Friday, March 20, 2009

Luke 19:27 - An Exegesis

Luke 19:27 “But as for these enemies of mine who didn't want me to be their king—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence!" (ISV)

Please take a moment to read Luke chapter 19 for context of the above verse.

I am never at a lack of amazement at the way Muslims are all to oft eager to distort the text of the Bible, rip it out of context, and otherwise abuse it. One common textual victim of this sort of abuse is Luke 19:27. It is generally verbally disgorged by the Muslim at times when a non-Muslim is making a case that demonstrates commands of violence in the orthodox Islamic texts.
Apparently the best a Muslim can muster up is what a poster named "Khayyam" asserts with an attempt to prove Yeshua commanded His followers to be violent. The previous gives but one example of a Muslim trying to make a defense of his faith with an attack on the Bible. I suggest visiting the link for the context in which the comment was posted. Another such example can be seen here. There is even less of an excuse for the second example as the originator seems to be presented as some sort of authority on Islam and the Bible (at least in the capacity of “interfaith issues”). I will be responding to the ReadingIslam comment in a future post and linking to it here.

It should come as no surprise that this particular speculative interpretation and abuse of the text seems to owe it's credit to Ahmed Deedat who used it widely in his “lectures”. He frequently offered a cash prize to audience members who correctly identify the speaker of the text of Luke, often asking if it was “Moses, Marx, or Muhammad”. The particular application of this verse by Muslims tends to assert: “Followers of Yeshua are commanded to violence”.

As always, the Bible needs to be allowed to speak, and interpret itself in light of all that it has to say. The following is a brief exegesis touching on the Tanach and Ketuvim Netzarim. Suffice it to say, even this modest depth of exegesis is enough to thoroughly refute the anachronistic Islamic claims about Yeshua above. Now, focusing on the issue of Luke we must first recognize that the Bible clearly says this is a parable (verse 11: “And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.”). The simple, plain reading of the text states in no uncertain terms that the reason for the parable was the expectation of the Mashiyach immediately establishing the Messianic Kingdom. The Disciples and others were given to this misconception in more than one place in Scripture, and it is clear to conclude that the orthodox belief during Second Temple Judaism in the first century was supportive of this thinking. I really don't know why Muslims won't even bother to look at the plain reading of the chapter. As a parable, we must identify who each of the characters are and what the allegorical terms apply to (if you did not previously read Luke 19, now would be a good time to do it):

1. Nobleman – Yeshua HaMashiyach.
2. Far Country – Yeshua’s ascension to heaven.
3. Receiving a kingdom – reigning over the world from the new Yerushalayim.
4. Citizen’s refusing his reign – rejection by rebels against kingship of Mashiyach.
5. Delegation – “We have no king but Caesar.”
6. Ten servants – all the servants of Mashiyach.
7. Trade – work faithfully performed by servants of Elohim.
8. Ten pounds, minas – the trust Elohim gives to every person.
A mina consisted of 100 drachmas, the average wage for 100
days of work.
9. Servant who gained ten minas – the faithful follower of Yeshua.
10. Servant who gained five minas – the faithful follower
of less ability.
11. Servant who hid his pound, mina – unfaithful follower of Yeshua.
12. Ten and five cities – varying heavenly rewards

With the above in mind, we know that; Yeshua has ascended into heaven, will return to reign from the new Yerushalayim, was rejected by some before and will be rejected by some again, will take an accounting of how His servants have handled things in His absence, will reward His servants accordingly, and will judge those that rebel against Him in refusing to accept His kingship. Because it is clear Yeshua didn't receive a kingdom in the natural sense before his ascension we know that what happens after He receives His kingdom is in a future time not yet reached (it is eschatological). We also know that the slaying of rebels against Him will not occur until He receives His kingdom, and Scripture is very clear on the point that Mashiyach will receive His kingdom at His second appearance on earth (i.e. when you see “the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven and seated at the right hand of power”):

Psalms 21:8 Your hand will find out all Your enemies: Your right hand shall find out those that hate You. 9 You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger: YHWH shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.

