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Weeds or Wheat?

Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:36-43
Date: 07/10/2010 
This sermon focuses on the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. The children of Israel believed the Messiah would come and immediately destroy the Gentiles. But God has His children all over the world. There will come a time of separation when Christ comes.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

>> It's been 2,000 years since the glorious light of the cross illuminated a world veiled in darkness and confusion about the character of God. And still today the greatest need of mankind is a revelation of God's love as revealed in the life of Christ. Amazing facts presents, "the everlasting gospel," with Pastor Doug Batchelor, coming to you each week from Sacramento Central church in sunny California. Discover hidden treasures in God's word today.

>> If you have your Bibles, I hope you do, I’d invite you to turn to a parable that you only find in the book of Matthew. Now there's a lot of parables that are exclusive to the gospel of Luke. But you usually find whatever's in Matthew, usually find also in mark or Luke or somewhere else. But this is one parable that is just in the book of Matthew, chapter 13, Matthew 13. And it's a parable that comes following the parable dealing with the different kinds of soil and the seed. Sometimes it's known as a "parable of the wheat and the tares," but we don't really use the word "tares" very much today. Tares really are the equivalent of weeds. So I’ve titled this the "parable of the wheat and the weeds." and I’d like to read it to you. And first we'll go through the narration of this. I’ll do my best not to stop too often along the way. And then we're going to study it together. These are the words of Jesus. Matthew 13, starting with verse 24, "another parable he put forth to them: '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 he went his way.'" now in Bible times, it was not uncommon if you wanted to get even with, or to bankrupt an enemy, then you would go and you would scatter these very deadly and destructive weeds among his good crop. It would basically wreck his crop. It would take so much--sap the energy and the growth of the crop or it would take so much energy to try and separate them, that it could, you know, pretty much bankrupt them. Matter of fact, it was so common back then, the romans actually had laws about what should be done, very severe penalty, if someone over-sowed another person's field with bad grain or with weeds in order to try to bankrupt or to hurt them. And you know, this was a major investment for people. When they sowed their food, it was where they got their grain to sustain themselves. And it says, "when the grain had sprouted and appeared," there was a crop, "then the tares also appeared." so the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'sir, did not you sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' and he said, 'an enemy has done this.' the servants said to him, 'do you want us to go and to 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 the harvest I will say to the reapers, 'first gather the tares and bind them in bundles, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" now here you've got the parable. And then you find Jesus goes on teaching, but the disciples come to him later and they specifically say, this parable in particular we need explanation. And so we've not only got the parable, we've got Jesus interpreting his own parable very clearly. The interpretation begins in verse 36. "Then Jesus sent the multitude away and he went into the house. And his disciples came to him and said, 'explain to us the parable of the tares in the field.'" they don't even mention the wheat. They want to know about the tares. And then he goes on with the interpretation. And he says: "he who sowed the good seed is the son of man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the son of the kingdom, the tares are the son of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, the reapers are the angels." boy, you never find any place in the Bible where you have Jesus speaking so succinctly about what the symbols mean. He goes bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. This is what they mean. This is what they represent. "Therefore," now let's tie it all together, "as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The son of man will send out his angels, they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into a furnace of fire. And there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father. He who has ears, let him hear!" and he closes it off by saying, "if you've got the ears, and the holy spirit opens them, you will hear and understand how to apply this." now one of the very important aspects of this parable that Jesus is trying to illustrate really shook the disciples to the core. The children of Israel believed that when the messiah came, one of the first things he was going to do was burn up all of the gentiles. He was going to judge them; they were the ungodly. The Jews were the Godly. They were the chosen ones. The gentiles were the lost. They were on the outside. The Jews were on the inside. But the romans had come, and the Jews are now scattered all over the empire. There was the great diaspora, the dispersion of the Jewish people. You've heard the expression "wandering Jew." there's a plant called the wandering Jew, because you can find Jews all over the world. Well they thought when the messiah came that he would call all the Jews back to Israel, and there's several prophesies in the old testament that talk about this. And all of the wicked would be separated out, and they would be destroyed. But here he says something very unusual. They find out that there are tares or weeds sown among the good wheat of God's people, but you're not to uproot or separate them. There's going to be a period of time when they grow together. You remember even when Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, even after he had risen from the dead and taught the scriptures, I think it was Philip who said to him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom? Are you going to now burn up all the wicked? Are you going to give us the kingdom and call the Jews from all these nations together?" and they didn't understand; he said, "no." there's going to be a period of time where they're going to grow. And they're going to be mixed up together. And so then he begins to interpret this parable. So we're going to take these points one at a time. And you know, this parable has so much in it that we could talk about. I had so many ideas as I was reading it. And I’ve got it on tape in my car, and I was listening to it. Problem was I had some great ideas, and they've left me. So I’m praying the holy spirit brings them back, because they were coming so fast and so furious that I thought, "alright Lord, I’m just going to go through it and try my best to teach it and hope that we can glean what you want us to get." first of all, the seed that the king sowed was good seed. God is the one who owned the field and he owns the seed. And the seed that he first planted was good seed. