“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”–Ecclesiastes 3:1
IN THIS ISSUE: Mysteries of the Kingdom
Spreading the word that God’s season of change is upon us
A publication of the Great Lakes Church of God
Written by John J. Blanchard
Printed 2003, 2007
MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM
There are many mysteries in the Bible. Only God knows what all the mysteries are and why they have had to be kept secret. God knows what is best for us. God’s intellect is so powerful that even though many of His deepest thoughts are recorded in the Bible, they remain an enigma until He chooses to reveal them. We have now entered the time and season for much to be revealed, for we are definitely in the period the Bible refers to as “the latter days”. This is the time for all people to allow God to open their eyes so they can see and open their ears so they can hear. This requires help from God in the form of His Holy Spirit, which is His mind power.
The power that flows from God’s mind is compared to fresh water in the Bible as opposed to Satan’s sea. We saw this in Digest No. 2. This fresh water produces good fruit as it falls upon the earth in the form of knowledge and teaching He calls His rain. It falls on the ground of our minds and hearts where it can be absorbed. Initially it was absorbed by God’s firstfruits who were called out to perform special tasks for God over the last 6,000 years.
These firstfruits became trees for God, absorbing much of His Holy Spirit and bearing much fruit for the rest of us. Because of them, we have God’s recorded thoughts in the Bible. They also became people who reflected God’s light and truth just as the moon reflects the sun’s light.
In essence, one of the mysteries of the kingdom is that God is a spiritual farmer. God is literally growing the kingdom little by little! It is a government in exile in Satan’s world until it is ready to assume its duties. Humanity needs patience as God methodically accomplishes this monumental task. James 5:7-11 expresses this clearly.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
The prophets were among those who received early rain from God to be firstfruits, and here at the end of the age the latter rain is being sent for the huge harvest going into and through the Millennium just ahead. The intended end is for the maximum number of people to receive God’s mercy and compassion. We need to trust Him on this.
The idea of God being a master farmer and spiritually growing His kingdom occurs throughout the Bible, from the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the great harvest in Revelation 14:16 where Christ says, “So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.” Many of Christ’s parables 2,000 years ago spoke of this mystery, but for all but a few it had been kept a secret until now!
Speaking of His parables Christ said in Matthew 13:34-35: “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.’”
These secrets of the kingdom were often hidden in agricultural analogies. A few examples are found in the following scriptures. Regarding His use of parables Christ said this to His disciples in Matthew 13:11: “He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’”
Relating some of Christ’s agricultural parables to the kingdom of God, we find in the parable of the sower spoken in Matthew 13:18-19: “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: ‘When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.’” In the parable of the wheat and the tares Christ says in verse 24: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘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 went his way…’”
Another parable which portrays God growing His kingdom from a very small start is the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32. “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.’” Therefore, the first mystery of the kingdom discussed in this Digest is God’s use of the earth to grow His kingdom much as a farmer grows crops.
We do need to realize the tremendous significance that these mysteries are now being explained and made plain to all. Only God can unlock His enigmas for us. I Corinthians 2:6-16 explains this. “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” This human spirit separates us from animals and gives mankind the ability to think and to reason.
Continuing we are told, “Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” It is plain to see God’s thoughts and intentions cannot be figured out by mankind. Even though the Bible is God’s written words, they are not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches.
Physical man is at a loss to comprehend the spiritual wisdom of God. For instance, science has known for a long time that we live in a three dimensional world: length, height and width. We feel a fourth dimension: energy. Science has also proven the existence of many more dimensions. Physicists say that mathematics indicates there may be eleven or more dimensions. God thinks and utilizes all available dimensions however many there are, for He created them! We must humble ourselves before Him and ask Him for His help in order to comprehend His thoughts. Everything we need to know at this time is contained in the pages of the Bible. We need God’s help to put it together and understand.
