It was at a long-ago weekly Bible study at a member’s home, a meeting chaired by BIWF’s Tom Mitchell. He’s passed on now but I have to tell you, Tom was probably one of the truly knowledgeable Bible scholars in this entire movement. How we miss him! He had a way of eliciting thoughts and getting everyone enthusiastically involved. Like, on that evening, after Tom’s opening remarks, one member who rarely contributed seemed to light up and set the stage for the entire meeting.
He began, “Have you ever wondered how blessed we are to have been touched by God Almighty and learned about the Israel Truth?” He went on “You have to marvel at why God chose us in the first place; maybe in our minds we question our worthiness, but that all goes by the boards when we begin to understand more about the Kingdom of God.” He then asked us to open our Bibles to Mark 4:11-12. He read for us, “And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them”.
Well that was enough to get the ball rolling. Our Study leader explained that as Christ’s Ministry rapidly grew, there were many in the then huge gatherings that were opposed to His words and the majority of them were doubters at best and certainly antagonistic. So, Jesus adopted the parables to instruct His Disciples. And that means, Mr. & Ms. Christian readers, that we must study all the parables very intensely, knowing that there is more antagonistic people around today, in this age of Laodicea, than ever before. So, in speaking to everyone present at that time, Jesus delivered the parable of the sower and later, when he was alone with his twelve disciples, it was clear that they needed clarification and thus, Jesus said unto them the words in verses 11 & 12. Basically, in saying those things in the presence of disciples only, it would restrict spiritual understanding to those who do not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This was true then and it is true now.
I think He was disappointed that His disciples didn’t understand, so He said to them (Verse 13) “Do you not understand this parable [about the sower]? Then basically He said [as He does right now to Christians], “So how will you understand all the other parables I will utter?” To enlighten the twelve in understanding, He reveals what the “sower” is all about. So, we too must study His Words in this parable and then study all the others because they so go together with the Apostle Paul’s admonition. “Study to show yourself approved”.
And there is so much to learn from Jesus’ parables. Just let us touch on a few we discussed that evening and over the ensuing weeks.
One of the best known, the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:11-32) demonstrated how the House of Israel needed a national Redeemer and how our ancestors accepted the redemption Jesus provided. Or how the mystery of the lost and outcast House of Israel in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31) compared to the rich, proud Pharisees. Again, it was true then, and it is true now.
Turning to the Old Testament, we looked at the parable of the Cedar Tree (Ezekiel 17), a historical story concerning the removal of the House of David from Jerusalem to a nation where Israel was lifted up and raised into prominence. And as we studied the parable of the Broken Bottle (Jeremiah 19:1-12) we couldn’t withhold our amazement as to how God remoulded the House of Israel into a Christian nation and despite modern deception, that He deemed that the House of Judah could never be re-established as a nation.
As one writer penned, “All of Jesus’ parables, or stories, whether related in the Old Testament or the New, presents a view of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth not ordinarily seen. [and certainly not preached by most conventional churches] [That] this new light will give encouragement, faith and assurance that God is working out His Plan steadily and surely, and that we can await with confidence the coming of our Lord to restore His Kingdom on the earth.”
Shut your eyes for a moment and try to picture those twelve disciples gathered at the feet of Christ and listening to His parables. And as He revealed to them the true meaning of the parable of the sower, you can almost see the light go on in the minds of each disciple, as subsequent messages through parables became understood. Now, picture ourselves at His feet. He has just finished explaining how to look at His stories through the parable of the sower. If, then, we have gone beyond our exposure to the Israel Truth and studied intensely, can we see the meanings behind such parables as the Tares, or, the Mustard Seed, as told us in Matthew 13. Or, perhaps the Divorced Wife of Hosea 1&2? Maybe as students of the Israel Truth who have been exposed to great books like “Man Thinking”, the true meanings might light up our minds as well. After all, we are part of the “greatly blessed” in working out the mystery of blindness referred to by the Apostle Paul, when he declared, “I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in”.
But, what about our Christian friends who have yet to have the opportunity to understand the Israel Truth or if they have, perhaps simply shrugged it off or, worse, denigrated it. You know, an understanding of the parables might be all that is needed to lift them from the condition described as, “The Lord has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes.” Paul said the blindness would be in place “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in”. (Romans 11:25) Are we close to that point? Since the turn of the century, or the end of six days on God’s calendar, our beliefs, values, freedoms and so much more, have been highly compromised and one has to wonder if the blindness is about to be lifted through some great intervention by the Lord God Almighty. Of course, the doubters and enemies of Christ will still say something along the lines that these parables touch on nations, not individuals. But I always remember our former president, the late Jim Read, saying on many occasions, “The parables are national, that’s for sure and this is so important, but underneath each of them there is a personal meaning. All that is required is that we search for it”.
There is an old expression, “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.” Let’s make the most of it by reaching out to our friends, family and associates, and while we may not be successful in our efforts, we will have at least sown the seed. God will do the rest. And, we will be in great company. For what does Mark 4:14 tell us, “The sower soweth the word”. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary enlightens us as to the meaning of this verse, “The Sower (Verse 3) is not identified, but he obviously represents Christ himself and all others who proclaim the Gospel. The seed stands for the Word, which is, as Luke explains, the word of God, or the message which comes from God”. (Inspired by an old National Message article)