The Joshua Book
Part I of the Joshua Book series
Seeing the good news in a new light.
The great hope for this world is found in the message that Joshua ben Joseph presented to the world some 2000 years ago. During times of great economic, political and social upheaval, there is a greater need for the transforming power of the good news without any additional baggage.
The world needs a fresh, unadulterated message of this truth. The world needs the person of Joshua shining through the true believers who will not compromise with religious dogma and tradition. The world needs to see Joshua in the face of those who willingly and cheerfully walk the second mile, who see every man, woman and child as their brother or sister, part of the greater family of God.
1 Joshua Ben Joseph
2 The Kingdom of Heaven
3 Fatherhood of God
4 Further Aspects of the Kingdom
5 Spiritual Growth
7 Follow Me
8 The Godly Character
9 Transformation of the Inner Man
10 Prayer and Worship
11 The Three-Fold Ministry
13 Sin and Evil
14 The Nature of Evil
15 Confrontations with Authority
16 Joshua and The Church
17 The Fall of Jerusalem
18 The Teachings of Joshua
Joshua ben Joseph
Joshua ben Joseph was a very remarkable man. Born into a working class family, he came from the village of Nazareth whose liberal-leaning residents gave rise to the saying, Can any good come out of Nazareth? The religious leaders saw Nazareth as a morally loose and unruly town.
Nazareth was a tiny place nestled in a small valley surrounded by low hills, a place of such little consequence that it is hardly mentioned in historical records of that time. It was, however a beautiful, picturesque village, secluded by its low-lying location in a natural basin. On the hills five hundred feet above the town, one could see to the north the plateaus of Zebulun and Naphtali, and the mountains of Lebanon with snow-covered Hermon towering above them all. To the west could be seen the coast of Tyre and the blue waters of the Mediterranean.
Mount Carmel, the historic scene of the struggle of Elijah with the prophets of Baal was visible and to the south you could see Megiddo and the whole plain of Esdraelon, which was the scene of many of the most memorable battles of Israel. Tabor and the hills of Gilboa where Saul and Jonathan lost their lives were also visible. Mount Ebal and the land of Shechem lay in the background with the uplands of Gilead and Samaria.
The young master may have spent many hours on these hills as a child, marveling and imagining the many historical events which happened within sight of his young eyes. He no doubt came in contact with many diverse peoples because Nazareth was located half-way between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee; right on the caravan routes which connected the two seas and which also connected the Silk Road between Egypt and Damascus. Nazareth was quite possibly a “truck-stop town” used by weary travelers to feed their camels and beasts of burden, rest and eat, and possibly have their cartwheels and yokes repaired – something that Joseph, a tradesman would do.
The Silk Road was an enormous and extensive interconnected trade route that blossomed on an unprecedented scale soon after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. Regular communications and trade between India, Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, China and the Middle East, Africa and Europe was established.
The early years of Joshua ben Joseph were possibly filled with the meeting and interaction of travelers and merchants from all walks of life: noblemen and commoners alike used these main arteries for transit to various parts of the Roman Empire and beyond.
Joseph, his father, was a carpenter. Anyone who has spent a few years in the construction or cabinet making industry, working in close association with carpenters, framers and cabinet makers, will note that they are a happy, calm and good-natured bunch. They are sturdy men with good physiques, strong in the arms from lifting and pounding nails all day. They enjoy outdoor work and are seasoned from laboring in the heat, cold or rain. They are emotionally stable and assertive, generally men of action and not introspective dreamers.
In the New Testament, Joshua’s countrymen called him the son of Joseph, the carpenter. The Greek word for carpenter is tekton, which means not only a skilled craftsman but also one who may have designed homes or buildings, what we would call a contractor.
The Son of Man was not born in a palace or in the home of a wealthy merchant or nobleman. His upbringing was commonplace. He grew up in the normal way a child of his time grew up. He learned to walk and talk and was educated in the same way as other children. He was, in fact, an average citizen of his time – it is extraordinary how much he accomplished considering his humble beginnings.
Mary and Joseph, convinced that their oldest son was a child destined to be a great spiritual leader, were no doubt very attentive and alert to their child’s upbringing. It is said that, “Mary treasured all these things in her heart,” referring to the words of angels and shepherds alike who prophesied about the new-born babe.
