Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, August 20, 2023
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,

Satan’s Tares in God’s Wheatfield (Yeshua Explained Evil)
by Dr. Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: I have lived a blessed life. God has given me a wonderful wife and family. I have lived into my eighties. I earned enough later in life to live and retire comfortably. I know Yeshua as my Savior. And, I could continue. Thank You, Abba.

I have one disappointment, though. This disappointment has developed only in recent years. The United States was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, with the best form of government (constitutional republic) ever devised.

At one time, most Americans believed our national motto– “In God We Trust.” From an early age, I developed a strong sense of patriotism. I still get a lump in my throat when I hear the National Anthem. I proudly stand at attention, hand over heart, when the American flag passes. I have deep respect for the men and women who wear our nation’s uniforms.

I have lived approximately one-third of the United States’ life. Looking back on my life, I realize that I have lived in two different Americas. The America of my youth differed markedly from the America of today. I love the America of my youth. I am not so fond of and am ashamed of today’s America.

I am not so jaded that I believe no good Americans live today. There are millions of Believers who love God and neighbors and try to lead virtuous lives. They are my brothers and sisters in the Body of Yeshua, and I am proud of them.

On the other hand, millions of today’s Americans have abandoned God. They follow other gods. They regard the Bible as a collection of irrelevant fairy tales. I do not have space in this RR to discuss all of the ways many Americans have separated themselves from God’s will, but you know the ways we thumb our noses at God..

There are at least two basic reasons we fail God:

The first reason for Americans’ failure to serve God is fulfillment of prophecy. Yeshua and other Bible prophets issued multiple warnings about the confusion, evil, apostasy, and lack of faith in the last days. If we could discuss today’s spiritual faith with Yeshua, I think He might say that. although grieved by these things, He knew they must come before His return. He would re-emphasize His warnings in The Revelation that Believers must overcome Satan’s temptations (sins). I believe He would smile, and say the eventual reward of Heaven will be worth any trials we may face now or in the future.

The second (basic) reason for Americans’ failure to serve God was explained by Yeshua’s parable of the wheat and the tares. We can understand why we are the way we are, when we consider this parable.

THE PARABLE: Yeshua taught in parables. A dictionary definition of a parable is: “a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.” Yeshua taught in parables because they were easy to understand, remember, and repeat to others. They also might obscure His message from His enemies. His disciples and followers were taught, whereas His enemies asked themselves what exactly He was talking about.

Yeshua could make a point in a minute or two of telling a parable more effectively than many of us can make in a forty-minute sermon. Brevity is key. (I hang my verbose head in shame.) Recall American history: Two speeches were given to commemorate the dead at Gettysburg in November, 1863. The long-winded politician’s speech has long been forgotten. Abraham Lincoln delivered a 272-word speech– the Gettysburg Address– which has become a cherished statement of national purpose and faith. As a high school senior, I memorized this speech.

The parable of interest in this RR is recorded in Matthew 13:24-30. Yeshua taught this parable to explain the final Kingdom of God– Heaven. He wished to explain the age-old question of why evil exists in the world. Although the interpretation of this parable may be obvious to you, I wish to dissect Yeshua’s words verse by verse. Yeshua told us things we need to consider and re-consider. Parable verses are discussed in the following bullet points:

● First-century Jews were an agricultural people. Yeshua’s Jewish listeners would understand this parable more than will twenty-first century Americans. The Jews knew about sowing wheat fields and about weeds growing in the fields. << See Matthew 13:24: [Yeshua]  presented to them another parable, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. >> An individual seed produces a specific type of plant. Yeshua’s audience knew that a farmer planted wheat seeds, expecting the seeds to produce wheat plants and ultimately a crop of wheat berries (grains). They also knew about contaminating ryegrass.

In this parable, the wheat seeds are individual persons (individual children of God). The field is the world. The contaminating, undesirable ryegrass seeds are evil, Satan-following people. The field workers (servants) are Believers. The harvested crop is the future resurrected-raptured souls.

● Yeshua proposed the farmer had an enemy. This enemy sabotaged the farmer’s crop by sowing seeds of a worthless crop. << See Matthew 13:25-26: “But while the men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Now when the stalk sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. >> God and humans have an enemy (Satan). We are introduced to Satan (the Serpent) in the beginning of the Book of Genesis. Satan misled Adam and Eve by causing them to disobey (to sin against) God. Sin (evil) has infected every subsequent generation.

The Tree of Life Version translation has the enemy sowing “weeds.” The Greek text is more explanatory. The word in question is commonly translated “tares.” In the original Greek, the word is ζιζάνιον (transliterated, zizanion || pronounced, dziz-AN-ee-on ). The zizanion is ryegrass (darnel, weed). The plant sprouts at the same time as wheat and resembles wheat, as it grows. Upon harvest, through, the wheat berry (grain) is brown and can be used for food, usually after being ground into flour. On the other hand, the ryegrass berry (grain) is black or dark purple and cannot be used for food.

