The Parable of the talents
Shabbat Shalom family!
Tehillim/Psalm 135:1 “Praise Yah! Praise the Name of יהוה; Praise, you servants of יהוה.”
It is good to praise the Name of יהוה, and as servants of יהוה we are called on to praise Him, worship Him and serve Him with gladness: Tehillim/Psalm 100:2 “Serve יהוה with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.”
Words such as servants and serve occur throughout the Scriptures, and as we begin to understand the concept of these terms that are often misunderstood, we as servants of the Most High are better equipped to serve יהוה with gladness! Tonight I want us to dig a little deeper into the understanding of this concept of servanthood and service unto יהוה as we heed the very words of יהושע, in a very important parable regarding His imminent return. And so in a message tonight called, “Talented Servants Serve!” please let us take a closer look at what is classically known as ‘The Parable of the Talents’. Turn with me to Mattithyahu/Matthew 25:14-30 (read).
This parable is found in the section of the Besorah (Good News) of Mattithyahu/Matthew where יהושע answers His talmidim (disciples) on the question of the sign of His coming and the end of the age (Mattithyahu/Matthew 24:3).
And so we find 2 chapters written regarding the answer to this question where יהושע clearly warns them not to be led astray, as many will come in His Name and lead many astray; and there will be wars and fightings, famine and sickness – the beginning of birth pains and His disciples would be hated for His Name’s sake. False prophets and teachers will lead many astray and lawlessness will increase and only those who endure to the end will be saved. He explains to His talmidim that once He leaves they are to take courage for He is coming again and challenges them to remain steadfast as the Son of Aḏam is coming at an hour when they do not expect Him; and then He proceeds to teach them to be trustworthy and wise servants as He begins to explain the reign of the Heavens being compared to ten maidens and tells them to ‘keep watch’ and not be found to be without oil. After this He tells them this parable of the talents and directly after this He shares with them the fact that when He comes again, the nations will be gathered to Him and be separated as sheep are separated from goats! These words came a couple of days before He would be delivered up and are words that were to be greatly heeded, so that His servants would be found to be doing that which He entrusted them to do.
In verse 14 we see our passage tonight start with, ‘for it is like…’ – what is this that He is referring to? He is further expanding His instructions to His talmidim in regards to the reign of the heavens that is coming and how they are to guard to do all that has been entrusted to them while their Master is gone on a journey.
The essence of this parable is the clear message that while Messiah, our Master, has gone away He has given us, His servants, a responsibility – each according to his own measure – and expects us to be reliable servants, doing what we have been called and commissioned to do and when He does come back we each must give an account. And when He does come back He will either find us having been faithful or faithless. In a parable encouraging them to not lose heart and always pray He says in:
Luqas/Luke 18:8 “I say to you that He shall do right to them speedily. But when the Son of Aḏam comes, shall He find the belief on the earth?”
When Messiah comes again, will He find people who are doers of His Word or hearers only!
Let us get some greater insight into this parable of the talents in understanding some of the key words and concepts in regards to a Greek mind-set as opposed to a Hebraic one.
As we know we see pictured here 3 servants given different measures – one was given 5 talents, another 2 and still another 1. We must first recognise the magnitude of what each were given in this parable/teaching; and to do that we must realise just what a talent is. The word talent is the Greek word τάλαντον talanton – Strong’s G5007 meaning, ‘a balance, hence that which is weighed i.e. a talent’. A talent was around 3000 shekels in weight. The ancient Greek talent was equal to ‘60 Attic minae or 6000 drachmae’. A talent of gold weighs around 92 kilograms. As a little bit of fun I likened this ‘weight’ to today’s gold price which is around R 411,143.00 per kilo, making 1 talent of gold worth approximately R37 million and 5 talents of gold approximately R187 million, with 2 talents approximately R74 million!!! That is a lot of value and while we may argue the value and weight system compared to back then, understanding that a talent was worth 6000 drachmae, which was equivalent to a day’s wages, then taking out the Shabbats and Feast days as non-working days with no income it would take a person approximately 21 years to earn 1 talent and not have spent any of it!!! This puts it in a better perspective in understanding just how much each got and the one who got the 1 talent certainly did not receive too little!!! I mean just think about it for a moment – imagine getting 21 years gross salary at once – and that would be equivalent of just 1 talent. There is just no way, even if one tried their hardest, that you could ever save up that amount within your lifetime! What we must learn from this parable is that the fact is, here we see that these servants were given talents that they could never have earned on their own; and so it is with us who are in Messiah. We, His servants, have been given a whole lot, even if it is only 1; and He has entrusted us with that which is His and calls us to be good and faithful stewards.
