But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Consider the mustard seed.1 It’s hardly observable. The birds of the air and the tiny field mice can hardly see it. Yet it is full of great potential. But apart from going into the ground and dying, it remains alone in the world, waiting to fulfill its purpose.2
You might be amazed to know that seeds have a certain sense of their environment. They are sensitive to the seasons and whether there will be adequate warmth in the coming months. They somehow know when they are near enough to the surface of the soil where the light of the sun is. They need to be persuaded that they are in a place where they can reach the light, so as to grow and flourish, before they will allow the water of life to penetrate their outer shell. The introduction of moisture triggers a complex series of responses within the seed called germination, which is defined as the emergence of the radicle through the seed coat.
A radicle is the first young root put forth from a seed. The young plant is determined to establish itself firmly in the good soil. Like any wise builder, it makes sure its foundation is solid before the building goes up. So the radicle goes down first, then it will send forth its first shoot up through the soil towards the sun. The world goes on about its business without realizing the great struggle this little sprout is going through just to get a solid beginning. Then, with its little roots gathering the water and nutrients from the soil, and its little leaves soaking up the sun’s strength, it has all it needs to grow and increase and eventually bear fruit.
This may all seem quite elementary, for man has learned of all this and much more through observation and experimentation. But man cannot create a living plant any more than he can create a human being, because it’s truly a miracle. One plants, another waters, but God makes it grow.3 Remember that one essential factor — it will be important as we go on. The fruit of the tree reveals the goodness of its Creator.4
In its very humble beginnings, the mustard seed is not so impressive to the natural eye. Yet when it is fully grown, it is greater than the other herbs in the garden, and becomes a tree in whose branches all the different birds can come and make a home.5 Our Master Yahshua used the example of the mustard seed as a metaphor to explain the nature of how His Kingdom would come in the last days of this age.
The Small Beginnings of the First Church
Like the little mustard seed, Yahshua and His unrefined group of disciples were not so impressive to the natural eye. The religious leaders were constantly trying to expose Yahshua as some untaught carpenter’s son from Nazareth, who had received a demon, for they were very envious of His teaching and authority. Some of the Pharisees asked Him when the Kingdom of God would come. He replied, “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation. Nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is in your midst.”6
The Pharisees did not recognize that the Kingdom of God was right before them in the hearts and lives of Yahshua and His friends. For the Jews were looking for a heroic military Messiah to come and rout out the Roman Empire, and establish His rule on the earth. They believed that they would be the ones to whom the Messiah would come to help Him establish His Kingdom, because of their great knowledge and understanding. Somehow all their great learning blinded their hearts and minds from the simple truth of God’s great love for all of mankind.
Eventually, the Jews crucified the very Messiah who was sent for them,7 believing they were doing God a favor. They had every reason to believe that this would effectively uproot this little sprout of a movement. But to the dismay of the religious leaders, Yahshua’s disciples boldly reappeared a short time later on the day of Pentecost with a powerful message of repentance and forgiveness in the name of their risen King. Of the approximately one million people in Jerusalem for Pentecost, only 3,000 people responded to Peter’s proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Those who believed left behind everything, and began living together and sharing all things in common,8 just as Yahshua had with His own disciples.9 Day by day, people were added to their numbers, and word of this radical new sect began to spread throughout the known world.
Yet, within 70 years or so, their love for their Savior and one another waned, and the nature of the Church began to change into something quite different from the way it was in the beginning. Somehow their hearts went astray from the foundational things they had been taught by the apostles,10 and they forgot their purification from their former sins.11 They began to neglect the orphans and the widows in their midst, and to speak evil of one another, defraud the laborers, give preference to the rich, and take on the ways of the world.12
Rather than having the faith, grace, and wisdom from God in their heart, there was bitter envy and selfish ambition. This, of course, brought the great confusion and every evil thing13 that the book of James describes so vividly. Rather than being a beacon light of hope as those in the New Covenant of life and peace should be, they began to appear more like those who still sit in darkness under the looming shadow of death.14
The little tree in its beginnings held so much promise, but as it grew, it became very dark and deadly. It was obviously no longer growing with the growth from God, but by the power of another source. You can follow its stages of growth down through the centuries as this woman, the formerly pure virgin betrothed to Messiah, went from being the persecuted to being the persecutor. She went from not being of this world to being the state religion under Emperor Constantine of Rome. She took dominion over the hearts and minds of men and crushed all those who opposed her. Rather than being the light to the world,15 she plunged the world into the dark ages of Crusades and Inquisitions, cruelly executing all who dared to speak against her tyranny.
