Matthew 19:16-30 Part 5

Our Lord Jesus Christ is about to cross the Jordan River into Judea in order to be rejected, judged, shamed, humiliated and murdered.  He will bring the age to a close; and, by His resurrection, He will raise up a New Israel – a New Heavens and a New Earth.  It is time for the “Genesis” – the re-generation – the new birth!  And all those who follow Him in the New Birth will “forsake” the old – turning from self, the former heritage, and the world order, and being united to Christ for the glory of God.

The Gospel writer sees this encounter with the rich man as very, very important – setting it off with special language and with unusual length; for this man is surely the representative of all of Israel itself.  His rejection of Christ is Israel’s rejection; his view of his own worth and goodness is Israel’s view; his attachment to his heritage and ancestry is Israel’s attachment; his inheritance is Israel’s inheritance; his eschatology is Israel’s eschatology; his self- interest is Israel’s self-interest.  He would not turn from the old and follow Christ into the new birth.  Neither would Israel.

But the very center of the Gospel is that mankind, dead in Adam, must become mankind, alive in Christ, because man cannot enter the Kingdom while being a son of Adam!

This morning, as I promised, I want to spend some time commenting on some things from this passage, because we have to make sure that we see, as clearly as possible, the differences between the kingdom of this world in Adam, on the one hand, and the Kingdom of Christ, on the other.  When Peter preached the Gospel at Pentecost, he told the thousands whose hearts were crushed by the Word of God and the Spirit of Christ that they must turn from this “wicked generation”.  In other words the whole world was dead in the sin of mankind.  The way man knows and sees and hears and thinks and acts has to be turned right side up in the re-birth.  He has to turn from it all and once more become an infant with a new nature, and forsake the old life itself.

So the things I want to say at this point will be geared toward the differences between that “old world of mankind” and the New Israel in Christ.

And, first, I’d like for us to see a comparison between the world-view (or the philosophy) of Israel at the time of Christ and that of our people in our time.  And, seeing the similarities here, hopefully we will be motivated once again to hold to the Truth and aggressively pursue the righteousness required of us – both personally and societally, not to mention culturally, and governmentally.

Now, with regard to that philosophy (or world-view), of the six or seven main issues to be discussed, the first is Israel’s opinion of itself as a nation (which, by the way, has not changed to date, regardless of the fact that it has been judged by God repeatedly).  But Israel considered itself eternally blessed by God – regardless of its un-righteousness!  It is inherently good, or God would not have chosen it, and when it suffers it does so only as a righteous martyr.  It sees itself as the rightful owner of international glory and superiority, and it will, on day, in its opinion, rule the world from Jerusalem!

Now.  Consider the nationalism of our own country!  The predominant understanding of the United States, among its citizens, is that there is a correspondence between the Kingdom of God and America!  In that opinion this is God’s paradise on earth (more or less) from which flows a river of goodness to all the peoples of the world!  America’s power protects, and its power provides!  And let no one dispute its inherent goodness and superiority.  There is none like it, and never has there been.  And it doesn’t matter whether it is righteous; it has an apparent destiny – to use its power and its moral capital to lead the world.  So there is a very close similarity between the way Americans see America and the way Jews see Israel!

The second correlation between Israel at the time of Christ, and the people of America in our time, has to do with the personal worth of the individual.  By his heritage and history and ancestry, the Jew considered himself virtuous and honorable.  All others (read “Gentiles”) were despicable and of little value.  The Law and the land was the inheritance of the Jew; and it was his by way of personal virtue and worth.

America has been, for a long time, the richest nation in the history of mankind.  That is generally thought to be the case because of a spirit of individualism, personal worth and virtuous hard work.  In this view the greatest constitution ever devised by man (our heritage) has set free the internal mechanisms of wealth-producing virtue.  As Americans, that is our inheritance – ours and ours alone.  The recent decline in personal values and morality among the people is only an aberration brought about by “other cultures” that live here, and by politicians – neither of which represents the inherent goodness of the individuals of the United States!  This unfortunate situation (moral decline) can be dealt with by teaching and counseling individuals with regard to personal self-esteem and the inherent power of the individual free American.  We still have within us the personal virtue to make our country great again – it simply has to be released!  This is very similar to Israel’s view of the individual.

The third correlation between Israel at the time of Christ and our situation in our time has to do with eschatology!  Now, some might say, what similarities can possibly exist between the two?  But I say that they are almost identical!

Israel’s expectation was world dominance and national glory through moral and spiritual renewal at the coming of the promised king – the great son of David.  It was Israel’s destiny!  History was moving inexorably toward that last great event of human discontinuity, whereby Israel would become the source and provider of the world’s utopian paradise!  Israel would re-gain David’s and Solomon’s glory.

Now, although there are two basic, predominant eschatologies in America, they both fit perfectly into that of Israel at the time of Christ.  And they are both perverted and unBiblical.  The first one envisions America, in all its goodness, being the source and provider of peace and happiness to the world.  It only needs a proper leader, and it would stop wars and feed the world!  All nations and leaders would flow into Washington to be benevolently lead in the right path to international security, peace, and prosperity.

