly ties in favor of spiritual ones.
As a result of the unpardonable sin the ministry of Jesus changes; it changes radically. It changes in four important areas. And the first area has to do with the signs. We already mentioned this previously. We mentioned up until this point the purpose of His miracles was signs for the nations; to get them to make a decision. And now they’ve made the decision irrevocably, so in the nation he points out there will be no more signs except one sign, the sign of Jonah, the sign of resurrection. He will continue to perform many miracles after this event but again, the purpose of His miracles will be to train the twelve disciples for the future work of the book of Acts. We could summarize it this way: the signs now go from the nation to the apostles.
The second change are the miracles themselves and there are two facets to the second result. The first facet is this: until the events of paragraph 61 the four miracles were benefits of the masses; He did not require them to have faith first. And a good example of this is the one we saw, the healing of the man in the pool of Bethesda, we notice that Yeshua, Jesus, simply healed him on His own initiative; the man didn’t even know who Jesus was and when they asked him who healed you, he had to go back and find out. He did not know who Jesus was, he did not know who He claimed to be, there’s no faith on the part of the man at all. At that point faith was not essential for the miracles to occur. So the miracles again were there to get them to believe. But after paragraph 61 that will change. From now on He will perform miracles only by responding to the needs of individuals and now He will require them to have faith first. We could summarize it this way: miracles go from masses without faith to individuals with faith.
The second result is this: until paragraph 61 when He heals someone He would tell them go and proclaim what God has done for you. After paragraph 61 every time He heals someone he will tell that person, don’t tell anyone what God has done for you. He won’t apply the prohibition to Gentiles He heals, as we’ll see, but as far as the Jews He heals, they must follow the policy of silence. And those who benefit from His Messianic power are forbidden to tell anyone about it. We could summarize it this way: His miracles go from tell all to tell no one.
The third result deals with the message that He and the apostles will proclaim. Until Matthew 12, as we already saw previously, both He and (?) all Israel, city to city and synagogue to synagogue proclaiming Jesus to be the Messianic King, offering to Israel the Kingdom of the Jewish prophets. But now after paragraph 61 He will also forbid the apostles to tell anyone who He is. And we’ll see in a later paragraph, when Peter makes his famous confession and says You are the Messiah, the Son of the God, the living One, Messiah says to Peter don’t tell anyone I am the Messiah. And they too must follow the policy of silence until that (?) great commission of Matthew 28. We could summarize it this way: He goes from proclamation of His Messiahship to silence about His Messiahship.
The fourth result is His method of teaching. Until these events of paragraph 61 onward, whenever He taught the people publicly He did it clearly and distinctly in ways that they could and did understand, and we saw last weekend the Sermon on the Mount. When He was finished we noticed what Matthew pointed out; the people did understand what He was saying, and also understood what He did for the Scribes and Pharisees. But now after this paragraph, beginning in paragraph 64, He now teaches them only in parables. And as we’ll see in a few minutes, the purpose of His parabolic method is not of teaching, primarily, it’s to hide the truth from the masses; to teach them in ways they could not and would not understand because by now they received sufficient light to respond correctly. They responded incorrectly to the unpardonable sin and now no further light will be given to them. And so whenever we see this publicly now it’s only parabolically so no one understands, even the apostles, as we’ll see, would not understand until He explains the parables to them. We could summarize it as going from clarity in His teaching to parabolic in His teaching.
Now what happens is that the unpardonable sin sets the stage for several things; four altogether. First of all, it sets the stage for the second half of His ministry. Now we begin to see why He tells people don’t tell anyone what we have done for you. Don’t spread the news about the miracles; don’t spell out the Messiahship; why He speaks parabolic to the masses and so on. This only begins after the unpardonable sin is committed. It sets the stage for the events coming up in the Book of Acts, and we’ll summarize some of these things at the end of our study next weekend, but the events of the Book of Acts are set based upon what happens in paragraph 61-64. It sets the stage for a the new entity to come into being, the ekklesia, the (?), the church, the body of the Messiah, and since His rejection that will lead to the birth of this new entity as of Acts 2. It sets the stage for Jewish history for the next 2,000 years; it’s a very crucial turning point.
