In Matthew 13, we are given many images, or parables to aid our understanding of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is like:
- A mustard seed (v.31-32) “ … which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
- Leaven (v.33) “… which a woman took and hid in the three measures of a meal till it was all leavened.”
- Treasure hidden in a field (v.44) “… which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
- A merchant seeking beautiful pearls (v.45-46) “… who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he has and bought it.”
- A dragnet (v.47-48) “… that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it as full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.”
After offering these comparisons, Jesus asks His disciples, “Have you understood all these things?” When they say “Yes”, He continues with one more comparison – (v.52)
“Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
The NIV version of the Bible states the same verse like this:
“Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
In the comparisons of the Kingdom of Heaven (mentioned before) that Jesus gives, a few things are common:
- The Kingdom of Heaven is active – it grows (like the mustard seed), leavens (like the leaven/yeast) and catches (like the dragnet)
- The Kingdom of Heaven influences, through the above actions, to function as a home, to give understanding, and to draw people into intimacy with Christ, thus into His eternal Kingdom
- The Kingdom of Heaven is valuable – it is worth everything
- The Kingdom of Heaven pursues the individual – we are personally, individually and uniquely participating in it, each one himself has a role
There is so much to talk about when it comes to the Kingdom of Heaven, even in just these short descriptions. I see how the emphasis in these descriptions is not the group, but the individual. Jesus also describes the fruit of His Kingdom, and this is useful because it helps us recognise what is and is not of Him.
Why the pause before Jesus gives the last example? The last comparison speaks directly to us as individuals, those who have been instructed about the kingdom of heaven. By instructed, it means we understand and put into practice what we know about the kingdom of heaven. These, Jesus says, are like householders or house owners. What could be we householders or house owners of? Jesus says, we are householders of treasure, or a storeroom of treasure from which we bring both new and old. This makes me think of a few verses:
1) Matthew 6:19-21
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in in steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in a steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”
So then, we are home owners of our heart and where our heart is, there our treasure also is. God’s heart is for us and we are His treasure. Christ was given unto death and raised to life so that we could be restored to relationship with God! Ephesians 1:3-4 says this, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…” When our hearts are in Christ, our heart is where God’s heart is, and our treasure is His very being – a storehouse of immeasurable revelation of His love, His character and His desires.
2) Song of Songs 2:4-6
“He had brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me is love. Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick.”
In Isaiah 55, the Lord promises abundance for the souls of those who hunger and thirst. In Song of Songs, we see some of what it is like to enter the Lord’s banqueting hall. His banner over us is love and from this love, we are sustained with raisins (old testimonies) and refreshed with apples (fresh revelation). We need both the raisins and the apples! With raisins alone, we can become stuck in the past, never able to move forward and row more in our knowledge of God. With apples alone, we can become dangerously disengaged with His uncompromising truth. From our storeroom, filled with treasures in God, we bring forth both old, and unforgettable testimonies, as well as new revelation. We bring these both as worship to God, and witness to the world of His Kingdom.
3) Mark 2:22
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine in spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”
This verse is given in the context of people questioning Jesus about why His disciples were not fasting when the disciples of John, and the Pharisees were fasting. Jesus explains a few things – they were not fasting now because the bridegroom was here, but when he was taken away, then they would fast. This speaks about recognising the time, and being shaped to hold new revelation. If we are not prepared for the new, that revelation will not take root, but will be missed and we will be in ruin.
Finally, actually being a home owner and taking on the responsibilities that come along with this, has taught me some things about building with God.
- (1) Foundation is key
- We discovered that water management and solid foundations were key to a solid home. Different soils were more prone to cracking, movement and pests, all of which could compromise the stability of a home over months to years, and even over decades. Water damage from poor guttering, or seepage through floors also compromises the integrity of the house. These were all things we learnt to look for as we were searching for our new home. We spent the most effort on protecting the foundations of the house from water leakage and pests. What foundation do we stand on in our faith? What are we letting seep into our lives? It may start small, but over time, if we continue to yield to sin and temptation, our heart will be affected, and if our heart is not aligned with Christ, what we build will not endure. He has laid the foundation for us to build upon.
[1 Corinthians 3:11] – “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
- (2) Vision is needed
- We started with an old 1980s house. Though there were carpets all throughout and the bathrooms were cream-coloured rather than white, the layout was good and we saw the potential for transformation. In the big picture, we wanted our home to be a place where people could come, experience the goodness of God, and be blessed. We also wanted a space for ourselves, to grow with one another, build a family, and be settled down for a little while. We wanted to create a rustic/natural theme, with space to display gifts from others, and our own creations – arts and crafts. Having this in mind, we set to work. What is our vision of the Kingdom of God? Do we know how it will look like when the Day of the Lord arrives? The big picture is found in the image of Christ’s victory, the New Jerusalem and eternal life in the presence of our God. In looking toward that vision, we must also have focus in our mission and our calling – what are we doing here on earth? How can we minister effectively to call forth the Kingdom of God
[Philippians 3:12] – “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
- (3) Renovation – replacing old for new
- Before we could put in new decorations and furniture, we needed to remove the old. On the day we got the keys, we entered and ripped out all the carpets. We knew what we were going to do with the house and we didn’t waste any time removing the parts that needed to be replaced. Moreover, there is no point removing the old unless you plan to then replace it with something new. We started on the garden the other day, pulling out weeds to make space for new plants (currently, we have one pot plant waiting to be planted). If we do not plant something in those now empty plots of soil, the weeds will just grow back again. When we rebuke sin in our lives, what do we replace it with? We need to be continuously filled with new revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
[Matthew 12:43-45] – “When an unclean spirit goes out of man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
- (4) Tools – having the right tools for the right job
- In removing the carpets from our old home, we needed to remove all the staples and tacks still attached to the floor. Initially, we did not have the right tools. The first few staples and tacks we removed were painstakingly slow, and we obtained a couple of sore thumbs. Once we obtained the proper tools, the job was a breeze. How are we equipped to serve in the Kingdom of God? What strengths do we have, and what opportunities has the Lord opened to us? We are all unique in the Kingdom of God, equipped with particular giftings and skills to be used in support of one another as we, His people, build His kingdom together.
[Ephesians 4:11-12] – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”
- (5) The satisfaction of looking at a job well done
- Looking at the before and after pictures of our home, we are happy with the changes we’ve made, the things we have created for its decoration, and the way it has turned out. It reminds we of how God looks upon us, the ones He created and says, “It is very good.” God did not make mistakes in His creation of mankind. He has made us in His image, as His sons and daughters, His people and His beloved bride. God is pleased with the work of His hands and He delights in us.
[Psalm 18:19] – “he also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.”
[Zephaniah 3:17] – “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Being a builder with God requires both a building of His kingdom in our lives, and a building of His kingdom in our world. As we build with God, may we be aware of His plans, obedient to His instructions, and prepared for His revelation.