“Then came Peter to Him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him; seven times?”
This incident begins with a very presumptuous question by men who were taught and full well expected that Messiah would at this time overthrow the civil government and restore the kingdom to Israel. They assumed that since they were of the elite twelve with Messiah, although one was a son of perdition, that they would assume the positions of leadership and prominence in the newly established kingdom. And so they asked “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus begins to answer this query by giving the example of one who humbled himself like as unto a little child. This was not to exhort the disciples to become humble for like Nicodemus’ question, how can a man humble himself to become like a little child. The theology books of Adam have plenty of ideas and speculation on the matter but the only one who humbled Himself was the Son of God. He made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself unto the obedience of death, even the death of the cross; therefore the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah.
He speaks of these little ones, who believe in Him as of His seed who are one in Him. Nothing can separate His children from His eternal love and as it is not the will of the Father that one of these should perish, so they are preserved in the Beloved unto glory. They are His little flock and sheep of His pasture so any who would offend one of these, offends the Lord of glory.
He then turns the point to the disciples and the brethren and addresses the question of greatness. Every son of Adam is vile and corrupt and the only sin is the sin against God but and if you have concluded that one of these fellow heirs of glory has sinned against you then you go to him. Also if while you are standing to pray you remember that you have anything against him, you must leave the altar and go to him before you can present your gift.
This record is not a model for church order as many have concluded. There is an order to the assembly that address when a man is overtaken in a fault (Gal. 6:1) or if one causes discord to the peace of the body (I Cor. 5:11) and with those who have not the love of the brethren (I Tim. 5:20). This illustration and the parable which follows are in answer to the pride of the flesh and the arrogant nature of Adam.
Peter, the impetuous servant of God, gives a wonderful insight into the attitude of man toward sin. His inquiry is external and self-centered as he ignorantly places himself in the position of God. He does not ask the Lord anything about his conduct or the intentions of his heart and he portrays himself as the standard by which man is judged.
Peter has approached the Lord after His teaching about the responsibilities of the inhabitants of the pasture one for the other. This conduct that results from this action is often an indicator that one who is among the little flock is not of the fold. When the loving rebuke comes from a brother or fellow stranger and sojourner in the weary land, those who cannot see flee for the labour is too difficult. Some may be given to see their actions and also be granted repentance. These are lifted up by the love of the brethren one for the other and find a deeper understanding of their natural ways. Others, however, may be given the stubbornness of heart and resilience of mind to depart for a while as blindness covers their eyes and ignorance stifles their mind. Yet as it pleases the Father to reveal their Adamic nature and give them repentance, which He does to each of His beloved children in the appointed time, they return unto the assembly. This conduct is therefore necessary, as the Lord has decreed, for the purging of the assembly, the teaching of the members of like precious faith and edifying of the body. The purpose of this course of conduct in the pasture is for the gaining of a brother for there is nothing new under the sun.
Peter’s attitude is indeed limited to those members of the fold of natural Israel for the heathen have not the law. Without the Law there is no understanding of the standard of the Holiness of God. Devoid of that knowledge there can be no judgment made of what does and does not measure up to that standard. The nations of this world and the people of the land have a law that Almighty God has appointed unto them which is after the god of this world. It is centered in the practices of that which can be seen and specializes in that which ingratiates the flesh. These inhabitants of the nations of this world, which in type are all men after the seed of Adam, conduct themselves without the Law and therefore Peter does not care that their actions may be counted as sin against him.
He is concerned with the actions and intentions of his brother or fellow inhabitant of the fold. Yet his concern is self-centered as he asks about an offense against himself. If the standard of holiness is the Law of God then the offense of that standard is an offense against God, not man. David lusted after Bath-sheba and facilitated the murder of her husband yet he cried out to God before Nathan the prophet, “Against You and You alone have I sinned and done evil in Your sight that You may be the justified when You speak and being pure as You are judging” (Ps. 51:4). And so, Peter’s concern is for the natural people of Israel as he conducts his business among them. He thusly asks the Lord for advice as to how he should conduct himself WHEN his brother sins against him.
