MATTHEW 10:23

"YOU WILL NOT FINISH GOING THROUGH THE CITIES OF ISRAEL BEFORE THE SON OF MAN COMES"

[Mt 10:23]:

[Jesus said to His disciples, (Ref. v. 1)]:

"When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another, I tell you the truth, you [the disciples, (v. 1)] will not finish going through the cities of Israel [preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God is at hand, i.e., imminently ready to begin upon their acceptance of Jesus Christ as Messiah, (v. 6-7)] before the Son of Man [the Lord Jesus Himself] comes."

"you will not finish going through the cities of Israel" = "you" refers to our Lord's disciples at the time of His earthly ministry, (v. 1).

"will not finish going through the cities of Israel [proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, (vv. 6-7)] = Notice that application cannot be made to another time since it is limited in context to the disciples' ministry of bringing the gospel of the kingdom of heaven exclusively to the cities of Israel and nowhere else, (v. 5).

Our Lord had commissioned them to proclaim to Israel that upon Israel's acceptance of Him as their Messiah He would usher in His Kingdom right then and there:

OUR LORD'S IMMINENT PROMISE TO BRING IN THE KINGDOM

During our Lord's earthly ministry, before His death, burial and resurrection, the message proclaiming the kingdom was preached, stipulating that if Israel trusted in their Messiah Jesus, our Lord would bring in the kingdom as promised before the church was even formed. At this time the church was not yet in view. The disciples themselves were Jews at this time and not Christians. They were not yet part of the church.

[Mt 3:1-2, 6-8]:

(v. 1) "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the desert in Judea and saying,

(v. 2) 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven, [the eternal rule of God in heaven over the earth, Dan 2:34-36, 44-45] is at hand [is imminent].

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" =

"at hand" = imminently ready to begin]

This passage is speaking about the Jewish people, (compare Isa 40:1-3 & Mt 3:3), who came to John the Baptist in order to come to a point of repentance relative to faith in the coming Messiah for their entrance into the kingdom of God.

[Compare Jn 1:29-31]:

(v. 29) '''The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!

[Had the nation Israel accepted our Lord as Messiah and Savior, then the cross and the kingdom would have been imminent & without 2000 years of church age. But this is not what the Bible predicts would happen: The offer to Israel of the Kingdom through faith alone unto salvation in the Messiah was made and rejected. Our Lord then changed the direction of His gospel of eternal life, and began to establish the foundation of the church through which the Gospel message would then be carried to the world. The Mosaic Law Age was thereby abruptly interrupted in its 383rd year with 7 years left to be fulfilled in the future, (Dan 9:24-27). The once for all time sacrifice for sins was then made - the basis for eternal life for both Jew and Gentile - followed by 2000 years of the church age.

After the rapture of the church there will be a resumed period of time when Israel will finally accept their Messiah: the last 7 years of the Age of the Mosaic Law - the Tribulation period, (Dan 7:25, 12:ALL, 2 Thes 4:13-18, Rev 12:ALL)]

[Jn 1:29-31 cont.]:

[So John the Baptist continues to describe Israel's Messiah to the nation Israel]:

(v. 30) This is the One I meant when I said, 'A Man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.'

[A GodMan Who comes after me in time -has surpassed me because He was before me - being God, He is eternal]

(v. 31) I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel."

[Notice that John's water baptism ministry focused on the nation Israel. And John testified that his water baptism had something to do with the revelation to Israel of the Messiah Jesus Christ - that He was the Lamb of God Who came to take away the sin of the world.

Every Jew in the nation of Israel who had trusted in the Messiah to come at that time indicated this trust by going to John the Baptist and receiving John's water baptism. So what were those people who were baptized in John's baptism saying then? That they had been united to Christ as part of the church? Obviously not! That wasn't the issue! What they were saying with the Baptism of John was that they were ready to be identified with the Messiah Savior and the offer of His Kingdom - His earthly Kingdom. In other words, the Millennium was ready to be inaugurated right then 2000 years ago! It was only waiting upon the acceptance of the Jewish people of the King which God had provided: God Himself, God the Son, the One Who was born on that first Christmas day and Who now had grown to Manhood and had just begun His ministry... ...John's baptism was...... a religious rite for Jews only, signifying confession of sin and commitment to a holy life in the anticipation of the coming Messiah [Mt 3:6-8]. It never occurred outside of Israel! No one hearing John preach asked him what he was talking about relative to the kingdom of heaven, for the concept of Messiah's rule over the kingdom of earth was a common thread in Old Testament prophesy. The requirement for the Messiah's coming was that the nation Israel repent.. [i.e., trust alone in the Messiah alone for eternal life and not in their heritage through Abraham: Mt 3:1-2, 8-10]"