Therefore analyzing what we read in I Corinthians 2, we can see that God’s wisdom is hidden in a mystery which the natural mind of man cannot fathom. God’s wisdom and plans for mankind were ordained before the ages according to verse 7, which is to say, before time itself began. Without the help of God’s mind working with our minds God’s wisdom even appears foolish to us! Since the beautiful thoughts of God we have been learning about do not seem foolish to us, we can only conclude that God is helping us to have eyes to see and ears to hear. As more and more people around the world begin comprehending God’s beautiful thoughts and bear fruit for Him, we can also conclude that the times and seasons indeed are changing! God is now making the transition from early rain and firstfruit development to latter rain and His huge end time harvest! Before we leave the mystery that God is a spiritual farmer, we will read a few more scriptures about the early and latter rain. Then we will define a few terms.
In Jeremiah 5:24-25 God expressed disappointment with His Old Testament congregation when they turned away from His prophets whom He sent with His rain. “They do not say in their heart, ‘Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain, both the former [Strong’s Concordance number 3138] and the latter [number 4456] in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.’ Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you.” These words are very meaningful for us today upon whom the latter rain is falling. We can learn and not repeat the same mistakes.
Now let us read a promise to those who will turn to God for wisdom and help in order to change their ways. Hosea 6, verse 3: “Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter [number 4456] and former rain [number 3138] to the earth.” This happy time is also mentioned in Joel 2:21-24. “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done marvelous things! Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; for the open pastures are springing up, and the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their strength. Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He has given you the former rain [number 4175] faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you, the former rain [number 4175] and the latter rain [number 4456] in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat…” This is a prophesy for our time now.
In order to use physical creation to prove the intent of God’s spiritual thinking in these verses, all we need to do is look up the Hebrew definitions as God originally inspired them in His word.
FORMER RAIN: Number 3138, yowreh = sprinkling, autumnal showers, first rain. Participle of number 3384 yarah, to flow as water, to rain, to throw especially an arrow, that is to shoot, figuratively to point out as if by aiming the finger, to teach. Note: former rain is related to numbers 3385 through 3387 which are as follows.
Number 3385: Yeruwel = founded of God
Number 3386: Yarowach = new moon
Number 3387: Yarowq = Green herb or plant, former rain
Number 4175: Mowreh = from number 3384, an archer, also a teacher or teaching, also the early rain
LATTER RAIN: Number 4456: Malqowsh = the spring rain, figuratively eloquence, from 3953 which is laqash which means to gather the after crop and is related to number 3954 leqesh, the after crop or latter growth.
These definitions are completely consistent with what we have been learning. God is a master farmer who utilizes teachers to point out the truths of God and the teachings of God in a most eloquent manner. They also reflect His truth as the moon reflects the sun’s light. These teachers use God’s spiritual terminology to reflect His truth. The moon reflects the sun’s light as these teachers who were given the former rain; and through their written record, the Bible, we now receive the latter rain. They were firstfruits, that is of the first harvest now awaiting resurrection from the dead. By this work that God did through them, the after crop is now being made ready. They received the former rain to help God bring the latter rain to the people of the earth, so that the earth can become lush and green bearing much fruit for God in the last times. This is indeed a wonderful time and season to be alive as the Great God of the universe opens His innermost thoughts to us! So when God’s servants express God’s thoughts, it is spiritual eloquence that falls like a soft rain.
Did you notice the fig tree and the vine mentioned in Joel chapter 2? These are two more mysteries of the kingdom. We will look at them in a moment, but first let us examine what God means by king and kingdom.
Obviously a king must have a kingdom to rule over in order to be a king. Jesus Christ said as much of Himself in John 18:37. “Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’” Christ qualified His position one verse earlier when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” So Christ was born to be a king, but not in this age. The term “world” here means the way things are currently arranged. Two thousand years ago, just as today, Satan presided over the world, as we have studied in previous Digests.
A kingdom is a form of government. We cannot elect or appoint the Supreme Ruler of the universe. God the Father gave this position to Jesus Christ after His perfect life was completed and He had died for all mankind. Now that same Christ, King of the universe, awaits the moment when His government will be ready to reign with Him. His government is composed of the firstfruits. Slowly they have been forming for the last 6,000 years. God’s servants have had to do His work during the time of Satan’s darkness. Persecuted and often killed for their beliefs and efforts, the prophets, apostles and saints have striven to serve their God. The faith and personal sacrifice of some of these dedicated servants of God is recorded in Hebrews 11. We will only read verses 1-3 and 37-40. You will want to read the whole chapter later.
