Summary: The harvest at the end of the age shows us the importance of telling people about Jesus now.
March 6, 2005
Text: Matthew 13:36-43
Subject: The Harvest
Title: Part 4 in the Harvest Series ¡V The Final Harvest
As we finish up the Harvest Series I want to do so by placing a great emphasis on the work that is set before us. I¡¦ve told you that seed has been planted and there is seed yet to be planted. There is harvesting that is going on now and there is harvesting that we need to accomplish. What we reap is in direct proportion to what we sow. We are commanded to share the gospel. I believe that the window of opportunity for the gospel to be spread is narrowing every day. Bible prophecies are being fulfilled as we speak. The end of the age may be tomorrow, next week or in a hundred years, we just don¡¦t know. But we can never take for granted that it isn¡¦t tomorrow. Therefore you can understand the urgency that is in place.
Maybe it¡¦s just me, but it would appear that the world, even though it believes that there will be a literal end of the world, as we now know it, doesn¡¦t appear to think that it could happen in this generation. As a matter of fact I found these headlines from magazines that might be seen after Jesus returns.
Reporting The End Times
When the end of the world arrives, how will the media report it?
USA Today:WE’RE DEAD The Wall Street Journal:DOW JONES PLUMMETS AS WORLD ENDS Microsoft Systems Journal:APPLE LOSES MARKET SHARE Readers Digest:’BYE’ Discover Magazine:HOW WILL THE EXTINCTION OF ALL LIFE AS WE KNOW IT AFFECT THE WAY WE VIEW THE COSMOS? TV Guide:DEATH AND DAMNATION:NIELSEN RATINGS SOAR! Ladies Home Journal:LOSE 10 LBS BY JUDGMENT DAY WITH OUR NEW "ARMAGEDDON" DIET! America Online:SYSTEM TEMPORARILY DOWN. TRY CALLING BACK IN 15 MINUTES. Inc. magazine:TEN WAYS YOU CAN PROFIT FROM THE APOCALPSE Microsoft’s Web Site:If you didn’t experience the rapture, download software patch RAPT777.EXE. Sun:Armageddon Tolerant Software Now Available! Sports Illustrated:GAME OVERFrom the Visual Christian CenterNow those are just an illustration of how the world will view the end times. We know that it is a certainty. We know that Jesus is returning to judge the living and the dead. We know that the Tribulation is part of the judgment of the end. We also know that there will be a harvest of souls during that time. That will be the final harvest. It is imperative that as Christians we understand the urgency involved in this present age for the harvest. Jesus told a parable to his disciples about the wheat and the tares and then in Matthew 13:37-43, He explained it to them. As we look at that passage today we will see the importance of understanding the urgency of the message of the gospel.I. THE WORLD WE LIVE IN. (37-38)A. The Field That Receives the Seed. In verse 36 we can already see how the seed that is planted is beginning to grow. 6Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, ¡§Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.¡¨ The disciples wanted to understand the word spoken to them. Now what is it that made them different than the others? It was the same seed that was sown. Each one had the same opportunity to desire to understand the meaning. But it was the disciples who wanted to know. We live in the world. The only way we can escape it is to die or to experience the rapture. But we are not like the world. Often when I talk about the world I am speaking of the world system that is under the dominion of (is in slavery to) the evil one. Here the world is not the evil system but the actual physical ¡§earth¡¨ and all its inhabitants. The word of God is preached to all the world (earth) but is hidden from those who are of the world (the system). Jesus is preaching things that have been hidden from the foundation of the earth and are now being revealed to those who believe. Listen to what the apostle Paul writes to the Roman church in 16:25-27, 25„TNow to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith¡X27to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. The seed that was planted for harvest has been planted in the whole world. But what separates the disciples from the world is not their inherent goodness or their mastery of spiritual understanding. It is their persistence in seeking the truth.B. The Seed That Produces Fruit. Verse 38, ¡§the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom.¡¨ Go back to verse 37. We see here that Jesus is the one who sows good seed. Now look again at 38. How did we get from Jesus being the sower of good seed to the sons of the kingdom being described as good seed? Does good seed always produce good seed? Ephesians 4:7-8, 7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ¡¦s gift. 8Therefore He says:¡¨ When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.¡¨ The good seed that Christ shares He shares with all. The gospel is meant for the benefit of all mankind. So whatever good seed is sown in the world comes from Jesus. Good seed does not automatically produce good seed. It has to fall on ground that is receptive to the good seed. When it does, can you see the cycle that is started? The good seed of Christ produces fruit first, that then goes to seed, which produces more seed and so on¡K This continues throughout history right down till the end of the age. Daniel 12:2-3 says, ¡§And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.