Matthew 25 – The Parable of the 10 Virgins, the Talents and the Judgement of the Nations

Overview

Eph 2:8-10  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in

Sometimes I wonder why certain parables or lessons are side by side in the Gospels.  They seem disconnected, yet I believe there is a purpose for being there together.   The challenge is to see the thread of the story, an interconnection between the teachings that as we mature we are able to see.   Today’s lesson in Matthew 25 covers 3 parables or teachings:  the Parable of the 10 Virgins, The Parable of the Talents, the teaching of the Judgment of the Nations.  As we will see, the thread that connects these 3 seemingly separate teachings is that the New Birth takes time.  It takes time to get us to where we are what God desires.  

This is a hard teaching.   Isn’t the new birth instantaneous?  Wasn’t the thief on the cross saved when he simply asked Christ to remember him when he came into his kingdom?  Yes and yes.   The new birth is instantaneous and the thief on the cross was saved when he called out to Christ.  However, if we let the scriptures speak salvation is bigger than the event of “getting saved.”  We are saved unto something (Ephesians 2:10).  There are trials to pass through (Matthew 13:3-30) and a price to be paid, a weighing of the cost (Matthew 13:44-46) that we all must pass through as we continue on to salvation in its intended sense.  This is a mystery as it were, but we must accept it and it is given to us to know (Matthew 13:11).  A friend once told me that an easy truth is one where the opposite is false.   A hard truth is one where the opposite is also true.   This is a hard truth.   The new birth is both instantaneous and the beginning of a trial that we must pass through successfully – but by the strength of Christ – in order to be a part of the kingdom of heaven.

The Parable of the 10 Virgins

The “then” Matthew 25:1 refers to what was being discussed in the previous chapter which was the end times.   So these virgins portray people living in the end times.  However, the lesson is applicable to all of us because the path of salvation is common to all.

Ten is a number for completeness, particularly of a set containing members.  For example, we have ten fingers and ten toes.  If we are missing a finger then the set is not complete.  The set is not as God intended it to be. 

The virgins portray those who are pressing to enter the kingdom of God through Christ (Luke 16:16).  They are like virgins who have not consummated a marriage (Ephesians 5:30-32, Revelation 21).   The marriage that these virgins seek will not be consummated until the believers becomes bone of Christ’s bones and flesh of His flesh in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:13-58).  So the ten virgins portray the body of believers that Christ intends to have, but as the return of Christ draws nigh half of them have no oil.  The intended set is not complete.

It is a time of great darkness – midnight – as far from the light of evening or morning as you can be.   Sad.   These people are struggling to enter the kingdom of God but the light of God’s Word is not shining brightly for them.  However,   something makes them all realize that the return of Christ the Bridegroom is near.  Some kind of cry is made.  What this is I do not know.  Perhaps it is simply a moving of God’s Spirit.  The bottom line is that they realize that Christ’s return is imminent and they begin to trim their lamps.

A lot of us in the West don’t know what it means to trim a lamp.  Those of you in Africa probably do.  It refers to sharpening the wick and making it into a point so that the lamp will burn brightly and clear.  The virgins all clean up their lives; sharpen their wicks as it were, but only half have the oil of God’s Spirit.  They are told to go and buy this from those that sell. 

It is interesting that they realize that they do not have the same oil as the real virgins.  How they realize this I am not sure.  However, it may have to do with the cross of Christ.  You see we are all called to take up the same cross as Christ bore.  This cross is a message and a way of life that is peaceful, humble and kind, but it provokes the world into persecuting us just as they did Jesus (John 15:18-27).  Even in the early days of the church there were those within the church who began to teach in such a way that the cross of Christ was removed.   Their God became their belly and they began to mind earthly things (Philippians 3:8-19, Jude 1:11-19, Romans 16:17-18). This began to take away the cross of Christ.  It was an earthly gospel that somehow promised the blessings of God but took away the sufferings that come with following Christ.  In 2 Timothy 1 we see Paul exhorting Timothy to continue on and not be ashamed of his sufferings but rather to be a partaker of them.   I believe in any age if we truly follow Christ we will suffer the cross – it makes us a spectacle to the world, a city set on a hill (1 Corinthians 4:8-16, Matthew 5:11-16).  Note carefully we are a spectacle because of our sufferings, not because of our religious success, large buildings and large budget.

