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Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont THE BOOK OF MATTHEW

Lesson 36, Chapter 10 Continued

As we continue today in our study of Matthew chapter 10 there’s a couple of important context items to keep in mind. First, Matthew lived and wrote well after the events he is speaking about. He was not the Matthew (also called Levi) who was the Tax Collector and one of the original 12 Disciples. So everything we read was written in hindsight for Matthew; he was not an eyewitness to any of it, so far as we know. Second, the Disciples Christ was sending out were to go only to the Jews who lived in the Holy Land. While it is not specifically told to us exactly which towns and villages they would journey to, none of them would have been very far from home.

One of the things Yeshua is doing is setting up some rules and boundaries for the missionary work the 12 would perform; much of it based on the culture of the day. Perhaps the most significant aspect of it is that they were rely on the hospitality of the town or village they entered for everything they needed; from shelter, to food, to protection. Hospitality in that era for Middle Easterners was akin to a code of social etiquette and ethics. It was not part of the legal system per se, but it was a highly virtuous and valued part of social custom that was frowned upon if ignored. Hospitality is something that travelers would ask of a household; usually of someone they didn’t know. Generally speaking to deny hospitality without an exceptional reason brought great shame upon that household. Once granted, the traveler’s every need was to be met and his safety assured even if it meant the hosts putting their lives on the line. Obviously the way the culture of the New Testament operated then bears no resemblance to how Western society, or most other world cultures, operate today. So in order to apply the principles of how missionaries are to be cared for, with hospitality at the center of it, we have little choice but to adapt Christ’s instructions to the realities

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont of the 21st century.

We ended at verse 15 after Yeshua had instructed the Disciples to take with them little more than the clothes on their backs, and to go out in pairs. He tells them that when they come into a town, if that town rejects them (meaning the residents reject their message) then they are not to stay; they are to move on. And more, when the Day of Judgment comes, that town (meaning the people in it who rejected the Good News the Disciples brought of the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven) will suffer a fate even worse than did the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Let’s re-read a portion of Matthew 10.

RE-READ MATTHEW CHAPTER 10:15 – end

In verse 16 Jesus continues by warning the Disciples the conditions they will face on their missionary journeys. Back in chapter 7 He warned those listening to Him to be wary of the wolves in sheep’s clothing. That is, this was those who pretended to be one thing, but were actually another; so deception was involved. Now in chapter 10 the warning is a little different. It is that the sheep (the Disciples) will be among undisguised wolves. The Disciples will be knowingly wandering into wolf territory. I’ll remind you yet again: these are not gentiles who are being characterized as the wolves because the Disciples are not to leave the region of the Holy Land. So who are these wolves? They are the Jewish religious leadership; more specifically the synagogue leadership. So with this stark warning issued, Yeshua gives them some sage advice: be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. What does He mean by this? In His time it was a proverb that serpents were considered to be very cunning. So if a person was like a serpent, it meant they were pretty shrewd. This was actually considered as a positive attribute… rather admired among many…. not a negative. It wasn’t symbolic of being wicked. Yet they were also to be as harmless as doves. The Greek word the CJB translates to harmless is akeraios . Literally it means unmixed or pure. It can also mean single-minded and thus we’ll find some translations say “simple”. The way to think about the meaning is as a child-like approach to things. Children don’t approach matters with a complexity of thought; they do it simply. So since the Disciples are going to find themselves facing resistance when they are communicating with Jewish religious leadership who may not be interested in fairness or in honestly wanting to hear another point of view, they must not be naive. They mustn’t check their brains or common sense at the door, so to speak. They are to be acutely aware of who they are dealing with, the circumstances they encounter, and should behave accordingly. Be shrewd in assessing the

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont situation and in handling people; but temper that by staying focused on the single goal of spreading the Good News.