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. Genesis 1:12, "and the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after its kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose was in itself after its kind. And God saw it was good." just in the first chapter of genesis it says "good" seven times. That's a nice biblical number. Good, good, good, good, good, good. Everything was good. God sowed good seed in his vineyard--or in his planet, the field. And he tells us what the field represents. That's the next thing. It says, "The field is the world." now I want you to think about that for a moment. Probably 80% of the pastors that I hear preach on this say the field is the church. Have you heard that? >> Yes. >> Now there's a problem. Does Jesus know how to say the word, "church?" and when Jesus was interpreting it, he didn't say the field is the... He said "world." and so he means what he said. The world is the Lord's. Psalm 24:1, "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." it's not just that the church is the Lord's; the whole world is the Lord's. All over this world the Lord has his wheat. It's not just in one place. Matter of fact, this was a problem that the Jews had. They thought, "We're the only ones." and God said, "No, there are many that will come from the east and the west." even among God's people, among the gentiles, he says Naaman, God's--you know, healed Naaman. Elijah was sent to live with a gentile woman. God even had his people scattered among the non-Jews. Abraham indeed gave his tithe to Melchizedek who was not a Jew. Matter of fact, there were no Jews at the time of Abraham. They were Hebrews. Jews didn't come 'til the time of Judah. So the Lord is saying, "I’ve got my people that you maybe don't recognize everywhere. And there are people who claim to be believers, and they're scattered, mixed in, and they're counterfeit. So all over the world, the world is the field. You've got genuine children of God, and you've got counterfeit that are scattered there. And it was a good field. Psalm 50:12, "if I was hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine, and all its fullness." so you've got a good landowner, who is sowing good seed in his world. When this world was made, and it came from the hands of God, it was good. It was perfect. But along comes an enemy. And when does it happen? While men slept. Now, is there anything wrong with sleeping? How many of you have slept in the last 24 hours? Let me see. It is a sin? Is there a time where it's appropriate to sleep? And so from the first part he's just saying in the time when people are resting and they're relaxing, that's when the enemy took advantage of that. And while men slept, he comes. And in the darkness he sows tares among the wheat. Now the word here that's in the Greek for "among" is a very strong word. And it basically--it's saying scattered, thoroughly, everywhere. It's not just like here a little, there a little. And so the weeds are spread. They are perfectly diffused out there among the wheat. And that's not uncommon if you drive along here in Sacramento, we've got a very fertile valley all the way from Redding down to Bakersfield. There's one of the--some of the best farmland in the world. And you'll get up to the edge of the corn or the rice or whatever the grain is, and you'll see a little bit of weed sometimes infiltrates the edges. That was not the problem with this field. That landowner had sowed good seed. There are weeds scattered all through it in every row. The devil was very thorough, the enemy, in sowing the bad seed among the wheat. He contaminated, he adulterated the whole thing. While men slept. Thus Satan sows false doctrines in the darkness, in the very place where truth is to be practiced and proclaimed. In the previous parables, he says that the seed is the word of God, right? Just before this parable. And so the Lord in the world, he's got his people, the children of light who sprout up because of the word of God takes root in their heart. But then you've also got counterfeit mixed in. 1 peter 5:8, "be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil is like a roaring lion, going about seeking whom he might devour," and he's sowing bad seed all the time. I added that last part. Mark 13:35-36, Jesus said, "watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming at evening, or at midnight, or even at the cock crowing, or in the morning, lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping." so if there was a guard watching this man's field, that guard slept. But anyway, the thief came in undetected, and he adulterated the field. Now I got to take a moment and talk about these weeds and what they are and what they look like. The Greek word is "zizanion." and it's called also in the land of Israel, "darnel." it injures the wheat. It looks like wheat, especially in its infancy. It even has a head with grain on it. And when it's sown there, for a while all of their color is the same. But as the season progresses, they take on a little more of a gray color. And that's when the servants of the king said, "didn't you sow good seed? We're noticing a color change in the field and it appears that you've got tares. You've got this darnel, this wheat--this counterfeit wheat." matter of fact, you know, it's in the Bible, I guess I can say it in the church. The Hebrew word for zarnel is similar to the word for fornication. And they played on that word, and it was actually called illegitimate, but they use the strongest word; I’m not going to use it in church. I thought about it, but I decided not to. You know what it means, illegitimate? There's another word. They used to make fun of me growing up and use that word 'cause