A look at those Birds in the Tree Matthew 13 Parable

Throughout scripture most birds esp predatory birds are always used to depict evil. Trees in scripture are used for great significance as we know for example the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life and the fig tree to only name a few.

In this study let's look at the Matthew 13 Parable where Jesus taught of this present age we are now living.

Matthew 13:31-32 KJV

Contrary to the false teaching of today by the Ecumenical Dominion Theology, Jesus is not teaching this parable to advocate the thriving expansion of organized religion under the banner of "Christendom", but rather Jesus presented this parable to teach in harmony with the other Matthew 13 parables that: 1: The Kingdom offer had been taken off the table for the Jews, (following the last straw when the Pharisees told Jesus he was of Satan) ending the Kingdom Dispensation and fading out the remnants of the Dispensation of the Law; 2: Giving us a glimpse two thousand plus years into the future through the end of the age of grace into the Tribulation. Here we're told that in the last days we'd see an explosion of apostasy that would literally grow to great exceeding levels.

Breaking it down:

A mustard seed is the smallest of seeds. It was sown into the ground by "a man". Mustard plants are not trees but classified as plants. As the seed began to grow into a plant it soon changed and became a gigantic tree so large that it attracts the birds of the air to nest in its branches. This third of the Kingdom Parables continues in harmony with the ending of this world by showing an alarming picture completely opposite to what a Christian represents in this world which is NOT OF this world, but rather in it. This tree grows and thrives by establishing roots into the earth and the branches reach and stretch up into the heavens with with prominence and exaltation. The birds that congregate in the branches is a stark picture of evil finding a place to establish and stay.

Let's not be surprised by the amount of false teaching and shocking apostasy we're seeing today.

Below is a very good study by Dr. Andy Woods from his book "The Coming Kingdom" that describes the significance of this parable which provides proof of the apostasy were seeing today:


