A devotional/exhortational essay
by Gavin Finley MD
THE WHEAT AND THE TARES.
A PARABLE OF THE END-TIME HARVEST.
The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares is one of the most neglected of all of the teachings of Jesus. And as the faithful Berean Christian searches the Holy Scriptures and begins to recognize the issues involved and the conversations swirling around end-time Biblical subjects in general and this one in particular he soon starts to discern the religious spirits of darkness that are at work. Angelic principalities and powers hovering over the hierarchies of men are all working hard to keep Godís holy message hidden and cloaked. When they are unable to smokescreen Godís Word they will re-engineer it, obfuscate it, or twist it into religious disinformation. Failing that they shunt the holy theme off for expression in the more profane realms of our culture. An example of an obfuscation of Biblical truth is what men have done to re-work the communion of the bread and wine. This is a simple act of fellowship carried out between God and His covenant people. In the medieval religion of the West we can see that the Communion of the bread and the wine, something God had intended as a simple fellowship meal was ritualized and turned into a magic show. The Mass became the sole channel of God's grace. This was a Nicolaitan spirit at work. It was an ecclesiastical power play over the people, a bid for total hierarchical control over the heavenly portals of grace and salvation. How sad. In the Arthurian legends the communion was transformed into a secret Holy Grail that had been lost. Similarly the cross was transformed by the warrior monks of the Crusading Church into a sword. And over in Wicca we see the Black Mass where the Communion is defiled in ways that are so vile they cannot be discussed here.
We serve a Holy God, righteous and merciful in all He does. His information is true and faithful, it is pure and beautiful. And God's Holy Word is there for us to study as we walk and talk with Him along the Way. The disciples asked Jesus to explain to them the meaning of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. And He did! He was glad to receive their questions and to take the conversation up higher to better more wonderful truths. When we donít understand something and the Holy Spirit is prompting us we should search the Scriptures as He guides us. Perhaps we can examine the cross-references and do some word studies using simple online resources. These are freely available nowadays. When we come up to an impasse or a point of confusion we should not hesitate to ask God to help us to understand. The Holy Spirit has been given to us for guidance as well as for inspiration, for strengthening and for comfort. The fact of the matter is the parable of the Wheat and the Tares is an exposeí of the sequence of events that will attend the execution of Godís judgment at the end of the age. It will be an execution of a legal judgment that will have been established the day before on some epic future Day of Atonement. In Hebrew reckoning the day begins at sunset. So on some awesome future Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement the sunset that ends the Day of Reckoning will usher in the Day of the Lord. Inside the Day of the Lord will come the execution of that preceding Judgment with the Harvest of the Wheat and the Tares.
The Harvest of the Wheat and the Tares is not is not just a determination for entrance into Heaven or Hell. It is not just a judgment for those who have died and are about to enter the eternal realms. As we read the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares we can see that it is a judgment of mortals, all of whom will be plucked up from this earth very specifically and personally. The harvest will be performed on people who are alive at the close of the age. The Harvest of both companies will be conducted by angels. There are evil death angels as we see in Psalm 78:49 and there are holy angels of glory. Both types will be hovering over their people here on earth on that coming Great Day, the Day of the Lord.
Matthew 13 is our scripture reference. In it we see a straightforward narrative. Jesus told the story as a parable. His inner circle of trusted disciples, Peter, James, and John came to Him personally afterwards. They inquired about the meaning of the parable.
Jesus was glad to get their questions. He minced no words. He told them plainly what the parable meant. The One who sowed the good seed, the wheat, was the Son of Man. The field was the world. The good seed were the children of the Kingdom of God but the tares were the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed the tares was the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Jesus said that just as the tares were gathered and burned in the field so shall it be for the wicked at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send forth these angels to gather up out of His Kingdom all things that offend and gather up those people who act wickedly in this world. The wicked will be cast into a furnace of fire and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The parable was meant to be a warning to those who are smitten and drawn in by things wicked. Let those who have an ear to listen hear what God is saying here.
So what did Jesus really say about the end-time harvest of the wicked? And what did He say about the harvest of the Elect, the harvest of those who belong to Messiah? And in what order will the tares and the wheat be gathered? All this is easily answered from a plain reading of the text. Here is the passage in which Jesus tells us about the Judgment of the Wheat and the Tares. We find the parable described for us in Matthew 13:24,25,26,27.28,29
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying,
"The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field?
from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers,
Gather ye together FIRST the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them:
but gather the wheat into my barn.
