The Bible is full of mysteries…or so it seems. Here is one that I found today.
Matthew 8:11-12 -"And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12-But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Does verse 12 say “The children of heaven shall be cast into outer darkness…cast into hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth?”
We’ve been taught from the Bible that heaven is the place for God’s children. Jesus said, in Matthew 19:14 – "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
The mystery of Matthew 8 and verse 12 then begs the question, “Is God planning to throw His children (or some of them) out of heaven and cast them into hell…or is He planning to send little children spoken of in Matthew 19:14 by Jesus Himself into a place of hell….eternal torment?
If so, God is cruel. If not, who is Jesus speaking about? Who are these “children of heaven" who will be cast out of heaven and into the place of outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth?
There is a reason why many men and women feel that some or all of God's Word is "a mystery".They do not understand the Word of God because they don’t get into it to study it, so how can they expect to understand it?
I’m including born-again Christians in this category. They don't take the time to know the God who made them. They make the choice NOT to study God's Word...the Bible. They are "too busy"...you know, work, the kids..other stuff. Yet, the most important relationship we can ever hope to have is between us and God. He wants to know us better. How do we get to know Him better? He wrote us all a "love letter" called the Bible.
Beyond these born-again believers, there are those who have never trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior…the “unsaved”, and they, too, will never know the “mysteries of God” because they need to first believe that Jesus came to earth as our Christmas present from God. Then, if they believe, and trust Christ as Lord and Savior, they can then get into His Word and know the "Mysteries of the Faith".
Jesus came to earth to become the blood sacrifice for your sins and mine. He is the Son of God, and died on a cross of suffering and shame in our place.
He was raised again on the third day…as He said He would be, to show us that He can also raise us from the dead at the appointed time…in what is called “The Rapture” of the saints. He also can forgive us of our sins because He paid for them.
That said, there are reasons that the apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians, Chapter Two…as to why God’s Word would be a mystery to most.
Let’s go there for a moment. There, we can begin to unravel what is perceived to be a mystery in God's Word. There are NO mysteries, by the way.
Verse 6 –“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7-No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.”
In plain English, Paul tells us that God speaks a message of wisdom among the mature. The mature are those who bother to get into His Word to study it…to get to understand God and to build a relationship with Him that will benefit us greatly.
Paul reminds us that this wisdom is not the wisdom that the world has to offer…as smart as the rulers in powerful positions (political leaders as well as some spiritual leaders) think they are. All of their wisdom will come to nothing…no gain in the end. These brilliant minds will also perish into this place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Gnashing of teeth indicates extreme torment, pain and anguish.
Paul continues in verse 7 to tell us that instead of man’s wisdom, we are to learn of God’s wisdom…a “secret wisdom” that brilliant man cannot begin to comprehend because they choose to do things their way, and not His way.
The ways and thoughts of these intellectuals are foolish, and it will cost them eternity in a place of torment later…in the end.
Paul goes on to instruct us that the “hidden mysteries” found in God’s Word…the Bible, have been destined or “pre-planned” by God before time began and thse words of God’s wisdom would be for out glory as we study them.
So, back to the mystery of just this one little passage of the Bible found in Matthew, Chapter 8 and verses 11 and 12:
First, we need to break down verse 11: “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”
So, we know that many people will come from all corners of the earth and enter into heaven at some point in time…in the “end of time” on the planet.
We don’t yet know who these people are in verse 11, but they will be found in heaven and with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Oh, to be sure, we will discover who these people are in a short time. Hang in there.
My next question to myself was, Why did Jesus tell us that these people who come from all four corners of the earth will be in heaven with the three key Jewish leaders…Father of Israel – Abraham…and his son, Isaac…and his son, Jacob, who was re-named “Israel” by God?
What event will they all be sitting at in heaven?
To discover this, we must know our Bibles better than we do, or the mystery will always remain a mystery to us. I used to just skip over the parts of the Bible that I could not comprehend. It was just easier to pass over it in favor of letting God worrry about teaching me later on in life. Now, I refuse to pass over a "mystery scripture" because God wants us to know everything that He wrote...and why it is there.
