"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Monday, June 6, 2016

The GOSPEL of MATTHEW: Ch. 19 – The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE:

By James Fire

Miraculous healings, divorce, endorsement of Adam and Eve as real people – not Hebrew mythological beings, the model of Kingdom citizens, and an encounter with a rich, young ruler and much more in chapter 19 in our continuing TTUF study on The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE!



MATTHEW 19:1-2
And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

“These sayings” are those that the LORD spoke back in Chapter 18; there He discussed such things as faith and humbleness, sanctification, the fidelity of the Good Shepherd and His care for the sheep, especially the lambs of His sheepfold; the issue of forgiveness of offenses, church government, and the authority of the believer.
After these teachings, He moves on from Galilee and heads south towards Judea – beyond the Jordan River where “great multitudes” followed Him, and He healed them there by the miraculous power that only the Messiah could demonstrate. 
It was here that the Pharisees brought up a question to Him:

MATTHEW 19:3-6
3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

It seems that the Pharisees were intent on justifying a man divorcing his wife for any reason at all (“for every cause”). 
Before the LORD even addresses that aspect of this dialogue, He expresses God’s heart on the matter: that God created male and female “at the beginning” – the beginning of creation, where we read about Adam and Eve. Here Jesus is endorsing the creation account and its climatic conclusion: the creation of man – and his help, woman. Two distinct members of the human race, each with their respective roles as clearly defined by the LORD Himself.

Today we are hearing so much about ‘gender identity’ and yet for all the confusion that such talk brings, there need not be any; because God created male, and He created female. Simple. There is no need to ‘identify’ oneself other than what God has created us to be.
And it’s God’s intentions that men should join together with women and become one in marriage, “cleaving” to his wife, having left his parents and that former family structure, in order that they may create a new one.
The cleaving was to be so indissoluble that these two would become one – that is, “echad” in the Hebrew, rather than “yachid” which means numerically one. Echad refers to a “unit of one, or a unified one” which is descriptive of the Holy Trinity – Three separate and distinct Persons that are incorporated into a perfectly flawless unity in every respect.
Adam and Eve were “one flesh (echad)” and comprised of two people but a singular unit, precisely according to the order of God’s creative will. Husband and wife are representative by type of Christ and His bride, the church (EPH 5:22-33). It is by the Spirit of the LORD that we, His church is joined together as one (again “echad” in the Hebrew, as these verses are translated from the Greek in Hebrew New Testaments):

1 CORINTHIANS 6:16-17
16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

MATTHEW 19:7-9
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

It is understandable therefore why the LORD detests something like divorce, for it is the shearing apart of a whole unit, and brings what was to be a prosperous blessing of two lives intertwined for the purpose of glorifying and serving God to absolute ruin and brokenness, where relationships are not only destroyed, but potentially disables the partners from forming healthy and vibrant relationships with others. 

Children who are to grow up under the sheltering guidance, security and love of parents completely committed to Christ and to one another also suffer terribly because of divorce. Yet because of the weakness of our nature, the LORD did make such a provision as divorce, but used only as prescribed in Scripture and not “for every cause”.
Any nation is founded upon strong social bonds, and nowhere are such bonds most influential than in the home: among married couples, and their children. As goes the strong family unit, so goes the nation, strong and resilient. 

It is no small wonder that the powers that be, which intend to (and succeeding to) erode nationalism in favor of globalism, desire to see the traditional family unit based on Judeo-Christian ethics degrade and disappear. Children of divorced parents are often divorced from their spouses themselves; the breakdown of the family unit then goes into a tail spin and what the globalists hope for, is a society where this unit becomes non-existent and in its place, a ‘global village’ where the State, rather than responsible parents, will rear the upcoming generation. 

What might promote and encourage the act of divorce is the (false) understanding that marriage just doesn’t work – and so co-habitation is the common experience among young people. It’s been stated that about 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and that the Christian marriages fare little better than their secular counterparts, but are these statistics accurate? Here is a report with some encouraging news.

What does the Bible say about divorce? We have provided this article from Got Questions ministry for your perusal.

Some believers look on divorce as the unpardonable sin, particularly where Christians are involved. Certainly divorce is a heinous sin, but as with all sin, none are unforgiveable – except for the one that isn’t confessed and repented of before the LORD Jesus Christ. A continual and persistent rejection of Christ and salvation by grace is what the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is all about.

There are of course those instances when a believer and unbeliever are wedded, and if such a case arises where the unbeliever wants to depart, then the saint is not obligated to remain in that bond. If that unbeliever should happen to commit adultery, the saint is not obligated to forgive (but by God’s grace and according to His wisdom, they may). And should the unbeliever decide to leave, the saint is not obligated to remain alone, but wisely seek the LORD and allow His will to reign: either to remain single, or find a saintly spouse provided at the hand of the LORD (see 1 COR. 7:6-15).

