The growth of the Kingdom
Aug 14, 2014
The “daughter of Abraham” (Luke 13:16) who was loosed from her eighteen-year bondage to an evil spirit was a prophetic type of all who are of Abraham’s household of faith. These are the citizens of the Kingdom that already was growing in their midst. The Kingdom of God, of course, had been established in the hearts of men since the beginning in the days of Adam, but only with Moses was the Kingdom fully formed into a nation. That nation later became corrupt, refused to repent, and was then destroyed.
The destruction of the House of Israel in 721 B.C. was likened to the vessel that was marred in the hand of the potter (Jeremiah 18:1-10). That vessel, the Kingdom in its day, was beaten down to a formless mass of clay before being rebuilt again. Jesus came to begin the rebuilding process by His death, resurrection, and ascension.
This new Kingdom was always in the hearts of true believers, but from a legal standpoint it began with the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was the coronation of King Saul, as it were, since the Church during the Age of Pentecost followed the pattern of Saul’s Kingdom. There was yet a greater Kingdom coming, patterned after David’s Kingdom, and this is the form of Kingdom that comes through the anointing of the feast of Tabernacles.
Hence, looking back at Kingdom history, we understand that there have been multiple beginning points, because the earlier forms of the Kingdom were imperfect. Moses established the first Church during the Passover Age (from Moses to Christ). The level of anointing that came with it was insufficient to maintain the viability of the Kingdom.
Even Pentecost was insufficient to maintain the viability of the Kingdom during the Pentecostal Age up to the present time. The Church found itself wholly corrupted, as reported by many Church officials themselves over the centuries. But there is a third Church coming, which will be empowered by the all-sufficient anointing of the feast of Tabernacles. I believe that the next thousand years will witness the viability of this final Kingdom, as Daniel 2:35 prophesies.
The Mustard Seed
After healing the “daughter of Abraham,” Luke 13:18, 19 says,
18 Therefore He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden, and it grew and became a tree; and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”
The first thing to note is that this parable flows from the previous incident where Jesus healed the daughter of Abraham. It begins with “therefore,” which connects the two passages. It continues a thought, yet builds upon it. It shows that the daughter of Abraham is a Kingdom representative. Being loosed or set free from bondage is a picture of the all Kingdom people coming out of captivity.
This one small woman represented the mustard seed itself. Once it was able to break free from its outer shell, it would begin to grow until it became a fully-grown tree. As it grew tall, we learn that “the birds of the air nested in its branches.” This is an important detail, for it is the link to the next comparison.
The Leavened Meal
The first comparison is not complete without a second one to modify and explain its meaning. So in Luke 13:20, 21 Jesus gives the second short comparison, saying,
20 And again He said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened.”
The two comparisons appear to be totally different and even unrelated until we find assistance from Matthew and Mark to show us that the birds in the tree are also the leaven in the meal.
The two mini-parables in Luke 13 are part of a longer set of Kingdom parables that are found in Matthew 13 and in Mark 4. The two mini-parables are found in Matthew 13:31-33 at the end of a series of Kingdom parables. A shorter list of those parables is found in Mark 4:3-29, ending with the mustard seed in verses 30-32.
Though Mark leaves out the “leaven” parable, Matthew gives both of them and shows that these mini-parables of the Kingdom were part of a lengthier discussion about the Kingdom itself. More importantly, Matthew gives us Jesus’ interpretation of the parables, telling us that the birds represent “the evil one” (Matthew 13:19), who comes to snatch away what has been sown in the heart.
In fact, in each of the parables in Matthew 13 we see children of the Kingdom and enemies of the Kingdom. They are pictured in different ways with each parable. The birds are the enemy when the word is sown in our hearts. The tares are the enemy in the wheat field. There are clean and unclean fish brought to shore in the dragnet.
In the case of the two mini-parables, the birds again appear in the branches of the mustard tree, and likewise there is leaven in the three measures of meal.
The Pentecostal Kingdom
As I stated earlier, the second form of Kingdom came as a Pentecostal Church, typed by King Saul, which was an interim Kingdom leading to something greater in our time. Pentecost itself, though good, was represented in the law by wheat baked with leaven (Leviticus 23:17). It was the only offering where God allowed leaven, for all other sacrifices and offerings were to be free of leaven (Leviticus 2:11).
The presence of leaven in the Pentecostal first-fruits offering teaches us that Pentecost itself had the potential of fermentation, or corruption. In theory, if the divine instructions about Pentecost were actually followed by the Church, the leaven would be no problem, for the offering was to be baked in the fire of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of fire stops the leavening action, though it does not actually remove the yeast. In other words, a true Pentecostal is one who allows the baptism of fire to kill the flesh and train him in obedience by the leading of the Spirit.
However, the rebellious example of King Saul prophesies that the Church which he represented would also corrupt itself to the point where it was disqualified to have an enduring dynasty (1 Samuel 15:23). Just as God then sought for a man after His own heart to replace Saul, so also has God sought out overcomers to give them the Kingdom at the end of the Pentecostal Age.
We see, then, that after the first Kingdom was destroyed, the rebuilding process would begin as a result of the first work of Christ. But even that work was not yet complete, because it produced only a Pentecostal Kingdom, whose character was depicted in the life of King Saul, who himself was crowned on the day of wheat harvest, or Pentecost (1 Samuel 12:17).
Even with the anointing of Pentecost, this was an imperfect Kingdom, because after a short time, men ceased to experience the baptism of fire in their lives. Carnally-minded men then rose to positions of leadership, until the Church was fully leavened. By the fourth century, the Church was executing dissenters (“heretics”) by the same evil spirit that had troubled Saul in 1 Samuel 18:10, 11,
10 Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved [naba, “prophesied”] in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand. 11 And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David escaped from his presence twice.
Saul could not tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and the evil spirit. Both came from God, Scripture says, and so many cannot distinguish between them. Yet we can see the results of each. Those who are led by the Holy Spirit may find need to discipline or correct those under their authority, but “afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). But those led by an evil spirit do not seek peace, but a spirit of fear and hatred, which is murder.
Once the Church developed an intolerance for those who disagreed with some part of the creed, established and defined by various Church Councils, it was only a matter of time before they would begin The Inquisition, whereby millions of people were tortured and killed. All of this was done because the Church had ceased to know the baptism of the Holy Spirit, whose “fire” would have neutralized the leaven in the meal.
As the Church became filled with carnally-minded leaders, at some point God sent an evil spirit upon them and disqualified them from ruling in the Tabernacles Age to come. Instead, God has raised up overcomers to rule with “David” (Christ) during the final Age.
When we understand these things, then our eyes may be opened to see why Luke included the two mini-parables in his narrative immediately following the healing of the oppressed woman.
Luke was showing us details about the rebuilding of the Kingdom. Jesus is the solution. The woman is the oppressed Kingdom being loosed and set free from bondage. And yet before the fully viable form of the Kingdom on earth, there was yet to be a leavened Kingdom, having “birds” in the tree and “leaven” in the meal.
The story of Saul and David, if we understand how they established prophetic types of Pentecost and Tabernacles, shed much light on these mini-parables in Luke 13.
This is the seventy-second part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.