Thursday, January 17, 2013
Matthew 25:31 states that when the Son of Man returns in His glory and with His angels, He will sit on His throne and judge the nations whom He will divide up like a shepherd does his flocks. That is, He will distinguish between the sheep and goats. He will tell the sheep - those who were faithful and wise (ref. Mat. 25:1) - to come and inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the “cosmos” (which is His fixed order of government). On the other hand, the goats, that is, those who were foolish and unfaithful (ref. Mat. 25:14), He will cast out to be with the Devil and his angels.
What is the standard that Yeshua judges by? From the description given in this example we learn that both the sheep and the goats are judged by the same criteria: “That which you have done to the least of these my brethren you have done to me” (Matt. 25:40, 45). In both cases Yeshua is asked: “Lord when did we see you a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison?” (vs. 37-38, 44). Since the outpouring of the Spirit at Shavu’ot (Pentecost) and until His return, Yeshua has been making His abode in a people who live for His namesake. As we recall, Paul asked the believers to examine themselves and to see if they were in the faith, concluding that the essence of that faith was the knowledge that Yeshua was present within them (ref. 2nd Cor. 13:5). If that is indeed the case, as the scriptures indicate, then it follows that whatever is happening to us is shared also by Yeshua.
However, there are many believers, who in spite of Yeshua’s life in them, also house spirits of the enemy and are sick because of the sin of unbelief, or because of some other spiritually rooted disease (sin). Some have become estranged from Yeshua (that is, from His life in them), from themselves (as new creation beings) and from others in the body of Messiah because of spirits of rejection and alienation. Others are in spiritual prison houses of fear, anxiety, bitterness and unforgiveness. These conditions are caused by the work of the Devil. “He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same,[and still does in us] that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
How does the Son of God destroy these works of the devil? “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:10). Since this is our assignment, how does Yeshua enable and expects us to carry it out? “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through Elohim to the pulling down of strongholds); Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Messiah; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor 10:3-6). Above we saw that Yeshua came to destroy the works of the Devil. During His life on earth the works that He did were to heal the sick, lame, blind, to bind up their wounds, to grant deliverance from demons and to raise the dead. But that task was only just beginning, because Yeshua commissioned or anointed us to do the same thing, on an even greater scale. How are we to go about doing this? He says “believe on me” [the living Word] (John 14:10), “and you shall receive power from on high” [the Holy Spirit] (Acts 1:8). After this happens, we are able to do what the above scriptures require, that is to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Messiah, and then to revenge all disobedience by being obedient.
Yeshua stipulated that before all this could take place He had to go to His Father (ref. John 16:7). Why did He have to do that? Because these “greater works” could only take place after His death, burial and resurrection: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it [in the cross]” (Col. 2:15); and then the Father “raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:20-21). From this position, Yeshua was and is able to send into the called-out ones the same Spirit with the same Kingdom-power that worked in Him while He was on earth, thus giving access to the believers to His life and authority. But we, who have this Kingdom and power within us, must understand that it is not of us. Yeshua told His disciples when He gave seventy of them a test-run of what was yet to come, not to rejoice that the demons were subject to them, but to rejoice that their names were written in heaven (ref. Luke 10:20).
As Yeshua’s servants we have been given these precious talents, gifts and the power of the age to come, with the assignment being the same as His: “The Spirit of YHVH Elohim is upon me, because YHVH has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of YHVH, and the day of vengeance of our Elohim; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of YHVH, that He may be glorified." Then “they [we] shall rebuild the old ruins, they [we] shall raise up the former desolations, and they [we] shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations… and instead of confusion you shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in your land you shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be yours” (Is. 61:1-4, 7).