In the Fulness of Time/Part 130

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2010
Though there is a chapter division here, the argument of the context definitely indicates that this parable is the conclusion of a trilogy of accusations against the rulers of Israel who not only rejected Christ themselves, but also influenced the nation against Him.

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Parable of the Marriage Feast. Matthew 22:1-14

Introduction to this third parable of Rejection. Matthew 22:1-3

Mt.22:1-3 “And Jesus answered and spoke unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding; and they would not come.”

Though there is a chapter division here, the argument of the context definitely indicates that this parable is the conclusion of a trilogy of accusations against the rulers of Israel who not only rejected Christ themselves, but also influenced the nation against Him. The first parable emphasized their lack of belief as opposed to the acceptance of Christ by the despised tax collectors and harlots. The second parable widens the expression of rejection by introducing the rejection of the prophets before Christ, the rejection of Christ, the offer of the message to another “nation” (21:43) and culminating in the return of Christ to earth as the Smiting Stone (21:44).

This third parable uses an entirely different analogy to underscore and enforce the seriousness of Israel’s rejection of Christ as Messiah. At first glance it may seem inappropriate to refer to “the kingdom of heaven” as a marriage feast for the son (Christ) of the king (God the Father) since the Church had not even begun. Indeed, how could Christ be presented to Israel in this royal fashion before His death? But when the parable is taken as a whole, it can be seen as including the rejection of the Son, the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgment of unbelievers at the return of Christ to the earth. The oft-repeated question: “What if the Jews had received Christ as Messiah; how could He reign as King, and who would be His Bride at this marriage feast without His death and resurrection?” is totally irrelevant. The fact is, the Jews had already rejected Him by the time this parable was given, and it is His way of showing some of the events which pertain to the succeeding years, even up to and including His return to earth. In this regard it differs little from the second parable in this series, as will be observed. The servants of verse three must refer to the ministry of the apostles, and though the ministry of the Son is omitted from this third parable, it is included in the second.

Rejection and Death of the Apostles. Mt. 22:4-6

Mt. 22:4-6 “Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them who are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fatlings are killed, And all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise; And the remnant took his servants, and treated them shamefully, and slew them.”

In this paragraph the continuing ministry of the apostles is illustrated, and the resulting deaths of most of them. The King (The Father) assures: “them who are bidden” (Israel) to the marriage feast that “all things are ready.” The book of Acts has a definite message to Israel after the death and resurrection of Christ, after the Church had been instituted. In Acts 3:12-21 as Peter was reviewing Israel’s rejection of Christ, he exhorted them in verses 19-21: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, and the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send forth Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the age began.”

At this point in history it was quite possible for the future events we now know about to occur. It is true, Peter and the other apostles had not yet been given the details of the sequence of events included in the return of Christ; nevertheless, the coming of the Lord in the air to meet the Bride, the Church, was a real possibility, which would then be followed by the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) and the “times of restitution of all things” spoken of by Peter in this text.

Thus, “all things” were “ready” for the events leading up to and including the marriage feast of the Son. But what then, of the destruction of “their city” which did not occur until 70 AD? Could the promise of His return have been fulfilled before this? The simple answer is “Yes,” but since this invitation to Israel was based on the contingency of their repentance and reception of Christ as Messiah, this never happened. Instead, “they took his servants, and treated them shamefully, and slew them.” Thus, the judgment fell upon the city and the Temple, and the times of refreshing could not come!

Destruction of their city, Jerusalem. Mt. 22:7

Mt. 22:7 “But when the king heard of it, he was angry, and he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”

Historically, this was fulfilled when the Roman army under their general Titus, slaughtered over one million Jews, destroyed their Temple and burned their city. Josephus presents a detailed description of all this; He relates that:

A soldier set fire to a golden window through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house on the north side of it. As the flames went upward the Jews made a great clamour such as so mighty an affliction required . . . since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it. Titus entirely demolished the rest of the city, and overthrew its walls. The number of those that were carried captive was 97,000; as was the number of those who perished during the whole siege, 1,100,000. (Josephus, Flavius, Life and Works. Chicago: John C. Whiston Company, n.d., pp. 845, 855.)

Extension of the Invitation to good and bad. Mt. 22:8-10

Mt. 22:8-10 “Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they who were bidden were not worthy. Go, therefore, into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding was furnished with guests.”

We can look back on part of this as fulfilled, and forward to that which is yet to come. It reminds us of the previous parable in which there is a long interval of time after the Stone is rejected by the builders (21:42) until He becomes the Stone which grinds them to powder (21:44). It is also equivalent to what we have designated Heaven as The Age of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13, which began with the “sowing” of the message by Christ and His Apostles, and will culminate with the “reaping” by the angels at the end of the Great Tribulation when Christ returns to the earth.

So, here, that same long period of time is encompassed in 22:8-10 when the invitation goes out to the highways and byways until the time of the “full” house at the wedding feast of the Son. As in the parable of the wheat and tares in chapter 13, so the good and the bad are permitted to be together until the harvest, or as it is expressed in this third parable, until the bad are separated from the wedding feast.

Separation of the called from the chosen. Mt. 22:11-14

Mt. 22:11-14 “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in here not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king unto the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Basic to remaining at the wedding feast is the wedding garment. The ill-clad intruder is revealed as such by his lack of the proper attire. Like the tares of Matthew 13, he may appear to be the same as the true wheat, but upon proper examination by the king, he lacks the necessary robe.

That this is no new concept, Isaiah 61:10 makes clear: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Back in Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus stated it in another way: “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out demons. And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Such workers of iniquity often talk like true believers, yet when faced up with the Lord, they will be found wanting the wedding garment of righteousness which comes only through faith in Christ.

In 20:16 the words of the Textus Receptus (on which the King James Version is based) are the same as here in 22:14: “for many are called but few are chosen.” There was some doubt concerning their inclusion in 20:16, but there is no doubt here. The conclusion is clear; those prepared for the Wedding Feast will enter in; the unprepared will be cast out, into outer darkness. The chosen are: “elect according to the foreknowledge of God” (1 Peter 1:2). The “many” include those who are called but not chosen. They are such because they refused the repeated invitation of the Father. It can never be God’s fault; man is condemned “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Read Part 131

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