Believers in Messiah are part of a chain that is thousands of years old, and one that will continue until it fills the earth.
Luke 13:18-21 – He said, therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like, and what can I compare it to? It’s like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky nested in its branches.
Again he said, “What can I compare the kingdom of God to? It’s like leaven that a woman took and mixed into fifty pounds of flour until all of it was leavened.”
If we want to know what the Kingdom of God looks like, we need only to review the parables of Yeshua, since this is where he laid out definitions of the Kingdom for those who were willing to hear. Now, we know that we can’t necessarily just take a surface reading of the parables, because the parables were designed to allow those who wanted to hear the teaching to understand it, and those who were not willing to listen to not understand it.
Luke 8:9-10 – Then his disciples asked him, “What does this parable mean? ” So he said, “The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know, but to the rest it is in parables, so that ‘Looking they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'”
The parable of the mustard seed illustrates how the Kingdom would be something that starts extremely small and would grow until it was large enough to support a wildlife habitat. This would be a contrary understanding of the Kingdom to the Jewish ear of Yeshua’s day, because they had the understanding the Kingdom would come in triumphantly and God’s Messiah would rule over all kingdoms immediately, similar to many Christians’ expectation of Messiah’s return in our day.
However, we find Yeshua’s illustration perfectly described the actual working out of God’s Kingdom on the earth: it would start small (Yeshua and the twelve disciples), grow into a larger group (the first-century remnant of Israel), and then spread to become a tree large enough to support its own habitat (illustrated by all believers in Messiah up through our day).
The secondary parable of the leaven carries the same message: the kingdom would start small like the small bit of leaven, but once mixed in with the rest of the dough would end up working its way throughout the entire batch until all of the dough had been affected by the leaven.
Both of these parable explain the same dynamic: the Kingdom starts small, but comes to grow throughout the entirety of the world. While not what the Jews of the day were expecting, it was, however, prophesied in the book of Daniel to do this very thing.
When Daniel was interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of an image made of gold, silver, bronze, and clay mixed with iron, Daniel explained that God had granted Nebuchadnezzar a vision of the future, and that each of these metals represented a kingdom, ending in what was to become the Roman Empire; the iron mixed with clay.
Daniel 2:34-35 – “As you were watching, a stone broke off without a hand touching it, struck the statue on its feet of iron and fired clay, and crushed them. Then the iron, the fired clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were shattered and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors. The wind carried them away, and not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”
Daniel described that a stone struck the statue in its feet (which ended up occurring during the Roman empire through the message and teaching of Yeshua) and it became a mountain that filled the whole earth. This growth language is very similar to Yeshua’s parables of the mustard seed and the leaven. Daniel then provides a further explanation by saying to the king:
Daniel 2:43-45 – “You saw the iron mixed with clay – the peoples will mix with one another but will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with fired clay. In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever. You saw a stone break off from the mountain without a hand touching it, and it crushed the iron, bronze, fired clay, silver, and gold. The great God has told the king what will happen in the future. The dream is certain, and its interpretation reliable.”
The kingdom that God was to set up “in the days of those kings” was indeed the Kingdom of God, ushered in by Messiah, that would be eternal and bring all other kingdoms to an end. Even to this day, the branches continue to extend and the leaven continues to cause the dough to rise. It will not stop until it “fills the earth,” as Daniel predicted.
This is the kingdom we are privileged to be a part of, and one in which we can have a part in its continued expansion. As we live out its principles, we begin to influence those around us with its righteous standards and others can be drawn to Yahweh and his Messiah through our faithfulness. Our obedience to the principles of God’s Word, his Torah, is the catalyst, the leaven, that can cause hearts to forsake the kingdoms of this world and surrender to the Lordship of Messiah.
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