1. The Course of the Kingdom Program in the Present Age – Public Parables
[(?) headings, paragraph 64a, 64b, etc.]
Let’s go on to paragraph 64. In paragraph 64 you have the account of His parabolic method of teaching beginning. Notice Matthew’s account in Matthew 13:1, “On that day.” Well, on what day? The same day the rejection occurred, the same day the unpardonable sin was committed, “on that day” says verse 3 “He spoke to them many things in parables.” So His parabolic method of teaching begins with the rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus; it begins with the result of the unpardonable sin.
And in Matthew 13:10 His disciples asked Him why has He begun teaching in parables and the question shows they were not accustomed to Him teaching in this manner. They want to know why He’s chosen to move in this direction. We’ll get back to that momentarily. For now let’s go ahead and define what a parable is. A parable is an analogy taken from everyday life and experience which teaches an ethical, moral or spiritual truth. A parable is an analogy from everyday life, everyday experience, and it’s true that they teach an ethical, moral or spiritual truth.
There are four different types of parables; there is first of all simile; a simile, He points out when He says I’m sending you like sheep, and therefore be careful of the wolves. I’m sending you as sheep among wolves, that’s a simile. A second type is a metaphor; a metaphor, when He says I am the door, I am the bread, and so on, that’s a metaphor. A third type is a similitude, a similitude where there’s a transparence of events from everyday life to teach some kind of a truth, like a woman putting leaven in the dough, that’s an everyday experience, women always put leaven in the dough except in the Jewish Passover season. But some how that’s going to teach special truth, that’s a similitude. And the fourth type is when you have a story it could be a true story or just a story, no names are used in these kinds of stories but they teach some kind of a truth, like the Good Samaritan story. These are within the parables, but a parable is always based upon actual real life. That’s what makes the difference in allegory; an allegory is not based upon anything real; allegory is not based upon reality. And a parable is based upon reality. These parables of paragraph 64 are common everyday experiences.
Now again the disciples ask Him why has He begun teaching the people in parables and He answers by pointing out three things. First of all, for the disciples the purpose will be to illustrate the truth; for them the purpose will be to illustrate the truth. But secondly, for the masses the purpose will be to hide the truth, to teach them in terms they cannot and will not understand. When He talks publicly He speaks in parables and no one understands, even the apostles do not understand the parable, and when He’s alone with them He will explain the meaning of the parables because for them the purpose will be to illustrate the truth. This is, by the way Matthew’s account in Matthew 13:11-18. And then thirdly, to fulfill prophecy because the prophets prophesied that the Messiah will end up speaking parabolically.
Now skip over in your Harmony to Matthew’s account, and look at Matthew 13:34, “All these things sake Jesus in parables unto the multitudes;” notice the next phrase, “and without a parable spoke He nothing unto them,” and don’t miss that phrase, “without a parable spoke He nothing unto them.” Now this was not a true statement before paragraph 61 but it is absolutely true after paragraph 61. Every time He speaks publicly it’s always parabolically so no one understands. Now skip over to Mark’s account, also on the bottom of the same page, Mark 4:33, because Mark adds a small detail Matthew left out. And Mark says, “And with many such parables spoke He unto them, as they were able to hear it,” not much more than Matthew but Mark adds, “and without a parable spoke He not unto them: but privately to His disciples He expounded all things.” Privately, to His disciples, He expounds all things, and that’s His basic pattern. Speaking publicly it’s parabolically, even the apostles do not understand; when He gets alone with them He’ll explain the meaning of the parables because for them the purpose will be to illustrate the truth.
And the purpose of these parables has now introduced a new facet of God’s Kingdom program resulting in the rejection of the Messianic Kingdom, what we call the mystery Kingdom. If we want to be able to distinguish these things we’re going to have to delineate the different facets of God’s Kingdom program.
