Matthew 13:24-43 Part 4

This morning I want to begin with something that’s perhaps a bit unusual – for me, anyway.  Remember I said that after the parable of the leaven I was going to spend a couple of sermons on drawing some more specific implications out of the text?  Well, I want to begin doing that before I finish the text, because I think it will help everybody to understand a little better.  And when we do take up the parable of the leaven, in a little while, the mysteries of the Kingdom will be that much more perspicuous to us all.

The goal, of course, is for all of us to be able to see not only the interpretations of the parables, but also to have the mind of Christ; and to be able to witness Him glorifying His Father in all that takes place!  To perceive what’s going on as God governs all His creation!  And, even further – not just to witness and perceive the realities of history and the present, but also to become the active participant in it all!  Consciously perceptive – the scales over our eyes having fallen off – soteriologically conscious of the process of God’s saving of His world; epistemologically self-conscious – seeing ourselves and all else in relation to Him – and becoming the willing servant of Christ the King.  I am a staunch believer in making the glory of God and His Glorious Person and works available for you to see.

So this morning, in an effort to help us to perceive all these things, and so “set” us in the glorious things of God so that these parables cease to become revelations of mysteries – so that the mysteries aren’t mysteries any longer, but commonplace to us – let’s look for a few minutes at the new things that are being revealed in the parables.

There is this remarkable transformation, or recreation, taking place, as the parables indicate.  And what we want to do is to look at the implications of this and to see what all of Scripture has to say about these new things!  The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the apostle John, Revelation chapter twenty-one verse five; and He said, “Behold, I make all things new!”  “All things!”  Those words are in the present tense – continual, active sense – “Behold I Am making all things new….”

This comes after twenty chapters of decreation of the then-existing “heaven and earth” – the garden of God called Israel!  And the immediate context is the “new” city of God coming down out of heaven.  As John said in this same chapter twenty-one, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.”

So, first, what we see is a “new heavens and a new earth.”  So the apostles who stood with Jesus were witnessing and experiencing the threshold of a new age in which the old was passing away.  And, as the apostle Paul says in second Corinthians chapter five, verse seventeen, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new Creation; old things have passed away; behold all things are become new.”

There is an entirely new order of things – a new administration of the government of the world and of the rule of the heavens.  And it is this new administration that Isaiah had in mind when he wrote:  “For, behold, I create a new heaven and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind.”  And the apostle Peter, when he wrote:  “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

Now, secondly.  As a result of this “new heavens and a new earth,” there is a new name!  The apostles and other inspired writers of the New Testament clearly affirm that there was a New Covenant of God.  And there is no room whatsoever to question the fact that it was not the nation of Jews (which God had called His Own people) who were the recipients of the New Covenant, but the faithful remnant who recognized the Messiah when He came!  And this very small group of elect people became the nucleus of the new Theocracy.  The true Israel and the true Judah are now the remnant of the faithful, and the Gentile nations of the world!  It is the covenanted community which has received a new name!

A number of words and phrases are used by New Testament writers to describe this new body:  “The Israel of God” (Galatians six, sixteen); “The household of God” (Ephesians two, verses nineteen through twenty-two); “His body” (First Corinthians twelve, and verse twelve); “The Church of the living God…” (First Timothy three, fifteen); and the “commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians two, twelve).  And finally we read that the members of the new body are called after the name of their Savior – Christians.

The apostle Paul then gives the true definition of a Jew.  He says, in Romans two, verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine:  “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly… but he is a Jew which is one inwardly.”  So there is no ground whatsoever for Hebrew people (since the destruction of Israel) to call themselves “Jews,” or to call their nation “Israel!”  And they can’t claim to represent the covenant nation!  True Jews are the Christian Church!  And the Kingdom is the New Israel!  For, “the old is passed away, and, behold, all things are being made new!”

Now.  Thirdly, there is no longer a kingdom of Israel, as in the old Jewish nation (state); but there is a new Kingdom!  As Daniel prophesied in chapter two of his prophecy:  “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed… but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

And the Lord Jesus Christ announced for all to hear that “all power is given to Me in heaven and earth….”  And His objective as the King is a saved world – a recreated, cleansed heaven and earth.  “God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.”  That was His inheritance as promised to Him by His Father in places such as Psalm two:  “Ask of me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”

And Christ, as King of the New Kingdom, delegates His authority. (Or at least His people have authority in Him.)  They “reign” with Him!  We are told that the apostles sat “in Moses’ seat”; Peter speaks of the “commandments of the apostles”; Jesus says that His apostles will do greater things than He did; Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so send I you”; all believers are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ”; all things in nature and in history work for the good of believers; by faith believers become “more than conquerors”; believers are said to “judge men and angels”; all of us have immediate access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; and, as intercessors, we plead with God on behalf of men everywhere; and we pray before the throne of grace and mercy, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and God hears that and will do it!