When Christ appeared to the Jewish people, the next event in prophesy as they understood it should have been the setting up of the Davidic kingdom with their Messiah as King. Even our Lord's disciples understood it this way:

[Mt 24:3]:

"And as He [Jesus, (v. 1)] was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"

At the time of John the Baptist the Lord Jesus Christ also baptized Israelites in the Jordan River and preached the same message as John the Baptist: the message of the good news of the kingdom of heaven for Israel for those who trust in Him as Messiah for eternal life in the kingdom:

[Mt 4:17]:

"From that time on [from the time when John the Baptist was imprisoned, Mt 4:12-16] Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. ' " Cp. Mt 9:35-38; Mk 1:14; Lk 4:43-44.

[Mk 6:6b-12]:

(v. 6b) "Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.

(v. 7) Calling the Twelve to Him, He sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.

(v. 8) These were His instructions: 'Take nothing for the journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.

(v. 9) Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.

[Notice that the context of this passage indicates local towns - WITHIN JUDEA - WITHIN ISRAEL]

(v. 10) Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.

(v. 11) And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.'

(v. 12) They went out and preached that people should repent."

And in the parallel passage in Matthew, our Lord issues the following instructions to His disciples:

[Mt 10:5-7]:

(v. 5) '''These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.

(v. 6) Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.

(v. 7) As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' " '''

"The kingdom of heaven is near [i.e., imminent, at hand]" =

"near" = "eggiken" = caused to approach, to draw near, i.e., imminent, ready to be ushered in.

Notice that our Lord commanded His disciples NOT to preach the gospel of the kingdom to Gentiles. The message was exclusively for the nation Israel - if they accept Him as their Messiah our Lord was ready, right then and there, to bring in the millennial kingdom. So the water baptisms that our Lord had His disciples perform were for the same symbolic purpose as the baptisms that John the Baptist performed: identification by each individual Jew with the nation Israel and with the bringing in of the kingdom by trusting in the Messiah Jesus Christ:

[Jn 4:1-2]:

(v. 1) "The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John,

(v. 2) although in fact it was not Jesus Who baptized, but His disciples."

[Jn 3:22-36]:

(22) '''After this, Jesus and His disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where He spent some time with them, and baptized.

(v. 23) Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized.

(v. 26) They [some of John's disciples] came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man Who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the One you testified about - well, He is baptizing, and everyone is going to Him."

(v. 27) To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given Him from heaven.

(v. 28) You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of Him.'

(v. 29) The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for Him, and is full of joy when he he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

(v. 30) He must become greater; I must become less." '''

So John the Baptist testifies here that the Messiah, Whom he announced as the "Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world", (Jn 1:29), is here, ready to usher in His kingdom. Our Lord also preaches to and water baptizes individuals of Israel so that they would "repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". Messiah's kingdom is imminent and only awaits Israel's changing its mind and accepting Christ as Savior and Messiah.

[Mt 10:23 cont.]:

[Jesus said to His disciples, (ref. v. 1)]:

"When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another, I tell you the truth, you [the disciples, (v. 1)] will not finish going through the cities of Israel [preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God is at hand, i.e., imminently ready to begin upon their acceptance of Jesus Christ as Messiah, (v. 6-7)] before the Son of Man [the Lord Jesus Himself] comes."

"before the Son of Man comes" = Before the Lord Jesus Christ makes His triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the Son of Man - as the Messiah of Israel - in order, upon being accepted by the nation Israel, to bring in the Kingdom as their King.

"the Son of Man" = Our Lord often refers to Himself as the Son of Man.

[Compare Mt 8:19-20]:

(v. 19) "And a certain scribe came and said to Him, [Jesus, (v. 18)], 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.'

(v. 20) And Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

[Compare Mt 12:8]:

Our Lord is answering the Pharisees accusations that Jesus was breaking the Sabbath. He answers authoritatively as the Lord of the Sabbath:

"For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

And Old Testament Scripture clearly portrays the Son of Man as the GodMan who will reign over His kingdom on the earth:

Consider what Scripture defines as the meaning of the term: 'Son of Man'.

