THE SONS OF THE KINGDOM
Copyright © 1997 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
When we reflect on the parable of the wheat and the tares, righteous and wicked people come to mind. When we picture wicked people, we think of murderers, thieves, drunkards, rapists, and so forth. When we consider righteous people, we envision those who do not practice such things.
The record of the Scriptures suggests another kind of righteousness and another kind of wickedness. There is a righteousness of loving and seeking God and walking in His will. There is a wickedness of loving and seeking our own gain and walking according to our own desires.
It was not the murderers, the thieves, the drunkards, the rapists who crucified the Lord. It was esteemed religious people who loved and sought their own gain and walked according to their own desires. The original sinners, Adam and Eve, were not murderers, thieves, drunkards, or rapists. But they loved and sought their own gain and they walked according to their own desires.
Table of Contents
Four characteristics of SatanThe Wheat and the Tares
Three areas of sin
Two kinds of religious people
Divisions in the churches
Adam and EveConclusion
The Tower of Babel
Aaron and the golden calf
Joshua and the Gibeonites
Samuel and Saul
David and Saul
David and palace intrigue
David and Absalom
Nehemiah and the enemies
The Pharisees and Jesus
Let us build three tabernacles
The temptation of the gable took place in Jerusalem
Stephen and the Sanhedrin
Alexander the coppersmith
Jude speaks of the tares among the wheat and their judgment at the hands of the sons of the Kingdom
THE SONS OF THE KINGDOM
The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. (Matthew 13:38)
Everyone who is born into the world has in his or her personality the seed of Satan. We all are born in sin and rebellion against God. Then God, according to His own wisdom and foreknowledge, sows the seed of the Kingdom in some human beings. Those who have been chosen to be the recipients of the seed of the Kingdom now have in their personality both the seed of the Kingdom and the seed of Satan.
At the end of the age, the messengers of God will remove the seed of Satan from the Kingdom of God and cast it into the flames.
“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,
“and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41,42)
The removal of the seed of Satan will take place in two stages:
- As we noted above, “all things that offend” will be removed.
- After that, “those who practice lawlessness” will be removed.
First the bad seed is removed from the Kingdom, and then the people in whom is the bad seed. At first we have the tares in us. If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to remove the tares from us, then we ourselves become tares. In this event, our destiny is the Lake of Fire.
The Lake of Fire always retains authority over tares, even when they are in Christian people! If we want to escape being injured by the Lake of Fire, which is the second death, we must, through the Holy Spirit, conquer the tares that are in us.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death [lake of fire].”’ (Revelation 2:11)
The first stage has begun now. The Lord is requiring of His people, those in whom is the good seed of the Kingdom, to confess and turn away from their sins. If they do, they will be revealed as the sons of the Kingdom. If they do not confess and turn away from their sin, they will be cast into the furnace of fire.
We are speaking only of those who are considered to be in the Kingdom of God. The messengers of God shall gather out of the Kingdom of God all things that offend. The separation described above involves people who assemble with believers, who make a profession of Christ, who consider themselves members of the Kingdom of God.
Here is an important distinction: The Lord does not define the good seed as those who practice righteousness, but as the sons of the Kingdom. The Lord does not define the tares as those who practice wickedness, but as the sons of the wicked one. The purpose of this article is to help us understand what it means to be a son of the Kingdom and what it means to be a son of the wicked one.
We can understand readily that Hitler and Stalin were sons of the wicked one. We can understand readily that Paul and Peter were sons of the Kingdom of God. However, when it comes to those who seemingly are of God’s people, those who are active in the churches, it is not as apparent who is a son of the Kingdom and who is a son of the wicked one.
Consider the following:
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (John 8:31-33)
“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.
“I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”
They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.
“But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. (John 8:37-40)
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)
The Jews who believed in Him, and His beloved Peter, had not been converted as yet. They still were being moved by Satan. There were tares residing in them, tares whose father is Satan. To believe in Jesus is not the mark of conversion. The sign that we no longer are sons of Satan but sons of the Kingdom is that we are performing the works of God.
There are people in the world who have had the good seed of the Kingdom sown in them, although there still are tares in them. There are other people in the world who have only the seed of Satan in them. Can an individual who has the good seed of the Kingdom purge himself or herself from the seed of the wicked one? Definitely yes!
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.
Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (II Timothy 2:20,21)
We would suggest that the division in the world is not between those who profess to be Christians and those who do not. The division is between that which is born of the Kingdom and that which is born of Satan. Receiving the Lord Jesus provides us with the opportunity to become a son of the Kingdom. After we have received the Lord Jesus, if we do not through the Holy Spirit cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, taking full advantage of the grace of God, but continue to live our life apart from the Lord, we remain a son of Satan. It may be true that there is no other truth in greater need to be proclaimed in the churches of Christ.
Is a believer in Christ who persecutes another believer reflecting the seed of the Kingdom or the seed of Satan? How you answer this question will reveal your understanding of the Kingdom of God.
When we think about wicked people, we are apt to picture in our mind the rapist, the murderer, the thief. There are many such in our day. Some of them behave far worse than animals.
However, there is another kind of wickedness that is more destructive in its consequences, and, in fact, is the origin of rape, murder, and robbery. The wickedness of which we are speaking appears throughout the Scriptures. It accounts for the murder of Christ and the vicious persecution of Christians. It is the desire of man to live in his self-will. As long as we live in our self-will, we will reveal in our behavior the personality of Satan whether or not we profess belief in Christ.
Four characteristics of Satan. There are four characteristics of Satan’s personality:
- Satan does not wait on the Lord in order to discover His will and act on it.
- Satan will never admit any wrongdoing on his own part but continually accuses others. He is the Accuser of the brothers, the Accuser of the true people of the Lord.
- Satan lacks understanding of God and God’s ways.
- Satan is proud and arrogant, filled with personal ambition and the desire to be preeminent.
From these four characteristics of Satan (self-will, denies personal wrongdoing and accuses others, lack of understanding of God, and personal ambition with the desire to be preeminent) proceed much of the wicked behavior of God’s creatures in the heavens and on the earth. We can discern who is of the Kingdom of God and who is of the wicked one by looking for these four characteristics.
On the other hand, the sons of the Kingdom:
- Wait on the Lord. They wait continually on the Lord for His counsel concerning every thought, word, and deed. They love to listen for His voice. As they mature in the Lord, they grow increasingly dependent on their relationship to Him to govern all that they are, do, and say.
