A Postponed Kingdom
This is part 2 of a series written by Michael White on the Kingdom of Heaven. See Part 1.
Jesus, in response to His rejection withdraws from the “house” of Israel and teaches “the crowds” in Matthew 13. He begins to teach in parables, saying “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…” The disciples are astonished at this. Matthew 13:10 asking “Why do you speak to the people in parables.” It is reasonable to understand their astonishment. John the Baptist had preached the message publicly in Matthew 3 and was astonished after he was thrown in prison even asking Jesus about his identity. Jesus himself had proclaimed it publicly in Matthew 4, and ultimately was astonished at Israel’s lack of faith Mark 6:1-6, Matthew 8:5-14. The Apostles had been told by The King Himself to proclaim the message publicly in Matthew 10 and been astonished at the Demons submission to this coming Kingdom. So after a very public proclamation “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and its accompanying miracles proving the validity of their message, they are now told that the message is to be concealed inside parables. These Apostles are now confused at the concealment of this public message. Now Jesus conceals the message from those who would not repent and receive Him as their King but reveals it to his own who believe, namely the Apostles and anyone who is indwelt by the Spirit. “The Secrets of the Lord are with them that fear him” Psalm 25:14 Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 13 that “the knowledge of the secrets of heaven has been given to you but not to them” Matthew 13:11. Jesus then begins a series of 13 parables throughout the book of Matthew that will describe what “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like” during his absence from it. The Diagram below identifies the specific 13 parables of the kingdom showing that the first Seven appear in Matthew 13 and the remaining six follow throughout the book.
These parables are designed to prepare the Apostles and future Christians for the period of the Postponed form of the Kingdom. This new message of the kingdom is no longer public, but it is now truth hidden in plain sight and can only be understood by “those who have ears to hear.” Jesus is now actively hiding the teaching about the kingdom from his enemies. This new phase in the Kingdom is known as the postponed form of the kingdom. The kingdom is now delayed being “Taken away from you (Israel) and given to people who will produce its fruit (Future nation of Israel)” Matthew 21:43 The Kingdom is Postponed until the rejected King returns and establishes his Kingdom on this earth being accepted by his people, Israel. When this happens Daniel’s prophecy Daniel 9:27 will come true and Jesus the “most holy”, “will be anointed ” King
The Parables of the Kingdom therefore describe the nature of this new phase of the Kingdom to believers while concealing it from unbelievers. We as believers today live during this phase of the kingdom.
Israel had rejected the Kingdom offer and as a result it will be postponed until the acceptance of the King by his people at the end of the tribulation by his subjects. The rejected King will return from heaven when that happens. Hosea 5:15, Hosea 6:2
Again it’s important to note that the parables of the kingdom are not object-lessons or salvation messages but rather they describe what the “Kingdom of heaven is like” during Jesus’s rejection and absence from it.
We will look at these parables briefly to make sure the reader understands them. Jesus starts out with the parables of the soils representing the success rate of the gospel during this present age of the Kingdom, that only one type of soil would believe, take action on that belief and produce fruit. The other three soils would not produce real lasting fruit. The wheat and the tares describe that the kingdom in the present age will be made up of both believers and unbelievers. The dual nature of the kingdom consisting of both believers and unbelievers presently is illustrated by the good and bad seed and the resulting Wheat and the Tares. We include Jesus explanation of it below. Notice Jesus leaves the crowd and privately in a house with his disciples explains the meaning of the parables. Jesus does this secretly because Jesus is actively concealing this truth from his enemies.
