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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 9: Matthew 13-14, by Kevin M. Williams

“For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Hear then the parable of the sower” (Matthew 13:17-18).

Not only does he explain this parable in newer detail, he tells them three more parables, which they also did not understand fully.

Then He left the multitudes, and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field” (Matthew 13:36).

Again, the purpose of this article is not to explain Yeshua’s parables. As already mentioned, they communicate to anyone on some level of understanding. Our purpose is to demonstrate the cultural context into which Yeshua was speaking, and how parables were used in the synagogue and beit hamikdash (study house) of the day.

Yet we would be negligent if we did not take note of the subject matter of all of these mashalim: the kingdom of heaven.

In our previous chapters, we have examined that from the beginning of Yeshua’s public ministry he, “began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17).

We examined the path from one person—Yeshua—as the reality of the kingdom was passed to the disciples to cast out unclean spirits, heal the lame, the menstruating woman, the leper, the deaf, and even to raise the most unclean—the dead. We demonstrated that the purity of the Temple and its priests was on the move, with a new temple not of bricks and mortar, but made up of believers taking the kingdom of heaven out into the world.

With the parables, this doctrine of the kingdom of heaven is augmented. The life of these men, traveling from city to city, has been about bringing the “kingdom of heaven” to earth. The prayer Yeshua taught them, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) continue to build upon this concept of the kingdom of heaven being “at hand.” Now, as Yeshua teaches these mashalim, these authoritative parables, he does not deviate. His parables are about our interaction in this awesome and divine kingdom.

It is taught in the synagogues of both the biblical era and today that there are three spiritual categories of people.

1) There are truly evil people, given over to a depraved mind.

2) There is a category of “basically good” people undeserving of damnation.

3) There are people seeking God with all their heart, soul, and might.

The second category sounds suspiciously like the contemporary multitudes who feel they are basically good and practicing a “good” lifestyle, no worse or better than those around them. Yet as Hebrew scholar and author Dr. Michael L. Brown points out, “The Bible does not recognize this ‘middle’ class”4

Look in the Torah: There are blessings for obedience and curses of disobedience, with nothing in between. Look in Psalms: There are righteous people and wicked people, with no middle-of-the-road people. Look in Proverbs: There are fools and there are wise. That’s it! And look in Daniel 12:2: There are those who are raised to everlasting life and those who are raised to everlasting shame, in other words, heaven or hell.5

From the biblical era to this day, in the synagogue’s Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur rituals, it is believed that there are “fence-riders” when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. Yet these middle-of-the-road people fill our church pews, schools, neighborhoods, and public offices. It is resounded in the “live-and-let-live” mantra of the 1960’s to the situational ethics of today. These may be the people Yeshua refers to in Revelation 3:16, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 2003

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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