Jesus promised His disciples something great in John 15:15. (Disciple means follower of Christ and is not interchangeable with the word apostle. His apostles were disciples, but we, as disciples are NOT apostles – read my other articles to discover those truths).
Jesus told us, “I will no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
How has Jesus made everything that He learned from God, the Father known to you and to me…if we choose to study His Words? He gave us the gift of His Holy Spirit who knows the mind and heart of God, and who has promised to show us the deeper, mysterious things of God…if we search the scriptures.
1 Corinthians 2:10 reveals this truth. “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
Knowing that, we can now go back to discover what Jesus’ goal was in Matthew chapter 8, verses 11 and 12 by gathering information in context.
I can tell you this from my experience…from my reading and understanding God’s Word…Jesus never did or said anything that was just for “kicks”. Every word that proceeded out of the mouth of Jesus had a divine purpose, and was for our instruction.
Now, lets back up a few verses in Matthew 8 to verse 5 -“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a Centurion, beseeching him.”
In plain English…a "Centurion" - a captain in the Roman army who led 83 soldiers, came to Jesus to beseech…ask a question of Him.
He was a Roman (gentile not Jew) Centurion.
Centurions came into history around 107 B.C., and at first commanded 83 men…then graduated to control one-hundred soldiers later in history.
Here’s the deal, though. Jesus knew He would be there, and He knew He would be asking a question. Jesus knows everything before it happens, so this encounter was designed to produce lessons to those who were around Him at that moment.
If we read verse 5 by itself, there is no context. It simply tells us that Jesus entered Capernaum and bumped into this one soldier.
That is why we need to discover what Jesus was up to, and who it was (other than us thousands of years later) that were supposed to see this encounter. So we go to verse one and then to verse ten.
Jesus had just given His “Sermon on the Mount” where He also fed about 15,000 people. I cover that in another article: - What Was The Significance of Jesus Feeding The 5000?
Verse 1 of Matthew 8 tells us, “When He came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.”
So, now we know that multitudes of people followed Jesus. They were NOT Gentiles. Gentiles are non-Jews. They were Jews that followed Jesus around at this point in history.
How do I know there was a great multitude of Jews following Jesus, and they would all be privy to His conversation with this Centurion?
Verse 10 clarifies and supports verse one. “When Jesus heard the Centurion tell Him something really profound, He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”
So, the Centurion approached Jesus, but this huge multitude of Jews were also gathered around – listening to every word that this “Messiah” would say.
They were truly interested in this man called Jesus because He spoke wonderful things, and He healed their sick and raised their dead, and caused their blind people to see…and they were witnesses of these “signs and wonders”.
Now we have the context and now we shall see what it was that Jesus wanted to get across to the multitude of Jews.
The Nation of Israel in history were God’s “chosen people”…His “elect”. God was their God, and they were His people. Their spiritual fathers were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Now came the Messiah who was spoken of by many Old Testament prophets, including Isaiah.
He asked the Centurion, “What is it that you want?”
Do you think for one moment that Jesus did NOT know what this Centurion wanted? Reading God's Word helps us to get to know that Jesus always did and said things for a reason.
He was about to demonstrate to this multitude of Jews - God’s "elect", that this Gentile had more faith than the Nation of Israel - God's chosen people did!
The story - this marvelous setting - unfolds in verses 6 thru 10 – The Gentile Centurion, a very brilliant man…leader of 83 toughened soldiers - a non-Jew, said, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented. 7-Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him."
Again…Jesus knew that He would not be going to the Centurion’s house to heal his servant. He knew that this Centurion would be making a statement to this huge crowd. Getting the crowd to hear his statement was the goal of Jesus.
Here is what the Centurion said, and what the multitude of Jews heard because Jesus wanted them to hear it. “But the centurion said, 'Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9-For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it.”
Jesus wanted this crowd - that also included lawyers and spiritual leaders called Pharisees and Saducees, to hear how this Gentile Centurion believed that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah. His faith was greater than theirs.
The Centurion told Jesus that, as powerful a leader as he was (like those Jewish leaders), he was not worthy to be under the same roof as this Holy One.
