MYSTERY OF THE WHEAT AND TARES
Matthew 13:24-30 "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 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."
We have all read this parable, or should have if we have been very long in the faith and have most likely heard opinions about its true meaning or message. Some consider it to be merely to be a description of the distinctions between those in “the Church” and those in "the World" and what happens to each party at the coming of the Son of Man. I for one do not accept this interpretation. This is far too simplistic a view and interpretation for such an important revelation about the end times. To truly grasp the entirety of what is being revealed to us through this verse; we must consider a) the language of the message, b) the context of the message and c) the culture of those hearing the message when it was given.
Concerning the language of the message; let me clarify that Y'shua (Jesus) did not speak to this group in Greek. Some would say He spoke in Aramaic. Maybe - but for reasons I will not address here, I tend to believe that He spoke in the language of the Scriptures, Hebrew. That being said, a few key words and phrases of this parable merit attention.
Even in Greek, the phrase "good seed" (kalon sperma) should be understood as speaking of seed which is morally pure, i.e. righteous seed. The Greek word kalon is used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) primarily to convey an ethical concept, specifically, that which is first and foremost pleasing to the LORD. The Messiah verifies this ethical concept in Matthew 13:38 by interpreting the good seed as "the children (sons) of the kingdom" which have been scattered by the Son of Man (Matthew 13:37).
The primary Hebrew word translated as kalos (kal-os') is the word tov. The Hebrew equivalent of the phrase kalos sperma (sper'-mah) is zera tov. Zera is interpreted as "seed" and tov is "good" but not just in the sense of as opposed to bad. Tov is a word that contains the sense of being singularly good, right and pure.
For instance, when in Matthew 19:17 (Y'shua) Jesus said, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God:" He would have used the Hebrew word tov to mean "good." Thus, there is only one "good" and it comes from God and is God. Likewise, there is only one good seed which comes from God because He, the Word made flesh, is that zera tov or good seed. The "sons of the kingdom" have that seed in them and are dispersed into the field, which is the world (Matthew 13:38) by the Son of Man - the Word made flesh (Matthew 13:37) so that they may bring forth fruit. Yet, while men sleep, the enemy of the Word comes into the field to sow another seed.
The word "enemy" in this case is echthros (ekh-thros') and is interpreted as one who is "actively hostile." Thayer's Greek Definitions says echthros is used to describe those "at enmity with God," and specifically refers to "the devil who is the most bitter enemy of the divine government." Y'shua confirms that this is definitely intended to represent Satan in Matthew 13:39, and the seed he scatters are his wicked children (Matthew 13:38). Remember, at the end time the angels gather the tares, the sons of the devil, out of the world and they are cast into the fire of hell (Matthew 13:41-42).
Think about this. If the good seed are the sons of the kingdom which are intended to produce fruit that reflects the seed of the Word that is within them, then isn't it logical to assume that the "sons of the wicked one" are there to grow fruit that reflects the seed within them? And what is that seed within them? If God's Word in the believer is the good seed, then I suggest to you that Satan's word is his seed that is planted into the unbelievers. Scripture tells us that everyone is being made or transformed into the image of the king they are under, their spiritual head or ruler over their lives, by the word or seed that they receive into their hearts.
Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” How do you do that? Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” How is your mind to be transformed? How can it be transformed to that which God desired? By the Word of God! That is how your mind is transformed. It is coming to the place where you make decision in life and live by the Word of God that is within you, in your heart and mind. The key is what God told Joshua. Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein:” You will only live by the Word of God and make decision by the Word of God if your mind is renewed and filled by the Word of God.
In contrast, Romans 8:7 says, “…the carnal mind is enmity (echthr, (ekh'-thrah)- not only hostility but literally hatred) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” That mind is full of corrupt seed, the seed of the serpent and that person can only do what is evil before God. Colossians 3:10 “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” It has to do with your knowledge of Christ and His ways. First by your coming to a saving knowledge of Christ by hearing the Word of God that leads to repentance and faith in Christ. 2 Timothy 3:15 says “the holy scriptures, …are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” But that is only if they reach into the spirit of your mind. Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” It’s not just a knowledge thing. Many have Biblical knowledge but not salvation. Many have a subjective knowledge of Christ, but not an objective and experiential one. Colossians 1:21 tells us that the wicked were enemies of God because of their mind, “you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind.” Philippians 3:18-19 tells us that enemies of the cross have their mind on earthly things, rather than spiritual or heavenly things. Romans 1:28 tells us that those who choose to reject the truth and knowledge of Christ have a reprobate mind. “…even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”
So we can see that your mind is being daily filled with seed, good seed or corrupt bad seed. That seed is coming from the king and lond over your life and it is either conforming your life to that of Christ or that of the devil, according to which seed is filling and controlling your thought life. For as a man thinketh in his heart, according to what seed is filling his mind, so he is. Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” What is filling your mind. If you think that homosexuality is just an alternative lifestyle and that is no issue with you, if you think that God made men homosexual or that it isn’t murder to end the life of an unborn child, but the choice of a woman, your mind belongs to the devil and is full of his seed, his word and so you live by it. If you don’t believe that the Bible is the absolute truth of God, infallible in the original and the Word that will judge us in the end, your mind is defiled and corrupted. John 12:48 says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
Let us look at this parable from the viewpoint of a Kansas wheat farmer. For a man with this background the parable of the wheat and tares holds special meaning because of their experience. As a Kansas wheat farmer would explain, when wheat and tares grow together, it is extremely difficult for the novice to notice the difference between the two, especially when they are young and immature.
