Mysteries of the Kingdom
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Parable of the Treasure
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
The last three parables in Matthew chapter thirteen, unlike the first four, were given only after Christ had reentered the house. The first four were given outside the house, by the sea; and the last three were given back inside the house (vv. 1-3, 36).
Beginning with the fifth parable, an entirely different situation existed in the subject matter Christ was covering in these parables. Israel is brought back into the picture. Thus, Christ had to reenter the house prior to giving these last three parables.
The first four parables cover the entirety of the present dispensation, as matters relate to the proclamation of the Word of the Kingdom among Christians. The dispensation, insofar as the proclamation of this message is concerned, will end, according to these parables, with Christendom in a completely leavened state (v. 33).
Because of the working of the leaven during the course of the dispensation, producing a continuing deterioration throughout Christendom (as also seen in Revelation 2, 3), conditions at the end of the dispensation will be as depicted by the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-21). In relation to the proclamation of and adherence to the Word of the Kingdom at the end of the dispensation, the Church as it will exist at this time, because of the previous working of the leaven throughout the dispensation, is described in Revelation 3:17 as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”
This is simply a description of the same conditions that Christ had called attention to several decades earlier during His earthly ministry: “. . . when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith [‘the faith’] on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b). And the manner in which this question is worded in the Greek text designates a negative response. The Son of Man will not find “the faith” (an expression peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom) being taught throughout the churches of the land at the time of His return.
The Word of the Kingdom, taught universally throughout the first century Church at the beginning of the dispensation, will be completely absent in teachings throughout the Church at the end of the dispensation. Instead, in some quarters (possibly “many”), that more closely aligned with the “doctrines of demons” will be taught (1 Timothy 4:1-3; ref., chapter 7 in this book). The working of the leaven throughout the dispensation (fourth parable) will have gradually wrought this change, bringing this change to a terminal point, leaving Christendom completely leavened in relation to the Word of the Kingdom at the end of the dispensation.
In this respect, the first four parables carry an individual through the whole of the present dispensation. And moving on to parables five through seven, that which is being dealt with has to do with events beyond the present dispensation.
These last three parables have to do with events occurring after the Church has been removed from the earth (the rapture) and after God has resumed his national dealings with Israel.
Thus, these parables could not have been given by the seaside, as the previous four. At this point in time, relative to events depicted by these parables, God will have completed his work of removing “a people for His name” from among the Gentiles (a work symbolized by that which followed His previous departure from “the house” and going down by “the sea” [depicted in the first four parables]). And these last three parables had to be given back inside the house, for God, at this time, will have finished His dealing with the Church and will have resumed His national dealings with Israel (Acts 15:14-17).
But, though that which is dealt with in these parables is intimately associated with Israel on the earth and cannot be brought to pass apart from God’s resumption of His national dealings with His covenant people, these parables, as well, have an inseparable connection with the Church, which will be in the heavens at this time.
In the preceding respect, these last three parables have to do with a continued sequence of events pertaining to the Word of the Kingdom. Though Israel is now brought into view, these last three parables simply continue a sequence of events from the preceding four parables.
All seven of these parables have to do with that which had been taken from Israel — the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew 21:43). And, since the Church was called into existence to be the recipient of that which had been taken from Israel, the closing three parables (as the first four), of necessity, cannot be separated from God’s dealings with the Church (though, as previously seen, the Church, during the time covered by events in these parables, will no longer be on earth).
(The preceding will become clear as the matter is further developed in this chapter.)
The Treasure, the Field
The first parable that Christ gave after He had reentered the house had to do with a treasure that a Man found and hid in a field. And following this, the Man went out, sold all that He had, and bought the field where He had hidden the treasure.
This parable reaches back into past events in order to establish a framework and foundational basis for dealing with future events — the central issue of the parable, the purchase of the field where the treasure was hidden. The things leading into and allowing for the purchase of the field have to do with past events, occurring at Christ’s first coming; but the purchase of the field itself has to do with events yet future, events that will occur during the coming Tribulation and immediately following Christ’s return at the end of the Tribulation.
