The "mysteries" of the Kingdom of God and Heaven
Why Jesus Christ taught in parables (Dec 98)
1. First consider Matt 13:1-35 (NKJ)
On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.' But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, 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."
"Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who 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 grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."
All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world."
2. Luke's rendition of this incident further clarifies a key point:
Luke 8:9-11 (NKJ)
Then His disciples asked Him, saying, "What does this parable mean?" And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that 'Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.' Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God...."
And later regarding the word of God in Luke 8:19-21 (NKJ)
Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, "Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You." But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it."
Likewise in Mark 3:32-35 (NKJ)
And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You." But He answered them, saying, "Who is My mother, or My brothers?" And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother."
3. So! From the above, it is clear that when Jesus referred to the "word of God", he was referring to the "will of God", NOT to the Hebrew scriptures (as Christian "fundamentalists" claim) or to the document we call the "New Testament" (which had yet to be written). Throughout his entire ministry, Jesus taught that the way to perceive the "will of God" is to follow what I refer to as "God's two most fundamental commandments" as Jesus summarized in Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJ)
Jesus said to him," 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
3a. The fact is, despite what many of our present religious leaders have been teaching, one CANNOT effectively follow the first of these commandments without following the second (or the second of these two commandments without following the first). As Jesus explained, "the second is like it"; they are two human ways of viewing the same commandment to follow God. The "bottom line" is that those who follow these two commandments will be forgiven of their sins and achieve salvation; those who do not will not (Matt 25:31-46). This is the key to understanding the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven or God."
3b. Even many Bible translators have completely missed this point (and thereby misled many others as well). Consider, for example:
Mark 4:10-12 (NKJ)
But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.'"
That implies that Jesus intended to hide the truth from the multitudes, which was definitely NOT the case.
The Living Bible translation portrays Mark 4:10-13 more accurately:
Afterwards, when he was alone with the twelve and with his other disciples, they asked him, "What does your story mean?" He replied, "You are permitted to know some truths about the Kingdom of God that are hidden to those outside the Kingdom: 'Though they see and hear, they will not understand or turn to God, or be forgiven for their sins.' But if you can't understand this simple illustration, what will you do about all the others I am going to tell?"
4. So why the mystery? To fully appreciate what Jesus was talking about, you need to understand that Jesus recognized that there were essentially two sets of authors of the Hebrew scriptures. The first set was the Levites who wrote numerous "laws" that they attributed to Moses, most of which were designed to serve the interests of the Levites themselves. Jesus viewed many of rules contained in the so-called "Laws of Moses" as being satanically inspired "precepts of men." That's why he ignored some of them, like some of the "laws" regarding the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28) and the "law" requiring that prostitutes be stoned to death (John 8:1-11). Anyhow, Jesus recognized that in reaction to the satanically inspired teachings and acts of the Levites, a second set of authors/scribes/prophets managed over a (long) period of time to embellish the writings of the Levites with allegorical lessons (parables) and "teaching-by-example" lessons which appear on the surface to "fit" the teachings of the Levites, but which in fact are carefully crafted to teach lessons regarding the need to follow God's two most fundamental commandments.
4a. Evidently, that second set of authors had to resort to such techniques in order sneak their teachings past the censorship practices of the Levite "establishment". They hint at this in the story where Jacob "pulls the wool" under the (nearly blind) eyes of Isaac in order to make his father think that he was (the current-establishment) "Esau." The fact that Jacob ends up with Esau's "birthright" is their way of predicting that their Godly allegorical and lesson-by-example teachings will ultimately prevail over the "blind" teachings of the Levites (i.e. "we shall overcome").
4b. So it was primarily the Levites and their intellectual descendants (the Pharisees and others who "swalloed" the teaching of the Levites) whom Jesus referred to in the above quotation from Matthew regarding those who "seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." Amazingly, even today, America's Christian "fundamentalists" are actually PROUD of the fact that they interpret the Old Testament scriptures the way the Levites did! Jesus often referred to the Pharisees as being "blind" as in
Matt 15:11-14 (NKJ)
"Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."
4c. Like their religious counterparts in the "heathen" nations, the Levites tended to attribute just about anything that happened, whether good or bad, to their diety (in the Levite's case, to their perception of "The Lord"). For example, rather than saying "We massacred every man, woman, and child in that town", they would tend to say "The Lord delivered them into our hands." (Deut: 3:3-6). Or if someone caught leprocy, they would say that the Lord "struck him so that he was a leper" as in 2nd Kings 15:2. This made it easy for them to wield ungodly ideological powers whenever they wanted to, simply by claiming to represent "The Lord." Jesus recognized that they were in fact using God's name in vain when they did such things. Indeed, the Levites used God's name as if it were an idol to inspire people to do ungodly acts in much the same way their contemporary "heathen" religous leaders used golden idols (or flags) to inpsire people to do ungdly acts.
