Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Parable of the Householder

Today's parable is slightly different from our previous examples. This one does not start with the phrase, "the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto...."

Matthew 13:51-52 (KJV)
51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Yeshua asked His disciples if they understood the parables that He had been teaching (verse 51). They answered by saying that they did. Is this correct? It seems that they answered very quickly without a lot of thought. The parables were complex teachings. Were they just answering what they thought Yeshua wanted them to? Also, since Yeshua was teaching about future events in a very abstract way, including His death, it seems unlikely that they could have fully understood. Yet, Yeshua said nothing further. Perhaps this question and their answer would serve as a future reminder about how little they really did understand.

Yeshua then began His parable (verse 52). Every scribe who is instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man that is an householder. Who are these scribes? Who had just been instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven? Obviously, Yeshua is referring to the disciples. Therefore, the disciples must also be the scribes. However, He went on to say that they were like an householder. The last time that a parable included an householder was in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.

Matthew 13:27 (KJV)
27 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?

In the Wheat and the Tares, the householder represents Yeshua/God, but in this parable the householder represents the disciples. Hmm. This concluding parable changed the symbolism that has been consistent throughout the parables. How are Yeshua and the disciples alike? The Parable of the Householder is an application for the disciples. After Yeshua's death the disciples must carry on in the manner of Yeshua. It will be their job to do the work that Yeshua had been doing here on earth.

What would be their work? The parable continues by saying that the householder/scribes/disciples would bring forth out of his treasure new and old things. What are these things? There are really two explanations that seem to fit. Many commentators believe that the reference to new and old refers to the Old and New Testament or more accurately, the Torah and Yeshua's teachings. However, if we are consistent, the treasure must stand for God's people Israel. Is this another way of pointing to the disciples ministering to both Jew and Gentile believers? It seems likely.

The last thing to consider is that the twelve disciples were not the only ones being instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven. Every believer becomes a disciple of Yeshua and therefore is instructed and set in place of the householder. It is now our duty to continue Yeshua's work!

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Parable of the Net

This week's parable is a twin to the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. However, it is odd that the two are not located together. They are also not completely similar.

Matthew 13:47-50 (KJV)
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Again, we're going to assume that the symbolism must remain consistent between the parables. Since this parable is so similar to the Wheat and the Tares, we can assume that there is a similarity between the symbolism. Ignore the net for the moment (verse 47). What does the sea represent? What do the fish represent? The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares concerns wheat and tares that are sown in the field. The field is the world and the wheat and the tares represent good and bad people respectively. It seems pretty obvious then, that the sea also represents the world and the fish represent both good and bad people. Who are "they" that draw the net to shore, sit down, gather the good fish into vessels, and cast the bad fish away (verse 48)? Verse 49 tells us that "they" are the angels. This activity will occur at the end of the world when the angels will sever the wicked from among the just. The wicked will be cast into the furnace of fire, which in the Wheat and the Tares represented Hell and remains consistent in this parable (verse 50). In Hell there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

So what does the net represent? Although we aren't specifically told, the net functions as the means by which the angels gather everyone. We are left to our own imagination on this one, but it is understandable!

It must also be mentioned again, that good and bad fish, just like the wheat and the tares, are not considered "good" or "bad" due to works. If that were the case, we all would be considered bad fish. Rather, righteousness in this parable has to do with whether or not someone has surrendered to Yeshua as Lord by grace through faith. God sees the good as "good" because of the righteousness of Yeshua that has been imputed to them.

Also note again, that in verse 49 the wicked are severed from the just. We usually think the opposite.

If the Parable of the Net and the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares are twins and their meanings are identical why would Matthew record two such similar parables. It would be wasteful to write something twice (paper was not the cheap, easy obtainable product we have today), so there must be a reason. If we look at the differences we see that the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares had a lot to do with explaining how the bad seed came to be planted in the world. The Parable of the Net doesn't even mention how the bad fish came to be in the sea. Instead the emphasis is only on the end, the judgment of the good and bad fish. Hold onto this thought. We will return to this question when we come to the end of this study of the parables. There is much to learn from looking at these parables as a whole. Stay tuned!