- Do not trust human reasoning. They know that the natural mind is the enemy of God. They are blind and deaf to the world. They seek the fellowship and counsel of the Lord in every matter, great and small. They have learned that man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
- Walk in open confession of sin before God. They can learn from fellow believers and from unbelievers as well what their own sins and shortcomings are. They are quick to confess these and, by the Lord’s help, to turn away from them.
- Are slow to accuse others. They do not gossip. They do not slander other people. They rejoice at the success of a fellow member of the church and are grieved over his or her shortcomings.
- Have a good understanding from the Lord. They do not strain out gnats and swallow camels. They emphasize justice, mercy, and faith, rather than hypergrace, religious ordinances, or any of the other devices that people use to evade the righteous ways of the Lord.
Many of the Israelites grieved the Lord because they did not understand God or His ways.
For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways.’ (Psalms 95:10)
- Are humble of heart, meek in spirit, ready to be instructed. They do not strive with others in order to force their own will but are gentle toward all men, apt to teach, patient. They are not filled with personal ambition and envy, attempting to supplant the position of others.
For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; (Isaiah 14:13)
It is in the heart of Satan to want to lord it over his fellows. People who desire to be preeminent, to be exalted over their fellow saints, are reflecting the seed of Satan.
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. (Luke 22:24)
What a terrible tare to be found among those closest to the Lord—the desire to be accounted the greatest! Personal ambition, envy, supplanting, competition, the lust to be chief, may be the worst sin of all. What horrible deeds have been performed throughout history both in the Church and in the world because someone desired to be exalted above his or her fellows! Not one trace of this satanic seed will be left in the Kingdom of God. All aspects of stubborn, unteachable arrogance will be hurled into the fire by the messengers of God.
We think of Satan standing before the Lord Jesus and asking Jesus to worship him—Jesus his Creator! We think of the Pharisees as they had in mind to kill Jesus, and not only Jesus but Lazarus whom the Lord had raised from the dead, and we see the seed of Satan—the one who desires to be exalted above the stars of God.
People who desire to be exalted above their brothers and sisters need to be converted, even though for many years they may have professed to believe in Christ.
“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32)
The “wolves” that attack God’s sheep are fairly easily identified if one will keep these four characteristics in mind. But remember, the worshipers of their own belly deceive the naive and unsuspecting with pleasant words and speeches. Those who are not watchful and prayerful will be deceived by them.
If we wish to be sons of the Kingdom, let us purge ourselves from the four characteristics of Satan, and pray that the Lord will teach us to wait on Him, being always ready to confess our sins and yet refraining from judging others. Let us pray for a good understanding. Above all, let us be humble of heart, seeking the good of others, having no desire to be exalted above our brothers and sisters in the Lord. If we do these things, we will not be removed from the Kingdom when the shaking comes—and it surely shall come!
Three areas of sin. There are three basic areas of sin, as portrayed in the three temptations of Christ in the desert. Every son of God must pass through these same testings.
- Bread. The first temptation is the bread question—that of material security and survival. It includes covetousness and the desire to acquire the comforts and conveniences of life. The life lived in the pursuit of material riches produces spiritual death. It is difficult for the rich to inherit the Kingdom of God.
- Worship. The second temptation involves the pursuit of pleasure. This is the area of worship. Satan is the incarnation of physical lust. To live in the lusts of the flesh is to worship Satan. The person who is bound by lust, drugs, alcohol, perversions of the flesh, is in chains. He cannot know the freedom of the Spirit of God. Satan is his master. He will destroy his own body and soul unless he turns to the Lord. He is wallowing in the pen with the hogs.
- Ambition. The third temptation is that of presumption, ambition, a willingness to act apart from the will of God. This article describes four aspects of this third temptation. Personal ambition, which is the cause of envy, might be far more destructive and evil than the other two areas of sin combined.
Personal ambition in spiritual matters is close to the heart of Satan, and provides an entrance in the believer for the deceptions of Satan. One has only to consider the harm done to true believers by those who desired to take away their place in the Kingdom to see how truly wicked spiritual ambition is.
Throughout the Scriptures, there are many instances of religious people attacking the leaders God has chosen. We hear of church splits in our day. Why are there church splits? Is it because one or both sides is walking in the flesh and not hearing from the Lord?
Two kinds of religious people. It appears there are two kinds of religious people. The one seeks the will of God continually and is careful to do all God says. The other is desirous of status in religious affairs and makes a profession of loving and serving God. However, this type of person does not hear from God and does what seems to him or her to be the Lord’s will.
The difference is expressed as follows:
“Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just [righteous] shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)
The individual who lives according to the desires of his soul is not upright in the sight of God. The righteous trust in the Lord and constantly wait on him for direction. They live by faith in God.
Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:11)
The individual whom the Lord uses is often barren for many years, sometimes confined in some kind of prison. It is in the place of waiting that the true witness of God is formed.
The self-directed religious person looks on all such barrenness and imprisonment as the efforts of people or of Satan to frustrate his desire to serve God. He simply cannot understand why God would prevent someone from performing the work of the Kingdom in the earth. He views waiting on the Lord as passivity and foolishness. Why should he wait on the Lord when there are obvious needs all around him? If he sees someone injured in the street, is he to wait on the Lord before he will help the person? So his reasoning goes.
The man or woman of God, even when he is compelled to act quickly in an emergency, is calling on the Lord for wisdom while he acts. He does nothing apart from the Lord!
Perhaps religious denominations often do what seems good to them before they hear from the Lord. It would be well for every denomination, every religious institution, to set a time aside at least once each year to hear from God; not to pray to God to accomplish the needs perceived by the institution, but to wait until direction is given.
If the Catholic Church had waited on the Lord through the centuries, it never would have persecuted the true Christians that God raised up. To keep on performing religious service, assuming that this is God’s will, and yet not hearing from the Lord, can prove to be the most destructive wickedness there is. Religious zeal (religious efforts apart from the immediate direction of the Lord) is a murderer of the prophets. It does not come from the Lord! It comes from the ambition of Satan. Those who participate in such wickedness are tares in spite of all their professions of faith in Christ, and shall be removed from the Kingdom in the last days if they do not purge themselves. Babylon, which is the efforts of religious people to reach God by their own strength and wisdom, is destined to become a prison containing every kind of foul spirit.