4d. When it came to interpreting the Hebrew scriptures, Jesus viewed statements that did NOT conform with God's two most fundamental commandments as originating from Satan, not God (just as he viewed Peter as "speaking with the voice of Satan" in Matthew 16:23). This included ungodly statements (and actions) by Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and even Elijah (Luke 9:54-56). When Jesus said, "on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets," he was referring to those of their teachings which conformed with God's two most fundamental commandments (the "wheat") and not those that he viewed as being inspired by Satan (the "tares"). He recognized that there was some evil as well as good in nearly all of them. One might say that Jesus was a "realist" as well as an "idealist".
5. This way of viewing people (and concepts) did not originate with Jesus. He merely recognized, followed, and taught extensions of the allegorical lessons and schema created by the authors of Genesis. The basic symbology scheme established in the Creation and Garden of Eden stories is that Adam represents mankind, Eve represents "the church", the Serpent represents Satan, the "earth" represents mankind's perceptions of popular truths, "heaven" represents mankind's perceptions of God (which for many also includes Satan posing as God), and the "rain" or "rivers" represent teachings coming from "heaven" which may be godly or satanic, depending on whether one can recognize the difference (by using God's two most fundamental commandments as one's criteria). Fruits of the "tree of life" represent logical "trees of knowledge" developed by following God's two most fundamental commandments. Fruits of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" represent logical "trees of knowledge" for distinguishing between good and evil using any criteria that mankind might dream up from time to time (i.e. not necessarily God's two most fundamental commandments). One of the allegorical lessons that the authors of Genesis taught is that from time to time, Satan will "bruise the head" (thinking) of Eve (the church) and that at other times Eve (the church) will "bruise the heel" (assumptions) of Satan (Genesis 3:15).
5a. Jesus expanded on this theme in the above parable about the "tares and the wheat" in which he points out that traditionally, the teachings of religious organizations tend to be a mixture of the teachings of God (which grow as "wheat" in people's minds) and the teachings of Satan (which grow as "tares" in people's minds). Jesus taught that the criteria to be used for distinguishing between the tares and the wheat were God's two most fundamental commandments. He also taught that as part of the event which we refer to as the "Second Coming of Christ", those teachings of the churches that are satanically inspired will by "trashed" by the churches themselves ("thrown into a lake of fire"). Jesus also taught that those religious leaders who, like the Pharisees, refuse to repent and follow God's two most fundamental commandments will end up in history's "trash heap", eternally condemned by Jesus, God, and all future generations of mankind.
John 9:39-41 (The Living Bible)
Then Jesus told him, "I have come into the world to give sight to those who are spiritually blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind." The Pharisees who were standing there asked, "Are you saying we are blind?" "If you were blind, you wouldn't be guilty," Jesus replied. "But your guilt remains because you claim to know what you are doing."
Note how the above makes far more sense than the New King James rendition of John 9:39-41:
And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains."
5b. Even though Jesus represented God 100%, he was rejected (and censored) by the religious leaders of his day, because he was not what they were expecting; he was not the kind of "Messiah" they were (satanically) looking for. The same holds true for many of our religious leaders today. It's important to note that in 70 AD, those Pharisees (and/or their children) paid dearly for rejecting the teachings of Jesus Christ when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and burned down Herod's Temple. The Jewish insurrection that provoked that response from the Roman Empire would not have occurred if those Pharisees had taken Jesus' teachings regarding God's two most fundamental commandments seriously. Unfortunately, largely because various leaders of the Roman Catholic Church didn't take those two commandments seriously either, the descendants of those Jews continued to "pay for it" for thousands of years thereafter.
6. Another likely reason Jesus used parables for teaching "the multitudes" was because his parables were much easier for his (mostly illiterate) audiences to remember. The lessons-by-example that the second set of authors added to the scriptures could only be fully appreciated by those who could read the scriptures. Those lessons-by-example were designed to show the ungodly "fruits" of the Levites' teachings, (such as their genocidal land grabs and subsequent retaliations, their near annihilation of the Tribe of Benjamin, Samuel's' attempt to exterminate the Amalekites and its consequences, King David's attempt to exterminate the Edomites and its consequences, Ahijah's evil prophesies and their deadly consequences for his own descendants, etc.). It was this second set of authors who put that "dirty laundry" in the Hebrew scriptures which our religious leaders don't like to talk about. They were able to do that, because the "blind" Levites simply viewed such accounts as history.
