Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, September 22, 2019
Many thanks to Raymond Finney for this submission.
Yeshua’s End-time Parables (No. 2): Parable of the Talents
INTRODUCTION: This parable is the second of Yeshua’s end-time parables recorded in Matthew, chapter 25. Please read the entire parable (Matthew 25:14-30).
In this parable, Yeshua taught about using God-given gifts for the Kingdom of God. In this translation, “talent” (from the Greek talanton) does not refer to an entertainment skill. It refers to a sum of money (a weight of precious metal). Yeshua also taught a similar parable in Luke 19:11-27, the parable of the minas. You may need saintly perseverance, if you try to convert talents or minas to modern weights. Different Bible students offer different thoughts.
Why do Matthew and Luke record different weights? Did Yeshua tell the parables to different audiences, using talents for one and minas for the other? The actual weight is unimportant to the heart of the parable. In either parable, the master entrusted significant sums of wealth to his servants, just as our Master Yeshua entrusts great wealth to us, His servants.
SYNOPSIS OF PARABLE: The kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country. He called his servants together and distributed his wealth among them. Consider these verses:
** (John 14:2b-3): [Yeshua said] “… I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Yeshua has gone to a “far country” (Heaven), and He called His disciples to hear His explanation in order that all future generations of Believers may know it.
** (Acts 1:8-9): [Yeshua said] “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
** (1 Corinthians, chapters 12 and 13): Some of the Holy Spirit’s gifts given to Believers are listed. Paul divided his list with this verse (1 Corinthians 12:31): But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. Then, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, which is his eloquent, oft-quoted chapter on a more excellent way (a more excellent gift)– love.
Love is the best gift provided for a Believer. Yeshua’s ministry was based on love. He taught:
** The greatest commandment: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37 quoting Deuteronomy 6:5);
** The next greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39 quoting Leviticus 19:18b); and
** A commandment for all Believers: Love each other, as you love the Father and Yeshua. (John 17:23, and the entire seventeenth chapter of John): [Yeshua prayed to the Father] “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
A Believer must love: (1) God in all three Persons, (2) his/ her neighbors (even strangers), and (3) fellow Believers in HaMashiach’s Body (worshipers in churches and synagogues).
In the parable, the master gave talents– one, two, and five talents– to three servants. These servants represent Believers in Yeshua. Two servants put the wealth to work in the community around them in the master’s absence. The servant with five talents earned five more; the servant with two talents earned two more. The servant with one talent dug a hole and buried his talent for safe-keeping.
When the master returned, he demanded an accounting. The two profitable servants were praised (Matthew 25:21 and 25:23): “… ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”
The servant who hid his talent and earned nothing was condemned by his master (Matthew 25:26-29): “… ‘You wicked and lazy servant,…. [Y]ou ought to have deposited my money,… and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.’”
Yeshua continued with the master’s condemnation of the lazy servant (Matthew 25:29): “‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.’”
Then, Yeshua described the ultimate fate of an unprofitable servant (Matthew 25:30): “‘And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Yeshua used a place of darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth to describe Hell (see Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, and 24:51 and Luke 13:28). Does it seem that Yeshua is serious about us working for the Kingdom of God?
Yeshua will return in the clouds (the Resurrection/ Rapture). He will demand an accounting of investment of gifts He has entrusted to us (Bema Judgment, Judgment Seat of HaMashiach).
COMMENTS: Please consider a few comments about this parable:
On August 4, 2019, I wrote a RR titled, “… After This the Judgment….” In that RR, I discussed the Bema Judgment (the Judgment Seat of HaMashiach). In my opinion, this judgment is second only to salvation in importance for a Believer’s eternal life.
As a brief review, there is an inevitable pattern for every person– death, followed by judgment of the person’s earthly life (see Hebrews 9:27). For persons who will ultimately go to Heaven, there is the Bema Judgment; for persons who will ultimately go to Hell, the Great White Throne Judgment. The Great White Throne Judgment (see Revelation 20:11-15) will occur approximately one-thousand years after the Bema Judgment.
There is only one verdict of the Bema Judgment: NOT GUILTY, because the penalty we should pay has been paid for us by Yeshua, and the Believer has accepted Yeshua’s gift of His blood sacrifice on Golgotha’s cross. There is only one verdict of the Great White Throne Judgment: GUILTY, because the non-Believer has not accepted Yeshua’s gift of His blood sacrifice on Golgotha’s cross. A person must put faith into action to accept God’s grace!
The Bema Judgment is described by Paul (see Romans 14:10c, 12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Life’s works (deeds, speech, actions) will be judged by Yeshua Himself. Good works in Yeshua’s name and built on the foundation He laid down for us will be judged, as well as bad (or no) works.
We all have opportunities; we all have gifts of the Holy Spirit to work for good. All who appear at the Bema Judgment will enter Heaven. A personal decision to accept God’s grace through Yeshua’s sacrificial death has written that person’s name in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and his/ her entry into Heaven for eternity is assured.
Some persons at the judgment have good works, and they will be awarded “crowns.” They can proudly cast their crowns before Yeshua in appreciation of the Heaven they will enjoy.