The disciples sought to know the interpretation and the meaning of the parable. So they asked. And Jesus answered them. He will do the same for us. It is very important that we know this. Because there are some churchmen abroad today saying that details of the end-time are "none of our business!" May we never allow any man or devil to tell us such a lie.
Dear saints. We belong to the family of faith, the family of Abraham. Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When God was going to judge Sodom and Gomorrah what do we see Him do first? He pays a visit to Abraham, His friend. And Abraham invites the Angel of the Lord, (the preincarnate Christ/Messiah), to sit down to a meal before proceeding on to Judge Sodom. And what does His Holy Visitor say about His desire to share information regarding an impending judgment to His covenant friend Abraham? This is truly amazing. And it is a wonderful encouragement and consolation to God's Elect and saved people, who know Christ as Messiah. Here is what God says. to
"16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
17 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation,
and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?"
So what are we to conclude about this? Yes, it is true, God does hide Himself from the wicked and conceal His Truth from them. But He actually desires to reveals His Holy Word to His saints. So let us make no mistake about the matter. God wants to inform His covenant people concerning an impending judgment!
JESUS INTERPRETS THE PARABLE FOR HIS DISCIPLES. THE HARVEST FIELD IS IDENTIFIED AS THE WORLD. THE WHEAT AND THE TARES ARE IDENTIFIED AS GOD'S PEOPLE AND WICKED PEOPLE, RESPECTIVELY. THE HARVESTERS ARE THE ANGELS, BOTH EVIL ANGELS AND HOLY ANGELS. AND THE HARVEST IS THE END OF THE AGE.
Here is our Lord Jesus answering his disciples as they ask him important questions about the end of the age. Does He answer them clearly? Absolutely! It is almost like Jesus has laid out a bullet point outline of the whole matter.
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house:
and his disciples came unto him, saying,
"Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field."
37 He answered and said unto them,
"He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world;
the good seed are the children of the kingdom;
but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil;
the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire;
so shall it be in the end of this world/"Gr.=eon"/age."
So do the saints, the ones who are giving their lives in the witness deserve to know the answers to questions relating to the end of the age? Apparently so. Jesus did not rebuff His disciples when they came to Him asking Him to help them interpret the parable. He patiently and meticulously answered their questions. And, if we are sincere in following Him and embracing the Cross of Christ, He will do the same for us! As we read the passage we can see that Jesus gave us clear and unmistakable details. He said that the Harvest was the end of the age. He said that the reapers would be angels. And there will be a specific sequence of events concerning the execution of the divine judgment that will descend upon mortal men in the Day of the Lord at the end of the age.
THE SEQUENCE OF THE HARVEST.
THE TARES ARE GATHERED FIRST!
The sequence of the harvest is a very important matter. The righteous are gathered up. So are the wicked. In other Bible passages we see mention of one being taken and the other left.
Luke 17:34-37 (KJV+)
34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed;
the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 Two women shall be grinding together;
the one shall be taken, and the other left.
36 Two men shall be in the field;
the one shall be taken, and the other left.
37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them,
"Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles/vultures be gathered together."
So which group will be gathered up first? Is it the righteous one who is gathered up first? Or is it the wicked? The passage above, specifically verse 37 gives us a very big clue. Is being carried off to a place of eagles, vultures, birds of prey likely to be a good thing? Or something deadly and bad?
But we don't have to speculate about this.
In the Parable of the Wheat and the tares Jesus tells us straight out just who will be caught away first.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers,
Gather ye together FIRST the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them:
but gather the wheat into my barn.
So as we see here in Matthew 13:30 Jesus states quite clearly that the tares will be gathered first!
Remember, those being harvested here are living, breathing, walking, sleeping flesh and blood human beings. These people are alive! They are living on earth after the Great Tribulation, and after the Judgment Day. See the YouTube video The Judgment on the Day of Atonement with the blowing of the Trumpets of Jubilee on the Last Day. This is man's day in court, all conducted on one day! Then after the sun sets on that awesome day the next one opens up. And in the Day of the Lord the wicked are plucked up very suddenly by those first angels of the harvest, the angels of wrath.
So then, if the wicked are gathered up first will the righteous, (those left standing), actually see the wicked plucked up and taken off to destruction? Apparently so. In that wonderful reassuring chapter, Psalm 91, King David speaks of God's miraculous divine protection for His saints. Then he goes on to allude to this strange and sobering dispatching of the wicked when it occurs in an epic climactic way during an apocalyptic event in future history. It is right there in Psalm 91:8.