The Young Master's Education
The normal education for a child at that time was home schooling. The father educated his children at home using the Hebrew Scriptures as his guide. Memorization was the acceptable method. Often, a rabbi or teacher from one of the synagogue schools would begin tutoring a child at the age of eight to ten. After a child had completed his home education he could be admitted to one of the synagogue schools.
The common language of the Roman Empire was Greek and Aramaic was the mother tongue of Joshua. When his father started his training at the age of five, the young boy would learn all history, ethics, politics and religion from the standpoint of the Law and the Prophets. Unlike the Greeks of their day, the Israelites did not learn of philosophy, art, science, and physical education.
A young Jewish boy memorized huge portions of the Hebrew texts which would account for Joshua's thorough knowledge of the Levitical Law. That he had to learn, study and formulate his later ideas is something that may sound foreign to some believers. It seems more likely that he accomplished what he did through hard work and diligent study than any miraculous or magical knowledge.
Due to the strict Pharisees’ interpretation of the second commandment not to make any graven images, it was considered idolatry, a transgression of the law, to paint or sculpt – art was mostly forbidden to the Jews of the early centuries. Physical or strenuous activities were likewise looked upon as heathen.
The Greek gymnasium schools combined physical exercise with scholarly pursuits. The Greek word gymnos means naked and the athletes trained in the nude. The Greeks worshiped beauty and they intertwined the aesthetic appreciation of the body with sport, religion and philosophy.
The Greek and Roman Gods
The Romans were still worshiping strange gods and legendary heroes. The Mystery Cults, so-named due to their originating with a myth or mystery, were flourishing at that time. One had to be initiated to learn of their secret practices. They included the Dionysians, the Orphics, the Eluesinians and the Mithraic cults. They worshiped such gods as Apollo, Dionysus, Zeus, Jupiter, Pan and a host of other gods and goddesses in various rituals and philosophies that have since been lumped together under the term paganism.
These practices and rituals often centered around letting go of one’s inhibitions and getting “back to nature,” often through intoxicants, alcohol, and sex. Included was the belief in the spirituality of animals and trees or other aspects of the natural world.
They believed that certain rituals had to be performed to appease the gods. If the rituals were not performed correctly, then the gods would be displeased and would not help. This led to a priest-class who had to be trained to perform these rituals. Among practices considered to be pagan: human and animal sacrifices, divination, worship of nature and gods, belief in astrology, magic symbols and amulets.
The Greeks had art, science and philosophy. The Romans had an advanced political and legal system. The Jews, however, had the most developed systematic religion in the world. The advanced state of their monotheistic faith was fertile ground for the planting of the seed of the new religion that the Son of Man would soon proclaim.
The Reluctant Messiah
The divine side of the Master’s dual nature had perfect knowledge and omniscience. The human side, however, had to learn and grow and progress like any one of us. His discernment and ability to understand and comprehend the scriptures was remarkable. Though he understood very well what the Levitical law represented it is not so likely that God downloaded knowledge, language and learning into his brain. At least not his human side..
What the Master accomplished in his short lifetime is amazing when we consider the depth of his learning and the scope of his understanding. At the age of 12, he astonished the rabbis with his understanding. In fact, the New Testament recounts that all who heard him were amazed and marveled at all the wonderful things he said.
He was unlike the teachers of the law for “he spoke as one with authority.” The Son of Man summed up over 1000 pages of law and prophecy with the profound yet simple command, “to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.’’
The rabbinical law with its 613 rules and regulations enslaved his people into religious bondage. The Pharisees and Sadducees who ruled Israel’s everyday life were exacting masters of its commands. At one point, the Master said to them, “You tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law!”
The Jewish people had long waited for the expected Messiah, the redeemer who would come and overthrow the yoke of the tyrannical Romans. The Romans brought law and order and even prosperity to the world, but they were cruel and heartless masters.
Their widespread use of crucifixion as a political and social deterrent and means of control is legendary. In 73 BC, a band of 78 escaped gladiators – which grew into a band of over 120,000 – wandered throughout Italy effectively waging war against the Romans under the guidance of the famous gladiator-general, Spartacus.
