TODAY’S READING: MATTHEW 17-20
The King’s glory (chapter 17); the King’s rebuke (chapter 18); the King’s instructions (chapter 19 verses 1-15); the King’s demands (chapters 19:16-20:34).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Much discussion has already been made about the importance of keeping your eye on the Jew when dealing with the New Testament. This often confuses people, because they have assumed that since “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” that it all applies directly to them. We could say it this way, “Though all of the Bible is FOR you, not all of the Bible is TO you.” I like the illustration Jeff Adams uses to make this point. If I let you read the letter my grandfather wrote to me, offering his wisdom and insight gleaned through his life on the earth, and you come to the part where he talks about leaving me $100,000 and you ask me about when WE collect OUR money, I’ll be very quick to tell you that the letter was addressed and intended for me, I was simply allowing you to glean from the things my grandfather was seeking to teach me! In keeping with the illustration, when d!
ealing with the Old Testament, and some New Testament Books, we as Gentiles living in the “parenthesis” we call the “church age” must be careful to keep in mind that we are reading someone else’s mail! We are the church, so we go to the Bible to get our doctrine from the Books which are addressed specifically to the church, or those who hold positions of leadership in the church. That doesn’t mean that we can’t get anything from Books like Matthew (written to the Jews to present a Jewish king over a kingdom promised to Jews), or Hebrews (take a wild stab at who you think the Book of Hebrews is addressed to? “That’s right, Johnny, Hebrews! Tell ‘em what they’ve won!”), or James (you can’t get past the first verse without being faced with the fact that you’re reading someone else’s mail! It is specifically addressed “to the twelve tribes.”) Again, that is not to say that we can’t get anything out of these Books. It simply means we must make certain that we have “rightly d!
ivided the Word of truth.” It doesn’t mean that there are no!
that apply spiritually to our lives in a devotional sense; it just means we have to be extremely careful! We must keep in mind that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts (at least up to chapter 7), provide us an historical perspective of the first coming of Christ from the standpoint of the Nation of Israel. Once the Nation of Israel makes their final rejection of their King and His kingdom in Acts 7, a transition takes place in the Book of Acts:
•From an OLD TESTAMENT structure to a NEW TESTAMENT structure.
•From God dealing with the NATION OF ISRAEL, to dealing with the CHURCH.
•From God working primarily with the JEW, to God working primarily with the GENTILE.
•From the ministry of PETER, the apostle to the Jews (Acts 1-12), to the ministry of PAUL, the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 13-28).
•From God’s base of operation being in JERUSALEM, to His base in ANTIOCH.
By the time you get to the end of the Book of Acts, the church is firmly established, and you move right into the letters written by Paul, to the church. In those Books you are safe. It is laying out doctrine intended specifically for those living in this dispensation. Because of who Paul is, the Apostle to the Gentiles, and because of the recipients of his letters, churches and pastors of churches, we want to be sure that anything we are applying to us is something that lines up with what God penned through Paul. It was this very principle that caused our brothers and sisters at times in church history to be referred to as “Paulicians.” They understood the importance of “rightly dividing the Word of truth,” and not applying to us, something God promised or intended for the Jews or the Nation of Israel.
Keeping these things in mind in today’s reading will be helpful. See if you can make the distinction between those things that are specifically related to the Jews and the Nation of Israel, and those that also apply directly to us because they are repeated in the Pauline epistles.
Allow me to just mention a few things about the “Transfiguration” in 17:1-8 –
17:1 – Note that Peter, James, and John are the fulfillment of the strange statement the Lord made at the end of chapter 16, that there were some of the people that were listening to Him there who would be eyewitnesses of the Second Coming.
17:2 – Note the word “transfigured.” In other words, Christ’s “figure” was “transformed.” When He came to this earth, He couldn’t be anything other than what He was— the very glory of the Father (John 1:16). That glory, however, was veiled in a body of flesh. At the “transfiguration,” Christ rolled back His flesh revealing the “glory of His Father” (16:27) that will be His when He returns to the earth at His second coming. See Peter’s comments about this in his incredible statement in II Peter 1:16-18.
17:3 – This is the first time Moses stepped foot in the Promised Land. What a buzz this whole thing must have been for him!
17:1 – Back to verse one. Notice when this “second coming” pre-fulfillment (Matt. 16:27-28; II Peter 1:16-18) took place! “After six days”! Plug that into the equation God laid out in II Peter 3:8, and it lets you know that the second coming will be after 6000 years of human history. For the really astute folk, they will balk at such reasoning, citing that Luke’s account of the transfiguration says that it was “about eight days” (Luke 9:28). I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I think that the number that is “after six” and “about eight” just might be seven!!! Just like Genesis 2:1-3 laid it out! See comments on Week #1’s memory verse.)
17:1-5 – Notice also that in this “perfect” and “complete” picture of the second coming that there are seven in attendance: Jesus, Peter, James, John, Moses, Elijah, and God the Father.