by C. Parker Thomas

The following article was published in the Midnight Cry Messenger in 1969.

“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many; And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

“And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” Luke 14:16-24.

This parable is more than a picture of the gospel invitation and man’s typical excuses in saying “no.” It is a prophetic picture of the three major moves or divine dealings with man beginning with the Jewish or Israelite nation. There are many beautiful types in it that we might mention briefly. The man and the great feast certainly represents God, the Father, and His provision of matchless grace through human instruments in the proclamation of the gospel.

The servant represents the Spirit working in and through human instruments in the proclamation of the gospel. The three excuses given by those who rejected the invitation typify the three categorical excuses given by all men who say “no” to the gospel.

The one who had bought a piece of ground represents that group who mind earthly things. Phil. 3:19. Particularly does it represent those whose heart and affection is in possessions, material things and wealth. They are too occupied with the riches of earth to set their affections on heavenly things. Colossians 3: 1-2, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. 6:21, 24). Mammon represents earthly wealth and treasures including possessions. Neither do you have to be rich to serve mammon. In fact most of the common and poor people as well as the rich are serving mammon instead of God. This is the greatest hindrance to the kingdom of God of anything I know, It is the number one thing that causes men to say “no” to the great invitation.

The man who had to go and prove his five yoke of oxen represents that group who are too busy to take time for God. They are somewhat different from the first group in that they are not particularly mammon idolaters. They may or may not have good intentions concerning the gospel but they neglect doing anything about it because of the pressing problems and obligations of life. They may be good moral, hard-working people but they refuse to take time to know God and serve Him; they are busy.

The third man who had married a wife represents that group whose sensual and fleshly appetites master their life. There is nothing wrong with marriage as long as men recognize and honor God in it, but when anything replaces God in our affections and desires it becomes idolatry. There are many in this group who would come to Christ were it not for their carnal appetites that must be gratified.

The theatre, the dance, and the varied worldly pleasures and entertainments are the devices of Satan that are used to hold this group captive. Neither are all in this group debauched alcoholics and libertines. Some are good moral people who simply live to please self and family. They are not particularly interested in an abundance of earthly possessions, neither can it be said they are industrious or busy people. They just want to have fun, enjoy life, satisfy self, and of course serving God would interfere.

No doubt, this is the general picture and condition of man in his rebellion against God in every age and dispensation. However, in this parable we have other truth that I feel has been hidden from the Church because it was not the appropriate time for it to be revealed.

It will be noticed that there are three distinct invitations or dealings with man in this parable. Each one of them represent a certain and specific time period.

The first mission came to an end when the three men (ground, oxen, and wife) representing three different types of unbelievers said “no” to the gospel invitation. Though there are three types of unbelievers here, it is still just one group and one mission or dispensation. This is a picture of the Israelite nation settled in the promised land. It is one of prosperity, industry and pleasure. It typifies any nation blessed of God, settled in the land but married to their idols with no time for God.

Jehovah knew Israel would turn away from Him after they settled in the land. In Deuteronomy 8 we have Him warning them of this very thing as they prepared to cross Jordan into the promised land. Nations and men forget God when they begin to prosper and have material things. Sure enough in fullness of time they turned away from the Lord, who wonderfully brought them forth from Egypt’s bondage and settled them in the land that flowed with milk and honey. They were given their last opportunity under the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

It was the nation, Israel, that Christ wept over saying, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Luke 19:42-44.

This visitation in the person of Jesus Christ was the last climactic overture on the part of Jehovah to reconcile Israel. It also heralded the beginning of a new dispensation. Luke 16:16 says, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

John 1:17 says, For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

I, personally, believe this new dispensation beginning with the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ is the second move or dispensation depicted in Verse 21 of Luke 14. I contend this second move or dispensation represents the day of grace which began with the earthly ministry of Christ.

John the Baptist came preaching repentance and preparing the way for Christ but he did no miracles. By way of contrast the ministry of Christ was one of miracles, signs and wonders. Beginning His ministry He went into the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath Day and read the prophecy of Isaiah that referred to this very ministry that heralded a new dispensation.

Please note the similarity of Luke 4:18 to 21 as Jesus read from the prophecy of Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he bath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Now Luke 14:21, “...the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in hither the poor and the maimed, and the halt and the blind.”

The record in Mark 16 where the great commission was given by the Lord also tells us that signs were to follow. Beyond reasonable shadow of doubt, these scriptures have reference to the same move or dispensation of God’s grace.

One other thing I call to your attention about these two moves that are notably different is: In the first invitation, Luke 14:17, the servant was sent to some who had already been bidden and told to come for all things are now ready. It seems this group (Israel) had a standing invitation but now the time for response had come. Certainly this speaks of the national election of Israel. Though chosen of God as the nation to represent him in earth, they rejected the Savior and Lord who chose them.

Please bear in mind this first call was to a people already bidden. Particularly does this have reference to the last great overture made to Israel through them ministry of Christ. Though his ministry heralded a new move of God, it also brought the curtain down on the old. While his earthly ministry was to the Jew, by precept and example he was preparing and teaching the disciples who would specifically begin the church age with the outpouring of Pentecost. Matthew 10:5-8.