my name was Batchelor. And they called it that kind of wheat. It's a counterfeit, corrupt, it's like an immoral wheat. Now this stuff really exists. The darnel wheat or the cheat, they call it, or chess grass. And it's got an interesting effect. It's not just that you got weeds that are going to take some of the nutrients from the soil. It wrecks the crop from below in that it robs nutrients. It wrecks the crop from above. Let me read this to you. "This tare abounds all over the east and is a great nuisance to the farmer. It resembles the American cheat grass, but the head doesn't droop like cheat, not does it branch out like oats." it grows straight and it's got these little grains back and forth on this stalk. "It's also smaller and arranged along the upper part of the stalk that stands perfectly straight. The taste is bitter. When eaten separately or even when diffused with ordinary bread." it'll cause the whole thing to be bitter. "It causes dizziness, often nausea and vomiting. Birds become dizzy from eating it." they walk and fly crooked. It is, "in short it is a strong soporific poison, and it must be carefully winnowed and picked out of the wheat grain by grain before grinding of the flour is allowed." otherwise it's not healthy. "Even farmers in this country who generally weed their fields, do not attempt to separate one from the other. They would only mistake the good grain for them. But very commonly the roots of the two are so intertwined that it's impossible to separate them without plucking up both. Both therefore must be left to grow together until the time of the harvest." so this weed, these tares, this darnel grass that has been sown among the wheat, the roots are tied in. You know wheat is sown very thick. And the heads start getting mixed up. And you can't just go through with a sieve and cut it off, because it's going to be all mixed up. The weed ultimately will grow taller. So if you wait until the harvest, it becomes very evident and it's easier to separate the two at that point. But you'll destroy the roots if you do it while they're still green and coming to head. And it damages everything. And so these are weeds. Where'd weeds come from? Oh, well, sin originally. I mean, you know, initially everything was good and there was some purpose for it. Genesis 3:17-18, "and God said to Adam, 'because you have harkened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'you shall not eat it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow you will eat of it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shall eat the herb of the field.'" there would be unuseful, unwanted, painful plants that would be growing where before it was all good. What is a weed? I’ve looked up a definition here for you. A weed is "a valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop." now do you know you can eat dandelion greens. How many of you have tried to get dandelions out of your lawn? Did you eat the greens? But how many of you have eaten dandelion greens? Yeah, I have. You can eat--there's a lot of things that you and I would call weeds, because they're growing where you don't want 'em to grow. But they might have a purpose. They injure the desired crop. "Any undesirable or troublesome plant, especially one that grows profusely where it's not wanted." you don't want this growing among your wheat. And so Christ then says, when the angels say, "what happened? Didn't you sow good seed in your field?" he said, "yes." he says, "an enemy has done this." this parable is very important because how many people have you know that they look at the sin in the world, they look at the wickedness in the world, and they say, "If God is good, then what went wrong? How come there's so many evil people? How come innocent children suffer? How come there's war and sickness?" and you know what God says? "An enemy has done this." everything God did was good, but there's an enemy out there. You know, amazing facts put a lot of time and energy into developing this DVD called "Cosmic Conflict." Have some of you seen that yet? I think in a few weeks they're going to air that in the AFTV channel. For the first time, we're just going to air the whole thing on TV. But the reason we especially made that DVD is it not only explains how God created everything; it explains: where did sin come from? How can you have so much evil in a world made by a good God? And so Christ says there is an enemy. And yes, you might be thinking, "well, God is all powerful. Why doesn't he just destroy this enemy?" well, you've got to understand the great controversy, that he's falsely accused God. So the enemy is out there on a rampage, trying to cause as much sickness and suffering as he can. And so he has sown this beautiful world that God made with weeds. All thorns and thistles are reminders of sin. It's not an accident that thorns were put on the head of Christ when he was crucified. An enemy has done this. Matthew 13:19, same chapter, the previous parable, "when anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one," the enemy, "comes and snatches away that is sown in his heart. He is the one who is receiving the seed by the wayside." the devil either snatches the truth away or he adulterates it. You got that? How did the devil try to destroy the early church? Christianity is illegal. Just kill them all. Feed them to the lions. Burn 'em at the stake. Make it illegal. Put 'em in prison. But when that didn't work and the church still grew, he said, "alright, look, if I can't snatch them away, if I can't just mow them down, what if I mingle my representatives among them? If I can't do it through just destroying them, I will dilute it. I will adulterate the truth." we had a sermon about the dilution of the truth a few weeks ago. And that's what he's done. And so people are blaming God all the time. And they don't realize that there's an enemy out there that has done that. And then Jesus goes on to say that the reapers are the angels. Angels are involved in what's happening here in the world. You notice the angels are jealous for the crop. They're examining the wheat. They're watching it. They say, "Wait. Something's here that doesn't belong here." does God have his angels watching over his children? Are his angels going to be involved in the great harvest at the end of the world? Matter of fact, you can read Matthew 24, and some of this presentation, I’ve got the study mixed up a little bit because it's all over the place. Jesus gives the