 (Note:  In the Old Covenant the oil that was used in the tabernacle had to be “beaten for the light (Leviticus 24:2).”  This spoke of the process used to make oil; however, I believe it also portrayed the sufferings of the cross of Christ.  In order to be light, we must suffer the beatings – rejection and persecution of men, often religious men, just as Christ suffered.)

I believe those who sell are those who are actively involved in bringing others to Christ.  This should really be everyone in God’s family.   It is not as though we are selling the kingdom of God for money.  It is that we are the exchangers (Matthew 25:27).  We stand between God and man and offer to convert their money to something of value.  The money they have is their lives (Revelation 12:11). We as God’s mouthpiece are like doors (Psalm 24:7-9).  We stand at the entry to the kingdom of God and offer salvation to those who pass our way.   If we tell them the gospel truly we will let them know both the price and value of what they are seeking.  We won’t just tell them the value and hide the price.  As we teach them then we are like merchants that are teaching the customer about a valuable but costly purchase.  You don’t but it on a whim, rather you consider the price of this pearl (Matthew 13:46) and only purchase it when you are ready to sell all that you have to purchase it.  This takes time and involves trial as we pointed out in the introduction to the lesson.  It is a mystery that must be understood even as we also understand that the thief on the cross was saved instantaneously.  The 5 Foolish Virgins waited too long and did not have time for the transaction to be completed.  If nothing else the lesson is that now is the accepted time, if God is calling you do not linger (II Corinthians 6:2).  Run and follow.  Do not allow the Bridegroom to come and the door to be shut before you enter.

The Parable of the Talents

The other two teachings in the chapter make it clear what is to be happening while [the foolish virgins] went to buy (Matthew 25:10).  The Parable of the Talents teaches that we are to use what we are given and the teaching of the Judgment of the Nations teaches that we are to love the brethren and weak in a practical way.  We need time to do this.  We need time to perform the works that has ordained for us from the foundation of the worlds.  This is hard to reconcile with the example of the thief on the cross who was saved within minutes or hours of his death.  However, all we can say is that the thief on the cross was saved on God’s schedule and accomplished the works God had laid out for him.  

This is a very different way of understanding what happened with the thief on the cross rather than thinking that anyone can be saved up until their very last breath.  God has planned works for all of us to accomplish in Christ.  He calls us to Himself on a schedule that aligns to accomplishing those works.  We need time to grow and mature so that we can fully use the gifts that God has invested in us.  This takes time.  So when God calls us, we should run to Him and from that point forward rest from our own works and labor in His fields diligently to bring forth fruit (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Our works in Christ are empowered by the Spirit of God and they are like money that we are to trade with.  In this world if a merchant set us up in business he would expect us to use the resources he had given us to increase his business.  So it is with God.   He gives us spiritual gifts and earthly resources to increase His kingdom (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4).   On a practical basis this is each of us plugging into a local church, maturing and using the gifts that God has given us to bring others into His family and help them mature so that they can be productive too.  If we do not use what we are given we will not be a part of God’s family in the end (Matthew 25:29-30).  If we do use what we are given we will be rewarded proportionately.  God looks at this very differently than we do.  In His kingdom that which was despised in this world will be exalted (Mark 12:38-44).  The reward will related at least in some way to the authority we are given in the new heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21:23-34).

The Judgment of the Nations

In Luke 16:19-31 a rich man ignores the needs of Lazarus a beggar and as a result ends up in hell.   We will all be judged according to this same standard.  Yes it is true that Christ saves us, but as we have seen He saves us unto something.  We must lay down our lives and participate in what He has called us to.   One aspect of what He calls us to is to love.  If we love we will help the poor, the weak, the despised both within and without of the church.   While our primary call is to minister to those within the body of Christ, we are also called to minister to those without the body.  The bottom line is that we are to love in a practical way out of a loving and generous heart.  This is true religion.

Summary

So the lesson of this chapter is a hard truth.   We are saved by faith in Christ.   It is a gift of God.  It is not of works.   Yet there is a component of salvation that includes walking in the good works that God has ordained us to do.  It takes time for most people to mature in Christ and accomplish these works.   The thief on the cross was an exception.  His works were limited and only involved a confession before men.  For most of us, the accountability is much greater.   The foolish virgins waited too long and did not respond to God’s call in a timely way.  Let us pray and exhort one another to love and good works so that we are not found to be like the foolish virgins.

Eph 2:8-10  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. 

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Jesus Fights the Battle of Jericho (Joshua 5:10-15)

Jesus is the Captain of Our Salvation (Hebrews 2:10).  In the passage we’ll look at today (Joshua 5) the Captain of Our Salvation appears to Joshua as the new generation of Jews readies themselves to enter the Promised Land.

