The key to Understanding the Parable of the Mustard Tree

Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19 NLT)

The key that we will use to unlock understanding of this parable is:

The Bible is One Book

This means we must ask this question:

Is there something which was recorded in another part of the Bible that can help us understand this parable?

When we examine the Book of Daniel we see a similar parable. This parable was revealed through a dream God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Here is the first part of the dream:

“‘While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree. (Daniel 4:10-12 NLT)

Here is Daniel’s interpretation:

That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth. (Daniel 4:22 NLT)

Nebuchadnezzar saw birds nesting in the branches of that tree. Daniel said that meant that Nebuchadnezzar’s rule reached “to the ends of the earth”. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar’s power and authority had spread so far throughout the entire world that everyone in the world had to live under his power and authority.

Jesus referred to birds making nests in the branches of the mustard tree. When we use Daniel’s interpretation to interpret Jesus’ parable we discover that:

The Kingdom of God will become so great and spread so far that it will rule the entire earth and every living person will have to live under its authority.

This interpretation is confirmed by several scriptures:

For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'” (Romans 14:11 NLT)

By Myself I have sworn; truth has gone out from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow before Me, every tongue will confess allegiance. (Isaiah 45:23 NLT)

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NLT)

The Kingdom of Babylon had become so powerful that all nations and tongues had to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar and serve him. Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God will become so great that all nations and tongues will have to bow down and serve God. When we view the Bible as One Book we start to see connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Prayer Point:

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

 

Day 24: You Can Stand on God’s Promises

A promise is a powerful thing. A promise can motivate us when we feel discouraged. A promise can strengthen us when we feel weak. An employer promises to pay his employees a salary at the end of every month. This promise motivates those employees to wake up early and travel to their workplace. This promise motivates those employees to travel through the rain and the snow to reach their workplace. In other words, that promise made by their employer strengthened their resolve to get to work in spite of whatever obstacles they faced each day.

We are motivated by mere human promises. What about the promises that our Heavenly Father has made? God’s promises are guaranteed. God’s promises are reinforced by His nature and character:

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (Numbers 23:19 NLT)

Sometimes we forget to fulfill the promises we have made. Sometimes we are unable to fulfill a promise we have made because of the uncertainties of life. God is not subject to human failure. God is not subject to human weakness. God is not limited by the uncertainties of life. We can trust God’s promises twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

We can trust God’s promises in the wilderness:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” (Exodus 16:11-12 NLT)

We can trust God’s promises in the fire:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. (Daniel 3:16-17 NLT)

We can trust God’s promises in the storm:

For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. (Acts 27:23-25 NLT)

There are many buildings in this world which were built to endure natural disasters. God’s promises are built to endure natural and spiritual disasters. God promised Jesus that He would not leave his soul in the grave (Psalm 16:10). Jesus stood on God’s promises and willingly died on the cross to save the entire world. Three days later God raised Jesus from the dead. The strongest building can fall. The strongest rock can be broken but God’s promises can never fail. Your world may be falling apart but you can plant your feet upon God’s promises.

God is our refuge and strength,

always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come

and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Let the oceans roar and foam.

Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

(Psalm 46:1-3 NLT)

Day 21: God Always Finishes His Work! (Part 1)

There are many projects which human beings have started which were not finished. These projects were not finished for these main reasons:

  • The person who started it died
  • The person who started it did not have enough resources to finish it
  • The person who started it changed their mind and decided to stop working on it
  • The work was hindered or destroyed

God is not limited by any of the above reasons. God can not die:

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. (Isaiah 40:28 NLT)

God has unlimited resources and power:

“O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! (Jeremiah 32:17 NLT)

God does not change His mind:

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (Numbers 23:19 NLT)

God’s work can never be hindered or destroyed:

 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” (Acts 5:38-39 NLT)

Before the world began, God started a great project:

The Plan of Salvation

God wanted to redeem His creation from sin. God ensured that every part of His plan was carried out. He called Abram (Abraham). He gave Abraham and his wife a son (Isaac) in their old age. He blessed Isaac’s son, Jacob with twelve sons. These twelve sons became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve tribes became a nation. God preserved the nation of Israel from destruction. God used a virgin, named Mary to give birth to His “only begotten Son” Jesus. This Jesus, who was without sin and found to be without fault before Pontius Pilate, was condemned to be crucified on a cross (the worst punishment a criminal could receive). Before Jesus died on the cross, He said these words:

It is finished! (John 19:30 NLT)

The redemption of mankind from sin was finished. It took a long time but God finished His work:

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. (Galatians 4:4-5 NLT)

Has God promised to do something in your life? Are you waiting on God to work on your behalf? Don’t give up. Keep praying and trusting in God. At the right time you will see that promised fulfilled. At the right time you will see that situation turned around. In those moments when you feel like giving up, remember:

God Always Finishes His Work!