Matthew 13:24-43 Part 2

Last Lord’s Day we set the parable of the zizanium of the field in its own context; and it became apparent to us that the parabolic and figurative language that is here is the same as what is found in the prophesy of Daniel and in that which is found in the Revelation to St. John.

And we saw the need, especially when dealing with parabolic language, to be very specific with the context and with other parts of Scripture, because the Scriptures are self-interpretive.  And we cannot be imaginative or creative with the prophetic or “imagery” type language of Scripture!  When men do that, they always run to excess!  And violence is done to God’s Word.  But if we stay in the context, and if we go to the other portions of Scripture which say the same things and use the same language, then we won’t be tempted to imaginative fancy!

And, then, having set the parable in its own context, we began to go through the words of the text – making initial comments and observations.  And the first thing we noticed was that Jesus has referred to the Sower (and the House-master) as the Son of Man.  And when a term like that appears in the text, then our “Kingdom radar” ought to be signaling the alert – that special attention needs to be paid to something!

And if it’s a term or phrase that’s been investigated before, then usually we can recall at least the important things about it.  But if we can’t, then we have to do it again!  Because, as we said a minute ago, we can’t just use our own imaginations about it!

And the use of this term “Son of Man” from Daniel chapter seven; and the focus on the harvesting angels culling out zizanium for destruction and that having the same language as Revelation chapter fourteen; and the “culmination of the age” being the transition to the “new heavens and the new earth”; all lead us irrevocably to the only conclusion about this parable that can be made.  And that is that this parable has to do with the nation of Israel.  And that is that the people that God has loved and elected as His Own are about to be separated out and abandoned in order that the peoples of the world might be grafted in.  As the Daniel chapter seven passage says, “The King shall establish an everlasting Kingdom” – one which shall be greater than any of the last four.  And as the Revelation fourteen passage says, at the time of the New King, the angels will be sent in to reap the evil fruit and destroy it completely in fire, leaving only the sons of the Kingdom in the field.

And there’s no conceivable way that this can be misinterpreted by rational people of God.  This “culmination of the age” refers directly to the “cataclysmic interruption” in the course of humanity when this New and eternal King separates out the old Covenant nation and destroys it, and then establishes His new Covenant with the whole world!

Now, the way God looks at that is different than the way most people look at it, isn’t it?  God sees that as “heaven and earth” being inundated by a flood of wrath and destruction; and, then, an all new heaven and earth being recreated!

In other words, this is an event which can be likened to the destructive effects of the Genesis flood!  Except that it is by fire rather than by water.  And what is left is a new creation – the New Heavens and the New Earth, definitively made new, and progressively brought about under the Kingship of the resurrected God-man!

The “salvation event,” i.e. the completed earthly work of Christ – from His birth to the destruction of Old Israel – is viewed by God as the monumental event of history.  The apostle Peter describes it (Second Peter chapter three) as the very elements of the old heaven and earth being dissolved in the fervent heat of the wrath of God.  And then, as Peter says in verse thirteen, “nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

And that’s precisely what verses thirty and forty say (verse thirty being the parable; verse forty the explanation); verse forty:  “Just as, therefore, the zizanium is gathered and is burned in fire (everything sowed by the devil) so shall it be in the consummation of this age….”  In other words, everything which resulted from the intrusion of Satan into the creation of God, i.e. the entire over-sowing in God’s heaven and earth, will be dissolved in the heat generated by the anger of God!  And what is left is the sons of the Kingdom – the good fruit.

Now, I think that this was mentioned last Sunday in our question and answer period during Sunday School.  And it was concerning this issue of the zizanium being culled out – leaving only the sons of the Kingdom.  And the facts are that none of the expectations of today’s pessimistic millennial teachings are satisfied by this parable;  and this is the focus of the parable!

But the ones who hold that the Lord will rapture the Church out of the world one thousand years before judgment, are just destroyed if they contend that this parable isn’t for the nation of Israel.  If they contend that this parable concerns an event in the future – still yet accomplished – then Jesus is prophesying the very opposite of what they say!  Jesus says that the sons of the devil will be culled out (i.e. the zizanium).  But the premilenialist says the Church will be taken out – leaving the zizanium!

Now, if they continue to contend for a still futuristic view of prophetic language with regard to the Kingdom, then there’s no possible way to avoid the conflict between what they say and what Jesus says.  Well, even so, they certainly do continue to hold that all these things are still to come in the future (never does it enter their minds that maybe they’ve already taken place!).  So how do they handle the zizanium being culled out and destroyed?  (which is the very meat of this parable)  Well, they revert automatically to an amillenial position and just overlook it!  Since both millennial views are pessimistic with regard to the victory of Christ in creation, it’s relatively easy to jump back and forth as needed!  And since there’s no clash here between Christ and the rapture in amillenialism, when the question is addressed in this parable, they just quickly put on the other hat and avoid the issue!  It just never comes up!