Crassus, the Roman general, eventually slaughtered all but 6,000 of them in a final battle. To frighten other slaves from revolting, Crassus crucified the 6,000 survivors of Spartacus's men along the Appian Way from Capua to Rome.
We get the word excruciating from the Greek ex – out of and cruc – cross. Crucifixion was not only an excruciating way to die, it was also meant to humiliate and degrade the victim due to his public nudity. The body was not usually permitted to be buried but would very often be thrown into Gehenna, a huge pit outside of Jerusalem used to dump garbage and the newly executed.
The Romans were so cruel that they even crucified the dogs who failed to alert the city of Rome of an attack by the Gauls. This became an annual tradition each August as the wholesale slaughter of dogs was continued as a grim reminder to all.
Against this background, the passion play was enacted. The Jews were groaning under the Roman oppression and felt that according to scripture the redeemer would come and set them free from Rome. They believed that he would “sit on the throne of David and the government would rest upon his shoulders.”
The Messiah they were expecting was to be a super-human worker of signs and wonders, one who would do greater miracles than Moses, a lightning-bolt-and-thunder avenger who would smite their enemies and restore Israel to its rightful place in the world.
After all, were they not they the Chosen People? The God of Abraham and Isaac would surely hear their cry and set them free. These Hebrews read in their holy books that the prophesied Son would be a political and social deliverer that would “rule with an iron scepter.”
Even his closest followers, however, were doomed to face disappointment and disillusionment when their beloved leader not only did not become king and make them his right-hand men but met with utter disaster when he was arrested, tortured and murdered.
After the people saw the sign he performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, he withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Much of their hope would be dashed by this reluctant Messiah who refused to be made king over them and instead busied himself about his Father’s business in a very quiet and circumspect way.
Joshua did not set up a seminary or religious center to attract followers nor did he write his ideas down in a brilliant book so all could read and follow. He did not set himself up in public office so he could influence nations nor did he re-organize any economic, social or political systems – all of which were certainly within his power and abilities.
What he did do was band together a group of ordinary men and women who roamed about the countryside healing the sick, comforting the poor and feeding hungry souls wherever they were to be found.
The Kingdom of Heaven
John the Baptist
Before Joshua ben Joseph began his public ministry, his cousin John began preaching that the Deliverer would soon arrive on the scene. John was a fiery preacher who claimed he was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” He came preaching a message of repentance, warning hypocrite and sinner alike to prepare themselves and make straight their paths.
John must have made a strange sight dressed in animal skins, his hair uncut and hanging down like some priestly caveman. He was a member of the Nazarite sect spoken of in the Book of Numbers. Nazarites did not cut their hair and refrained from alcohol and the touching of the dead. Two of his well-known brothers in the sect, Samson and Samuel, made strong examples in the history books of the scribes.
John announced that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, that it was near, even at the gate. Now was the time to repent and get ready because the Messiah was coming.
John and his disciples practiced baptism, the immersing of the body in water to signify the washing away of sin. It was the later believers who made baptism the public ceremony of receiving salvation and entrance to the Kingdom, and soon after it signified membership into the church.
Interestingly enough, John used the Jordan River to baptize, which followed the Hebrew law to use living or flowing water (mayim chaiyim) instead of a bath (mikveh). When Joshua spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well he commented that the water she was drinking would only satisfy her thirst temporarily while the living water that he offered would quench her thirst eternally.
The Kingdom of Heaven
"He went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing all manner of diseases."
God is not really a king in the way we think of a monarch who passes on his power to his next in line. Joshua made use of a concept that people could relate to in order to help better understand what the spiritual world is like. An earthly king would be a father-figure to his people – hopefully a just and benevolent king – not a tyrant. In this same way, Joshua portrayed God as a Father and we his sons in an enlarged, growing family of believers. While he did not offer a precise definition of the Kingdom, he used many parables to compare what this Kingdom is like:
Joshua put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds but, when it has grown, it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.
the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hid in a field that when a man has found it, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls.
the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.
Sovereignty, Sonship, and the Supreme Desire
The Kingdom of Heaven has three main components: Sovereignty, Sonship, and the Supreme Desire to do the Father’s will.
Sovereignty – God is King and sovereign Lord over all. He reigns not only over the material physical worlds of the universe he created but also over the spiritual world that transcends the material plane of time and space.
