While Men Slept
- MATTHEW 13:24-28 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which 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 blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 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? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this...
While men slept, his enemy came... This is a most intriguing parable, with volumes to teach us. His enemy waited until the "men slept". The men that slept were obviously the ones who were entrusted with the care of the field. But they slept, so his "enemy came".
Who the enemy was and what he sowed is explained by our Lord a dozen verses later, but what is presently concerning us here is that "while men slept, his enemy came". Yeshua (Jesus) is not giving a lesson on horticulture. He is telling the parable because His ministry was being rejected! That's right! "While men slept His enemy came and sowed tares". The men "that slept" were the ones that were originally charged with watching the field, the religious leaders, the scribes and the doctors of the law.
Many Church goers think that the purpose of Yeshua's ministry was to establish the Christian Church as we have it today. This is not true. He came rather to bring salvation to His own nation, Israel. When sending out His twelve disciples, He specifically instructed them to "Go not into the way of the gentiles..." (MATTHEW 10:5), "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel". His ministry was an attempt to get His nation of Israel to repent (MATTHEW 4:17), and to recognize the time of their visitation (LUKE 19:44), not to start an entirely different religion called Christianity!
Over the centuries, the men who were laden with the responsibility of preparing Israel for the coming of their Messiah were failing miserably at the task. So much so that when the magi (or wise men) from the east came, saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" all Jerusalem was troubled. They had not a clue as to the age that was dawning upon them.
The religious and political leaders of the day had not been looking for "His star" even though the same night sky visible to the magi was also visible to them. If they would have kept the ancient teachings of Daniel and others, how the stars reveal the handiwork of GOD, perhaps they too could have followed His star. But they had not! Counting the traditions of men of greater importance than their Creator's purposes, they were unaware of GOD's redemptive plan for Israel, which had been revealed in the heavens. The ministry of their Messiah caught practically all of the religious leadership in Israel unaware.
Perhaps this is why midway through Yeshua's ministry He went into the parable mode. No more Sermons on the Mount, no more gracious words in the synagogues. Now He focused His teaching in parables. Beginning in chapter 13 of MATTHEW, He teaches on eight different parables, one after another.
Yeshua began with the one about a sower and his seed, which speaks of the four different responses to the word of GOD. First, those that hear but just don't understand. Second, those that hear and receive it with joy, but when persecution comes, they split. Thirdly are those that receive the word of GOD amongst the concerns of this world, and the word becomes unfruitful. And lastly are those few that hear the word of GOD and understand it and it bears fruit.
It is nearly always the case that the few, the election within an election are the ones that get it. The rest are either knowingly or unknowingly working against the few. This is the repeated theme of Yeshua's ministry. Most didn't have a clue as to what He was all about while many of the rest were only fare weather friends and when pressures mounted, they vanished (JOHN 6:66). Others were too comfortable in the easy chair they had settled into, never becoming serious about whether Yeshua was the Messiah or not.
Perhaps one of the reasons they didn't believe Yeshua to be the Messiah was because He wasn't what they had expected. The Judeans readily accepted the idea that their Messiah would come in His glory, defeat the occupying army of Rome and set up an eternal kingdom similar in majesty to David's. That Messiah they understood well, but Yeshua didn't seem interested in fulfilling their expectations. He refused to be crowned their king (JOHN 6:15), and had instead spoken of being killed. This was not the kind of Messiah many were willing to commit themselves to.
It was their Messiah's sufferings which they wrestled with. Many of them just could not accept that this "King of Kings" would be as horribly abused as some of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible seemed to suggest. One solution to their problem was to believe that there would be two Messiahs, one to suffer and one to reign. We think this is why John the Baptist, while in prison, sent two of his disciples to ask Yeshua;
- Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another (heteros, a different one)?
Even many of Yeshua's own disciples, who eagerly believed in Him as a victor, just couldn't bring themselves to believe in Him as broken. This is one reason why they were in such disarray when He was taken captive and crucified. Judas Iscariot had probably wrongly expected that his betrayal of Yeshua would force the Lord into a military confrontation with the Romans. When it didn't happen, he was so overwhelmed with grief that he went out and took his own life (MATTHEW 27:3).
This common ignorance concerning the Messiah of the Scriptures is why, after His resurrection, Yeshua had to reprove the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. When asked why they were so sad, they said because "the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to...death...but we trusted that it should have been He, which should have redeemed Israel. Yeshua's response;
- LUKE 24:25-26 ...O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
They all too well understood and accepted His glory, but as to His sufferings they closed their eyes and refused to even consider the possibility of it. It is imperative that we know, understand and believe all that Yeshua was, not only as Savior and Redeemer, but also as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He is more then just some ghastly figured impaled to a cross which the Pope carries around on a stick. He is risen and seated on the right hand of GOD Almighty, who has now appointed Him as the eternal Judge, destined to measure how each of us chooses to live our lives.