Secondly, the other eschatology is that of the rapturous discontinuity of human history whereby Jesus Christ returns to a restored Jerusalem and a restored temple to rule the world!

Both of these take big slices of the false eschatology of the doomed Jewish nation; and both of them are blind perversions of the Truth.  But the similarities really do exist between the America of the present and Israel of the past.

The fourth parallel between us and Israel at the time of Christ has to do with the Law.  Israel, in all its perceived inherent “goodness”, had turned God’s Law upside down.  Having been developed over centuries, the perverted Law became the means of benefiting man and groups of men rather than a means of glorifying and obeying God.  And Israel, being “the good”, rewrote it!  And the re-written, re-interpreted perverted Law became the source of power for the self-righteous elite!

And who can deny that that’s exactly what has happened in the United States!  From the point of beginning, when God’s Law was written into the constitutions of individual colonies of the new world, to the present, when God’s Law is “written out” of all federal and local statutes, there has been a continuous perversion of law ostensibly for the benefit of man!  Man, in all his “goodness”, has re-written the Law because he knows better what works for men.  And the power that is inherent in the ability to re-write Law for the benefit of men has produced a powerful, self-righteous elite in America!  Where the perversion of Law is concerned, there is really no difference at all in the America of today and Israel of the past.

The fifth similarity between the two is a product of the powerful elite who re-write the Law.  And that is the manipulation of the people through the politics of envy.  In Israel at the time of Christ the people were controlled, through the use of the Law, by the elite legal scholars and leaders – the Scribes, priests and Pharisees.  The property and inheritances of the poor, and the widows and orphans, was obtained by the rich through legal manipulation (the definition of covetousness).  And the nation was left with a class of elite, rich power brokers, and a huge class of the destitute, dis-inherited, broken and sick!

Now, in the political arena of today, the legal manipulations of the elite (for the benefit of all, they say) has left them in total control of a huge number of economically and morally dis-inherited people!  Their operations consist of writing laws which are designed to further their own power by leaving more and more people dependant upon their favor!  The more people there are without properties and inheritances, the more there are who are dependant upon the elite!  The real issue here is power; vain-glorious, self-elevating, self-glorifying power!  And it’s exactly the same now as it was in Israel at the time of Christ.

There are two more.  And the sixth similarity is this:  The political and ecclesiastical leadership in Israel at the time of Christ was full of vanity and decadence while perceiving of itself as virtuous and praiseworthy!  By its teaching and example, it had left the nation in despair – morally and economically bankrupt and under the tyranny of a foreign, Gentile government!

And I would just point you toward our own government and ecclesiastical leadership as it stands right now.  There is personal immorality at the highest levels of leadership; there is sanctioning of sexual perversion; a Jew (Judaist) is elevated to be a supreme judge over a nation intended to be Christian; the legislative leaders are manipulative of the legal system for their own benefits; the people sigh under the weight of economic and regulative tyranny while the elite bask in vain-glorious hedonism!  And all the while it is being said that a new spiritualism in settling over the country, because the new people in government are the “good” people!  The example for the people is atrocious.  And the population is turning to despair.  It is being dis-inherited.

And the ecclesiastical leadership isn’t much better.  For the most part they’re either in Disneyland, or they’re involved in psycho-babble, or they’re packed up and ready to ascend into the clouds at the first trump!

Lastly, and by no means have I commented on all the similarities, but lastly, Israel had involved itself deeply in the practical utilitarianism of alliances with surrounding ungodly nations and cultures.  For protection, for favor, for power – for whatever reasons – Israel had led its people into a co-mingling of cultures, the acceptance of competing religions, intermarriage with pagans and other downside results of those alliances.  This was, of course, adultery (to God), and led the nation to be divorced and executed for its fornication.

For decades America has made alliances with ungodly nations for one reason or another.  And we have suffered greatly because of that.  But more recently we have seen a stepped-up pace toward uniting all people under an alliance of human brotherhood.  It involves what is called a “higher spirituality” which accepts all cultures and all religions as integral to cosmic oneness.  That is fornication and adultery against God!  And it will result, save the grace of God, in our suffering and pain and hardship at the judgment of God

But what did Jesus say, in response to the disciple’s question about the benefits to them of following Jesus (verse twenty-eight)?


“You who did follow Me in the new birth, when the Son of Man shall sit upon His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”


Following Jesus in the rebirth is the prerequisite for the disciples being installed as judges over Israel.  What did the twelve tribes of Israel foreshadow in the New Covenant?  The fullness of the Church!  How were the disciples to manifest “judgment” in the Church of Jesus Christ?  By preaching the Gospel to the world!  The inspired words of the apostles of Christ are the words of judgment from God for the world.  The Kingdom of Christ is expanded and realized; the Church is established and disciplined; the nations are subdued; and God is glorified in His Son as all His enemies are defeated.  And the writing and preaching of the apostles of Christ will do all of that, for it is the Word of Christ the King and the Sword of the Spirit for the healing of the nations and the perfecting of the saints – all for the sake of the Kingdom and the glory of the Lord.  “You who follow Me in the new birth...” will do these things!

