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Question: What is “the kingdom of heaven” that Christ referred to in Matthew 13?

Answer: The terms, kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God, are used in various combinations and with varying meanings. Generally speaking, the kingdom of God on the earth is the Church. It is a preparation for the greater kingdom, the celestial or kingdom of heaven. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth, but is at the present limited to an ecclesiastical kingdom. During the millennial era, the kingdom of God will be both political and ecclesiastical. (Bible Dictionary)

Matthew 13:31-33

31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

32 Which indeed is the least (smallest) of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air (symbolic of angels) come and lodge in the branches thereof.

33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven (an ingredient such as yeast, which, when mixed into bread dough, causes the whole loaf to rise), which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

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Elder Carl B. Pratt has taught:

Parable of the Mustard Seed: Concerning this parable, the Prophet Joseph said, “Now we can discover plainly that this parable is given to represent the Church as it shall come forth in the last days.”

Not only did the mustard seed represent the kingdom of heaven; the Prophet Joseph also compared the mustard seed to the Book of Mormon: “Let us take the Book of Mormon, which a man took and hid in his field, securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds, but behold it branching forth, yea, even towering, with lofty branches, and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. … It has sprouted and come forth out of the earth, and righteousness begins to look down from heaven, and God is sending down His powers, gifts and angels, to lodge in the branches thereof.”

Parable of the leaven: As those who bake know, the leaven, or yeast, is a very small part of the recipe to make bread. However, that tiny bit of ingredient is what makes the dough rise so that when it comes out of the oven it is several times its original size and is light and enjoyable to eat.

Note: Joseph Smith explained that the “leaven” in verse 33 could be compared to the true Church, as it expands into the whole world.

Source: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 47; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, p. 40; Excerpts from: “New Testament, Parables of Jesus: Prophecy for Our Day,” by Elder Carl B. Pratt, of the Seventy, Ensign, January 2003.