Today as my family and I studied scripture and observed Shabbat, Matthew 20 spoke to me in a way that it had never spoken before. So I’m here because this is a must share. It is something I believe has been missing from Hebrew and other doctrines for a very long time.
On this walk, it is easy to get lost in religion and cultural ideologies that are foreign to the way of the people and Word of Yahuah our Elahim. We are so deeply embedded in the gentile way of life that, even when we try our hardest not to, we think and function in their ways. We miss out on the simple truths and themes conveyed in scripture repeatedly. This is especially true when we attempt to merge previous religious beliefs, such as our Christian doctrine, with scripture and Hebraic culture as we try to reclaim our identity.
I’ve asked this question before, “What is it that Isreal was called to do?” What are we chosen for? For me, over time the answers to these questions have become more specific. Today the answer is ever clear.
As we studied Matthew 20, the Kingdom parable gave me crystal clear clarity. In addition to the questions of Israel’s purpose, it answered another question. What is the key thing that will ultimately distinguish Israel from others? But before I answer that question let’s talk about Matthew 20.
The Parable of Labor
In verses 1 through 16, we are taught a parable about the Kingdom where a man went out early in the morning and he hired laborers to work in his vineyard. The man agrees with the laborers early in the morning to work in the vineyard for one penny for the entire day. As the day goes on, the vineyard owner notices that others are in need of work as well. So he offers them work in the vineyard. He doesn’t tell them how much he’ll pay them he just agrees that he will do the right thing in regards to payment. He does the same thing in the sixth hour and in the ninth hour and then again in the 11th hour. So when evening came the vineyard owner called in the laborers and he called the last ones in first and the first ones last. He gives them all one penny. But when the laborers who had gone there early in the morning saw this they were upset. They had worked all day long in the sun and earned the same as others who worked fewer hours in better conditions. When the landowner hears their complaints, he asked a simple question. “How have I wronged YOU?” He says, “I’ve given you what we agreed to. Why should it matter what I have given someone else? Why should you be upset that I have paid a penny for only a few hours of work?” Essentially, the landowner conveys it’s his money and he can choose how to spend it.
So, the lesson in verses 1 through 16 is that the Kingdom of Heaven exists where the King is no respecter of persons nor a respecter of time. This King chooses how to expend his own resources and to whom. He also has determined that it is just for the last to be first and the first to be last. Likewise, he determined it is just for many to be called but only a few to be chosen.
His Cup & His Baptism
Now it would seem that the verses that followed are unrelated to the message given in the parable but let’s continue to read through it to see what the message here truly is.
After he teaches this parable, Yeshua goes up to Jerusalem with his 12 disciples and he warns them that he’ll be betrayed and condemned to death and that he would be delivered to the gentiles to be mocked, scorned and crucified but on the third day, he would rise again.
Again it appears that the story shifts to another unrelated subject.
Sons of Zebedee
The mother of Zebedee’s children went to Yeshua and ask if her two sons could sit to his left into his right in the Kingdom but Yeshua said “You don’t know what you’re asking?” and he asked the two brothers Are you able to drink from the cup that I drink from and willing to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” The brother said they were. Yeshua tells them “Indeed you shall drink of my cup and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with but as to sit on my right hand or on my left hand is only my Father’s to determine. He chooses who shall sit where. He has already prepared a place for his people.”
The interesting thing about where this story goes next is that the other 10 disciples are offended by what this woman did. Yeshua explains to them the whole point of this article. He tells the disciples that the sons of Zebedee have been raised up gentile and because they have been raised up gentile their understanding is not Hebraic. He goes on to say “But it is not so among you but whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister and whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.”
He makes a comparison between Gentilism and Hebraism in verses 25 and 26 through 28.
|Gentile Way||Hebrew Way|
|25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes (rulers) of the Gentiles exercise dominion (controlling power or subjection) over them, and they that are great exercise authority (wield power) upon them.||26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant); 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (slave): 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto(served), but to minister (serve), and to give his life a ransom for many.|
What’s the difference?
First, the gentile way of leadership is rulership and not leadership at all. The way of the Hebrew is servant leadership, a term used in management to describe a leadership style where leaders work for those they lead to ensure they have the tools and support necessary to carry out their respective functions. Yeshua explains this distinction and tells the ten disciples, having been accustomed to the Hebrew way, they should not be offended by the request made by the sons of Zebedee’s mom. In other words, that’s just not how it works in Hebraic and scriptural law. She’s looking for a gentile-like power, but asking for her sons’ self-sacrifice, hence he says, “You do not know what it is you’re asking for.” He goes on to tell them that they are asking for the right to suffer like him, not knowing what their reward will be just as in the kingdom parable. The first group of laborers worked hard all day knowing exactly what they would be paid. The others worked having no idea what their reward would be. This would be the case for the sons of Zebedee!
See the reign of God’s chosen people, Israel, is not about their control but about their sacrifice. That is their willingness and ability to lead all people to know righteousness by sacrificing their own comfort and lives in order to show others the character of their God and Father, Yahua. As Yeshua stated in Matthew 20:28, this was his cup and baptism – it’s what he had to do for those over whom he would reign and what we have to do for those over whom we’ll reign.
What’s Israel’s Purpose?
There are a whole bunch of children of Zebedee running around claiming to be children of God. Today, I submit to them, and to you, that to be a child of God you must forfeit the ways of the gentiles, accepting that to reign, to be kings and queens, we must be ready and willing to die for those whom we are “greater than”. You must forfeit the ideals that you’ve adopted from other cultures and religions. You must reexamine your assumptions about scripture.
Should women teach? Should they speak? Should we lead? Will “white people” be our slaves in the Kingdom? Will we, as God’s chosen people, have dominion over gentiles or will we destroy the gentiles? Are the ideals of authority and leadership based on control, subjection, and oppression? Is this the way of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Or have we adopted all these which are but the result of one’s own ego hungry for control and power over others – poisoned by the same potion which infected the nations that enslaved us? Isn’t this the same which drives gentile culture? Does this look anything like your Hebrew culture and your God?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This revenge that some of us seek is indeed insanity. We crave to repeat the history of subjection, oppression, sexism, classism, and slavery upon others who we have personally deemed less than us rather it be women, children, people of other faiths, or people of other races and nations. At what point do we ask ourselves if our all-knowing omnipresent omnipotent God what repeat history again in order to free humanity from our own error and dysfunction? To think that these prejudices we perpetuate are scriptural, Hebraic, or anything other than gentile is absurd.
Indeed, many who believe they are sons of God or sons of Zebedee, entrenched in the gentile ways of dominion and control, even while fighting to be redeemed from it and to come into their own God-given and appointed identity.
What Sets Israel Apart?
My prayer today is that we all receive the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven which is indeed this – Israel will break the cycle of humanity’s insanities by allowing Hebraic leadership to function in them. It is this servant leadership that sets us apart from the rest of the world. We, the children of God, have been made set apart living only under the rule and structure of the true and only living God. Where ranking is not of control, nor respective of individual physical characteristics, but who’s ranking is according to one’s willingness to self-sacrifice on behalf of the redemption, salvation, and protection of others for whom God has also prepared a place.
If God is love, then to die for others is to live for Him.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. – John 15:13