"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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Saturday, March 26, 2022

PONDERING THE PARABLES – Part Six

~ by James Fire

INTRODUCTION: We dealt with the exegetical properties of MATTHEW 25 in our TTUF studies before; you can check it out here. To summarize, we understand that the four different Gospel accounts are directed to different groups of people. The Gospel according to Matthew is directed towards Israel. All of the kingdom parables are likewise directed primarily to Israel and apply to the church in parallel in many regards.

As mentioned in the TTUF study we are presented with a picture here of the bridegroom and the ten virgins. Yet we understand that Christ – the bridegroom – has only one bride, not ten. If these ten virgins were meant to be a picture of the bride, then shouldn’t verse one say,
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet their bridegroom” rather than “the bridegroom”.

I see these then as the brides maids, but seeing that there are ten (and not eight or twelve), what does this signify?

From Biblestudy.org we have the following observations:
The number 10 in the Bible is used 242 times; “10th” is used 79 times. Ten is also viewed as a complete and perfect number (so is 3,7 and 12). It signifies testimony, law, responsibility, and the completeness of order. GENESIS 1 records that “GOD said” ten times in reference to His acts of creation. GOD gave 10 (primary, fundamental, foundational) Commandments. The people of GOD were responsible to give 1/10th of their properties and, or wages as a testimony to GOD’s faithfulness. The Passover lamb was selected on the 10th day and day 10 of the 7th month is also the Holy Day of Atonement, etc.
MATTHEW 25:1-13
1 ¶ "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 "Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 "Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 "but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 "But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 "And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' 7 "Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 "And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 "But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' 10 "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' 12 "But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' 13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming
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Beyond being a picture of the bride of Christ and of her bridegroom (as many expositors do), the WORD made flesh, I also can see how this is a picture of the Father, and His own bride – Israel (ISAIAH 54:5; though in either case, she is not visible, not mentioned here). In both cases, the brides maids are Israel because just as the church was introduced to the Messiah through Israel (via the lineage of David) and the testimony of Scripture.

Of course there are those Jews who will come to know Jesus as their Messiah, and they likewise have the testimony of the Scriptures whose truth was hidden to them for a time (ROM 11:25), but will come to salvation, call upon the name of the LORD to deliver them from the Beast (HOS 5:15; REV 19:20).

But then there is the far simpler interpretation that illustrates how the LORD wants His people to be ready for His arrival; whether those Old Testament saints who were to expect the coming of their Messiah at His first advent (in Israel’s case, that for the most part, missed Him!) or the New Testament saints at His second advent (in the case of the church, who for the most part are not watching and praying!). The saints of GOD are to be always watchful, prayerful, and filled with the Holy Spirit.

We have these 10 virgins who are all responsible to procure oil for their lamps, that is, what the LORD provides freely ever since the resurrection of Christ: the Holy Spirit (JOHN 7:39; 20:22; ROM 8:9). Five of them were wise, having a genuine work of the Spirit in their lives and ready to welcome the bridegroom; five of them were foolish, who had no oil, and were not ready. I see this as Israel during the Tribulation: some of them will come to faith, some will not; some will follow their Messiah Y’shua, others will follow Talmudic tradition and look for ‘a’ Messiah, not ‘the’ Messiah.

What’s striking is that even those with the oil in their lamps fell asleep as did those who didn’t have the oil because “the Lord was delayed”: “they all slumbered and slept” (vs. 5b). Why was He delayed?
2 PETER 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance
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Once the bridegroom arrived, those five virgins with oil were welcomed in; what did He say to those without any oil and yet rightly identified him as “Lord” (MATT 7:22-23)?

'And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you workers of iniquity.'
Let us put aside the debate (for now) of whether or not one can lose their salvation; a far more pertinent question, particularly today, what with so many false converts and professions in false gospels, is, are you sure you are genuinely saved to begin with?!
Firstly, are you sure you have the indwelling Holy Spirit as a result of repenting of sin and believing faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel?

