In Matthew chapter 13 Jesus told a series of parables about the kingdom of God. Among them was the parable of tares among the wheat.


Tares among the wheat

Tares are bearded darnel, which is a poisonous grass, almost indistinguishable from wheat while the two are growing into blade. But when tares come into ear, the difference is obvious. At that point they can be separated without difficulty, and burned.

Because of the difficulty of distinguishing tares from wheat, the owner in the parable instructed his servants to leave the tares until harvest. At that time the harvesters will go carefully among the grain and pull up all but the wheat. If any tares remain unnoticed until the grain is harvested, the seeds will be separated from the wheat after the threshing.[1]

The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man, Jesus explained. The sower of tares is our enemy, the devil. The field is the world, the good seeds are the “sons of the kingdom,” and the tares are the “sons of the evil one.” “The harvest,” Jesus said, “is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.”[2]


Time for the final harvest

Harvest time is pictured in the fall feasts, labelled collectively as the Feast of Ingathering.[3] This season includes the selective harvest of firstfruits as well as the final harvest of all that remains.

Wheat represents true believers, the Church. The Church is harvested just prior to the final seven years of this age, commonly referred to as the Tribulation, as firstfruits of the wheat crop. The 144,000 are harvested in the middle of the Tribulation as firstfruits of a later crop, the Tribulation saints.

The end of the Tribulation, the end of the age, is the time for the final harvest. At that time everything that remains is harvested; then the good is separated from the bad, the wheat from the tares.

That final harvest is described in Revelation chapter 14: “Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, ‘Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.”[4]

Both wheat and tares are harvested—to very different destinies. The “wheat” is gathered up into heaven; the Tribulation saints are spared further persecution and suffering. The “tares” are likened to grapes, which are thrown into “the great winepress of God’s wrath.” Mercy is no longer available. “No one could enter the temple [in heaven] until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.”[5]

Some people now are obviously distinguishable as “sons of the kingdom” or “sons of the evil one,” but others are not so readily identified. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”[6] The LORD can tell the difference between wheat and tares, and He will deal with them accordingly. And all heaven will shout, “True and just are His judgments!”[7]


Wheat and chaff:

John the Baptist used a metaphor similar to wheat and tares when he spoke of wheat and chaff. “He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”[8]

Both tares and chaff are worthless. Both worthless chaff and poisonous tares are separated from the valuable grain at the time of harvest.


Practical application:

Jesus finished His series of parables on the kingdom of heaven by saying, “Have you understood these things?”

“Yes,” they replied.

He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”[9]

Jesus likened teachers of the law to owners of a house with a storeroom. A storeroom is a place where you put things that you want to keep but you don’t use every day. Jesus is in effect telling the teachers of the law that they have put the Law of God into storage.

Jesus told His disciples and the teachers of the law, “The Scriptures are rich with treasures. Some of these treasures are old favorites, passages you have always loved; some are new, or newly understood. You have just been given new insight into truths written long ago.”

The Bible is a storeroom containing many items which you have always treasured. The “new” treasures are old under-appreciated treasures that now have new value for you. The Lord wants you to continue to discover new value, new appreciation for things you formerly considered irrelevant. Search the Scriptures to see what Old Testament truths are more fully understood as history unfolds and as the Holy Spirit opens your eyes. Keep examining your Bible storeroom for fresh insights, new connections, new pieces to an unsolved puzzle.



[1] Tares, Unger’s Bible Dictionary.

[2] Matt. 13:37-39

[3] Ex. 23:16

[4] Rev. 14:15-16

[5] Rev. 15:8

[6] 1 Sam. 16:7

[7] Rev. 19:2.  See also 15:3; 16:5-7.

[8] Matt. 3:11-12, emphasis added. See also Luke 3:16-17.

[9] Matt. 13:51-52

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