Let me give you a perfect example of that.  Rev. W. A. Criswell, deceased premilenialist, pastor of first Baptist of Dallas, published a book twenty or twenty-five years ago called Expository Notes on the Gospel of Matthew.  And it’s to all the Sunday School teachers in the Church!  And, by the way, when you write a book which is expository in nature, and it’s done for others to teach from, then you must cover all of the passages!  You can’t skip over the tough ones, and you can’t lay stress on that one in order to take people’s minds off the fact that you don’t say anything about this one!  An expository book designed for other teachers has to say something about every verse that comes up!  Because the men and women who are teaching others in Sunday School need something to say to their students.

And when I read this you’ll see that Dr. Criswell, a very highly respected Churchman and Theologian, does say something about this parable for his teachers, but he flips from his adamant dispensational views over to amillenialism in order to explain it!  Although he retains his dispensationalist structure, he just fails to mention the rapture at all!  And remember, now that this is expository comments concerning the so-called parable of the wheat and the tares – the presupposition of which is that good and evil will proceed in history in about the same proportions until the second coming.  Listen:  (page seventy-six)


“It is never stated (in the New Testament) that the Church would be like a powerful river, unobstructed in its flow, unpolluted in its waters, ever-expanding through the centuries until the world would be covered with the ocean of its outpoured blessings….  No such thing is written in the New Testament.  The very reverse is found in every allusion which it makes to the estate of the world in this dispensation.  Christ’s Own ministry resulted in a dedicated little flock, while the rest of the nation, as today, lived their lives in unbelief.  The highest expectation of Paul in his great labors was, ‘that I might save some.’  The vast majority of the Roman Empire lived in disobedience and unbelief.  James, the pastor of the church of Jerusalem, said the purpose of God is; ‘to take out of them a people for His name… and to this agree the words of the prophets.’

“The Scriptures definitely and distinctly tell us that the prince and god of this world is Satan.  The saints are described in the Holy Scriptures as being pilgrims and strangers in the earth.  Christ’s ministers in this dispensation are never anything but ambassadors to a foreign court.  The Gospel is to be preached as a witness to the nations unto the end.  And when the end cometh, as it was in the days of Noah and as it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.

“The professed church, as judged by Christ Himself, is a mixed society, embracing the intermingling of good and evil to the end.  As Christ addresses the seven churches of Asia in the book of the Revelation, there is not one epistle in which evil is not recognized.  There is no period in the earthly history of the church without bad admixtures; some with first love abated and some whose devotion has cooled, even among the fervent, the enduring, and the faithful.  In them all there is true faith, false faith, and sometimes no faith.  There are schisms and heresies, as well as devout worship, noble self-sacrifice and instances of fidelity unto death.  There are children of the kingdom as well as children of the wicked one, error mixed with truth, sins among sanctities, tares among wheat, then as now, as in all the centuries.  Thus it will be until Jesus comes again.”


First, in reading this quote of Dr. Criswell (as beautiful as his language is), you notice that there is not one mention of the rapture!  It will be the same kind of society – an admixture of good and evil – at the second coming as it was in the beginning of the Christian Church!  No rapture of the Church before judgment day.  Dr. Criswell completely takes on the amillenial position in order to deal with this parable, when he is an avowed dispensationalist. 

Secondly, you’ll also notice that this respected Theologian argues from what he sees in society to what will be in society according to the Scriptures!  In other words, rather than reading what God says will take place in the Kingdom of His Son, and anticipating it and working for it, Dr. Criswell pessimistically accepts what he sees (i.e. the evil around us) and presupposes that to be the norm until judgment day!  (But the Scriptures say that we are to live by Faith and not by sight!)

And thirdly Dr. Criswell has done no exegesis on terms such as “the Son of Man” and the word “pilgrims” in chapter one of first Peter!  And, as we’ve already seen, the “Son of Man” terminology in Scripture, in every case, has to do with the coming of the King to separate out (and annihilate with fire) the old nation of God, and establish His New Covenant with the world.  And the separating out is in perfect accord with this parable, in that Jesus says that the zizanium will be culled out, wrapped with bonds, and burned in the furnace!

The small band of pilgrims, which Dr. Criswell says is the norm for all of society until Christ’s judgment day, comes from that first Peter passage; and the proper translation of that word is “refugees”, not pilgrims!  And it is obvious that these were the elect remnant, the sons of the Kingdom, who were fleeing the carnage in Israel as the Son of Man separated out and consumed with fire the old, apostate nation and consummated the age of the old heaven and earth.

And lastly, Dr. Criswell shows his true dispensational self when he says the New Testament never says that there will be a River, ever expanding through the centuries until the world be covered with the ocean of its outpoured blessings!  But what about the words of Isaiah the prophet in the Old Testament?  He said that the knowledge of God would cover the earth like the waters cover the sea!  And what about the Ezekiel passage which we read last week having to do with the River of Life flowing into all the earth from the New Temple of God?  Dr. Criswell’s dispensationalism refuses to allow him to take those passages out of the Old Testament, even though they are prophecies concerning the New Covenant.  To him, they are a part of the old dispensation which has passed away!