The purchase of the field occurs when Israel is brought back into the picture, and this purchase forms the central thrust in the parable. All of the things stated in the first part of this fifth parable, along with the preceding four parables, form background material so one can properly understand and place this purchase within its correct biblical framework.
In the progression of that which is revealed in the seven connected parables in Matthew chapter thirteen, the “field” is specifically stated to be the world (v. 38); and, through comparing Scripture elsewhere, the “treasure” can only be identified as Israel (Exodus 19:5, 6; Psalm 135:4).
When Christ came the first time, He came only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” offering to the people comprising this nation the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew 4:17-25; 10:5, 6; 15:24). However, Israel spurned the offer, and the kingdom of the heavens was taken from the nation. Then Israel was set aside, with a view to an entirely new entity (the one new man “in Christ”) being called into existence, to be the recipient of that which had previously been offered to, rejected by, and taken from Israel (Matthew 21:33-43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).
The Man finding the treasure, hiding the treasure, and selling all that He had can only be a reference to three events occurring in the past:
1. Christ coming to and ministering to Israel — finding the treasure.
2. Israel being set aside — hiding the treasure.
3. Christ’s finished work at Calvary — the Man selling all that He had.
But note that Christ, following His finished work at Calvary, didn’t purchase the treasure (Israel). Rather, He is seen purchasing the field where the treasure was hidden. That is, He is seen purchasing the world.
And this purchase cannot be a reference to the purchase of salvation for all those in the world through Christ’s finished work at Calvary, as commonly taught. Christ selling all that He had is not synonymous with His purchase of the field. Such a teaching would make the parable deal centrally with salvation by grace through faith, something unseen in any of these parables.
These parables, rather than dealing with salvation by grace through faith, are about the Word of the Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Heavens — something stated in each of the seven parables, leaving no room for anyone to ever misunderstand the subject matter of these parables. And an erroneous view of Christ’s purchase of the field — making this purchase synonymous with His finished work at Calvary — not only completely removes the parable from its contextual setting but also from the clearly stated subject of the parable.
Comparing Scripture with Scripture, that which is involved in the purchase of the field in this parable becomes clear. This present earth will form the inheritance to be possessed by Christ and His wife during the coming age (cf. Psalm 2:6-9; Romans 8:17-23; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21). And this is what must be purchased, redeemed prior to a new order of Sons being brought forth to rule from the heavens over the earth (cf. Romans 8:18-21; Hebrews 2:5, 10).
The purchase of the field in the parable of the treasure has to do with a redeemed inheritance — the redemption of the earth. This is a future work of Christ, made possible because of His past and completed work at Calvary. Calling attention to Israel (the treasure), the world (the field), and Christ’s finished work at Calvary (the man giving all that he had) was necessary prior to any mention of the redemption of the inheritance (the field, the world). All of these things set the stage for and lead into Christ’s statement concerning His future redemptive work in this respect.
This will all become clear by viewing a number of things from three different books, which will comprise the material in the remainder of this chapter.
The book of Revelation and the book of Daniel are often looked upon as companion books in Scripture, with one book shedding light upon and helping to explain the other. And this association between these two books is correct. Daniel and Revelation form companion books, with Scripture from one helping to explain Scripture from the other. One book cannot be properly understood apart from the other.
However, Daniel is not the only book in the Old Testament carrying this type of relationship to the book of Revelation. Rather, it is one of many Old Testament books carrying a relationship to the book of Revelation of this nature.
Exodus, for example, could be looked upon as The Apocalypse of the Old Testament. The book of Exodus, throughout — in a type-antitype framework — covers exactly the same period of time covered in the first twenty chapters of the book of Revelation. Both books cover that period of time beginning with the present dispensation and ending with the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. And since both deal with the same thing, though from different perspectives, one will shed light upon and help explain the other.
