THE KINGDOM IN MYSTERY
By† ROBERT GOVETT, M. A.
There are few subjects which penetrate so deeply into the doctrine and practice of the New Testament as that of "The Kingdom of Heaven," or "The Kingdom of God." It seems to me, that there are also few subjects on which clear and true views would be more beneficial to the church.
What then was the Lordís testimony concerning it in the Old Testament?
Isaiah 2 it was foretold, that the temple
should in that day be lifted up on a height conspicuous from afar, and that the
nations should journey thereto.
so far, that the doctrines of Christ were sent forth from
Take, as the second passage, Isaiah 11. This prophetical chapter testifies of the rise of Jesus as the descendant of David, and of the resting of the Spirit of God upon Him. This was accomplished at the Saviourís baptism. He spake not after the sight of His eyes, nor after the hearing of His ears: but full of the Spirit of God, He detected the wiles of the Pharisees, and read the hearts both of His followers and of His foes.
But there is no fulfilment as yet of verses 4 to 16. †There it is promised, that justice shall be
the principle of His reign; and by Him shall be slain the Wicked One, the Man
of Sin: 4, 5. By
Him shall the wild animals be tamed, and poisonous serpents deprived of their
venom: 6, 9. Jesus shall be set as the
centre of the nations; "and His rest shall be glory:" 10. This rest, as Paul teaches (Heb. 4: 10) has yet to come. In that day
the Gospel fulfilled these things? Not at all! But they will hereafter be fulfilled;
although they are not yet, because of
A SECRET OR "MYSTERY" of God was to
intervene, before the promises were fulfilled to
Hence there are two states of the kingdom: (1) THE KINGDOM IN MYSTERY; and (2) THE KINGDOM IN MANIFESTATION. Let us first consider The Kingdom in Mystery.
heralded by John the Baptist, appears on the earth as the Lordís Anointed one. But the more he manifests Himself in
doctrine and miracle, the more do the unbelief and rejection of
this history was also further typical of Godís purposes in the future.
us now consider the seven parables which Jesus uttered on this occasion: Matt. 13. They seem divided into groups of
1+3+3 =7. †First stands the Sower, in some respects apart from the rest. Then
come three connected together: - the Tares, the Mustard Seed, and the
Leaven. Lastly we have the three delivered to the disciples alone in the
house: the Hid Treasure, the
parables contain "mysteries of the
1. THE SOWER tells of the present time, of "the Word of the Kingdom:" (verse, 19,) not of its sceptre dashing foes to pieces. †Jesus is represented in it as the Man of Peace, sowing the Word of God, uttering the goodness of the Kingdom. This parable then discloses the hindrances to the reception of the testimony of God concerning the millennium, arising from the world, the flesh, and the devil.
those who listen to the tidings of the
(1.) The men of the wayside; these do not even understand the doctrine presented, and Satan removes the truth from their hearts. †There can be no fruits of the Kingdom, where the Kingdom itself is not understood.
(2.) The men of the rocky ground. These for awhile believe: their souls kindle with the bright pictures of glory which shall burst forth in that day. But when they find that persecution is to be endured on the way to it, their enthusiasm is gone; the flesh is overcome by a frowning world without.
(3.) The thorny ground represents those who are deceived by the lusts of the soul from within. Cares, riches, and pursuits of this present age overbear the pursuit and desire of the age of glory to come. Wrestling for the prize demands an undivided heart.
(4.) There remains, therefore, only the good ground. Such receive it in their understanding, and pursue the glory set before them with steadfastness and patience. Even among these, however, there are great varieties of faithfulness; some bearing more than three times as much as others. For as star differeth from star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead.
As long, then, as this parable shall be descriptive or our times, or the Kingdom in mystery, so long the world cannot be converted by the Gospel. Not one half even hear the tidings, and out of that one half, only one class in four answers to the design of God in giving that testimony!
