[Aug 11]--Final Instructions Part 2

Matt. 10:17-23

Matthew chapter 10 can be a little confusing, and I certainly wouldn’t claim to fully understand all the details here. Sometimes he makes it sound like he was planning on coming in power and glory within the next few months. But we don’t have any record of the apostles being persecuted during their short assignment in Israel, and they weren’t brought before Gentile kings and governors during Jesus’ earthly ministry. It appears that some of this is meant to apply during their first assignment, while some of it is meant to apply in the years to come, while they're spreading the Good News all over the known world.

There are at least three explanations for verse 23, and they all hinge on the word “comes.” In what sense would Jesus be “coming” to interrupt their evangelism of Israel? 1) He could be referring to coming behind them as they went through Israel. They wouldn’t be finished with this first mission before Jesus literally overtook them. 2) He could be referring to “coming” in judgment on Israel in A.D. 70. That was the year that Israel rebelled against Rome, and in retaliation the Roman government absolutely destroyed the nation. Roman soldiers pulled apart the temple brick by brick, thus fulfilling Jesus’ predictions. They ran out of wood for all the crosses they were setting up all around Jerusalem, crucified Jews covering the landscape. The Jews were scattered all over the world, and it was only in 1948 that they became a nation once again. 3) He could be referring to a final evangelization of the Jews just before he “comes” in power and glory. I’m not dogmatic on any of these, but I lean towards the first one.

But let’s get practical for a moment, and the rest of this devotional has little to do with how you interpret vs. 23. I guess you can summarize the instructions as “Be concerned but don’t worry.” We need to be concerned because men are sinners. Those of us who have non-Christian relatives can testify that they can still be loving, loyal, and affectionate. All of my family at least claims to be followers of Christ, but I'd imagine that every believer would be loathe to imagine that their own family would betray them. I'd hope not. But we have to take Jesus’ warnings to heart. If someone only has natural affections to sustain them, then that’s not a firm foundation for loyalty when the pressure really comes. We have to be prepared to be hated.

But we don’t need to worry. Jesus promises to give us the words to speak. We don’t need to worry so much about saying the wrong thing. If we just trust him, he’ll take care of our mouths. Does this mean that preachers don’t need to study, that we can just walk up to the pulpit and claim vs. 19-20? Um, no. If someone is arrested and brought before a governor on trial for his life, then I think this verse applies. But if a pastor is just lazy and doesn’t take the time to study and improve his speaking skills, it’ll show in his sermons.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for your promise to take over my mouth. I need that pretty badly. Thank you for showing me that you’re in charge, not some politician or king or tyrant. Help me to trust you.

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