Jos 5:10  And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.
Jos 5:11  And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.
Jos 5:12  And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
Jos 5:13  And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
Jos 5:14  And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
Jos 5:15  And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

How do we know that this is Jesus who appears to Joshua? There are several reasons. For one, Joshua calls this man Lord and falls down and worships.  Earthly men do not lead the Lord’s armies.  The only man who deserves worship is Jesus.   Further, an angel would not have allowed Joshua to worship him.  Also, the Lord tells Joshua that the ground he is on is holy and the only thing that could have made that place holy is that the Lord Himself was there.  Finally, this is consistent with the overall role Jesus has in bringing about the Kingdom of God.  For example, in Revelation 19 we see Jesus in this role of leading the armies of God as Captain of the Host of the Lord. So it all fits together.

So why did Jesus come down from heaven for this event?   Paul makes it clear that Jesus had accompanied the children of Israel in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:4). It makes sense that He would continue to be with them to bring them finally into the Promised Land.  From this event all of the other events of God’s plan flowed – there would have been no Jerusalem, Nazareth or Bethlehem and the important events associated with these places if God’s plan for the Jews to occupy Canaan had been thwarted.  The Captain of our Salvation had to make sure that it happened as planned.

It is interesting that though Jesus assures Joshua that he is there as the Captain of the Lord’s Host, we don’t see Jesus take part in the battle for Jericho. The Jews themselves are seen fighting this battle (Joshua 6). So where was the Captain of the Host of the Lord during the battle for Jericho? He was leading the parallel battle that goes on in the spiritual realm.  The forces of Satan (Ephesians 6:12) would have been lined up against the Jews in this event. The spiritual battle had to be won in order for the earthly conquest of the Promised Land to happen as God had planned.

We get a glimpse of this parallel warfare in Daniel 10:13-21 (this was also Jesus who appeared to Daniel). There is evidently an ongoing conflict in the spiritual realm that influences the affairs of men. In Daniel the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia – evidently a fallen angel that had authority over the Kingdom of Persia in Satan’s worldly realm – was able to prevent Jesus from getting to Daniel to help him (and thus his people and all readers of the Bible) to understand an important prophesy concerning the latter days.  It is interesting that the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia was able to withstand Jesus for 21 days. Evidently this battle is closer and more evenly matched than we would think.  However, we know that in the end the Lord – the Captain of Our Salvation – prevails (Revelation).

The Son Appeared to Abraham in the Plain of Mamre…Genesis 18

This is the third in a series of posts on the Old Covenant appearances of the Son of God.  These events relate to a significant point that Christ makes in John 3:13.   He says that “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven.”   Christ is making the point, long before He was resurrected, that there is only One person who has ascended to heaven and it is that One who came down from heaven.  What is significant is that He speaks of this ascension into heaven as though it has happened in the past.  And in fact it did – many times – these Old Covenant events we are discussing are some of those times that the One who came down from Heaven ascended back there.

In Genesis 18 the Son of God gets up off the throne that He shares with the Father and comes down to visit with Abraham in the plains of Mamre.  This is a relatively long passage.  I’ll just make a few comments and then let you read through it.  In this event, the Lord appears to Abraham as a man along with two angels who also appear as men[1].  The sequence of events is that first the Lord and the two angels speak to Abraham and Sarah, then the three separate and the two angels continue on to Sodom.  The Lord speaks alone to Abraham for a time and then goes His way. 

The passage begins by saying specifically in verse 1 that the Lord appears to Abraham.  As you make your way through the passage more and more detail is added consistent with the idea that one of the three is God Himself. 

In verse 17, the Lord continues to speak in the first person: shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I do?  In verse 22, the three men separate and two of them head toward Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before the LORD (the one who stayed).  In verse 25, the Lord identifies Himself as the judge of the whole earth: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?  In verse 27, Abraham recognizes that he is talking to God: Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord

Gen 18:1  And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Gen 18:2  And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

Gen 18:3  And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

Gen 18:4  Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

Gen 18:5  And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

Gen 18:6  And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

Gen 18:7  And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

Gen 18:8  And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Gen 18:9  And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

Gen 18:10  And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

Gen 18:11  Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Gen 18:12  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

Gen 18:13  And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

Gen 18:14  Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Gen 18:15  Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Gen 18:16  And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

Gen 18:17  And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

Gen 18:18  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

Gen 18:19  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Gen 18:20  And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

Gen 18:21  I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

Gen 18:22  And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

Gen 18:23  And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

Gen 18:24  Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

Gen 18:25  That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Gen 18:26  And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Gen 18:27  And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

Gen 18:28  Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

Gen 18:29  And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.