Secondly, are you living in expectation of the LORD’s return Who can come at any moment? Those who adhere to any other view other than (what is commonly referred to as) a pre-trib view cannot expect the LORD to return for His bride ‘until’ some precedent event takes place (such as the confirming the covenant with Israel, or the setting up of the image of the beast in the Temple, etc.).

There was nothing precedent required here for the bridegroom’s arrival. We don’t know the day or the hour (hora in the Greek, meaning a period of time), but the times and seasons only. Let’s keep our lamps trimmed and burnin’!

MATTHEW 25:13-31
13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.14 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 "And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 "Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them and made another five talents. 17 "And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 "But he who had received one went and dug in the ground and hid his lord's money. 19 "After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' 21 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' 22 "He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' 23 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' 24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 'And I was afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' 26 "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 'So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 'Therefore take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 31"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory
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We have a parable here that is very similar to the parable next in order found in LUKE 19. For all their similarities, there are some notable distinctions as well. Let’s go over the parable found here in MATTHEW first.

Check out this comparison chart that examines the two parables as mentioned in LUKE's and MATTHEW's Gospel accounts!

Just as we must always be ready to be received by the bridegroom for the wedding with His bride, we must also expect His arrival to reward the faithful service of His servants. As the bride of Christ, we recognize that any bride of high estimation will be a wife of great value in her devotion to her husband, with a servant’s heart, and to seek to please him in every way possible (PROV 31:10-31). Thus this verse is a transitional statement that applies to both circumstances:

13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

In MATTHEW’s account the LORD speaks of “the kingdom of heaven” (vs. 14) and what it’s like; in LUKE’s account, the idea of a kingdom is mentioned within the parable itself: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom” (vs. 12).

In MATTHEW’s account we see three servants and to each of them there are granted varying degrees of wealth with which they are to work with (“each according to their ability”; the word ability is dunamis in the Greek, and it can refer to miraculous power, but also to ability, strength, might, power, virtue).

The first apparently had considerable ability because he received five talents to work with; the second worker had somewhat less ability and was given two, and the third the least ability because he was only given one.

In the Kingdom of GOD, where do we get our abilities, skills, prowess, knowledge, wisdom from? It’s of course through the Word of GOD and through the Spirit of GOD – nothing of our own powers, but we must be obedient in using them for GOD’s purposes, not our own. This is so that GOD receives all the glory and honor, and not we ourselves.

We are stewards over all that the LORD has given to us, because if we have truly given our lives to the LORD, then everything He has gifted us with, we return back to Him – for Him to use as He sees fit, including our very lives!

The LORD Jesus most certainly has granted many abilities and gifts to the church, His bride and He is now in the glories of heaven where He journeyed to 2,000 years ago.
The first and second servants “traded” with the talents (vs. 16) that the LORD provided for them; that word is very interesting in the Greek: ergazomai, meaning “to toil, to be effective and engaged in; committed to labor. This is no half-hearted enterprise, but something that causes sweat and fatigue – and yet we must ask the question: do we labor as intensely for the LORD as we do in our own careers? Other pursuits? Consider how the LORD agonized in His work of redemption on the Cross – or even as He labored so intensely in His prayer life!

These servants doubled their Lord’s money! A one hundred percent return is incredibly awesome! A fifty percent return would have been awesome, but we see 100% profit in the labors of these servants. Are we giving 100% of our lives, in the ministry that the LORD has placed us in (do you know where GOD has called you to serve? If not, seek Him! He’ll show you!).

I always feel like I can do better, work more intensely, feeling like what I accomplished could have been done with greater zeal and passion – and it brings me to prayer, asking Him to help me improve in my labors in His kingdom!

The third servant is an absolute disgrace – he took the precious finances of his Lord and simply buried it in the dirt (vs.18)! This is sheer negligent ambivalence!
So the LORD finally returns “after a long time” (vs. 19) – the Jewish nation, due to the fact that they were under heavy Roman oppression, expected that their Messiah was arriving soon to rescue them and slay the pagans, and like King David or Joshua, reveal Himself as a warrior, but One far greater than these two.