C.I. Scofield states in footnote #4 in the Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible, NIV,

C. I. Scofield, Editor, Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 819:

"The expression 'son of man' is a common Semitic way of indicating an individual man (Ps. 4:2; 57; 4; 58:1; 144:3; Jer 49:18, 33; 50:40; 51:43). God addresses Ezekial about ninety times by this title. In Dan. 7:13 the term is used to show that an actual man [Who is at the same time God] will come in the clouds of heaven to receive a worldwide kingdom. From this use in Daniel it came to refer to the glorious Messiah [Who is defined in Scripture as God Himself], and in such a sense Jesus utilized it calling Himself 'the Son of man eighty times in the Gospels."

[Notice: singular + THE = definite article = THE unique - one and only - Son of man singular: indicating Diety]

[Compare Jn 9:35-38]:

(v. 35) "Jesus heard that they had put him

["him" = the blind man who was healed by Jesus]

(v. 35 cont.) "Jesus heard that they had put him out [of the Temple]; and finding him, He said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?

(v. 36) He answered and said, 'And Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?

(v. 37) Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him, and He is the One Who is talking with you.'

(v. 38) And he said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshipped Him.' "

So the man who was given sight recognized that the One Who claims to be the Son of Man is to be worshipped. And the blind man who was Jewish, (v. 35), knew full well that only God is to be worshipped. The term 'the Son of Man' when it refers to our Lord in Scripture means God the Son in His role as the representative Man with respect to His mission, (Mt 11:19; Lk 19:10); His death and resurrection, (Mt 12:40; 20:18; 26:2), and His Second Coming, (Mt 24:37-44; Lk 12:4). A passage in Daniel confirms this:

[Dan 7:13-14]:

(v. 13) "In my [Daniel's] vision at night I looked and there before me was One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven.

["clouds" = here refer to angels, (Ps 104:1-4]

(v. 13 cont.) He approached the Ancient of Days.....

["Ancient of Days" = a special name for God referring to His eternality - in this passage it refers to the Personality of the Father, (Dan 7:9)]

(v. 13 cont.) He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence.......

[So God the Son, Who is God and Man at the same time, appears in heaven in Daniel's vision of the future in His glorified human body. He is thusly led by angels into the throne room and the presence of God the Father before hosts, i.e. armies, of angelic beings and believers of ages past, (vv. 9-12)]

(v. 14) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him....

["worshipped Him" = indicates our Lord's Diety, for only God is to be worshipped, (Dt 6:13; Mt 4:10)]

[Dan 7:13-14 cont.]:

(v. 14 cont.) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away; and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

[It is in the name of the Son of Man in which universal judgment is committed to Him, (Jn 5:22,27). And in the Son of Man is fulfilled the Old Testament foreview of blessing and salvation through a coming Man, (Gen 1:26: 3:15; 12:3; Ps 8:4; 80:17; Isa 7:14: 9:6-7; 32:2). All of this is a function of God and God alone. So He Who bears the title of the Son of Man is God Himself]

[Mt 10:23 cont.]:

[Jesus said to His disciples, (ref. v. 1)]:

"When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another, I tell you the truth, you [the disciples, (v. 1)] will not finish going through the cities of Israel [preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God is at hand, i.e., imminently ready to begin upon their acceptance of Jesus Christ as Messiah, (vv. 6-7)] before the Son of Man [the Lord Jesus Himself] comes [to bring in the Kingdom]."

The fulfillment of Mt 10:23 occurs just as our Lord predicted it:

Within the perspective of the disciples - those to whom our Lord was speaking.

Before the disciples finished proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to the cities of Israel

Jesus Christ as the Son of Man would make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem in order to receive the acceptance of Israel as their King and as a result bring in the Kingdom - but they ultimately rejected Him and crucified Him instead.

[ Jn 12:12-15]:

(v. 12) "On the next day the great multitude who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,

(v. 13) took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet Him, and began to cry out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.'

(v. 14) And Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it was written,

(v. 15) 'Fear not, Daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey's colt. [Ref. Zech 9:9]' "

But this atmosphere of acceptance deteriorated into one of supreme rejection:

[Jn 19:13-15]:

(v. 13) "When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which is Aramaic is Gabbatha).

(v. 14) It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. 'Here is your king,' Pilate said to the Jews.

(v. 15) But they shouted, 'Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!"

'Shall I crucify your king?' Pilate asked.

'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests answered."

Compare our Lord's statement on this matter of His rejection:

[Lk 19:41-44]:

(v. 41) "As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it

(v. 42) and said, 'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes

(v. 43) The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.

(v. 44) They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you.' "