Another difference between the true people of the Lord, the wheat, and those among them who are walking in the light of their own sparks, is the willingness to confess sins and shortcomings. The Lord’s saints are quick to confess their sins, to walk in the light of the Lord’s rebuke. The tares, the self-willed, seldom or never confess their own sins, but often point out the sins of those whom they suppose are hindering their efforts to serve God.
The wheat hear from the Lord and walk in open confession and repentance before Him. The tares act according to their own judgment and do not walk in open confession and repentance. Rather, they are quick to gossip about the faults of others. As we study various Bible personages in the following pages, we will notice that the wicked were those who were not hearing from the Lord and who saw no fault in their own conduct, while the righteous were hearing from God and were quick to admit their own sins.
A third characteristic that distinguishes the wicked and separates them from the righteous is that the wicked lack understanding. The self-motivated set out to tear down the righteous, believing themselves to be righteous. Yet they do not ask themselves, “How can my efforts to injure this person be coming from the Lord who loves mercy? Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
How could the Jewish leaders treat the Lord and His Apostles the way they did and regard themselves as acting righteously, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God?
At one time, the self-righteous Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the believers unmercifully. But his conscience was pricking him. Through God’s grace, Saul turned from his murderous pride and personal ambition and joined the ranks of the righteous—those who were hearing from God and admitting their own sin. After his experience on the way to Damascus, Saul learned to listen to the Lord. He was willing to admit he was the chiefest of sinners, and he gained understanding.
It is difficult to comprehend why God permits Satan to gather with the sons of God, knowing that Satan will not listen to Him, will not admit his sin, and lacks understanding. It is difficult to comprehend why there are so many wicked people who join churches, who seek to gain preeminence among spiritual people. With all the interesting things to do in the world, why does this type of person gravitate toward the Kingdom of God? It is puzzling, seeing they have no heart for God. They end up crucifying the Lord’s true saints. Maybe this is the reason for their existence—to perfect God’s sons.
One fact is evident. The wicked who gather with the saints do not know they are fighting God. They do not know what they are doing. Had they known what they were doing, the chief priests and elders would have walked into Hell itself before they would have murdered their Christ.
Perhaps God sends delusion on them because they do not receive the love of the truth.
and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie (II Thessalonians 2:10,11)
At one time, Judas was a little boy in the village of Kerioth playing with his toys around the house. Judas did not willingly become the son of perdition. He never dreamed that one day his Creator would say that it would be good that he never had been born.
Do we point the finger at the Pharisees and Judas? Not if we are wise! The true saints learn that anyone can be deceived, and only God can prevent this from happening. We pray each day, “Do not lead me into temptation.”
Only God can keep us on the path that leads to life. It is a tortuous trail filled with traps and snares of all kinds. We do well to remain humble. The wicked, particularly the religious wicked, not only do not hear from God, refuse to admit their sin, and lack understanding, they also are proud and arrogant. They are filled with their own ways.
Like the chief priests and elders of Jesus’ day, the religiously ambitious strut about, making sure that everyone is aware of their superior position. The lovers of preeminence have ability! They managed to murder the Lord’s Anointed, and that was no small accomplishment. After praying that Christ’s blood would be on them and on their children, they continued to emphasize their superiority. They had succeeded in bringing persecution and finally the Holocaust on their descendants. What a fine day’s work! May God forever deliver us from such!
Divisions in the churches. Separations occur in the assembly of the saints. Why is this?
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple [naive]. (Romans 16:17,18)
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.
Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” (I Corinthians 1:10-12)
for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? (I Corinthians 3:3)
For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.
For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. (I Corinthians 11:18,19)
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (I John 2:18,19)
As we read the comments of Paul and John concerning division in the churches, we can observe some of the characteristics of the tares:
- They cause divisions and offences by speaking things contrary to Paul’s doctrine.
- They are not servants of the Lord Jesus.
- They are servants of their belly.
- They speak good words and make eloquent speeches and thereby deceive naive and unsuspecting people.
- They are contentious, expressing loyalty to people.
- They bring envying, strife, and division, proving they are acting in the flesh and are not servants of the Lord.
- They are antichrists, meaning that they are their own god.
Both Paul and John mention that such divisions are necessary so those whom God has approved may be revealed. Paul commands us to avoid divisive believers, even though socially this is grievous to us. Nevertheless there is Divine wisdom in Paul’s directive, because those who leave will strive unceasingly to tear down the work of God.
Even though it is difficult, we absolutely must separate ourselves from those who cause division among us. If we do not obey the Lord in this matter, we may find ourselves being accused by the rebels in the Day of Judgment. They may protest that we knew they were doing wrong, and because of our self-love, we continued to treat them as though they were on the right path and pleasing the Lord by their criticism, gossip, and slander. The self-willed are perverse now. They will be perverse in the Day of Judgment!
How many believers have lost their crown because they did not separate themselves from those who brought division and were accusing the brothers? They remained in fellowship with the accusers until the spirit of accusation entered their own spirit. Soon they themselves were full of doubt and criticism and little by little withdrew from the work of God. They have no one to blame but themselves because the Apostle warned them to avoid those who bring division and strife.
The crown they lost will be seen, in that Day, to be of such value as to be incomprehensible. Yet they lost their crown because they placed their own social activities above the interests of the Body of Christ. They did not wait on the Lord to find out His will. They became sons of the wicked one, the evil spirit who always accuses the true sons of the Kingdom.
Notice that all such strife and party loyalty is proof that the individual is walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit and will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:20,21)
Hatred, wrath, strife, envying, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, factions, dissension, discord, selfish ambition. All of these are tares. The root is selfish ambition leading to envy and strife. When we see them operating, we know there are tares among us.
The Wheat and the Tares
As we go through the Bible, we can see clearly the type of wickedness we are speaking about, the wickedness that is personal ambition leading to envy. We will notice that such people, the destroyers of the work of God, did not hear from the Lord, did not confess their own sin, were without understanding of God and His ways, and often were proud and ambitious. Yet for some unexplained reason they strove for preeminence in the Kingdom of God.
The Lord’s people often are naive, simple of heart and mind. We shall notice in the following accounts that they were unable to distinguish between who was of God and who was acting from his own spirit. Their inability to separate the precious from the vile continues to this day.
Adam and Eve. Let us think for a moment about our original statement concerning the difference between righteousness and wickedness. There is a righteousness of loving and seeking God and walking in His will. There is a wickedness of loving and seeking our own gain and walking according to our own desires.
