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

These parables of Yeshua leave no room for a self-justified citizen in the kingdom of heaven, measuring up to his own standard. Either you are a member of the kingdom of heaven, subject to its rules of conduct as a loving servant of the Most High, or you are not. Either you are a seed in fertile soil, or you are dead. Either you are a grain of wheat, or you are a tare worthy of the fire.

Of the tares, Dr. David H Stern writes that they are “a poisonous rye-grass which looks like wheat until the heads appear. Judaism understands zonin (tares) to be not a different plant from wheat but a degenerate form of it.”6 Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for these tares, zonin, is derived from the root word, zonah—prostitute.

We can more clearly see why Yeshua’s parable contained the admonition, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matthew 13:30). God has always had an unfathomable place of compassion in his heart for the prostitute, always holding out to the last possible moment for redemption.

Similarly, we find the strong injunction in Deuteronomy 22:9 coming to life in this parable, “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest all the produce of the seed which you have sown, and the increase of the vineyard become defiled.” Mixed seed does not have a place in the kingdom of heaven.

He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32).

This parable continues on in the same vein. In the idiomatic symbols of the day, “the birds of the air” could refer to workers of iniquity. But they also were representative of the gentiles, the nations, “On the high mountain of Israel I shall plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit, and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches” (Ezekiel 17:23).

Here again, understanding the euphemistic speech of the Hebrews is helpful. The high mountain of Israel is none other than the Temple Mount, the pinnacle of reverent worship and service to the Most High God. The cedars often represent the Temple itself (its interior was lined with elaborately carved and aromatic cedar).

Once again, Yeshua may be hinting indirectly at who He is—the Messiah. Earlier in our study of Matthew it was noted that Yeshua told the Pharisees, “But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here” (Matthew 12:6). Like the mustard seed, from such humble beginning comes something so vast and wonderful that—if you can believe it—even the Gentiles can find shelter!

Within the parables, we can find layer upon layer of meaning and instruction, of authority and warning. These layers of “mystery” were all meant to unfold the kingdom of heaven to the disciples.

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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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