Then what will a nation under God look like?  How will it act?  What will it do?  It certainly won’t be like Israel at the time of Christ, will it?  And it won’t be like what our nation has become either!

Well, let’s go down that list of seven similarities between Israel and the United States, and observe what a nation looks like if it has the words of the apostles as its judge!  Should a nation repent and its people are reborn into Christ, what will it be like?  What will its covenantal obedience to the twelve judges of the Kingdom be like?

First, it will not see itself as inherently good and eternally blessed of God regardless of its unrighteousness and impiety!  It will understand that God does not bless nations because of their virtue!  America must acknowledge that it is not the Kingdom of God, and that virtue belongs to Christ the King; and it must turn to be obedient and to do righteousness.

Secondly, the people of a nation-turned-to-Christ and reborn into Him will despise the idea of personal worth and self-esteem.  They will groan and sigh with shame at their former sin, and they will forsake their Adamic heritage in favor of life in Christ – the second Adam!  The United States must experience a great rebirth of its people into the Kingdom – from sea to sea.  The notion of inherent greatness and goodness being released from inside a distressed people through psycho-babble or by pseudo-mystical religion must be destroyed.  Because the blessing of God on people comes by way of the virtue of Christ through the preaching of the apostles – and not from inside man!

Thirdly, the nation whose people are reborn into Christ will not be one that has an eschatology of world dominance, wealth and glory, and political utopia!  The Untied States must reject that and confess that it is an enemy of God!  Then it must consider itself subdued by Christ for the sake of His Kingdom.  It is not this nation, and this constitution, that should reign over a cosmic utopia; and there will not be some rapturous, radical discontinuity that will send the country into fiery destruction!  But it is Christ the King, through the words of the twelve judges of Israel, Who must reign supreme over the nation and all the earth – until Christ puts down all His enemies!  That will be the eschatology of a nation reborn into Christ.

Fourthly, a nation under Christ will have God’s holy Law-Word as the absolute foundation of its legal system.  The Commandments and the Case Law!  The United States must painstakingly, and with shame and poverty of spirit, repeal each and every perversion of God’s character in its law system!  It must put, at the “head” of its constitution, the fact of Christ’s sovereignty.  And it must rid itself of every judge of a pagan faith!  It must cease interfering with the Church and the family; and it must provide protection and peace for the nation in order that the Kingdom of Christ might take its course!

Fifthly, the nation which is following Christ and submitting to the twelve judges will not have a rich and elite class which advantages itself at the expense of the weak, the poor, and widows and orphans!  The United States must pit the power of the sword against those who commit these injustices; and it must abrogate the power of an elite class that manipulates the law for its own benefit.

Sixthly, the nation which is epistemologically aware of its own position under Christ the King will have a pious, ruling leadership!  Our country must begin to punish false teaching and immoral example as an offense against God; for the people of God must not have evil men over them!  The best men in the community should be elected to rule and give wise counsel – in piety, and after the mind of Christ.  And if God is not glorified by that rule, there ought to be provision for sanctions and immediate recall before there is damage to the Kingdom and the community.

And, lastly, the nation whose people are rebirthed into the Kingdom will not have ungodly alliances – for the love of God and the fear of Christ and His Kingdom.  America must extricate itself from every pact, every treaty, and every alliance which it has made for utilitarian, practical purposes.  And those into which it re-enters, it must do so with openly stated Theological reasons!  It must not agree on anything of the nature of a compact with any pagan nation; and it must not enter into treaties for mutual protection.

Men – reborn into the inheritance and humanity of Christ – leading communities and nations in seeking after the Kingdom.  Men not struck with self-worth, but with the virtue of Christ.  Men unconcerned with personal power and glory, but with the advance and glory of Christ and His Kingdom.

The judges of the twelve tribes of Israel are the judges of the Church and the Kingdom.  Their words are the constitution of government and the source of life; their preaching the means of rebirth; their counseling and discipline the words of the Spirit for growth and order.  Our nation must hear the words of these twelve judges before it will turn and follow Christ.  But right now it looks very much like Israel at the time of Christ.

Next Lord’s Day, I will continue to comment on the text, because I didn’t get to the “new birth” yet.  There’s a great deal more that hasn’t been said about it, and it is the one thing in all of Scripture that must concern us the most.

It is the only hope for mankind in Adam, and it’s the reason we celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday.  The Church has been rightly called The Community of Celebration!

We don’t meet on the day Jesus was crucified!  We don’t meet on the day during which Jesus was in death/hades; we meet on the day – every week – in which Jesus arose from death in triumph!  Today – every first day of the week – is a celebration of victory!

The staggering implication of the resurrection includes Jesus’ total defeat of sin and Satan, and death, and hell – all of which are man’s inheritance.  And He has provided mankind with a new inheritance in His resurrected body!

Why we celebrate new life annually with rabbits and colored eggs is something I don’t even wish to think about.  We have a liturgical week rather than a liturgical year!

We are sown in weakness; we are raised in power!  We meet weekly to celebrate that new birth.  And that’s the primary subject of this very important portion of God’s Word – which we continue next Lord’s Day.  Re-birth!