Notice the linkage between “Your right hand” in Psalm 21 and the Son of Man being seated at “the right hand of power” in Mark's Gospel. The right hand is the judgment seat, and symbolic of kingly authority. Further, on Yeshua's coming judgment of the world we read:

Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

Now, let us look at a few verses where Yeshua does give direct instruction to His followers on the issues of violence and retaliation:

Matthew 5:38-42“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”

Matthew 5:43-46“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and do good for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

Matthew 26:50-53“Yeshua said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Yeshua and arrested Him. Suddenly, one of those with Yeshua put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Yeshua said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?”

Luke 3:14“And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, ‘Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.’”

Luke 6:27-37“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full."

John 18:36“Yeshua said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.’”

Are we really to believe that when Yeshua said all these things in plain direct language, that somehow what He really meant was for His followers to go out and kill non-believers based on an allegorical parable? Of course not.

So the obtuse reading of this verse advanced by many Muslims clearly fails in every respect, and we know without a shadow of a doubt that the Messianic believers are not called to violence against non-believers. Having plainly shown that the reading of the text on all levels refutes the foolishness that came from the Biblically unstable wellspring of Ahmed Deedat's mind, let us move on to a few other points of discussion that relate to Luke 19:27

The following passages address the issue of divine and perfect justice in Elohim doing with sinners as He sees fit, even unto death. YHWH judged the nations in the past, even ordering their complete destruction because of their utter wickedness and depraved nature (which in some cases included them killing their children as sacrifices to Molech), and He will judge the nations again in the manifestation of Mashiyach, the King of Kings who is coming to claim His rightful throne. The throne set aside for Him before the foundation of the earth, which no man has a right to deny Him of. It is in this capacity Yeshua speaks of His enemies being slain in Luke 19. Case in point, the following texts:

Proverbs 14:2 He that walks in his uprightness fears YHWH: but he that is perverse in his ways despises Him.

Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain Elohim in their knowledge, Elohim gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of Elohim, spiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of Elohim, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

It was YHWH that placed kings over Yisrael from the very beginning, and it is YHWH that allows rulers to rule even today. His ultimate mashiyach (annointed one) is Yeshua. Rejection of Him is not an option YHWH gives, and Yeshua, being in perfect accord with the Father at all times recognizes this fact and affirms it in Luke 19. We would do well to remember the days of Samuel:

2 Samuel 12:12 “When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although YHWH your Elohim was your king. 13 “Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, YHWH has set a king over you. 14 “If you will fear YHWH and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of YHWH, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow YHWH your Elohim. 15 “If you will not listen to the voice of YHWH, but rebel against the command of YHWH, then the hand of YHWH will be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Rejection of His Kingship is a symptom of a reprobate and wicked heart, and is justly punished. It is open rebellion against Elohim.

According to the Quran, there is a Judgement Day where Allah will judge sinners and unbelievers who have rejected the message. Based on this, no Muslim can disagree with the idea that G-d Almighty will make a judgement and a reckoning and punish sin. I see no way for a Muslim to have any complaint in regards to Luke 19:27, if the full Biblical position of the identity and nature of Yeshua is taken into consideration.

All of the above sufficiently establishes there is no command from Mashiyach given to any of His followers that calls us to violence today in Luke 19:27. The error of the forced anachronistic Islamic reading of this verse is evident, and exposes this as an agenda driven false reading of a metaphoric teaching-parable. The only command of any form that is given, is to be a faithful servant, rightly staying in His Halacha (Way to walk), and working to bring others to faith in Yeshua as Mashiyach and final sin offering. There remains; however, the unfailing promise that a righteous Judgment Day will arrive in which Yeshua as the right arm of Elohim, YHWH manifest in flesh, sitting at the right hand of power, will judge all people by the standard of the eternal Torah. The unfaltering fact is that every single soul that has ever lived will come up short of YHWH's standard, which is being kadosh (set apart/holy). The good news is, YHWH has provided a way to cover our flawed sinful nature in a perfect and eternal way; the death of Yeshua as our final sin offering. When you face the Almighty on Judgment Day He will either see your works (which are flawed and sinful) or Yeshua's work on the cross (which is perfect and holy, kadosh to Elohim). All that is required for your sins to be covered, and the gates of Heaven to be opened is that you accept the sacrifice of Yeshua, and accept His Kingship over your life, thereby accepting the sovereignty of YHWH to choose His way of providing His mercy and making you one with Him in eternity to come.

John 3:36 Whoever puts his faith in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see that life, for Elohim's wrath remains on him.

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