This woman has become a mighty tree whose root system has crept into every area of modern culture. As the ancient prophecy foretold, she has become a dwelling place for every unclean bird and evil spirit.16 The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the strength of her luxury. Instead of bearing the fruit of the Spirit, she exhibits the obvious deeds of the flesh — adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and things of like nature. And, as Paul said, those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.17
This mighty tree is obviously not the Kingdom of which Yahshua prophesied. But it is the one called “Babylon the Great,” which is twice fallen.18 Her time of judgment will come, as Yahshua said of every tree that does not bear the fruit that glorifies God. She will be cut down and thrown into the fire.19
Our Master’s purpose (to bring about the Kingdom of God on the earth20) has been in abeyance21 since the fall of the early church some 1900 years ago. Since then, Satan has made every effort to completely corrupt mankind. He has led man further and further from the knowledge of good and evil, which God placed in each man’s heart for his own protection. Satan’s greatest tool — to misrepresent God’s character and intentions — has been the religious system, especially Christianity.
A Preserved Seed
Yet a seed had been preserved in order to be transplanted22 into good soil in these last days.
And as Isaiah said before: “Unless the Lord of Hosts had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah.” (Romans 9:29)
But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. (Luke 8:15)
Many righteous men and women over the last two thousand years have lived and died, praying and waiting for the Kingdom of God to come on the earth. All their work was not in vain and surely God knows their earnest hearts.23 For many of them were stepping stones, preparing a way and places for His seed to be planted where it could grow and flourish and bear the fruit that would bring about the return of Messiah to set up His Kingdom on the earth. They will not lose their reward.24
There was a great stirring in this country during the late ’60s and early ’70s. The God of heaven was tilling up the ground of people’s hearts in preparation for the little seed of His Kingdom to be planted once again. As in Yahshua’s time, there were false messiahs everywhere and even political uprisings. If you lived at that time, you sensed the world would never be the same again. But for most everybody, that time came and went without them ever obtaining the promise that seemed to be at their fingertips. But rather, they have been forced to settle for something less than social and economic justice and truth — a brotherhood of man, a new age of peace — and so many have lived in the nostalgia of that time ever since.
But in 1971, during the time of the “Jesus Movement” in California, the Holy Spirit found a man whose heart was ripe for that preserved seed to be planted. His desperate cry was, “All I want to do is love!” Deep in his heart, he heard the Master’s words, “You can do nothing apart from Me.”25 And like that first radicle bursting through the seed shell, going down into the good soil, he received this word as the foundation for everything he would do or say for the rest of his life. That was the right heart to plant that little seed of faith in, because the growth must come from God, or it’s not God’s Kingdom!26 From that day on, he was compelled to share the love of God with whoever would listen to him.
Many more have received that pure seed of faith in their hearts, which transferred them from the kingdom of darkness (this present fallen world) and into the small beginnings of the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son. Since that time, this new sprout has been sending down roots, seeking nourishment — the water of life and the light from heaven, which strengthens the heart. Once again, there are communities of believers sharing all things in common,27 obeying the teachings of Yahshua and His apostles,28 and praying as He commanded us to pray.29
This little sprout will be much different from that other tree, by the grace of God. For our Master prophesied that it would be a good tree that all the different birds could come and make a home in.30 That is unheard of today, especially in the 37,000 denominations of Christianity. Usually, each kind of bird will be in its own tree, but they won’t mix together. But in the Kingdom that is coming, all the different races and cultures and nationalities will be able to dwell together in harmony. This will be the greatest witness that God has done something in the hearts of men — that they can live together in peace.
It’s been right in your midst for the last 35 years and it has probably escaped your notice. Like the little mustard seed, the beginnings of God’s Kingdom are not so impressive to the natural eye. But we are now in nine countries around the world, and we are continually looking for our brothers and sisters who are trapped and dissatisfied in the fallen Church. Perhaps like so many of us your whole desire is to know Him for real, and to have the grace to live your life in a way that you can have confidence is pleasing to Him. There is a brand new culture emerging, something old is being born, and the tender shoots will soon break through the surface and be seen by all. And you can be a part of it.
Thus says the Lord GOD, “I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches.” (Ezekiel 17:22-23)