narrative, then he goes back and explains it. And so I have to study it the same way. "He'll send his angels," Matthew 24:31, "with the sound of a great trumpet, and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." so the field is the world, the harvest is the world. It's not just the church. Now the church is a sampling of the world, so some of this applies. You know, one reason I’m emphasizing the fields of the world? Some people read this parable, and have you ever been at a church business meeting and someone needs to have their membership dropped because there's some open high-handed sin? They're violating the principals of Christianity. And you know, you just can't ignore it. You got to deal with it. And someone will stand up and say, "Well, we don't know their hearts. And we're supposed to let the weeds and the wheat grow together. Let God separate the tares from the wheat." and they apply this parable that deals with the world to the church as though the church should never take any action of discipline. Have you heard that done before? That's a misapplication according to Jesus' own words. Does the church have to sometimes do some weeding? I know that sounds awful brutal, doesn't it? Did the Lord have to identify Achan? Did Paul tell us in the letter to the church of Corinth that there was something that needed to be done, that someone needed to be removed from membership? He was sleeping with his father's wife. It had to be dealt with. And even Jesus in Matthew 18, does he say that if there is someone that is living in open sin like this, go to your brother alone, then take another person with you. And if they won't listen to the church, then let them be like--let them be like a heathen. And Christ all through the Bible made it very clear that there is a process where people, if they're going to reject the teachings of Christ, there's no value in putting their names on the book. There's no sanctifying influence in calling them a Christian if they're not living the life. And the church has a responsibility to take names off the books. That is not where you apply this parable. Now there are those who are growing like weeds among the wheat in the church, but it's hidden. So the parable is not talking about the ones that are openly clear. It's talking about the ones you can't tell. Did Judas have secret sin in his life? Jesus knew about it, but you know Jesus didn't even expose him, did he? He was hoping he'd be converted right there to the end. And so there are those who have these things on the inside. And we all know that that day is coming where God is going to set the record straight. But he's principally talking about those that are in the world. And he said, "Let them grow together." "Now wait a second, Jesus. We thought when the messiah came that you'd separate right then." he said, "no, there's a period where they grow together." have you wondered why did Jesus have to come two times? Why after he ascended from the grave, couldn't he have said, "Alright, now we're all going to go to Heaven. I’m going to have my resurrection, take--" why has 2,000 years gone by? From the first coming to the second coming there's this period where the weed and the wheats are growing together. Why? Because the plan of salvation is not fully been demonstrated, because the character of the devil was not fully demonstrated, because of the results of the devil's government and the government or kingdom of God, these two governments are at war and the fruit of those governments needs to be seen, because there's only going to be one kingdom that will last eternally. That's what the book of Daniel is all about. And so the Lord needed to reveal the results of the devil's administration. It's not evident right away. Whenever a president runs for office, or any government leader, they say, "I’ve got these new policies. I’ve got some new things I’m going to implement. And everything will be wonderful if you elect me and I implement my policies." isn't that pretty much what everyone says? Do you know after the inauguration what the policies are going to look like, or does that usually take time? And you can look back in history, and you can look at the different presidents over the course of history, and say, "he implemented his policies and look what happened there. And he implemented his policies and there was a time of prosperity and things." and so you can often look, but you can't tell right away. It takes time for the crop to mature and to become evident. And that's what's happening in our world right now; is the policies of Jesus and the policies of Satan are bearing a harvest. Now sometimes people will come to me, and they'll say, "Pastor Doug, don't you think things in the world are getting terrible?" and I’ll say, "Yeah, they're getting terrible." and someone else will come along, and they'll say, "Don't you think things are getting better?" I’ll say, "Yeah, they're getting better." and if anyone was standing by and overheard both conversations, they'd say, "Doug, are you running for public office? You're telling everybody what they want to hear." I’ll say, "No, I believe both." I believe that things in the world are getting worse, the wicked are getting wickeder. And God's people, before the Lord comes, doesn't it tell us--well, no, I’m not going to give you the answer. I’m going to ask you. Before Jesus comes, are Christians going to be the most ungodly they've ever been? Or before Jesus comes, is he going to have a church that's lived closer to Christ than any other generation? So there's going to be a fruitful harvest before Jesus comes. There's going to be a people that are going to be spirit-filled. And they're going to do it right there when the weeds are getting worse. Doesn't the Bible say that, "Where sin abounds, grace abounds." so you got things getting worse and things getting better at the same time. In the church, God is going to have his genuine becoming closer to him. And you're going to see the wicked-- "Wicked man will wax worse and worse," the Bible says. And it's all happening at the same time. They're becoming more evident, like two sides of a coin, until there is ultimately this time of harvest. But you're supposed to let them grow together. Luke 9:54, "and when his disciples James and John saw," that the Samaritans didn't welcome Jesus into their town, they said, "Lord, just say the word. Give us the command and we will call fire down from heaven upon them and burn them up. After all, it's