Tag Archives: Heaven

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

Jesus told a parable that has been controversial ever since. It doesn’t need to be, but when it is not understood properly, it is easy to see why it can be. It’s the parable of the dishonest/shrewd steward (manager).

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness.” (Luke 16:1-8a, ESV).

The story in itself is simple enough. A rich man hears that his money is being squandered by his money manager. So the rich man calls him in, tells him to turn in his ledgers and books. He’s finished working for him. It’s clear that the manager had no other skills and had prospered himself under the rich man’s money. There was no where to go now that he was fired. So before turning in the ledgers and books, he called on the debtors and lowered their debts by various sums. How clever! Dishonest? Yes, but very clever indeed. While one may not be able to admire the man’s dishonesty, he can certainly admire his quick-thinking. So the rich man does just that (this is where the controversy comes in). The rich man suffers loss at the hands of the manager, but he can’t help but admire his quick-thinking (his shrewdness). That quick-thinking made the rich man’s debtors indebted to him less and indebted to the manager even more. It would be cheaper for them to help out the manager than for them to pay back all that they owed to the rich man. That’s what we call, “thinking on your feet!”

So what’s the story about? It’s about us and about our use of money. Typically speaking, God is the owner of all and we are stewards (managers) of all he owns. That would include money. Jesus told this parable so that we were be more clever about how we use our money in this world. “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings,” (Luke 16:8b-9, ESV).

Jesus wasn’t asking his followers to cheat God or their bosses or anyone else. What he was wanting them to do was to think cleverly about how they use the money that God has given to them. The shrewd (clever) manager initially was called into the rich man’s office because he wasn’t being so clever. In fact, he was using the rich man’s money to make himself comfortable—a little too comfortable, if you know what I mean. The truth is, many Christians are doing the same thing. Jesus said that there is more to God’s money than comfort. There are needs to be met. We need to be clever about how we spend our (actually God’s) money. If we spend $1,000 on a 72” 4K television that means we have $1,000 less to spend on our “friends.” Who are our “friends?” Fellow-believers in need. Jesus does not seem to be saying that we are to live like peasants, though some may hear the call to do so. He was calling us to think about our money carefully and cleverly. It is not for our posh life, or even extra-comfortable life, but for our “friends” in need.

There will be a day when money fails. That means, there will be a day when we die. As Paul wrote, “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world,” (1 Timothy 6:7, ESV). Money will eventually fail us at death. But in that moment just before death, we can think about all that we have done with God’s riches. We can think of all who have been helped and blessed because we dealt wisely and cleverly with the money in our pockets and in our accounts. These friends who have gone before us will welcome us into heaven, our eternal dwells. As Randy Alcorn has said, “We can’t take it with us, but we can send it on ahead.”

So friends, let us be clever with what we have been given.

The Work of Cherubim

I am writing this on Sunday, July 1, 2018.  I say that because I finished a sermon this morning and had to leave a portion out that I found very interesting. I simply did not have a chance to bring this up.  You can watch the sermon here, if you’d like.  What I did not get to in these verses was the work of the cherubim.  “[A]t the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life,” (Genesis 3:24, ESV).

This is the first mention of cherubim we see in Scripture.  What makes this interesting is that the cherubim are always seen as being a type of guard.  Most times God is portrayed in Ezekiel, we see Him with the cherubim.  In my head, I often picture these beings as the the English royal guards or the Secret Service here in the States.  This isn’t because God is vulnerable, but because God is majestic.  Here in Genesis, some cherubim are used to guard the tree of life.  No one is to come near the tree.

Here is the interesting thing:  Ezekiel, in speaking of the prince of Tyre draws a parallel to what happened in the garden of Eden.

“You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created they were prepared.
You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you,” (vv. 12-15, ESV).

It goes on and you can read more of it, but here is the point: Satan, originally a cherub, was appointed as the guardian in the garden of Eden.  He was set there as a protector (of whatever sort) toward Adam and Eve, and yet he is the one who became their tempter.  Now God has set another set of cherubim as guardians to the tree of life.

We also find depictions of the cherubim in the tabernacle and temple.  The curtains are filled with woven cherubim throughout.  But even more we see:

And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. . .And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.  There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that i will give you in commandment for the people of Israel, (Exodus 25:18; 21-22, ESV).

Thus here we see again guarding the testimony and the mercy seat where God would manifest himself.  Only the high priest was allowed to go past the curtains of cherubim and in to the Holy of Holies and only on Day of Atonement.  The idea is plain to see: there is a separation of God from mankind, with the exception of the high priest and only when he comes with blood.  At the same time, the Holy of Holies was to be filled with smoke from the sensor so that even though the priest was in the most sacred of earthly places, there was still a barrier between man and God.

The same is seen in the temple, but we also see that when God leaves the temple, he rides on none other than the cherubim.  There is constant separation of man and God and eternal life.  That is until we see the cherubim in Revelation.  John, taking after Ezekiel who called these being the “four-living creatures,” described the scene for us.

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth,” (Revelation 5:6-10, ESV).

John first brought these glorious creatures up in chapter 4.  In both places we see that these four living creatures are no longer blocking access to the throne, but participating in worship of God and Christ along with the ransomed people for God, the saints.  No longer is God blocked by a cherubim veil, but because of Christ, the veil has been torn and we come before His throne in confidence and humility.  Oh how the death and resurrection of Christ has changed all eternity–reaching even to the work of the cherubim.