The second invitation was a general one and not to a specific or already bidden people. The servant was told this time to go out more or less at random (streets and lanes of the city, Luke 14:21) and bring in a variety of despised, needy folks. It is evident from a comparison of these two invitations that the first was confined to a specific people with the second being more liberal and general.

This is borne out perfectly in the two commands of Christ where he told the disciples, first: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:5-6. And later when he said: “...Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. Now let’s consider the third or last move of God which is pictured in Luke 14. In verse 22, we have the servant coming back from the second mission and telling the Lord, “Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded and yet there is room.” He still lacked guests for this great supper. There was room for more guests. And the Lord said unto the servant, “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.” This is the last move and the master must have a full house. Every place around that supper table has to be filled. This time the servant was told to go, not to a specific bidden group nor into the streets and lanes of the city, but INTO THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES, Highways and hedges are farther out than streets and lanes of a city.

This, beloved friend, is none other than the preaching of the gospel as a witness to all nations before the end comes. Matt. 24:14, It is the last phase of the church age that finishes the job and completes the work of preaching the gospel to every creature. The purpose of the church in the world is to be his witness unto the uttermost part of the earth beginning at Jerusalem. Acts 1:8.

If you will notice carefully in Acts 1:8, the Lord said, “...Ye shall be witnesses...unto the uttermost part of the earth.” This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations then shall the end come. Matthew 24:14,

There is no room for doubt or speculation of this question. IT SHALL BE DONE, Neither can the church be raptured until this job is finished.

Please notice also that on this third effort which goes into the highways and hedges (uttermost parts of the earth), the servant was told to “compel them to come in....” In looking up this word, compel, in the Greek (anagkazo) I discovered a tremendous truth. The word means constraint, influenced by distressful necessity. The underlining thought is that there will be such distress and suffering until there is no other alternative but “to come.” On this last move no other chance is taken. The master of the house gives orders to “compel” them to come. He has waited long enough, now forceful measures are taken to complete the job.

Beloved, this last move is none other than the end-time harvest that I feel we are now approaching. Perhaps it is closer than we would dare believe.

I believe, with all my heart, the swing from the second group to the third is now underway. Very few deny the falling away is here. The civilized nations (streets and lanes of a city) have already had their call. This includes America. For the most part, men have made up their minds. More and more Spirit-filled ministers are turning to the mission fields. One well known missionary said recently, “I wouldn’t pastor a church in America.” The blighting curse of formalism and cold indifference to the things of God provoked him to say that. Though some are still making great boasting claims, holding their meetings, counting their converts and raising large sums of money for bigger programs, I believe very little real good is being done. A few nights ago I had a dream that was so vivid it might be called a night vision. I was standing on the shore looking out across some water watching a boat pulling a big net behind it. The boat seemed to be very modern and up-to-date. A portion of the net was above the water and I noticed several birds of the vulture variety that were trapped inside. Then the boat did a strange thing. It submerged and the net which it was pulling floated over the spot where the boat had submerged. With the net directly over the boat, it rose to the surface and, of course, the net and its contents were cleverly trapped on the deck.

As I gazed upon the deck where the net was lying, I saw one fish flouncing around. Immediately upon awakening this dream, or vision, came vividly before me. I knew it was from the Lord and as I began to meditate upon this strange dream the Holy Spirit began to interpret it for me.

The Lord told me that this modern fishing boat with fine equipment and clever way of fishing was a picture of the average evangelistic effort to reach men for Christ in America today. He said the modern boat and net represented the well organized religious effort with their fine equipment of tents, trucks, magazines, radio, T. V., musical programs, etc. He said the clever way the boat submerged and came up under the net represented the varied and clever methods that are employed to get professions of faith.

The foul birds were the same as the foul and unclean birds of Rev. 18:2. He said these foul birds are the unregenerate people that are being herded into the churches and various religious movements. He said even as it was in the dream the vast majority of religious professions today are the foul, unclean bird variety with the one fish representing a true conversion.

Though many are still claiming great results, I believe the above revelation to be from God and that it is the true picture of things as they actually exist.

As we enter this third and last move of God, many questions flood our minds as to how it shall be accomplished. Though I do not profess to have all the answers, I believe the Scriptures are fairly plain as to some things relative to it.

James said, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” James 5:7.

The latter rain must come before this final harvest (preaching of Gospel to the uttermost part of the earth) can take place. Two rains are in view from this and other Scriptures. The seed-time rain or former (Pentecost) and the harvest time or latter rain. It is evident the Scripture taken from Joel 2:28-31 quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost was only partially fulfilled. We know positively that the sun was not turned into darkness and the moon into blood at that time. Neither was the Spirit poured upon all flesh. The fulfillment of that prophecy precedes the signs of the sun being darkened and the moon turning into blood.

All this takes place just before “the great and the terrible day of the Lord.” Joel 2:31. This is definitely the second coming of Christ because these things did not take place the first time. James 5:7 also links the coming of the Lord, harvest of precious fruit of earth, and latter rain together.