¡¨ Those who turn to righteousness are those who hear the word of God and receive it with great joy. Now in verse 38 it specifically says that the good seed, the sons of the kingdom, are placed in the world by Jesus. Right where you are you are good seed. If you move to another town, you are still good seed. Wherever you go you remain as good seed, because you were sown by Christ. C. The Seed That Produces Wickedness. Just as Christ has been sowing good seed throughout the world, the enemy has been sowing bad seed. In verse 38 Jesus continues, ¡§¡K but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.¡¨ Jesus¡¦ explanation of the parable of 24-30 indicates that there is an enemy who is constantly undermining everything the Son of Man does. Verse 25 says that ¡§while the man slept his enemy came in and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.¡¨ Now this doesn¡¦t mean that Jesus was ignorant of what the enemy was doing. The fact is Jesus has sown and has now gone back to His rightful place at the right hand of the Father and the good seed He has sown has been left here to continue the work that He began. So if few look at the whole of scripture, the church ¡V the good seed ¡V has fallen asleep while the enemy spreads his bad seed. And that bad seed continues to produce wickedness. Even though the end of the age is near the world continues as it did in the days of Noah ignoring the signs around them. Jesus said, "As it happened in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man...They were eating, they were drinking, they were being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:26-27) One thing we need to do with this description is to go back into the Old Testament and see what the world was like during the time of Noah. God was not pleased with what He saw. The world was an extremely wicked place at the time before the flood. So much that man’s depravity had gone to the point that man continually and purposely conceived evil in his mind. Now what does it take for someone to do evil? All you have to do is think evil. In Gen 6:11-12 we see that God looked at the earth and saw that the people had degenerated to the point where violence was the norm for the world. Does this sound like today as we look at the world as a whole? Genesis 7:1, 1Then the LORD said to Noah, ¡§Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.¡¨ Think about this for a minute. Out of all the people of the earth at that time, there was only one righteous before God. If this was the case in the time of Noah, and the end times shall also be like them, where do some get the thought of a large turning to God in the last days? This sign of the last days shows that there will a lack of true faith in God. How far has the world decayed today? All you have to do is look at the world around you to answer that. In the time of Noah, for 120 years as they watched him build the ark, life went on as usual; without God in the lives of the people. Ignoring the warnings, they were suddenly destroyed. That¡¦s how it will be when Jesus comes back.II. THE ENEMY OF GOD (39-40,42)A. The Enemy at Work. He has planted his seed and continues to poison the minds of people everywhere with his lies. satan is using America as an agent of evil to sow his corruption around the world. just look at all the pornography that is bombarding the world. A large majority of it comes from the U.S. Look at the worldview that comes out of secular western society. It is not a Christian worldview. For the most part the secular world-view places man at the bottom of the food chain and the earth and all of its created components above man. Yet that is contrary to the fact that God has made mankind to have dominion over His creation. Christian thought and secular thought are in a constant battle because their sources are diametrically opposed to one another. satan¡¦s answer to fulfillment is to do whatever feels good and it leads to death. God¡¦s answer is faith in Christ and it leads to eternal life. The enemy is working even harder now than he did in the days of Noah. Why? Because he knows that the time is short. The final harvest is near and he is sowing seed like never before. Can¡¦t you just look at all the things that people are grabbing for to find fulfillment in their lives? Doesn¡¦t it hurt to see people destroying their lives and facing eternity in hell? That is exactly what the enemy is doing to the world. Jesus said that the harvest is the end of the age. You can tell by the activity of the enemy that he believes it is coming soon.B. The Enemy in His Domain. satan is doing just exactly what he is expected to do. He is leading people to hell. He is the prince of darkness. How did he become the God of this world? What authority does he have? When Adam sinned he gave the dominion over creation that was his, to satan. Luke 4:5-6, says, ¡§Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ¡¥all this authority I will give to You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.¡¨ Now for us to understand what satan is doing in his domain we need to understand how he operates in it. 1) satan is into prevention. He works in his own children. Who are they? Anyone who does not belong to Christ is a child of the devil. 1 John 5:19, ¡§We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.