Sonship – membership in the Kingdom of Heaven means the recognition that you are a Son of God, made by Him, your Father, who lives in Heaven. God really is your Father, it is not just a metaphor that Joshua is referring to – our biological parents are co-creators with God, they participate in the creation of children, though in reality we are children of creation.
Supreme Desire to do the will of the Father. To be a member of a religious organization or church is not necessarily to be a child of God. To be a true faith-son of God one must have the will of God as their highest desire. When the will of God is an obligation or duty, when it is your law or rule, then you are not really a true son. When the will of God becomes your will, then you are a true faith-son of the Living God.
The Prince of Peace based his gospel, his religion, on the fact that God is our Father and we really are his sons. Everyone is a son or daughter of God. To love our neighbor as ourselves was not a new concept to the Jews. What was new was that Joshua expanded the idea of a neighbor to include all nations, races, tribes, sexes and religions. The Jews only believed that their neighbor was another Jew. The gentiles were not their neighbors nor were they members of the elite cosen people.
The Hebrews had a racial God. The goyim – which is variously translated as nations, people, gentiles or heathen – figuratively means a herd of animals or swarm of locusts, disclosing their low opinion of other peoples.
The fact that Israel was ruled by the heathen Romans was a blow to their national pride that the Deliverer was supposed to relieve. The radical message that there is “neither Jew nor Gentile in the Kingdom of Heaven” was a slap in the face to many of the intensely nationalistic Israelites.
The Invisible Church
Of the many things that Joshua said, one of the most profound statements he made was “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” This kingdom is not made of wood, stone or bricks – it is a completely spiritual entity. This new kingdom exists solely in the hearts and minds of believers.
When Joshua said, “seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness,” he was not encouraging us to look for a building or an earthly kingdom. He was encouraging us to seek the will of God. It seems what Joshua was saying was that the kingdom of heaven is the will of God and those who are members of it are those who want to do God’s will.
The brotherhood of believers is the sons of God who desire to do his will, those who are seeking the kingdom of heaven. These believers may or may not include the members of an organized church. We are joined by the spirit, by the unity of our shared eternal destiny and common spiritual goals and not necessarily by church affiliation.
The Son of Man and the Son of God
He called himself the Son of Man or ben'adam in Hebrew. It appears 107 times in the Hebrew Bible, the majority (93 times) in the Book of Ezekiel where it is used as a form of address to contrast the lowly status of humanity against the exalted status of God. The title he chose to refer to himself appears in the Old Testament in the Book of Daniel:
Behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
It also appears in the partially accredited Book of Enoch which is quoted in Jude,
[1 Enoch.48.2-10] And at that hour that Son of Man was named in the presence of the Lord of the spirits, and his name before the the One to Whom belongs the time before time. Yes, before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of the heaven were made, his name was named before the Lord of the spirits. He shall be a staff to the righteous whereon to stay themselves and not fall, and he shall be the light of the gentiles and the hope of those who are troubled of heart. All who dwell on earth shall fall down and worship before him, and will praise and bless and celebrate with song the Lord of the spirits. For this reason has he been chosen and hidden before Him, before the creation of the world and for ever more. The wisdom of the Lord of the spirits has revealed him to the holy and righteous; for he has preserved the lot of the righteous, because they have hated and despised this world of unrighteousness, and have hated all its works and ways in the name of the Lord of the spirits: for in his name they are saved, and according to his good pleasure has it been in regard to their life.
He referred to himself exclusively as the Son of Man – 81 times to be exact in the four gospels. The Jews did not expect the Messiah to be divine. They expected him to be human, a prophet with wonder-working power who would set them free from Roman rule. The Deliverer would come in power which to the 1st century wonder-seeking Jews meant thunderbolts and lightning. They wanted a miraculous display of God’s power and a militant overthrow of the Roman yoke.
He did not therefore reveal himself to the apostles as the Son of God until they saw for themselves that he was divine. He asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter, speaking on behalf of all the apostles, replied, “You are the Son of the Living God.” Six days later, he led Peter, James and John up Mt. Hermon and they saw him transformed before their eyes, his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.
