Precious Testimonies Ministry Encourager
WHY WILL MANY OF THE FIRST BE LAST, AND THE LAST FIRST?
Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
'But many who are first will be last, and the last first.'
Jesus made this claim in Matthew 19:30 (NKJV). The similar claim is recorded in Luke 13:30. What was Jesus talking about? Does God want us confused about it, or does He want us to clearly understand it?
I believe He wants us to clearly understand it. Especially any of you who have sacrificed a great deal to try to be obedient to the Lord.
(Father ' we come to you in Jesus' name, asking you to give clear understanding to what Jesus was talking about when He made that statement, and we are truly thankful to the Holy Spirit for giving us wisdom, revelation and insight into this portion of scripture).
The greatest reason Jesus made this statement as recorded by Matthew, I believe, was because the Apostle Peter was evidently struggling with something many Christians have struggled with over time, especially missionaries, although this can include battle weary pastors, elders and the wives and children, right on down to the Sunday school teacher or person handing out tracts on the street corner or forwarding these Ministry Encouragers to others while everyone else simply can't be bothered. Here are Peter's words in Matthew 19:27:
Then Peter answered and said to Him, 'See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?'
We can assume Peter had given up his fishing job to do the work of the ministry Jesus had asked him to do. Other of his disciples had also given up their means of livelihood, we can safely assume. No doubt their families were going through struggles because of it as well. Most likely there was financial leanness that came with their struggles. The question Peter asked Jesus was a very honest and reasonable question. 'What do WE and our families get out of this, Jesus? Anything, other than persecution?'
Jesus answers Peter and the rest as recorded in Matthew 19:28-30 (NKJV):
'Assuredly I say to you, that when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
'And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life.
'But many who are first will be last, and the last first.'
I think it merits mentioning that Jesus didn't lash out at them for having a selfish attitude, nor did He answer them in some difficult to understand parable. He flat out told them very plainly that they were going to be greatly rewarded for their sacrifices -- for everything they had given up, to be disciples of Jesus Christ and to help reach out to win lost souls and help disciple others - they would receive up to 100 times MORE one day in the future than they were presently doing without, (or had given up), PLUS ' He connected something else in addition to it that we can easily overlook as maybe a bit insignificant to you and I. He referred to it as: 'Inherit everlasting life.'
The timeline for receiving up to 100-fold return would come during the time of the regeneration. What was Jesus referring to, when He used the word regeneration? Revelation 20 would seem to be where we'll find our answer, starting with verse one:
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Moving forwarding into Revelation Chapter 21, we then read about God making a new heaven and a new earth, and the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. (Charter boat fishing or buying a fleet of oil transport tankers or desiring to fly airplanes to and from naval aircraft carriers most likely won't be likely careers worth pursing at that time, one can assume).
Jumping forward to Revelation 21:7, it then reads: 'He who overcomes shall inherit ALL things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.'
(Revelation 5:9-10; 1 Cor. 6:2 supports the above thoughts. For additional thoughts and insights on rewards and reigning with Christ for 1,000 years, you can click on the following link and scroll down near the bottom of the writing:http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=3940 ).
If I'm perceiving this correctly, those who are sacrificing at the present time for the cause of Jesus Christ will - during the thousand year reign of Christ here on Earth - will be given their reward of up to 100 times as much as what they had sacrificed to give up prior to Christ's second coming. Does that mean that if you have given up a nice comfortable home to go live in a mosquito - snake infested mud hut someone in the middle of the jungle, God is going to give you one nice house and 99 cottages around the world in exotic places, or perhaps your very own 100-house subdivision to do as you please? Does it mean you'll get 100 wives instead of just one who forgot what you've almost looked like you've been on the mission field so long? Afterall, who of you ladies out there would really WANT 100 husbands anyway? ONE'S enough as it is, right?!
I'm guessing God isn't talking about numbers so much as He's talking about overall blessings that will mean a great deal during that 1,000 year reign with Christ we'll get to be experiencing.
Please don't think I'm assuming we must give up lucrative jobs and/or careers to be qualified for a 100-fold-return either and go live in a mud hut in the middle of the jungle. God might have you where you are to help sow finances into needy ministries (Precious Testimonies raises it hands on this one!), or you might be where you are right now because God wants you planting and/or watering seeds in someone's life you work with, or a neighbor next door. Again ' wherever people are, God desires that we seek Him to be in tune with His Spirit to ministry opportunities right where God has placed us at the current time. Being faithful right where we are will qualify us to receive just as many rewards as the missionary who has given up 'the good life' to go live in that mud hut in the jungle.
And how about AFTER the 1,000 years? I have stirring in my soul that Revelation 21:7 addresses what comes afterward. 'He who overcomes shall inherit ALL things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
What does 'inherit ALL things' imply to you? Maybe ALL, as in ALL-ALL? That's what it implies clearly to me. Whatever is available to one, will be most likely be available to ALL. I would say we are on pretty safe ground by stating that 'inheriting eternal life' is one and same with 'inheriting ALL things.'
I also believe we're on safe ground by assuming that 'inheriting eternal life' and 'inheriting all things' is vastly more fulfilling than receiving 100 times more of everything that is enjoyable having or experiencing during the 1,000 year rule and reign with Christ. I also believe that our reigning with Christ during that 1,000 years will be our equipping ground for much greater things to come when God creates a new heaven and a new Earth.