So we reign with Christ in this “new Kingdom,” which is for the purpose of establishing righteousness, peace, and joy over all the earth by means of redemption and recreation.  As men and institutions come under the rule of Christ and His people, there is the Kingdom.  And that new Kingdom is here illustrated by the parables of our Lord.

Fourthly, the Scriptures speak of the “New Jerusalem!”  The old one was the “city of God” of the old covenant.  But, in many Old Testament prophecies, she was doomed for destruction.  Jeremiah chapter nineteen is one of the more prominent ones:


“Thus saith the Lord, Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests… and say, ‘Hear ye the Word of the lord, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem… Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle….  And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of the plagues thereof….’  Then thou shalt break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee, and shalt say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel,  that cannot be made whole again.’”


The complete fulfillment of Jeremiah’s message of doom actually took place when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, with all of Israel, in 70 A.D.  But as Isaiah prophesies, there shall be a new city!  Listen to him in chapter sixty and fifty-four:


“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee… and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”


This is the same city that John saw coming down out of heaven in chapter twenty-one: 


“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… and he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the Holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal….” 


And then, after much specific description, John says, “and they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.”

This is the same new city from which the waters will flow for the cleansing of the nations, and for the establishing of the new Garden of God from which will grow green trees which bear much fruit.

Fifthly, the Scriptures speak of the New Temple!  In the prophecy of Ezekiel, the Lord surveys the abominations of the temple.  And then Ezekiel sees the glory of the Lord departing from it.  And the Lord Jesus then tells the Samarian woman that “not one stone will remain upon another” in the temple.

But when John sees the New Holy City descending from heaven, he makes the statement that he sees no temple in it!  “For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple in it” (Revelation twenty-one).  The apostles are very specific in describing that New Temple – the best of which I think is Peter in the second chapter of his first letter: 


“Ye also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”


And, then, Paul in Ephesians chapter two:


“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father….  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner (stone); in Whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord; in Whom also ye are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”


So the New Temple in the New Kingdom, in the New Age, is we in Christ and Christ in us, and we in God.  All of us “living stones” in the structure of that temple; and, at the same time, a royal priesthood offering acceptable sacrifices in the temple through Christ unto God.

Now, one more new thing.  There are more, but we need to get back to the text of the parable of the leaven.  Sixthly, the Scriptures are implicit there is a “new inheritance!”  The inheritance promised to Israel under the Old Covenant was the land which “flowed with milk and honey” (Exodus three, eight).  This was the “Garden of God” which was given specifically to the nation of God’s chosen people.  And it has great preparatory significance for us in the New Covenant as well.  But I won’t go into that figurative language now.

But the event recorded for us in Genesis chapter twelve is much more specific.  There we have God’s promise to our father Abraham in which a huge posterity is foreseen, and in which all the nations of the earth would be blessed!

And Paul, in his letter to the Galatian Church commented on it like this: 


“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed.’  So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham… that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.”


And when you couple that with the promise of God to His Son in Psalm two, “Ask of Me and I will give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for Thy possession,” one is just driven to believe that the earth does not belong to Satan – it belongs to Christ!  And that the task of the Church is to “go into all the earth and teach the nations to do whatsoever I have commanded you.”  We have the commission and the function, under Christ, to bring about a complete fulfillment of God’s promise of the New inheritance!  The whole world is ours, through faith in Christ, and we need to go and take possession of it for Him.  It is ours to subdue and to replenish, and to possess in the highest and purest sense.  And it is ours to possess for the glory of God!

World-wide moral and spiritual redemption is promised here, for “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the lord, as the waters cover the Sea.”  This is our inheritance as promised to Abraham, “in thee and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.”

Now, all these “new things” which are the result of the coming of the God-man, are the mysteries of the Kingdom which are being revealed here in parabolic language!  And as people who are the recipients of all these new things, we need not be blind to the realities inherent in the parable.  In other words, these new things must become second nature to us!  It needs to be the case that when we read a parable such as the one before us now, the parable of the leaven, the first and only thing that our minds and hearts grasp and hold to is the extension of Christ’s Kingdom; and the promises that have been made by God.  And the function and task of the Royal Priests in this process!  The Royal Priests being us!


“Another parable He spoke to them (verse thirty-three in your text); ‘Like is the Kingdom of the Heavens to leaven, which a woman, having taken, it was hidden in three measures of flour until the whole was leavened.’”


Now, considering all the “new things” we’ve just spoken about, it should come as no surprise to you that the three measures of flour are first mentioned in the context of the blessings of God to Abraham!  Sarah mixed three measures of flour for the three angels who visited.  And, in Biblical terms, three “measures” is a whole Ephah!  The parable is a direct reference to Abraham and God’s specific promises to him!!