6a. So In many respects, the Old Testament is a SATIRICAL COMMENTARY by that second set of authors on the ungodly teachings of the Levites--starting with the story in Genesis of Levi and Simeon's massacre of all of the males in a neighboring village (Shechem) and Jacob's deathbed curse of both of them for doing that and his declaration that they wouldn't receive any of his inheritance (which, as it turned out, applied spiritually as well as materially). God offered the Levites an opportunity to redeem themselves through Moses, but eventually Moses (or the Levite impostor under that veil who claimed to be Moses) became VERY satanic as the Hebrews approached the "promised land." That's why "Moses never reached the promised land."
7. Do you know where the symbolic use of a "rock" to represent the Kingdom of God came from? Remember that "rock" fashioned by the hand of God that smashed the ten-toed clay/iron/bronze/silver/gold image/statue/idol in Daniel? Jesus Christ recognized that that "rock" represented the Kingdom of God (a.k.a. "Body of Christ") composed of people who seek, follow, and teach God's two most fundamental commandments (without restrictions). But Jesus didn't invent that idea either. It comes from the story in Genesis 28 where Jacob fell asleep using a rock as his pillow. In a dream, Jacob learned from God that through his descendants "all the families of the earth shall be blessed." [The Levites certainly didn't fulfill that prophesy.] When Jacob awoke, he decided that he must have been sleeping in a holy place, so he marked it by standing the rock on end like a pillar (pointing it to heaven, like a steeple) and "anointing" it with oil.
7a. Allegorically, the "oil" represents the way in which God's two most fundamental commandments tend to "smooth out the rough edges" between clashing man-made concepts (i.e. to smooth out the causes of human relation problems). That "rock" symbolized the fact that if you follow God's two most fundamental commandments, it feels like you are standing on a conceptual "rock", because those commandments provide a consistent (God-like) view that ALWAYS WORKS--regardless of whatever man-made concepts people may dream up to get themselves in trouble. By ideologically detaching yourself from all man-made concepts and simply following God's two most fundamental commandments, you are no longer "enslaved" to any man-made concepts or ideologies. This is what Jesus was talking about in
John 8:31-47 (NKJ)
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father." They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father." Then they said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father--God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
7b. Obviously, Jesus recognized the connection between God's promised blessing to Jacob's descendants and the use "oil" and "rock" as allegorical symbols in Genesis 28. [The authors of Genesis were sneaky, but consistent!] This was also the story that inspired Samuel to "anoint" Saul an then David as future kings of Israel, but Samuel's murderous conduct clearly shows that he did NOT recognize the authors' intended allegorical interpretation of this story.
7c. It was the sneaky (heroic) efforts of this second set of authors that put the "life" or "soul" into the Hebrew scriptures. Were it not for their efforts, the Levite scriptures would probably have been "lost to history" like most other writings from those days (including the "Chronicles of the Kings of Judea" and other long-gone texts referred to in 1st Sanuel thru 2nd Kings). Were it not for the efforts of that second set of authors, the name of "Yahweh" (if remembered at all) would be remembered today as the "war god of the ancient Israelites" just as the name "Thor" is remembered today as "the war god of the ancient Vikings."
7d. Those who do not follow God's two most fundamental commandments tend to view those who do to be "walking on water" (conceptually), because to "outsiders" those commandments appear to be too flexible to be of any practical use. But anyone who reads the articles on my web site (www.onesalt.com) can see that that's not the case at all. Those two commandments provide a "rock-solid-consistent" way to view the scriptures as well as everything that is going on in the world today; they also help one to recognize MANY ways in which human relation problems can be solved in a Godly, peaceful manner. Also (unlike some of our present religious leaders) those who follow God's two most fundamental commandments never have to worry that the "tares" in their teachings might be "exposed to the light of Day." Those who follow God's two most fundamental commandments have nothing to hide; instead they are eager to make their light "shine unto to all the world."
8. If you want to learn more about how to understand the "the mysteries of the Kingdom of God", read my article "HOW IT ALL BEGAN" and "How Jesus Christ viewed Moses and the Levites (Parts I and II)" on www.onesalt.com
one grain of salt
(another Biblical allegorical symbol)
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Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002