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Notice that the weeds or Tares are weeded out of the Kingdom at “the end of the age” but not during the present form of the Kingdom. They “both grow up together” The Tares are part of the Postponed form of the Kingdom but will not be part of the Physical Kingdom. The Mustard Seed shows that although the kingdom had humble beginnings starting with Jesus disciples. The outward expansion of the kingdom during this age will “grow into a large tree.” This large growth is not necessarily good, remember it had both believers and unbelievers in it. It will become a nesting place for evil “the birds come and perch in its branches.” Remember the birds were the ones that “Came and ate up the good seed, ” and Jesus had said they represented the “evil one.” The dough describes the inward aspect, how false doctrine “Leven” will permeate the Kingdom inwardly characterizing it by false teaching. The treasure and the pearl represent how God will take out of the mixed kingdom a treasure (Israel) hidden in the world “field” and a Pearl (the church) a people for himself despite the kingdoms corruption during this present time. He will “sell all he has” as he goes to the cross to purchase the World “field”. This purchase will be for both believers and unbelievers giving the King the right to not only save the righteous but to judge the wicked. Revelation 5:5-10. Satan had offered Jesus these kingdoms during the temptation in chapter 4 as a shortcut. Jesus would purchase them instead by his blood taking from the strong man what he had offered for a compromise during the temptation of our Lord. The last parable in Matthew 13 is the parable of the dragnet. Again the message of the Kingdom catches both “good and bad fish” during this present age. Both are part of the kingdom, but the bad fish are thrown away at the end.
The Parables of the Kingdom reveal many truths about the present form of Christendom in our present day. The Kingdom exists today in the mouth of all who profess Jesus “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” That means that all who call on the name of Jesus in our present day are part of the Kingdom of Heaven. Including believers and unbelievers. Jesus points this out continuing in Matthew 7 “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:22, 23, and “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:11,12. A good way to visualize this is with the Diagram below. It’s important not to confuse the Church with the Kingdom. This error can be illustrated in the following substitution “Seek ye first the “Church” Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you?” The Church is made up of every true believer represented by the yellow circle in the diagram below. The Church however only represents the inward aspect of the Kingdom in this present age, both Jew, and Gentile but the black represents people who profess Jesus as King outwardly (All who acknowledge his rule) but are not inwardly regenerate. So the Kingdom represented by the big Circle contains all professing “Christendom” this would include the Pharisees who had the secrets of the kingdom hidden from them and the Pharisee who has asked about the Kingdom and whom Jesus told that it was within him. Or in our modern day, it would include Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and anyone who Professes Jesus as King but is not regenerate inwardly.
Jesus illustrates this fact clearly with the Parable of Wheat and Tares. In the Parable there are the Wheat representing true believers produced by the good seed (Gospel) and the tares representing professors produced by the seed of the enemy. Both are part of the same field (world).
This is why Jesus Message during His time on earth was repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. He directed this at the subjects of the Kingdom, Israel. He did not go to the Gentiles but to the lost sheep of professing Israel. They had received the Law but “refused to obey it” Acts 7:53 John the Baptist rebuked the Pharisees regarding this message by saying “who warned you to flee the coming wrath” Wrath that would in the end consume the outward aspect of the kingdom burning it as in the parable of the wheat and tares at the end of the age.
The burning of the tares will leave a pure Kingdom with only true subjects in it and nothing that defiles.
The subjects of the Kingdom in its present form are all who profess his name but only the people who truly believe will enter it. That is why the sheep must be separated from the goats in Matthew 24 – both the sheep and the goats profess allegiance to the King. Both the wise and foolish virgins are looking for the Messiah and all fall asleep but only the wise have oil. The group that claims to have cast out demons in his name are mere professors, and that is why Jesus will remove everything from his Kingdom that defiles at his return. The tares will be burned. Judas is an example of one of these professors who followed Jesus but in the end betrayed him thinking he was only a man. Later the scripture tells us that he was a devil John 6:70. Jesus ultimately goes to the cross and is crucified with shouts from his people “We have no King but Caesar,” “Give us Barabbas”, “Crucify Him,” “Let his blood be on us and on our children” And Jesus dies and is resurrected on the third day.
Next, we’ll conclude our overview of the postponed kingdom, and finish this series by briefly showing how scripture describes the future Physical Kingdom, and the Perpetual Kingdom.