The Parable of the Mustard Seed spoken by Jesus is a Kingdom parable. This means that it can be seen as having meaning for God’s upcoming Millennial Kingdom.
The following is the actual Parable of the Mustard Seed as it was spoken by Jesus in the book of Mark:
“And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.” (Mark 4:30-32)
(Note to the reader: In this same parable as given in the book of Matthew, we are told that this seed becomes a tree. I will use “tree” in this passage as compared with “herb” for the purposes of easier comparison, interpretation and understanding).
The small mustard seed that Jesus spoke about develops great branches and becomes a great tree. In the big picture, we can look at this as a tree that God establishes for reclaiming his inheritance people for his Kingdom; they are represented by the birds that flock to this tree.
In some ways, God’s people in the Millennial Kingdom will be starting new again; albeit still with God’s original promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that is, for his people to grow and become as the “sand of the sea.” In this passage, I will discuss how the Parable of the Mustard Seed relates to this; in the meantime, as background, recall what God said to Adam and Eve when they represented the beginning of human life in the Garden, and then to Noah and his sons when they were beginning again post-flood. These instructions are given in respective scriptures below:
- “And God blessed them, and God said unto them (Adam and Eve), Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen 1:28)
- “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Gen 9:1)
After the last days “vine” of the house of Israel has been stripped because of their disobedience, and after much of the world’s population has been reduced because of events of the Tribulation period, the house of Israel will eventually be regathered from across the world. This will represent a reuniting of the kingdom of Judah and the ‘northern kingdom’ of Israel. Then, they will multiply in the Kingdom once again just as God had originally instructed Adam and Eve.
The mustard seed comes directly from God
In his Parable of the Mustard Seed, it is God (Jesus) himself who can be seen as the one who plants the seed. From other scripture, we can infer that it is Jesus who “ministers the seed” just like the husbandman who watches over the “vineyard of red wine,” saying, I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day (Is 27:3).” Jesus is the son of Man who not only “ministers” the mustard seed, but he keeps the tree, and through it he “gives (its) increase” and “gives bread” (2 Cor 9:10).
When considering this mustard tree, which I will describe in detail in this passage, we might consider that every good thing comes from God above and is of God’s sovereign domain. The following ancient scriptures remind us about this and how the mustard tree is the property of God’s Kingdom:
- “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.” (Ps 50:10-12)
- “Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.” (Job 40:20-23)
Jesus sows and plants the mustard seed, and of course, Jesus and his spirit can be seen as the root or the vine from which its branches grow. Then, the fruit of this mustard tree is the fowls of the air who come to nest in it. This resulting “fruit” is God’s inheritance. It is Jesus who ultimately claims these fruits for himself as follows:
- “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” (2 Tim 2:6)
- “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?” (1 Cor 9:7)
You may recall from my series on this site entitled, The Lord is with us, that in these last days the Lord himself labors and wars against his anti-Christ enemy on behalf of his Kingdom and servants.
Contents of this passage
Given the short story of the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the background above, I will address the concepts of this parable in this passage according to four simple components:
- A very small seed
- A good, righteous seed sowed on good ground
- Growth that makes it become very large
- Its fruit of the Kingdom
The second component- an assumption that the small seed is a righteous one and is planted on good ground- is not found explicitly in the words of the parable but can be easily inferred in the course of this parable’s interpretation. In fact, in scripture that includes Jesus explaining faith, he mentions that one must have “faith as a grain of mustard seed” in order to move a mountain, which appears to be at least partially related to this parable when considering its entire interpretation that I will provide herein. Meanwhile, Jesus’ words about faith like a mustard seed include:
- “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matt 17:20)
Faith such as that which is associated with the mustard seed is highly and positively correlated with righteousness, and we can easily assume that its resulting tree is a good one. Otherwise, in contrast, we certainly have many examples in scripture of trees of God’s house of Israel people that are corrupt, unrighteous and that are cut down as a result. This contrast is most simply put in the words of Jesus as follows:
- “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matt 7:17-18)
Given that the tree in this parable at hand grows from a tiny mustard seed, becomes very large, and produces good fruit that is represented by the fowls of the air who come to nest in it, it certainly is not one that is a candidate to be cut down due to a lack of good fruit.
