The Birds of The Air
Mark 4:3-4,13-15 (NIV) "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up."... Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them."
Mark 4:13 (Phi) ... "Do you really not understand this parable? Then how are you going to understand all the other parables?"
Mark 4:30-32 (NIV) Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and become the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade."
Luke 13:19 (NIV) It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew, and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.
These parables give us insight to the nature of the God's kingdom and its painful growing process. Notice that in the seed parable, three out of the four examples are HOW THINGS GO WRONG. So why do we flinch at the warnings and truth revealed in the other parables? (Explaining away of the "leaven" parable is probably the most grievous example of this.)
Mustard seeds normally grow into narrow shrubs, and are familiar as weeds that grow along the roadside. But what is described here is an monstrosity: It's gotten way too big! It's become a spreading tree. So big, in fact, that the birds of the air can comfortably lodge in it! And Jesus told us who the birds are: the agents of Satan. (While a specific bird like a dove or sparrow may be used to represent the Holy Spirit or the disciple, birds "of the air" in general often represent demons in Scripture.)Jer 15:3 (NIV) "I will send four kinds of destroyers against them," declares the Lord, "the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy."
The Too Big Tree
Jer 3:13 (NIV) "Only acknowledge your guilt--you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me," declares the Lord.
Jer 2:20 (NIV) "Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, 'I will not serve you!' Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute."
If this "spiritual adultery" was bad back then under every "spreading tree," we are told it will only get worse in the future, independent of a proper understanding of "the blob" mustard-tree parable or not. For God, by one means or another, is striving to communicate to us a warning about the nature of the kingdom and what pitfalls to expect and avoid for those with ears to hear.1 Tim 4:1 (NIV) The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
Why do we want to twist the kingdom parables given in warning into something saccharine sweet? Even if we think we can get away with this with some of the later parables, we can't with the first; for Jesus Himself gives us an interpretation that is mainly negative and which deals with real and present dangers of spiritual growth in the kingdom. Some seeds don't make it--three out of four in fact--and Jesus wants us to know why. Again, the kingdom is like a large portion of dough that has yeast stuffed into it; where yeast only and ever means sin all through scripture (Ex 23:15, Lev 7:12-13, Lk 12:1b, Lk 13:18-21, 1 Cor 5:6-8); yet some, however, suggest that here and only, yeast is actually good! Yet again, the kingdom is like a tiny mustard-seed which produces a freak, giant, spreading tree not in keeping with its genetic-code; so big in fact that demons can safely reside in it. This is not good. Such things ought not happen, and ought not be. But unfortunately such is the nature of the kingdom until its subjects, by some miracle, start to listen to and deal honestly with the warnings and instructions of their King.Rev 18:2 (NIV) With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird."
Dan 4:14 (NIV) "He called in a loud voice: 'Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches.'"
Birds... In the Church? (The Aviary)
Jer 5:26 (NIV) "Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch men."
Eze 13:20 (NIV) "'Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds."
Jer 5:26-29 (NAS) "For wicked men are found among My people, they watch like fowlers lying in wait; they set a trap, they catch men. Like a cage full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich. They are fat, they are sleek, they also excel in deeds of wickedness; they do not plead the cause, the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; and they do not defend the rights of the poor. 'Shall I not punish these people?' declares the Lord, 'On a nation such as this shall I not avenge Myself?'"
More on The Birds of Jesus' Kingdom Parable
Luke 8:12 (NIV) "... the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts..."
Mat 13:19 (NIV) "... the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart..."
Rev 19:21 (NIV) The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
The Pathology of Captivity
Acts 8:23 (NIV) "... full of bitterness and captive to sin."
Rom 6:23 (NEB) For sin pays a wage, and the wage is death, but God gives freely, and his gift is eternal life, in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Pet 2:12-13 (NAS) But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of these creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you.
Luke 11:24-26 (NIV) "When an evil spirit come out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then is goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."
Scripture speaks of Satan attacking us, but for this wicked generation I suspect it is more like "Here Satan! Here Satan! Please come back and do that thing again! See, I've set out a branch for you to perch on. Please! I need you, I can't wait on God!" In this adulterous age, many have become bored with the Bread of Life, and want to go back to the food of Egypt.
The Wages of Bondage
2 Pet 2:14-15 (NAS) Having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin; enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam...who loved the wages of unrighteousness.
Rev 16:14 (TEB) They are spirits of demons that perform miracles...
2 Pet 2:18-19 (NAS) For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
PS 106:39-41 (NIV) They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves. Therefore the Lord was angry with his people and abhorred his inheritance. He handed them over to the nations, and their foes ruled over them.
More on the Captivity of Terminology
The title of this Bible study might rather have been the PATHOLOGY OF CAPTIVITY in the Scriptural context of spiritual adultery. We are concerned here not with the nature of demons themselves, but about the nature of "possession"--or whatever you choose to call it--and deliverance.
Possession = Captivity = Being Trapped = Bondage = Subjection = Mastery = Slavery = Being "Had"
Biblically, these words refer to the same spiritual reality. And please note that they are used neutrally, both for God or Satan. We are either God's possession (that He purchased) or Satan's; either God is our master, or Satan; and so on. Check it out for yourself.Rom 6:20-22 (Amp) For when you were slaves to sin, you were "free" in regard to righteousness. But then what benefit (return) did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? [None,] for the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward of holiness and its end is eternal life.
2 Pet 2:19b (Jer) ...if anyone lets himself be dominated by anything, he is a slave to it.
2 Pet 2:19b (NIV) ...a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.
More on the Sophisticated Ministry of Jesus
Mark 1:34 (NIV) and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Mark 1:39 (NIV) So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Mark 9:25 (NIV) When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."
Luke 4:36 (NIV) All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!"
Luke 8:29-30 (NIV) For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him.
Luke 9:1(NIV) When Jesus had called the twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases.
Would Be Exorcists
Acts 19:13,15-16 (NIV) Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."... [One day] the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
The Process of Freedom
Rom 8:38-39 (NEB) For I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits of superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths--nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Scott Peck: "Genuine possession, as far as we know, is rare... Possession appears to be a gradual process in which the possessed person repeatedly sells out for one reason or another... Martin noted that exorcisms can reveal not only extraordinary demonic brilliance but also extraordinary demonic stupidity. My observations confirm this... blind spot... extraordinary pride and narcissism. By virtue of [Satan's] extreme self-centeredness, it has no real understanding of the phenomenon of love. It recognizes love as a reality to be fought and even to be imitated, but utterly lacking it itself, it does not understand love in the least. Its reality appears to Satan only like the reality of a bad joke. The notion of sacrifice is totally foreign to it. When human beings at an exorcism speak in the language of love, it does not comprehend what they are saying. And when they are behaving with love, Satan is completely ignorant of the ground rules. Exorcism is not a magical procedure, unless one considers love to be magical..."
Removed From the "Possessed?" Section
Perhaps the only "complete possession" by Satan in history will be the coming Beast--often termed the "Antichrist".
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