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The Seven Church Ages - 15. The Parable of the Mustard Seed




Matthew13:31 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, 32 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.


I John4:1 Beloved, do not believe very spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.


Almost right from the start of the Church age, there was pressure applied to those who were once Jews, to bring the Church back under the ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Covenant, thus denying the fullness of our salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.  


Later, when ex-pagans flooded into the Church, they not only came under pressure to accept these same Jewish ceremonial and sacrificial laws, they also came under pressure to retain some of their old pagan gods and pagan customs, thus further denying the fullness of our salvation through faith alone in Christ Jesus. 


At first, these attacks were mainly from without, or from traveling prophets, but little by little, as more and more regular churchgoers began to accept these lies of the devil, false prophets began to dwell in the Church and the Church began to accept and teach false doctrines.


It is in this setting, of the Church accepting false prophets and false doctrines into the Church, that we consider the parable of the mustard seed.


Two Thousand years ago most people had a small garden of herbs plants handy to their home. These may have even been planted in a number of pots kept in the courtyard. Amongst these plants there would usually be a mustard tree. Although the seed of the mustard tree was the smallest of all the herbs, when it had grown it became the largest of all the herbs in the garden, so large it became a tree that the birds of the air came and dwelt in it.


This parable, like the parable of the sower and the parable of tares, begins with the first disciples of Jesus Christ sowing the good seed, the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world. Although the Church, at its beginning was the smallest of the world’s faiths, it quickly grew into the largest. So large that the birds came and nested in its branches.


In the parable of the sower the birds are the devil, who has come to take away the good seed. Then in the parable of the mustard seed, we find the birds, the devil, are now nesting in the branches of the Church, and he is there to take the true gospel of Jesus Christ away from the Church.  Jesus Christ is the tree, and we are the branches. 


As the Church begins to grow larger we, the branches, can become weary of testing the prophets and fall asleep. Then while we sleep, evil spirits can come and indwell (or attach themselves to) false prophets, who dwell in the branches of the Church.  In many larger churches and in churches that are part of a large denomination, it is not so much the devil out there in the world you need to be watchful of; it is the devil that is dwelling in the branches of the Church that we need to be watchful of. 


Let me give you an example from my own life. When I was young man and much fitter, I use to take part in running races. Some times on a track, and some times either on the road or cross-country, but most of my training runs were done on the road. Because of the ever present danger of being hit by a car or truck, whenever I ran alone on the road I kept an ever vigilante eye on the traffic; But when I ran with a large group of runners, one could so easily grow weary of looking out for cars and trucks, especially towards the end of a long hard run. You could be feeling weary and pushed to keep up with the front runners, or you may have caught the sent of victory and all caution is thrown to the wind, as you thrust your tired, weary body toward the finishing line. 


Whatever the reason, we all started the race full of energy and with an ever-watchful eye, but as the race progressed and the body wearied, we closed our eyes to the cars and trucks. More often than not, we would reassure ourselves of our safety by telling ourselves, “with all these other runners surrounding me, if there is any danger they will see it! They will warn me!” But all too often, the other runners are all thinking the same thing, so nobody looks. 


In the natural, you need to always keep your eyes and ears open, because you cannot always rely on others to watch out for you; and it is no different in Church. The bigger the church, the greater the danger becomes of you and others closing your eyes and ears, and depending on others to check out whether the prophets are teaching the truth or lies.


Many a great man of God has fallen, taking many with him to destruction, because they all fell asleep believing others were watching out for them. We are all called to be watchmen. In The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1 – 13), it is not just the watchmen who are exulted to watch, but all the virgins.


Although those appointed as watchmen, will be held accountable for the loss of any sheep they are called to watch over, that is of no comfort to the sheep who Satan drags to the pit of Hell. Therefore we should all watch and pray.    



Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by

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Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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