“Listen carefully: a sower went out to sow [seed in his field]; and as he sowed, some seed fell beside the road [or the wayside], and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil; and at once they sprang up because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and thorns came up and choked them out. Other seed fell on good soil and yielded grain, some a hundred times as much [as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty. He who has ears [to hear], let him hear and heed My words.” Matthew 13:3-9 On The Reciprocal Reality, Pt. 1, we discussed the concept: as in the physical, so in the spiritual-the fact that spiritual truths can be discerned by observing things in the natural world, in light of the Bible and the story of redemption. We saw that seeds represent the truth, or the good news of Jesus, and that the roots which spring forth from that seed represents the unseen relationship with Jesus which spiritually nourishes us, giving us what we need to develop our Christ-like character. With no connection to the source of spiritual life, you cannot hope to produce the fruits of the Spirit, and will reap what has been sown in the impulsive, animalistic human nature. But before we go on about the similarities of plant growth and character (spiritual) growth, let’s back up and look at an even bigger factor concerning the birth of new life from the seed: the soil. As we saw last time, soil represents the heart. That being said there are different states the soil can be in, which has a direct impact on plant life and development. In like manner, there are different states our heart can be in, which has a direct impact on our spiritual life and development. That being said, it is naturally easier to have bad soil rather than good soil. If someone buys some undeveloped land that has not been touched by human hands, could they just walk outside, throw some seeds in the yard and expect a perfect harvest? Of course not! As we shall see, many of us naturally have hearts which hinder the possibility of spiritual development. However, that soil can be turned from bad into good - praise God! In Matthew 13:1-23, Jesus gives the parable of the sower, where he mentions four types of soil conditions, which are the spiritual conditions of the heart when one hears the Gospel. They are: the wayside, rocky ground, thorny ground, and good soil. 1. The Wayside In the King James Version of this verse the area called the “wayside” is described as the area “beside the road.” The wayside is the area next to a field which is walked on, which was especially common in the days of those who lived hundreds of years ago. All sorts of traffic would be on the wayside, making it a type of ancient “sidewalk,” especially when it was near the cities. That being said, would you ever try planting some seeds on a sidewalk where they would get trampled on? Obviously not, because for one thing, a sidewalk isn’t soil, but let’s imagine if our sidewalks were simply little worn-out paths next to fields instead of corporate buildings. Because of all of the people and animals who have walked on this soil, it is incredibly hard. If a seed were planted in such a condition, the soil would exert too much pressure on the seed and would hinder the roots from growing out and expanding. But the seed probably wouldn’t go deep in the first place since it is so hard, and would thus turn into bird food. “Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [regarding salvation] and does not understand and grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.” Matthew 13:18-19 The seed sown by the wayside is symbolic of God’s Word when it falls upon the heart of someone who is an inattentive hearer. Indeed, the wayside represents a heart that has become a highway for the traffic of the world’s sins, lusts, and pleasures. And as we nurture selfish habits and indulgences we are allowing them to continue trampling over our life and soul, and thus our heart become hard “through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13), making it impossible for the truth of the Gospel to get very deep into our heart. When such is the scenario, we may hear the Word of God, but we don’t realize it is applicable to our own lives. It is easy to let ourselves get comfortable and complacent and fall into this camp. We have a seemingly never ending stream of worldly pleasure, so conveniently available at the literal tips of our fingers. But indulging in these worldly pleasures result in the hardening of our hearts, because our natural sinful nature is at war with the nature of Christ and His Spirit, so our sinful nature seeks to divert the eyes from Christ to earthly things. When we are in this state we do not realize our spiritual need or danger. It is similar to someone staring at their shoes while a train is heading straight for them. We do not realize the love of Christ and leave it as something which we do not need any more of, leaving us defenseless against Satan’s deceptions and ultimately guilty on Judgment Day for neglecting the gift of Jesus’ death in your place. Our hearts can be hardened easily because our minds have been saturated in the sinful, selfish, and narcissistic popular culture of the world-thus causing us to cast the thought of a God who is the epitome of self-sacrificing love to the wayside, for it is hard for us to believe that such a Being exists. This is partially due to Satan causing death and destruction in our world, who then turns and casts the blame upon God and insinuates that God has pleasure in death and evil. A way to fix this type of soil is to soften the soil by breaking it up so that the roots can spread out and grow. Such is the case in the spiritual realm. If our heart is hard, we can ask God to change the condition of our heart and break it with guilt and sorrow over our sin. He will then make it soft, like clay, causing it to be reactive to His guiding hand of truth, molding our character after His own. The Lord declares and promises: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26-27. This is a work only God can do, but after He does it it is up to us, as co-workers with Christ, to keep the traffic of the world off of the soil of our hearts. And interestingly enough, different