There are five facets; the first facet is the eternal universal Kingdom; it goes by two names. Now this facet refers to God’s rule in providence and in sovereignty, that God is always in control. Everything that happens within the universe is within the control of God, so things happen either because of His permissive will, such as the fall of men or by His directive will, such as the worldwide flood, but nothing happens outside His will. Nothing catches God by surprise. And God never looks down to the earth and sees what people are doing and say I can’t believe they did that; He never says this, He knew very well what they’re capable of and He knew very well what they would do.
Now the different names only emphasize two different aspects of this Kingdom; the term “eternal” emphasizes the timeless aspect, the fact is that God is always in control, eternity past, aspects of time present and eternity future. Nothing is outside of His control. Now the term “universal” emphasizes the sphere and the scope, that no matter where things exist, everything’s within the sovereign will and control of God. Some passages for this Kingdom include 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; (I have quite a few here, I won’t give you all of them) Psalm 106; Daniel 4, in this chapter he says God raises up kings, He puts down kings, He even has the basest of men to sit on thrones; notice, He even has the basest of men to sit on thrones. That’s why sometimes the Democrats win.
Now I might should have put this out earlier; what some people try to do is try to spell out the different facets of God’s Kingdom program by saying they’re making a distinction between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Those are synonymous terms; those are not separate facets of God’s Kingdom program. There are different facets but the wrong way of trying to identify them is saying this is called the Kingdom of God, that’s called the Kingdom of Heaven. You can see this in your Harmony, notice Mark 11 says “the kingdom of God; Luke 8:10 says “the kingdom of God,” but Matthew 13:11 says “the kingdom of heaven.”
In fact, the only one to use the Kingdom of Heaven happens to be Matthew; only he uses that term. In these parallel accounts you can see that where he talks about the Kingdom of Heaven, Mark, and Luke and elsewhere John always say Kingdom of God; it shows they are synonymous terms. But why does Matthew use that term? Because he’s talking to a Jewish audience, and Jews are very sensitive about naming heavenly things. For example, Jews would not pronounce the name of God, the Y-H-V-H name of God, they use substitutes such as Adonai, meaning lord, or Hashem meaning the name, or they combine the two saying Adoshem, the lord of the name. And by the same token they were reluctant to use the word God, Elohim, so in place of God they would use the word shamayim (?) which means heaven. Oftentimes (?) Jews even they write English will not spell out the word God, they will say G dash d, they won’t write G-o-d but G-d. So there are different facets of God’s Kingdom program but the wrong way to define them is the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven differential.
The second facet of God’s Kingdom program, the rule of God, is that it’s the spiritual kingdom. The spiritual kingdom is God’s rule in the heart of the believer. It comprises all believers and only believers, from Adam until the end of human history. Again, it comprises all believers, only believers, from Adam until the end of human history. Now the present age, and only in this age, the Church and the spiritual kingdom are synonymous because all the members of the spiritual kingdom are also members of the Church but that synonymous identification is only true in this present age, because the spiritual kingdom was here before the events of Acts of 2 when the Church was born; the spiritual kingdom will also be here once the Church is gone at the rapture. But in this age they are synonymous. Some examples, if you skip through you’ll find this kingdom in Matthew 6:33; John 3:3-5; and the way to enter this kingdom is by the new birth.
Now the third facet of God’s Kingdom program is called the theocratic kingdom. And this is God’s rule over Israel because Israel was a theocracy. Now it was established by Moses at Mount Sinai so at Mount Sinai the people of Israel became the nation of Israel. And it went through two distinctive histories: first of all, I might point out the Mosaic Law and the 613 commandments of that law was the constitution of the Messianic Kingdom. It underwent two basic phases, there are two aspects in history: first of all, the mediatoral Kingdom where God ruled His theocracy through mediators; these mediators were Moses, Joshua and Judges, the Book of Judges, until Samuel, and Samuel becomes a transitional character; he’s the last of the judges and the one who anoints David to be king of Israel. And the second facet called the (?) Kingdom God rules His theocracy through the house of David.
And the theocratic kingdom came to an end when Zedekiah, the last Davidic king was removed from the Davidic throne. And so when he was removed from the Davidic throne that’s when the times of the Gentiles began. The house of Gentiles continue until once again we have a theocracy with a Davidic king, the Messiah sitting upon the throne of David. The Scriptures for this kingdom begins in Exodus 20 and goes all the way to 2 Chronicles 36; from Exodus 20 through the historical books, all the way to 2 Chronicles 36 we have the history of the theocratic kingdom.