So what might happen to them on their mission journeys? They are going to find that some of the synagogues they go to visit are going to react harshly by having them flogged and even handing them over to the court on account of the Good News they bring. The court is speaking of the Sanhedrin; the Jewish religious court (but nearly always the local courts and councils, not the one in Jerusalem). Let me remind you; the Disciples are not at all proclaiming that Yeshua of Nazareth is Messiah… at least not in this the first of their missionary assignments. They are, however, claiming that the Kingdom of God has arrived and the implication in the Jewish theology of that day was that this only happens when the Messiah reveals himself and establishes that kingdom. Even so, the Gospel writer Matthew is not just writing from the viewpoint of when these things were happening. Since he was looking back in time he already knew that some of the things that Christ prophesied were going to happen at a future time, and not immediately after telling the Disciples about those happenings. The bottom line is that all disciples of Christ are to expect some amount of suffering for their faith; it doesn’t matter at what point in history it might be or who the disciples are or where they are. Persecution goes with the territory of following Jesus. One cannot avoid it. But in the case of the original 12, what are they going to being punished for having done? Matthew must have thought it so obvious he doesn’t bother to tell us. My speculation is that very likely in following the lead of their Master, Yeshua, the 12 Disciples didn’t have nice things to say about the synagogue leaders or the traditions they taught. Christ was very open about His disdain with that leadership and with their manmade doctrines and traditions that so distorted the truth of God’s Word. Remember that Yeshua characterized the Jews He encountered on His own Holy Land tour as lost sheep. And those who were supposed to be their shepherd leaders as wolves.

Let’s be clear that the Disciples were not visiting Churches nor were they establishing them. These congregations of people were synagogues of which there were many in the Holy Land. Most were not elaborate or even dedicated buildings; the vast majority were merely gatherings of Jews in public places or perhaps somewhere under a tree. It could be just a few Jews meeting together (typically not fewer than 10). The word synagogue is much like the word church in that technically it has little to do with buildings; rather it has everything to do with an assembly of people. The Talmud reports that prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as many of 400 synagogues existed only in the city of

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont Jerusalem! Excavations there prove that if indeed there were that many of them then it cannot possibly mean that at one time there existed 400 separate synagogue buildings in Jerusalem. The thing to understand is that, in whatever form, there were many synagogues in the Holy Land such that the Disciples were not traveling very far between villages and synagogues. In fact there were so many that Yeshua didn’t have an expectation that they would somehow visit them all.

Verse 18 explains that in addition to the religious persecution they were likely to face, there would also be politically based persecution. Thus some of the Disciples, says Christ, will stand before governors and kings on account of their faith in Yeshua. It is agreed by nearly all Bible scholars that this prediction is rather general in its meaning in that it isn’t necessarily directed only to the 12 Disciples to whom He is speaking, and only to evangelizing the Holy Land. This is kind of an all-inclusive, open-ended prophecy about what Messiah’s disciples in all ages and in all nations could expect. As we look back historically we’ll find Christ followers in various areas of the globe being both religiously and politically persecuted for their faith. We have not really been subject to it in America, or in Europe, for a very long time….until recently. Circumstances are changing for us. Yet in God’s providence Yeshua’s followers are not to despair of such a thing or fear it. The last half of verse 18 explains that such persecutions will offer an opportunity to speak truth to power. We get a fine example of that in Paul as He is arrested and brought before the Roman governors Felix and then Festus whereby they want to understand what it is about Christ and this messianic faith that drives Paul.

Yeshua characterizes being brought before governors and kings (in other words, various religious and political authorities) as divine moments of God’s providence in order to penetrate the secular halls of justice and government with the Gospel truth. Not only governors and kings but also gentiles will hear the disciples’ testimony, we’re told. It is the Greek word ethnos that is being translated as gentiles (in some Bible versions pagans is used); it isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is missing the larger point that Matthew is making. Ethnos means large identifiable groups of people in a rather general way. The CJB translates ethnos using the familiar Hebrew word goyim and that is really a bit better because it means both gentiles and nations. The translation that fits best with modern English in getting across what Jesus is saying is “nations” especially since in the Bible “nations” are always people groups of gentiles. So the idea is that from this moment on into an indefinite future, an irony will occur; government

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont officials will persecute followers of Yeshua by arresting them and forcing them to defend their faith. However their faithful testimonies will provide the vehicle that spreads the Good News to all nations on earth. Some of the reason this is needed is to save myriads from eternal death; the other reason is to condemn the remainder to eternal darkness. What we must not lose track of is that it all begins with Israel, the Jewish people, and 12 Jewish Disciples.