Usually we think of wickedness as being murder, robbery, drunkenness, profanity. These are wicked actions and often reflect the influence of Satan and his demons. The wickedness which we are emphasizing in this article, the destroyer of the work of God, is none of these, although it may lead to murder, robbery, drunkenness, and profanity. Rather, it is the wickedness of loving and seeking our own gain and walking according to our own desires. We stated that this type of wicked person is characterized by not hearing from the Lord, by being unwilling to confess his sins, by a lack of understanding of God and His ways, and by striving for preeminence.
We can see the beginning of wickedness in Adam and Eve. Satan tempted them to love and seek their own gain, to walk according to their own desires. Instead of walking with God in the garden, they attempted to gain wisdom by eating of a forbidden tree.
Notice that they were unwilling to confess their sin. Adam blamed the woman. The woman blamed the serpent. Perhaps the serpent in his heart blamed God. The wicked often do!
Adam and Eve lacked understanding. They did not consider the beautiful surroundings in which the Lord had placed them. They permitted doubt concerning the obvious goodness of God to enter their mind and influence their actions.
What could Eve have done? The Lord was nearby in the garden. She could have gone to Him and asked if He had changed His mind about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if it really would make her wise and if such wisdom would bring love, joy, and peace to her. Instead, she permitted the serpent to take her crown of life and righteousness.
Now the whole creation was thrown off course. Man was trying to be his own master. The original problem, and the source of all other problems, was not murder, robbery, drunkenness, or profanity. The problem was man seeking his own gain instead of looking to the Lord.
The Tower of Babel. The Tower of Babel is a perfect example of the type of wickedness we are referring to.
Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.
And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.
Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-4)
“Let us make a name for ourselves.” “Let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens.” Can you see the desire for preeminence in these statements?
The whole world is seeking peace in our day. In the days of the Tower of Babel, the population of the earth had peace. But God ruined their plans for a world center. Why? Doesn’t God want the world to be at peace?
God wants people who seek God with all their heart, who are willing to admit their sinfulness and receive God’s help in overcoming it, who have an understanding of God’s ways, and who are not personally ambitious. This type of individual is not produced by human togetherness.
The world of today is looking for ways in which people can be united. It is well that people are at peace and working together in harmony. But there is a higher priority, which is that each individual be at peace with God. It is not true that if people are at peace with one another, they will be at peace with God. It is true that if people are at peace with God, they will be at peace with one another.
Antichrist will make every effort to bring harmony to the nations of mankind because then he can govern them successfully. The ambitious religionist, not hearing from God, will fall into the web of Antichrist. He will be certain that God wants him to do everything possible to ensure harmony among people. As always, the self-driven person will lack understanding of the will of God and will succeed only in fighting against the true prophets of God.
When people get together in peace and love apart from God, they compose the most vicious enemy against God that there is. They will always rebel against God when God rebukes them for the sinfulness of their nature. They find security and comfort in one another. They will never consent to being governed by the Lord Jesus and His saints, by those who truly know the Lord. This is why God destroyed the ability of the builders of the Tower of Babel to communicate with each other.
Every true prophet is in an adversarial relationship with people. There are prophets closer to God who rebuke the true prophets. There are yet holier prophets who rebuke all the other prophets. The Lord Jesus Christ rebukes them all. He rebukes all whom He loves. To be rebuked by the Lord Jesus is a wonderful thing and very desirable.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties;
and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23,24)
Aaron and the golden calf. Moses went up on the mountain to talk to God. Aaron stayed in the camp and talked with the people. The inevitable took place: Aaron sinned by trying to please the people.
Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. (Exodus 32:6)
Aaron was a tare on this occasion. He was not hearing from God. When Moses confronted him, he would not confess his sin.
“And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.” (Exodus 32:24)
But Aaron had made the calf. His excuse was a lie. Aaron did not understand the ways of the Lord. He feared the people. This may not seem like a great sin, but it nearly resulted in the destruction of all the Israelites. What we understand to be great wickedness may not be what God considers to be great wickedness, and the reverse may be true. God is looking for people who will listen to him instead of doing what is expedient or what pleases the people. These are the righteous in God’s sight.
Korah. Korah was a wicked man—so much so that God buried him and his followers alive. Korah’s followers were nobles of Israel.
Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and on the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;
and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. (Numbers 16:1,2)
Korah was a Kohathite Levite, qualified to carry the Ark of the Covenant on the march. Yet he exemplifies the tare, the truly wicked individual. Korah did not hear from the Lord. Korah never repented of his rebellion. Korah was without understanding of God and His ways. Korah was proud and arrogant, seeking for preeminence, as we can tell from his remarks to Moses and Aaron.
They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” (Numbers 16:3)
Notice that Korah had no understanding of God and His ways. This always is true of this type of individual. He knew of the Presence of God with Moses in the court of Pharaoh, crossing the Red Sea, visiting with God on the holy mountain. Did Korah have no brains at all? Was he trying to fight against God? Did Korah really believe God would agree with him — that Moses and Aaron needed to be chastised for taking too much upon themselves?
The amazing thing is that two hundred fifty famous leaders of Israel were persuaded to join Korah. No doubt this large rebellion had been brewing for a long time and finally came to a head.
In the beginning, Satan had in mind to supplant God. Satan puts in the mind and heart of the wicked to supplant God’s chosen leaders. The wicked do not hear from God as do God’s leaders. They see no wrong in themselves, only in others, just as Korah chose to accuse Moses and Aaron. They are totally without understanding—they cannot see what is in front of them. They cannot think clearly. They are proud and arrogant, seeking to supplant, seeking to be preeminent.
These are the tares, the wicked, the destroyers of the work of God. They have been active from the beginning. Their destiny is to worship God at the feet of the true saints, and then to be destroyed in the flames unless they repent.
Such “believers” shall never inherit the Kingdom of God. If one such individual were permitted in the Kingdom, he would destroy everything of value. Why? Because he would be seeking to do what he thought was right without hearing from God. He would soon gain a large following, and would finally attack the true leaders that God had chosen.
One such tare would wreck Paradise for himself and everyone else!
Joshua and the Gibeonites. Joshua had a nearly perfect record of serving the Lord. Joshua only erred once, and that was because he did not ask the Lord for advice.
Because the Gibeonites feared the Israelites, they pretended that they lived at a great distance. Joshua listened to all their lies.