Hebrews 11:1-3 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds [ages or eons] were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” In other words the three dimensional universe we see came from dimensions we cannot see but which God controls. After recording some of the exploits of the patriarchs and the prophets, this chapter concludes with verses 37-40. “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”
Paul’s inspired words in Hebrews 11 show us that he knew 2,000 years ago that the process of forming the firstfruits was not yet finished. He also realized that His generation had the benefit of Christ’s first coming plus the Old Testament record making it easier for them to have faith. Now 2,000 more years have come and gone as we still await Christ’s second coming, His kingdom and the promised Millennium of peace. Paul tells us that the Old Testament records examples to help us to see and comprehend the mind of God in a similar way that we found physical creation does.
In I Corinthians 10:11 we are told, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” This is actually a very important principle for effective Bible study. Future Digests will draw heavily on Old Testament examples and prophecies that pertain to the times and seasons we now live in. We can see here the prophets and patriarchs mentioned in Hebrews 11 and the exploits and the history that surrounded their lives were written for us to understand and to learn from, us whom the ends of the age have come upon.
As we now get back to more mysteries of the kingdom, we will notice that many of the conditions that existed during the time of Christ’s first coming are prophesied to exist at His second coming. This in itself is a mystery and a truly fascinating one that we will explore as time goes on.
Now let us look at the mystery of the vineyard and the fig tree we first noted in Joel chapter 2. Matthew 20:1-16 says: “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius, but when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.”
Continuing in verse 11: “And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good? So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.’”
We see God’s kingdom is like a vineyard in which we can be allowed to work, called upon to do so at any point in our life. A case can also be made that we could have been asked to work just before Christ returns or long ago. The point is that the basic reward, salvation, is the same to all and is not based on works. That is the gift of salvation, but that is not the whole story. Now look at Luke 20:9-19.
“Then He began to tell the people this parable: ‘A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.” But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.” So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.’ And when they heard it they said, ‘Certainly not!’ Then He looked at them and said ‘What then is this that is written: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone?” Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.’ And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people, for they knew He had spoken this parable against them.”
This amazing parable depicts the vineyard as God’s congregation of special people, the nation of ancient Israel. They were descendants of the patriarchs, and from among them God had chosen the prophets. After choosing Israel from among the nations, He went to a far country from where the universe is ruled. Christ, as heir of all things, came back to His vineyard at His first coming. He lived a perfect life to redeem mankind and was betrayed and killed by His own vinedressers of the day. This necessitated the planting of a second vineyard which was planted at Christ’s first coming. Let us establish the fact that ancient Israel was God’s first congregation and first vineyard by turning to Exodus 12:1 and 3.
“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, … ‘Speak to all the congregation of Israel…’” God also firmly states this relationship at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19:5-6. “‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” From this vineyard God chose His servants, the prophets.
Two thousand years ago the responsibility had fallen on the shoulders of the priests and scribes of Christ’s time to care for His vineyard. Because of their failure, Christ established a second vineyard. This does not mean that the first was a total failure. From that vineyard came the foundation of the prophets and the apostles. The prophets gave us the Old Testament and the apostles gave us the New Testament. All the apostles were Jewish as was Christ Himself. The failure of some vinedressers cannot negate all the good done by others. Before we boast, we need to see if the second vineyard has fared any better than the first. Christ uses some of the same Old Testament verbiage to describe the second vineyard in I Peter 2:4-10.
“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture [Quoting Isaiah 28:16], ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient [quoting Psalm 118:22], ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
Did you notice that some in the second vineyard stumble and are disobedient as well? This second vineyard is a spiritual congregation of called out people, as was ancient Israel. We need to learn what happened to the first congregation of God to understand what has happened to the second vineyard and how the responsible vinedressers allowed history to repeat itself. They have done so over and over since Christ’s first coming!
We will now read another parable in Luke 13:6-9. “He also spoke this parable: ‘A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, “Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?” But he answered and said to him, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.”’”