Psalm 91 KJV
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
The harvest of the tares should be a warning to those who are being drawn closer and closer to evil. Freedom to do whatever one wants may appear to be the way of freedom. But it is not. As a person goes on down the pathway of evil a point is reached when they can no longer turn back. Such people then find that they no longer have room to maneuver. The low road takes them down into a morass and into the swamps of despair. And then the quicksands pull them down into pits of death.
Evil mortal men and women will be the first on the agenda for the harvest. The wicked rebels subject to damnation will find themselves caught in their own chosen pathways. The broad way is popular, but it is presided over by the angels of darkness. The rebels will eventually discover that the angels watching over them are not the neat alien creatures they thought they were. They are evil angels of hideous countenance, themselves caught up in their own wickedness and subject to the impending wrath of God. At the time of the approaching execution of judgment these wicked entities will be in an absolute frenzy of horror and stark terror. They will be keen to see that their human charges appreciate all the horror they themselves are experiencing, - and more. In the Day of the Lord the wicked will find themselves plucked up by these raptor angels of death. In an experience sheer terror due to last for all eternity these men and women will be carried off, hauled up on tractor beams and bundled up by forces over which they have no control. They will be levitated to an awful place, a place where the eagles and vultures gather. This is not a "cool" place to "hang out". This is a dreadful place, a place of destruction and execution. And it is awaiting the arrival of the wicked at the end of the age.
So now might be a good time to ask the question. Do we really want to go there?
Dear people. God has laid out a wonderful plan of salvation.
All He asks is that we repent of our sin and walk with Him by faith day by day.
This is not a mission impossible. He will help us along the way.
Might we be interested in this?
After all that horror has ended comes the harvest of those who belong to Christ, the ones saved under His atoning blood, the blood shed at Calvary for the remission of sin. Those who are saved and belong to Christ, the ones who know Him will be gathered up into the realms of glory. This too will occur inside the Day of the Lord. They will be caught up to meet the returning Messiah, ushered up into the glory by those holy angels that have been assigned to them.
THE THE HARVEST JUDGMENT WILL BE FOLLOWED BY THE SHEEP-GOAT JUDGMENT OF MORTALS WHEN MESSIAH BEGINS TO SET UP HIS MILLENNIAL KINGDOM. THIS INDICATES THAT THE END-TIME HARVEST WILL NOT IMPACT EVERYONE. MANY PEOPLE WILL REMAIN, PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT BE JUDGED AS WICKED AND PLUCKED UP AS TARES BY THE ANGELS OF WRATH NOR JUDGED TO BE THE GOOD SEED DESTINED TO BE GLORIFIED IN THE RESURRECTION-RAPTURE.
Here is an important aside to this story. We know from what Jesus told us concerning the Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats, that is, the judgment of the nations, the heathen, that there will be many unsaved left here on earth after the Harvest at the end of the age. Apparently not all mortals will be judged as seed of the Kingdom nor deemed to be the seed of the evil one. So not all the unredeemed will be gathered up in the harvest of the wicked at the end of this age. Upon His return Messiah will judge the nations, selecting out the sheep and the goats. So we know there will be unsaved mortals left on this earth after this harvest. Not all the unsaved will be carried off to be damned with the wicked. We can well assume from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins that many nominal Christians, Christians in name only, will be in this category. Such will be people who do not really know Jesus. But here they are, alive and standing at the end of this age and subject to being sorted out by Messiah. It appears that many will be given a chance to enter into His Millennial Kingdom, enter into His rest in green pastures by streams of water and there to find salvation.
This is an important matter. It seems that there will be many sincere people, Christian or otherwise, who will not be glorified nor will they be judged as outright evil and wicked people. From the Sheep-Goat Judgment we can see that there will be multitudes of such people. Many of them will be bewildered by events, lost, and in need of the Good Shepherd. Many of them will be mourning. Then too there will be many children under the age of accountability who will be left here on earth. All these will be awaiting entry into the Millennium of Messiah. These unsaved people will not be plucked up and harvested by those horrific angels of wrath. Nor will they be glorified and risen with Christ into new celestial resurrection bodies. At the Sheep-Goat Judgment Messiah will sort them out, issuing entry into His Millennium to whomsoever He chooses. He knows those who are sheep and capable of following Him. And He know the goats. Those sort of people will always go their own way.