So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. (Joshua 9:15)
Joshua had become overconfident. He took for granted that the Gibeonites were telling the truth. Being a man of war, he should have known that his enemies would attempt to deceive him. We who are in a warfare against the lords of darkness must learn to take nothing for granted; not to trust in appearances; not to make assumptions; not to depend on our reasoning or our feelings. We are always to seek the Lord in every situation. If we do not, we will be tricked by the enemy.
The Gibeonites brought trouble to Israel for many years to come.
Samuel and Saul.
“Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?”
And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
“But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”
Then Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. (I Samuel 15:19-22)
Samuel told Saul the will of God. Saul had a “better” idea. Saul was a typical tare. Notice that he would not confess that he had done wrong. Saul started out as God’s chosen king. Soon his personal ambition took over and he no longer obeyed God. Saul led Israel and fought the Lord’s battle. But he was filled with the tares we have mentioned. In desperation, he sought counsel from a medium and then went down in defeat at the hands of the Philistines.
Samuel was a righteous man, a prophet. Samuel heard from God. The seed of the Kingdom resided in him.
An example of the perversity of man is found in the saying of the rabbis: “The prophet must have miracles to show he is from God. The elder, being greater, needs no miracles. He is an elder!” The truth is, the elder performs no miracles because he does not hear from God as does a true prophet. Notice who is greater.
So Samuel did what the LORD said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” (I Samuel 16:4)
Does the greater tremble at the coming of the lesser? Let the reader judge.
David and Saul. David was a man after God’s own heart. David heard from God. He readily admitted his sin. He had wonderful understanding of the ways of God. Though king, he was humble of heart.
Saul, as we said, was filled with tares. God appointed Saul, and then departed from him and chose David. Saul, because of his jealousy, attempted to murder David. Saul could have repented when he saw that God had left him and was with David. Being a tare, his personal ambition led him to envy David.
Saul was a truly wicked man. David was a truly righteous man. From these two men, we can discover whom God approves. If we find ourselves to be filled with tares, let us humble ourselves and through the Spirit of God begin to seek the Lord and His ways.
Consider once again that the wickedness was not worldliness or the lusts of the flesh. The wickedness was that of not walking humbly with God, hearing His voice, and performing His will carefully in every situation.
David and palace intrigue. One can read the Psalms and only marvel at the number of enemies David had. It seems most of them were people who were close to him, perhaps the nobles of Israel.
How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? Selah
But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the LORD will hear when I call to Him. (Psalms 4:2,3)
You shall hide them in the secret place of your presence from the plots of man; you shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. (Psalms 31:20)
Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily,
Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me, and in wrath they hate me.
My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.
So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah
I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”
Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues, for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it on its walls; iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it.
Destruction is in its midst; oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets.
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him.
But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. (Psalms 55:2-13)
The above is referring to Judas and reveals one aspect of the sufferings of Christ—to be betrayed by those who we thought were fellow believers. Those who desire to be part of Christ must be willing to share His sufferings.
We know of the murderous spirit of Joab and of his wickedness. Joab may have thought he was doing God’s will, but King David knew better. Joab, although he fought David’s battles, had in him the seed of Satan.
It appears from the Psalms that David was not as troubled by the Philistines as he was with the Israelites. No doubt there was much strife, envy, jealousy, and competition within David’s palace. These were the tares, never hearing from the Lord and always seeking their own glory.
Every person whom God places in authority soon discovers that there are people close to him who, like Joab, perform many helpful works. But in the end they will prove to be traitors and will die in a miserable fashion. They never knew the Lord. They served God’s leader because it suited their own plans and ambitions.
David and Absalom. The story of Absalom is a classic and contains much that gives us insight concerning the religious tare. Absalom was the son of the daughter of a Gentile king.
his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; (II Samuel 3:3)
Israel did not drive out the Geshurites as they should have. They did not persevere with God long enough to gain total victory. Then King David added to the confusion by marrying a Geshurite. The result of the marriage was Absalom and Adonijah, both rebels against the will of God.
Nevertheless the children of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maachathites, but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day. (Joshua 13:13)
Absalom was a long-range planner, a schemer.
Then Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother, answered and said, “Let not my lord suppose they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons, for only Amnon is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. (II Samuel 13:32)
Absalom did not react immediately to the rape of Tamar, but began making his plans to avenge his sister.
Absalom was an attractive individual.
Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. (II Samuel 14:25)
In outward appearance, he was like the Bride of the Lamb—without spot or wrinkle or blemish of any kind. Absalom vaunted himself. It was not the Lord who gave him a position of honor.
After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. (II Samuel 15:1)
Because Absalom was personally ambitious, because he did not seek the Lord, because he saw no fault in himself, because he lacked understanding, and because he was proud, Absalom soon found himself scheming against one of the most distinguished of God’s rulers—his own father, King David. David is honored to this day. He who does the will of God abides forever. Absalom is a symbol of envy, of supplanting, a man without honor.
Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.”
Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” (II Samuel 15:2,3)
While David was waiting on the Lord, Absalom was waiting on the people. This always is a distinction between the wheat and the tares. The one looks to the invisible God. The other seeks honor in the sight of the visible people and circumstances.
As we have said, Absalom was a planner, a schemer. This worshiper of his own belly spoke good words and eloquent speeches to the naive, unsuspecting Israelites for forty (possibly, four) years. Think of it! The sons of the Kingdom of God are open—almost childish in what they do. They love the Lord and have nothing to hide. The sons of the wicked one are often closed in personality, scheming how they may supplant those whom God has exalted.
Now it came to pass after forty [possibly four] years that Absalom said to the king, “Please, let me go to Hebron and pay the vow which I made to the LORD. (II Samuel 15:7)
Absalom did not listen to God, he did not admit to personal fault, and he was ambitious to be first in the kingdom. But his greatest problem may have been his lack of understanding. Like Korah, Absalom must have been blind to reality. It was obvious David was God’s man. From the time David killed Goliath, the Lord blessed David in all that he did. David heard from God, obeyed God, and God exalted David. To David were given numerous psalms—psalms that have been a strength to multitudes upon unnumbered multitudes of people—Jews and Gentiles alike.
Why couldn’t Absalom see that David was God’s man? Did Absalom think he could supplant David and that God then would accept Absalom as king? Did Absalom suppose he then would have the Spirit of Christ and write prophetic psalms?