He would then explain that if one were to uproot the tares, or "cheat" (as they call it); you couldn't help but uproot the wheat as well because the cheat tends to grow in the midst of the wheat. Not to worry though, at harvest it will be rather simple to distinguish between the two.
He would relate that, as the wheat grows and the fruit begins to appear on the heads of the wheat stalk, the maturing grain becomes heavy. The result is that, by the time of harvest, the weight of the mature fruit causes the wheat stalk to bow and, as it were, humble itself before its Maker. The "cheat" or tare, on the other hand, has no fruit to speak of and, consequently, does not bow but remains proud and erect. When harvest comes, those who reap have only to discern between the humble and the proud, the good and wicked, the fruitful and the unfruitful. According to the parable, this harvest comes at the "end of the age" (Matthew 13:39). The wheat is gathered into the barn (Matthew 13:30) but the tares are burned.
Matthew 13:37-42 "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Biblically speaking, the tares, also called darnel in many translations, comes from the Greek zizanion (dziz-an'-ee-on), which is actually believed to be a transliteration of the Hebrew zunim. According to commentator David H. Stern, zunim is a poisonous rye grass that looks like wheat until the heads appear. According to Judaism, zunim is essentially a degenerate form of wheat whose origins are traced to the time of the Flood.
"Rabbi 'Azaryah said in Rabbi Y'hudah's name, 'All acted corruptly in the generation of the Flood; the dog had intercourse with the wolf, and the fowl with the peacock; hence it is written, For all (flesh) on the earth had corrupted their way (Genesis 6:12).' Rabbi Julian ben Tiberius said in Rabbi Yitzchak's name, 'Even the earth debauched itself; wheat was sown and it produced zunim, for the zunim we find now came from the age of the Flood.'" - Genesis Rabbah 28:8
Whether or not this is accurate is debatable, but it is extremely interesting when you consider what the adversary has been attempting from the very beginning and that is, to undermine the purposes of God. At any rate, the parable itself makes it clear that the zunim is the wrong kind of seed, and the fruit of that seed will be destroyed at the end of the age. Why?
Because the distinction between the two is their respective natures - good and wicked - and the resulting enmity or hatred between them necessitates the need for the bad seed to be obliterated. The degenerate seed will not be permitted to thrive when the Son of Man comes into His kingdom. It will be His seed, the Word, that will govern all men.
Isaiah 2:3-4 "For out of Zion shall go forth the law (torah), and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations."
As a matter of fact, the Messiah states that, at the end of the age, "all things that offend and those who do iniquity (practice lawlessness)" will be consumed (Matthew 13:41). The word "offends" is to be understood as something that is both a "lure or trap" and "an impediment causing one to stumble." It is obviously implying something that causes one to sin against God's Word.
The word "lawlessness" is the Greek term anomia (an-om-ee'-ah). The root of this term is nomos, or "law," and is the primary term used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew torah (which really doesn't mean "law" but "instruction"). Irregardless, the point is, the Son of Man is going to remove those who are without Torah (law). Why? Because Torah, the Word of God, is the good seed which produces the fruit of righteousness.
Those without it have another seed; a corrupt seed that lures one into transgression of God's Word. The fruit this seed produces is at enmity with the Word because the Word, the Torah, is not in them. It is corrupt fruit and Y'shua (Jesus) said, "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). Therefore, it must be understood that there is only one good seed; anything else is bad seed. Moreover, good seed produces good fruit while corrupt seed produces corrupt fruit. It can be no other way.
In His private conversation with His disciples following His message, the Messiah clears up all the mysteries of the parable but one. He never really addresses "Why?" Why does the adversary sow this wicked seed? We know there is hostility but, does he do it for spite or is there a far more sinister plan at work? I believe the answer starts to come to light when we understand the context in which the parable was given.