This is extremely arrogant on his part as he first assumes that he shall be wronged and then that it shall be on numerous occasions. He also aspires to ascend to the place of God when he insinuates that he can forgive these sins, perpetrated against him and his understanding of righteousness. This attitude toward and about sin was created in the nature of Adam and is reflected in his theology and his disposition. Every inhabitant of the land aspires to ascend for his beginning is in the dust of the earth. He also is given to seek out anything by which he may be exonerated, whether in word or deed, for by these action he deems himself exalted. Adam stood forth in the garden by the work of his hands before God and, instead of a contrite and broken heart for his trespass, he demanded the argument of the extenuating circumstances which surrounded his conduct. Never does Adam admit his guilt before God or demonstrate any signs of repentance as by this one act of one man, sin entered into the world and death by sin; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
This inherent trait of carnal logic is common to every one who is born of woman. Peter is given here to conclude that if and when a brother has sinned against him that the perpetrator is required to assume the position of contrition before the offended for forgiveness. The construction and conclusion of this argument is diametrically opposed to the words which the Master had just stated when He said, “if your brother shall sin against you, go to him and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (15).
Jesus said unto him, I say not unto you seven times but until seventy times seven” (22).
Many have taken this phrase to indicate that there is a limit to the number of times one may be offended; that is not what the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah was teaching. Peter, being raised and educated in the Jewish manner, knew the significance of the number seven. This represented a completed work and in this connotation, Peter was asking when this matter of offense and forgiveness might be exhausted. Jesus however uses the same numerology against Peter’s logic as He indicates that the matter cannot be completed for it is continual. The use of the expression ‘seventy times seven’ is a reference to the perfection of all things in the divine purpose and not an indication that man should attempt to keep track of his neighbours imperfections. No man is called upon to spy upon the fellow members of the fold as they walk through this waste howling wilderness but rather they take the watch and care, preferring one another over themselves. Peter was looking for the boundaries of limitations wherein he might be justified in the condemnation of another; Jesus was speaking of forgiveness.
The measurements which God gave to Moses in the pattern given in the mount demonstrated the exactness and all encompassing nature of the work of Yehovah. The pattern was set forth in the equality of measurements as the example of the heavenly reality of Gods perfect decree and never was there to be any deviations or modifications made for “A just weight and balance are Yehovah’s: all the weights in the bag are His work” and “divers weights are an abomination unto Yehovah and a false balance is not good” (Pro. 16:11 & 20:23).
Sin is a state of being as well as the commission of action. Adam was created devoid of the ability to ‘hit the mark’ so that, as God proclaimed (calling those things that are not as though they had already been) “in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die”, his conduct was commensurate to his nature. He had already been concluded under sin (shut up unto) by the decree of God before he was created; if this be not so, then the purpose of God stands not in election but in action. However, the Spirit teaches that the purpose of God is indeed solely according to election (Rms. 9:11).
There is never a time in which Adam may do anything which does not fall short of the glory of God. His ways are corrupt for they are of the earth and he is constantly and continually drawn away after the desires for the things of the earth. He does not seek after God, he is not righteous and he cannot receive the things or teaching of the Spirit of God. The question which Peter poses is improper for it assumes that there may be a time when the intentions and works of man may be devoid of sin; these things must not be “that no flesh should glory in His sight”.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, who would take account of his servants” (23)
This certain king is in the process of taking up with his servants their speech, discourse and state of mind. He is not coming in at the end of the fiscal year to open the books and see what has happened, he is actively observing and calling into consideration the thoughts and intents of the hearts of his servants which are demonstrated in their speech. He is continually active and intentionally constant in taking into careful consideration these inner most desires as they are manifested in doctrine, word and conduct (Heb. 4:12).
This is the King of Kings who sits upon His throne and rules over the kingdoms of this world. He does not wait for an event to happen before He responds accordingly for He has purposed in His heart, created according to the designs of His plan and has brought all things to pass by the power of His will. He was not surprised by the state of affairs of this servant whom He found completely in debt nor did He espies the future and waits until the optimum time to call this account into review. He created man His servant and set the time when he would be manifested in this habitation. He also set the boundaries and limitations of that habitation and properly equipped each subject pursuant to the labours assigned unto them and so when this one was brought unto Him owing Him 10,000 talents, nothing was amiss.
The debt this servant had was a compound debt. He began in debt and as the initial obligation stood unsettled, so it increased exponentially. This servant could not pay the price of the initial (“but forasmuch as he had not to pay”) therefore it is unconscionable that he should pay the sum especially when cast into the prison and this certain King was ever conscious of the matter.
The servant was not mindful of his obligation to the king as he made no attempt to resolve his situation. He did not understand the debt nor his guilt as he married and raised a family but when the Master revealed the obligation all he had was to be forfeited in payment of this enormous obligation. How could he not know? “Because when they knew God (the King) they did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful but became vain in the imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things; wherefore God gave them up unto vile affection” (Rms 1:21). Therefore man is without excuse.