Like all the religious tares, Absalom desired to be preeminent in the house of God. But it is obvious Absalom had no understanding of God whatever. Absalom did not know the Lord and the Lord did not know Absalom.
The Lord’s people tend to be like sheep. They cannot see the difference between Korah and Moses; between Absalom and David; until the conflict is over and someone interprets history for them.
And with Absalom went two hundred men invited from Jerusalem, and they went along innocently and did not know anything. (II Samuel 15:11)
Absalom was so anxious to exalt his name that he had a pillar made, saying he had no son to carry on his name. The truth is Absalom had three sons and one daughter.
Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King’s Valley. For he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom’s Monument. (II Samuel 18:18)
To Absalom were born three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a woman of beautiful appearance. (II Samuel 14:27)
Absalom got entangled in a tree and was killed by Joab. Instead of attaining honor, he attained disgrace and contempt, as is true of all tares in the end.
Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!” (II Samuel 18:33)
David was like the rest of us. When God separates the wicked from us, we weep and mourn over them. The best thing we can do is to avoid them and walk with God. All the wicked do is cause trouble! trouble! trouble! Would we weep over those who are willing to crucify Christ so they can exalt themselves?
It is one matter to show kindness to the unsaved in the hope that God will bring them to repentance. It is another matter to maintain friendship with someone who claims to be a believer but, by his self-will and desire to be preeminent, brings division, destruction, and grief. It is neither kindly nor godly to give such people the impression that God is pleased with them. The way to show love to them is to avoid them, thus revealing to them that we do not consider them to be part of us. To continue to fellowship with them is only self-love on our part.
“in that you love your enemies and hate your friends. For you have declared today that you regard neither princes nor servants; for today I perceive that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died today, then it would have pleased you well. (II Samuel 19:6)
Absalom’s younger brother walked in his steps.
Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king”; and he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. (I Kings 1:5)
The Absaloms manage to infect others. A little leaven leavens the whole ball of dough. Let us cease weeping over the tares and get on with the business of the Kingdom of God. Let us seek to please God. The Absaloms are certain they are righteous, and yet they have no knowledge of the Lord. God’s people are often undiscerning when it comes to spiritual matters, and will follow Absalom just as quickly as they will David. If we want to keep from being deceived in this manner, we must walk closely to the Lord Jesus and purge ourselves from personal ambition, hardness of heart, and pride. Otherwise we too may become an Absalom or a follower of Absalom.
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the LORD God of Israel,
they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” (Ezra 4:1,2)
Why would the adversaries (enemies) of Judah and Benjamin volunteer their services in the restoring of the Temple? A good question and hard to answer. For some reason, Satan wants to be involved in the work of God. But it is a mistake to allow him to do so. The elders of Israel were correct in refusing this help. When the “helpers” were refused, their true nature was revealed.
Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, (Ezra 4:4)
They were tares. When they were not allowed to do as they wished, they did all in their power to prevent the Lord’s saints from continuing. So it is today. There are people in the churches who will stay as long as they are permitted to do as they wish. When they are required to submit to the leadership, they will leave and then do all in their power to tear down what at one time they were so anxious to construct.
Ezra was a priest and Nehemiah was a statesman. It is not recorded that God spoke to either of them. But God’s personal word came to them through the prophets.
Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. (Ezra 5:1)
In both the Old Testament and the New, we find God spoke to those who were to build His Kingdom.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, (Hebrews 1:1)
God spoke to Abraham, Moses, David, the Prophets, the Lord Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and so forth. The Apostle Paul instructed us as follows:
I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. (I Corinthians 14:5)
For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. (I Corinthians 14:31)
There is no need for the work of God to proceed blindly. God has given us a mouth in the local churches, the prophets, and they will keep us from proceeding according to our own reasoning.
So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” (II Chronicles 20:20)
If the Christian churches had listened to the spirit of prophesy, they would never have been deceived by the “pre-tribulation rapture revelation,” the faith and prosperity messages, and so forth. The modern heresies come from the mind of man, not from the prophetic spirit.
The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy
Nehemiah and the enemies. Nehemiah had left a comfortable position in order to assist the Jews who had gone to Jerusalem to build the Temple of God. Nehemiah was sincerely interested in promoting the welfare of his people. He soon found that when anyone rises up to build the house of the Lord, he will be attacked by tares.
“Come down, come down, stop building, listen to us, you take too much on yourself, you are making yourself a king, they are going to kill you, come into my chambers and listen to me.” On and on the accusations and threats continued. He was even prophesied against.
My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid. (Nehemiah 6:14)
Nehemiah found that some of these adversaries were friends of the very Jews Nehemiah was endeavoring to assist.
And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me. (Nehemiah 13:28)
Every true man of God who is moved by the Lord to build the Kingdom of God is confronted with those who are calling him down from the wall. He is to ignore them and continue. If he serves God faithfully, he will prevail, and those who would have stopped him will go down in history as the tares that they are. They shall be removed from the Kingdom in the Day of the Lord.
The Pharisees and Jesus. The Lord Jesus does nothing except as the Father directs Him. His thoughts, words, and actions are of the Father. He has no sins to confess, but if He did, He would be quick to confess them. The Lord Jesus has perfect understanding of the Father and His ways. The Lord Jesus is humble of heart and meek in Spirit.
The Pharisees did not hear from God. They would never confess to any wrongdoing. They had little understanding of God and His ways. They were proud and spiritually ambitious.
“Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Matthew 23:24)
“You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. (Acts 7:51)
The Lord Jesus has all understanding of God and His ways. The Pharisees had little understanding of God and His ways. Here we see the Son of the Kingdom and the sons of the wicked one. Yet all were of Israel. The Pharisees murdered Christ. But they did not do so because of their love of the world or their desire for pleasure. They murdered Christ because of personal ambition leading to envy. Pilate, an ambitious man himself, recognized clearly the motive of the chief priests and elders.
For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. (Matthew 27:18)
The chief desire of the Pharisees was to be holy unto the Lord. They accomplished this by observing the details of the Law of Moses. But the keepers of the Law were sons of the wicked one.
So it is true today. The Christian churches deplore immorality, stealing, drunkenness, drugs, abortion. They (should) rightfully consider these to be sins that no Christian would commit.
The churches are not always aware of the evil of personal ambition, of not waiting on the Lord, of not confessing our sins, of not gaining understanding of God and His ways, of being proud and self-centered. Christians might consider such behaviors undesirable if they were called to their attention, but they would be viewed as normal human frailties. “People are only human!”