In the closing eras of the theocratic kingdom the quality of the kingdom began to decline; and through the prophets God was announcing the coming of a new facet of God’s Kingdom program, the Messianic Kingdom. And that becomes the fourth facet of God’s Kingdom program. It goes by two names, the Messianic Kingdom or the Millennial Kingdom; the Messianic Kingdom is more popular in Jewish circles, the Millennial Kingdom is more popular in Gentile circles. And the (?) definition is the Messiah’s rule over Israel and over the world from Jerusalem and from the throne of David. This is the Messiah’s rule over Israel and over all the world from Jerusalem and from the throne of David. The term Messianic Kingdom emphasizes that this Kingdom is going to be ruled by the Messiah Himself; that’s the personal aspect of the Messianic Kingdom, it’s ruled personally by the Messiah Himself. And the term Millennial Kingdom focuses on the timing element, how long will this Kingdom last, for a whole millennium, for 1,000 years.
And the basis of this Kingdom is in the Old Testament two things in particular; first of all the Davidic Covenant, and secondly the prophecies about the Kingdom; the Davidic Covenant where God promised David an eternal descendant to rule upon the throne of David over saved Israel is the subject of much prophecy. And this was the Kingdom that was offered through the ministry of John, and Yeshua and Jesus. And it was this Kingdom that was rejected with the unpardonable sin. And it was withdrawn from that generation.
So now in the parables of the Kingdom he introduces a fifth facet of God’s Kingdom program, the Mystery Kingdom. The term “mystery,” by the way, is not used in the New Testament the same way as we use it in English. In English we use it as being something we don’t yet have an answer for, something we don’t have a solution for, like the program Unsolved Mysteries. That’s not its meaning in the New Testament, but the meaning is this: something unrevealed in the Old Testament revealed for the first time by the New. Something unrevealed in the Old Testament revealed for the first time by the New. You’ll see the definition in Ephesians 3:1-10; also in Colossians 1:25-27.
And altogether there are eight divine mysteries and two satanic ones. And the first of these divine mysteries is this new facet of God’s Kingdom program, the Mystery Kingdom. You see that word used in Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Matthew puts it in the plural in Matthew 13:11. It refers to something unknown in the Old Testament and while the Old Testament revealed the first four facets of God’s Kingdom program, it did not reveal this facet of God’s Kingdom program.
Now I’m trying to determine a good way to define it and I don’t particularly like this word but it’s the best one I could come up with for now, but probably the term Christendom is the best way to define the Mystery Kingdom; not so much Christianity but Christendom, relating to the word kingdom. And basically it applies to everywhere in the world where people claim to have allegiance to Jesus in some form; it might be true, it might be false, it might be orthodox, it might be heretical and cultic, but anywhere in the world that people claim loyalty to Jesus in some form fall within the framework of the Mystery Kingdom.
The timing element can be set and basically between the first and second coming but to be more correct it begins with Israel’s rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus in paragraph 61 and continues until Israel as a nation will accept the Messiahship of Jesus. So from the rejection by Israel until the acceptance by Israel of the Messiahship of Jesus, that is the duration and timing of the Mystery Kingdom.
And the parables of paragraph 64 simply lay out the outworking of the Mystery Kingdom. In these parables, what He does is that He uses a number of symbols. Some of these symbols we only know what they mean from the Old Testament but some symbols are brand new and those he defines Himself. So when these same symbols are used in a later parable we know what it means based upon His own previous definition.
Now for a moment look at Mark’s account, Mark 4:13, “Know ye not this parable?” meaning the first one, “how then shall ye know all the parables?” And the point of Mark verse 13 is the understanding of the first parable happens to be the key to understand the other parables and therefore He Himself gives a detailed interpretation of both the first and third parables, defining what these symbols mean, and again, once they’re used again later we know the meaning of these symbols.