Paul preached in Antioch a dozen years after Christ's resurrection that the very reason "they that dwell at Jerusalem and their rulers" sought to have Yeshua crucified was because "they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day" (ACTS 13:27)! How little have things seem to have changed?! They still gather in the so called house of the Lord to offer worship, yet for the most part they still know Him not! The truth of who the Yeshua of the Scriptures is, is so far removed from what is commonly thought of Him today, it is like they are worshipping a totally different person, a heteros.
Certain of the scribes and Pharisees had asked Him for a sign, as we hear many think they need today. His response was that "an evil...generation seeketh after a sign". He told them that the only sign they would be given was that of the prophet Jonas (Jonah). For as that prophet was in the whales belly three days and three nights "so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (MATTHEW 12:40).
And yet, the so-called Christian Church, the regal body which proudly claims to represent and carry forth His gospel, fail to get even this crucial detail right. This one simple fact, which Yeshua declared would be their only sign, they have totally screwed up. Nearly every Christian Church observes their Lord as being in the grave from Good Friday afternoon to sunrise Sunday morning, when He emphatically declared that He would be buried there three days and three nights. This stands tall as blatant evidence and undeniable testimony of the Church's astonishing ignorance (to read more on this, see the Study, Resurrection Sunday?).
He then further reproves these proud Judeans by telling them that the men of the Gentile city of Nineveh shall someday set in judgment upon His generation because those Gentiles repented at Jonah's preaching, and a greater then Jonah was there. Also, that the Gentile Queen of the south would set in judgment upon that generation, because she came from a distant land to hear Solomon, and a greater than Solomon was there. In other words, they neither repented as did the Ninevites nor even wanted to hear, as did the Queen of the South. They had rejected Him as a Prophet (LUKE 4:29), they were rejecting Him as a Priest (MATTHEW 12:1-14) and they are going to reject Him as King (JOHN 19:15).
Notice that it was Jonah's preaching and the hearing of Solomon that enabled both the Ninevites and the Queen of the South to qualify as judges upon that generation. It was not faithful attendance at Church or even good works that made them worthy. It was the hearing and believing of the word of GOD.
Right after Yeshua's visit from the two disciples of John the Baptist and their question about looking for another, an heteros, He begins to speak very harshly of the cities wherein "most of His mighty works were done," because "they repented not!" He makes the amazing statement that had the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon experienced what Chorazin and Bethsaida just had experienced through His personal ministry, they would have "repented long ago". If the ancient city of Sodom, which was destroyed by fire because its sin was very grievous, had seen what Capernaum had just seen, it would "remain until this day". With all the mighty works Yeshua had done in these cities of the so-called Holy Land, they "repented not". They had in essence, rejected their long awaited Messiah.
I've heard people say that they would more readily believe the things of the Bible if Yeshua would just come back and do some miracle today. I wonder if they really would. If His own countrymen rejected him even as He did "many mighty works among them," what is so different today that would cause men to finally believe?
It's obvious that His own family even rejected Him. Yes, most definitely His brethren (JOHN 7:5) and possibly even His own mother rejected His ministry. After teaching that "a man's foes (echthros, enemies) shall be they of his own household" (MATTHEW 10:36) Yeshua received word that His mother and brethren were outside wanting to speak with Him. His response is astounding;
- MATTHEW 12:48-50 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
This is a very odd thing for Him to say, at this very moment, if indeed His family was supporting Him. But if they were endeavoring to derail Him from what surely seemed to them as a suicidal mission, His words were most appropriate. At most every opportunity He emphasized the importance of hearing and believing the word of GOD. It was evidently not so important who one's pedigree was, or in what Church they congregated, but rather did they believe the truth of the word of GOD.
- LUKE 11:27-28 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
Rather than affirming that indeed His mother was blessed, He said instead that these that hear the word of GOD and believe it are the blessed ones. These sayings more than suggest that His own family didn't believe Him. In MARK 3:21 it is written that "His kinsmen [family, RSV]...went out to lay hold on Him for they said, 'He is beside Himself' ". No doubt they feared that He had went off the deep end, and felt that they had better reign Him in before the authorities took action.
Yeshua was rejected because the nation was expecting a Messiah totally different than what He turned out to be. He was not living up to their expectations as another King David, someone who would liberate them from the legions of Roman soldiers. They also did "err, not knowing the scriptures..."
Israel as a nation had not learned what to expect in their redeemer. While men had slept, the enemy had came and sowed tares. They had been led away from the scriptures and captivated by their traditions. Yet I wonder if He would be what men expect if He returned today? Are we, as a collective body of believers so much more in tune with the Scriptures than they were then, when "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among" them? How many different interpretations of the Book are there on your street corners? Seems there are more every year, all claiming they are the 1st Church or 1st Assembly or 1st Congregation of this or that.
- MATTHEW 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
We today could learn a valuable lesson from Yeshua's reproof of His generation. How foolish of us to think we are right, just because others in our camp agree with us. Don't be lulled into thinking that a consensus implies accuracy. Actually the truth is all the other way. The more the herd moves together, the more sure it is they are wandering aimlessly.