But, for purposes of this chapter, discussion along these lines will be limited to two other books in the Old Testament that also carry this same type of relationship to the book of Revelation. And those are the books of Ruth and Esther. The book of Ruth deals with the Church and a redeemed inheritance in exactly the same manner seen in the book of Revelation. And the book of Esther deals centrally with Israel in the Tribulation and beyond, in the same manner as also seen in the book of Revelation.
Only through viewing that which is seen in the books of Ruth, Esther, and Revelation together can the purchase of the field in the parable of the treasure in Matthew 13:44 be properly understood. And not only is the preceding the case for a proper understanding of the fifth parable, but also for that which is seen in the sixth parable as well — the purchase of the pearl.
That which is seen in the book of Ruth and that which is seen in the book of Esther are both seen together in the book of Revelation. Each of these books must be studied in the light of the other two. Only through viewing the books of Ruth, Esther, and Revelation in this respect can the fifth and sixth parables in Matthew chapter thirteen be properly understood.
That would be to say, events covered by the things in view in the fifth and sixth parables in Matthew chapter thirteen are seen in different parts of the books of Ruth, Esther, and Revelation. In relation to that which is in these two parables, the book of Ruth deals with a wealthy Jew who redeems an inheritance and, through this redemptive process, takes a Gentile as his wife; the book of Esther deals with the latter days of Gentile world power and the restoration of Israel following the overthrow of Gentile world power, which will be headed up under Antichrist’s ten-kingdom confederacy in the end time; and the book of Revelation puts these different things from both Ruth and Esther together, providing additional details.
The Spirit of God used two books in the Old Testament (Ruth and Esther) to show both sides of the matter. Then, in the New Testament, the Spirit of God placed that which is in both Ruth and Esther together in one book — the book of Revelation. And possibly the best way to understand this is to go to the book of Revelation, present that which is in this book, and then refer back to the books of Ruth and Esther, allowing these two books to form commentary and tie matters together.
1) Revelation Chapters One through Four
The first four chapters of the book of Revelation deal with the Church — throughout the present dispensation (chapters 2, 3), at the judgment seat following the dispensation (chapters 1b-3), and in relation to regality immediately following decisions and determinations rendered at the judgment seat but preceding the Tribulation (chapter 4).
In the first part of chapter one, following introductory remarks concerning Christ (vv. 1-8), the Church is seen at a time yet future. The Church is seen at the end of the dispensation, at the time of the rapture, removed from Man’s Day on earth and placed in the Lord’s Day in heaven (v. 10). Then the remainder of chapter one presents the Church in Christ’s presence, in heaven. Christ is seen as Judge (vv. 13-16), and the complete Church (all Christians) — all seven churches from chapters two and three, with the number “seven” showing completeness — is seen appearing in Christ’s presence to be judged (vv. 12, 13, 20).
Then chapters two and three continue that which is revealed in chapter one, depicting the actual judgment itself. Note that each short epistle in these two chapters is structured exactly the same way — works, with a view to overcoming or being overcome. And each of the overcomer’s promises is Messianic within its scope of fulfillment.
And that which is seen in these opening three chapters in the book of Revelation relative to the removal of Christians into the heavens to appear before Christ at His judgment seat at the end of the dispensation is exactly what Scripture elsewhere reveals about the matter.
Following the removal of Christians from the earth, Christians will find themselves being judged on the basis of works, with a view to overcoming or being overcome. And that which is in view relative to overcoming or being overcome is seen as having to do with occupying or being denied positions with Christ in His kingdom (cf. Matthew 16:24-17:5; 24:45-51; 25:14-30; Luke 12:42-46; 19:11-27; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; 4:16-5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-11).
Also, chapters two and three, viewed from another perspective, present a history of the Church throughout the dispensation, synonymous with that which is seen in the first four parables in Matthew chapter thirteen. Both sections of Scripture present a history of the Church in relation to the Word of the Kingdom. Both sections of Scripture reveal the dispensation beginning with Christians producing acceptable works (fruitfulness [Matthew 13:8, 23; Revelation 2:2, 3]) and ending with Christendom seen in a completely leavened state (Matthew 13:33; Revelation 3:15-17).