Gen 18:30  And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

Gen 18:31  And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.

Gen 18:32  And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Gen 18:33  And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

Gen 19:1  And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

If we are willing to just listen to what God says then it is evident that God appeared in the form of a man and spoke to Abraham in this passage. Since we know it is the role of the Son to descend from heaven and speak to men face-to-face, then it follows that this is the Son who appeared to Abraham.


[1] It is not uncommon for angels to appear as men in the scriptures.  See Daniel 9:21 and Hebrews 13:2.

The Son Appeared to Jacob Again in Bethel…Genesis 35:9-15

This is a second in a series of posts on the Old Covenant appearances of Christ.  All Scripture references are from the King James Version. 

In this post we’ll look at an event in Genesis 35:9-15.  This event is a follow-on to`Jacob’s Genesis 32 wrestling match with the Son of God that I posted about previously.  Verse 9 tells us that God[1] appeared[2] unto Jacob again.  The word again is a reference back to the Genesis 32 wrestling event.  Let’s look at the verses:

Gen 35:9  And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.

Gen 35:15  And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

Gen 35:10  And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.

Gen 35:11  And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;

Gen 35:12  And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.

Gen 35:13  And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.

Gen 35:14  And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.

In verse 11, God speaks in the first person, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply.  This is a very clear statement that this is God Himself, not an angel who is speaking to Jacob. 

In verse 13, God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.  This brings up a significant point that Christ makes in John 3:13.   He says that “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven.”   He is making the point, long before He was resurrected, that there is only One person who has ascended to heaven and it is that One who came down from heaven.  What is significant is that He speaks of this ascension into heaven as though it happened prior.  And in fact it did, this event in Genesis is one of those times that the One who came down from Heaven ascended back there.

Jacob recognizes that he has talked with God, and so sets up a pillar, offers offerings and even names the place Bethel to commemorate this fact (verse 15). 

The two passages – Genesis 32:24-30 and this passage – with their very clear statements about who Jacob is talking to reinforce one another and together make plain that God is coming up and down from heaven in a physical form and actually appearing to Jacob.  Particularly the Genesis 32 wrestling match makes clear that this is God manifest in the flesh – that is the Son of God – who is appearing in these events.


[1] ‘Elohyim

[2] The Hebrews word ra’ah is translated as appeared in the English.  It means to see, look, behold.

Jesus Wrestles with Jacob…Genesis 32:24-30

This is a first in a series of posts on the Old Covenant appearances of Christ.  All Scripture references are from the King James Version.  We’ll start with a few verses on the whether or not one can see God.

John 1:18  No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

Exo 33:20-23  And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:  And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:  And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

These and other scriptures tell us that no man has seen God at any time and that if someone did see God that person would die[1]. It is actually the face of God the Father that man is not allowed to see.  Moses saw God the Father’s back parts.  Daniel and John could see enough about Him to tell He was seated on a throne and also that He had hair and hands[2].   They weren’t allowed though to see His face. 

Many times in the Old Covenant scriptures there are events that indicate men are seeing the face of God yet they do not die.  There is even one event where a man wrestled with God – the event we will look at in this post.  If we understand the Son rightly, there is no reason to think that this is not the Son that is being seen.  In other posts we have seen that the Son was physically manifest before the creation of the worlds.  That’s what the titles “The Firstborn of Every Creature” and “The Bright and Morning Star” refer to.  We know from the transfiguration that the Son has the ability to show and hide His glory at will[3].  

What scriptures would it violate to say the Son physically appeared to men prior to the virgin birth?  What about Hebrews 1:1-2, where Paul says that in times past God spoke to the fathers by the prophets and in these last days has spoken unto us by the Son?  I don’t think this is violated.  There is a significant difference between the nature of the Old Covenant appearances of the Son and the time when He walked this earth 2000 years ago.  In the Old Covenant appearances of the Son the encounters are typically brief and limited primarily to communicating with one or a few people.  Two thousand years ago the Son walked the earth for thirty-three years speaking to us through an example that started in childhood and continued all the way to death.  Any man living or passing through the land of Palestine could have seen and talked with the Son of God during this time.  Further, His deeds and teachings were observed and recorded by those who followed Him such that we can benefit from this example even today.  Truly, this was a different way of speaking to us than had been experienced in Old Covenant times.