Adam stands condemned before the righteousness of God. God created him in His image and given him an innumerable host of witnesses to His power and glory, yet He also filled the mind of man with the things of this world. The reference to this servant by Jesus is not speaking of any particular people or nation but rather every son of Adam. When Adam was called into account in the garden he knew what had happened for his eyes were opened and he knew he was naked. When God demanded an explanation, Adam blamed God and the woman which He had given. The woman, taken from Adam, blamed the serpent and all stood condemned before the certain King.
“The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord have patience with me and I will pay You all” (26).
The ignorance and arrogance of the Adamic nature is that he may find some redeeming value to his intentions and the works of his hands. He is a servant of God by creation who, after having done all that the Master has bid him do can claim nothing more than of being unprofitable. Each generation of Adam has a part to perform in God’s creation and as He enables them, we all “have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10) and nothing more.
As God raised up Pharaoh and made his heart feeble before Joseph so He delivered Israel into Egypt. When he raised up a Pharaoh that did not acknowledge Joseph or his contributions to the Egyptian society so God delivered Israel into the bondage He had promise to Abram hundreds of years earlier. When that Pharaoh arose whose heart was hardened by the hand of Yehovah God then He delivered Israel from that bondage and into the wilderness and in all these instances not one creature of the dust falls short of the labour which God had set for him to accomplish nor did they exceed that mark, adding to what God had decreed. So this servant in his carnal ignorance states before the King, ‘I cannot pay what I have owed but I shall work harder to pay the whole debt’. Adam could not atone for the act by which sin entered into the world and death by sin but he could sew aprons of fig leaves to cover his nakedness. The works of the hands of man intended for good are nothing short of filthy rags (Is. 64:6).
“Unto Adam also did Yehovah God make coats of skins and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21).
This demonstration of the forgiveness of God is set forth as the expression of His mercy. Neither Adam nor Eve ever confessed their sin before Him nor sought the clemency for their actions, yet God who is rich in mercy, manifested His pity upon them in their ignorance. He made the coat of skin for Adam and Eve and drove them from the garden. He did not change their Adamic nature. They saw that the fruit was good for food, even though God had given them of every tree of the garden. They saw that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to make wise as they were not content in what God had given them or the status in life He had assigned. Adam’s action, being commensurate to his nature, was in complete contempt for the ways and works of God and there is nothing new under the sun.
The servant was no different. He stood guilty and though he worshipped the king and promised to pay all yet he could do no more than Adam in the garden. The King, moved with compassion, loosed him from his confinement and forgave him the debt. He asked nothing in return for this mercy and this mercy did absolutely nothing to change the heart and mind of the servant. The same debt that he was called into account for was to continue for he had not been changed. His nature was still full of inability and unclean and as he was set at liberty, he did that which was right in his own mind.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
There has never been a time in which God was not absolutely aware of and in control of the thoughts and intents of the heart of man just as the certain king. Adam and his children did not go out into the world and become wicked because of the society they grew up in or the socio-economical conditions they lived in. There are no victims of society or circumstances. God knows the frame of each of His creations (that they are dust – Ps. 103:14) and He has put it in their hearts to fulfill His will in whatsoever they do. God was not surprised at the conditions in the world prior to the deluge anymore than the certain king was surprised at the conduct of this wicked servant who went forth and lorded over his fellow servant. God has shown forth His love and mercy unto all, even as He did to Adam in the garden and the servant who owed all, yet “can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? The may you do good, that are accustomed to evil” (Jer. 13:23).
Man acts according to the nature that he has been given. Nothing can change a man or the course he is on save the Creator. He has established his goings and He alone directs his steps. He brought forth Esau first to demonstrate that the primal nature and instincts of man are natural. Even though the child of promise was in the same womb together with the natural man, yet nothing may be done to make that which is natural, spiritual or to make that which is spiritual, natural.