2. Pass we next to the parable of the Mustard Seed:
for I reserve the consideration of the Wheat and Tares to the last. In
the Mustard Seed, Jesus foretells, that hour of His lowly, unworldly doctrine
so opposed to the greatness of the flesh, there would spring up a great worldly
system, the rulers of which would aspire to be the equals of the kings of the
earth in their power, pomp, pride, and war. As the consequence of this
evil growth, Satan and his angels - those enemies of the Sower
- would enter, and take possession of it. How this has been fulfilled,
most signally at
the Leaven, we behold the inward state of that
which calls itself Christís Kingdom, or "Christendom." The
Mustard Seed disclosed its outward aspect; this tells us that the pure
doctrines of Christ would be debased and corrupted by the leaven of the flesh
and of the world. By the woman we are to understand
parable of the Treasure Hid in the field discovers to us Jesus
as the Son of Man, winning for Himself the right to the
6. Next follows the parable of the Drag-net. It describes in emblem the judgment of the Gentiles, or living nations of the globe, by the word of God given to Abraham concerning himself and his posterity, Gen. 12: 3. At length the time is come, that Christ judges the nations; and they are blessed or cursed according as they have blessed or cursed the natural seed of Abraham. This parable, then, is parallel with that of the Sheep and Goats. As the word of the Lord went forth from the promised land, so there at length the judgment of the Gentiles by the word of Christ, and by the agency of angels, takes effect. The evil are taken from among the righteous, the righteous obtain a portion in the earth: the evil are cast into Gehenna of fire. This judgment takes place at the end of this present evil age.
7. Let us consider, lastly, the parable of the Wheat and Tares. This parable presents both aspects of the kingdom: first, the kingdom in mystery, then as manifested in judgment by Christ and His angels.
Jesus is here, also, the Sower; "the field is the world." The Lord predicts the marring of His work, by Satanís raising up counterfeit Christians. The evil work of the Deceiver is not to be repaired in this present age. How then can a glorious and pure Church at length appear on earth, - as so many anticipate?
The confusion arising out of the presence and agencies of true and false Christians side by side is to continue till Jesus appears to judge. No efforts of true disciples to exterminate mere professors are sanctioned by Christ. Both are to grow together in the world, till the angels sever the two parties for their eternal destinations. Judgment does not belong to the present season of mystery and mercy. But at the Saviourís advent the visible and forcible interference of angels will close the present scene of Godís patience. The harvest is the period of judgment, which finishes the kingdom in mystery. Then occurs the placing of the wheat and the tares in their fitting position, during the kingdom in manifestation.
This parable, then, is peculiarly valuable, as presenting at one view both aspects of the kingdom - (1) its MYSTERY, and (2) its MANIFESTATION.
(1) During the first period, mercy reigns, and the tares and the wheat are allowed by God to run to seed; for it is the season of grace. Disciplesí efforts to introduce judgment into the period of grace are forbidden.
(2) But, at length, the end of the age comes, and the Saviour sends out of the heaven His angels, instructing them to clear the earth both of the wicked and of their instruments of wickedness. Then the earth becomes the manifest kingdom of the Son of Man. "The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all stumbling-blocks (Greek) and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire." Here is the earthly department of the millennial kingdom. But our Lord adds, "then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." †Here is the sphere of those risen from the dead, or the heavenly department of the millennial kingdom. The same two departments are recognized by the Holy Ghost in 1 Cor. 15. "There are also celestial bodies (heavenly), and bodies terrestrial (earthly); but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection from the dead." 1 Cor. 15: 40-42.
The Drag-net, I observe, gives only the earthly department of the kingdom in manifestation.
then were the disciples to regard these new discoveries of the Saviour about
The Saviourís reply to this is given in verse 52. After he had learned from the apostles that they understood these parables, he adds, "Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like to a householder who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."
In those countries there are fruits which are good for food, both when fresh, and in their dried state. So the householder could draw forth out of his closet both grapes just gathered, and also the raisins of last year; he could set side by side upon the table at one meal, both figs fresh plucked, and dried figs out of his stores.
in Godís sight and estimation, the law is the old thing, the
Gospel the new, Heb. 8: 13; 9: 15;
Matt. 9: 17. The teacher then who shall truly understand the
Each class is quite distinct from the other: they are really two classes of fruit, though they spring from the same tree. The new fruit has a taste different from the old.
Hence we may notice the mistake of the anti-millenarian. He would prove, if he could, that there is but one class of prophecy, not two. †To him, Old Testament prophecy speaks of the Church and its glory, as well as the New Testament. He does not discern between the earthly promises made to the Jew, and the heavenly ones made to the Church.* He perceives not the distinction between the kingdom in mystery and the parables which describe it on the one hand; and the kingdom in manifestation with their Old Testament teachings about it, on the other.
Israelite prophets will be fulfilled when the glory comes to the earth.
These parables tell of the deferring of the kingdom of glory, because of the
unbelief of the nation to whom those promises belong. Now this unbelief
Let us then carefully distinguish between the old things of the kingdom, and the new! Let us seek the promises of the heavenly kingdom, not the pleasures and rewards of the present evil age!