He also told Jesus (and the crowd) that he believed in Jesus, and that He could simply speak and his man would be healed. He knew, instinctively, that this man called Jesus was truly – “Lord”...and the Centurion addresses Jesus as Lord.
In verse 10, Jesus wanted the Jews…especially the leaders, to know a truth. He set up verses 11 and 12 with verse 10: -“Jesus marveled and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.”
Jesus wanted Israel and its leaders to understand that they were about to reject Him as their Messiah because they lacked the faith that this Gentile had, and it would cost them in the end of days.
Not only that, but they would eventually witness (or participate in) His crucifixion on a cross.
Because of their unbelief that He was their Messiah, and because of their rejection…they would be the ones who would be in heaven – with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they would be ejected from this great wedding feast where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be found.
And they - all who reject Christ in general, and the “elect”…the chosen people of God (Israel) who reject Christ would be cast out of heaven into outer darkness into a place of eternal torment called hell.
We need to visit other scripture to verify what I just said.
While another apostle…Luke, was with Jesus on their trips around the Jerusalem area, someone in one of the crowds shouted out, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"
Luke records this in Luke 13:23-29, but let’s dissect those verses, shall we?
Jesus said to them, 24-"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25-Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us. "But He will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' 26-"Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets."
Here, Jesus is telling all in the crowd…Jew and Gentile (and us thousands of years later), to make every effort to seek Him because He is the only way to get into heaven. Not many will enter therein. It is a narrow door and few there be that find it (through salvation).
You can look up all of those sayings, and you will find them in the Bible elsewhere…or Google the sayings.
Jesus told them (and us) that the owner of the house (God…the owner of heaven), will get up one day…and close the door just as He instructed Noah to do long before this time with Luke, the crowd and Jesus.
He told them (and us) once the door is closed, you will stand outside and beg God to open the door. God will answer them and say He never knew them. Then they will say, especially these Jews in the crowd who saw Jesus in the streets, and who may have sat at a table with Him….and who heard Him teach them in the streets…”Hey…it’s us…don’t you remember us?”
Luke 13: 27, “But He will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!”
When God sends them away after what is called "The Great White Throne of Judgment”, Luke tells them (and us) exactly where they will be sent. - 28 –“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29-People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Notice that Luke the apostle and a physician -(always one to pay attention to detail), told them the same thing that Matthew told them (and us) over in Matthew 8:12...the "Mystery Verse".
He said, “You will be sent to hell- a place away from God…a place of torment where there will be crying forever…grinding of teeth in torment forever…and this will happen right after you get to see your Jewish fathers…Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…and all the prophets of God who you knew of…in the Kingdom of God (heaven), and you will be thrown out of heaven." This is the same thing we were told in the mystery verse of Matthew 8:12.
Luke continues….”Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…and all the prophets whom you read about or knew, will be at the “feast” in the kingdom. Many will come to the wedding feast where Christ and His bride (the church) shall be in attendance. They will come from the east, west, north and south….all four corners of the earth to this wedding feast….but then God will see the guests (all people), and will notice that some have the proper clothing…and they will stay. Others will not be dressed properly, and they will be “cast into outer darkness.”
How do we get to know that this feast will be some sort of "wedding feast? By studying God’s Word…the Bible.
Before we get there, Paul the 12th hand-picked apostle of Jesus, tells the Jews of his time the same thing that Jesus was trying to tell them in His “Mystery verse of Matthew 8:12: -“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. – Acts 3:13.
One cannot be plainer than that. Paul tells the Jews then, and the world today…“The God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, sent His beloved and only Son…Jesus, to be your Messiah. You handed Him over to be killed, and you dis-owned my Son. Even though my Son committed no crimes, and Pilate was set to free Him, you called for my Son to be crucified.
Therefore, I now reject you…and all who reject my beloved Son whom I sent – as the Savior of all the world, and whoever believes on my Son, will inherit heaven and eternal life in it. Whoever rejects my Son, and tramples on His blood, I will reject, and cast into outer darkness.
Now let’s actually look in on that wedding feast where God and Christ, the Holy Spirit, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…all the prophets, and all who are “clothed properly” are in attendance.