Peter was asking a natural question fraught with carnal reasoning in order to bring forth justification for works of righteousness before God. Jesus was not teaching him and the other disciples there with him of the wicked of the world, He was speaking of their own Adamic nature. Neither Peter nor anyone else there that day understood that it is not a matter of ingratiating oneself in his ability to forgive but the humbling of Adam in that he is forgiven; “Bless Yehovah O my soul and do not forget all His benefits: who forgave all your iniquities and heals all your diseases” (Ps. 103:43f)
“So likewise shall My heavenly Father also do unto you, if you from your hearts do not forgive every one his brother their trespasses” (35)
When Jesus stood up in the meeting place (synagogue) He was given the books and He read from Isaiah that the acceptable year of Yehovah had come. This is the year of the ‘loud shout of rejoicing’ (jubilee) for the Law was manifested as being fulfilled by Messiah in all righteousness. The righteous Judge had come forth to exact the debt from His servants for the fullness of time had come. Here, in the end of the world, He manifested His demand of a reckoning of the intentions, words and actions of His people. The sin of which, that inherent inability to ‘hit the mark’, had been imputed upon the head of His Elect servant, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so there was atonement for their sin. “And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof because You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
He removed that sin as far as the east is from the west, never to be called into account again (Ps. 103:12). The cup of the fury of His wrath was poured out upon His Lamb, in measure, and “by this therefore shall the iniquity if Jacob be purged and this is the fruit to take away his sin, when He makes all the stones of the altar as chalk stone that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up” (Is. 27:9). This being finished from the foundation of the world (Heb. 4:3) was made manifest on the Day of Atonement as He entered once, in the end of the world, into that sanctuary not made with hands and presented the blood of the sacrifice sin (Heb. 9:26). On this self-same day, when the Trump of God sounded, the shout of deliverance was made throughout the land unto Israel of God. Liberty was proclaimed to all captives as He led captivity captive (Ps. 68:18) and all servants were returned to their houses. The full amount of the debt was paid as “Yehovah has taken away your judgments. He has cast out your enemy for the King of Israel, even Yehovah, is in the midst of you and you shall see evil no more” (Zeph. 3:14).
As the child of grace grows in the grace and knowledge of His will, he understands the wickedness of his ways and the contradiction of sin against himself. Everyone as they travel through the waste howling wilderness has been called aside into a place prepared for them and dwell in the wilderness and lives in the valley of Achor (causing sorrow). The schoolmaster, which brings them unto the Anointed One continues to reveal how exceedingly sinful sin is and daily they are slain by the ministration of condemnation and death. “Then shall you remember your own evil ways and your doings that were not good and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations” (Ezek. 36:31). Yet they live for in Him they live and move and have their being as He is the life of the body.
Forgiveness cannot be conjured up or manufactured by the flesh any more than the hands of Adam can circumcise the foreskin of your hearts. Then both Moses and the prophet Jeremiah commanded this unto the rebellious house of Israel and they would not for they could not. Jesus commanded that forgiveness come from the heart which is impossible if it be an heart of stone. Obedience to the handwriting of ordinances upon the tablets of stone cannot purge the conscience of sin and by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight. When Yehovah your God has circumcised the foreskin of your hearts and has removed the heart of stone and given an heart of flesh, then is revealed all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Then is the eternal love of God discovered unto the sheep of His pasture and the people of His fields. Then is known why and how in Adam dwells no good thing for he is carnal sold under sin. Herein is known, by experience of the common salvation, that peace which passes all understanding. This hope keeps your heart and mind in Christ Jesus to those who have the testimony of the Spirit and keep the commandments.
Peter wanted to know the parameters of forgiveness and yet he demonstrated he did not know what forgiveness was. There are no parameters with God for He is all in all and His Kingdom has no end. As His love for His people is eternal so their love for Him and for their neighbours (of the pasture) is everlasting. As they have been forgiven in Christ so also they forgive one another knowing what miserable beings they are in Adam. This is the common experience of everyone who is born from above when it pleases the Father to reveal Himself in them. Then is the communion of His Spirit with our Spirit which is revealed from faith to faith. Then comes the understanding of the contradiction of sin against the Holiness of God and the vanity which He has subjected His people under unto the hope of the deliverance and the manifestation of the sons of God. Herein does the creature groan within and Yehovah God hears “the groaning of the prisoner to loose those that are appointed unto death; to declare the name of Yehovah in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem” (Ps. 102:21).
“But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept” (I Cor. 15:20).
The acceptable year of the Lord has been made manifest. The Messenger of God has proclaimed the everlasting gospel and all the world has heard. He has bound up the broken-hearted and no man can loose them again. He has proclaimed liberty to the captives and opened the prison doors. The Anointed Salvation of Yehovah has overcome the world and the Lord God Omnipotent reigns over all.
Offense must come as ordained for good by the Father for His Beloved children. We all offend each other in our lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life for this is our nature in Adam. The love of the brethren is precious and peculiar and it is not optional to one who is born from above. Every child of the Kingdom has the testimony of the Spirit of God within and they keep His Law perfectly; herein do they love one another, for love is the fruit of the Spirit of Holiness (Gal. 5:22). We love Him because He first loved us. As we are shown the wretched nature of the body of this death we are given that understanding that is not of the flesh concerning the magnitude of the love of God and His grace, wherewith He has forgiven us all our trespasses and sin. Therefore we forgive from the heart as we love the brethren.
Your servant in Christ,
Elder) Chet Dirkes
April 5, 2015