This last move of God will be the greatest harvest of all. Joel refers to it also as a harvest by saying, “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened and the stars shall withdraw their shining.” Joel 33:13-15. Once again we have the great harvest day of the Lord and the signs of darkened sun and moon all linked together. This end-time harvest that completes and fulfills the commission given to the church will be accomplished in a very short period of time.

Romans 9:28 says, “For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.”

In looking up the root meaning of the word “short” in Strong’s Concordance of the Bible, I discovered it means a decisive, speedily, short work. The underlining thought is that it will be an unrelenting, decisive effort that will hurriedly complete the job without lag or intermission,

One final grand and glorious move of God by his Spirit that compels the remaining guests to come in and take their places around the supper table will be made. Once it starts there will be no recess, lag or long, drawn-out process. This will be God’s blitzkrieg of miracles, signs and wonders following the ministry of death-defying human instruments that literally take him at his word and carry this Gospel of the kingdom to every nation, kindred and tongue.

As a result, the end-time harvest will be the greatest in the history of the world, In Revelation 7:9-14, we see this great multitude that will be saved during this period.

Now, let’s consider the external means or circumstances that are going to facilitate or make possible this last great move of God, In Rev. 7:14, we see this great harvest of souls coming “out of great tribulation.” Yes, it is during the tribulation that this short work is going to be accomplished. The tribulation will be the external means used of God to cause his people to go into all the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The work of God and the church has always grown and flourished when it was poor and persecuted. It is a true saying “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

At the time of the killing of Stephen, the great Christian Martyr, there was great persecution against the church at Jerusalem. Acts 8:1 declared “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria,” Verse 4 says, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word.” If it took trouble and persecution to move the early church, how much more does it apply to this generation of soft, pampered, self-satisfied and lukewarm people? This is one of the main purposes of tribulation.

It will also be a compelling factor that necessitates the great multitudes turning to Christ during the tribulation. God uses means and circumstances to accomplish his work. This means, plus the power of God in his people, is the compelling force Christ had in mind when he said, “Compel them to come.” Luke 14:23.

This same truth is substantiated from the book of Daniel, chapter 12, verse 1 which tells us of this great time of trouble such as the world has never experienced. Jesus referred to this same Scripture in Daniel and said it would be so terrible that no flesh would be spared if it wasn’t shortened, “But for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Matthew 24:2122.

In Daniel 12:6, the question is asked of the man clothed in linen, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” In verse 7, he lifts up both hands to heaven and swears “by him that liveth forever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.”

This “time (one year), times (two years) and an half (six months)” totals forty-two months or three and one-half years. That is exactly what we have in Revelation concerning the time of the reign of anti-Christ and the persecution of the church. Rev. 12:5, Rev. 12:14, Daniel 7:25, But please notice the last part of verse seven of Daniel 12 which says, “and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all things shall be finished.”

This is your proof text as to one of the main purposes of the great tribulation, “To scatter the power of the holy people.” What is our power but the Holy Spirit of Christ in us. The power of God is resident in his people but they are not using it. When he gave the great commission to teach all nations, he said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matt. 28:19-20. The church has refused to believe this simple truth. Instead, it has substituted clumsy, decadent, policy-bound, carnal programs that will never get the job done.

He is going to finish the work and cut it short in righteousness. Above all, don’t be deceived into thinking the church is going to fly away in a secret rapture and miss this great tribulation and last move of God. The theologians are deceived about this aspect of the coming of Christ and it is just what Satan wants, to lull God’s people to sleep with a false hope of security. Your only hope of preservation and security through the tribulation lies in your humble and prayerful obedience to God as we enter this terrible holocaust of hell on earth. Rev. 12:11; 18:4, Luke 21:34-36.

You may glibly say, “I’m not planning on being here when it comes.” Humanly speaking I wish you were right and, in this instance, I were wrong, but wishful thinking will not alter the truth of God one iota. The Word of God is filled with warnings concerning this very deception. Only as men get willing to do his will can they know of the doctrine whether it be of man or of God. John 7:17. Jesus said that some will be saying, lo here is Christ, there he is, etc., and that many false Christs and prophets would arise and deceive many. Matt. 24:23-26. Paul also warned us concerning the coming of Christ and said, “the falling away and man of sin must be revealed first.” II Thess. 2:1-3.

Right now great spiritual light is being given to a few chosen vessels for the purpose of awakening the slumbering, sleeping virgins, wise and foolish. Matt, 25:1-13, Isaiah saw this awakening and under inspiration said, “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.” Isaiah 52:1. “Arise, shine: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:1-2.

Zechariah, the prophet, also saw this awakening and said, “but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” The evening is just before the night. This light has been shining for some time now. Great spiritual darkness is beginning to settle over the earth.

Men have seen, yet they have not seen; they have heard, yet they haven’t heard. Only darkness remains for those who refuse to walk in the light. John 12:35.

May God anoint our eyes and ears to see and hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Remember the last verse in our parable, Luke 14:24, is a solemn warning from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “ For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”

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