"The Parable of the Mustard Seed The Parable of the Mustard Seed is found in Matthew 13:31–32, which says, “He presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.’” This parable is popularly interpreted as a prediction of the inevitable expansion of God’s kingdom throughout the world in the present age. Pink introduces four points that demonstrate why such an interpretation is found wanting: The popular and current explanation of these parables is that they were meant to announce the glorious success of the Gospel. Thus, that of the mustard-seed is regarded as portraying the rapid extension of Christianity and the expansion of the Church of Christ. Beginning insignificantly and obscurely, its proportions have increased immensely, until ultimately it shall cover the earth. Let us first show how untenable and impossible this interpretation is: First, it must be steadily borne in mind that these seven parables form part of one connected and complete discourse whose teaching must necessarily be consistent and harmonious throughout. Therefore, it is obvious that this third one cannot conflict with the teaching of the first two. In the first parable, instead of drawing a picture of a field in which the good Seed took root and flourished in every part of it, our Lord pointed out that most of its soil was unfavorable, and that only a fractional proportion bore an increase. Moreover, instead of promising that the good-ground section of the field would yield greater and greater returns, He announced that there would be a decreasing harvest—“some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” In the second parable, our Lord revealed the field as over-sown with “tares,” and declared that these should continue until the harvest-time, which He defined as “the end of the age.” This fixes beyond all doubt the evil consequences of the Enemy’s work, and positively forbids the expectation of a world won to Christ during this present dispensation, Christ plainly warned us that the evil effects of the Devil’s labors at the beginning of the age would never be repaired. The crop as a whole is spoiled! Thus this third parable cannot teach that the failure of things in the hands of men will be removed and reversed. Second, the figure here selected by Christ should at once expose the fallacy of the popular interpretation. Surely our Lord would never have taken a mustard-seed, which afterwards became a “tree,” ever rooting itself deeper and deeper in the earth, to portray that people whose calling, hope, citizenship, and destiny is heavenly. Again and again He affirmed that His people were “not of the world.” Again, a great tree with its towering branches speaks of prominence and loftiness, but lowliness and suffering, not prominence and exaltation, are the present portion of the New Testament saints. The more any church of Christ climbs the ladder of worldly fame the more it sinks spiritually. That which is represented by this “tree” is not a people who are “strangers and pilgrims” down here, but a system whose roots lie deeply in the earth and which aims at greatness and expansion in the world. Third, that which Christ here describes is a monstrosity. We are aware that this is denied by some, but our Lord’s own words are final. He tells us that when this mustard-seed is grown it is the “greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree” (v. 32). “Herbs” are an entirely different specie from trees. That which distinguished them is that their stems never develop woody tissue, but live only long enough for the development of flowers and seeds. But this “herb” became a “tree;” that is to say, it developed into something entirely foreign to its very nature and constitution. How strange that sober men should have deemed this unnatural growth, this abnormal production, a fitting symbol of the saints of God in their corporate form! . . . Clearly the “field,” all through Matthew 13, is the world. Is, then, “the world” a favorable place for the growth of that kingdom which Christ solemnly and expressly said was “not of this world” (John 18:36)? Is this world, where the flesh and the Devil unite in opposing all that concerns Christ and His interests, a congenial soil for Christianity? Either the world must cease to be what it is—“the enemy of God”—or the Seed must change its character, before the one will be favorable to the other. And this is just what our parable does teach: the “herb” becomes a “tree.” Fourth, the “birds” lodging in the branches of this tree makes altogether against the current interpretation. If Scripture be compared with Scripture it will be found that these “birds” symbolize Satan and his agents. Let not the reader be turned aside by the fact that the “dove,” and in some passages the “eagle,” represents that which is good. That which we must now attempt to define is the actual word “birds,” or better, “fowls”—as the Greek word is rendered in verse 4. In Genesis 15:11 we are told that the “fowls came down upon the carcasses” (the bodies of the sacrifices) and that “Abram drove them away.” . . . Again, in Deuteronomy 28, where we have the curses which were to come upon Israel for their disobedience, we are told, “And thy carcass shall be meat unto all fowls of the air” (v. 26). The last time the term occurs in Scripture is in Revelation 18:2, where we are told that fallen Babylon becomes the “habitation of demons, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” But we do not have to go outside of Matthew 13 itself to discover what Christ referred to under the figure of these “birds.” The Greek word in verse 32 is precisely the same as that which is rendered “fowls” in verse 4, which are explained in verse 19 as “the wicked.” How, then, can this great “tree” represent the true Church of Christ, while its branches afford shelter for the Devil and his emissaries? . . . if we let Scripture interpret Scripture, the great “tree” is easily identified in Daniel 4:10–12. . . . In Daniel 4:20–22 we have the inspired interpretation of the vision. . . . Thus, the “tree” was a figure of a mighty earthly kingdom or empire. Again, in Ezekiel 31 we have the same figure used. . . . Thus a “tree,” whose wide-spreading branches afforded lodgment for birds, was a familiar Old Testament figure for a mighty kingdom which gave shelter to the nations. So it is in our parable. The “tree” symbolizes earthly greatness, worldly prominence, giving shelter to the nations. The history of Christendom clearly confirms this. At the beginning, those who bore the name of Christ were but a despised handful. . . . Finding that force was of no avail, the Enemy changed his tactics. Failing to intimidate as the roaring lion, he now sought to insinuate as the subtle serpent. Ceasing to attack from without, he now worked from within. In the first parable the assault was from without—the fowls of the air catching away the Seed. In the second parable his activities were from within—he sowed his tares among the wheat. In the third parable we are shown the effects of this. Satan now moved worldly men to seek membership in the churches of God. These soon caused the Truth to be watered down, discipline to be relaxed, that which repelled the world to be kept in the background, and what would appeal to the carnal mind to be made prominent. Instead of affections being set upon things above, they were fixed on things below. Soon Christianity ceased to be hated by the unregenerate: the gulf between the world and the “Church” was bridged. Persecution ceased, and the professed cause of the despised and rejected Savior became popular. The distinctive truths of Christianity were abandoned, the Gospel was adulterated, the pilgrim character of professing saints ceased. . . . The lowly upper room had long been forsaken, and the honors of kings’ courts coveted. And God granted their fleshly desire—just as long before He had given Saul to apostate Israel when they forsook the path of separation and wished to be like the surrounding nations. . . . Thus we may discern in the first three parables of Matthew 13 a striking and sad forecast of the development of evil. In the first, the Devil caught away part of the good Seed. In the second, he is seen engaged in the work of imitation. Here, in the third, we are shown a corrupted Christianity affording him shelter.12 So far from communicating the expansion of the kingdom, the parable of the mustard seed actually teaches that the final form of Christendom will represent an apostate form of truth at great variance from its biblically pure origins."  END QUOTE.

NOTE:  In reading any work, always read it with your King James Version Bible. Although there are solid parts in Dr. Wood's work, there are, however, other parts of the Coming Kingdom where I've found Dr. Woods to be in serious error, in part because he uses the NASB version Bible which most of Bible scholars use today.  The great irony is that in exposing the ecumenical apostate church of today, Dr. Woods is also bringing in false teaching along with correct teaching. We must test all spirits and be good Bereans ACTS 17:11kjv.  Here's my letter and rebuke to Dr. Woods regarding aspects of his book, "The Coming Kingdom": Reproving Dr. Woods:




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