Let’s look at these parables one by one, then we’ll summarize them altogether. The parable of the sower; it makes four basic points. The Mystery Kingdom age will be characterized by the sowing of the gospel seed. Secondly, the age will be marked by definite preparations of the sower, not all parts of the world will be equally receptive. For example, the gospel has made greater strides around the world in non-Muslim areas than Muslim areas. It’s had a lot more success, say in China than in Japan. So there’s different preparations of the soil. Thirdly, the sowing of the seed will receive opposition from the world, the flesh and the devil; there’ll be constant opposition coming in from these three sources.
And then fourthly, the age is marked by four different responses, we’ll see that is so. The first response is “the wayside” response which is that of unbelief. These are people, they hear the gospel, they understand what the gospel is, they understand the issue, but they choose not to believe it. So these people…refer to those who actually hear the gospel but choose not to believe.
The second response, the “rocky ground” response, these people do believe, they’re born again, but they never mature in the faith, they don’t go from milk to meat, they’re never rooted in the Word of God and they simply are constantly wishy-washy, usually going from one supernatural event to another trying to find meaning in their spiritual needs.
The third response, the “thorny ground” response are people that do believe, they may even know the Bible well, but they fail to overcome in the spiritual warfare. So you have two different groups that are saved, that do receive the basic gospel, but some do not mature because they’re not well in the Word, but the others do not mature because while they may know the Word they fail to apply the Word in daily living. Again, on one hand, you cannot apply what you do not know, but on the other hand, knowledge alone can cause you to be puffed up; it can cause us to become proud. The two must work together; on one hand we must study the text of Scripture and study the Word of God, but knowledge alone does not provide spiritual maturity; there must be the application of what we learn to daily life. And that’s why we have, even throughout church history, even in our present age, so many churches that are evangelical but the mature churches among them are in the minority.
And the fourth response is the “good ground” response where they believe, through the Word of God they conquer the spiritual warfare and they reproduce.
Now the second parable is found only in Mark’s account, the parable of the seed that is sown, and the point is the seed will spring to life of its own accord, inexplicably. The growth of the seed does not depend upon the sower. Once the sower has sown the seed and given the water there’s nothing else he can do; he’s dependent upon outside powers and sources to make sure the seed generates. And that is the mystery of regeneration; a simple gospel message, accepted, suddenly changes the person, he’s born again, and we see major changes in his or her life. We can observe these changes; we cannot explain them.
The third parable is the parable of the tares, and the first point it makes is a true sowing will be imitated by a false counter sowing. And there’ll be a false counter sowing of false believers, so that secondly there’ll be a side by side development as a result of the two sowings. And so in every church you’ll have people that we’re sure are believers and end up not being that though they have all the terms and so on. Now the judgment at the end of the Mystery Kingdom age will separate the two with the wheat entering the Messianic Kingdom and the tares being excluded.
The parable of the mustard seed is where we have a tree, it normally grows up to a bush but soon becomes a huge magnificent tree and the point is there will be an abnormal external growth of the Mystery Kingdom until it becomes a monstrosity and this monstrosity becomes a resting place for birds. And he defined the birds in the first parable as being agents of Satan so that’s why we know what these birds represent, these are agents of Satan. So within the umbrella of Christendom you’ve got the true Bible-believing Churches; you also have different cultic groups: Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science, Mormonism, and so on; they all claim to believe in Jesus but in the cultic groups they have one key essential denial; that’s all within Christendom.
Now the fifth parable is the parable of the leaven. Here we see a mixture of old and new. Now whenever a woman is used symbolically she represents a religious entity which could be good or bad; for example, Israel is the wife of Jehovah; the Church is the bride of the Messiah, these are good elements. On the bad side you have the Jezebel of Revelation 2:20; you have the great harlot of Revelation 17; here it’s used negatively, and the point is a false religious system will be introduced into the Mystery Kingdom. When the word “leaven” is used symbolically it’s always a symbol of sin but in Matthew’s Gospel a specific type of sin, the sin of false doctrine. And so as a result of this woman, false teaching will be introduced into the Mystery Kingdom, resulting in corruption of doctrine. And furthermore, there are three measures of wheat because Christendom actually divides into three broad divisions; Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestantism, all three divisions will have lesser or greater degrees of leaven or false teaching.