Yet the Messiah was indeed in their midst, standing in the streets of Jerusalem, but they were rejecting His testimony, the works He did, accomplished by the anointing of the Spirit unequalled by any other, declaring by these works that He is indeed the Messiah of Israel (JOHN 14:11). The Messiah will indeed return, and His reward is with Him (IS 40:10)!
What astounds me is that this third servant accuses His Lord as being harsh, even unfair. Yet consider that the LORD takes away the third servants talent and gives it to the one who has ten:

“vs. 28 'Therefore take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents.” Far from being harsh or unfair, the talents that belonged to Him, He freely gave to His servant, plus one!

The rejection of Jesus as their Messiah led the LORD to introduce His new program that didn’t include national Israel – that being the church (MATT 16:18).

This parable reveals a kingdom principle: GOD’s servants here will be GOD’s rulers there – in the kingdom of heaven (MATT 18:1-4; 23:11; MARK 9:35)! Note that the LORD rewards His faithful servants with the rule over “many things” – in LUKE’s Gospel account, the LORD states that these will be “cities” (polis, meaning cities, or towns, walled). See this article, including a video teaching on: ARE YOU READY FOR: RAPTURE, REWARD and RULE with CHRIST?

Scripture tells us that those who overcome shall rule alongside the LORD, with a rod of iron:
REVELATION 2:26-27
"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations 27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' --as I also have received from My Father
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They who keep His works to the very end – and what is it that overcomes? The answer is found in:
1 JOHN 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith
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Now let’s examine the details of Luke’s parable:

LUKE 19:11-27
11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. 12 Therefore He said: "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. 13 "So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.' 14 "But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We will not have this man to reign over us.' 15 "And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 "Then came the first, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas.' 17 "And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.' 18 "And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.' 19 "Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities.' 20 "Then another came, saying, 'Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 'For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.' 22 "And he said to him, 'Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 'Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?' 24 "And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.' 25 ("But they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas.') 26 'For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 27 'But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me
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The religious leaders were expecting that the kingdom of GOD would appear soon because they wanted relief from the oppression of the Roman Empire; indeed the King Himself was in the midst, and because of this, He could declare:
MATTHEW 10:6-7
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand
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But the King was rejected because He didn’t deliver them from Rome, and yet, though “despised and rejected of men” (IS 53:3), the LORD wrought such a work of salvation, that any who believe on Him, should not perish but have everlasting life (JN 3:16), having escaped the corruptive and destructive power of sin (2 PET 1:4).

Due to national rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, the kingdom has been postponed (not cancelled; ACTS 1:6-7), and here we see that this “certain nobleman” had gone away “for a long time” (MATT 25:19); thus we should never be discouraged at the LORD’s delay in returning. “A long time” is a relative term however with an ambiguous time duration, so this by no means nullifies the doctrine of imminence.

In Luke’s parable, the nobleman distributes to His servants one mena each, whereas in the other, each was given according to the LORD’s discretion, according to His insight concerning their ability (MT 25:15). So here, each starts out with equal footing, no one having more than any other.

This could very well speak of salvation, because when we are saved, we all start out redeemed and with equal potential of producing maximum fruitfulness. In this parable, the reward isn’t to “rule over many things” but specific to the rule of cities, whether one, five or ten, which could easily be equated with a city, a county, or a state.

Also notice that many of the nobleman’s servants didn’t want him as their ruler (vs. 14); and we see this abhorrent attitude among the Sanhedrin at Christ’s trial before Pilate:
JOHN 19:15
But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar
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MATTHEW 27:23-25
23 Then the governor said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they cried out all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!" 24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it." 25 And all the people answered and said, "His blood be on us and on our children
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Scripture is quite clear on the matter of Judgment Day – that it is not metaphorical or allegorical day, but actual and real and soon to come; a day in which evil will be put down, sin judged, and all (and especially the Jewish nation; JN 19:11; ROM 11:11-12, 25) who reject Christ’s legitimate right of rule over all the world and every heart. Israel will undergo the severest trial and judgment of her history (MT 24:21).

This parable also concludes with these faithful stewards, who were entrusted with their lord’s resources, receiving for themselves that which they produced as their reward! And we shall here conclude this portion of this study PONDERING the PARABLES!

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