Remember what we have learned previously. A tree symbolizes a teacher who should bear fruit for those he is responsible for, in this case, pictured as a vineyard. Fig trees represent the governing authority. Just before Christ’s second coming He is going to check the state of His vineyard and His teachers, the fig trees. Scripture reveals again He will not be happy. That is why He says, “Cut it down.” This is a serious point to ponder.
Look at the state of “Christianity” today. Failures and abuses abound. News reports are constantly shedding light on fraud, deception, perversion and controversy. Can this be what Christ had in mind for the world just before His second coming? Absolutely and unequivocally not! We should all be ashamed.
Christ’s truth has been under assault since the day He died! His vineyard has been cut up, split up and messed up so badly it is unrecognizable. Competing factions, schisms and doctrines in diametric opposition to God’s word are rampant. It is hypocritical to point an accusing finger at either ancient or modern Israel or the Jews in particular. We are all in the same boat, all making the same mistakes. It is ludicrous to think that God desires radically differing doctrines and truths to be held by hundreds of denominations and faiths in His name. Massive distortions and heresies have been used to deceive the whole world, fulfilling Revelation 12:9.
Humanity has been tricked by the master deceiver Satan. Many horrible wars have been fought in the name of God, religion and ideology because of Satan’s mind games and influence. His time is almost up and we need not be his stooges any longer. The last thing we need to do is judge one another and treat each other harshly over our current mess.
If we want to help Christ defeat Satan even more quickly and with less human pain and suffering, use Christ’s weaponry: forgive, forget, love and live in peace. Christ will defeat Satan with the overwhelming power of love, compassion and mercy. We can be among those who reap of that mercy.
Now let us conclude with more insight into the fig tree by turning to Matthew 24:32-34. “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”
You might ask why it is important to understand Christ’s symbolic use of fig trees and vines. It is important because God’s symbolism will give us both hope for the future and help to prepare us for it. Ignorance is a tool of our adversary to cause anxiety and fear, fear of the unknown and the misunderstood. Just one case in point is Christ’s symbolic use of fig trees. Christ knew what He was doing when He spoke parables of fig trees and vineyards. His words were carefully chosen to correspond with other scripture to reveal amazing things to humanity in due course of time. First let’s prove that the fig trees represent teachers with authority to rule and care for God’s vineyard.
If the tree teaches truth, it is of the tree of life and bears good fruit. If it is not, it is of Satan’s dead tree and ruins both itself and the vineyard. This is evidenced in Jeremiah 8:8-9 and verse 13. “How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us?’ Look, the false pen of the scribe [teacher] certainly works falsehood. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?” Verse 13 says: “‘I will surely consume them,’ says the Lord. ‘No grapes shall be on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade…’” Now you see the significance of the fig tree beginning to bud in Matthew 24:32-34. But wait, there is still more!
By reading three more scriptures, we will begin to see how Christ will replace Satan and his false teaching at His return and what it will be like in the Millennium. First let’s turn to Revelation 6:13. “And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.” The stars represent Satan’s demons who use their power and influence through their fig tree, which are deceived teachers. The wind is God’s Holy Spirit. Satan’s dead tree working through other dead trees who follow his deception will be shaken by God’s powerful wind.
The second scripture will prove the fallen stars are Satan’s demons. Revelation 12:3-4
“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon… His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth…”
How wonderful life will be when this horrible system is replaced. We will read about it now in Micah 4:1 and 4. “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days….” Verse 4: “But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.” Now it is clear that understanding God’s beautiful thoughts brings us hope and chases away fear. In the Millennium God’s truth and good teachers to express His eloquent thoughts will abound.
As God reveals His beautiful thoughts to us, He promises through His rain that we can have confidence that the fig tree and the vine will yield their strength, as we saw in Joel 2:22. While the fig tree came close to death but now it is beginning to bud and put forth leaves, the rest of God’s promises are sure to follow. Faith is indeed “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” While the evidence is piling up, that this is the time and the season of change the world has been waiting for, we are only beginning to imagine how wonderful things will soon be.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The source for the Hebrew and Greek words in this book and their meanings is The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong, Copyright © 1995 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
These lessons are free and can be reproduced in their entirety by anyone. They have been paid for by members and like-minded contributors.