Matthew 23:34-35 (Multipurpose Messengers)

Who does Jesus say in Mat 23:34 will be sent to the likes of the scribes and Pharisees?  Thus in spite of scribes being spoken of negatively throughout the New Testament, what does this remind us about there being at least some good scribes in Christ’s service?  Cf. Mat 13:52.  What is the purpose of “therefore” in Mat 23:34?  I.e., why does Jesus say that prophets and wise men and scribes would be sent to the likes of the scribes and Pharisees?  See Mat 23:32,35.  What does this teach us about another important reason why God sends His messengers to a people?  Is it just so that they might repent, or is it also so that while extending to them mercy and every opportunity to repent, those who will not repent may fill up the measure of their guilt, making them completely fit for destruction as a vessel of His wrath (Rom 9:22)?  Cf. Rom 2:4-8, Hos 11:2a.  What is it then that fills up the measure of a people’s guilt to the point that its destruction and damnation is inevitable?  See 2Ch 36:12-16.  What warning does this offer a people to give heed to God’s prophets, wise men and scribes who call them to repentance?  See Heb 3:7-8a,12-15, 4:7.  What warning does it offer our own nation as it increasingly spurns the call of God’s righteous servants to repent and seeks to marginalize and silence their voice?  Cf. 2Ti 4:3-4.  What do these things also teach us about the way in which God hardens a person’s or people’s heart to make them a vessel fit for destruction?  Cf. Exo 5:1-2, 7:13-16, 8:1-2,8,15,20,25,32, 9:1,7,13,27,34-35, 10:1,3,16-20,24,27, 11:9-10.  What then is the great danger of neglecting to respond when God speaks to us, whether through His word, His Spirit, His messengers, or even the circumstances of our lives?  See again Heb 3:7-8a.

Consider from Jesus’ words in Mat 23:32-35 that as Moses was sent to Pharaoh so messengers would be sent to the likes of the scribes and Pharisees for the purpose of hardening their heart so as to fill up the measure of the guilt they shared with their spiritual fathers.  What does this teach us about what it means to be successful as servants in God’s kingdom?  Is it only to see men repent and come to the knowledge of the truth so that if people don’t turn from their sins they are unsuccessful and have not accomplished God’s will?  What does it also teach us the primary purpose must be of those who would enter into God’s service, whether as prophets, wise men, scribes, or other religious servants?  Is it simply to see people saved so that if men reject God’s call to repentance there is no longer a need to proclaim the truth to them?  Or rather, is it to be a faithful herald of God’s truth, whether by word or by deed, so that even if men reject and harden their hearts against that truth God is still accomplishing His purposes as those who are wicked fill up the measure of their guilt?  Consider Noah who preached (literally heralded) righteousness (2Pe 2:5) for 120 years (Gen 6:3) while the patience of God kept waiting (1Pe 3:20), but only he and his family were preserved so that his faith condemned the ancient world that was destroyed in the flood (Heb 11:7).

Who does Jesus say will send prophets and wise men and scribes to the likes of the scribes and Pharisees?  As such workers are understood to be sent by the authority of God, what does this teach us about Christ and His authority?  Cf. Mat 7:29, 28:18.  What does Jesus say the likes of the scribes and Pharisees would do to those whom Jesus says He would send to them?  See Mat 23:34; cf. Joh 15:18-22.  Again, why would Jesus send His servants on what is likely to be a suicide mission to those whom He knows would persecute and even kill some of them, and how does that fulfill His purposes?  Is He not in His mercy and love providing every opportunity for them to repent, while at the same time hardening their hearts and making them a vessel fit for destruction if they won’t?  What does this teach us about the way Jesus goes about “sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat”?  Cf. Mat 3:12, and consider the scribes’ and Pharisees’ profession in Mat 23:30.

Consider in light of this understanding what it means to be a servant under the authority of Christ in the service of God’s kingdom: In what way is it similar to the way one might serve the commander in chief of a nation or kingdom of this world in its wars?  See 2Ti 2:3-4; cf. 2Ti 1:8, 4:7, 1Ti 1:18, 6:12 and think:  Are soldiers called to know the complete details of their commander’s plan so that they should question every order and refuse to obey if there is some part of it they don’t understand?  Or are they called to have faith in their commander that he really does have their interests in mind and in order for them to overcome their enemy and for their cause to succeed they must “trust and obey”, whatever the cost, even if it costs them their lives?  In what way is serving in Christ’s army different from serving in the armies of this world?  See 2Co 10:3-5 and think: In what way do Christ’s soldiers lay down their lives in service to Him?  Is it by seeking to kill His enemies?  Should we be surprised that being redeemed from Satan’s dominion of darkness to enter into God’s kingdom of righteousness that we should be called upon by our King to serve the interests of His kingdom of which we are now citizens, even to the laying down of our lives, as those do for the kingdoms of this world?  If it is considered honorable for men to lay down their lives for the nations of this world that will not endure, how much more honorable must it be to lay down one’s life for the kingdom of God that will endure forever?

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