MATTHEW 19:10-12
10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

The normative life for any man is marriage to a woman of God’s own choosing. It’s as a man accepts Christ as LORD and Savior, and is indwelt by the Spirit that marriage takes on a whole new and higher level, as does his very life. Both husband and wife are blessed as they are united by the Spirit of Christ and form the ideal (not perfect, as we are still sinners in part, needing God’s grace and mercy) relationship with each other.

There are however those rather uncommon exceptions, those who are called to remain single or “eunichs” as described here. For those who are able “to receive this saying”, they have a special measure of grace provided for them, so that they may have the ability to live in such a state of celibacy, in honor of the LORD Who has called them to it.

I recall in my mid-40s seeking the LORD on this issue of marriage, whether or not I would ever know this way of life, with a godly woman as my own wife. All the while I prayed earnestly about the matter, “Jeremiah 16” kept going through my mind – and I could not recall what was written in that chapter. So, upon completion of my prayer, I turned to that chapter and read from the beginning:

JEREMIAH 16:1-2
The word of the Lord came also unto me, saying,
2 Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place.

Well that pretty much settled it in my own mind, and as I received that from the LORD, He gave me the grace to cheerfully and willingly accept it, and now, well over ten years later, I find myself entirely content to remain precisely where the will of the LORD has placed me!

It may well be the LORD’s will for more of His children to remain single in this day and age than at any other time in our history, simply because we may anticipate a time of severe persecution and tribulations, and in such a state, it would be far easier to remain single, than be further burdened in dire times with the care and protection of one’s family. This was one of the reasons why Paul admonished people to remain single if at all possible (1 COR 7:7-8, 29-31).

MATTHEW 19:13-15
13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

In Mark’s Gospel it states that the LORD Jesus was “much displeased” (MARK 10:14) when he saw that His disciples rebuked these mothers who sought for blessings upon their children. This is quite understandable when one considers that it was just in the prior chapter that He addressed the Kingdom of God and the necessity to be “as little children” in order to enter this domain.

Yet here His disciples are turning these mothers and their children away; but the LORD immediately corrects this error, and reiterates the vital necessity to be as children – again, not childish, but child-like in matters of faith, trust, belief, obedience towards God as any humble child would their own parents.

It is no mere abstraction that we are referred to as “children” of God (ROM 8:16-17; EPH 5:1), of light (LUKE 16:8; JOHN 12:36; EPH 5:8), of the kingdom (MATT 13:38), etc. We are children, not yet complete in our understanding of all that God is, and His Holy Mind. Yet we are – or should be – maturing in the faith and growing in wisdom and knowledge, yet remaining as children (innocent) regarding things like malice, wickedness, evil in all of its varieties (1 COR 14:20).

Go through the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament where the saints are addressed, and see how often the many writers, inspired of the Spirit of God refer to us saints as “children”. 1 JOHN  alone has eleven references of “children”.

MATTHEW 19:16-21
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Here we have a rich young ruler addressing the LORD Jesus; all that the world greatly desires could be summed up in this one person: he was rich, and powerful and young – people clamor after schemes and methods for acquiring riches, and for many who achieve this, they seek greater power still over others, and efforts are made fervently by so many with exercise, proper diet, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery to maintain a youthful appearance.

Yet here we have a soul for whom these things have not proven satisfactory: he wanted something more, he recognized his need for something higher and greater than material wealth, acquisition of power, and staying young.

Eternal life and how to achieve it – “…what good thing shall I do…”
The LORD responds firstly to how the young man addressed Him: “Good master . . .” – and asks why he calls Him good – that there is none who are truly good, except for God. Jehovah Witnesses often cite this verse to prove that Jesus never claimed to be God.

And yet when one considers this question that the LORD asks, He was pointing out that this young man recognized something in Him, something inherently good – which cannot be said for any human being who ever lived apart from Jesus, for “all have sinned and ROM 5:12). He then tells this young man to “keep the commandments.”

The young man then asks, “Which ones?” and it’s interesting to hear the LORD’s answer – because He mentions all of those commandments that God directs us in how to treat others. The other commandments that directs us in how to treat the LORD were not mentioned: including the commandment to not have idols or gods before the LORD.

The young man confidently affirms that all of these he has kept and asks if there is anything he is lacking; to which the LORD answers in the affirmative: “go and sell all that you have, give to the poor (but you will have treasure in heaven!) and come and follow Me.” This is what he needed to do in order to be “perfect” or actually “complete”

There are critics of Christianity, specifically the followers of Christ, who make the claim that they are all in disobedience to this command. That we should all sell all of our worldly possessions and follow the LORD without two pennies to rub together. 

Yet here in the earthly ministry of Jesus, He often called people to follow Him – such were the apostles, who likewise left all to follow Him (see vs. 27). If however, this was a practice that all Christians were to follow, how then would we ever maintain gainful employment by which we could bless the poor (1 TIM 5:8; ROM 12:13; EPH 4:27-28)? 

There are those who are called with special purpose, who leave the typical life of a Christian and as a missionary (for example) will sell what they have (as missionary societies used to do for those that would serve with them) and minister abroad, many times for the remainder of their lives.

