PICTURES OF THE KINGDOM
--JULY 3.--MATT. 13:31-33;44-52.--
Golden Text:--"The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink,
but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."
LET us keep in memory that the Master's parables of the Kingdom of Heaven relate to the class of people whom he is calling out of the world of mankind to be associated with him in his Millennial Kingdom soon to be inaugurated. Let us remember that sometimes this class is spoken of as including, nominally, not merely the saintly, the wheat class, but also, to some extent, the tares, as shown in our study of last week. These different parable-pictures represent the same subject from different standpoints, just as we take a photograph of a building from the north, the south, the east and the west, internally and externally.
LIKE A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED
As a mustard seed is very small, yet produces a large bush, so that the fowls of the air may lodge in its branches, so this illustrates how the gospel of the Kingdom would, from a small beginning, attain to a considerable size. Its size would not be great among the trees, but great among bushes or herbage. Thus the message of Christ received at first only by the poor and the few of Israel, has finally grown to such important dimensions that the fowls like to gather in its branches. But let us remember that the fowls, according to our Lord's interpretation of a previous parable, represent the servants of the Wicked One. So then the teaching of this parable would lead us to conclude that the Church of Christ, at one time, was so unimportant in the world that it was a shame and a dishonor to belong to it, but that ultimately it would become honorable and great and the Adversary's servants would have pleasure in its shade. This development the Scriptures represent as being Babylon, declaring that, as a whole, with the various branches and denominations, the nominal Church of Christ is [R4636 : page 205] Babylonish. Hearken to the Lord's words; "She has become the hold of every foul spirit and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird." The intimation is that there is a large outward development of the Church which is not to her advantage and glory but contrariwise. Nevertheless, this is, nominally, the Church of Christ. However his spirit may have been misrepresented and there may have been an improper development, ultimately the great Head of the Church will bring order out of chaos and confusion and will glorify and use his "elect."
"LEAVEN HIDDEN IN THE MEAL"
The parable of the "leaven" (v. 33) illustrates the process by which, as was foretold, the Church would get into the wrong condition. As a woman would take her batch of flour for baking and put leaven (yeast) in it and the result would be that the mass would become leavened, so it would be with the Church of Christ; the food of the entire household would become leavened or corrupted. Every portion would become more or less vitiated with the leaven of false doctrines which would permeate the entire mass. Thus today nearly every doctrine inculcated by Jesus and his Apostles has become more or less perverted or twisted by the errors of the dark ages.
TREASURE HID IN A FIELD
The desirability of obtaining joint-heirship with Christ in his Millennial Kingdom, is pictured in the parable of "the treasure hidden in the field." The finder, realizing its value, desired it for himself and had such faith in it that he disposed of all of his property in order to buy that field, which he believed to contain the precious treasure. Only those who will appreciate the Gospel message will gain its glorious promises. If we love the present life with its joys and prospects, its hopes and ambitions, then we will labor for these, but if we intelligently hear and, by faith, believe the Gospel offer of this age of a share with Christ in his Millennial Kingdom, then in proportion to our faith and appreciation will be our self-sacrificing zeal to attain that prize. Whoever believes the message of the Kingdom will find his faith an inspiration, indeed a necessary inspiration, to the attainment of the prize, for it will cost all that he has of earthly blessings; and unless he has faith that he will find the prize, he will surely be unwilling to sacrifice all he has for it. The field belongs to God. He has put the treasure there. He offers it for sale to any willing to pay the price. The buyer is the Lord and those who accept his invitation to join with him in the sacrifice of their earthly interests that they may be sharers with him in his heavenly glories--in the work of the Millennial Age, to unearth all that treasure in the blessing of the world of mankind. The hiding of the treasure is necessary; as our Lord said, "Cast not your pearls before swine"; they will not understand you, they will think you foolish, and in their disappointment may do you injury. "Hast thou faith, have it to thyself before God." Make your sacrifice of earthly things to him and he who seeth in secret will reward you openly.
THE PEARL OF GREAT VALUE
Pearls were much more in vogue in ancient times than now. Pearl buyers traded in these gems and carried them to the market, where they were highly estimated. The parable represents one of these pearl merchants as coming across the finest pearl he had ever seen. He considered it so priceless that he was quite rejoiced to sell or trade all of his other pearls and property that he might become the owner of that pearl.
This parable represents the Gospel offer of a share with Christ in his Kingdom as being superior to all other propositions of the world. The honor of the world, of name and fame, position and wealth, are indeed desirable; as the Scriptures say, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches"; but when our eyes behold "the pearl of great price," the Kingdom offer of joint-heirship with our Lord Jesus in his heavenly glory and the association with him in his work of blessing all the families of the earth, we realize that this is a priceless thing, worth more by far than all the honors and dignities and pleasures of the world. Those worthy to buy this pearl will gladly exchange all earthly things therefor-- even their good name, and this will be necessary, as the Master forewarned them, saying, "they shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you." [R4637 : page 205] (Matthew 5:11,12). He that is not willing to have the Kingdom at such a cost is not worthy of the Kingdom. The Apostle has said, "Through much tribulation must we enter the Kingdom" (Acts 14:22); and only those who willingly endure such tribulations for righteousness' sake--for the sake of the truth, in obedience to the Heavenly calling--are overcomers. And only to the "overcomers" has the Lord given "the exceeding great and precious promises." "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne."--Rev. 3:21.
THE NET GATHERED OF EVERY KIND
Another parable of the Kingdom represents the gospel message as a "net." Only one kind of fish is desired, but the net gathers every kind. Not every kind will inherit the Kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ Jesus, hence the end of this age will be a sifting, separating time, as represented in the parable. The desirable fish will be gathered into vessels, the remainder will be cast back into the sea as unfit for the Kingdom, but not necessarily unfit for any purpose. During Christ's Millennial reign that class unfit for the Kingdom will be dealt with and blessed and, if possible, made useful and fit for eternal life.
Here, as in the parable of the wheat and the tares, the furnace of fire, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth in connection therewith, symbolizes the great time of trouble with which this age will end, giving place to the Millennial Kingdom, the Kingdom for the establishment of which upon the earth the Church has been praying so unceasingly for nineteen centuries, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven." What a Kingdom that will be! It will be a Kingdom entrusted to a "Little Flock"--"Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom"--and it will be fully empowered to establish the rule of heaven among mankind!
Our study closes with the Lord's exhortation that all who are instructed respecting the things pertaining to the Kingdom should set their affairs in order.
Lay down your rails, ye nations, near and far,
Yoke your full trains to steam's triumphal car,
Link town to town, unite in iron bands
The long-estranged and oft-embattled lands.
Peace, mild-eyed seraph; knowledge, light divine,
Shall send their messengers by every line.
Men joined in amity shall wonder long
That hate had power to lead their fathers wrong;
Or that false glory lured their hearts astray,
And made it virtuous and sublime to slay.
How grandly now these wonders of our day
Are making preparation for Christ's royal way,
And with what joyous hope our souls
Do watch the ball of progress as it rolls,
Knowing that all as yet completed or begun
Is but the dawning that precedes the sun.