HOUSMAIL HM#025 - THE BIRDS OF THE AIR                                                                              30 April 1999

Matthew 13:3-4, 18-19.
"He told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them .....
Hear then the parable of the sower.
When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path."

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained that the seed stands as a symbol of the GOSPEL - "The Word Of The Kingdom". (Matthew 13:19)

This "Word Of The Kingdom" is sown in the HEARTS of those who hear.

Alas ..... Many who hear this Word, have hearts as hard and impenetrable as a well trodden pathway. In such hearts the Gospel Seed remains useless on the surface, without ever taking root.

The "Word Of The Kingdom" is simply not UNDERSTOOD at all, by hard hearted people. (Matt 13:18) Without understanding, it cannot take root, and it is easily snatched away by "The Birds Of The Air".

And when the "Word Of The Kingdom" has been devoured by "The Birds Of The Air", there is nothing left to understand, nothing to believe, no hope of salvation.

JESUS DID NOT TELL THIS PARABLE FOR HARD HEARTED PEOPLE! It will not help them at all! Nor did He tell it to encourage us to become judges of the hard hearted! Instead, He told it for the benefit of those who want to UNDERSTAND so that they themselves can believe .... and be saved.

Jesus explained that "The Birds Of The Air", stand as a symbol for "the evil one". (Matt 13:18) And we note that instead of "the evil one" Mark 4:15 uses "Satan", and Luke 8:12 uses "The Devil".

However, we have not taken notice of that point merely to be distracted by the usual question about the identity and origin of this "evil one"! That side track discussion would detract from the REAL POINT of this part of the parable. (And I suspect that discussion too easily becomes one of the tools by which the "Word Of The Kingdom" is snatched away!)

What we need to do is look at the basic MEANING of the words "Devil" and "Satan". These meanings describe the METHODS used to snatch away the Word of The Kingdom. It is those we must learn to recognise, and resist, if we are to progress beyond hearing, to UNDERSTANDING and BELIEVING of "The Word Of The Kingdom". It is for us who desperately want to understand, that Jesus included this section of the Parable.

In Greek, "satan" means "adversary"; "devil" means "accuser","slanderer".

That is how "The Birds Of The Air" work to snatch away the Gospel from hard hearted hearers. Whenever the REAL Gospel is preached, you can almost guarantee that the "birds" will soon appear on the scene, pecking away at the "seed"! Agents of the "evil one" oppose the REAL "Word Of The Kingdom" by substituting their own different version of the Gospel! And Jesus is slandered and falsely accused, when His REAL teaching is FALSELY REPORTED!

One of the most common forms in which this is encountered, is the modern Gospel which is no longer "The Word Of The Kingdom", because it either subtly distorts the meaning of the Kingdom, or else does not mention the Kingdom at all! And a different HOPE is substituted! And forgiveness for sin is offered on different conditions! In parallel with those counterfeits, the teaching of Jesus about the way of life that pleases God is manipulated, or explained away, until it becomes something else!

There is one more thing about these "Birds Of The Air". I do not believe that it is any mere coincidence that Luke also used that same phrase in the other parable about the "Mustard Seed". (Luke 13:19) We must expect to find "The Birds Of The Air" taking shelter in the Church! .... disguised as "Servants Of Righteousness". (2 Cor. 11:15)

Of course there is ONE OBVIOUS CONCLUSION which we must take to heart:

"Believing" the wrong "gospel" is NOT believing at all. And "obeying" the wrong commandments is NOT obedience at all! Both combine to lead to eternal destruction.

We must be VERY careful to exercise proper discernment about what we hear, lest we ourselves become numbered amongst the hard hearted who neither understand nor believe. We must prayerfully search the scriptures asking for WISDOM TO UNDERSTAND. (James 1:5-6) And we are responsible before God for the honesty of our search. Only an honest heart, truly dedicated to searching for God, and prepared to settle for nothing less than TRUTH, will know WHAT TO BELIEVE in order to OBEY the REAL Gospel and be SAVED.

John tells us that there are many FALSE prophets abroad, who speak from the viewpoint of the world. (1 John 4:1,5 NIV) When we hear from "prophets" who claim to speak for Jesus, we must learn to "TEST EVERYTHING. Hold on to the GOOD. Avoid EVERY kind of evil". (1 Thess 5:21-22 NIV)

By prayerful and regular personal use of the WORD OF GOD, we must learn to guard our own hearts from "The Birds Of The Air".