Jesus told seven parables to his disciples to illustrate the nature of the Kingdom of God.
1. The Sower and the Seed: This is a teaching about evangelism during the Church age.
2. The Wheat and the Tares: This parable discusses evangelism during the tribulation.
3. The Mustard Seed: The mustard seed represents the Church, beginning as a tiny seed but growing into a large tree. Satan attacks the Church with external forces, represented by the birds who lodge in the tree branches.
4. The Leaven: This represents the internal attacks of Satan upon the Church in order to weaken it.
The next two parables, he Treasure and he Pearl, are found in Matthew 13:44-46.
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Both of these parables refer to the Church age. Notice in both cases the man went and sold everything he had. In the first parable, instead of buying only the treasure, he bought the entire field so he could obtain the treasure. In the second parable, he sold everything he had when he found the one pearl of great price. Each parable represents a different group of people during the Church age.
What is the treasure and what is the pearl? The treasure represents Israel. The pearl represents the Church.
What has happened to Israel during the Church age? The dispensation of the Jew temporarily came to an end but will be revived at the tribulation. God hasn't forgotten Israel. He never can forget Israel. At the moment, His main purpose in this earth is being carried out through the Church.
There was a time when God picked the nation of Israel to be the force to evangelize the world. The purpose of Israel was not to form laws. The purpose of Israel was not to uplift the tablets of the law and carry out the sacrifices. The law and the sacrifices were designed by God to teach the nation about the Lord Jesus Christ. Their job was to preach Jesus around the world. They were to evangelize the entire world.
This was also true of Jonah. He thought the blessings of God was strictly a Jewish monopoly. Because the message was so simple, Jonah knew if he went to Nineveh and preached the plan of salvation, everyone would receive Jesus. Jonah did not want this result, so he ran the other direction. However, God knew Nineveh was prepared to receive the gospel, so He made sure Jonah took the message. Sure enough, when he walked out into the streets and preached, everyone was saved from the highest to the lowest. He made the message as simple as possible: repent or Nineveh will be destroyed. The people repented.
What happened to Jonah? Jonah got angry again. He went up on a hill and sat there asking God to destroy the people of Ninevah. He was a typical prophet of Israel. He represented the nation's attitude wanting to keep the gospel message for themselves.
What happened to Israel? They formed a "denomination." They thought they had a corner on the blessings of God, but the incarnation of Jesus and His death on the cross proved God is bigger than boundaries established by any denomination or nation. Jesus turned to the Gentiles and all nations, but He hasn't forgotten Israel. Instead of using Israel during the Church age, He puts Israel "on the shelf." God's protection is still there. God's grace is still with that nation. God's desire is for Israel to return to Him. But during the Church age, He has shelved them while He is works on the Church. Once the Church is complete and it is removed in the rapture, He will again operate through the nation of Israel.
Exodus 19:5-6 states that Israel is indeed God's treasure. "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."
When the Bible says we are a peculiar people, it doesn't mean we are weird. It means we are unique. Notice the next statement: "for all the earth is mine." God bought the whole field so He could get the treasure!
Psalm 135:4: "For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure."
There is a reference to both Jacob and Israel. Jacob refers to the unbeliever; Israel represents the believer. God has His protection around the whole nation of Israel, believers and unbelievers alike.
When most hear the word "treasure" they usually think of diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies--precious jewels. God compares the nation of Israel to precious jewels in Exodus 39:7-14:
7 And he put them on the shoulders of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses. 8 And he made the breastplate of cunning work, like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. 9 It was four square; they made the breast plate double: a span was the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof, being doubled. 10 And they set in it four rows of stones: the first row was a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this was the first row. 11 And the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. 12 And the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. 13 And the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper: they were inclosed in ouches of gold in their inclosings. 14 And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names,like the engravings of a signet, every one with his name, according to the twelve tribes.
On the front of the breastplate were different individual stones representing each tribe of Israel; four rows of three stones. God sees each one of those tribes as a unique jewel unto Himself.
What happened to the treasure? Referring back to the text for this lesson (the parable in Matthew 13:44) we see it has been hidden in a field. Israel was hidden among all the nations, but God brought that nation out. He brought them out of captivity. In order for God to legally say He owns that particular nation, He purchased the entire field where they were buried. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. He purchased the entire world so He could have the nation of Israel.
What has happened to the nation of Israel today? It has gone into hiding. Notice, when the man in the parable found the treasure, he hid it. Before he purchased the field, he hid the treasure. Before Jesus went to the cross to purchase the whole world, the nation of Israel had already gone into hiding. God preparing to expose His next plan, which was the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. But don't think God has forgotten where Israel is. Matthew 6:21 says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." God's heart is still after that nation.
In fact, God has gone to the extent of telling the whole world its prosperity depends on that nation. Every nation that blesses Israel, the Lord will bless. Every nation that curses Israel, the Lord will see to it they end up cursing themselves. God still has Israel set apart, even though they are hidden today with respect to the overall plan of God. Israel will come out of hiding as soon as the Church is complete.