Number six, the parable of the hidden treasure; now we already know from the Old Testament that a treasure represents Israel, and the passages are: Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 14:2; Psalm 135:4, and the point is in spite of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah there will still be a remnant coming to faith; there will always be a number of Jews, small or large, that will come to believe in the Messiahship of Jesus. And the Messianic Jewish community numbering in our day, about 150,000 strong at the present time, will be the testimony to this.
Now the seventh parable is the parable of the pearl of great price; now when we have a clear statement as to what the Church here represents we don’t have an equally clear statement as to what the pearl represents. And therefore we must determine the meaning in some other way and I would say it represents the Gentiles who come to faith in the Mystery Kingdom age, because the Mystery Kingdom is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles, and since the treasure represents Israel, the pearl represents the Gentiles and furthermore, the pearl originates from the sea, the salt sea, and what the Bible does make clear in places like Daniel 7, Revelation 17, the sea represents the Gentile world. So this parable points out there will also be many who will come to faith among the Gentiles, which means Gentiles will come to faith in the Messiahship of Yeshua, of Jesus.
The eighth parable is the parable of the net and here again the sea is prominent; the sea represents the Gentile world. And the point here is that the Mystery Kingdom age will end with the judgment of the Gentiles and the best passage for this is not what’s down here, necessarily though they’re relevant, that just points out that the sea representing the Gentile world, but the fact of the of the age ends with the Gentiles is in Joel 3:1-3, and also Matthew 25:31-46. The righteous Gentiles enter the Messianic Kingdom, the unrighteous will be excluded.
The ninth parable is the parable of the householder. And he points out there are some aspects of the Mystery Kingdom that have points of similarities with the other four facets of God’s Kingdom program, but some aspects are brand new, never seen before, and hence the mystery.
Now what I want to do is give a one sentence summary of all of these nine parables; we’ll see the movement of the Mystery Kingdom age.
First of all the sower: there will be the sowing of the gospel seed throughout this age; the seed, it has its own energy and will spring to life of its own accord. The tares: the true sowing will be imitated by a false counter sowing. Now parables four and five are the results of parable three. Number four, the mustard seed, the Mystery Kingdom will soon (?) huge outer proportions; the leaven will be marked by corruption of doctrine. Now numbers six and seven are the result of parables one and two; parables six and seven are the result of parables one and two: the treasure, the born again remnant from Israel; the pearl, and also among the Gentiles, a people for His name. The net: the age will end with the judgment of the Gentiles, with the righteous going into the Messianic Kingdom, the unrighteous (?). And the householder: the Mystery Kingdom has both similarities and dissimilarities with the four facets of God’s Kingdom program.
Let’s correlate this facet, we have the four facets and why am I mentioning this thing; it’s not the same as the eternal universal Kingdom, because Mystery Kingdom is limited in time, from the rejection until the acceptance of the Messiahship of Jesus, therefore it’s not eternal. And the Mystery Kingdom is not universal because it’s limited to the earth only. It’s not the same as a spiritual kingdom because a spiritual kingdom consists of believers only, from Adam to the end of human history. But this kingdom has both believers and unbelievers in it. It’s not the same as the theocratic kingdom; the theocratic kingdom was His rule over Israel only, whereas the Mystery Kingdom has both Jews and Gentiles in it. It’s not the same as the Messianic Kingdom because the Messianic Kingdom does not qualify to be a Mystery. There are far more details about this kingdom in the Old Testament than the New Testament. But the Mystery Kingdom qualifies to be a mystery, it was not revealed anywhere in the Old Testament. Nor is the Mystery Kingdom equal to the Church; now the Church is part of the Mystery Kingdom, it is the “wheat” segment of the Mystery Kingdom, it’s the believing segment of the Mystery Kingdom, it’s not equivalent to the Mystery Kingdom.
And so with these points He has gone ahead and introduced a new facet of God’s Kingdom program that go into effect because of the nature of the unpardonable sin.