I am reminded of the house (our present home) Linda and I built thirty-three years ago. Upon our agreement with the contractor, I wanted to landscape the yard. We were left a graded piece of land as our “yard.” I rented a rototiller and prepared the seed bed. I broadcast good quality fescue seed. I covered the seed with straw. I watered the yard. After a few days, I was relieved (excited) to see numerous green shoots popping up through the straw. Unfortunately, these first shoots were from the wheat or oat seeds left behind in the straw. I did not want a grain field. Later, the desired fescue popped up and started growing.

Satan has sown evil people (“weeds”) in God’s grain field (the world). Think how many good people have been harmed by such followers of Satan as Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin.

● People question why evil exists in the world. People ask for relief from God, the Master of our earthly field. For example, how many people asked for relief from Adolf Hitler during World War II? << See Matthew 13:27: “So the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ >> All people start as innocent, sin-free newborns. We all must wonder, as did the servants in this parable, what happens in some people from the time of innocence at birth to the evil of adulthood? There are many theories for this transformation, but teachings of the Bible instruct us that evil people listen to the tempting lies of Satan. All people (even Yeshua) have been tempted by Satan. Some people resist Satan’s temptations, but other people capitulate to his temptations. I remember an anecdotal explanation of sin told by Billy Graham. Graham said, sin is like a bird. It is not a sin to have a bird fly over your head, but it is a sin to allow the bird to build a nest in your hair.

● The servants recognized the unwanted plants and asked the farmer if they could pull them up. << See Matthew 13:28: “But he replied, ‘An enemy did this.’ Now the slaves say to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go out and gather them up?’ >> We all recognize evil people. Think of how wonderful our city, state, nation, or world would be, if we could just “pull up” these evil people.

● But, the farmer would not allow the weeds to be pulled up from the wheatfield, and God will not allow us to “pull up” evil people in the world. The Lord has declared that vengeance is His (Deuteronomy 32:35). We are not free to form vigilante groups to erase evil people. Good people may be harmed in the vigilante battles. We must allow God to mete out appropriate judgment in the last days. << See Matthew 13:29-30: “But he says, ‘No, for while you are gathering up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time, I will tell the reapers, “First, gather up the weeds and tie them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” >> If Believers uprooted evil men and women in vigilante attacks, good people would suffer. Evil persons must be tolerated until harvest. The harvest is the Resurrection/ Rapture, followed by Judgment. At the end of the harvest, the good crop (wheat) will stand in sharp contrast to the bad crop (ryegrass).

The farmer will gather up and burn the unwanted plants, just as God will gather evil persons and burn them eternally in the Lake of Fire (Hell).

On the other hand, the farmer will gather up the wanted plants in his barn, just as God will gather righteous persons into Heaven.

WE ASK, WHY? THE GREAT MYSTERY: Yeshua taught this parable in a straightforward manner. Its interpretation is obvious.

An underlying question, which probably neither you nor I can answer, is: Why did God allow, and why does He still allow, evil to flourish? Satan has been lying to humans since tempting Eve (and Adam) to disobey God– that is, to commit sin. Satan even had the audacity to tempt Yeshua to obey and follow him. If you are like me, you recognize Satan and his minions as frequent companions.

The Apostle Paul bemoaned that he could not understand some mysteries of God. A mystery of God is a hidden truth. Some mysteries have been explained, but other mysteries will not be explained until a later time when appropriate to God’s purpose.

One mystery that must have entered Paul’s mind is a mystery that has bothered me.

If God is sinless and requires His children to be sinless, why were we not  created sinless from the beginning? And, why does an all-powerful God permit Satan to exist and cause grief among so many? And, why does God not just eliminate Satan and his demons (”pull up the weeds from His wheatfield”)?

Maybe a hint to answering this mystery is that God’s children must prove themselves worthy to enter Heaven. Since Adam and Eve, all of us have been tempted by Satan and we must overcome these temptations. Yeshua dictated letters to seven early Messiah’s communities (churches) in Roman Asia (Revelation, chapters 2 and 3).  A common theme in every letter is that only “overcomers” may enter Heaven. It is exasperating that Yeshua did not spell out what must be overcome. Overcome sin? Overcome Satan’s temptations? Overcome adversities? Overcome what?

Could each person have different things that must be overcome? Do you and I have different circumstances that must be overcome?

Our world (God’s wheatfield) has numerous weeds (evil persons) in it. Apparently, we must tolerate these weeds until Yeshua’s return. There is a Lake of Fire awaiting evil persons. We must await with grateful anticipation the Heaven that we overcomers have awaiting us. Wrongs will not be righted and evil will not be punished until the last evil person has received his/ her sentence at God’s Great White Thone Judgment.

Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.

<< Scriptures quoted from the Tree of Life Version of the Holy Bible. >>

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