The parable of the sower describes the work of Christ; the parable of the wheat and tares describes the work of Satan. The parable of the wheat and tares is a prediction of the history of Christianity. The "field" represents the religious world, in which the wheat and the tares "grow together. This mixed state of affairs has resulted from the work of the enemy at the beginning of the Church Age. This parable, like the former, also contradicts the unscriptural teaching that, through the preaching of the Gospel, under the blessing of God, the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. Jesus said the wheat and tares will grow together until the harvest that He defined as "the end of the age." He gave no hint that the "tares" would gradually die out, or that they would decrease in numbers; but announced that, at the end, they would be found in such quantity as to need binding "in bundles."
The connection between the parable of the sower and the parable of the wheat and tares is Sower of the good seed is the same Sower who “went out to sow.” The field is the same, “the world” (v. 38). In the parable of the Sower the seed is called "the word of the kingdom," (v. 19). In verse 38 the seed is called the sons of the kingdom. Since like produces like: the word of the kingdom produces sons of the kingdom: the fruit is according to the Seed!
The prominent thing in the parable of the wheat and tares is the work of the enemy, Satan. His servants sow evil seed while the servants of the Sower of the good seed. In other words, it was under cover of the darkness that the enemy sowed his tares. He sows his seed under the cover of darkness because he hates the light. It is not the Sower who was sleeping when the enemy sowed his seed. He never sleeps or grows weary like His servants. Nor does Satan sleep or grow weary. He is ever on the alert, going about, "seeking whom he may devour." He is the personification of perpetual motion.
"While His men were sleeping" refers to the unwatchful condition which soon developed among the Lord’s people. The presence of the "tares" among the wheat was evidenced at a very early date. To the Thessalonians the apostle Paul wrote "the mystery of lawless is already at work” (2nd Thessalonians 2:7). John told the readers of his first letter, “you heard that Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared” (1 John 2:18). Jude wrote, "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (v. 4). To the Church at Pergamos Christ said, "I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam . . . . you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans” (Revelation 2:14, 15).
We are told in the parable the Sower is the Son of Man and He sows good seed in His field (vv. 24, 37). Then we are told the enemy sowed tares or darnel (v. 25). Satan is no originating genius, but is an imitator. He produces counterfeits of the works of God. It is important for Christians to know this, so that they may be on their guard. If we study Scripture we shall not be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). It is to be carefully noticed that as the enemy didn’t sow thorns or thistles. If he did this it would had been easily detected, and there would be no difficulty in distinguishing the false from the true. He sowed "tares," or "darnel." Darnel cannot be distinguished from the wheat until the wheat begins to bear fruit. When the "servants" of the Sower discovered what the enemy had done, they wanted to root out the darnel (v. 28). He told them not to root out the darnel. If they root out the darnel they will uproot the wheat (v. 29). The darnel wraps itself around the roots of the wheat and this is why the Sower didn’t want His servants to root out the darnel. It is only when the wheat is harvested can the wheat and darnel be safely separated.
As these imitation blades, green and flourishing, grow side by side with the real wheat, it appears there will be a good harvest. But appearances are deceptive, and the harvest will be a disappointment and mockery to those who have spent so much time and labor on their cultivation.
This parable exposes Satan’s method of operation. He seeks to destroy God’s testimony on earth by introducing a spurious Christianity, a clever imitation of the real thing. And this parable reveals that he works from within: he sowed the "tares" among the wheat. Satan has an imitation Gospel. This is clearly implied in the solemn warning given in Galatians 1:7-9 and more plainly in 2nd Corinthians 11, where we are told "false apostles and deceitful workers disguise themselves as apostles of Christ, even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (vv. 13-15). The servants of Satan are not working in the sinful activity of men and women. They are working overtime in our seminaries and pulpits! These are not advocating lawlessness, but are preaching "righteousness;" but being ignorant of God’s righteousness they are establishing their own righteousness (Romans 10:3). A mingling of Law and Gospel, and multitudes are deceived by it.
