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Discovery Magazine 12/1/2000

Round-Up the Weeds

Imagine working all day in a field planting wheat so that your family will have food at harvest time. Then, as you sleep soundly in bed that night, someone sneaks in and sows poisonous weeds in the same field where you had worked so hard all day. A few weeks later when the grain sprouts, the weeds also appear, looking very similar to the wheat. Puzzled as to how someone could be so cruel, you consider your next move. "If I pull up all of the weeds, I also might uproot some of the wheat," you say to yourself. So, you decide to allow the weeds to grow along with the wheat until harvest, because then it will be easier to separate the wheat and the tares.

Incidents like these actually have occurred in places like India, Ireland, and England. It is likely that such events also were common in the days of Christ. In fact, Jesus told a story in Matthew 13 similar to the one above about a field that was sown with "tares." Tares are poisonous weeds called "darnel" that look very much like wheat when they first sprout. If eaten, these weeds can cause dizziness and painful vomiting. Even birds that eat them suffer similar side effects. Tares were plentiful in the land where Jesus was reared, and thus He knew how annoying they were for farmers. But, instead of gathering up the tares as soon as they sprouted, the man in Jesus’ parable told his workers to let them grow together until harvest time. By doing this, they did not risk uprooting the wheat along with the tares. At harvest time, the tares were gathered into bundles and burned, while the wheat was gathered and stored in the master’s barn.

In this parable the wheat represents those who follow Jesus, and the tares represent those who follow the devil. The harvest represents the judgment day, when Jesus will send His angels to gather everyone. The wicked will be cast into the furnace of fire (hell) where they will weep and grind their teeth in pain forever. But those who obey God will be taken to heaven where they will "shine forth as the sun" forever without experiencing pain, sorrow, or death.

Jesus ended His explanation of the parable with these words: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 13:43). This simply means that we must pay close attention to what Jesus says. Who are you serving today—God or Satan? What kind of seed will you be—wheat or tares? How you answer these questions will determine where your soul will go when your body dies.

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