According to Matthew's Gospel, the parable of the wheat and tares is preceded immediately by the Sower and seed parable - the one by which all other parables are understood according to the Lord, “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables” (Mark 4:13)? It is the foundation parable.
Mark 4:14-15 “The sower (Y’shua, Jesus) soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” Based on what we learn in the Parable of the Sower, the Adversary obviously wants to contain, if not destroy the good seed. Yet, if he can't completely destroy the good seed, and if he can't contain it, his plan is to profane the entire field by sowing bad seed.
To grasp this view completely, the culture of the day must be addressed, for it was a Hebrew-speaking, Torah-observant people that Y'shua (Jesus) spoke to in Matthew 13 and Mark 4. To these people within that culture, certain elements of these parables, and in particular the wheat and tares, would have conveyed much more than what it does for us in the West.
In the Torah there are laws regarding kil'ayim (kil-ah'-yim) or mingling (Leviticus 19:19). “thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed:” Specifically, the Torah warns against sowing a field or vineyard with mingled seed lest the yield of the seed and the fruit be defiled. Deutteronomy 22:9; “Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.” In other words, when two different species of seed are sown in a field, not only is the crop defiled, but the entire field is considered to be corrupted. So then, when the field is sown with good seed (The Word) and the enemy sows another type of seed (tares), the field (the world) is corrupted. In this way, according to God's own laws, Satan can potentially undermine the plans and purposes of God. Notice I said potentially, for he will never accomplish it, though he has been trying for 6,000 years.
Therefore, I want to suggest that the parable of the wheat and tares may very well be an overview of human history as viewed from a spiritual plane, for this parable reveals God's purposes and those of His enemy. From the beginning, God has sought to scatter the source of all that is good, the seed of the Word, throughout humanity. The Adversary has countered by sowing wicked seed - his word - in an effort to defile, if not destroy, that which is good. What ever is not of God, what ever is contrary to the truth of God’s Word is man’s word or Satan's word and in reality, that which most would term man’s word that is contrary to the Word of God is in reality Satan’s word.
This; is the essence of the end time conflict - truth vs. falsehood. God's Word is the Truth and the good seed, which means that any other "holy" book is falsehood, the bad seed of Satan that is given to corrupt and deceive. That is true of anything and everything that is not Holy Scripture, whether the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Bagavid Gita, and all other “holy” books are of an unholy spirit that comes from the devil. They are spiritual witchcraft. Yet, there are many things that are of the devil that are not written in some ‘holy’ book that men revere. Anything that is contrary to truth is of the devil. Any lie against the truth, is of the devil. God doesn’t lie. The truth is eternal because it is truth and a part of God, for God and His word are one. Y'shua (Jesus) is the Word made flesh, the living Word of God who comes to live within us by the Holy Spirit. All that is of humanism is of the devil. All that is of evolution is of the devil. All that is of relativism is of the devil. All that is of human psychology is of the devil. Are you getting the point? The only truth comes from God, the only one who is good and perfect. Satan is the father of lies and those who live a lie, are of their father the devil.
Furthermore, many scriptures have a dual connotation or application. With that in mind, I would like to point out that the Scriptures and this parable were given to God’s people, believers, not the world. Therefore, since God is speaking to believers, and this is shown also by the fact that Jesus only explained this parable to His disciples, it must be seen that there is a contrast not just between people in “the church” and people in “the world,” but within the church there have always been two kinds of people, two kinds of seed in the church. There has always been a Cain and Able, both sons of Adam and Even, in the church. There has always been a Ishmael and Isaac, both sons of Abraham, in the church. There has always been a Esau and Jacob, both sons of Isaac, in the church. The church has never been pure. In the days of Paul and the apostles, there were false prophets and teachers that Paul called wolves in their midst. Jesus told his disciples to beware of the false prophet that was a wolf in Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Then he told us you can know them by their fruit, or the fruit of their teaching. Does their teaching lead you to live a holy life and provoke you to obedience to God, or does it lead you to lasciviousness, thinking you can get by with sin. The church is full of that doctrine today, “God don’t see my sin.” That is the seed, the words of the devil deceiving people in the church.In Acts 20:29-30 Paul said, “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
God has put His church in the world and Satan is working to put the world in to the church because thereby he can stop it from being affective and having a witness before the world. That is what we as believers are called to do. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ and a living testimony of His saving grace in a world of sin and wickedness. We are called to be a preserving salt in our society and light in that exposes darkness in the world. How can we do that if we live in sin and walk in the flesh and are no different than the world? Think about it.