¡¨ Jesus even accused the Pharisees of being the offspring of their father the devil. The children of the devil ¡V the world - are those who are not true Christians. satan¡¦s desire then is to prevent anyone from hearing and responding to the gospel. When I went on a missions trip to Tampico, Mexico some years back we finished building the church on a Thursday afternoon. We were ready to have the dedication service that evening with lots of visitors coming alongside the church people. However, the enemy did everything he could to prevent that from happening. It seems that the electric company chose that particular evening to divert some of the power from that area to other parts of the city. The devil was using his children to prevent the gospel from going out. After we went to prayer, the enemy was defeated and victory was ours. satan also prevents the seed from growing in lives once it has been sown. The parable of the sower tells us that some seed falls on a path and the devil comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 2) The devil is also in the perversion business. Stop and think about it for a moment. This is a very economical move on the part of satan. He can either try to remove the word of God that was sown from a hundred people, or he can use a church group or preacher to teach perverted doctrine and then can influence many while only working in one. For instance, a denomination that teaches salvation by works, regardless of how sincere they are in their beliefs, is really doing the work of the devil. A doctrine of salvation that emphasizes confession only, without change or true faith (believing in the heart) is speaking satan¡¦s lies. C. The Enemy Leads His Army. The army of satan follows him around like a lost puppy. Most don¡¦t even understand the gravity of their situation. There are some who worship him as the God of this world. Where is it that they think they are headed? They think that somehow satan will be able to rise up victoriously and defeat God. Look down to verse 42. It tells us exactly where satan and his army are headed. ¡§and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.¡¨ But the world blindly follows satan thinking nothing will ever happen. Back in 1992 President Clinton named Kristine Gebbie, a lesbian, as the new AIDS czar. Four months later she spelled out her perceptions on traditional morality. She said, [The United States] needs to view human sexuality as an essentially important and pleasurable thing. [Until it does so], we will continue to be a repressed, Victorian society that misrepresents information, denies homosexual sexuality, particularly in teens, and leaves people abandoned with no place to go. I can help just a little bit in my job, standing on the White House lawn talking about sex with no lightning bolts falling on my head." Associated Press, October 29, 1993. Just like the bible says that in the last days people will be lovers of pleasure and not of God and will call good evil and evil good. The harvest is near and the results will be catastrophic.III. THE KINGDOM OF God (41-43)A. The Timing of the Harvest. Verse 41, ¡§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.¡¨ Many liberal theologians point to this event as proof that there is no literal tribulation and now rapture. If there is a rapture then why does it say here that the wicked are removed first? Verse 40 says, ¡§Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.¡¨ What age are we living in now? It is the dispensation or age of grace. When does that end? Not at the rapture, but at the end of the tribulation when Jesus comes back to begin His 1000 year reign. So the tares that are gathered at the end of the age are those who are left during the tribulation. There will be a multitude during that time that will come to salvation. These are the tribulation saints. The rest are the tares. It happens at the end of the age.B. The Glory of the Righteous. Verse 43, ¡§Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father¡K¡¨ Because they will be in the presence of the righteous one. Because their sin stain has been washed cleaner than any launderer¡¦s soap could ever get them. Because when we are in God¡¦s presence we will perfectly reflect His glory. It¡¦s not about us. It¡¦s Him. The one who saved us and has promised us eternal life.C. The Purpose of the Message. ¡§He who has ears to hear, let him hear.¡¨ Do you remember that I have told you in the past that the word that is translated ¡§Hear¡¨ also means to understand? Jesus wants people to hear the word and be transformed. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. ¡§Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.¡¨ Faith is being fully persuaded that what God has promised He is able to perform. And Faith is the key to eternal life. God desires that everyone would hear the word and be saved. God¡¦s desire is that we would go out into the harvest field now and bring in the harvest. And God¡¦s desire is to bring to a swift conclusion the promised events of the future.Jesus is coming back soon. Folks, we are talking about a frightening time. The world hears but they don¡¦t understand. They see but don¡¦t perceive. But we can make a difference. We can leave a legacy. We can be the generation that spreads the world of God far enough and often enough and powerfully enough so that even if Jesus returns tomorrow, His word will remain as a testimony to the truth and multitudes will turn to Him after we are gone.Pray for the lost.