Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Old and New Treasures (Matthew 13:51-52)

“Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.” And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”” (Matthew 13:51–52, NASB95)

After sharing this series of parables with the public and then explaining them to His disciples in private, Jesus asked His disciples if they had understood all that He had shared and explained. To this they responded that they had. It is then that Jesus uses one more comparison to make a point. In order to better understand what He was saying let’s look at one of the terms He used.

First of all, he spoke of “scribes.” Scribes are mentioned many times in the Old and New Testaments, and generally they are referred to as secretaries who are charged with telling, retelling, and/or recounting information on behalf of an authority. But there is one particular scribe, Ezra, in Scripture who stands as an example for our learning. The book of Ezra picks up where 2 Chronicles ends with King Cyrus having sent a group of Jewish exiles under the leadership of Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (538 B.C.). Ezra was selected to lead additional Jews back from exile.

Chapter 7 describes Ezra for us. “…This Ezra went up from Babylon, and he was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the Lord his God was upon him.” (Ezra 7:6, NASB95) In verse 11 the following is added, “Now this is the copy of the decree which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in the words of the commandments of the Lord and His statutes to Israel: “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace. And now….” (Ezra 7:11-12, NASB95) From these verses we see that Ezra was both a priest and a scribe. He was skilled in the law of Moses—meaning that he knew it extremely well. Verse 11 adds that his knowledge of the law included him being well-learned in the commandments of God and His statutes given to the people of Israel. He knew God’s Word and was well respected for both his knowledge and the way he lived out his faith. He was trained and he was known for holding to the training he received. In verse 21 we read that when Ezra the priest and scribe was sent, he was sent with the authority of the king. “I, even I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers who are in the provinces beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, may require of you, it shall be done diligently,” (Ezra 7:21, NASB95) In Nehemiah chapter 8 we find Ezra standing on a platform reading from the law of Moses from morning to midday and the people were attentive to his reading of the law. And, in Ezra 8:13 we find the priests and Levites coming to him in order to learn the “words of the Law.” Ezra was a follower of God who hid God’s Word in his heart and lived it in his life. He was accurate in his knowledge and he was faithful in sharing it with others whether that be in large groups or more intimate times of learning. In every sense of the word Ezra was a faithful disciple of God sent to proclaim His Word, bringing to others the riches of God’s perfect truth.

Jesus was preparing His disciples to do likewise. For them this preparation was knitting together the previously recorded statutes and ordinances of God and the mysteries that Jesus had been revealing in their private discussions. Jesus was opening up for them the prophecies of old such that they would understand what was coming as new. In that sense they were being given the precious old treasures from the hands of their Master along with the incredible new treasures that even they had yet to fully understand. And as His disciples, who were taught first hand, they were also going to be the ones sent by their Lord and King to convey these truths to others with full authority and inspired accuracy.

Jesus told His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:25–26, NASB95) Jesus knew that there was much to share, but He also knew the His Father through the power of the Spirit would make sure that this information was not only remembered, but was remembered accurately.

Consider the words of Peter, who years later would write, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:16–21, NASB95)

Paul, who was not one of the original disciples, but who Jesus called and personally set aside for ministry wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NASB95) The word translated “inspired” is the Greek word “theopneustos,” and it literally means as we find in other translations “God-breathed” (NIV) or “breathed out by God” (ESV).

God’s Word is given to us, both Old and New Testaments as His inspired Word without error in the original writings. It is the complete revelation of God of His will for the salvation of mankind, and it is the final authority for all Christian faith and life. It is not just a good book. It is not just something to influence how we live or what we do. It is not to be picked through and selectively adhered to as one feels comfortable.

Some might respond, “Well that may very well be the case, but how do we know what we have today is really what God said?” In response to this there are many arguments, but consider first of all the question, “If God was powerful enough to create all the exists, and if He was powerful enough to do all that Scripture says He did, then why would He not be powerful enough to protect what He said?” But if you want to dig deeper, I’ve included the link to an excellent Focus on the Family article which you might further consider to help answer questions concerning the reliability of the Bible. Is The Bible Reliable?

One of these eyewitnesses, the apostle John, wrote at the crucifixion of Jesus, “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”” (John 19:35–37, NASB95) In this statement concerning our Savior’s death on the cross, John reminds us that this fulfillment of God’s salvation for all was a fulfillment of words He had spoken through His prophets in years past.

And as the ones personally selected by Jesus, the Son of God, these men proved along with the prophets to be the foundation through whom our faith was revealed. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,” (Ephesians 2:19–21, NASB95)

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