Well, let’s go on now to verses forty-one, forty-two and forty-three, as we continue to make comments regarding the text.  These three verses have to do with the actual harvest itself, i.e. the destruction of, and separation of, the old elect nation, and the glorification of all of those who remained faithful – the sons of the Kingdom.

Jesus says, verse forty-one:  “The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out from His Kingdom all the entrapments and those doing the lawlessness.  And they shall throw them into the furnace of fire; there there shall be weeping and gnashing of the teeth.”

First let me say of the weeping and gnashing of the teeth, that this denotes terrible grief and dreadful anger.  The five or six different passages in the Old Testament which include this word “gnashing” bear that out.  And then in the Acts of the apostles, right after Stephen preached to the Sanhedrin, we find this in verse fifty-four of chapter seven: 


“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.”


This is an uncontrollable wrath and anger from that which is ungodly toward that which is godly!  In the case of Stephen, the Sanhedrin put him to death by stoning as a result of his preaching the truth.  And it is the case in every situation where the sons of the Kingdom come into contact with the world order, isn’t it?  The world hates God and His Son, and those who by grace live in Him.  And that inherent loathing is expressed here in this parable, as in other parts of Scripture, by the term, “gnashing of the teeth.”

And as there was great grief in the nation of Israel (and in the city of Jerusalem) as it was being burned and destroyed down to the last stone, there existed until the very end a hatred and defiance of God and His Son.  The nation which God had loved and elected as His Own was suffering the curse of the covenant which was laid upon them by Moses in Deuteronomy chapters twenty-eight through thirty-two.  And although they were full of grief at the awful wrath of God, they stood in revolutionary resistance, in incensed animosity, to the onslaught which was inevitable.  The Roman army was the attendant arm of God’s anger, but that force of men and weapons and animals only partially accounts for the “consummation of the age” annihilation which occurred, and which is cosmically shown to the apostle John in the book of the Revelation.

Further, Jesus says here in verse forty-one that His angels “shall gather out from His Kingdom all the entrapments and those doing the lawlessness.”  The word “entrapments” is that same word which we’ve seen already a number of times.  It is Skandala – or skandalizo.  They, too, shall be gathered out and burned in the furnace of God’s wrath.  For the sons of the Kingdom, in the New Heavens and the New Earth, there shall be no more offense!  There shall be no more stumbling and crushing on the Rock which is Christ!  They are separated out and destroyed along with this nation of lawless people!

And what this means is that, in the New Heavens and the New Earth, the sons of the Kingdom will be preserved in the Body of Christ!  By His blood they are washed clean, and the New Covenant is one in His Blood! In the Old Covenant – the old heaven and earth – the old nation of God, there was lawlessness and idolatry and co-mingling with the world order!  But in the New one the sons of God are preserved in the Kingdom.  In the Old Covenant there was falling away and separation and discontinuity.  But in the New Covenant nation in Christ, there is recreation and renovation and righteousness.  The New Temple made without hands has a Royal High Priest, and His people shall live in Him forever – free from the curse of the Law.

And then, as verse forty-three says, “the righteous shall be resplendent as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”  And there is no way that I can explain to you the glory which is ours in Christ any better than by reading it out of the book of Revelation.  Chapter twenty-one pictures for us the newness and recreated glory of Christ’s Kingdom after the Old has been destroyed.  And in that same passage John sees the glory which is ours in Christ.  Listen as I read from verse twenty-two:


“…And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.  And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.  And the nations which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.  And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there.  And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nation into it and there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither worketh abomination, or makes a lie; but they which are written in the Lambs’ book of life.”


As the passage just before this says, this is the bride of Christ which was showed to John.  It is His New Kingdom which had been made bright and glorious for His Father.  And it is a bride of virtue and righteousness, reflecting the glory of the Son of God.  And everywhere it goes it reflects that glory in the world!

It is not like the old Israel – there are no abominations in her.  But, as the Revelation says, “there dwells righteousness.”  “The one having ears, let him hear.”


Next Lord’s Day we’ll finish our initial comments about the text.  There are two other parables here about which I need to make some remarks.  And, then, I’ll proceed to go a little deeper into some of the issues that arise from the text.  And they will have to do, to a large degree, with the Church’s response to these majestic things that have happened in our history.  In other words, how do we now view ourselves and our task as sons of the Kingdom?  What’s your acknowledgment to be upon having learned about these sublime and remarkable mysteries?  Since you have a glory from Christ as resplendent as the sun – the very same glory that this refugee remnant from the annihilation of the nation had – what’s your reaction to it all?  And what “light” do you bring to it all?