The Lord gave us a couple of parables that illustrate the far reaching impact of Satan’s counterfeit seed and the tares on the church. Earlier we considered two parables from Matthew 13, the parable of the sower and the parable of the wheat and the tares. We alluded to this again in Chapter 27, “Sowing Bad Seed”.It’s important to see to what degree to which the end times Church will be impacted by these trends.
Jesus also gave a couple more in that same chapter that describe the visible, outward expression of what is considered the Kingdom in this age.
Mat 13:31 The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Mat 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Pay attention to the tree, the birds of the air lodging in its branches, and the leaven hidden by the woman.
Many Bible commentators view these parables as positive. These commentators say that the small bush that God planted became a great tree filling the whole earth, and that like the leaven that leavens the whole, in a hidden way the church will infiltrate all of society.
There are a few problems with these interpretations:
- Dominionism: they reveal a dominionistic view of the kingdom – that the Church is now the kingdom of God which will fill the whole earth (replacing Israel and contradicting the notion of a coming literal reign in the Millennium).
- Birds are Satan and his Angels: Jesus told His disciples that the parable of the sower was the key to interpreting all the parables (mk 4:13). Jesus already told us that these birds are Satan and his angels coming to steal the word of the Kingdom when it is not understood.
- Result Contrary to Intent: Also, Jesus said that by planting a mustard seed, a mustard bush should have resulted. Instead a great tree was produced. This indicates a transformation – what was originally sown to become one thing became something other than what was intended. (cf. Gen 1:11-12 – every tree contains the seed to bear after its kind)
- Leaven is negative: Leaven is never spoken of positively in the scriptures. The New Testament mentions the leaven of Herod (politics mixed with religion),the leaven of the Pharisees (their teaching and hypocrisy) (Mrk 8:15; Mt 16:6) Paul likened the false doctrine of the Judaizers to leaven, saying “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Gal 5:9) Paul also spoke of the “leaven of malice and wickedness” in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7. leaven permeates and transforms so that everything it touches becomes leaven. This is why Paul said that just a little will leaven the whole lump.
God wanted to plant a mustard bush with His good seed. It was intended to be something good for food, not outwardly great. Instead it became a great tree, in which all the birds of the air are lodged in its branches. How did the bush become the tree? The Parable of the leaven explains the transformation. The woman hid the leaven which eventually leavened the whole lump. Jesus is telling us that because of the leaven that is hidden, the bush that was planted will instead become a very visible tree. Satan and His angels are lodging in its branches, stealing and counterfeiting the word of the Kingdom as it grows and spreads. It will eventually be totally polluted, entirely leavened, with no part of it that has not been touched. It will be a totally corrupt system that people will believe is the Kingdom. When God tells us of Babylon the Great at the end of the Bible, the Great Whore who is a complete Caricature of the Holy Bride (the Church), he says that she has fallen and has become the cage of “every unclean and hateful bird”.
Rev_18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
It is difficult to believe that what God planted, the enemy could so corrupt that it would eventually be judged. However this was the same situation that the prophets spoke of in Israel. There came a time when Israel had become totally corrupted. They were overrun by false prophets and false teachings the land was full of the practices of the pagan nations. There were idols even in the temple. She was totally desolate spiritually.
God told them through their prophets that the whole place was going to be wiped out, and most could not believe it. Their prophets told them “this is the temple of the Lord!” but God told them he would destroy it. In fact, he told them that the only ones who would be safe were the ones that would listen to His word through His prophets (Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Micah). These would realize what God was saying and would escape by willingly going into captivity in Babylon. For God’s people to have the discernment to be able to follow these prophets amazes me, because everything sacred and precious to God was centered in the Temple. To leave and to go into a foreign land, (Babylon of all places!) took extraordinary sensitivity and faith. However, those who loved Gods word had long grieved the practices and the falsehood that was defiling God’s people and city. They had been made ready through their suffering to hear God’s word.
Christians may react negatively when we warn them that what is called “Church” today is destined to become totally corrupt, the habitation of every unclean bird, and even subject to God’s eventual wrath. In the time of the apostasy of Israel, God set a mark on those who mourned over her condition and spared them from what was coming.
Eze 9:4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
I feel I must clarify again at this point that I *do not* believe that the Church is subject to wrath! Our position in Christ is to be one of joy, confidence and peace. If we truly believe the gospel, we can rest assured that we are saved. Once again, we’re speaking of something that pretends to be the church that is not.
What God has begun He has sustained and preserved. But the enemy’s counterfeit system so closely resembles the real thing (being wrapped in biblical terminology and filled with biblical sounding teachings), that even the believers have a difficult time to discerning it.