Then chapter four begins once again at the same point as previously seen in chapter one — with the Church being removed from the earth into the heavens (vv. 1, 2). But this is only to reveal something subsequent to events at the judgment seat (chapters 1b-3). It is to reveal the twenty-four elders relinquishing their crowns by casting them before God’s throne (vv. 4, 10, 11).
This event will occur immediately following decisions and determinations at the judgment seat, as shown by the rainbow encircling the throne of God (v. 3). The rainbow in Scripture appears after judgment has occurred, after judgment is past. This is the manner in which the rainbow is first seen in Scripture (Genesis 9:11-17), establishing an unchangeable first-mention principle that governs its use at any subsequent point in Scripture.
The rainbow encircled throne in Revelation 4:3 tells the reader that events at the judgment seat (chapters 1b-3) are past. Then, the remainder of the chapter relates something intimately associated and connected with the decisions and determinations that will have been rendered at the judgment seat — the twenty-four elders casting their crowns before God’s throne.
Overcoming Christians, ruling with Christ over the earth during the coming age, are to wear crowns having to do with the domain over which they rule — crowns having to do with the government of the earth. And these crowns have existed since time immemorial, since God established the government of the earth in the beginning.
These crowns were originally worn by angels ruling under Satan in his unfallen state. However, since his rebellion against God’s supreme power and authority, these crowns have been worn by two classes of angels — those originally ruling with Satan, but refusing to go along with him in his attempted coup; and those who did go along with him, continuing to rule with him.
One group — the former, which can only be identified with the twenty-four elders (two-thirds of the original contingent of angels under Satan, represented by two sets of twelve crowned rulers) — will relinquish their crowns willingly; but the other group — the latter, seen in Revelation 12:4 (the other one-third of the angels under Satan, which would be represented by a third set of twelve crowned rulers) — will not relinquish their crowns willingly, resulting in their crowns having to be taken by force.
(Note that “twelve” is the number of governmental perfection, and “three” is the number of divine perfection. Three sets of twelve crowned rulers would show divine perfection in God’s original establishment of the government of the earth — something that has not existed since Satan’s attempted coup [since those angels ruling under him (represented by the two sets of twelve) separated themselves from the other angels ruling under him (which could only be represented by a third set of twelve)].
But a restored divinely perfect form of governmental rule over the earth will exist once again during the Messianic Era when crowns from all three sets of twelve — crowns from the complete original contingent of angels ruling with Satan over the earth — are brought together once again and given to man.)
Those relinquishing their crowns willingly will do so immediately following events at the judgment seat. For, at this time, for the first time in man’s history, a group from the human race will have been shown qualified to wear these crowns. And, also for the first time in man’s history, these angels can relinquish their crowns, with a view to others wearing them during the Messianic Era (Hebrews 2:5).
Those angels continuing to reign with Satan though will not relinquish their crowns until the time of Christ’s return. Their crowns will be taken by force, for the time will be at hand. For the first time in man’s history, a group from the human race will be on hand to ascend the throne, having been shown qualified to wear these crowns.
(For a full discussion of the twenty-four elders in Revelation chapter four, in the preceding respect, refer to chapter 7, “Crowns Cast before God’s Throne,” in the author’s book, The Time of the End.)
2) Revelation Chapters Five through Nineteen
Revelation chapter five marks a major turning point in the closing book of Scripture. Material preceding this has to do directly with the Church, covering the complete dispensation (chapters 2, 3), but centering on events at the end of the dispensation (chapters 1b-4). These first four chapters center on events that begin with the removal of the Church (1:10; 4:1, 2), continue with events surrounding the judgment seat (chapters 1b-3), and end with the twenty-four elders casting their crowns before God’s throne (4:4, 10, 11).
The removal of the Church will occur at the end of the dispensation, preceding events at the judgment seat; and the twenty-four elders casting their crowns before God’s throne will occur following events at the judgment seat, before the beginning of the Tribulation.