Satan has an imitation Church. There is a cross over the door and paintings and statues of Jesus in its sanctuary. His servants profess the name of Christ, and hold some of the great fundamentals of His teaching artfully mingled with these are the deadly errors of paganism. This imitation is so subtle it seems as if the Scriptures support of their pretensions and millions are deluded by this soul-destroying imitation. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
Satan will be permitted to bring forth an imitation Christ. This will be his masterpiece. Much is said in Scripture concerning him. He is the Antichrist. He will have the power to work miracles; he will at first claim to be the true Christ come back to earth. Multitudes will be deceived by him so that the entire world will follow after him (Revelation 13:4). Satan does not sow thorns and thistles he sows imitation wheat.
In this parable we are not told of any opposition or hindrances to the growth of the tares, like we did in the first parable concerning the Sower going out to sow seed. No mention is made of "wayside" ground, too hard for them to penetrate. There are no "thorns" to choke them, for they will thrive anywhere. There is no mention made of the birds eating the seed. All external conditions and circumstances are favorable to the growth of the tares or darnel. No cultivation is needed; they will grow of themselves.
The enemy’s success is plainly implied by the attention given to the "tares." When Jesus had sent the multitude away, and had gone into the house with His disciples, they said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field” (v. 36). They didn’t ask Jesus to explain the parable of the wheat and tares. It is the tares and not the wheat that predominates and occupies the larger portion of the field. The mention of "bundles" in verse 30 bears this out.
The Owner of the field forbidding any interference with the growth of the tares has been a source of debate. Why did the Lord permit the Enemy to sow his "tares"? And why has He permitted them to occupy the principal part of the field? In other words, why has God allowed Satan this freedom? These questions are not as difficult to answer as many suppose. In seeking answers to these questions the fact overlooked is the leaders of this world rejected its rightful Sovereign; the Jews preferred Barabbas. Having chosen a murderer in preference to the Lord of Life, both Jews and Gentiles have reaped what they sowed. Rejecting the Savior, Satan has ruled over them ever since. He will rule over them to “the end of the age” (v. 39).
“The end of the age” is not a difficult expression as many have made it. There is a world of time, as well as a world of matter. But if we accept the interpretation “the end of the age” refers to the end of the earth or world-system we are not in harmony with what Jesus said. What Jesus is referring to is the harvest that will occur at the end of the age. What age? There is an age that will follow the age Jesus is referring to, the Millennium. Jesus said He will send out His reapers, who are angels. The tares are gathered up and bundled and burned but the wheat will be put into His barn (v. 30). The tares are gathered before the wheat. In spite of their promising and attractive appearance, everything which has not sprung from the Seed sown by the Son of man is ultimately to be cast into “the furnace of fire” (v. 42). There is no actual casting of them into the fire at the first stage of the harvest. The first stage is the removal of the tares so as to leave the "wheat" distinct, and ready for garnering. The wheat is gathered into the barn before the tares are burned. This proof the saints will be removed from the earth prior to the descent of God’s judgment of the world. The gathering of the wheat corresponds with 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17.
Jesus said He will send “forth His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness (v. 41). In this world we are becoming a non-entity. Corporations, organization, amalgamation, syndicates, unions, are the "bundles" into which the interests of industry are now being bound. Clubs, guilds, fraternities, are multiplying. Class distinctions and social barriers which have existed for centuries are rapidly being broken down; movements are seeking to gather all into one great state, "bundle." The unification of religions is the goal of the religious leaders of this world. Those who understand prophecy know this goal will become a reality in the near future. The leading "Powers" of this age are working together to form a one world government and religion. The bundling of the tares has begun soon the wheat will be removed from the field.
From this parable we should see the reform movements and transformation movement’s efforts are useless. They are nothing more than tares. The Lord has said, "Let the wheat and tares grow together till the harvest." Do not waste your time on the cultivation of the tares. Our marching orders are "Preach the Gospel."
Jesus said the tares were planted while the servants were sleeping. This is a warning to the church today. We are to “watch” and “pray.” We need to heed the warning of Romans 13:11, 12. We must never lose sight of the fact Jesus loves His own. Forbidding the uprooting of the tares is evidence of that love. He will let the "tares" grow, than a single blade of the wheat be injured.
The "Furnace of Fire" is no mere superstition of the "dark ages," but a dread reality, as multitudes now living will discover it is the certain portion of all who continue to reject the Lord Jesus We have been warned to "Flee from the wrath to come" ere it be too late. Flee to Christ for refuge.