Other persons at the judgment have bad works or no works, and they will not be awarded “crowns.” They cannot cast crowns before Yeshua in appreciation of the Heaven they will enjoy. They will be ashamed that they have done so little for a Savior who died for their sins and secured their place in Heaven.
The value of the work is unimportant, provided a person does the best he/ she can, given his/ her opportunities in life. Yeshua praised the poor widow for the small offering she gave, because it was all she had (see Mark 12:41-44). In this Parable of the Talents, the master praised both servants– the one who earned five talents and the one who earned two talents. They both worked diligently. One gained more because he started with more wealth (more gifts, more opportunities for a Believer). Even a cup of water given to a small child in Yeshua’s name does not go unnoticed (see Matthew 10:42).
Some Believers get confused and misinterpret Scriptures. They claim all they need to enter Heaven is faith. These lazy, self-satisfied Believers feel they do not need to “show off” by doing work for the Lord. I tried (tongue in cheek) one summer to have faith the Lord would mow my yard for me. After two or three weeks, my wife “suggested” I get behind the mower and mow the yard. My pushing the mower seemed to make my faith stronger, and my yard looked much nicer.
Read the short Epistle of James. Yeshua’s half-brother, James, wrote eloquently about the relationship of faith and works. James wrote (James 2:14-17): What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Works in Yeshua’s name must be made in the proper manner. Read Matthew 23:1-12 in which Yeshua told us to exalt God, not oneself. To work solely to gain the acclaim of others is to preen in public as did the Pharisees. Yeshua told us (Matthew 6:18b) that God, who sees a person’s good works in private, will reward that person openly.
IS YOUR FINGERPRINT A SIGN FROM GOD THAT YOU ARE UNIQUE AND SPECIAL TO HIM? I am a retired physician. I spent a lifetime studying the human body. I have always been impressed that we are all unique individuals in many ways.
For example, no one now has or has ever had your DNA (chromosomal) pattern. Even monozygotic (identical) twins have subtle DNA differences. A mother can tell identical twins apart just from their looks.
There are many other differences in humans that make each person unique, but you do not have access to laboratories to observe these differences. But, you can look at your fingertips. Fingerprints– pressure ridges– on your fingertips are the skin ridges and valleys arranged in whorls, loops, and arches. These prints are unique. No person has your prints. It is estimated that there is a 1 in 64-billion chance that two persons would have identical prints. (There are less than 8-billion persons in the world.)
What love God has expended on His children! A person’s fingerprints begin developing in his/ her mother’s womb, calling to mind David’s psalm (Psalm 139:13-15a): For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret,….
I do not know why God does what He does, but I like to think fingerprints are a sign. God gave Noah and future generations a rainbow as a sign that He would never flood the earth again (see Genesis 9:13-17). A person needs only to look at his/ her fingerprints to know that he/ she is unique in God’s eyes. If a unique creation, each person also has a unique calling for his/ her life.
If God calls you for a task and you ignore His calling, you fail Him. You should jump at any opportunity to serve God. Serve with gladness and give it your best effort. Always serve the Lord with joy (see Psalms 4:7, 32:11, 45:15a, 51:8, 100:2a; Proverbs 10:1; Jeremiah 33:11; Matthew 5:12; Acts 2:46; Hebrews 1:9; 1 Peter 4:13; and other verses). Why is it joy to work for God? Rejoice that God has chosen you for a task, a task for which you may earn a crown or other reward in Heaven. The more you are willing to work, the greater is the possibility you may some day hear Yeshua say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I like to think that I carry a sign from God in my fingertips to remind me that I am special and unique to God, even though persons in the world may not have such a good opinion of me. If God loves me, why should I care whether others love me? See Romans 8:31b: …If God is for us, who can be against us?
I climb on a limb with this idea: The tallit has fringes (tassels, twisted threads, tzitzit) on its four corners. Each fringe has a configuration of knots and strings to total in Jewish gematriya 613, 613 being the number of mitzvahs in Judaism. (Mitzvahs = commandments in Jewish law.) The LORD instructed Moses to place these fringes on the four corners of garments (see Numbers 15:37-40; Deuteronomy 22:12).
An explanation has been suggested that the hands would brush across the tzitzit during walking to remind the tallit wearer of God’s commandments. Should we also be reminded that the uniqueness of the tallit wearer, represented by fingerprints, comes in contact with the commandments of a unique God, represented by the tzitzit?A unique man or woman, partnering with unique God, may accomplish much. In this parable, the master, supplied his wealth and partnered with profitable servants to gain more wealth. Yeshua, through His wealth and through gifts of the Holy Spirit, partners with profitable servants (you?) to gain for His Kingdom.
Your unique fingerprints are signs from God that you are unique and special in His eyes. He has tasks for you, tasks that are especially meant for you. Be profitable and accept your tasks (your opportunities) with joy. Well done, good and faithful servant!
Father: Thank you for all You have done for us. We know You are all-powerful. You need nothing from us. Thank you, however, that you love us enough that you want us to help in Your kingdom. Our meager efforts are but a small repayment for Your gifts to us. May we shoulder such tasks with enthusiasm and joy. May we work to the best of our abilities. May we never seek the praise of our neighbors. May we, instead, seek only Your praise. Amen.