Then, once all these events have occurred and all matters pertaining to these events have been taken care of, attention in the book is immediately directed to the redemption of the forfeited inheritance. Events in chapter five introduce the matter, and events in chapters six through nineteen provide numerous details concerning this future redemptive work (cf. Romans 8:20-22).
There is an exact parallel between the sequence of events seen in the first six parables in Matthew chapter thirteen and the sequence of events seen in the first nineteen chapters of the book of Revelation.
In the parables in Matthew chapter thirteen, Christ’s dealings with the Church in relation to the Word of the Kingdom, down by the sea, are seen in the first four parables. Then, as Christ re-enters the house, matters in the last three parables turn back to Israel and the redemption of the inheritance (though the Church is still in view relative to this redemption).
In the book of Revelation, Christ’s dealings with the Church in relation to the Word of the Kingdom are seen in the first four chapters. Then, beginning in chapter five, matters turn back to Israel and the redemption of the inheritance (though the Church is still in view relative to this redemption).
Then, the same things are seen when comparing the books of Ruth and Esther with the book of Revelation, or with the first six parables in Matthew chapter thirteen. Chapters one through three of the book of Ruth provide the background and foundational material (paralleling Revelation 1-4, or the first four parables in Matthew 13), and Boaz’s redemptive act in chapter four has to do with his purchase of the field, his redemption of the inheritance (paralleling Revelation 5-19, seen beginning with the fifth parable in Matthew 13). Then the book of Esther points to the fact that Israel also has to be involved in the matter (paralleling Revelation 6-19 and the fifth and sixth parables in Matthew 13 [cf. Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:24-27]).
And, as chapters one through three of the book of Ruth cannot be separated from the chapter four, or as the first four parables in Matthew 13 cannot be separated from the last three, or as that which is seen in the book of Esther cannot be separated from the whole of the matter, neither can chapters one through four of the book of Revelation be separate from the chapters that follow. Revelation chapter five simply continues from chapter four, and the Church (though absent) remains just as much in view as Ruth (though absent) remained in view while Boaz was performing his redemptive act in Ruth chapter four.
And matters must be viewed exactly the same in the parables in Matthew chapter thirteen. Though Christ is back inside the house beginning with the fifth parable, the Church must remain in view relative to the redemption of the inheritance.
a) The Search for One Found Worthy
In the book of Ruth, Boaz was a near kinsman who was able to redeem. And he is the one seen performing the required redemptive act, paying the required price, following a nearer kinsman relinquishing his right to redeem.
Boaz performed this redemptive act following Ruth becoming a member of the family (chapter 1), following Ruth gleaning in Boaz’s field and beating out that which she had gleaned throughout the time of the harvest (chapter 2), and following Ruth preparing herself to meet Boaz, a meeting which occurred on his threshing floor at midnight (chapter 3). These first three chapters of the book of Ruth cover the entirety of the present dispensation, paralleling the first four parables in Matthew chapter thirteen and the first four chapters of the book of Revelation (viewed from both vantage points — a history of the Church during the present dispensation, and the Church in heaven at the end of the dispensation, appearing on Christ’s threshing floor).
Then, Boaz’s redemptive act finds its parallel with events beginning in Revelation chapter five, events that parallel the purchase of the field in the parable of the treasure. The search in this chapter centers on One able to redeem, One worthy to break the seals of the seven-sealed scroll seen in God’s right hand.
A “strong angel” proclaims in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one “in heaven or on the earth or under the earth” was found worthy, until attention was called to “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (vv. 2-5).
One seen “in the midst” of God’s throne (an allusion to the source of all power, the center of all power, the place from which all power emanates), now described as “a Lamb,” rather than “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” comes and takes the scroll out of the right hand of His Father. He alone was found worthy, and the reason He was found worthy is given in both His description and that which is stated in the verses immediately following.