Here is an important lesson for us to keep close to our hearts as we consider the judgments at the end of this age. God is a just and righteous God. He brings mercy to those whom He chooses. Throughout the Holy Scriptures the divine character of God is showcased, not only in His righteous judgments, but also in His mercy. From what Jesus stated in the Beatitudes He will comfort those who mourn. And from what He tells us in the Olivet Discourse, specifically Matthew 24:30, the greatest time of mourning and lamentation over missed and neglected opportunities to know God will be at Christís Second Coming. Jesus tells us that,
Matthew 24:29-30 KJV
29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
So yes, not all who are alive and unsaved at Christís return will be carried off to destruction and damnation in this awful harvest of the wicked. Rather these unredeemed mortals will be subjected to another judgment. This is a judgment involving second order blood covenant. This is clearly outlined for us in the judgment of the sheep and the goats. The Sheep-Goat Judgment is a judgment of mortals conducted by the returning Messiah. This is not the judgment of the dead before their entry into eternity. But rather this is a judgment of the nations, the heathen, the unsaved, all of them being living people left here on earth as holy history moves on into the Millennium of Messiah. Many of these people will be mourning. And so there is an attendant story here in the Biblical story of the two turtledoves. In the Levitical sacrificial system they are accepted as a pair. The blood is sprinkled not on the altar but against the altar.
Then there is the matter of the children. We know that there will be many innocent children under the age of spiritual accountability who are alive when Messiah returns at the end of this age. There may even be a billion or more. Back at the time when Jesus walked with us there were children who wanted to come to Him. His disciples were inclined to discount their importance and keep them from coming to Jesus. Similarly, many churchmen today are not inclined to allow for unsaved children to be gathered up by Jesus at the end of the age. But what did Jesus say about this? The words of Jesus concerning His disposition to innocent children are very clear. He said.
ďSuffer (allow) the little children to come unto Me,
For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Harvest at the end of the age and the gathering of those who belong to Christ is well known among Christian believers. This would be the "harpazo", the snatch, of all those who have by faith been justified as righteous before God. These are the living and the dead, the saints from both sides of Calvary, all those who have been saved by Godís grace through faith in the atoning blood of Israelís promised Sacrifice Lamb, our Redeemer Jesus Christ / Yeshua Hamashiach. The harvest of the righteous include all those justified under His blood. Jesus referred to this in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:31, as the gathering of the Elect. Our Apostle Paul states in 1Thessalonians 4:15,16,17 and also in 1Corinthians 15:51,52,53 that the dead in Christ will be raised first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up with them, all of us going up in new spiritual bodies to meet the returning Christ in the air.
This has been called, "The Rapture". But this is a misnomer, a hemi-nomer if you will. It shortchanges the full story. It is an unfortunate half-truth that fractures the two-fold event and limits the understanding of the full scope of the Second Coming. Bible teachers who teach "The Rapture" and allowing their listeners in the pews to focus only on "The Rapture" are not presenting the full story. Their teaching is half baked, "a cake not turned". By limiting the gathering of the Elect to just "The Rapture" Christians in the pews and watching Christian television and reading "Left Behind" novels are not seeing the full scope of the end of age glorification of all the saints, the living with the Resurrected dead and all the saints from Old Testament times as well. Nor are they seeing the Tribulation Saints. This epic gathering of all of God's chosen people should be called what it is clearly shown to be in Holy Scripture, namely the Resurrection-Rapture.
So much for the end-of age harvest of the seed of the Son of Man. What about the harvest of the wicked? Are they not plucked up by the angels of wrath? This matter is studiously neglected by our Bible Prophecy teachers. You will barely hear a peep out of them concerning this very important matter. Clearly it is a huge warning for those people who are happily going through life on the paths of stubbornness and rebellion. One would think this would be a good sermon topic to call unsaved people to salvation in Christ. God's people also need to know that no matter what they see and experience in this wicked world judgment and justice will indeed be meted out. See Isaiah 63. But alas, not much is being said about these things. The wrath is falling very specifically and personally upon the wicked. And the return of Messiah will happen after the tribulation. See Mat. 24:29,30,31. Later on in this article we shall describe the sudden horror of the harvest for the wicked. For the wicked rebels Messiah's coming will be unexpected, like a thief in the night. It will take a while for them to wake up and realize what is happening to them. Of course, by that time it will be too late. The grim reapers will have arrived, and there will be no escape.
