Mike Parsons –
God is making us ready for the conflict that is inevitable if we are to bring in the harvest He is looking for. In the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew chapter 13, you will see that tares have been deliberately sown by the enemy to cause confusion and dismay. We are sons of the kingdom, but the sons of the evil one are out there and they are determined to oppose and obstruct us all the way.
Sons of the evil one
I am not just meaning worldly people. Jesus explained about these ‘sons of the evil one’ in Matthew 13:36-43: ‘”Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear’.
We are the good seed: we are the sons of the kingdom, so we need to manifest the kingdom. We cannot afford any longer to live like worldly people. The sons of the evil one have been planted on purpose to come into direct conflict with us as we seek to carry out God’s purposes. Some of them are sitting there on the tectonic plates even as you read this. They are operating in the atmosphere of the earth, with power and authority that is rightfully ours, and there will be conflict as we confront them and take it back.
Jesus says that the harvest is at the end of the age, and that angels are involved in reaping it with us. And He says that ‘The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom’ – not ‘out of the world’, you notice – ‘all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness’. The stumbling blocks are right there, in His kingdom, in His church, among God’s people.
This is serious. We could be a stumbling block. We could be opposing Him by doing it our own way. If so we risk Him saying, ‘Away from me, I never knew you’. There are people who have died and found themselves in a fiery place, which the Bible properly calls Hades (Greek) or Sheol (Hebrew), who thought they were going to heaven; I have seen them.. They were stumbling blocks. Stumbling blocks can be people; they can also be things in our lives that will cause us to trip up and fall. The dictionary defines a stumbling block as a ‘hindrance, offence, snare or trap’. The Greek word in the New Testament is ‘skandalon’, which gives us the word ‘scandal’ but actually means ‘the bait in a trap’. A ‘skandalon’ is something that leads us into a trap, it can be false faith, something that draws us into sin or error.
God wants to remove stumbling blocks from His kingdom; He wants to remove them from us personally. During this period we will see ministries that will fall if they are not working according to His Kingdom; churches too, however big or successful they appear to be. Jesus is looking for a church that is holy and pure in the Kingdom of His Father.
‘He who has ears, let him hear’. That is a phrase Jesus uses when He wants us to pay particular attention to what He is saying. It means He is saying something especially serious that we need to get hold of properly. God is issuing a challenge to us. He wants to remove the stumbling blocks, so He is sending His angels, and for now they are watching and waiting for us to say, ‘Yes, God, do it. We submit, we agree to you removing those things that hinder us’. But they are not going to watch and wait much longer. This is our window of opportunity to say, ‘I do not want to be a stumbling block that gets in the way of God. I can see there is a rock fall coming, one way or another (Matt 21:44). So deal with me, change me’.
It is time for judgment to begin with the house of God (1 Pet 4:17). The sword comes to bring judgment, to divide right from wrong. God will tell us what is right and what is wrong today, if we will listen. He is looking for those whose hearts are willing. That is why He wants us to know Him intimately, because He loves us so much that He wants to make us ready for what is coming. He doesn’t want us ensnared or entrapped. He doesn’t want us to stay as we are because the way we are just will not do on the next level.
He disciplines those He loves – disciplines, not punishes – and that speaks of both correction and direction. Ours is not the best way: He wants to show us a better way. Hebrews 12:11 tells us that ‘no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness – in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living]’ (Amplified Bible). We need to display that righteousness, so that it is not just that He calls us righteous but that we outwork it and that it produces righteousness in us.
He wants us to be conformed to His will, conformed to the image of His Son; He wants us to be revealed as His sons. And as we will see next time, He wants a bride for His Son, radiant in beauty; for that to happen we have to face up to the fact that some preparation is needed.
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