Yeshua always seemed to be telling stories that began with “the Kingdom of Heaven is like …” Happy to have their children temporarily entertained (the children loved the stories), most of crowd only listened out of courtesy.
They were there for the miracles … and maybe a free meal.
Unlike the self-appointed religious authorities of the day, Yeshua set Himself apart by teaching with real chutzpah! The crowd was used to hearing the scribes and Pharisees teach “Torah with a Twist,” a flimsy mixture consisting of microscopic doses of the Word of God and copious quantities of Babylonian idealism and influence.
But no one would ever accuse the Master of teaching with such compromise. He had this unusual respect for the Law and the Prophets.
This unique trait alone would not be enough to turn the heads of the multitudes, teachers were nothing new. But when He opened blind eyes and cast out demons? Wow! Now that was worth the trip!
Unfortunately, the amusement of the multitudes was always short-lived. Eventually they would return to their own homes and go back to the daily grind.
But there was this one phrase that the Miracle-Worker always ended His stories with that would replay itself in their minds at night.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Those who knew the torah and the prophets perked up their ears at this. They had heard that phrase before.
Recalling what they learned at a young age, their hearts were smitten as they were reminded of the stubbornness of their fathers.
Long ago, Moses, the great leader, the prophet who led them out of Egypt stood up and declared to them a covenant in Moab (Deuteronomy 29:1). But, before getting into the details of this covenant, Moses reminded them of their disobedience to the Father’s commands.
“Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: ‘You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land. Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.'”
Even after their fathers experienced all the miracles… the plagues in Egypt, the pillar of cloud and fire, the earth opening up, the healing of the serpent’s bite and the glorious victories in battle… the children of Israel would not submit to, or obey, the instructions laid out by the Father.
Moses equated that with having deaf ears and blind eyes.
Moses also prophesied of another prophet that would be identical to himself (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18)… could this be the prophet spoken of by Moses?
Nah, He couldn’t be… He was way too passive.
Falling Away from His Heart
The most notable righteous king, David, the only king worthy of being called “a man after God’s own heart”, wasn’t perfect in any sense of the word. But he did give us an idea as to where his priorities were when he wrote “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)
Such a man had “ears to hear.”
Sadly, the majority of his successors did not follow suit.
Even David’s own son, Solomon, polluted himself with pagan women, worshiping their gods and following their wicked ways.
Prone to idolatry, the nation of Israel followed their king and this eventually led to the division of the kingdom.
From Holy Nation to rebellious house
Those familiar with Yahweh’s instructions and the prophets also remember His words to the prophet Ezekiel.
“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.”
Like the majority of the kings that led them, the children of Israel disobeyed and rejected the instructions of Yahweh. They didn’t want to be a part of His Kingdom, they preferred to do things their way.
And they would reap the consequence of this poor choice.
The curses of Deuteronomy 28 would surely come to pass.
Instead of being a “peculiar treasure” and “a kingdom of priests,” the “holy nation” would become “a rebellious house.”
What, exactly, were the children of Israel rebelling against?
Hearing the teacher say “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” also reminded them of the words of the prophet Zechariah.
“But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.”
True to the nature of a real prophet, Zechariah pulled no punches. The fault for Israel’s disobedience to the Father’s commands landed squarely on their shoulders. Those familiar with the Torah and the prophets knew that the Father didn’t set before His people an expectation that was somehow out-of-reach. Moses had told them:
“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious [pala – H6381 – too difficult to do, or understand] for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.“
A couple of verses later, Moses even gave the people a choice.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;”
But His people did not listen to or obey His instructions, nor did they heed what the prophets had said. Even after the Babylonian exile, when some of them returned from Babylon (though many of them chose to remain there), they were quick to fall back into sin and carnality. (Nehemiah 13:23, Ezra 10:2)
Fast-Forward 490 Years, or So
When the Messiah addressed the multitudes on the shoreline, they were a conquered people. The land once promised to them by the Father was firmly under Roman occupation. Rome’s pagan culture infiltrated their society and many of the Jews forsook the ways handed down to them, embracing the Greek ideologies, customs and idol worship that Rome had adopted. They were known as “Hellenists.”
In the midst of all that turmoil, the Miracle-Worker named Yeshua came, bearing the “Good News” of the Kingdom.
When Yeshua spoke of being good to your neighbor, that seemed easy enough to relate to. Lots of people were teaching that concept in the names of various gods, and (obviously) everybody wants to be treated well.
But the seeds, leaven, nets and fish? What did that have to do with the Kingdom of Yahweh?
Oh well, on to the next miracle… and where did the bread and fish go?
Yeshua Knows Who are His
After the parable of the sower, the disciples could stand it no longer. They came to Yeshua and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” (Matthew 13:10)
The Messiah answered them directly, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”
You see, Yeshua knew the criteria for who were His and who were not.
The “Chosen” will know the secrets of the Kingdom.
These beneficiaries of Kingdom wisdom will not only forsake the material excesses of this life, they will forsake all of their religious training and so-called “knowledge.” (Hint: Most of it comes from Babylon, anyways.)
This willingness to forsake all will result in an increase of the knowledge of the Kingdom.
“For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance;”
Those who are willing will be active participants in the great war between heaven and earth. And while the world may never know them, they will make headlines in heaven.
Those who remain “the called” will stick with their training.
A spectator, however, will not learn the ways of the Kingdom of God. They will come for the thrills and the storytelling and the hyper-charismatic “worship services,” but will never change their ways (repent) and forsake all to follow the Master.
They will not take on His Unchangeable Ways, they are content to do things the way they are TRAINED to do them.
And, as we get closer and closer to the End of the Age, these people will grow more and more degenerate in their ways.
“whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
When referring to the multitudes, whose entire culture was saturated with Greek philosophy and pagan practices, Yeshua likened them to the Israelites during the days of the Prophets.
“Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
The multitudes were simply too self-absorbed to get what He was saying.
Little did they know that the “cute little anecdotes” that came from the Miracle-Worker’s mouth (the same “little anecdotes” that they would casually dismiss) were like chapters in an instruction manual for the coming Kingdom.
And the blame lay squarely on their shoulders.
“And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn [shuwb – H7725 – repent], so that I should heal them.'” (also see Isaiah 6:9-10)
The Purpose of Parables
The purpose of a parable is to exhort and leave clues for the true Disciples of the Master. As you read each parable, it’s almost like you can hear Him saying …
My Kingdom is near! Yes! The Kingdom that you’ve all been waiting for is near! Do you want to know how it is going to appear? Do you want to know how to live according to My Rules and My Ways in My Kingdom? Let me give you a little hint…
What side of the fence you end up on depends largely on YOU having “Ears to Hear.”