THE HARVEST OF THE TARES AND THE WHEAT. THIS IS AN EXECUTION OF A PRECEDING LEGAL JUDGMENT. THAT LEGAL JUDGMENT WILL OCCUR ON A FUTURE DAY OF ATONEMENT SET TO UNFOLD ON THE LAST DAY OF THIS AGE AND JUST BEFORE THE OPENING OF THE DAY OF THE LORD.
It is important to realize that God does things in the proper order. We all know that there cannot be an execution before the necessary and appropriate court case is finalized. The final court day for all mankind will come on an epic future Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, Day of Covering, Day of Accounting, Day of Reckoning, Day of Pardoning, Day of Sentencing. And we have good reason to expect that this epic Day of Judgment will come right on the last day of this age. See this YouTube video
The Harvest of the good seed, the Elect, in the Resurrection-Rapture is the other side of the coin. It is the execution of God's Judgment in mercy upon those He has justified. Those who are saved by grace through faith are justified under the covering of His blood and judged as being righteous. So as a matter of simple legal protocol there can be no Rapture before the big legal matter of the Day of Covering has been completed, sealed, and formalized on last day of this age. The Resurrection-Rapture is an execution of the Judgment Day with its finalization of all the legal matters of everyone who has lived up until that point. The blood will be applied to the mercy seat on this final Yom Kippur, this great Day of Covering. All the legal matters for every person alive as well as for the righteous dead will have been wrapped up together on that final Day of Atonement.
Christian believers, Messianic believers, and the Jewish rabbinical priesthood do not appreciate the apocalyptic nature and placement of the Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur. This day will mark the fulfillment of the 6th of the Seven Feasts or Seven Divine Appointments of the Lord of Israel. On that Great Day, the ultimate Day of Accounting, the final climactic Day of Covering and Day of Reckoning the trumpets of Jubilee will sound to announce the beginning of the Jubilee of Messiah. For more on this see this YouTube video.
When the sun sets on that awesome future Day of Pardoning / Day of Sentencing all the legal matters of every human will be finalized and the execution of that all-inclusive legal Judgment can then begin. As the Day of the Lord begins the heavens will roll back and space-time will be unzipped to reveal the Son of Man returning into our cosmos and sky. He will be coming to us from an open heaven beyond. He will be coming to execute the Judgment He has just finalized. And the angels of the harvest will be coming with Him.
This spellbinding event is what the Bible describes in many places as the Day of the Lord. This is something humankind has never seen before. So it is difficult to convey in words the sheer scope and majesty of this cosmic appearance of Messiah coming in His Kingdom role as King of kings and Lord of lords. Pagan Gnosticism still haunts our Western Church. Pagans and profane men do not like God to leave heaven above, cross down into their gnostic chasm, and intrude upon their humanistic realm here on earth below. But the Cosmic Christ did just that. He put on flesh and came to earth as a babe in a manger. He performed His priestly role, giving up His Life and opening the Way for salvation to a lost humanity. As the Sacrifice Lamb He gave His life as a ransom for many at the cross of Calvary. And when all is said and done He will come back again, just as He said He would. This ultimate unveiling of Messiah as the returning King of kings, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, is the quintessential climactic apocalyptic event. And it will surely unfold in the fall season of some future year.
As usual, our Messiah is at the center of divine events here on earth. But this time the Angel of the Lord will not be veiled and hidden. He will be right in front of every human being. Every eye will see Him up close and personal! Some will be caught up to meet Him. Others will flee from Him in sheer terror, hiding in caves and tunnels underground to avoid seeing Him face to face. Many others will be looking up and mourning at His coming. People will not just view Him objectively from afar through the digital media and through the agencies of profane men on CNN news or CBN Christian programming whilst drinking a cup of coffee at Starbucks or eating potato chips seated on their living room couch. Our God is much bigger than that. And His Second Coming will be a blockbuster. One of His names, "Wonderful", means ďSURPRISE!Ē But as usually happens, ministers are inclined to rationalize and downscale the wondrous acts of God He has performed in our world. And just like the downplaying of Red Sea Crossing, the pictorial downsizing of the Rock at Horeb that Moses struck twice which is actually four stories tall, and the miniaturization of Altar of the Golden calf we are wont to minimize the scope, the majesty, and the splendor of our God. And in today's merchant world our ministers try to be "seeker sensitive" to our feelings and "keep the customer satisfied".
But let us make no mistake about our God.
He does indeed do things in a big way.
He is also the God of "SURPRISE!"
And in His Presence is fullness of joy.