You might ask, if the Son had already been manifest as a man, how could He enter the womb and be born as a babe?  The answer is simply that this is exactly what happened as foretold by the prophet Jeremiah.  Jeremiah prophesied that the Lord would start a new thing in the earth with a miracle in which a woman compasses a man (Jeremiah 31:22). 

I think that because of the way men have been taught to view Christ and the virgin birth it doesn’t at first seem right to think that the Son would have been physically present in Old Covenant times.  However, if we just let the scriptures speak, this is what we find.

So let’s look at our first event, The Son of God comes down from heaven and wrestles with Jacob.

Gen 32:24  And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled  a man with him until the breaking of the day.
Gen 32:25  And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
Gen 32:26  And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
Gen 32:27  And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
Gen 32:28  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
Gen 32:29  And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
Gen 32:30  And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

If you read this literally and simply it is clear that Jacob wrestled with God.  He was amazed – he had wrestled with God and didn’t die.  This is a reference to this truth that Jacob knew very well – you cannot see the face of God and live.  For those Jews with an eye to see this would have been a significant new dimension to their understanding of God and a further refinement of this truth about seeing the face of God.  They would have learned that God has a physical body – you can’t wrestle with a spirit – and that you can see the face of God and live.  The Jews would be learning that God manifest in the flesh – that is the Son of God – can be looked upon and handled as the Apostle John put it in 1 John 1:1-2.

Some believe that it was an angel who wrestled with Jacob. This is based on Hosea 12:4 which refers to this event and says Jacob had power over the angel.  However this is letting the translation of a word override very clear statements made by Jacob. 

The Hebrew word malak, translated angel in this passage, means messenger and is not used exclusively for angelic beings.  If you take this into consideration and also take into account the literal translation of verse 30  you get back to the simple truth that Jacob wrestled with God.  The literal translation of verse 30 is, “for I have seen ‘Elohiym face to face, and my life is preserved.”  ‘Elohiym is a name for God.  For example, ‘Elohiym is the word used for God in Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God [‘elohiym ] created the heaven and the earth. 

It seems odd to us that God would wrestle with Jacob, but God does things that are not our ways. There is important symbolism here portraying a major theme of God’s relationship with His chosen people. This event foreshadowed how God and Israel would contend with one another resulting in Israel’s failure to walk with God.  This failure to walk with God was symbolized by Jacob’s thigh injury that likely caused him to walk with a limp – i.e. an abnormal walk – for the remainder of his life.  The fact that at the end of the wrestling match Jacob persuaded God to bless him points to how in the end God will return to the Jews and heal them.  This truth that in the end the Jews will turn back to God and He will heal them is a major theme in the scriptures (see for example Isaiah 6 and 10).

Jacob physically wrestled with God in Genesis 32.  Specifically he wrestled with the Son of God, the One who is the physical manifestation of God.  As they wrestled Jacob saw God’s face and commemorates the event by naming the place  the wrestling match occurred Peniel – the face of God.


[1] John 1:18, John 6:46, John 14:7-9

[2] See Revelation 5:5-7, Daniel 7:9-14.  In this event, the Son is receiving His inheritance from the Father.  This transaction occurs by the Father handing the Son a book (Daniel 7:14). Significantly, both the Father and the Son have the form we recognize as a man.  The difference is the Father is a spirit with that form, the Son is a physical being with that form.  Knowing this gives further meaning to statements like “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Genesis 1:26)” and “who [referring to the Son] is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15),” and “Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his [referring to the Father] shape” (John 5:37).

[3] Mark 9:1-9

The Nicolaitanes – The Rise of the Paid Religious Heirarchy

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

Jude 1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.

Names in the Bible have significance. They often give some hint as to the character of the individual, something they are being called to do, something they did, etc. In John Chapter 3 Nicodemos a ruler of the Jews comes to Jesus by night. Nicodemus didn’t understand heavenly things, he wasn’t able to recognize the Messiah when He came, but he was one of the rulers and he along with others of his class set the tone for what the common people considered Orthodox Judaism.

Nicodemos’ name is a combination of two words – niko (triumphant/victorious) and demos (people). The picture painted is consistent with what the scriptures say about Nicodemos. He was a ruler of the Jews, he dominated them. What he and others of his class believed and taught set the direction that the common man followed. Who could question as learned a one as Nicodemos?