Later on in this Study there will be time to note the important details of to whom Christ was talking here, of the different ages throughout the Bible and of "rightly dividing the word of truth". Now we concern ourselves with a principle; this one being that there was an enemy, and he worked "while men slept". Many of the details we have been taught about our Lord may very well be cloaked in error, regardless from whom we have learned them. To practice thinking that is un-scriptural or even non-scriptural is a very slippery path upon which to venture.
If it doesn't matter to you how many days Yeshua was in the tomb, or even in what season He was born (definitely not December) you will never care to know that His Second Coming was as He said it would be, in the lifetime of some of His listeners (MATTHEW 16:28). You will care not that common Christian phrases like "Trinity" or "Rapture" upon which complex theologies are contrived are simply not in the Book.
Without the love of the truth, you will think it important that we just all get along. That as long as we are all going in the same direction, lets not squabble over petty differences about what the Scripture says. What difference does it make if we don't all believe the same things as long as we all believe in the same God? And that is the all-important point! That is the point upon which it all turns! How can we all believe in the same GOD, the one and only GOD, if we believe many conflicting things about HIM? It is crucial that we question everything we have been taught about the Kingdom of GOD and only believe those things we can be assured of from HIS word.
It is worthy to note here that the secret of the enemy's success was the secrecy of his moves. As long as he could clothe himself in religious garb, fools chased after him. "In vain is the net spread in the site of any bird" (PROVERBS 1:17), which means that the sight of the net does not deter the bird from its capture or death. We are reminded of the analogy Yeshua made of wolves in sheep's clothing.
- MATTHEW 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
What better way to overcome than by deceit! If you can convince your enemy that you are his friend, you have a far greater chance of overcoming him. Of course to deceive Christians requires that you dress and act in a way that will cause them to view you with trust, "Wolves in sheep's clothing," as "false brethren" "having a form of godliness".
In addition you must get rid of any standard whereby one can measure truth. For centuries the Roman Catholic Church did this by simply forbidding all but the chosen priests to read the word of GOD, with only the Pope interpreting it. Later, the Protestants did it by watering down the word with their many interpretations, versions and editions. Finally the present day Christians rid themselves of this divisive Book with great help from "profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called". They no longer argue whether or not the Bible is truth. It is almost universally agreed that it is not! They only argue whether or not the Bible can contribute in a historical sense to their pre-concluded ideas.
On this side of the ages, it is truly hard to understand how the people of the gospel period could have failed to accept Yeshua for what He said He was. The answer, as simple as it is, might be summed up in just two words, deceit and enlightenment. Those who are deceived will be just that. They will believe Yeshua to be what their Congregation, Synagogue or particular camp declares Him to be.
Those who are enlightened will never understand how the others cannot see what is so plainly written in the Book. They may both read from the same page, but one reads with his eyes open, the other reads with his eyes shut. The latter reads to prove his ideas, the former reads to learn his ideas.
The great apostle Paul turned from being totally deceived in his maddening pursuit and persecution of the believers, to becoming entrusted by GOD with the gospel to the Gentiles. In the first chapter of the epistle to the GALATIANS he recounts his conversion and early years in the ministry. In verse 11 and 12 he makes it plain that he did not receive his commission from the heads of his denomination, "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ". After his conversion, he did not join himself to his local Church to learn Church Doctrine. Rather, he went away into Arabia.
It is in this same epistle to the GALATIANS where we learn that Paul "withstood Peter to the face" because when certain came from James, Peter separated himself from the Gentiles. Why? Because he no doubt feared what James' people would think. Amazingly, Peter, this great man of GOD who had boldly stood against the political and religious rulers, now seems fearful of Yeshua's brother James.
If Paul had been of their own school, I wonder if he would have been able to recognize and confront their error. For him to take such a stand against men, whom Yeshua originally had chosen as Apostles, during a time when Paul was on the other side plotting their demise, is quite astounding. After all, Peter and John were the ones who walked with Yeshua, not Paul. He came along much later, "as one born out of due time".
We have a temptation to be intimidated by our religious leaders and their impressive schooling. No need! We would do well to always hold the established order suspect. It's not the drunken unbeliever at the tavern where the lie finds its greatest success. The lie is most successful in the halls of power, from the Vatican to the White House. It has worked in those kinds of places for thousands of years and knows its way around them all to well.
This might explain why some of the doctrines we find the Church teaching are so far removed from anything we read in our Bibles. Is it not because they are rarely questioned by the congregation? One generation teaches them and the next generation just accepts the error.
Reminds me of the story about the lady who always cut the ends of her ham off before she put it in the oven to bake. Her husband asked her one-day, why she always cut the ends of her ham off? She replied that it was because that was the way her mother did it. "Why?" Was her husband's query. So they called her mother and asked, "Mom, why did you always cut the ends of your ham off before you baked it?" She answered that it was because that's the way her mother did it. "But why?" asked the husband again. So they called grandma and asked her why she always cut the ends of her ham off before she baked it. She answered, that she always cut the ends of her ham off before she baked it because, her pan was too short.
Have you ever seriously asked yourself why you believe as you do about GOD. Your answer may well reveal a lot about the depth of your relationship with your Creator.