Parable #14. The Mustard Seed (Kingdom of Heaven):
- Today is Day #14
- The Fourteenth Mashal of Messiah
- Seven Observations
Today is Day #14:
1. Today is “Day #14” in the forty-nine day Countdown to Shavuot.
2. Today is fourteen days which are two weeks of the Omer.
.היום ארבעה עשר יום, שהם שני שבועות בעומר
Haiyom arbah asar yom, shehaym shnay shavuot ba’omer.
“You shall count for yourselves — from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving — seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days.” (Leviticus). “You shall count for yourselves seven weeks, from when the sickle is first put to the standing crop shall you begin counting seven weeks. Then you will observe the Festival of Shavu’ot for Adonai Eloheinu.” (Deuteronomy).
“Blessed are You, Adonai Eloheinu, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.”
ברוך אתה, אדוני אלוהינו, מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצוונו על ספירת העומר.פ
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sefirat ha’omer.
The Fourteenth Mashal of Messiah:
וַיָּשֶׂם לִפְנֵיהֶם מָשָׁל אַחֵר וַיּאֹמַר מַלְכוּת הַשָׁמַיִם דּוֹמָה לְגַרְגַּר שֶׁל־חַרְדָּל אֲשֶׁר לְקָחוֹ אִישׁ וַיִּזְרַע בְּשָׂדֵהוּ׃ וְהוּא קָטֹן מִכָּל־הַזֵּרוֹעִים וְכַאֲשֶׁר צָמַח גָּדוֹל הוּא מִן־הַיְרָקוֹת וְהָיָה לְעֵץ עַד־אֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ עוֹף הַשָׁמַיִם וְקִנְּנוּ בַּעֲנָפָיו׃
A. He (the Mashiach) presented them with another mashal and said, “The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all of the seeds, but when it sprouts, it is larger than the other vegetation (garden plants) and becomes a tree, to the point where birds of heaven (of the air) come and nest in its branches.”
וַיֹּאמַר אֶל־מַה נְדַמֶּה אֶת־מַלְכוּת הָאֱלֹהִים וּבְאֵי־זֶה מָשָׁל נַמְשִׁילֶנָּה׃ כְּגַרְגַּר שֶׁל־חַרְדָּל אֲשֶׁר יִזָּרַע בָּאֲדָמָה וְהוּא קָטֹן מִכָּל־הַזֵּרֹעִים אֲשֶׁר עַל־הָאָרֶץ׃ וְאַחֲרֵי הִזָּרְעוֹ יַעֲלֶה וְיִגְדַּל עַל־כָּל־הַיְרָקוֹת וְעָשָׂה עֲנָפִים גְּדוֹלִים עַד־אֲשֶׁר יְקַנְּנוּ עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם בְּצִלוֹ׃
B. He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of Adonai, and which mashal shall we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that is sown in the soil, which is the smallest of all the seeds that are upon the earth. After it is sown, it comes up and grows larger than all the other vegetation (garden plants) and produces branches so large that the birds of heaven nest in its shade.”
וַיֹּאמַר לְמָה דוֹמָה מַלְכוּת הָאֱלֹהִים וְאֶל־מָה אַמְשִׁילֶנָּה׃ דּוֹמָה הִיא לְגַרְגַּר שֶׁל־חַרְדָּל אֲשֶׁר לְקָחוֹ אִישׁ וַיְשִׂימֵהוּ בְגַנּוֹ וַיִּצְמַח וַיְהִי לְעֵץ גָּדוֹל וְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם יְקַנֵּן בַּעֲנָפָיו׃
C. He said, “To what can the kingdom of Adonai be compared? And to what will I liken it? It can be compared to a mustard seed that a man took and placed in his garden. It sprouted and became a great tree, and the birds of heaven nested in its branches.”
Observation #1. In the Middle East the mustard plant is not a garden herb but a field plant. It does grow to be a tree.
Observation #2. A height of seven or eight feet is common. The mustard plant has been reported to grow as high as twelve feet.
Observation #3. Three variations of the fourteenth mashal (parable) of Messiah are reported.
Observation #4. The first variation of the mashal gives emphasis to the smallness of the mustard seed. The point is that the greatest of accomplishments in human history can start from the smallest (most humble) of beginnings.
Observation #5. The second variation gives extra emphasis to the plant’s exceptional size at the end point of its full maturity; therefore, the plant:
a). Grows up;
b). Becomes larger than all the garden plants; and
c). Forms large branches.
Observation #6. The third and final variation of the parable focuses on the plant growing into a “tree” that fulfills its purpose by the birds of the air nesting in its branches.
Observation #7. In the Middle East an often used symbol of a mighty nation (an empire) was that of a mighty tree; and the subject nations who found shelter and protection within this great nation were symbolized by birds nesting in the branches (cf. Ezekiel 31:6; 17:23):
בִּסְעַפֹּתָיו קִֽנְנוּ כָּל־עֹוף הַשָּׁמַיִם וְתַחַת פֹּֽארֹתָיו יָֽלְדוּ כֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וּבְצִלֹּו יֵֽשְׁבוּ כֹּל גֹּויִם רַבִּֽים׃
All the birds of the heavens nested in its boughs,
And under its branches all the beasts of the field gave birth,
And all great nations lived under its shade.
בְּהַר מְרֹום יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶשְׁתֳּלֶנּוּ וְנָשָׂא עָנָף וְעָשָׂה פֶרִי וְהָיָה לְאֶרֶז אַדִּיר וְשָׁכְנוּ תַחְתָּיו כֹּל צִפֹּור כָּל־כָּנָף בְּצֵל דָּלִיֹּותָיו תִּשְׁכֹּֽנָּה׃
On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches.
The Fourteenth Mashal of Messiah is definitely eschatological.
It is a telescopic look into the future; the Last Days (one thousand years) of human history here on earth. The Kingdom of Heaven is seen as a process of small, humble beginnings that grow up to be the greatest of living things located in the garden of Adonai. Why a garden and not a forest? A garden was used by the Messiah for the simplest of reasons. As the sages say, we are not attempting to progress by going forward into a time of ever-increasing complexity and compromise to sin; rather, we are hoping to progress by “going back” in time, to a “time before time,” when there was no sin.
We desire to return to the happiness and innocence that we once possessed in the Garden of Eden (Gan Eden).
The ideal symbol to illustrate this messianic return to happiness is not the Kingdom of Heaven existing at the center of a great forest but in the center of a Garden. As for the symbol of the birds, there has been some confusion about whether they are good or evil. I have no doubt due to the context, “the Kingdom of Heaven is like,” that this parable holds (as does the next) the distinction of being an exception. The smallest seed that becomes as a tree is the Kingdom of Heaven, and the name of the messianic kingdom that it becomes here on earth is the new nation of Israel. As the Kingdom is good so are the birds good.
The birds represent those subject nations that will in the (near) future happily enjoy the full maturity of the kingdom.
The birds are symbolic of the future member states that will be branches of the new International Commonwealth of Israel. After Messiah returns on a future, yet unknown, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) all of the nations of the world will become subject nations that will find shelter under the one thousand year world-wide rule of the Messiah. Amen. we pray come quickly HaAdon Yeshua! (יֵשׁוּעַ-the Salvation of Adonai).