It is forever true that God reveals himself to us based on our capacity and receptivity to receive the revelation – that “he never gives us more than we can bear” is true concerning trials and tribulation as well as concerning truth. He gives us what we can handle. The Son of Man was revealed to the apostles as the Son of God at a time when they were ready to receive the revelation.
After the transfiguration, the Son of God more openly proclaimed and revealed his divinity, not only to his friends but also to his enemies: “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am.”
Joshua ben Joseph based his religion of the Kingdom on his dual nature of humanity and divinity, on the fact of his brotherhood to Man and his sonship to God. The message that he proclaimed was the new living way for a mortal man to live the godly life here on earth. He revealed that the spiritual life was the most important pursuit here on earth when he said, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness.”
He did not say that the material things of this world were not important, only that the next life was more important and the highest ideal for us to attain. He did not live as a guru or ascetic teacher who hid himself away in a monastery or mountain retreat. He did not live as a penniless pauper begging alms, though he did choose to forsake everything in order to teach and pursue his ministry. He also expected his closest followers to do the same. The apostles really did give up everything to follow him.
Joshua ben Joseph was truly the Master of men; he understood them completely and commanded obedience and respect wherever he went. Whoever met him fell in love with him; crowds followed him everywhere hanging on his every word: “...and when they heard these words, they marveled and went their way.”
The Good News – The Mission of the Son of Man
He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
The good news that the Prince of Peace proclaimed is that God is a loving, caring Father and we, his sons, can enter into a relationship with him. God the Father is not only the God of Abraham and Isaac – he is the God of all peoples of all nations on Earth.
He proclaimed that we all can become liberated faith-sons of the creator of the entire universe. He came to tell those who were in bondage to fear, sin and superstition that they could be free – that this relationship between God and Man would break the chains which hold men and women in bondage.
Joshua came to to bring good news to the poor. The Greek word for bring the good news is evangelizo, where we get our word evangelize. It is also interesting to note that the Hebrew word for poor used in the book of Isaiah is anav which literally means downcast or depressed. Often this word is translated humble, meek or lowly.
People are depressed because of their circumstances: they are sick or afraid or confused. They are caught up in the addictive deception of sin and cannot get free and they are shackled in their minds by the enslaving power of religious tradition. Financial struggles plague the hearts of men and women – debt is widespread and poverty is rampant throughout the world. Social injustice and inequality result in the oppression of the weak by the strong and the leaders of the nations are often dictatorial and indifferent to the needs of the common people.
The Son of Man showed that the power of God will manifest itself in the believer’s life like a fountain of living water that wells up inside and gives spiritual energy and power to combat and overcome the obstacles and difficulties in our lives. He revealed God as an approachable Father who is here to counsel and guide us in our day-to-day struggles. Joshua revealed himself as our spiritual brother willing to aid us and help us in overcoming our struggles in life: “In this world you will have many troubles but take heart for I have overcome the world.”
Salvation alone often sets people completely free from many of life’s problems. Such is the power of the Spirit … “not by might nor by power but by my spirit.” Salvation makes for immediate improvement in the family; the hearts of the fathers are turned to their children. Many new believers have testified of being freed from addictions on the day of their acceptance of God as their Father in Heaven.
Said Joshua, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The gospel that this carpenter proclaimed was not difficult to follow – anyone can understand it, even a child. He did not create a long list of do’s and don’t’s, nor a complicated philosophy that requires years of study. He showed the world a way of living life that was first of all simple, secondly spiritual and, thirdly, it was based on reality: God is our Father and we are his children.
The Fatherhood of
God and The
Brotherhood of Man
The Fatherhood of God
Joshua called God Father more than one hundred times in the Book of John. He referred to God almost exclusively as his Father despite the fact that the Old Testament records a host of names for God, of which a short list would be Elohim, El Shadai, Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai and El-Elyon. A longer list of more descriptive titles would include terms such as deliverer, shepherd, branch, redeemer, judge, shield, strength and king.
He often referred to God as “my Father,” making God a personal family member. This implies a loving, caring person who is interested in our well-being and personal growth. Just as our earthly fathers look after us (assuming they are good fathers) and are concerned and actively involved with every phase of our life so, too, does our Heavenly Father concern himself with our lives.