I would imagine that these 12 Disciples were pretty alarmed at what they were hearing, so now Jesus offers what amounts to comfort. He says that even though this may happen, they are not to worry. Especially as it concerns an ordinary citizen being brought before the powerful leaders of government, such a prospect could make the best of us intimidated and tongue tied. So Yeshua says not to fret about what it is that they (or we) will say; it will be given to us. We in the West are used to the idea that if we are brought before a judge in court we’ll have someone trained in speaking for us present to do just that. In ancient times no such provision existed except perhaps for the wealthy. How will the right words be given to the Disciples? Verse 20 says that it will be through the Spirit of your Father. What does this mean, exactly? What might it have meant to Christ’s disciples?

To begin; the Jews of that day would have taken the term “Spirit of your Father” to mean Holy Spirit….. Ruach HaKodesh in their Hebrew language. Yet how would this “giving” of the right words happen? How exactly would they acquire it? All during His ministry on earth, only Yeshua was seen as the living container of God’s Holy Spirit. This would not change until after the Resurrection, upon Pentecost. So once again Yeshua seems to be speaking in a general, if not sweeping, way that incorporates various eras of Redemption history. That is, not everything He is saying will necessarily apply to His 12 Disciples, but rather to other disciples at other times. So Yeshua is likely borrowing His thoughts about this matter, although in a kind of ambiguous way, about the End Times that the Prophet Joel prophesied: CJB Joel 3:1 “After this, I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions;

And yet Messiah Yeshua certainly seemed to be promising “the Spirit of your Father” to fall upon His 12 Disciples in some unexplained way. Might we assume that since in verse 1 of chapter 10 that Yeshua gives authority to this 12 to heal

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont people, exorcize demons, and even raise the dead that this necessarily includes some manner of them possessing the Holy Spirit because these are all things that Jesus did and now He extends those abilities to the 12? I would be remiss if I also didn’t point out the source of the Holy Spirit and who He is to be identified with. According to Jesus it is with the Father.

I want to pause here for a moment for a detour in order to discuss something that may be bothering you as it has bothered so many over the ages. The reality is that, in general, we cannot say that the 12 Disciples Christ is speaking to were ever brought before governors and kings to defend themselves other than perhaps for John and Peter, although that is mostly an implication. We aren’t aware of the Holy Spirit giving them words to say in their defense. In the next several verses the trials and persecutions that Jesus says followers of His will experience get more and more serious. He will also say a few other things that don’t seem to have come to pass in His lifetime, which a plain reading of His words seem to indicate they will. Modern Bible academics put this a little differently. If some of Yeshua’s prophecies didn’t come to pass during His lifetime (as He seems to be promising) is He not the very definition of a false prophet….. or maybe as a failed prophet? As much as this accusation jolts us, we cannot just dismiss it without a thoughtful rebuttal. But what could that thoughtful rebuttal be? I want to discuss this because a doubter may confront you with just such a question, and it can be unsettling.

Such an academic viewpoint that Jesus was in some ways a failed prophet isn’t that hard to reach in nominal Christianity because the Bible is approached in what I term as a Greek mindset. That is, in the Greek mode of thinking things must occur serially (one thing after another) and for each question of Bible interpretation (or problem) there must be one clear overriding solution such that all other possibilities are wrong. Jews on the other hand have always approached the Bible differently, understanding that there are levels of meaning involved in the Scriptures. The reason is that the Bible is a God-inspired work; not mere human-inspired literature.

Thus Jewish sages and scholars created a system that defines 4 observable levels of meaning in Scripture. They named those levels P’shat, Remez, Drash, and Sod . Let me say upfront that this doesn’t mean that God intended that His Word was a code and that there would be precisely 4 levels of meaning to decipher it. The Jewish system is but a learned, manmade structure that was created both as a recognition of the amazing mystery of God’s Word, and as a

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont means for God worshippers to try to plumb its depths. It is by no means an infallible system nor is it usually promoted as such. But it is a valuable tool that allows us to think of the Bible sort of 3 dimensionally (if not 4 by adding in the dimension of time) instead of only 2. Although another system of interpretive Bible study might come along some day that is better, it is my opinion that this is the best one currently available to us. I’ve taught on this before and so you can look it up in a number of the Bible books we have posted on TorahClass.com. Briefly the hierarchy is that P’shat is the plain, literal, most simple and straightforward sense, Remez is a hint or strong implication of something deeper and more profound, Drash gets into application of a passage of Scripture that upon a simple reading didn’t at first seem apparent, and sod means “secret” so it involves great mystery and therefore at best we have only a shadowy glimpse of something. Speaking in these levels and studying the Scriptures based on these named various levels was not yet known in Christ’s day. However even then the Jews didn’t box themselves in with rigid either/or, yes/no answers to hard questions as concerned God. They especially understood that God Himself is a mysterious entity that humans have but the most limited way to comprehend and so room was left for flexibility in interpretation.

