"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, May 23, 2022

PONDERING THE PARABLES – Part Seven

~ by James Fire

INTRODUCTION: We are nearing the completion of this series on the parables – though this is probably not exhaustive in that I haven’t addressed every parable listed in the Scripture, nor have I mined the bottom most depths of any one of them.
Nevertheless, my prayer and hope is that readers will examine these articles and be encouraged to launch out on a study of their own!

While parables are allegorical, they expound on spiritual truth that is absolute, and in many, if not most of them there are prophetic elements that address the kingdom of heaven throughout the church age, the Second Coming of Christ, the inauguration of the Millennial reign – and all that these entail. Such is the first of several that we have before us in today’s segment.

MATTHEW 25:31-33
 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. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left
.

This will be a glorious time, with the LORD revealing “His glory” and the “throne of His glory”. We have before us three groups of people, two of them are judged by how they treated the third group (a fourth group would be the angels that return with Christ; in JUDE 1:14 we read that the saints also accompany Him); the first group are classified as sheep, and the other as goats. As we are all aware, the saints of GOD are referred to in Scripture as the LORD’s sheep (PS 23; 100:3; MT 10:6 refers to “the lost sheep…of Israel”; JN 10:14-16, vs.16 refers to “other sheep” than the “house of Israel”, hence sheep that are Gentiles, who would become one body (or “one flock” as mentioned in JN 10) as the church; EPH 2:12-16)).

These are set upon the right hand of the LORD, a position of approval and blessing. The goats are on the left hand, disapproved and cursed as we will see presently.

The idea of being set at someone’s right hand as a sign of blessing and approval may be seen throughout Scripture (1 KINGS 2:19; PS 16:11; 18:35; EPH 1:20; HEB 8:1; 12:2; REV 5:1,7).

When the LORD Jesus returns to Earth, His bride – the church, comes with Him (ZECH 14:3-5; 1 TH 3:13; 4:16-18; JUDE 1:14; REV 19:11-15). For more on this, see the TTUF article based on TBC’s Dave Hunt’s observations and comparisons between a Pre-Triband Post-Trib view of the rapture from Scripture.

MATTHEW 25:34-40
 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me
.'

The LORD clearly declared that He would bless Abraham and bless those who bless him (GEN 12:2-3) – and so the King in our text is blessing those who came to the aid of Abraham’s children, the LORD’s “brethren”.
These are Jews “inwardly” (ROM 2:29) and not those who are Jews by birth only, of whom the LORD said, that they would be excluded from the coming Kingdom of Israel, while those Gentiles with “like faith” of Abraham will also sit down with him, and Isaac, and Jacob and be blessed:

MATTHEW 8:10b-12
"…Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith
[exhibited by the Roman Centurion; vs. 8-9], not even in Israel! 11 "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The LORD’s brethren were imprisoned, hungry, thirsty, homeless, destitute, and sick during this horrible time when the Beast will reign over all the world. When the Messiah returns, it will be after the last seven year period (known colloquially as the time of tribulation) of the 70 Year prophecy given to Daniel (DAN 9), aka the time of Jacob’s Trouble (JER 30:7).

The LORD warned that when the image of the beast is seen in the Temple, that His people were to flee from Judea (MATT 24:15-16) and these will have come to faith in the Messiah, refuse to worship the Beast and thus incur his wrath (DAN 7:25-27; REV 12). No doubt these believing Jews will find themselves in such a dire predicament that only the return of the Messiah will deliver them from martyrdom at the hands of the Beast (MT 24:13).


Those Gentiles who likewise refuse to worship the Beast, will do all they can to protect GOD’s people. For me, this is proof positive that these Gentiles will come to saving faith in the LORD Jesus:

Follow me on this reasoning:

The LORD would never place at His right hand those who had taken the mark of the Beast (those who will are doomed beyond remedy; REV 14:9-10). These who mark themselves (no pun intended) as an “enemy of the (Satanic) State” and lend aid and harbor such fugitives (the Jewish people), standing against the rule of Antichrist; and instead ally themselves to the LAMB would only do so by faith having received salvation.

MATTHEW 25:41-46
 41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' 44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life
.

Obviously these goats are unsaved souls, who disparaged the Jewish people, that more than likely took the mark – though they refer to Jesus here as “Lord” but in vain (MT 7:22; 1 COR 15:2) and have allied themselves with the one world system ruled by the Beast. These will go into “everlasting punishment” and “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” as opposed to the righteous, who enter into “eternal life”. These two destinies in contrast to each other reveals that this everlasting punishment/fire is “the second death” (REV 20:14; 21:8).


On the surface, this parable would seem to suggest a works-based salvation, but for the reasons expressed above, we understand that these actions don’t produce salvation, but the exact opposite: salvation produces works that is, evidence of salvation (not its cause).


