Posted by: Heather | October 17, 2010

The Wheat and the Tares

Matt 13:24-25  (KJV)  “…The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:  But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.”

Have you ever had one of those weeks?   The kind where it seemed like everything was against you, and you struggled to get your head above water?   Maybe you’ve just gotten some bad news, or you’ve been facing a conflict that you just don’t understand.  In times like these, we can feel as though the Holy Spirit in us is being choked out little by little, as we feel covered in problems that block the ‘Son-light’.

In Scripture, we see that Jesus often likens the kingdom of God to various earthly things.  This is so we, in our limited human capacity, can grasp the subject He’s trying to relay.  To bring mysterious spiritual principles to earthly men, they must be portrayed in a way that relates to things we’re already familiar with.  In that day, agriculture was a way of life, and the people of biblical days were very familiar with how crops were grown, and the potential problems associated with them.

In this passage of scripture, Jesus is relating a parable about a householder that has sown good seeds in his field.  His enemy came while the servants slept, and sowed tares throughout the wheat.  When the servants saw what was done, they approached the householder to find out if he wanted them to pull the tares out of the wheat field.  The householder wisely replied that they shouldn’t, because if they were to pull the tares, it may uproot wheat in the process.  He advised they should allow the wheat and tares to grow together, and he would instruct the reapers to separate the two at harvest time.

The tares spoken of here are thought to be a form of rye grass called bearded darnel.  Darnel bears a striking resemblance to wheat as it grows…so much so that it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between the two plants early in the growing process.  In that day,  it wasn’t unusual for an enemy to sow darnel into a wheat crop if they had a vendetta against someone they felt had treated them wrongly.  Their motive was to ruin the crop.  In fact, it even became a criminal offense to sow tares into someone’s wheat field.

Although darnel could potentially ruin a wheat crop, it was still wise to allow the two to grow together.  Since darnel is considered a parasitic weed, pulling it up would cause the wheat to be uprooted as well.  Even though the two plants are amazingly similar in appearance early on, as the harvest day approaches, the difference becomes more apparent.  Darnel produces small, black, lightweight seeds, which is why it has earned the reputation of being ‘false wheat’.  Because the seeds are so light, the stalk can stand upright.  True wheat produces a cluster of heavy, lighter colored seed that causes the stalk to bow under its weight.  At the point of harvest, the difference is clearly seen, and the darnel stalks can be easily separated from the wheat.

One major problem still presents itself during the harvest…no stray darnel seeds should make their way into the wheat.  Darnel has poisonous properties.  It hasn’t been decided whether the seeds themselves contain the poison, or if it originates from a fungus that usually infects the plant.  However, if darnel is ingested, or makes its way into bread, it produces an array of unpleasant symptoms.   Ancient Greeks and Romans used darnel medicinally to induce a sedative effect.  It produces multiple symptoms of drunkenness, such as drowsiness, hypnotic episodes, trembling, inability to walk, hindered speech, vomiting, giddiness, and lowered visual acuity.  It can even stimulate convulsions and death if taken in quantities large enough.

Why is this even important?  Jesus explains the parable to His disciples later in the chapter.  He tells them the householder is the Son of man, the field is the world, the good seeds are His children, the enemy is the devil, and the tares are the enemy’s children.  There is a mixture of the righteous and the wicked here on this earth.  The motive of the enemy is the destroy the children of God.

In cases of upset or conflict, our thinking becomes skewed.  Often, the first thing we’d like to do if we believe we’ve been mistreated is begin to uproot the ‘tare’ that we think caused our discomfort.   One danger in this is what we think is a tare may not actually be one.   Secondly, even if it is a tare, pulling it up could pull up some ‘wheat’ with it, causing harm to other innocent ones that may be nearby.  It’s never our job to try to pull someone else down.  We can only look on the outward appearance.  God is the only one that can truly see the heart (I Sam 16:7).

Jesus relates that the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.  When it comes time for the final harvest, God will send His reapers forth to separate the wheat from the tares.  The tares will be bundled and thrown into eternal fire.  The wheat will then be gathered into the barns (heaven).  When the temptation hits us to pull up ‘tares’, we must remember that God is the only one that makes no mistakes, and is the only one with the authority to make the final decision as to whether one is true wheat or a tare.

Darnel has such light fruit that the stalk stands upright.  I’ve often heard this represents pride.  Many children of the enemy have the appearance of godliness.  But, even though the early appearance is there, they often either produce little fruit, or weigh personal experience more heavily than the written Word of God, resulting in pride.  Remember in its early stages, darnel is very similar in appearance to wheat.  But instead of being full of heavy, healthy fruit, ‘tares’ become drunk on the things of this life, remaining spiritually blind and lethargic.

Wheat, in complete contrast, is so full of fruit that the stalk bends beneath the weight of it.  So will we be if we continue in the path of humble obedience to the life-giving words of our God.  When we give ourselves wholly to producing fruit in His kingdom, there is no room for pride, just praise.

Above all else in our lives, may we seek diligently to know this God who makes no mistakes, and is able to accurately separate His own fruitful grain from the ‘false wheat’ of the enemy.  In our continued pursuit of Him, we’ll find we no longer feel the need to remove ‘tares’ from our lives by taking matters into our own hands.   He is well able to do His own bidding.  In the words of Matthew 13:43, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father”.



  1. Heather, I enjoyed this and many of your other blogs. Thank you for sharing this wonderful gift you have!

    • Polly,

      I appreciate it so much…the gifting is all the LORD’s. I thank Him for every opportunity I get to share it with you all. 🙂 I appreciate you reading!

  2. I was very surprised to see that you had also heard God speaking about the wheat and the tares this week. When I was in prayer one day this week, (the same time the Holy Spirit showed me the sponges full of dirty and then clean water) He also spoke to me about the pulling out of the weeds. I had seen this in the church some time earlier this year too. What I had seen in the Spirit before was an aerial view of the pews in a church and instead of people in the pews, they looked sort of like a crop of cotton. Then I saw a hand come down from above and pick out and sort of “thin” out the crop in the pews. What was left was very sparse; but God said not to worry about that. He said that what He had done would actually HELP the crop to grow the way He wanted. It was a sort of weeding process. The other day, what I sensed from God in prayer was that I saw a garden and saw someone trying desperately to pull up these huge, deep-rooted “weeds.” The soil was “dry” and they would not let go of the grip that they had on the soil. Then, God said, “I am sending a heavy rain.” “When I send the rain, then the roots will be loosened from the soil and they will be easier to be removed.” I know this is how it is firsthand when trying to weed my garden. Most substantial weeds are virtually impossible to uproot unless you tackle them after a good rain. I believe this rain and uprooting will be the work of the Holy Spirit. It is interesting.

    • That is interesting. Thanks for your comment, Wendy!

  3. Excellent teaching Heather!

    • Thanks Glenn! I appreciate you being a faithful reader!


    • Adri,

      I appreciate that. Thanks so much for reading and letting me know the studies have been a blessing to you!

  5. Excellent word you have shared with us tonight!

    • I appreciate that Roberta! The Lord brought it back to my mind during a Bible study at our church the other night. I had studied this some time ago. 🙂 God bless you!

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