biblical, Elijah did it." and Jesus said, "Ah, you don't get it. You don't know what spirit you're of. The Son of Man did not come to destroy man's lives, but to save them." and see the disciples had this idea that there was going to come a day after the Messiah came where just can burn everybody up. You know what they were doing. They weren't all wrong. They took the prophesies about the second coming, the great separation, they confused them with the prophesies about the first coming where God came as a lamb the first time, a lion the second time. They got them mixed up. And that's why he had to explain to them, "No, not now. There's going to be a time. And you'll become impatient during that time. Some of you are going to say, 'Where's the promise of His coming?'" you'll be able to mock and doubt that He's coming back again. During that time of waiting for the harvest to get ripe, "while the bridegroom tarries, all the virgins sleep." there is a waiting time. We're living in that time right now. Matter of fact, we're living at the very end of that time, friends. Matthew 13:30, he says, "Allow both to grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest I’ll say to the reapers, 'first gather the tares, bind them in bundles and burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" So that means that there are some counterfeit in the world that are not genuine. There are some counterfeit in the church too. There are hypocrites out there. Are there people that appear to be moral, good people, even in the world? But they're not. They're corrupt. Can even worldly people apparently do nice things? Are there people that are out there around the planet from many different religious backgrounds, that love the Lord but they haven't found out about Jesus yet. Doesn't Jesus say, "Other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and they're going to hear my voice?" They haven't heard it yet. "They're going to hear My voice and they'll come out of Babylon. And they'll be one fold, and there'll be one shepherd." Right now there's people scattered all over the world, but just before the end, there's going to be a great winnowing. There's going to be a great shaking that's going to take place. And it's going to end up separating. This is known as the harvest. Now we get into the heart of this. There's going to be a time where we're supposed to wait. Oh, let me give you one more verse on that. This is an important one, so if you didn't jot the others down, jot this one down. 1 Corinthians 4:5, Paul is very clear here. 1 Corinthians 4:5, "Therefore judge nothing before the time." is there a time when we're supposed to judge? Don't prematurely judge, "until the Lord comes." When is that time? "When the Lord comes, "who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts." You know, even while I talk to you, I’ve got little counsels going on in my heart. You don't know what they are. Only God knows what they are. And while you're thinking, you've got the counsels of your heart. God and God only knows the thoughts of men's hearts. But in the great judgment, the Lord's got some kind of video, DVD, He's gonna plug in. And those things that are done in secret, and those things that are even thought in the heart are going to be revealed. Everything will be manifest at that time. Nothing is going to be hidden. And so then you've got that great harvest. Until then, they need to grow together. You know, when I first-- when I first got into ministry, when you're young, you're very idealistic. And I had these ideas that the first church that I get, it's going to be-- it's going to be a Godly church. Matter of fact, some of you remember, Central wasn't the first church. But when I came here, I wanted to have a second covenant. You not only had the regular baptismal vows, I then wanted to have a "Central covenant." I don't know if any of you remember that, or you might be trying to forget it. And I just wanted to make sure. It's one thing if you're just, you know, a member and you want to transfer in. But I said I wanted everybody to go through this covenant because there's so much worldliness out there in the world and the church, I wanted our members to be a better vintage. I wanted Godly--and you know, I do think we need to keep the standards up, right? And if I suspected there were any tares in the wheat, I wanted to root 'em all up myself. And you know, I’m still idealistic. But I’ve learned a little bit that while you need to hold the standards up, you can't force people's hearts to change. And you know, sometimes I thought--I thought I knew where a person was coming from, and I mistook wheat for weeds and weeds for wheat. And I’ve learned as time has gone by, I can't read people's hearts. Now I can deal with what's on the surface and what's obvious. Some things are obvious. But some things you don't know. And it's like when you're driving down the road and you pull off at an exit in Sacramento and there's somebody there, and they say, "Please help. Need food. I’m hungry." how many of you wonder if some of those folks are hungry or thirsty? And you don't know. I think I’ve told you this story before that I was going to the radio station one night-- I’m embarrassed to tell you this story, but I’ll tell you anyway--I was going to do the radio station one night, and I usually stop and get a burrito or something and meditate, think about the program. And I stopped at the drug store. And outside the drug store there was a young man that looked pretty rough to me. And he asked me if I had any spare change, 'cause he wanted to get some food. And I thought, you know, I used to live on the streets and I used to panhandle. And I’d use my money for beer. I’m admitting it. I mean I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I’ve dug in the dumpsters, and I panhandled. I know the gimmicks. And if you want to get money, get a puppy. Panhandle and say, "I need food for my puppy." and people who would never give it to a scruffy teenager feel sorry for the dog. And so I won't tell you all the tricks anyway. And so this young man, I looked at him and said, "Yeah, in front of a drugstore that sells alcohol. You're hungry." and for a while, I don't know what I said, I was nice to him, but I said, "Not today," or whatever. And I got what I needed, and I went across the street and I got my burrito. Well, I’m eyeing this guy through the window across the street. And eventually, he managed. A couple people gave him some change. He