Here’s where I’m going with this: especially as concerns God’s laws and commands and prophecies, and Christ’s utterances and instructions, we cannot approach them based on the way we would approach mere literature. For one reason, as history has unfolded the truth of the ancient biblical prophecies and wisdom of its teachings have been proved immutable even if many people simply deny it out of hand due to darkened minds and hardened hearts. Thus as we read in Matthew 10 about Christ’s instructions to His Disciples, and about what they’ll encounter, these utterances are divine and have a certain mystery to them. Yeshua will speak prophetically and those prophecies will come to pass in one way in one era, and another way in another era. And, in some cases that involve the End Times, they will occur in ways that are difficult for us to imagine at this point in Redemption history. So our approach needs to be not to doubt, but to uncover and discover. We shall do our best. So with that mindset, let’s get back to verse 20.

Yeshua promises that the “Spirit of your Father” (the Holy Spirit) will be there for the Disciples, but doesn’t explain how. In hindsight we can see that in whatever way it was for the original 12, it would be different for His followers after Pentecost. From that point forward, the Holy Spirit would inhabit Believers and always be there for them… for us…. in every circumstance.

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont Verse 21 clearly changes course and we have Christ speaking about the End Times. But while we think about the End Times as something future to us, the Disciples believed they were already experiencing the End Times. So they would have taken Christ’s words about strife and division within families as something to expect immediately. We look at those words and many of us in modern times have experienced such family splits over Christ, especially if one is a Jew. In modern times in the West none of us want family strife and division but it is as probably likely to happen as not for most folks. It isn’t quite the crisis as it was in biblical times because in the West, families are organized into small units instead of as it was in the 1st century. Back then Middle Eastern families were what we today call extended families. That is, multiple generations not only lived together, but typically the senior family member had real authority over the younger ones. It was also a male head-of-household dominated society so should the father of a family become a Believer in Yeshua, it was generally automatic that those in his household also became Believers; or at least they outwardly practiced whatever it was the senior head of the house demanded would be practiced. So Jewish families splitting up over the issue of becoming a follower of Yeshua was not very likely in the years when Yeshua was still alive, and for some time following His death and resurrection.

But once this faith was extended into the gentile population, family strife and division would indeed become a serious issue such that Paul had to address it head on. And once gentiles gained firm control of the Church early in the 2nd century, and Christianity was reformatted into a gentiles-only religion, then a Jew who became a Believer almost certainly faced a family crisis as they would have been viewed as a traitor to Judaism. Thus the fulfillment of Yeshua’s prophecy about family strife on account of Him would begin nearly imperceptibly, but over time it would become a harsh reality. Today it is very nearly a rule of thumb for Jews, and it regularly happens within gentile families. But as we progress towards the culmination of the End Times, a person becoming a Believer will not only be certain to cause family division, it will become dangerous. Folks, what Christ says is coming is not hyperbole. It has happened already in isolated cases, especially in places where a different religion is the norm and no challenge to it is allowed…. such as Hinduism or Shintoism or especially Islam. Listen carefully to what He says about the destiny of families as the End of Days gets nearer. CJB Matthew 10:21 21 “A brother will betray his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death.

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont What Yeshua is prophesying is far more than something we could call family strife and division; it is homicide. This entire verse is about a family member having another family member put to death because that family member has chosen to trust Christ. Can’t happen in America? Can’t happen in Europe? Look around you. Little of what we see happening in 2020.. the violent demonstrations, the seizing of city centers by anarchists with the co-operation of mayors and governors, the outright demonization of Christianity by the mainstream media, the demand that all citizens conform to whatever political correctness rules the day or be shamed and blacklisted… could not have been imagined even a decade ago. So what Yeshua said would happen to His followers is in process and as His Believers we need to pull our collective heads out of the sand, and to prepare ourselves mentally, tangibly, and most importantly spiritually for it. And, as Yeshua is emphasizing, we need to let those who are not followers know the truth so that they might become followers. That is the primary mission of Seed of Abraham Ministries, in all of our (currently 5) various ministry operations, and I pray that it is at the top of your priority list as well.