The truth is, these are the behaviors that wreck the work of God. These are the behaviors that murdered Christ and His apostles. These are the behaviors that split churches and produce endless gossip and slander. These are the sons of the wicked one. These, more often than not, are the behaviors of the Jews and Christians.
The Lord Jesus pointed out that it was the Jews who murdered the prophets.
“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. (Matthew 23:31)
Why would the Jews kill their own prophets? Why did the Israelites rise up in murderous fury against Moses and Aaron—even after they had seen the manifest Glory of God? It is because they were sons of the wicked one. Why did the leaders of the Catholic Church torture and murder Protestants? Because they were sons of the wicked one. Why do the Protestant churches compete against one another? Because they are sons of the wicked one.
Here and there in the various churches there are sons of the Kingdom.
In the last days, the angels of God will remove the sons of the wicked one from the Kingdom of God. Then will the sons of the Kingdom shine forth in the Glory of their Father.
“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,
“and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:41-43)
“Will gather out of his kingdom.” “Out of his kingdom”! There is a mixed multitude in the assemblies of our day. There are people among us who do not have a wedding garment. A Divine shaking is near at hand. The godly remnant of true saints will be forced out of the Laodicean churches, out of the manmade religious systems. Those who live by the body and blood of the Lord Jesus have no true, lasting fellowship with the so-called “believers” who live according to the fleshly soul and mind.
As was true in Jesus’ day and in the days of the Apostles of the Lamb, the churches are full of slander, gossip, covetousness, party loyalties, rebellion against authority, hatred, strife, deviousness, adultery, fornication, personal ambition, presumption, and every other evil work. These are the sons of the wicked one.
Let us build three tabernacles.
Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. (Luke 9:33)
At this point Peter was not hearing from the Lord. He did not know what he was talking about. Often it has been true that people, being moved by a religious experience, have set out to build tabernacles, not knowing what they were doing.
Did Peter think he was going to shut up Jesus, Moses, and Elijah in some kind of booth? Not too far from them, the disciples were struggling with the demons that had bound a child. The Lord did not come to earth to be put in someone’s box. He came to release the prisoners of Satan. The son of the Kingdom listens to the Lord for His directions. The son of the wicked one rushes about in the efforts of the flesh, not knowing what he is doing. Sooner or later he will come into conflict with the son of the Kingdom and attempt to destroy the true work of God.
The temptation of the gable took place in Jerusalem.
Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle [gable, edge] of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. (Luke 4:9)
This is the temptation that involves personal ambition. The Lord Jesus did not move from the gable because He was waiting to hear God’s direction. He would be perched on the gable still, if God had not spoken. Jesus is faithful and true.
Why did Satan bring the Lord to Jerusalem? It is because it is in “Jerusalem” that the sin of personal ambition is so destructive, so satanic.
Several times in the book of Acts, we read that the Jews followed Paul as he preached Christ in the various cities and attempted to murder him. The Jews were filled with fury. Gamaliel had some understanding of God and advised the leaders to wait and see whether what was happening was of God. This was wise. But Satan entered the Jews through the door of personal ambition. They were tares—sons of the wicked one. Yet they had no consciousness whatever that they were not doing God’s will.
Stephen and the Sanhedrin. Stephen was a good man, a pure man. He was filled with the wheat of the Kingdom. His understanding of God grew each day. Just before he was stoned to death, he could see the Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
The members of the Sanhedrin, supposedly the most devout men of Israel, were filled with rage, with the spirit of Satan. This is an awesome picture. It reveals how otherwise righteous men can be thoroughly deceived by evil.
The Orthodox Jews to this day are extreme in their devotion to the Torah. The grandfather of a member of our congregation is said to have risen at 2:00 each morning and sat with his feet in a bucket of ice water as he studied the Torah. He did this to keep from falling asleep.
The religious Jew is very diligent, very sincere in his worship of God. He will do anything to please God. And yet, here was the Sanhedrin of Israel judging a servant of God. The spirit of Satan, of murder, filled the members of the court. At this point, the leaders of Israel were sons of the wicked one.
When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. (Acts 7:54)
Let us all take heed because any one of us could be as deceived as they. Let us search our heart to see if any of the four characteristics of Satan are active in us.
Alexander the coppersmith.
You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. (II Timothy 4:15)
What motivated Alexander that he would invite the curse of Paul? Perhaps Alexander was a fine man with many friends. So often we picture the tares as being the personification of evil with whom no decent person would dare associate. You may find that your best friend is an Alexander and will begin to plant doubts in your mind about the integrity of your pastor or of some other Christian worker. What will you do then?
If you are a true saint, you will go to the Lord for the strength to avoid your friend, in accordance with the directive of Paul. Or, being weak of spirit, you may continue to associate with the critic until you have been robbed of your crown. Meanwhile the Lord goes on building His Kingdom through that very imperfect pastor or Christian worker.
If the Christian leader is truly living in sin, then the elders of the church may need to take action. However, prayerful action of the elders of an assembly is worlds apart from the cheap, idle gossip and slander that passes from believer to believer. Such loose talk often is not based in truth. Nevertheless, it will still be destructive. This is the work of Satan himself.
If Satan always worked in an obvious manner, there would be no such thing as deception.
Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. (III John 1:10)
Can you imagine Diotrephes resisting the Apostle John? Diotrephes was a member of a church. He was, however a tare. He was not a son of the Kingdom, but of the wicked one. How do we know this? Because he loved to be preeminent among the believers.
How many times has a true man of God been denied opportunity to minister because of those who insist on being chief among the brothers? One may ask, “Why would a son of Satan desire to be a member of a congregation of believers? With all the interesting and profitable things to do in the world, why do the sons of the enemy desire to exercise their selfish ambitions among the Lord’s people?”
Was Diotrephes called of the Lord to be a saint? How about your congregation? Are there self-willed people in it? Are they sons of the wicked one? Do they continually frustrate the moving of the Holy Spirit? Are you willing to withdraw from them and avoid them? Days of shaking are upon us. You will be forced to choose between your self-willed friends and the Lord Jesus. Which decision will you make?
Jude speaks of the tares among the wheat and their judgment at the hands of the sons of the Kingdom.
For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness [immorality, lust] and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
Wherever there are wheat, there are tares. They slip secretly into the assembly and appear to be earnest Christians.