Specific attention is called to His being “a Lamb,” which can only be a reference to His past work at Calvary. Then, after He had taken the scroll from the right hand of His Father, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before “the Lamb [note, not the Lion, but the Lamb],” having harps and golden bowls filled with odors, “which are the prayers of the saints” (vv. 6-8).
Then the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sang a new song, saying,
Worthy art thou to take the book [scroll], and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain [as the Lamb], and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation,
And madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they shall reign upon [over] the earth. (vv. 9b, 10, ASV)
A great multitude of angels then appeared “around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders,” with their number described as “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” And this great multitude proclaimed “with a loud voice”:
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing! (vv. 11, 12)
And, following this, attention is called to “every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them” making a similar proclamation, in unison:
Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! (v. 13)
Note the continued reference to “the Lamb,” rather than to “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Why is this the case? The answer is simple. It is on the basis of His work as “the Lamb” that He is found worthy to take the scroll from His Father’s right hand and break the seals on the scroll. Redemption is in view, and it is because of His work as “the Lamb” (past) that He is found worthy to perform this redemptive work, a redemption of the forfeited inheritance (future).
And this is the reason that this matter is dealt with in the parable of the treasure (He sold all that He had [past]) prior to purchasing the field, prior to redeeming the inheritance (future). It is all based on His past work as “the Lamb.” Apart from this past work, there can be no future redeemed inheritance awaiting Christ and His co-heirs.
(Redemption is always seen being effected through the Lamb, not through the Lion. Christ is referred to as the Lion only once in the book of Revelation, but He is referred to as the Lamb twenty-eight times throughout the course of this book.)
b) Redemption of the Purchased Possession
The actual redemptive work, pertaining to the inheritance, begins with events in Revelation chapter six and carries through to events at the end of chapter nineteen. Events in chapter nineteen also have to do with another facet of this redemptive work. They have to do with the bride becoming Christ’s wife, portended by the marriage festivities (vv. 7-9) occurring immediately preceding Christ’s return to complete His work surrounding the redemption of the inheritance (vv. 11-21). And, exactly as seen in the type in the book of Ruth — Ruth becoming Boaz’s wife through his redemptive work (Ruth 4:1-10) — not only will Christ redeem the inheritance, but, through this redemptive work, the bride will become the Lamb’s wife.
Judgments seen throughout the time of the Son’s redemption of the inheritance are presented in the book of Revelation under three sets of sevens — seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. As previously shown, “three” is the number of divine perfection; and “seven” is a number showing the completeness of that which is in view.
Thus, the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls show divine perfection within these judgments, which would be to say that they show divine perfection within the Son’s redemption of the inheritance.
The search in chapter five was only for One found worthy to break the seals. Nothing is said in this chapter about a search for One worthy to sound the trumpets or to pour out the bowls, and the reason for this is evident. The judgments seen through the sounding of the trumpets and the pouring out of the bowls are contained within the scope of the judgments under the seven seals. The trumpet judgments emanate from the breaking of the seventh seal (8:1, 2), and the bowl judgments are seen when the seventh trumpet sounds (cf. Revelation 10:1-7; 11:15-19; 15:1ff). Thus, both the trumpet and bowl judgments lie under the seventh seal, placing all the judgments within the scope of the seven-sealed scroll.
Christ, loosing the seals, will bring all things in this entire redemptive process to pass. The inheritance will be redeemed, through judgment (chapters 6-19); and the bride — previously singled out and revealed at the judgment seat (chapters 1b-3) — will then become Christ’s wife, all exactly in accord with the type in Ruth chapter four.
(For more information on the redemption of the inheritance — as seen in the book of Ruth, the book of Esther, the Matthew 13 parables, and the book of Revelation — refer to the next chapter in this book, chapter 11.
For a more exhaustive treatment of the subject, refer to chapters 8, 9 of the author’s book, The Time of the End. Then, chapters 10-19 in this book [covering Revelation 6-10, 11b, 15, 16] deal with the judgments brought to pass through a breaking of the seals of the seven-sealed scroll [from Revelation 5], providing specific information concerning exactly how the inheritance is redeemed.)