On Thursday, several of our pastors and I were invited to attend and celebrate Israel’s 68th Independence Day with the Jewish community. If my memory serves me well, this is probably the 6th or 7th time that I’ve attended one of these functions, but this time it was a little different.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a growing number of prominent Christians present and the role they play in the support of Israel, which is heartening. Now you might have a different opinion on the matter from me but personally, I believe that one of the reasons why Singapore has been so blessed as a nation and in such a short span of time, has to do with the fact that our nation has always been friendly towards Israel and in many ways, a blessing to her.
The Lord promised many centuries ago, through the Patriarch Abraham and said to him, “Whoever blesses you, I will bless; whoever curses you, I will curse.” Gen 12:3 Without any fear of exaggeration, one of the key reasons for God’s continual favour over Singapore is because of our warm ties with Israel. I personally believe that the Jewish person who has crossed your path is not an accident. It was Winston Churchill who once said that no thoughtful man can deny the fact that the Jews are, beyond any question, the most formidable and remarkable race in the world.
In Matthew 25, we find a cluster of three parables, all having a common thread. Basically, they give us an idea of what we’re to expect when Jesus returns, how He’ll judge the Church and nations and how He rewards them as well. The parables are addressed to three different groups of people. Now the people in all the parables seemingly believed the same things, so it’s not a matter of what we believe in this instance. Is that important? Definitely yes! But in this scenario, it’s not what we believe but what we do with what we believe. It’s important what we do because one of the questions we’ll be asked on that Day is what we did with the life He gave us. And heaven forbid that we reply – do what?
The first parable is the Parable of the 10 Virgins and this parable is addressed to the Church. In the parable, all the virgins wanted to be part of the wedding. But we’re told that five were wise and five were foolish. Now all 10 virgins, which is a type of the believer in Scripture, slept. So we must watch the spirit of slumber. Then we’re introduced to the third group of people in the story – the cry of the midnight caller: “Behold the bridegroom is coming.” They’re not asleep. Now the wise ones had oil in their lamps. In other words, they had reserves. So it’s wisdom for us to be prepared.
Now why did the wise virgins prepare and take oil? Because they didn’t know when the Master was coming back, and so prepared themselves. The foolish virgins thought that He was coming back immediately and did not prepare. All the virgins believed in the bridegroom and all believed that He was coming back. One group prepared for it, but not the other. The lack of preparedness cost them everything.
The second parable is the Parable of the Talents and this parable is directed to the servants of the Lord – the ministers of the Gospel. And it’s about productiveness. The master had entrusted his business to three servants. A talent in those days was quite a sum of money. The first servant makes five talents from the five he was given and was richly rewarded. The second servant made two talents and he too was richly rewarded. But the third servant didn’t do anything with his talent. He didn’t lose the talent; he didn’t steal it; he didn’t waste it; he didn’t consume it. He just didn’t bother to use it. And what happened to him? He’s cast into outer darkness. That’s not a nice place to be for eternity.
The third parable is an actual scenario. It’s more an account of how the Lord will judge the nations when He returns. We’re told that when Jesus returns to this planet, He’s going to return to His throne in Jerusalem, not Canterbury, Tulsa, or Springfield. The nations are gathered before Him and He’ll separate the nations as a man separates sheep from the goats. And what’s the criterion of separation? On what basis is the Lord going to judge and separate the nations? The answer to that is how we treat the least of His brethren. Make no mistake about it, His brethren here is a direct reference to the Jewish people.
There’s no ambiguity about this. How we treat the Jew is going to be the plumb-line, the yardstick of measurement to how He’ll treat and reward us. We’re blessed as we bless Israel, and vice versa. How we treat the Jewish people is one of the plumb-lines that God is establishing in His Church today, much like the “Hyper Grace Message”, “Prosperity Gospel”, or LGBT issues. It’d be good for us to remember those haunting words by the German Theologian, Martin Niemoller who wrote those oft quoted words directed to the complacent onlookers as Hitler’s Nazis unleashed terror and destruction upon the human race, starting with the Jews. He wrote and I quote, “First, they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong