Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Before we consider the parable of the net, I would like to say a further word regarding the treasure and the pearl. In the Bible the number seven is composed of four plus three, three plus four, or six plus one. The first time the number seven is mentioned in the Bible, it is composed of the six days of creation plus one day, the Sabbath, for rest. In Revelation the seven churches are composed of three plus four. The seven seals are firstly composed of four plus three, then of six plus one. The principle is the same with the seven trumpets and the seven bowls. In Matthew 13 the number seven is composed firstly of four plus three, then of six plus one. The first four parables are all related to foodstuff, but the fifth and sixth parables are related to transformation for building. Although even the hardest bread can be leavened, pearl and precious stones cannot be leavened. Furthermore, although a wafer or even hard bread may be ruined by water poured upon it, this is not true of either precious stones or pearls.
The Lord’s word in Matthew 13 is not merely a prophecy or a doctrine. It is also a vision of the practical situation of today’s Christianity with respect to the church and the kingdom. The Lord’s word about the mysteries of the kingdom is not idealistic or ethereal. It is practical. Thus, if we would understand these parables, we must look to the Lord for some practical application of them. Our understanding of the parables must match the practical situation.
If you look at today’s Christendom, you will see that the real Christians are the wheat and that the false Christians have been mixed with the real ones to frustrate their growth. Everywhere on earth, especially in Europe, we see more false Christians than real ones. In Catholic countries like Italy and Brazil it is difficult to find one genuine Christian among many so-called Christians. Therefore, the interpretation of the tares as being false Christians is not only doctrinal, but also practical according to history and the present situation. Furthermore, the big tree stands before us. Every day we behold the huge façade of Christendom. This is neither doctrine nor mere prophecy. In front of our eyes we have the practical fulfillment of prophecy. We also see leaven everywhere. In Christendom there is leaven in everything. Every aspect and every corner of Christendom has been leavened. If there is a little truth, there is a great deal of leaven added to it. This is the actual situation today.
We can interpret the first four parables in a practical way and apply them in a practical way. Now we must do the same with the fifth and sixth parables. Recently the Lord has shown us the practical way to understand them. In order to understand any prophecy in a practical way we need the facts. Only when we see the facts can we understand the prophecy of these parables in a practical way. In the Lord’s recovery we have the treasure and the pearl. In the first four parables we have the wheat, the tares, the mustard, and the leaven. We are not the tares; we are the wheat and the fine flour. However, in the Lord’s recovery it is not adequate simply to be wheat or fine flour. If we are just wheat or fine flour, we shall not be satisfied. In the Lord’s recovery there is also a pearl and the treasure, the precious stones. In His recovery the Lord must have a church that is pure, solid, and genuine like a pearl. In such a pearl there is no mixture or opaqueness. Rather, it is absolutely pure and bright. If you would know what the church in the Lord’s recovery is, look at a pearl. By looking at a pearl, you will know what the church should be. Although we are not yet completely satisfied, we can say that the churches in the Lord’s recovery are like pearls. No matter how solid bread may be, it is still possible for it to be leavened. But when the church has become a pearl, it can no longer be leavened. Who could put leaven into pearl or precious stone?
In the Lord’s recovery we on the one hand must be like a pearl and on the other hand like precious stone. Concerning life, we are the pearl; concerning our living, we are the treasure, the precious stone. Look at the New Jerusalem: all the gates are pearls, but the walls are built with precious stones. The pearl gates are for entrance, for the beginning; and the walls are for expression. The church is our life, and the kingdom is our living. As the church, we have been regenerated out of the Satan-corrupted world. But we are not only the pearl for the beginning, the entrance; we are also the precious stone for the expression. This signifies our living under the heavenly ruling. This is the kingdom. As the church, we are the pearl having life, a new start, and an entrance. As the kingdom, we are the treasure, the precious stone, standing there as something that has been built up to express Christ under the heavenly constitution. This is our living and our expression.
Some teachers say that the kingdom is related to Israel, but maybe no one says that the pearl is related to the church. Those who relate the kingdom to Israel are too doctrinal and dispensational, not at all practical. We need to apply the parables of the treasure and the pearl not only in a doctrinal way or a dispensational way, but also in a practical way. In order to apply them in a practical way, we must see that during the period of the existence of Christendom, the Lord is working to gain the treasure and the pearl. Christendom continues with the wheat, the tares, the big tree, and the leaven in the meal. But the Lord spoke not only the four parables for Christendom, but two parables for the genuine and proper church life. The churches in the Lord’s recovery are in the fifth and sixth parables. The churches in the recovery today are the treasure and the pearl. As far as life is concerned, we are the pearl; and as far as our living is concerned, we are the treasure. For life, we are the pearl gates; for our living, we are the walls made of precious stones. This latter is the kingdom life, the living of the church under God’s dominion.
This enables us to have a fuller understanding of the New Jerusalem. The twelve pearl gates signify the church as the entrance, and the walls built with precious stones signify the kingdom, the expression of living under the heavenly rule. When you say, “Lord Jesus, how I thank You that I have the divine life,” that is the pearl. But when you say, “O Lord, grant me more grace that I may be poor in spirit and pure in heart, that I may be under Your ruling, that I may be dealt with by You so that I will not have any rocks or thorns within me, and that I may live under the heavenly constitution,” you immediately become the treasure. On the one hand, we are the pearl; on the other hand, we are the treasure.
The fifth parable speaks of a man finding a treasure and the sixth, of the merchant seeking a pearl. For the kingdom, Christ is the man, and for the church, He is the merchant. This fits in with the concept of the entire Bible. The kingdom requires a man. In order to have God’s kingdom on earth, there is the need of a man. Christ came as this man, not as the first man, but as the second man. Firstly this man found the kingdom. Then, because of the rejection of Israel, He hid the kingdom from the Jewish people. For the church, Christ is the merchant, one who is always seeking to gain something of high value. Regarding the kingdom, the man bought the field, the earth. The reason he bought the earth is that the kingdom is in the earth. However, in order to gain the pearl, the merchant did not purchase the sea; rather, he bought only the pearl. Christ is the One who bought the pearl directly, but He did not buy the treasure directly. Instead, He bought the field directly. Although Christ redeemed the church and the earth, He did not redeem the kingdom. The kingdom does not require a redeemer or a buyer. However, the lost earth, the earth created by God and then lost, requires a redeemer. Furthermore, the church as God’s chosen and predestinated people also requires a buyer because those people became lost. Therefore, the kingdom needs only a man, but the church needs a merchant and a redeemer.
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