A very small seed
The mustard seed itself in this parable might be seen as the seed of a servant(s). In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus likened the good seed planted as to the “children of the kingdom.” This may generally be assumed to be the case for the mustard seed. “Children of the kingdom” are described by the apostle Paul in the book of Second Timothy as those who are persevering soldiers who are in bonds, persecuted, yet remain faithful and suffer for the elect’s (i.e. God’s chosen ones) sake.
Jesus makes a point in the Parable of the Mustard Seed to say that this seed is the “least of all seeds.” While this seed may be seen as representing the children of the kingdom, it may also represent an individual servant of the Lord who is small and insignificant in stature, yet who likely has a house of Israel bloodline at the least. This servant’s small stature is in obvious contrast to the last days “great men” and “mountains” of Israel who are referred to in the book of Ezekiel and are very likely very powerful rulers and shepherds in God’s land with distinguished house of Israel bloodlines.
I described earlier in this passage how this small mustard seed turns into a very large tree that houses God’s inheritance people, ‘Israel,’ who proceed into the Millennial Kingdom. Therefore, this tiny seed represents the beginning of what God refers to as the “branch of my planting” in the end times. Its tree produced in its infancy may then be seen as a “low tree” that God exalts or as the “dry tree” referred to by Jesus that God eventually causes to “flourish.” This is a seed that is chosen by God that turns into his branch about which God refers to when he says, “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time” (Is 60:22).
End times small seed
We might think about this small seed and its infancy in growth in terms of God’s chosen end times servants. At a time period that God prophetically refers to as the “day of small things” (Zech 4:10), end times ‘David’ (‘Zerubbabel’) is instrumental in bringing back God’s people and who ultimately prepares the Millennial Kingdom temple for God with God’s “eyes of the Lord” who roam the earth.
In the prophet Amos’ vision of these same last days, he saw a vision of a ‘David-versus-Goliath’-type battle with end times ‘Jacob’ at the helm, representing God’s people ‘Israel’ versus the anti-Christ Chaldeans. This battle happens during this current last days time period when the Chaldeans are devastating God’s vineyard. Amos saw ‘Jacob’ in his vision and inquired of God twice, “By whom shall Jacob arise? For he is small” (Am 7:2,5). Small and insignificant end times ‘Jacob’ is the servant described in several “servant song” portions of the book of Isaiah and possibly as follows in Chapter 53:
- “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Is 53:2)
End times ‘Jacob,’ who raises up God’s inheritance ‘Israel’ and is a compilation of historical biblical servants, could be a ‘type’ of Joseph, at least in part, who we know was sold by his brothers into captivity and left behind. I have shown prior on this site how the last days men of Judah and rulers of the country of Israel come against and “feed themselves” off of their own people, including ‘Jacob’ and his small flock remnant. The following scripture refers to an end times ‘type’ of Joseph in which God is addressing those in Zion who are powerful rulers in Israel called, “mountains of Samaria,” whose “palaces” God says that he abhors. God says about them:
- “(They) drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” (Am 6:6)
End times ‘Jacob,’ like Joseph, and like Jesus, for whom Joseph was a foreshadowing figure, is rejected by his own people. Thus, ‘Jacob’ is small.
Similarly, King David in his day was not the obvious choice among his brothers as king, but he was God’s choice. His crowning as king did not come easy. Then, he had defectors and many enemies, including some in his own house. Nevertheless, King David went on to multiply his own family “tree” of inheritance in his day and beyond within Judah. The following is what God says about the end times house of David, which can be seen as an extension of King David’s original small house according to God’s eternal promise to him:
- “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.” (Jer 33:22)
A small seed from the ancient shepherd boy David will turn into a Kingdom of God’s people.