Verse 22 offers an obvious generalization that “everyone” will hate Yeshua’s disciples. But what we can take from this is that just as in the beginning of His ministry it was a relatively small minority of people who made a decision to trust Yeshua, so it will be as history charges towards its end. Everyone (meaning the majority) will hate Believers. But.. and now for a combination instruction and encouraging promise… everyone (Believers) who holds on until the end will be preserved from harm. What end? Clearly the end of the End Times. How will Believers be preserved from harm? It will be different for different subsets of people.

The Book of Revelation chapter 12 speaks of a time of great persecution when the woman (Israel) will flee into the desert for 1260 days where the Israelites will be divinely protected and cared for. On the other hand, we also read of the evil actions of the Anti-Christ who will persecute all God worshippers, and countless Believers will be martyred. We all know of stories of missionaries who were tortured and murdered for their faith. So what can it mean that they who hold on until the end will be preserved from harm? It can only primarily mean spiritual harm and not physical harm. Verse 28 addresses this. But what we must understand is that, for the time being, there is no truly safe haven for Believers. And our attempt to create one will be proved futile. That doesn’t mean that we don’t establish oases of spiritual refuge here on earth where we can meet in peace, or lead our children and grandchildren in Christ’s love, and provide an

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont alternative to the hollow secular society we live in. But whatever we create can be attacked by government or religious authorities, and according to Christ it will be. So our job is do all that we can while the doing of it is possible because someday it won’t be. From there forward we are to cling tightly to our faith.

Now; step back and consider this for a moment. I’m quite sure that some of you are thinking: wow, what a downer you are today! That’s pretty bleak stuff. Can’t you talk about some fun and positive things that will happen in the future? I probably could; but that’s not at all what we are reading about in Christ’s admonitions to His 12 Disciples. How do you suppose they took this? They weren’t hopping up and down with pleasure and joy and that’s because that is not how Jesus intended it. I can only imagine the solemn tone of His voice. They weren’t thinking that the things Yeshua described were going to happen to somebody else, but not to them. Or that it would occur in some indefinite time in the future that they probably wouldn’t have to concern themselves with. They believed their Master and would set out expecting this to be a dangerous and difficult journey.

But most Christians I talk to DO think the perils they read about in the End Times are for others, but not for them. They can’t picture themselves facing much if any of this. It’s only that it is customary in the Evangelical branches of the Church to talk about Believers living today in the End Times; but in their heart of hearts they don’t really expect to experience the things Jesus warns us about to any great extent. To put a finer point on it, what do you believe? Do you believe we are living in, or on the cusp of, the End Times? If so, does the reality of your choices and how you live reflect that belief? And does how you give and support your ministry lend truth to your claim? How about your spiritual priorities? Because if what you say to yourself that you believe isn’t backed up with your actions, then I challenge that you actually believe what you say or perhaps think you believe.

I can tell you this from personal experience. Those of us who have lived in Florida for a few years don’t doubt the warnings of hurricanes and what it means for us. So we prepare appropriately. But I also have a vivid memory of when we first moved here and really had no idea of what a hurricane does and the major disruptions that it causes. I was not at all prepared and really didn’t think much about it…. until I experienced one. No power. Nowhere to buy food. Nowhere to get gas. It was pretty eye opening. After that, I became a true believer. I bought a generator, made sure I had a couple of weeks of food and water stored away, filled my gas cans and my car if 2 or 3 days out it looked likely the hurricane

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont would hit, planned an evacuation route, and more. In other words, I modified my usual behavior because of my sincere belief (my faith, if you would) that a hurricane was coming and knowing without doubt what that would do when it does hit. It is the same idea for Believers and the End Times. Our response may not involve storing up food and water right now; but, folks, if you truly believe you will experience some of the things Jesus is warning about, you will change your normal behavior. If you haven’t, then you don’t actually believe it will affect you. Jacob (usually called James), Yeshua’s biological brother, put it this way: CJB James 2:14-17 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but has no actions to prove it? Is such “faith” able to save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food, 16 and someone says to him, “Shalom! Keep warm and eat hearty!” without giving him what he needs, what good does it do? 17 Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.