walked across the street from the drugstore to a fast food place and he walked out with food. And I thought, "Ooh, I judged this guy and just assumed he was gonna buy drugs or alcohol or something." He was just plain old hungry. If I’d known he was hungry, I would have bought him food. I would have had him eat with me. He was really hungry. And you know, that was very convicting for me and then I realized you can't read people's hearts. And sometimes we jump to conclusions. One time the disciples said to Jesus, "We saw a guy casting out devils and he's not part of our group. We told him to cut it out, 'cause he has not been sealed by us. He hasn't been carded. He doesn't have credentials from us." and the Lord said, "Don't forbid him. You can't--he's doing our work. He's--" and you know, sometimes we're quick to judge. And Jesus said, "You might just need to let the weeds and the tares grow together and their fruit will make them clear as time goes by. And then there'll be a harvest." and that harvest is going to be serious business, friends. Jeremiah 8:20, once the harvest comes, the saved are saved and the lost are lost. You know that verse, "The harvest has past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved!" Now is the time for us to grow into wheat as opposed to weeds. Now I’ve got a lot of verses here for you. John 4:35-38, Jesus said, "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then the harvest comes?'" This is when He had that experience with the woman at the well. And the disciples were wondering, "Why are you talking to a Samaritan woman? Samaritans, they're all lost. Why they're--they're Samaritans." Back in Jesus' time, if you wanted to insult a person, you said that they were demon-possessed or a Samaritan. You called them demon-possessed, Publican, or a Samaritan. Remember they said that to Him one time? They said, "Thou has the devil and art a Samaritan." and the disciples came from getting food back, and they saw Jesus talking to a Samaritan, a woman no less. That was the bottom of the barrel as far as they were concerned. They were lost. And Jesus then used her to tell everybody in that town about Him. And they all came flowing out of the town because they believed her word. And there's this great harvest of souls. And right when Jesus says this to them, he says, "The harvest is ripe.” They saw all these people coming from the Samaritan village to meet Jesus. And He's looking right at them. He's talking about this harvest. A harvest where they didn't expect it. And so when Christ is talking about the wheat and the tares, He's saying, "There are people out there, disciples, apostles, that you don't know are My people. And there are some people that you think are Mine that are not." A lot of the Jews that they believed just because you're Jews does not mean you're one of His children. Just because your names are on the church books, does not mean you have a new heart and you're one of His children. Just because someone's names are not on the church books, and they're out there in the world. There's a lot going on that we can't see. It doesn't mean leave the church. And it doesn't mean we don't urge people to join the church. We know what our duty is in that regard. But that's not the last criteria. It's really “What's your fruit?” Isn't that how you are to-- in the harvest, how did they finally tell? The fruit was different. The angels were able to discern the difference. "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest?' Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look for the fields are white for harvest! He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: 'one sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors." and He's talking here of course about the gospel seed. Revelation 14 talks about this great harvest. This sounds a lot like the parable. "I looked," Revelation 14:14, "I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and one sat upon the cloud like unto the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle." So when Jesus comes again, what is He pictured holding? Some of you remember the old Communist flag, what did it have on it? A hammer and a sickle, 'cause Ukraine, part of their strength was their great fields of wheat. And that's what they used. Any of you ever cut grass with a sickle before? Not too many young hands. I’ve done it, either a big scythe, or you can use sometimes a little sickle. You grab a bunch and you whoosh. You got to have it sharp. Christ is pictured coming with either a scythe or a sickle in hand, 'cause He's coming to harvest. This is that harvest where the wheat and the tares are separated. "And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, 'Thrust in thy sickle and reap, for the time has come for thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.' and He that sat upon the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped." Now that's one harvest, but at the same time, listen. Jesus is coming to gather together His elect, right? So this is the harvest of the saved, the wheat. But we're not done. Revelation keeps going. "And another angel came out of the temple that is in Heaven, he having a sharp sickle." Are the angels the reapers in this parable that we just read? "And that angel came from the altar, that had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle," this other angel, "saying, 'Thrust in thy sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.' and the angel thrust in its sickle and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the winepress of the wrath of God." This is the harvest of the lost. At the same time, the saved are being gathered, the lost are being gathered. This is telling us at the end, there's going to be a great separation. Right now you got the wheat and the tare and they're all bunched up together. And sometimes it's hard to tell who are genuine and who are counterfeit, who are sincere and who are hypocrites. But there's going to be a great separation that's coming. Matthew 25, Jesus talks about this, verse 31-32, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels--" those are the reapers, "with Him, He will sit on the throne of His glory. And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats." They're going to be separated. Now are goats and sheep different? Are they both domestic? I mean there's benefit in goats. You can drink the goat's milk and you can use the sheep wool. But I’ve taken care of both, and I can tell you they are very different. Now they might forage together, but they're different. And in the same way, there's a difference between the wheat and the tares. Ezekiel 9. Now this ties in with revelation 13 and the seal of God and the mark of the beast, so listen carefully. It talks about this great separation. "And the Lord said to him, 'go through the midst of the city, and the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof," those that hate sin. They love God and they hate sin, like job. "And to the others he said in my hearing, 'go after him through the city and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have any pity. Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.' and they began at the ancient men that were before the house of God." there is this judgment, but before this judgment takes place, there's a mark of separation. Does the Bible tell us in the last days everybody is marked either with the seal of God or the mark of the beast? There's a great separation that takes place before the harvest. You know, when--when they have the bananas go through the conveyer belt, if the quality is not there, they don't put "Chiquita" on the label. As the oranges are going through the conveyer belt, if there's any defective oranges--they've actually got computer eyes now, so these oranges go racing down this conveyer belt. And the computers take these pictures in a fraction of a second. They grade the orange. They don't use the hand-graders like they used to do. The bad oranges are pushed off onto another conveyer belt. The good oranges are kept, and they get the "Sunkist" label. The rest of 'em are rejected. Right now there's a labeling process that's going on. Before the harvest, people are being sealed and marked, aren't they? Are you genuine? Now is the time to be genuine about your relationship with the Lord. You don't want to be off there with those rejected bananas, do you? Matthew 13:47-50, same chapter we've been studying. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet." this is the parable following the one that we just read. "the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea," big ol' net, "and it gathers some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew it to shore." now the environmentalists hate this parable because this is what fishermen still do today. And along with getting the tuna, they kill the porpoise. Along with getting the tuna, they get the turtles. They get the things they don't want. So there's a lot of sea creatures that are destroyed while they're trying to get just the fish. But this was the danger of fishing with a net back then and today. So this dragnet is thrown out, and all kinds are gathered in. "and they sat down," and they go between them, they "gather the good into vessels, but the bad are thrown away. So will it be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, and separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into a furnace of fire. And there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." now that's something else about this parable that I would rather not talk about. But Jesus talks about it so much that I wouldn't be faithful if I didn't mention it. If you believe anything the Bible says, then there's one truth that is very clear. And that truth is that if you are not saved; you're lost, and that the lost are cast into a lake of fire and there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. And just a few other verses I’ll share with that. John the Baptist is preaching, Matthew 3:12, "his winnowing fan is in his hand." this is something they use for harvesting. They would have these great big fans, as big as a person. And they had two hands fan, not like the kind you use at camp meeting. And they'd wave it back and forth while the women would have these baskets that had the roughed up grain in it. And the chaff would blow away and the grain would fall back down. It was a separation that was taking place when this winnowing happened. "And he will thoroughly clean his threshing floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; and he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." two choices: go into the barn of God's kingdom, those mansions he's prepared; or the lake of fire and unquenchable fire. Luke 16:26, you know in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, there's two rewards. One reward is Lazarus--and by the way, it didn't look like Lazarus in this life had the blessing of God. You wouldn't have thought that he was the one that was on God's side. He's a poor beggar, looks like he's under the curse of God, but his heart is right. You can't always tell from the outside. And when the judgment happens, Lazarus is in Abraham's bosom. He's in the barn. He's in the kingdom. And the rich man who looked like he was in the blessing of God, he's feasting. He believed in the prosperity message. He's now in torment, where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. You know what gnashing of teeth means. You know, they used to, before they had epidurals for childbirth, they'd tell the lady when the hard contractions come, here's a piece of leather to bite down on so you don't crack your teeth, because you grit your teeth when you're in great pain. During some of the civil war surgeries, if they couldn't get any kind of morphine to the field--or it wasn't morphine, it was a chloroform that they used to use. They'd give them something to bite on, because in great pain if they had to amputate a limb without anesthesia, they'd bite down. You gnash your teeth when you're in great pain. And so this is frightful language, I know it, friend. But it's in the Bible. And the Lord's trying to encourage us to avoid that by warning us about what the fate of the weeds are. What do you do with weeds if you've got a farm and you gathered them together. Do you frame them and put 'em on your wall, or do you burn 'em? They're good for nothing. You pull 'em up. Matter of fact, I was weeding yesterday, weeding the flowers. And I was pulling up these weeds. I didn't have time to collect them all. I put 'em out, and I said, "It'll be 100 degrees tomorrow. They'll be dead." just put 'em out there where they're dry. They'll be dead. And you can gather them together and dispose of them later. But this is what the Bible says is going to happen. In that parable, by the way, there's a separation. Abraham says to the rich man, "there is a great gulf fixed between the wheat in the barn and the weeds." Malachi 4:1-2, last book in the Old Testament, "for behold, the day is coming, that will burn as an oven, and all the proud, yes, and all that do wickedly will be stubble. And the day that comes will burn them up," says the Lord of hosts, "it will leave them neither root nor branch." "but--" I’m so thankful for this, tells about the fate of the wicked. Gather first the tares, bind them in bundles to be burned. "But you who fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." are you among those that fear the name of the Lord? So he says there's this separation that takes place. The angels will come forth and separate the wicked from among the just and cast them into the furnace of fire. Matthew 7:16-20, Jesus said, "you will know them by their fruits." and we opened with this. "Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistle? