Dayton, Washington, Oct. 27, 1897.
Editors Of The Signs Of The Times – Dear Brethren, And Fellow-Soldiers Of The Cross Of Christ: – After a three months’ absence from home, in the state of Idaho, I am again at home, and seated to write in response to brother Chick’s request, in the first of August number of the Signs, in an editorial reply to a short article of mine on the subject of the parable recorded in the thirty-third verse, of the thirteenth chapter of Matt., and which reads, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” I wish to say that what Elder Chick has written in an editorial article, previous to the one now before me, has opened up the subject of the use of leaven in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, as being typical of the use made of it in the New Testament Scriptures. It is not worth while for me to go over the same grounds that have been so well, and ably, and clearly, gone over by brother Chick. What he has written, has my full indorsement. But the purpose of this article is to bring out an additional use of the word leaven, as presented in the holy Scriptures. I do not presume to be able to treat this subject in an able manner. This much, by way of an apology.
The additional thought which I wished to present, is found in the words, “Till the whole was leavened.” The obvious meaning, seems to me to be, the thoroughness of the work of the leaven, whether it be used in the Scriptures, in a good or a bad sense. Thus Paul, for instance, says in 1 Cor. v. 6, “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump!” And again in Gal. v. 9, besides in many other places, where the word leaven is employed. These examples I think sufficient to show the idea intended, which is the completeness and thoroughness of leaven in its operation in and on the mass into which it has been introduced. Hence, if the leaven be good, it will assimilate the mass to its own kind. If the leaven be of a good kind, it will cause the mass to also be good. And contrariwise, if the leaven be of a bad kind, it will cause the mass to be of a bad kind. And so, in either case, the mass partakes of the nature of the leaven, which has been introduced into it. And so the power of the parable lies not so much in the use of the leaven, as it does in the effect produced in either case, by the leaven, upon the man or woman in whom it has been placed as a power that works. The kingdom of heaven has been set up, or placed within the hearts of men, or in the whole body of the church. Its effect will be to assimilate the whole mass or body to itself. And this, I conceive to be the same thought expressed by the apostle Paul when he said, “Where the Lord hath begun a good work, he will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” In this view of the subject many portions of the Scripture become plain, carrying the idea of regeneration, or the new birth, producing a change in men, in order to their seeing, entering into and comprehending the things of the Spirit, or of the kingdom of heaven. All this class of Scriptures is illustrated, explained, and enforced by our Lord’s use of this simple and common thing, leaven, in this parable. It seems that the mind of a child, or of one who is weak minded, might take hold of this parable. However, that mind must have been enlightened by the Spirit of truth, to discern the things of the Spirit of God; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. That is, the Spirit must translate the literal parable, or word, into its spiritual meaning. Only thus it becomes plain, so that the warfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein. It may as well be added to the foregoing, that the leaven was put into the three measures of meal till the whole was leavened, with emphasis upon the three measures of meal. But I do not even think of exhausting the subject. The three measures, as it seems to me, represent a definite number, an ascertained quantity. And this represents the whole church as being a definite number. And this church is the whole body of Christ, of whom the whole family, in heaven and in earth, is named, otherwise called his sheep. He said to his Father, Thine they were and thou gavest them me. And they shall hear his voice, as he says. They are a definite number, whose owner first is God, and then by gift they are his Sons. He is the good Shepherd, and he gave his life for the sheep. The three measures may mean his church, for which he gave himself, that he might sanctify, and cleanse it, and present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing. He sanctifies and cleanses it with the washing of water by the word. And it is thus that the leaven, or kingdom of heaven, may be said to work in the heart of each individual member of that measures, or body, or church, or sheep, or what ever figure representation, or pattern, may be used to designate the elect of God, who are embraced in the covenant of redemption, which is ordered in all things are sure. As ever your brother,
I. N. NEWKIRK.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 66., No. 4
FEBRUARY 15, 1898.