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. (Jude 1:11)
The tares can be identified by their similarity to Cain. They hate their brothers and sisters whom the Lord blesses. They cannot understand why the Lord does not bless them in the same manner. The truth is, they are not serving God by faith. They are not worshiping God in their heart.
Like Balaam, they are willing to prophesy for money. Money is important to the tares and the love of money will finally lead them to fight against the Lord’s chosen.
The tares will never submit to authority. They must be preeminent in the assembly. The lust for importance will cause them to complain and rebel against those in charge of the assembly. They will carry along with them those who are naive and unsuspecting.
In the Day of the Lord, the Lord will return with the true saints and bring judgment on those of the assembly who actually were tares.
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men [“Christian” sinners] also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,
“to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 1:14,15)
When the tares utter hard speeches against God’s true leaders, as in the case of Korah and his followers, they are speaking against the Lord Himself. They claim to be Jews, but they are of the synagogue of Satan. They will worship God at the feet of the saints in that Day.
The Christian churches of today are in a deplorable state. The district supervisors of denominations run from assembly to assembly attempting to straighten out the immorality, financial problems, church splits, and other destructive conditions.
When the Christian Gospel is preached, it is as though every one who receives the Lord Jesus will be brought into a haven of rest. Their life from then on will be peaceful and righteous. The truth is, the assemblies are in an uproar. Is your assembly in an uproar?
The Lord Jesus is speaking today about the need for the believers to be delivered from worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, self-will, and self-seeking. Many different forms of the Divine shaking will cause believers to run here and there as they attempt to understand why they are having so much trouble.
The Lord is beginning to separate the tares from the wheat.
Examine yourself, whether you are in the faith. Are you waiting on the Lord until you hear His voice? Are you walking in open confession of your sins and turning away from them by the help of the Holy Spirit? Are you gaining understanding in the ways of God? Are you humble and teachable, or are you determined to be preeminent among your fellow believers?
If you are sound in each of the four areas ,there is a good chance you will come through the shaking without losing your crown. But if you are lacking in one of these characteristics, humble yourself and ask the Lord to save you from yourself.
The servant of the Lord.
“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles [nations].
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. (Isaiah 42:1,2)
The servant of the Lord does not strive. You do not need to build three tabernacles to house the Lord, Moses, and Elijah. You do not need to grind at the mill for Babylon (manmade Christianity). You do not need to build treasure cities for Pharaoh. You do not need to save the world from Hell. If you are striving to work for God and are not hearing His voice, you still are being driven by the wicked one. You finally will find yourself fighting against the work of God.
God’s commandments are not grievous. You do not need to cry out or force yourself to build the Kingdom of God. Learn to wait on the Lord and rest in Him. We are not speaking of being passive or lazy, but of turning away from the efforts of the fleshly mind and soul and listening for the sweet voice of the Lord.
The Lord will lead you into fruitfulness after He has carefully trained you. Do not despise the years of training. The sons of the wicked one may be rushing about “doing the Lord’s will.” Pay no attention to them. Keep on patiently waiting for the Lord. Look to Him for every detail of life. The Lord is building His Church. He is more than willing to use you, but first you have to cease from your own works.
The great error of today is the attempt to make the Lord our servant. The Lord is not our servant. We are the Lord’s servant. The Lord upholds His servants.
The rest of God.
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)
Determine to enter the rest of God. The rest of God is that place of abiding in His perfect will. Cease from your own works, your own attempts to build the Kingdom of God. Wait on the Lord. He has planned your life from the foundation of the world. The Lord knows where you fit into the new Jerusalem, the Body of Christ. You do not know where you fit. In fact, you do not know anything at all, any more than the rest of us do.
Since you know nothing, stop trying to create your own heaven and earth. All was finished from the beginning. God is resting as His perfect plan is being carried out. Why don’t you enter God’s rest? The enemy will do all in his power to turn you back to your striving. If you let him lead you, you will be a tare, a son of the wicked one, even though you are busy in “the Lord’s work.” If you turn back into the works of the flesh, sooner or later you will begin to criticize and fight against those who are waiting on the Lord.
You are not called upon to correct the leadership of your assembly. You are not called upon to murmur, complain, gossip, and slander the elders of your church. It is not your responsibility to force some plan or program on the elders and the assembly.
Your task is to pray concerning what you feel to be God’s will and to follow the Lord in peace and quietness of spirit. But if you try to force your agenda on the leadership of the assembly, you will find yourself fighting against God. You will be a tare and will be separated from the wheat.
Let no man take your crown.
Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)
Do not let any person take your crown. Who would want to take your crown? The tares! They are covetous. They deceive the naive and unsuspecting. They promise them liberty. They poison their minds against the leaders God has chosen.
The Apostle Paul commanded us to avoid those who cause division. Those who cause division may be our friends. Then we are torn between the desire to follow the Lord and the desire to keep the good will of our friends.
A little leaven leavens a whole ball of dough. Remember, the spirit of the wicked one is in the tare. Perhaps you feel that your feet are on solid ground and you can be a friend to those who bring division.
You were commanded to avoid them. God looks down. He sees your disobedience. You have refused to do what He said. Soon the spirit of Satan begins to corrupt your mind bringing doubt and confusion. After that, you may be persuaded to follow your friend, not realizing you have been seduced. This is how another person can rob you of your crown.
If you want to be kept from seduction, pray! pray! pray! Take up your cross and follow the Lord. Part of that cross, part of the sufferings of Christ, may be the need to turn away from someone who is not hearing from the Lord, but who is seducing you with good words and eloquent speeches.
If you do not have the strength to turn away from your rebellious friends, ask God for help. God will always help you do His will. But if, as is true of so many believers of our day, you are leading a careless Christian life, you will soon be led away from the truth. You will take the easy way and fall into the lap of the wicked one.
The Lord Jesus is very strict — far, far stricter than is realized in our day. He will not permit tares in His Kingdom. Divine grace forgives our sins and gets us started into the Kingdom of God. But if we do not obey the commandments of the Apostles of the Lamb, after having been warned so clearly by Paul, Peter, John, and Jude, then we are like a dog that returned to its vomit. We will be spit out of the Lord’s mouth. We will be one of the foolish virgins who are left behind to face a closed door.
The shaking is here now. The spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, the period of reconciliation to God, is here now. Make certain that you remain as the wheat of the Lord. It is your salvation that is at stake.
(“The Sons of the Kingdom”, 3415-1, proofed 20230701)