What is worthy of noting here is that the one who received 5 gained 5 more and the one who received 2 gained 2 more and is a clear picture of bringing in a 100 % return on investment. By this I simply mean that this shows that a faithful and good servant gives their all as there are no half measures here! The one who received 5 did not bring 2 ½ and likewise the one who received 2 did not bring in 3. Each one gained for the Master what he had been entrusted with. This is a lesson on total stewardship and servanthood in submitting and surrendering your all to your Master, and doing all that He has commanded you.
This was a common practice where owners would go on long journeys and entrust into their servants care the affairs of his estate while he was gone and given the uncertainty of transportation methods of those days, the servants would not know the exact return and even the most well-planned trip would be open-ended. This would always be in the mind of the servants and they would recognize that while they had control over the assets of their master, all was still their masters and they were possessors but not owners and were to manage well that which was given for them to do. We must too realise that what we have has been given to us and it is not really ours!
Tehillim/Psalm 24:1 “The earth belongs to יהוה, And all that fills it – The world and those who dwell in it.”
Ḥaggai 2:8 “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ declares יהוה of hosts.”
Many people do not understand this fact as they sadly do not recognise that all we have and all we are belongs to יהוה, and as a result of this selfish mind-set they are unable to be good and faithful servants serving one another.
יהושע, our Master, simply expects us to give all we have been given:
Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a gift, serve one another, as good trustees of the manifold favour of Elohim.”
יהוה will always give us what we are able to handle, even when we do not think so. This allocation given by the Master to His servants is also a clear picture of different callings, and how each are equally important and bear the same responsibility as יהוה shows no favouritism but entrusts that which He desires to those whom He has designed to be entrusted with. We each have a task and each are required to perform the tasks and use the gifting and talents we have been abundantly given without trying to perform what is not ours to perform!!!
יהושע expects fruit from our lives as we ‘stay’ in Him – that is to stay in His love, which is to ‘hear, guard and do’ His commands:
Yoḥanan/John 15:10 “If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love, even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love.”
The one who was given 1 talent and hid what he was given reveals simply that he did not love his master as he did not guard his master’s commands! So many today are doing the same thing as they neglect to guard to do all the commands of Elohim and in fact they may even declare that there is no point to all the obedience required as they see those in the world seemingly better off!
Mal’aḵi/Malachi 3:14-15 “You have said, ‘It is worthless to serve Elohim. And what did we gain when we guarded His Charge, and when we walked as mourners before יהוה of hosts? 15 ‘And now we are calling the proud blessed – not only are the doers of wrongness built up, but they also try Elohim and escape.’”
The one who hid the talent is a picture of those who show a lack of reverence and understanding of the fear of יהוה, and are instead falling prey to the pressures of this world and afraid of what lies ahead and what others in the world might say:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 57:11 “And of whom have you been afraid, or feared, that you have lied and not remembered Me, nor taken it to your heart? Have I not been silent, even from of old, and you have not feared Me?”
Romiyim/Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Those who are found to be hiding what they have been given and living in fear – fear of man – do not recognise who the Father is and are not able to understand the great love and value of being adopted and grafted in to The Covenants of Promise and are therefore unable to live according to the Covenants by which we are called to be grafted in to by the Blood of our Master, יהושע Messiah!
In being slack to do all the commands of Elohim reveals which family the lazy and wicked one belongs to:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 18:9 “Also, he who is slack in his work is a brother of a master destroyer.”
Are you slack and a brother of a master destroyer or obedient and brother of the Master builder!
What we need to understand clearly is that just as we have spoken before on Yeshayahu/Isaiah 1 and the need to be eating of His Good Word as we submit and obey, or else we may find ourselves being devoured (eaten) by the very Word that can give us life. Eat or be eaten! In this parable of the talents the same message comes through – use the talents given – that is be mindful of the weight of His esteem upon you and walk in loving obedience or else be found to be a lazy and disobedient coward and a ‘talent’ of His wrath will crush you!
