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Thoughts on Matthew 10:21

From the Desk of Steven Hauer

A member of our congregation came to me recently and asked me to shine a light on a particular passage of Scripture. He is estranged from his daughter and had met a brother in the Lord who was going through the same thing with his God-daughter. He felt that Matthew 10:21 was a verse that was appropriate to the situation. But he was looking for some insight to help him understand the Lord’s encouragement and something to help both him and his friend cope with this painful situation.

Matthew 10:21 (NABre) says: "Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.” This is indeed an ominous saying. Keeping in mind that when Yeshua speaks, He is referencing something that came before, from the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible). So, let’s take a closer look at the prophets.

This saying is an echo of Micah 7:6 (NABre) For the son belittles his father, the daughter rises up against her mother, The daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and your enemies are members of your household."

In the case of Matthew, Yeshua is speaking directly to the 12 chosen to be apostles as He is giving them instruction on how to behave, and what they will encounter when they go out to the nation of Israel. He is sending them to begin their work as evangelists for the kingdom of heaven/God. To understand this verse, we need to put it in its appropriate context by reading all of chapter 10. There we find the conditions under which the apostles will be carrying out their ministry.

In Micah 7, the prophet is saying much the same thing, listing he conditions that will exist at a future time because of Israel’s sins, turning from God, not following His instructions (Torah), etc.

As the apostles were sent to preach the imminence of the kingdom they would be sure to encounter the attitudes foretold in Micah. This may not have been their immediate experience but, as they continued after Yeshua’s resurrection it is most certain that they would meet with this kind of response.

So, how does this apply to us and our family relationships? I think the same may be true for all of us. We live in a pagan land, not Israel, and we are likely to find many in the general population who are not willing to turn to the Lord and His Word. For some of us, our family members may be a part of this group. Individual situations may even escalate to the kinds of behavior mentioned in both the writings of the prophets and the writings of the apostles.

Yeshua explains further that as His disciples, we should expect this to happen, even in our own families. But, He also assures us that as long as we are focused on Him, our reward is assured. Any suffering we endure will be short relative to eternity in His presence. He is our hope in salvation. When our family members put up walls to keep us out, treat us unkindly, cutting us off from them and others, we need to remember that Yeshua is not only our hope, but our advocate. There is little we can do to fix the situation. We cannot force others to accept us or Him and it is not our responsibility to save them. That is Yeshua’s job. He calls us to be examples, living a life of testimony to His mercy, grace, and holiness. Walk in the light of Yeshua and others will be drawn to the light.

It is my desire that you find comfort in Yeshua’s assurance.

Blessings and Shalom,

Issachar Community


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