March 15

Text: Matthew 10:5-7

These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'Ē (NASB)

This begins what often is called the Limited Commission.  The objectives of this commission and the commission of Matthew 28:18-20 differ in basic ways.   While the same men (Judas was dead in Matthew 28) receive both, the commission of Matthew 10 is only for Israelites while Matthew 28 is worldwide in scope.

Perhaps the most significant difference is in the themes.  The theme of the Matthew 10 commission: God is in the immediate process of keeping His ancient promise to Israel.  The theme of the Matthew 28 commission: share the good news with the world.

In Genesis 12:3 God promised Abraham he would become a blessing that had the potential of benefiting all families of the earth.  In Genesis 35:10 God changed Jacobís name to Israel (Jacob was Abrahamís grandson).  The descendants of Jacobís 12 sons osephbecame the tribes of Israel (the nation).  That nation was Godís means of achieving His promise.

From Genesis 22 God was deeply impressed with Abrahamís faith.  That seems to be the reason for ancient Israel being the first to hear of Godís acts (see Acts 3:25, 26; 13:46; Romans 1:16).  Paulís practice was to go to synagogues first, and then to non-Jews.

Their message: ďGodís rule is close!Ē  Unfortunately, what they expected and what God intended were radically different.   They expected a restoration of their nation to prominence.  God intended a worldwide salvation.

The limited commission has 2 powerful messages for us that must not be ignored.  (1) With or without peopleís understanding, God keeps His promises.  (2) If we fail to grasp Godís intent, we hurt ourselves.

Suggestion for reflection: Does my obedience reflect Godís intent or my desire?  (Read Isaiah 1:16, 17.)

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