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MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM

(Matthew 13; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15)

1. Mystery?  That which has not been revealed by God up to that point in the Bible and that which we are unable to understand apart from God revealing to us.

2. The mystery of the kingdom?  God's kingdom is coming to this earth in the opposite way a kingdom usually comes to rule.  Normally a kingdom comes into existence when a powerful army conquers a nation or nations and forces a people to come under its rule.  But, during this age, God's kingdom has come to rule in an unexpected way.  The Kingdom of God comes in an almost invisible way to those who voluntarily choose to receive it.  It started small and force was not involved.

3. The meaning of the parables in Matthew 13:

      a. The sower:  God's kingdom will not come by a mighty army irresistibly       conquering a foe, but it will come like a man sows seed.  God's kingdom       comes to those who receive the seed because their hearts are good soil for       it.  But, God's kingdom can be resisted (John 6:60-69).  In church history,       when Christianity has been forced on people, it has not spread the true       kingdom of God.

      b. The tares:  God's rule will not remove all evil immediately, but evil will       exist side by side with God's kingdom until the end.  The people at Jesus'       time thought that God's kingdom would immediately crush all evil (Daniel       2:44,45).  But, there will be this present mystery period before evil will be       finally and totally crushed.

      c. Mustard seed:  God's kingdom in our age will start small and grow larger       rather than begin large.  The kingdom of God came by a humble carpenter's       son born in a manger (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)  The Beatitudes describe the       very opposite of an arrogant and powerful army conquering the world; the       poor in spirit and meek will conquer.

      d. Leaven:  God's kingdom will not rule through overpowering dominance.  It       will start small, but in the end it will have great influence.  The meek and       humble will have great influence.  Leaven does not need to symbolize evil       (Leviticus 23:4-8; I Corinthians 5:6), it can also symbolize other things       (Exodus 12:39).  Symbols can even be used to symbolize opposites of each       other (Revelation 5:5; Genesis 49:8-10; I Peter 5:8).

     e. Hidden treasure and the pearl:  There will be those who will discover the       great value of being in God's kingdom and will pursue being part of God's       kingdom even though it will mean that they will leave what is valued in this       world behind (Philippians 3:3-14; "He is no fool who gives up what he       cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot).  Some believe that       Israel or those who choose the kingdom of God are the treasure and the       pearl, and Jesus is the One who chooses to pay the price.  It is possible,       but Jesus did not die for us because we were a great treasure that He was       searching for and found.  See also Proverbs 3:13-18, 4:5-9, 8:17-20