First Corinthians 5:18-21 further discusses God's purchase of the whole field:
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
How did He reconcile Himself to us? He reconciled the whole world to Himself so He could get us. That's how much He wanted us. We have been reconciled to God; in fact, the whole world has been reconciled to God (verse 18). Does that mean everybody is automatically born again? No, the first step is being reconciled to God. Now you must reconcile God to yourself, which is the second step (verse 20).
What did Jesus do when He was in the world? He admonished His hearers to be reconciled to God. He told them God paid the price, now all they must do is be reconciled to Him. We have now taken Jesus' place on earth and what is the ministry we have been given? Reconciliation. What is the good news of the gospel today? The price has been paid. God has purchased the whole world. Now be reconciled unto God.
Romans 11:25 also speaks of the treasure of Israel being hidden during the Church age, or age of the Gentiles. "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in."
Israel has been blinded by Satan. God has ceased to operate through that nation until the time of the Gentiles is completed. This will occur at the rapture of the Church, Then God will turn to Israel again and work through her.
The Parable of the pearl ties in with the Parable of the treasure. While the treasure is being hidden, the pearl is exposed. The pearl is a reference to the Church. Some of you might remember a song about Jesus being the pearl of great price. It was usually thought you were the merchant man and you sought until you finally found Jesus, the pearl of great price. To purchase Jesus you had to sell everything you owned and give it all away. However, we cannot purchase Jesus. All the money in the world cannot purchase salvation. Although He is precious, Jesus is not the pearl of great price in this parable. The Church is the pearl of great price that Jesus, the merchant man, sold everything he owned to buy.
Did you notice among all the precious jewels of the breastplate there was no mention of the pearl? A pearl is unique. First, every stone we consider precious comes from the ground except for the pearl. It comes from the sea. The sea always represents humanity, people of all nations. Just as the pearl comes from the sea, the Church is composed of people from every nation. Just to obtain the pearl, God purchased the whole ocean.
The formation of pearls is another distinguishing fact. They are built one layer at a time. Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) A pearl begins from one little irritating stone. Jesus, our "little stone," went to hell one day and conquered sin and sickness. From that time the Church has been built upon that Rock. We are still being built today layer upon layer, getting stronger and stronger and prevailing against the gates of hell.
Another way pearls are unique is they must be lifted out of their surroundings to be adorned. Jesus will return one of these days when the pearl is complete and lift the pearl out of its place. Then He will display us forever and ever. We will be as a bride adorned for her husband.
Pearls are also characteristically soft and fragile, rather than hard like most jewels. A pearl must be protected. In fact, ladies are cautioned not to wear pearls next to any other jewelry so the pearls won't be scratched. A pearl can be cut. The Church today might look so vulnerable compared to all other things around us. The Church may appear weak and easily destroyed, but we have the protection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said He would build His Church. It may look fragile, but the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. When the world tries to come against the Church, it discovers that we don't stand in our own strength. We are shielded by the shield of faith. Jesus has promised us His protection. We are the pearl of great price.
Pearls and other precious jewels will be displayed together. The time is soon approaching, but right now Jesus is perfecting the pearl. The pearl will soon be complete and lifted out of its place. Then God will return to His treasure, the nation of Israel. When the dispensation of the fullness of time comes, which is the time of the millennium, we will be brought together. Israel and the Church will both rule and reign during that time.
When Jesus commented on the faith of the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:10-12) He said, "Many will come from the east and the west and will sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob." That is the time when the pearl and the treasure will come together and be united forever in the kingdom of God.
In conclusion, Revelation 21:19-21 further reveals the unity of the treasure and the pearl.
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire, the third, a chalcedony; the fourth an emerald. 20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius, the seventh chrysolyte, the eighth, beryl, the ninth, a topaz, the tenth, a chrysoprasus, the eleventh, a jacinth, the twelfth, an amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of the pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
These verses are speaking of the new Jerusalem, the city which will descend from heaven. Notice, in verses 19 and 20 the foundations of the wall are the precious jewels. Placed on each foundation is a gate of pearl.
Pearls could never be used as a foundation. They would crumble because they are too soft. But stones could be used. Jesus began first with Israel as the foundation for all the work He has done. He is making something today which is His crowning adornment. It couldn't be the foundation, so it is the gate that swings open to allow all people into the kingdom of heaven. That is the pearl, the pearl of great price.
Do you want to enter heaven? Come through the gate; become part of the pearl, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Enter into the kingdom of God. What is the purpose of a pearl? Every precious stone reflects light, but the pearl is the only stone that not only reflects but also absorbs light. The Church is unique because Jesus has put His Spirit within the Church. Not only do we reflect His glory, we also have the ability to absorb His glory. We can receive the light of Jesus. Isn't it wonderful to be born again?!
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Copyright 2009 by Bob Yandian Ministries.
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