Certainly the only sensible reason/s I can think of for God to release Satan from prison near the end of the 1,000 year reign will be to execute a final 'character growth initiative' for certain ones who will need it at that time. Perhaps there will be people born during the 1,000 year reign who have never experienced persecution, hardships and suffering like you and I are experiencing at the present. And/or, it might also entail God entrusting certain ones of us with greater responsibility as evil breathes down our necks ' to see what we are REALLY made of. God tells us in 1 Cor. 6:2-3 that Christians are going to be doing some sort of 'judging' in the future on this planet ' which will also entail 'judging angels' at some future point in time. Whatever this will all entail, I don't have clear insight to, but mere speculation. However, what is obvious to me is that God thinks it is important that we ponder these things, otherwise He wouldn't have even made mention of it in holy scriptures.
We have 'humble folks' who don't like talking about being rewarded by God, because they somehow assume that it is really selfish to think about wanting God to reward us, and that just being saved and making it to heaven is reward enough as it is. No issue with that. However ' Peter had an issue with it. He flat wanted an answer from Jesus about being rewarded and Jesus flat told Peter and the rest in the group that they were going to absolutely be flabbergasted once Jesus Christ sat up His rule here on earth upon His return, and then after the 1,000 years were up, it would only get ever more flabbergasting, eternity without end!
There are some of you reading this that haven't given up a lucrative career or lavish home, simply because you've never been able to own one in the first place, so having ANY home would be a huge blessing. A well paying job? Goodness ' I can't even give up a poor paying job, you might be saying, though I'd sure love to give it a try! There are others of you reading this who can't even afford a car, or if you have a car, can't afford to put gas in it anymore. Some of you don't even know for sure where your next meal is coming from, or how you're going to pay rent, or a utility bill. Some of you are locked away behind prison walls and you will never see the outside of that prison until they carry you out in a coffin. You've never had to give up much, really, because you've never been fortunate enough to have much to lose anyway. Would you say you might well fit in that category who Jesus is addressing as 'last?'
It does not require us giving away 'much' to be put first in the line Jesus is addressing in Matt. 19:30. All it requires is wisdom to realize that REAL REWARDS cannot possibly compare in this life to the rewards that will be given after the return of Jesus Christ to earth, to those who spend the bulk of their time, energy, giftings, sacrifice, finances as they are able, suffering if need be, to the work of Jesus Christ in helping fulfill The Great Commission ' helping advance the Kingdom of God in the lives of those who will pay whatever price is necessary to do likewise to others.
If any of you reading this is struggling with feelings that life just seems to be so unfair that others seem to get blessed by God, but YOUR blessings somehow seem to have gotten lost somewhere between heaven and your mailing address, I want to encourage you that you have every right to be put to the front of the line when Jesus returns, providing you will immerse yourselves in somehow ministering to others. We don't have to be pastors or elders or missionaries to be FIRST in the 1,000 year reign of Christ here on earth. All we have to do is diligently trust God to reveal to us ways in which He can use us, wherever we are, no matter how much we have lost, or don't have. Wherever there are people, there are ministry opportunities.
I think this is where some people struggle. It just hasn't come to them that wherever there are people, there are ministry opportunities. Everyone likes you praying for them. You can ask people what they would like you to pray for, and 99 out of 100 will immediately like you for asking them that question, providing you don't pry into their personal lives or become judgmental. God might not answer one prayer request they have, usually because they are selfish requests, but God sure WILL hear your prayers if you pray for their lost soul. In fact, I have the upmost certainty that every person you and I pray for who is not saved, God is somehow going to reward you for it. We have no assurance that person will ever get saved because we pray for their salvation, but I can also be certain of THIS: We can't be uncertain they won't get saved from our praying EITHER!
God tells us to pray for one another. God tells us to pray without ceasing. (See: 1 Thes. 5:17). If there is never any reward for us for praying, why in the world would the Apostle Peter had reason to believe Jesus wasn't lying to him about the 100-fold return during the Millennium?
Dear one, don't let the devil lie to you about this 'first and last' promise Jesus made. No matter how far down you seem to be in life, you still can pray for others. You can pray for ministries; you can pray for lost souls; you can pray for others who are hurting.
Visualize two people standing side by side before God. One was a financially wealthy oil baron during his life, and the other was a crippled man who spent much of his life bedridden. A replay of both their lives is shown them. The wealthy oil baron had invested much of his financial wealth in to all sorts of different things, but had always been quite careful to make sure it didn't go to any Christian causes. The crippled man had very little money during his life, so there was little to give to Christian causes, or any other causes, for that matter. However, what he did have was time on his hands due to being bedridden so much of his life, and to keep his mind from being tempted to feel sorry for himself, he had a secret prayer ministry. Hour after hour, he would ask the Lord what he might pray for, while lying there in bed. He never ran out of things to pray for. One man had financial wealth to do as he pleased: the other man had mental wealth to do as he pleased. God revealed to both of them how fruitful their "investments" had been. The oil baron had not been responsible for keeping one person out of hell. The bedridden prayer warrior's fruits? Souls almost too numerable to count were not only kept from going to hell -- those people had birthed ministries of every kind imaginable, that birthed other ministries, that birthed other ministries. So many lives had been affected by this mans prayers, it became obvious that it would take eternity to measure all of what it entailed.
Purposing to expand the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is what is going to reap the greatest rewards through eternity. It takes neither money nor education or social status to sow into our Lord's Kingdom. All it takes is wisdom that the Holy Spirit imparts to those who make it their daily purpose to be used in some way to invest in His Kingdom.
PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!
"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
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Dear Reader -are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To be at peace with God; to have your sins forgiven; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... pleaseclick here to help understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life.
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