A good, righteous seed and good ground
It is not a big leap to assume that the mustard seed in this prophetic parable that is spoken by Jesus is a good and righteous one. In fact, God’s end times remnant servant people are referred to elsewhere in scripture as “the seed of the blessed of the Lord” (Is 65:23) and more than once by God as “the work of my hands.” Those among his last days remnant who are persecuted and mourn are furthermore referred to as “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord…” (Is 61:3). Given that it is planted by Jesus himself, the mustard tree in this parable becomes great and brings forth great fruit (via fowls that come to nest in it). (I will describe the fruit of this mustard seed tree in the final section of this passage). In the meantime, the following two scriptures include King David’s words about the tree of a righteous servant followed by God addressing his end times holy people:
- “…(it is) planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither…” (Ps 1:3)
- “Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” (Is 60:21)
In his teachings that I referred to earlier, Jesus explained about having “faith as a grain of mustard seed,” and I remarked about the positive correlation between faith and righteousness. In addition, given this mustard tree’s tremendous growth, its righteous seed can be safely assumed to have been planted on good ground as opposed to poor or rocky soil that is described in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. The following verses refer to a seed on good ground that is equated with righteousness:
- “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15)
- “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it…” (Matt 13:23)
The small, righteous mustard seed in good soil must first develop a root or vine that is the Spirit of Jesus himself, and who is the vine that makes the fruitful branches righteous. Through God’s increase that I will describe in the section below, the righteous seed planted in good soil develops righteous branches that are “beautiful,” “glorious,” and consist of God’s end times remnant inheritance and heritage, ‘Israel.’ The following scriptures refer to a seed that is planted on good soil and that grows and develops strong branches:
- “Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.” (Ps 80:9-11)
- “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown.” (Ez 36:8-9)
If we are looking to an end times servant figure as an example of the righteous mustard seed, we might again consider end times ‘Jacob,’ who we are told God has “called in righteousness” (Is 42:6). He qualifies according to Paul’s aforementioned definition as a “child of the kingdom” since he is among God’s chosen end times remnant of servants who is chastened but then afterwards yields the “fruit of righteousness.”
Grows to become very large
The tiny mustard seed in Jesus’ parable grows to become a very large tree, one that produces a great amount of fruit. Thus, it fulfills the multiplication effect among God’s people that God originally instructed for Adam and Eve, and then for Noah and his sons after the flood. It represents God’s inheritance people of ‘Israel’ again becoming as the “sand of the sea” as they proceed into his heavenly Millennial Kingdom.
Related to this tree’s growth, in various parts of scripture, we are told that God’s remnant people of inheritance in the last days: “sprout”; “spring up”; “flourish”; “blossom and bud”; “grow as the lily,” etc. God’s last days inheritance mustard seed tree can also be seen as, “the garden (that) causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations” (Is 61:11).
The “fruit” produced by this end times mustard tree will likely be seen by people across the world. In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, we learn about the good seed that is planted on good ground, which then grows tremendously and yields its fruit as follows:
- “And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bear fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 8:8)
- “But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matt 13:8)
We know that any tremendous “growth” of life that happens such as that seen with the mustard seed is an increase that comes only from God, who is the original planter and sower. Recall that it was the apostle Paul in his own plant growth analogy who said that it is God who “gives the increase.”
The supernatural growth process of God’s Kingdom is something that we do not understand and that may be considered a mystery. In fact, in speaking about the time leading up to the harvest, and right before he spoke the Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus said the following about the Kingdom of God:
- “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” (Mark 4:26-28)
I am reminded here about the Daughter of Zion, a Kingdom queen and mother. After she loses her extended royal, earthly “family” and is taken captive and made desolate, she then subsequently and suddenly arises to see her family of Israel return and appear in the holy land for the Millennial Kingdom.
The mustard seed tree represents the growth of God’s Kingdom inheritance
In his words in scripture about those who already have much and to whom more will be given, it is logical to infer that Jesus may have been referring to God’s inheritance people, ‘Israel,’ the people of ‘Jacob’ who are beneficiaries of God’s covenant promise. In his statement that is possibly related to Kingdom growth, Jesus says:
- “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” (Matt 13:12)
So it appears that part of the prophecy in the Parable of the Mustard Seed is that of God’s increase and multiplication for his end times inheritance of ‘Israel,’ just as he instructed for Adam and Eve and then Noah to multiply. Even in the ancient, prophetic song of Moses we are told about God’s people, “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in…” (Ex 15:17). When his two nations of Israel and Judah come back together, rejoin, and return for the Millennial Kingdom, God says:
- “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.” (Ez 37:26)
- “And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.” (Jer 30:19)
The result of God’s original planting of the small mustard seed, for which he also gives the increase, is his inheritance that flocks to the tree’s branches. In terms of relating the increase and multiplication of God’s inheritance to his end times servants again, we might consider what God says about end times ‘Jacob’ or similar servants. ‘Jacob’ and his last days remnant are those who may be seen as branches that bear fruit but are purged so that they may bring forth even more fruit; this is found in the book of John, Chapter 15. The same concept is also found in the book of Hebrews in which we are told by the apostle Paul that the process of chastening “afterward yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb 12:11). God says to chastened and persecuted ‘Jacob’ and his remnant people:
- “And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded: And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ez 36:10-11)
- “And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken and have done it.” (Ez 17:24)
This multiplication of his people is God’s fruit of the Kingdom, which I will address in more detail as follows.