Those who are not “properly clothed” shall also be there for a short time….and they will be judged by an awesome, Holy God.
Let’s visit one of those old time prophets of God -Isaiah. He wrote this to describe the clothing that will be worn at this great wedding feast:
Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
Isaiah, the prophet of God told us that the “proper clothing” at this great wedding feast in heaven will be the “clothing of salvation…a robe of righteousness”.
Now we know what the “proper clothing” will be at this great feast, but let’s go and see for ourselves exactly what that wedding will look like because God Himself will be there. He will observe everyone who is in heaven, and He will be looking at our “attire”.
We now travel over to Matthew 22, starting in verse one because I want you to know all about this wedding and who will be there.
Jesus was again in a crowd of mostly Jews and curious onlookers…and Pharisees and Saducees.
Verse 1 –“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, (a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning) and He said, 2-The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son.”
God is the king….Jesus is His beloved Son.
3-"And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.”
God Sent His servants (preachers, apostles and others) to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles when the Jews rejected their Messiah.
4-"Again, He sent forth other servants, saying, 'Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.”
The servants of God (including you and me if we are born again) were sent to tell all peoples of the earth to tell them that they, too, are welcome to come (bidden) to a great marriage feast one day…a great dinner prepared for them by God Himself.
5-"But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6-And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.”
Ah, but many made light of this invitation to the wedding. Many mocked God over the ages, and laughed at how silly this story of Jesus was, and how utterly foolish they would be if they believed this “fable”.
7-"But when the king heard thereof, He was wroth: and He sent forth His armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”
God was aware of all the guests in attendance, and He remembered all of those guests who laughed, scorned Jesus, rejected Him…crucified Him, spit in His face..beat Him nearly to death...and God, the King of Heaven, sent forth His great armies of Christans and angels alike in those last days, and He burned their cities (the earth) with fervent heat.
Read 2 Peter 3:10 –“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”
8-"Then saith God to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.”
God tells us that the wedding is ready…everyone is there to attend, but some of the ones He bid to come to it are not worthy. Let’s discover why they will be judged “not worthy”.
9-"Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10-So those servants (you and I, the prophets of God, all the apostles, preachers and evangelists down through the ages) went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.”
Notice that God tells us that everyone was invited...all people - both good and evil.
All people of the earth know about God and His Son, so all will be in attendance…both good and bad.
You will argue that not all of the people of the earth know about God. You, my friend, do not read and study your Bible. If you did, you would find this verse in Titus: Titus 2:11 - "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." Who are we that we can argue with God?
So the wedding was complete and furnished with all the guests of the earth…good people and bad people…and they would be spotted by the clothing they wore.
11-"And when the king (God) came in to see the guests, He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:”
Oh oh! God, the King of Heaven, came to the wedding to see all of the guests. He spotted a man who did not have on the proper wedding garment…the clothing of the righteousness and salvation freely offered by His beloved Son.
12-"And He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.”
God will ask each of those who are not clothed in the righteousness of His Son, “How is it that you have come to this wedding feast when you do not have my Son’s clothing of righteousness on you. Why is it that you believe I should let you into my Heaven?”
How will YOU answer God?
Notice the mans’ words back to God. Oh wait, he had no words. He was without words…speechless.
He had no excuse, and he knew it. I cannot imagine how an unsaved person can face God …knowing they rejected the blood that his Son shed on the cross for their sins…and He offered to exchange their sins for His righteousness…and they rejected Him.
This is the culmination of what Jesus said in Matthew 8:12…This is the message that Jesus wanted to tell the Jews who would reject their Messiah who stood right there in front of them.
This is why He wanted to demonstrate the Centurion’s faith to them…and to all the inhabitants of the earth. If they and we just had the faith of the Centurion…we would be clothed properly in His righteousness and we would not be thrown out into outer darkness.
Matthew 22:13 shows us that God will separate the wedding guest into two categories: Those who are properly attired in the righteousness of Jesus, and those who rejected Him.
13-"Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14-For many are called, but few are chosen.”
And so the mystery of Matthew 8:12 is resolved.
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John Tyler, Author of nine books.
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