Plundering the Hearts of the Gentiles [Part 1 of 4]

Posted in:

The Bible is a Book of Tales (Narrative  Theology)

Salt and Light (Public Glory)

Plunder = Harvest = Missions


I had a professor I liked, but who insisted that N T Wright was wrong about the Matthew 13 Seed and Sower parable (in JVG).  What is the Seed and Sower parable about?  The traditional sermon says it is about evangelism.  This is with good reason, because Jesus gives an explanation of the parable.  But N T Wright points to Exile and Return language and says Israel was being brought out of Exile by Jesus and that his program of language and actions throughout his ministry keep portraying this message.  Wright says that by using these terms in Mt 13, Jesus is calling people into that Return from Exile.  Wright doesn’t say it is unevangelistic, but that there is a deeper meaning.

My professor, however, insisted the parable is clearly about evangelism, since the gospel is the seed in the parable, and that Wright was reading in what he wanted to see.  I think that Wright was completely right about the passage, AND that I can say so WITHOUT jettisoning the common Sunday sermon that we can encounter four soils as we evangelize with God’s word of the gospel as the seed.

I not only want to assert that both views are right, but that the parable is clearly about 1) evangelism BECAUSE 2) Jesus is using language of rescue from Babylonian Exile. It is a very complex picture, so let’s start here-

The goal of Gentile evangelism is at the heart of the Exile in Babylon.

Any language coming out of the Return from Exile will naturally have an evangelistic nature to it since the evangelism of the Gentiles is what God was accomplishing in sending the Jews to Babylon.

And THAT is why Jesus’ “Seed and Sower” parable works so well as an evangelism metaphor- He is using Exile and Return language from the Psalms and Isaiah, language that promises a great HARVEST.

In order to show that exile is about evangelism, I need to show the mixing of two great metaphors.  One is the plundering of the Egyptians, and the other is the joyful harvest at the end of Exile.  The Plundering theme I will trace next in Part 2, through Exodus, Ezra and Revelation.  The harvest theme I will demonstrate in Part 3, through the Psalms, Isaiah and Matthew.  I have to show that Exile is about going to a place, ultimately to plunder the place of its wealth.  The process of plunder comes through turning hearts, and in the end we have a clear call to plunder the world of its hearts.  Going to Babylon was going to plant seeds.  When they came home they had sheaves of harvested Babylonian lives in their store.

Here is an outline of the next 3 parts of this article:

  1. Part 2: You will walk out of captivity with riches: Exile produces plunder of the oppressor by taking his wealth when the people of God leave.  God changes hearts of the oppressor’s people and the people of God don’t just get to go home, they go home full-handed.
  2. Part 3: You will walk out of captivity with produce:  They got there with nothing but their God in their hearts and a bag of seeds – the message about God’s kingdom rule.  They are now going home with many converts, that is, with much growth from the seed of the gospel that God  gave to them.
  3. Part 4: Implications of Jesus use of this language.

So there’s much more of this one coming…

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