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree, bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." and so the Lord is telling us very clearly that he wants us to have the fruits of the spirit. What are those fruits? You look at that list there in Galatians 5:22, "love, love for God, love for your fellow man, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, meekness, patience, temperance." God wants us to have the Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants us to be genuine. So there's two kinds of children. Jesus, in illustrating the meaning of this parable, he says, "you've got the children of the kingdom. And you've got the children of the wicked one." now I often hear it said, and it's, you know, politically correct to say, "we're all children of God." the Bible doesn't teach that. Very beginning, it says you've got the sons of God and you got the daughters of men. There were two separate groups. Jesus, even when he was preaching, he said to the religious leaders, "you are of your father the devil. And the desires of your father you will do." to the saved, "behold what manner of love God has bestowed on us," this is 1 john 3:1, "that we should be called sons of God." "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." and so there are children of the Lord in the world, and there are children of the devil. Let's just face it. Those that live for themselves, that are motivated by self, that are wicked, they're children of the devil. You can call them children of God. But as long as a heart is unregenerate and they've rejected God, Jesus made it very clear through several parables, there's two kinds of children. And then I like the last part it says here in Matthew 13:43, he tells us about the great separation, and then he says, then when the weeds are taken away--you ever look back on a field after it's been all clean from weeds, and all you got is that pure grain, a healthy crop. I know just even with our flowers yesterday, I was weeding the flowers, it looked nice when I could stand back after weeding a little patch of flowers to say, "that looks clean, looks like what it's supposed to be, looks like what I wanted when I planted it, instead of the weeds in there." what does it tell us? "Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun--" by the way, Jesus is quoting Daniel, isn't he? He's quoting Daniel 12 when he says, "they that be wise--" verse 3-- "they that be wise will be like the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." he's saying, that's like when we read in Malachi, speaking of the righteous, it said, "but unto you that fear my name shall the son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." when we have the fruit of God's spirit in our lives, then we are shining like light in the world. It's not just light in the church. The field is the world. We are to be letting our light shine as we near the harvest, friends. Are we doing that? You know, this is a very comprehensive parable, takes us from the very beginning when the devil sowed weeds in God's good world, and it brings us all the way to the end where the harvest has come and the two groups have separated. And the wonderful thing about this is sometimes things start out looking like weeds or tares, but you watch them and you say, "oh, it's not what I thought it was. It was, you know, mixed in with the tares and so I confused it. It's actually good." have any of you ever been weeding before, and you pull up what you think is a weed and you've pulled up a flower. And you say, "oh!" you know, one reason the Lord tells us to wait is because sometimes things aren't what they appear to be. One area where I struggle with this parable is--some of you might be thinking, "well, I’m either a weed or I’m wheat and I have no choice." and that's the part I don't want you to misunderstand. You do have a choice. The Lord can bioengineer you. You heard about this bioengineered wheat and bioengineered corn, where they mix up the DNA and they get the healthiest strains. And I don't know how they do it all. But the Lord, he can take that darnel, and he can turn it into wheat. If you come to him just like you are, he can transform you. He can give you a new heart. Isn't that right? All of us are children of the devil 'til he gives us a new heart. He can give you that new heart when you come, and you'll be ready for that harvest. Amen? And I want to be a participant in helping with that harvest and helping others get ready. Don't you? Let's pray. Loving Lord, if we've been hypocrites in our hearts, please forgives us. We want to be genuine. We want to be found and recognized by your angels when they come to harvest as wheat. We pray, Lord, that you'll work that miracle, that you'll bioengineer that transformation in every heart, that we might be new in substance and new creatures. Bless this church, Lord, that we might be faithful. Help us to have that seal in our hearts and in our foreheads. And as we go from this place, we pray that we can have that joy that will attract others to your kingdom. In Jesus' name we ask, amen. >> Hi friends, Amazing Facts is so excited to tell you about our new prophecy study Bible. It's filled with everything you could ever want in a Bible. It's got the maps, red-letter edition, concordance and all 27 of the Amazing Facts Bible study guides are in here to help you in your personal study and to help you study the word with your friends. If you'd like to know how you can get a copy of this incredible study Bible, call the toll-free number on the screen or go to our website, amazingfacts.org.

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