The Son of God revealed God to us by his own relationship with his Father. He said that “The Father and I are one,” that is, their purposes and the working out of God’s will were one and the same. When we are so joined to the doing of God’s will then we will be one with the Father also. He showed us that the supreme desire in life ought to be doing the will of God.
Through the pictures and word-stories of seeds and plants grown and harvested, Joshua showed the progression of the believer from a young sapling to full maturity like a healthy stalk of wheat ready to be harvested or as a tree producing fruit year after year. The parables Joshua taught revealed over and over a life of spiritual growth.
When the Son of Man taught his disciples how to pray, the opening line of the prayer was “Our Father who is in Heaven.” This was not just a way to address God, it was the ideal way. It was the most excellent way, as the apostle Paul would say. That is, he taught his followers to address God as “Father.”
The Hebrews saw God as the Almighty, a stern judge who was a divider of the righteous and the unrighteous, a dispenser of justice and an avenger of his people. The God that Joshua revealed was a compassionate, loving, caring, forgiving God full of mercy and kindness who was intimately acquainted with all our ways. “But now, O LORD, you are our Father, we are the clay, and you our potter; and all of us are the work of your hand.”
The Fatherhood of God is rarely mentioned in the Hebrew scriptures. Isaiah says “God O Lord our father, our redeemer,” and Jeremiah and Malachi make mention of God as Father of the house of Israel, but the God that Joshua referred to was the Father of all humanity. This was new, or at the very least it was a far-expanded revelation of God than anything heard on Earth up until that time.
The Brotherhood of Man
The second aspect of Joshua’s philosophy is summed up in the statement “love your neighbor as yourself,” and this is tied into the first idea of the Fatherhood of God. This he also based on a truth tha we are all sons and daughters of God and, therefore, we are all brothers and sisters, members of a very large extended family.
Though Christianity often sees humanity as either Christian or non-Christian, God sees us all as his children. The only distinction God makes with his children is between those who desire to do his will and those who do not.
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
In the same way, we can see that just because someone is born into a religious family or belongs to an amazing church does not mean they are given any special status in the Kingdom of Heaven. God loves us all equally.
The love that we feel from God and the love that we express to God results in a greater love for our fellow man. Knowing that we are all brothers and sisters regardless of spiritual status changes everything for the believer. We can only look upon our neighbor with the same compassion and depth of understanding that we feel from our mutual Father.
Sonship in the Kingdom
Belonging to the Kingdom was not a free ride according to the carpenter’s son. It came with obligations and responsibilities. “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”
The parable of the ten talents shows us that those who invest wisely with what God has put us in charge of will be in charge of more. The wise servant who gained five more talents was not only put in charge of more, he was also given the unfaithful servant’s talent. “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” This parable is not about God blessing us with prosperity or material possessions because of our good behavior or supposed righteousness.
This parable illustrates that faithful service in the Kingdom of Heaven is rewarded with greater service to the faithful servant. The carpenter from Nazareth taught that service to our brothers was the highest satisfaction and the highest gesture of love we can show: “No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his brother.”
The modern interpretation of this parable is that we should use our talents, that is, our abilities to serve God. The coincidental English meaning of the Greek word talanton, which literally means weight, and in this case a weight of money, is not exactly what he was trying to convey. It seems more likely that Joshua was referring to our acts of service or ministry.
Very often God asks us to do things that we have no talent or ability to do. He only asks that we follow the instructions given. Very often, in preparation for a work that he has in mind for us to do, he trains us and we gain the talent or ability needed. Often he puts us in situations and circumstances which we are unqualified for in order for us to learn the things we will need for future service.
Our willingness to follow God is much more important than any other consideration. It’s commendable that we should volunteer our talents to God in service, though what is really required is a desire to do his will. Otherwise, we are saying we desire to serve God in a manner of our own choosing. To quote a popular saying that is often repeated in Christian circles: “God is not concerned with our ability or our inability but he is concerned with our availability.”
The rich young man came to Joshua, asking to be made an apostle but he went away sad because he was asked to give up the one thing that he loved the most. If, however, he had done what he was asked and sold all he had and laid it at the feet of the apostles, maybe he would have been put him back in charge of his own resources and then he would have fulfilled the principle that Joshua laid out which is “he who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”