The woman leavened “the whole”; and “the whole” was interpenetrated and occupied!  The leaven extended itself into “the whole” in all its various parts!  And Jesus says “like is the Kingdom” to that!  The Kingdom penetrates all the parts of the world until the whole is occupied!

Now, there’s a lot that can be said about that by implication, but what could be simpler?  The direct reference by Christ is to Abraham to whom the promise was made that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed!  The one having ears let him hear!

But many will not.  Modern fundamentalism – as a whole – will not.  If I can refer again to one of the great leaders of fundamentalism, Dr. Criswell over at First Baptist in Dallas, you can see the terrible pessimism of today’s Christianity!  To him the woman in the parable is used in a bad ethical sense.  And the leaven is corruption and disintegration.  It will penetrate and corrupt all of Christendom so that Christianity is to be seduced and corrupted by evil!  He says that leaven is always used in Scripture as a symbol of the presence and growth of evil!

Now, can you imagine anybody holding a theology that says that the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be permeated and seduced and occupied by evil?  And to say that leaven is always a symbol of the presence and growth of evil is horrible Biblical exegesis!  In the Law of the Sacrifices, which always has to do with the nature and character and work of Christ, leaven was added to the offerings!!  And the occasion for doing that was fifty days after Passover when the first fruits were offered.  Fifty days!  And if you know anything at all about the establishment of the Church in the New Testament, you’ll realize that fifty days after Passover when Christ was crucified, the Holy Spirit came with great power to establish the Church!  A Church whose mission and function was to go into all the world, baptizing the nations and teaching them to obey Christ!

And so the leaven added to the sacrifice which was offered fifty days after Passover (Leviticus chapter twenty-three) was a direct reference to the establishment of the Church, whose function was to leaven the whole world!

So, in essence, fundamentalism and its dispensationalism has said that the sacrifices representing Christ are evil; that the Kingdom of Christ is permeated and occupied with evil; that the world belongs to Satan; that the Kingdom will not grow until all the earth is covered with the knowledge of God; and that God’s promises to Abraham are not to be fulfilled by the Church in history!

But it, itself, is its own self-proclaimed and self-fulfilled prophecy!  For it is apostate and knows nothing of the mysteries of the Kingdom!  It is full of its own evil leaven – hopeless, despairing, faithless and abandoned!  As Pilgrim’s Progress says, today’s Christianity is in the “slough of despond,” because its hope in the immediate coming of Christ to put an end to all this misery, has been dashed dozens (yea, even hundreds) of times, and it has no faith in the victory of Christ.  There’s nothing there for them in the Resurrected Savior!  There are only vain expectations – dashed again and again in disappointment.

But Christ came to establish the New Heavens and the New Earth.  “The Kingdom is at hand!”  “Behold, I am making all things new….”  In this New Heavens and New Earth I give you a new name, and a new Temple, and a new Jerusalem, and a Kingdom, and a new inheritance.  It is the time of the restoration of all things (Matthew seven, verse eleven).  It is the time of regeneration (Matthew nineteen, twenty-eight).  It is times of refreshing (Acts three, nineteen).  It is the times of the Restitution of all things (Acts three, verse twenty-one).  It is the time of Reformation (Hebrews nine, ten).

It is the redemptive process of God that “in the dispensation of the fullness of time He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him” (Ephesians one, verse).  God was, by Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself….”

Jesus said that “all authority in heaven and on earth” was His (Matthew chapter twenty-eight), in which case the nations were to be discipled, baptized, and taught to obey all that He had commanded!  And then the Scriptures portray His “coming” into the clouds of heaven to “sit down on the right hand of the Majesty on High.”  And God “left nothing that is not subject to Him.”  And this parable of the leaven means the same thing that Paul said in First Corinthians fifteen:  “He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”  And Philippians chapter two:  “God highly exalted Him and gave unto Him the Name which is above every Name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.!”

From His position of “Ruler of the Kings of the earth,” He breaks the power of sin and extends His rule over all nations and men, including all areas of life.  The kings of the earth will render tribute to Him and bow down before Him; and all nations will serve Him and bring their splendor into the New Jerusalem!  No man or nation is exempt from the absolute demand to bow before this King of Kings and serve Him in all that they do!

And since the preaching of this parable, when there were only twelve apostles (and only a few thousand of the lost sheep of Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal), the Rule of the King has extended to every shore and every island, and to almost every tongue and tribe on earth!  And it will continue to leaven the whole until every human pursuit is consecrated to the service of Christ the Lord!  There cannot be any area of life which is free from the obligation to submit to the Word of the King.

This is a mystery of the Kingdom, spoken in parabolic language, which has now been revealed in all its glory; and we must live by faith and not by what we see around us – and not by what the world order says with its lies and deceits – and not by what apostate popular religion preaches!  We must live by faith in Jesus and what He said!  And He said that every enemy will be put under His feet; and kings and nations will bow before him as Ruler of the universe.