Whatever you are, whoever you truly are in heart will affect your life; every tree produces fruit after its own kind (GEN 1:11; MT 7:16-20). This is why the LORD will judge us according to our works, born out of hearts both holy and new as well as hearts both sinful and old:


MATTHEW 16:27-28
27 "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. 28 "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

REVELATION 20:13
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

REVELATION 22:11-12
 11 "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still." 12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work
.


Salvation by grace will bring forth fruit and good works: See EPH 2:8-10; JN 15:4-8; HEB 6:1; 9:14; TITUS 3:3-7.


MARK 13:31-37
31 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 32 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning-- 36 "lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!


173,880 days – to the exact day, after Artaxerxes gave the command to restore and rebuild the city of Jerusalem (after the Babylonian captivity and Nebuchadnezzar who leveled the holy city to dust), our LORD Jesus came into the city, presenting Himself as the long-awaited Messiah. Sir Robert Anderson (of Scotland Yard) did us a most remarkable service in using his skills as a detective in calculating these days (find his book The Coming Prince).


If this prophecy regarding the Messiah was that accurate for His arrival in Jerusalem, can we justifiably assume that the rest of this prophecy in DANIEL 9 is equally as accurate (I don’t think you can use the words “GOD” and “approximate” in the same sentence where prophecy is concerned, do you)?


According to the prophecies, Christ will return three and a half years after the abomination of desolation or as Scripture puts it: “a time, times (Greek word defines this as a dual or “two”) and half a time” (DAN 12:7; REV 12:14). It’s also described as forty two months (REV 11:2; 13:5), or 1,260 days (REV 11:3; 12:6). With these definitive time designations, one should be able to calculate the exact date when Christ returns, once the abomination of desolation is in the Temple.


The above Scriptures in MARK 13:31-37 would at that time have to be amended, because we would know the day and the hour. People might say, “Yes, we would know the day, but not the hour!”
Naturally; anywhere on the planet would land you into a time zone: when you have a lunar eclipse, the exact time would depend on where you were on the planet at the time of observing it. That being the case, no one could know the hour when Christ would ride into Jerusalem either.

Anyone alive at the time when the Temple is to be desecrated would know and expect Christ to return 1,260 days later. The LORD says no one but the Father knows the day and the hour. He said to “pray and watch because you don’t know when the time is”. Yet these same Scriptures hold true forever and ever if one holds to a pre-tribulation (I prefer “pre-Daniel’s 70th week”) rapture – Christ could then come at any time. He said it’ll happen at “a time when you think not” (MT 24:44). This is just one of several reasons why I don’t expect that the church of Jesus Christ will go through “the time of Jacob’s Trouble”

He doesn’t want us to be caught unaware and [spiritually] asleep like the wise and unwise virgins (MT 25:5). Let’s pay attention to the words of the apostle Paul:

ROMANS 13:11-14
 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts
.

Our LORD told us to “watch” – for?
The signs of the times, the various prophecies that predict the Second Coming (and for every prophecy predicting the First Coming (over 300!), there are two for the Second!). That’s a lot to watch out for!


Check out Herbert Lockyer’s awesome book, All The Messianic Prophecies of the Bible. There will be no excuse for anyone who has even a rudimentary modicum of biblical knowledge to catch at least some of the prophetic signs and alert them to the LORD’s soon return!


If nothing else, the regathering of the nation of Israel in 1948; the capturing of the city of Jerusalem in ’67. With Israel back in the land, the last days prophecies concerning GOD’s people can now come to fruition (which couldn’t possibly happen prior to the mid-twentieth century)!


Then with all of the staggeringly apocalyptic events happening during the reign of the Beast, even those biblically illiterate will know what city street prophets with signs hanging around their necks have been saying for decades: the end is near!


LUKE 5:36-38
36 Then He spoke a parable to them: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 "But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 "And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better
.


Just prior to this parable, the religious leaders demanded that the LORD Jesus explain Himself – why He was dining with sinners and tax collectors; and why His disciples never fasted like the disciples of John the Baptist (or themselves).


The LORD then gave them this parable, making distinction between a piece of new garment onto the old garment; likewise new wine into old wine skins. They aren’t compatible in either case.


Likewise the new thing that the LORD was establishing was a new testament, and that which would apply under the new, isn’t compatible with the old testament. Under the New Testament, there is no Temple, no Levitical priesthood, none of the Old Testament sacrifices; all of the laws and precepts that were specifically given to Israel, would not apply to the New Testament – specifically the church of Jesus Christ: we are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit; we are a new priesthood with Christ our High Priest Who was not of the tribe of Levi (a requirement for Old Testament priests of Israel); and we are under the atonement of Christ now, not under the blood of bulls and goats.

This is the essence of the book of Hebrews that reveals that Christ is superior to all of the things of the Old Testament that are ready to vanish (HEB 8:13; 9:11-26; 12:24-28).

