Jesus' Warnings and Encouragemets To His Disciples

Luke 12: 1-12

DIG: Why does this crowd grow? What warnings (verses 1-3) does Yeshua issue the apostles? How does hypocrisy work like leaven? Why does Jesus encourage His talmidim to fear, yet be fearless (verses 4-7)? What does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit (verse 10)? How can believers be assured of not doing this? What does Messiah teach about the believer’s security facing human opposition? God’s judgment?

REFLECT: How do you feel knowing that everything done in secret will someday be revealed? When have you felt like you took a real risk and stood for Christ in a public way? What did you learn from that experience?

Meanwhile, a crowd of many thousands had gathered; there were so many that they were trampling on one another. Being totally honest, Jesus first began to speak to His apostles, saying: Be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. When the word leaven is used symbolically in the Scriptures, it is always a symbol of sin, frequently the specific sin of false doctrine (see Ex – The Parable of the Leaven). Jesus warned that it was foolish to be hypocritical because there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. So the talmidim should be open, not two-faced about the way they lived their lives. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs (Luke 12:1-3).

Messiah went on to teach the Twelve (My friends), not to be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But, He said: I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Gey-Hinnom, brought over into the Greek and English as Gehenna, is usually translated hell. Literally, valley of Hinnom (a personal name), is located both then and now just south of the Old City of Jerusalem. Rubbish fires (and unclaimed bodies) were always burning there hence its used as a metaphor for hell, with its burning fire of punishment for the unrighteous (Isaiah 66:24). Elsewhere in the TaNaKh Deuteronomy 32:22 talks about a burning hell; Second Samuel 22:6, Psalm 18:5 and Psalm 116:3 show that hell is a sorrowful place; Psalm 9:17 says that the wicked go to hell; and Job 26:6 shows that hell is a place of destruction. The Hebrew word in all these verses is sh’ol, which usually corresponds to the Greek ades (Hades). Thus hell is not a novelty of the B’rit Chadashah.1029

Yes, I tell you, fear Him (Luke 12:4-5; also see my commentary on Jude As – They are Autumn Trees Without Fruit, Wild Waves of the Sea Foaming Up Their Shame, Wandering Stars). It is important to recognize the finality of the coming judgment (see my on Revelation Fo – The Great White Throne Judgment). When the verdict is finally rendered, the wicked will be assigned to their final state. Nothing in Scripture indicates that there will be opportunity for salvation after a preliminary period of punishment.

Not only is the future judgment of unbelievers irreversible, but also their punishment is eternal. I do not merely reject the idea that all will be saved; I also reject the contention that none will be eternally punished. The school of thought known as annihilationism, on the one hand, maintains that although not everyone will be saved, there is only one category of future existence. Those who are saved will have an unending life, and those who are not saved will be eliminated or annihilated. They will simply cease to exist. While granting that not everyone deserves to be saved, to receive everlasting bliss, annihilationism maintains that no one deserves eternal suffering.

The problem with annihilationism is that it contradicts the teaching of the Bible. Both the TaNaKh and the B’rit Chadashah refer to unending or unquenchable fire. Isaiah 66:24, the very last verse in the book, reads: And they shall go forth and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled against Me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind. Jesus uses the same images to describe the punishment of sinners: And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands and go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43-48). These passages make it clear that the punishment is unending. It does not consume the one upon whom it is inflicted and thus simply come to an end.

In addition, there are several instances where words like everlasting, eternal, and forever are applied to nouns designating the future state of the wicked: fire or burning (Isaiah 33:14; Jeremiah 17:4; Matthew 18:8, 25:41; Jude 7), contempt (Daniel 12:2), destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9), chains (Jude 6), and torment (Revelation 14:11, 20:10). In particular, Matthew 25:46 says: Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. If the one (eternal life) is of unending duration, then the other (eternal punishment) must also be of unending duration.1030

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies, literally, two assarions, or the two smallest Roman coins? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Luke 12:6-7). This example assures believers that as children of ADONAI, we are much more valuable to Him than sparrows. As a result, we should be assured that God knows and rules over every aspect of our lives. Yeshua was also telling His talmidim that He would take care of them in the midst of their persecution that would eventually come their way after He went back to His heavenly home to be with the Father (see Mr – The Ascension of Jesus).

The point Meshiach is making in Luke 12:8-10, is that the apostles must make a choice: I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges Me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. To acknowledge points to the fact that the Twelve recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and therefore had access to the way of salvation. Those who did not acknowledge Him were denying themselves the way of salvation. But whoever disowns Me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. Then Yeshua carried the logic one step further. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Earlier, the Lord had linked this activity with the Pharisees who were rejecting the work of Yeshua (see Em – Whoever Blasphemes Against the Holy Spirit Will Never Be Forgiven). Apparently the Ruach HaKodesh had convicted the Pharisees that Jesus was indeed the Meshiach, but they rejected His witness. The Pharisees could never be forgiven because they rejected God’s only means of salvation. In contrast to that, a number of Christ’s own brothers who initially rejected Him (John 7:5) later came to faith (Acts 1:14) and were forgiven even though they had spoken against the Son of Man.1031

The context of this warning to His talmidim was in the context of fear in the previous verses. Yeshua encouraged them not to be afraid to acknowledge their faith publicly. When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Ruach HaKodesh will teach you at that time what you should say (Luke 12:11-12). Yeshua continues to comfort believers concerning fear: they need not be anxious about committing the unpardonable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit when under investigation by hostile synagogues, rulers and authorities because the Ruach HaKodesh Himself will provide the words they need to glorify God in such dire moments.1032

 

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