This by no means however, justifies an extravagant life style for the Christian; we should, for the purpose of the Kingdom of God, live very humble, simple lives and devote our finances as the LORD leads to further His Kingdom. And of all people, Christians should be the most generous of all people (LUKE 6:38; PSALM 41:1-3) and be wary of riches, or even the pursuit of them (1 TIM 6:17-18).

At this invitation from the LORD towards this rich young ruler, what did this man do?

MATTHEW 19:22-24
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

There was one point (and probably many more given the nature of the human condition) where this young man failed; he loved his wealth. Indeed, the culture among the Jews at this time believed that if you were truly blessed of God, that this would entail significant monetary gain and material wealth. 
Yet Jesus is the ultimate Jew, and we observe from Him, that while He was rich spiritually speaking, He made Himself poor on our behalf – spiritually when He died for our sins, emptying all of His wealth while taking upon Himself all of our sin-debt; He also lived a very humble life, having only the bare necessities. 

Thus, He disproved this assumption of wealth in that culture, and condemned the avarice too often associated with it.
How strange then that today we have Christians who support the very same idea, that it’s only those with strong enough faith, who will acquire all of the good things of life, with fat bank accounts, lavish homes, expensive cars, extensive and luxurious wardrobes, etc. Scripture has very pointed things to say about this:

1 TIM 6:6-11
 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness (See also MATT 13:21-23).


It’s been said that the “Eye of the Needle” is a gate in the old city of Jerusalem, and that for travelers to attempt to lead their camels through such a gate, made only for people to use, would be folly. It makes a good analogy, but there actually is no such gate there. I asked tourist guides every time I visited Israel about this and they all say the same thing: “a fiction”. 

It would be possible, albeit extremely difficult, for a person to lead a camel through such a gate, if it in fact existed, but to take a camel and attempt to lead it through the actual eye of a needle is quite impossible.

The rich often trust their riches, which empowers them to obtain their heart’s wishes, and with such independence, what need is there for God in their life? I know of people who aren’t extraordinarily wealthy, just very well off financially – and even among these types, when presenting the Gospel, they shrug it off as extraneous and totally unnecessary.

It’s only when those who cease to “trust in [their] riches” (MARK 10:24) and search for something more in life, knowing that material possessions cannot fulfill the soul’s longing (ROM 8:20), and begin to have a sense of their true poverty, that the Spirit of God can lead them towards the Kingdom of God.

Pride is the real issue among those who possess power, for they see themselves as ‘the captain of my own destiny’, ‘a self-made man/woman’, a god unto themselves that refuses to bow to the LORD.

Let’s consider the last portion of this chapter before we conclude this study:

MATTHEW 19:25-30
25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

The word used for “beheld” in verse twenty-six is enblepo, meaning “to observe fixedly, a close penetrating look, to gaze intently” – it is the same word used in 

LUKE 20:17-18: 
17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?
18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

The LORD with His penetrating, all knowing gaze considers the question of the disciples, “Who then can be saved?”: and in examining them, He assessed the entire race and justly concluded that with human effort – this would be impossible, but not with God, because with God all things are possible.

How contrary to modern day sentiment and religious persuasion, which asserts that people can bring about their own redemption by their own intrinsic value, self-esteem and works. Religion will always affirm that we must work our way to heaven, that no one gets a ‘free ride’ – and yet we have the words of the LORD Jesus Himself that states that salvation of man, by man – is impossible!

Then Peter points out that he and all of His disciples have forsaken all of their earthly possessions to follow the LORD as His disciples, and then later, His apostles and inquires as to what will be their reward for doing so.

Note the LORD’s answer to that question: First He says that their reward will be forthcoming “in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of glory” – there will be such a throne, and the LORD shall reign from there, at the regeneration, that is, when He returns and sets in order the nation of Israel as well as the governments of the world, and also the refurbishing of our very planet – this will all take place during the Millennial period

For their self-denial these apostles will also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The word “judging” implies not merely a judicial sentencing, but the enforcement of decrees, that is, to rule. There has been conjecture and surmise about who shall rule over Israel during the Millennium, and some have suggested the church, and yet here the LORD specifies that these twelve apostles will judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Further, that there is no sacrifice that they could possibly make, but that the LORD will reward “one hundred fold” and eternal life through Himself as well. And these were fishermen, tax collectors, carpenters and what not! Indeed, the last (“the off scouring of this world” as Paul put it in 1 COR 4:13) shall be first, and those who are highly esteemed in this world, shall be last (see also MATT 20:16; MARK 9:35; 10:31; LUKE 13:30).

Such is the contrast between this world system, governed by Satan and the kingdom that is coming, ruled by the LORD Jesus Christ: Those who are highly esteemed, and possess great power in this world system are typically in favor of the devil and considered “first” in this world, whereas the saints of God are lightly esteemed, if not out rightly disparaged in this fallen domain. Yet in God’s eternal kingdom, those who are reigning now will certainly be the last – and Satan, the very last of the last!

Let us wait with patience for the Kingdom to come, for once it does, all the darkness and oppression inherent in this fallen world will be done away with!
Next time saints, MATTHEW 20!!

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