Yeshua spent much of His ministry on earth telling people what was coming and how to prepare for it on multiple levels: spiritually and physically. Few did, and few ever will. I pray that you will not be one of them.

Verse 23 is one of the more complicated verses in Matthew’s Gospel. The first half is quite straightforward; should the Disciples encounter persecution they are under no obligation to stay there and suffer it. Rather, there are plenty of towns and synagogues in Judea and the Galilee to go to and continue their work. It’s the last half of the verse where the problem lies. It says that they will not finish visiting all the cities around Israel before the Son of Man comes. This one is a real head scratcher and so there are a number of opinions among Bible scholars as to what this means. We won’t cover them all, but we will take a look at some of the more prominent conclusions.

The first thought is actually one that has application that goes beyond this verse. It is whether we are to take the term Son of Man as it is meant in Daniel 7; or are we to take it in the more common usage as merely meaning “human being”? In other words, for whatever reason, did Christ say “Son of Man” but He just as easily could have said “I” or “me”? He just liked saying Son of Man.

The second thought is that Christ never really used that term. It was Matthew that was trying to make that connection. The Book of Daniel was immensely popular among Jews in the 1st century, for the same reason that in the 21 st century the

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont Book of Revelation is so popular among Christians. The Jews felt that Daniel spoke about the Kingdom of God and the End Times, and that they were living in that time (due to being occupied by Rome). Today Christians see a world in shambles and so feel that Revelation answers some questions about the End Times that many feel we are in.

A third thought is that Son of Man is indeed all about a special person that makes an appearance in the End Times, but Jesus wasn’t him. In fact, when He speaks of the Son on Man in verse 23, it is Jesus’s expectation of the arrival of a mysterious Son of Man. I could go on, but this will suffice.

The reason for these rather odd, and usually rigid, viewpoints is what we talked about earlier; it is the result of the typical Christian approach to the Bible in a Greek thinking mode. But if we approach it in the Hebrew manner of looking at that statement in its various levels and depths, then we don’t have to make a choice that only one of these (and other) viewpoints is right and the others wrong.

In the hindsight we’ve been afforded, it is not hard to see that Jesus sees Himself as the “one like a son of man” from Daniel, and that Daniel is one of Christ’s main sources for End Times prophecies. CJB Matthew 24:15-16 15 “So when you see the abomination that causes devastation spoken about through the prophet Dani’el standing in the Holy Place” (let the reader understand the allusion), 16 “that will be the time for those in Y’hudah to escape to the hills.

Just a few verses down from that we read: CJB Matthew 24:30 30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, all the tribes of the Land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with tremendous power and glory.

This is a direct reference to Daniel chapter 7. So it is pretty far fetched to claim that 1) the Son of Man is not a reference to the “one like a son of man” in Daniel; or 2) that all Jesus ever means by it is “I” or “me”; or 3) that while there will be an End Times Son of Man, it’s Christ. Yet this doesn’t solve everything.

What does He mean when He says the Son of Man will come before the

Lesson 36 – Matthew 10 cont Disciples finish evangelizing all the towns of Israel? I see a couple of possibilities and both may be true. First: the job of evangelizing Israel never ends. There were hundreds and hundreds of cities, towns, villages and synagogues in the Holy Land in Christ’s day and at least a million Jews. There was no way those 12 Disciples were ever going to preach in every one of them, to every last individual. So we don’t take a map, create grids, evangelize the squares of the grid, and them mark them off as “mission accomplished”. One proof of this is the striking fact that in none of the Gospels regarding the sending out of the 12 does it ever speak of them coming back. In other words, until the Son of Man (the divine Messiah) returns, the work must continue. Second: while Christ was speaking directly about evangelizing Israel, soon those going out from Israel would venture into the gentile nations. That job is, obviously, far larger than taking the Good News only to the Holy Land. And, as with the first suggestion, this evangelizing mission is to continue regardless of how thoroughly we may think it has already been done. We can rest from these efforts….. often referred to in Christianity as the Great Commission….only when the Son of Man (Yeshua) returns, and ushers His followers into the Millennial Kingdom of God.

We’ll begin next week at verse 24.