Sunday, June 9, 2013

Instructions to the Twelve (central section)

Continuing our series in Matthew chapter ten, let's now take a look at the central and final section (section D). The chiastic framework of the chapter is as follows:

A)  Instructions to the twelve apostles  (10:5-15)
   B)  Persecution and family division  (10:16-23)
      C)  Enemies of the Master’s household  (10:24-25)
         D1)  Consolation of the twelve: "Do not fear them..." (10:26-27)
            D2)  "Do not fear those who... but Fear Him who can..." (10:28-30)
         D3)  Consolation of the twelve: "Do not fear, therefore..." (10:31-33)
      C’)  Enemies of the Master’s household  (10:34-36)
   B’)  Persecution and family division  (10:37-39)
A’)  Reception of the twelve apostles  (10:40-42)

The central section reads as follows:
D1)  So have no fear (μη  ουν φοβηθητε) of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  
D2)  And do not fear (μη φοβεισθε) those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear (φοβεισθε δε μαλλον) him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 
D3)  Fear not, therefore (μη  ουν φοβηθητε): you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

"Therefore do not fear them." Got it. "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." Check. "But rather, fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell." Yup. "Therefore do not fear." Okay, I think I understand now. Severe persecution is going to come in our lifetime --upon the people of Israel-- and we (the twelve apostles) are supposed to fear God, not man. Got it. There are things happening in Israel --agendas, plans, motives, etc.-- which are being covered up by God's enemies in order to hide the reality of their evil schemes, and all of it is going to be brought to light by the time the Son of Man comes in judgment upon the land (10:23). 

And so, what you are telling us here, privately, we are to be bold and unashamed about speaking from house to house among the lost sheep of Israel (10:6). We are to unashamedly acknowledge you, the Son of Man, as Lord of all, trusting in your care and protection. And if every bird, worth half a penny in the marketplace, falls to the ground because of our Father's will, it's not hard to imagine how valuable we think each hair of our head is worth in comparison. But what you're saying is that also falls to the ground every day and perhaps we think nothing of it; nonetheless, our Father values every hair that falls. Nothing falls to the ground apart from our Father in heaven. And as we go from town to town proclaiming the gospel of your Kingdom on earth, we need to remember to fear God, not man. Our Father is in control over the most insignificant details of life (as we perceive them), and because of that fact we don't need to worry about anything being outside of God's control. God is sovereign over every detail of life.

And so, as we go from house to house throughout the land, visiting the lost sheep of the house of Israel, we also need to remember that everyone of them who acknowledges you as Lord, you will acknowledge before your Father in heaven, but whoever denies you before men, you also will deny before your Father in heaven. All of this sounds pretty serious. I hope this generation repents and acknowledges the truth before the Son of Man comes in judgment.

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