The Parable of the Tares – Matt 13:24-30; 36-43.
Preached at the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony monthly meeting in London, 22nd June 2018
By Rev Ivan Foster.
There is a need for us to seek the Lord for a right understanding of His Word. As He says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8.
It would be wrong to simply place our own interpretation upon His Word.
The Lord is most willing to explain His truth to us as we seek out the prophetic teaching of the parable. “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field,” Matthew 13:36. The word ‘declare’ means ‘make plain or explain’.
I. BELIEVERS ARE TO EXPECT SATANIC ACTIVITY UP UNTIL THE END OF THIS AGE!
1. This contradicts the views of those who teach ‘Post Millennialism’. Postmillennialism is the belief that Christ returns after a period of time, but not necessarily a literal 1000 years.
Those who hold this view do not interpret unfulfilled prophecy literally. They believe that Rev 20:4-6 should not be taken literally. – “a 1000 years” simply means “a long period of time.” Furthermore, the prefix “post-” in “postmillennialism” denotes the view that Christ will return after Christians, not Christ, have established the kingdom on this earth.
Those who hold to this view believe that this world will become better and better, despite the evidence of our eyes and ears and, above all, of Holy Scripture. The world is not becoming “Christianized” as the holders of this notion would teach. If we are to wait on that happening before Christ returns then He will never return. The trend evidenced in the old world is clearly manifested today. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. . . . . . The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth,” Genesis 6:5, 11-12.
2. It also contradicts the views of a ’secret rapture’. Note verse 30. “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Here they both grow TOGETHER until the harvest and then it is the tares which are first cut down. This is the very opposite to what JN Darby and his disciples taught.
a. Satan is active through his ‘children’. Just as the children of God serve Him in His vineyard so it is the children of the ‘wicked one’ serve him in seeking to destroy God’s vineyard. The relationship between the devil and the unsaved is that of ‘father and child’! This speaks of likeness
and love. “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,” John 3:19. As the Saviour said to the Jews: “Ye do the deeds of your father, . . . . Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it,” John 8:41, 44. Again, being the children of the devil they engage in his labours. “Ye do the deeds of your father,” John 8:41. The word ‘deeds’ means ‘labour or work’.
b. He has his children everywhere. “The field is the world,” verse 38. Everywhere the gospel is preached and the Kingdom of God is advanced, the devil plants his seed within its ranks.
c. They bear an outward likeness to God’s people. Even as tares bear some outward resemblance to wheat.
d. Note the enmity that exists toward the tares amongst God’s servants. “He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?” Matthew 13:28. Such a spirit is very proper. “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” Genesis 3:14-15.
There is a God-planted spirit of enmity toward the devil and his works in the heart of every believer. But the servants were wrong is seeking to remove them. “But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them,” verse 29. We are called upon to suffer the presence and many of the activities of the ungodly. “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,” Matthew 5:39. We are not to resist with violence the acts off the devil upon God’s work. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” Romans 12:19.
II. AS TIME PASSES, THE TARES LOSE ANY LIKENESS THEY MAY HAVE HAD TO THE WHEAT.
We have considered how this parable refutes the teaching of those who hold to Post-Millennialism and also those who teach a “secret rapture” the redeemed before the cutting off of the wicked.
The parable also refutes the teaching of A-Millennialists. They state that we are in the period described in Revelation 20:1-6, when specifically we are told that an angel “laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season,” Revelation 20:2-3.
Thus they claim that:
Satan is presently bound with a chain, cast into the bottomless pit, shut him up, sealed, unable to deceive the nations no more and that the saints reign with Christ and the world is at peace.
This parable sets forth a very different scenario.
1. The tares are not cut down, even though God’s servants would dearly love to see that happen.
2. The tares continue to flourish and dominate as weeds tend to do.
3. Their true character becomes ever more evident. “But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also,” Matthew 13:26. The meaning of the word ‘appeared’ may be seen by its use in Matthew 1:20. “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” What an plain unmistakeable manifestation of the person of the angel this was! Even so will the wicked amongst the people of God become as we draw nearer the harvest, the end of this age and the return of Christ.
Like Judas, they will come out in their true colours toward the end. He deceived the rest of the disciples until he appeared with the mob. “Lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and greeted Him Hail, master; and kissed him,” Matthew 26:47-49. He who kissed the Saviour joyfully, for that is the meaning of ‘hail’. See the same word translated as rejoice in Matthew 2:10. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” And also in Matthew 5:12. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” How deceitful was Judas but he merely pictures the general spirit of the unconverted. Judas called the Lord Jesus ‘Master’ but he was in fact “the son of perdition”, John 17:12.
So it is seen today. The ‘professing church’ has become more worldly, more devil-like in its ways and words as the ‘harvest’ draws nearer.. From its ranks may be heard the voice of those to whom Jude refers. “To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him,” Jude 1:15. Make no mistake about this matter. These are those who mingle with the people of God pretending to be of them. “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever,” Jude 1:12-13.
They are pretenders who profess to be what they are not, to possess what they have not!
Such is the teaching of this parable.
III. AS AUTUMN APPROACHES, THE TARES REACH THEIR FULNESS.
Is this not what Scriptures says of the last days!
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come,” 2 Tim 3:1. The word ‘perilous’ appears in only one other place. “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way,” Matthew 8:28.
I think that we can say this man and his companion were the worst cases of devil-possession that Christ encountered.
Remember what we read in Revelation 13:11-12. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth . . . . . . And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
Here are “two possessed with devils . . . . exceeding fierce.” In these two men of Gadara we have a picture of the fulness the tares will reach at the end of time. The Antichrist and the False Prophet will be but the fulness of the general spirit amongst the ungodly.
IV. THE DESTINATION OF THE TARES.
“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world,” verse 40. That is the end of the “age” for such is the meaning of the word “aion”, here translated by the word ‘world’.
Such then is the end of the wicked.
1. Let this encourage us. “For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors,” Psalm 73:14-19.
The desire to be rid of the “tares” will one day be satisfied as God deals with them.
2. Let this stir us to evangelise. We all realise surely that we were once as the tares. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:11. We were wonderfully changed by the mercy and grace of God in the day we were rescued and made new. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
This we desire for the poor sinners around us. We hold the message of deliverance in our hands. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Acts 2:21. Let us sound it out loud and clear!
Abraham strove with God in prayer when he heard of the judgment that was to fall upon Sodom. Christ wept at the prospect of Jerusalem’s destruction. “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,” Luke 19:41.
Recall the reaction of Paul to the troubles of the unbelieving Jews. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” Romans 9:1-3.
So should we desire and pray and act.
Let that be so with us as well.