There are professing Christians who refuse to worship on Sunday because it’s the day of sun worship; they insist on worshiping on Saturday – which in the same pagan parlance is Saturn’s Day! Pick any day of the week: all those names are of pagan origin. They insist on following Old Testament law, hold the various feasts of Israel, will only address GOD by a specific name (pick one, there are several) and act in a very Jewish fashion, forgetting that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but a new man of the church (EPH 2:15).

Rightly dividing the Word of Truth in ROMANS, GALATIANS and HEBREWS should eliminate any false doctrines that uphold the idea that righteousness can come through Christ with the addition of obedience to the Law – or worse: that we only need the Law to obtain righteousness. That is a flagrant disregard of Scripture:


GALATIANS 2:16-21
16 "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 17 "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 "For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain
.

Throughout the church age, the work of the Spirit has had to revive the body of Christ for the religious persuasions that overtook the church would need to be swept away; GOD would do a new work, and this would last for a period of time, before it became old and formalized, without the life of the Spirit. So new wine was required for the new wine skin of the new testament of Jesus Christ.


Today, there is a lot of formalized religion in the church – they may have every doctrinal “T” crossed and every biblical “I” dotted, but it’s overwhelmed with traditions and dogmas and dead orthodoxy. Yet GOD is faithful to bring His Holy Spirit and sweep away the cobwebs and revitalize His body.

My prayer for the church here in America is repentance for its apostasy, deadness, and lukewarm love and return to a fervency for the LORD Jesus Christ. He may awaken His sleeping saints with a good dose of persecution, and by GOD’s grace it will do its work and restore us to a right relationship with our LORD and Savior! AMEN!


LUKE 6:39-42
39 And He spoke a parable to them: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40 "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 41 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye
(parallel passage MT 7:1-5).


LUKE 6:43-45
43 "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 "For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks
. (parallel passage MT 7:17-20).


After the many truths that our LORD expounded upon in this chapter thus far, He then asks the rhetorical question: Can the blind lead the blind? This was in regards to the teachers of the Law, the Pharisees and Sadducees (MT 15:14; 23:16). A true teacher will teach truth and in such a way that it affects the life of their students, and to that same degree, they will be able to teach as well as their teacher. That is a mark of a very skillful and gifted teacher, and there are none better than the LORD Jesus Christ!


He proceeds then in another rhetorical question (the same as mentioned in MATTHEW 15).
This is a warning against hypocrisy, not a prohibition to judge: there are many who quote MATTHEW 7:1, especially those who are convicted of their sin, and they cry out “judge not!”. In both LUKE and MATTHEW the issue is to judge righteously, to judge truly, not according to appearance and superficial circumstances (JN 7:24).


If one judges severally the sin of another, and yet harbors unconfessed sin themselves (perhaps even a worse sin than the one they are judging), GOD will see to it that they receive the same harsh judgment, and for them, it will be far worse (because of their hypocrisy) than for the other!

This conduct is precisely opposite of the admonition from the apostle Paul found in:

GALATIANS 6:1
 1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted
.


Obviously one will need to judge or “discern” the speck in another in order to remove it properly, which is as the LORD instructs here. If it wasn’t a responsibility for us as saints to minister one to another after this fashion, the LORD would have plainly indicated that we are not to look for specks! The priority is to make sure we don’t have planks in our own eyes first!


In this next section (and the last parable we’ll look into) also has a parallel passage in MT 7:17-20). There is a principle established in GENESIS Ch’s One and Two: namely that everything produces after its own kind, whether physically or spiritually.


Since we know that there is no one good but GOD (MK 10:18), we can’t produce anything good in and of ourselves. Thus any good works that issue from our lives are produced by the goodness of the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us (TITUS 2:7,14; 3:8,14; EPH 2:10).

This doesn’t mean that we never sin, because we still have the sin nature to war against. What it does mean is that we are capable of producing good fruit that glorifies GOD, and that such fruit from the new heart (EZEK 36:26; JN 3:3-5; 1 PET 1:23); created in us and indwelt by GOD can only produce good fruit.


By the same token, one who’s not born again, these souls that have (incurably wicked hearts; JER 17:9) can’t produce good fruit because they will, like all living things only produce after their own kind (TITUS 1:16; EPH 4:17-18)!


Note that there are two kinds of treasures here: both good and evil, and to such men, these may be considered their treasures respectively: a good man will view treasures as holiness, godly love and compassion, humility, meekness, esteeming others more highly than themselves as good. An evil man however would view such things as trash, not treasure. Likewise the good man would view those ‘treasures’ of the evil man: arrogance, self-centeredness, self-sufficiency, self-glorification, the pleasures and riches of this world as trash.


If you ever want to know what’s in a person’s heart, pay attention to what they talk about most: that will indicate what’s in their heart: may the name of JESUS ever be upon our lips, matched by loving and living devotion from the heart!

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