types of plants need different soil compositions to thrive best. This relays to us the fact that, just as there are different varieties of plants, so too are there many different types of people out there, all of which have wants and needs which are unique to them. Thankfully God knows exactly what each one of us need individually, because He loves and knows us individually and is not a cookie-cutter God. 2. Rocky Soil “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” Matthew 13:20-22 This group has no depth of soil, or an intimate relationship with Christ. Rather they have a superficial conversion and their roots, representing their unseen relationship with Christ, cannot penetrate the rocky soil to get the food which nourish the plant and sustains life. In this situation the rocks are right beneath the apparently good soil, just like many appear to have good desires and goals, but beneath the surface they have not gotten rid of the selfishness of the naturally sinful heart. The love of self must be completely destroyed, and we must learn to see and discern the true character of sin. The rocky ground hearers accept the word immediately, without understanding fully what they are accepting, resulting in a superficial conversion, which causes them to appear to grow quickly in the faith, however, they have not considered the cost of what the Word of God requires of them-that is, complete submission to the will of God, as revealed in His Word. Those who have a superficial conversion are not ready to part with certain sinful habits, and therefore the summer sun destroys the plants with no depth of root. Yes, he who “hath not root in himself” “endureth for a while”; but “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Many receive the gospel as a means of escaping harm and suffering, rather than escaping the penalty and power of sins which hold them captive. 3. Thorny Soil And then there is the seed which falls among the thorns. “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” Matthew 13: 22. According to Jesus, the things that destroy the growth of the spiritual seed are the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things; as recorded by Mark. Concerning the cares of this world, everyone faces the temptation of not trusting in God for His constant care. We tend to put our faith in people (especially ourselves), the government, and even many corporations. Many are burdened with the fear of want or loss, but Christ says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. But Christ cannot take our burden if we refuse to give it to Him. The cares of this life should cause us to look to
Jesus for comfort; but when we turn to self for comfort, we separate ourselves from Him, for we do not have faith, or absolute dependence upon His Word. And the Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” Matthew 6:28-30 (NLT). Christian author Ellen White wrote a fantastic commentary on the parables of Jesus entitled Christ Object Lessons, in which she gave some great comments on this subject. She wrote: “‘The deceitfulness of riches.’ The love of riches has an infatuating, deceptive power. Too often those who posses worldly treasure forget that it is God who gives them power to get wealth. They say, ‘My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.’ Deuteronomy 8:17. Their riches, instead of awakening gratitude to God, lead to the exaltation of self. They lose the sense of their dependence upon God and their obligation to their fellow men… ‘And the pleasures of this life.’ There is danger in amusement that is sought merely for self-gratification. All habits of indulgence that weaken the physical powers, that becloud the mind, or that benumb the spiritual perceptions, are ‘fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.’ 1 Peter 2:11. ‘And the lusts of other things.’ These are not necessarily things sinful in themselves, but something that is made first instead of the kingdom of God. Whatever attracts the mind from God, whatever draws the affections away from Christ, is an enemy to the soul.” -Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 52, 53 4. Good Soil And finally we have the good soil which “is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.” Matthew 13:23. This is the heart of an earnest soul who is an honest seeker of truth, who yields to the voice of God, acting as your conscience. This is the heart which confesses his guilt of sin and recognizes his need of God’s mercy and love. Just as Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as spiritually bankrupt], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever]. Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].” Matthew 5:3-5. The good soil and heart is that which seeks God and has faith in His Words. “He that cometh to God must believe He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6. He who hears the Gospel of Jesus, understands it, and accepts it necessarily has faith in God and His Word. Finding and knowing the truth of God doesn’t depend on how smart you are, but depends on the pureness of purpose and having the faith of an inquisitive child. But to fully understand and comprehend the Scriptures, the Word of God, we cannot simply read it lightly, rather we must meditate on the Scriptures-we must deeply ponder and turn the words over and over in our mind and heart until God begins to give us understanding as to some of the multiple, deep meaning of it. “This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.” Joshua 1:8. Ask God to reveal truth to you, and if you seek for the truth of God with an undivided heart, God shall reveal His will to you. As He grows your understanding of truth it shall bring forth much fruit in the form of good works. Yes, the results of the Word of God received into the soul will be manifest in a Christlike character and life. I pray this topic was a blessing to you and will cause you to look at nature in a new light, seeking the face of the Creator in His handiwork. Remember: as in the seen, so in the unseen. The spiritual reality is reciprocated in the physical. The seen demonstrates the truths of the unseen. Next time we shall examine the concept of weeds and the spiritual implications of which our physical world testifies.