The mustard seed and its tree yields fruit of the Kingdom
In the case of the Parable of the Mustard Seed that grows into a tree, the fruits of the Kingdom can be seen as the birds of the air that come and lodge in its branches and in its shadows.
In fact, if we consider the mustard seed tree to represent God’s inheritance he brings through righteous end times servant ‘Jacob,’ given the totality of scripture and this strong theme throughout God’s word, then we might view the birds of this tree to be the fruit of the house of ‘Jacob.’ The apostle James described “precious fruit of the earth” as appearing in the time of latter rains and upon the Lord’s return, which James said is the fruit that the husbandman waits for. This appears to refer to the same fruit of God’s inheritance that is ‘Jacob’ and his people ‘Israel.’ They are described as follows:
- “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” (Is 27:6)
The end times infant-stage growth of the mustard tree of inheritance for God’s Kingdom can be seen as his ‘Jacob’-Judah small flock remnant, who abide in the vine Jesus Christ. They fit the apostle Paul’s words of exhortation to those in the church of Philipi, saying, “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:11). This remnant includes the “escaped house of Judah” that we are told, “takes root downward and bears fruit upward” (Is 37:31).
God’s ‘Jacob’-Judah remnant will “shoot forth its branches” and will “yield fruit” (Ez 36:8), which will be the firstfruits of God for the world to see. This is indicated in the following scripture:
- “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.” (Is 35:1-2)
The end times ‘Jacob’-Judah “small flock” remnant are the beginning of the fulfillment of Moses’ ancient prophetic vision for the house of ‘Joseph’ that will be as a “fruitful bough, even fruitful by a well.” End times ‘Jacob’ will ultimately raise up the tribes of Israel and will be a light to the Gentiles in bringing all of the people in the Kingdom together under Jesus Christ. God tells ‘Jacob’ that he will establish the earth and cause him to “inherit the desolate heritages” (Is 49:8). This is the same time about which God says, “And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen” (Ez 36:30). God says the following to end times ‘Jacob’ about the fruit that flocks to God’s Kingdom tree:
- “But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.” (Is 29:23)
- “The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.” (Is 10:21-22)
- “And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” (Is 44:4-5)
So, it is ‘Jacob,’ his remnant people and faithful Gentiles who will ultimately grow into the people of God’s entire Kingdom.
In conclusion, consider the following two sets of prophetic scripture which speak about a last days tree of inheritance that effectively summarize the contents of this passage. They speak to the tremendous growth and fruit of God’s righteous inheritance tree, ‘Israel.’ Notice the striking similarity of the following verses to Jesus’ Parable of the Mustard Seed, which I restated from scripture at the beginning of this passage:
- “I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” (Hos 14:5-7)
- “Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent: In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.” (Ez 17:22-23)
Both of these sets of scripture tell of an end times tree of inheritance that is planted by God, given an increase by God, and yields the fruit of God’s Kingdom. Thus, these verses appear to represent the soon coming fulfillment of the prophecy that is in Jesus’ Parable of the Mustard Seed.
To summarize, this great tree represented in the Parable of the Mustard Seed is God’s inheritance people, which only come forth as a result of his own planting and through his own power that causes the increase. His end times servants as the branches of this tree may only understand God’s tremendous glory, power and Kingdom through their faith, righteousness and abiding in the vine or root of the tree that is Jesus Christ.
Grace & Peace,
Lion’s Lair (LL)