Ḥazon/Revelation 16:21 “And great hail from the heaven fell upon men, every hailstone about the weight of a talent. And men blasphemed Elohim for the plague of the hail, because that plague was exceedingly great.”
Hailstones the weight of a talent – can you imagine 90kg hailstones coming down!!!
The one who was given 1 talent hid the ‘silver’ of his master! In Scripture pure word of Elohim is described as silver refined 7 times and so what we can see clearly here is that the hiding of the master’s silver is a picture of those who ‘hide’ the very life giving Word and fail to exercise the purity and excellence of the valuable gift we have been given and therefore never get to realise and grow in the life giving knowledge, wisdom and understanding of Elohim. It is a picture of so many today who may have a copy of the Scriptures yet never even open it up as it simply gathers dust and when the Master returns they may think that giving the Master a pristine copy of an untouched Scriptures will be sufficient – this only reveals the state of the lazy and wicked who refuse to exercise the word that has been given to them to live by!
There is only one place reserved for the lazy and wicked cowards:
Ḥazon/Revelation 21:8 “But as for the cowardly, and untrustworthy, and abominable, and murderers, and those who whore, and drug sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the false, their part is in the lake which burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
Wicked and lazy is the one who hides his talent and listen to what Mishlĕ says about the lazy:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 26:13-16 “The lazy one says, “There is a lion in the way! A fierce lion is in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy one turn on his bed. 15 The lazy one buries his hand in a dish; It tires him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy one is wiser in his own eyes than seven rendering advice.”
A lazy one is one who shows a lack of discipline and is slow to take any action, whereas the good and faithful servant wastes no time in getting busy with the things of their master!
Ḥaggai 1:2-4 “Thus spoke יהוה of hosts, saying, ‘This people have said, “The time has not come, the time the House of יהוה is to be built.” ’ ” 3 Then the word of יהוה came by Ḥaggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this House be in ruins?”
So many today are neglecting to do what has been entrusted to them and expected of them by Messiah and as a result the House of Elohim is standing in ruins as people are more concerned about their own security and built up lifestyles of comfort and compromise instead of attending to the House that is to be built up by living stones as each living stone does its part!
Good and faithful or wicked and lazy – there is no in between – anything less than your all puts you on the wicked and lazy team and this is a stern wake up call for the servants of יהוה to get serving!!!
One of the key problems with the inability to find people serving is the lack of understanding of servanthood; and this is what struck me greatly while preparing this message, as I am sure you have heard all of what I have said before, yet we do need a reminding of these more often than not; however I want to touch on the different mind-set on servants and their required service, as I believe this to be a major stumbling block in many talented servants serving with their all.
What struck me about this parable above all was that the master gave talents to ‘his servants’. In other words they were his to start off with and I would like us to look at both the Greek and Hebrew words for servant and service as well as the different mind-sets behind these.
In this parable the word for servant is the Greek word δοῦλος doulos – Strong’s G1401 and is translated as, ‘slave, servant, bondservant, bondslaves – both men and women’. You will hear me referring to a ‘doulos’ a lot tonight as I want you to get this term and concept stirring in your minds in the understanding of how we are to be a ‘doulos’ of Messiah. In the Greek language the ‘doulos’ (servant/slave) and the group of words associated with this, be it serving, service, slavery etc., all speak of being a ‘slave’ or speak of standing in the relationship of a slave and so in the Greek mind-set regarding the ‘doulos’ we have a service which is seen as service which is not a matter of choice for the one rendering the service, as he/she has to perform what is required whether he/she likes it or not, for the servant is subject as a slave to the will of another – that is the will of their owner! One of the distinctive features of the Greek mind-set of self-awareness is the thought of freedom and this mind-set finds personal dignity in the fact that he/she is free and therefore his/her self-awareness stands out sharply from anything which stands under the concept of performing the duties of a slave and obeying what is being commanded to be done.
In the Greek mind-set where there is the service/duty of a ‘doulos’ (slave) and obedience required by a slave, the right of self-government is seen to be set aside and another’s takes precedence of one’s own, with the thinking that you have no right to govern self as another governs you by their standards.