In Revelation a parallel group is mentioned – the Nicolaitanes. Again this name is a combination of two words – niko (triumphant/victorious) and laos (people). The problem they represent is the same as the problem represented by Nicodemus. The Nicolaitanes are mentioned in association with the church at Pergamos. At Pergamos those who stood against the fathers were being killed. Antipas – anti (against) and pas (father) was killed for standing against these religious fathers. These same fathers were – like Balaam – preaching for a reward. The church at Pergamos represented a significant shift in the direction of the church – the church was moving away from being a hunted, humble band of equal brothers to a hierarchical structure dominated by men with respectable religious titles (see Matthew 23:8 for a warning concerning this). They dominated the people, they recieved an earthly reward for what they did and sadly through their teachings they were beginning to undermine the teaching of the true Manna (a topic I write often about on this blog).

So Christ reminds the true believers at Pergamos – those that can still hear – that if they will overcome the teachings of the Nicolaitanes that He will give them to eat of the Hidden Manna and a new name. What is the hidden manna? It is the teaching of Christ as the True Bread from Heaven. It remains hidden for two reasons. One is only God the Father can reveal who the Son is (John 6:41-51), so only those – like Peter – who will hear understand and receive this teaching (John 6:52-69, Matthew 6:13-17). The second reason it remains hidden is because of the teachings of the Nicolaitanes – those who like Nicodemos and Balaam lead, not by the Spirit of God but by virtue of the position they have obtained. They are spiritually blind and sadly they themselves and those who follow them end up in a ditch (Matthew 15:14).

So now back to the new name. Our name in eternity will reflect our works. Antipas was slain for standing for the name of Christ. Antipas was not this brother’s given name. This is the name that God gave him for his faithful unto death stand for the name of Christ. Antipas stood for the True Manna that came down from heaven, his reward was a new name that reflected his faithfulness and a seat at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. While this is a topic for another post, the bread we will eat at the Marriage Feast will be manifest out of the Word of God just as the flesh of the Son of God was manifested out of the Word of God. We will truly eat of His flesh and drink of His blood (John 6:52-58, Mark 14:24-25).

Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

And with our hands have handled!

I believe that Jesus came in the flesh. Let’s take a look at what that means.

1 John 1:1-2 is a good place to start. In these verses John is explaining what it means to come in the flesh. Later in 1 John 4, he tells us to use this teaching to try the spirits. So if we understand I John 1:1-2, then we can try the spirits like John says to do. So let’s look at what John says.

1Jn 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
1Jn 1:2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

The flesh that John heard, saw, looked upon and with his hands handled…was from the beginning, of the word of Life, and with the Father prior to being manifested to us. This isn’t Mary’s flesh. She wasn’t from the beginning, she wasn’t of the word of life, etc. She was just a clay descendent of Adam like your wife or mine. Highly favored, but in the end she went back to the earth like all of us clay folk. The miracle of the virgin birth is that God gave us a good and perfect gift from heaven. Jesus – the Firstborn – descended from heaven just like He said (John 6:48-51). Unbelieving Jews (John 6:41) as well as many of disciples murmured and would walk no more with Him (John 6:66) when He made this claim. He simply responded, “will you believe that I came down from heaven if you saw me ascend back there?”

My experience has been that most seem to believe that Jesus took His flesh from Mary and His spirit came from God. John’s words in I John 1:1-2 would not make sense if Jesus’ flesh came from Mary. John said he touched and handled something that was from the beginning and of the word of Life. Again, this is not Mary’s flesh. So my simple belief is that Jesus, God’s Firstbegotten, descended from heaven – body, soul, spirit. The good and perfect gift, the Lamb without Blemish, came from above. He had flesh, but it was not corruptible clay like me, you and Mary had (see 1 Corinthians 15:39-49). He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, not in human flesh (Romans 8:3).

Mankind often has things turned around. We think if someone has a body and a shape that looks like a man and can feel pain, discouragement, fatigue, die, etc., then that man is a clay man (a human) like us. This just reveals our earth centered view. We were created in His image, not He in ours. We look like we look and have emotions and pain and suffer because Jesus looked that way first and because God can feel this range of emotions. And yes, God did die. Jesus was separated from the Father on Calvary (Matthew 27:46), that is death (at least the one that really matters).

So this is a very important truth. Jesus said it was upon this foundation that He would build His church and John instructed us to try the spirits using it. God helps us to understand and do.


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