Now while we must understand that the Greek city state was very dependent upon the ‘service’ of its citizens – they gave ‘service’ with all their powers and often even with life itself; however, what is repudiated in the Greek mind is ‘service’ after the manner of the ‘doulos’; who not only has absolutely no possibility of evading the tasks that have been laid upon him, but he also has no right of personal choice but must rather do what another will have done and refrain from doing what another will not have done! In the ‘doulos’ the free Greek world always sees its own antitype – and in the ‘doulos’ the concept of performing the duties of a slave it sees the perversion of its own nature of freedom. Hence the Greek mind-set can only reject and scorn the slightest resemblance to that of a slave. With the Greek concept of Elohim there is in fact no place for this word ‘doulos’ being used as an expression of religious relationship and service. So in essence what I am trying to tell you is simply this – to the Greek mind, serving according to the manner of a ‘doulos’ is not on – they will serve, yes, as long as it fits in with their needs and they are in agreement with the requirements and so may even respond saying, “I will do what you ask, if it makes sense to me and I can fit it in to my way of thinking” and naturally the Greek mind-set will resist the concept of “I will submit and obey and do what you command, even if I do not understand”.
I find this very fascinating as it certainly begins to uncover and explain the resistance by so many to submit and serve Elohim according to His Torah! One of the major reasons for this resistance of the concept of ‘doulos’ is that this word comes from the word δέω deō – Strong’s G1210 which means, ‘to bind, tie, put in chains, prisoner’. Certainly this concept of seeming ‘enslavement’ is greatly rejected by the Greek mind-set who claims its own freedom and understandably rejects the notion to be commanded to obey the Torah!
I clearly remember being sharply rebuked by a man a few years ago who plainly stated that whenever I would say, “You must do…” or “You have to…” in any message he would resist that tone and reject the instruction and say that I cannot tell him that he must do anything!!! Well now I have come to understand just how the effect of Greek thinking has penetrated many minds in their approach to the Truth and as a result refuse to become true servants or a ‘doulos’ of Messiah!
Now while this word or concept is greatly rejected by a Greek mind-set we see in the Greek text very clearly that this word is used 127 times in the Renewed writings (N.T.)
In fact we are told that Messiah took the form of a ‘doulos’:
Pilipiyim/Philippians 2:7 “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and came to be in the likeness of men.”
What is the Hebrew mind-set with the concept of servant and servanthood? Let us take a brief look:
Wayyiqra/Leviticus 25:55 “Because the children of Yisra’ĕl are servants to Me, they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Mitsrayim. I am יהוה your Elohim.”
As a child of Yisra’ĕl, which we have become by the Blood of Messiah, we are servants of יהוה. The word used here in the Hebrew is עֶבֶד eḇed – Strong’s H5650 meaning, ‘servant, slave, bondservant’ – The same meaning as the Greek word ‘doulos’. ‘eḇed’ is used 800 times in the Tanak (O.T.) and is used as a noun and comes from the primitive root verb עָבַד aḇad – Strong’s H5647 meaning, ‘to work, serve, observe, do the work, cultivate, worship’ and carries the understanding of ‘expending considerable energy and intensity in performing a task or function’ – in other words – ‘giving it your all’!
As we go to the Torah for a great reference to our understanding we see the concept of bondservant being described clearly:
Shemoth/Exodus 21:5-6 “And if the servant truly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children, let me not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him before Elohim, and shall bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl. And he shall serve him forever.”
This is a profound statement being made here. One that we make, as servants of Messiah, of our Master! When we too have made the good confession and declare our love for our Elohim and Saviour then we serve Him forever – yet there was something that was to happen – let us see how that applies to us today! Firstly we must note the clear order being shown here: I Love my master, wife, children… notice that his master comes first and it is the same with us today:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
Love for our Master comes first!!! This does not in any way diminish our love for our spouse or children, but reflects the true nature of our love that without such fervent love for our Master we are truly unable to show complete love in service to our family – but love for Him must always be our primary focus that will cause us to flow with a genuine love for others! In a declaration of our love for our Master – here it says “if a servant truly says” – this is vital for us to understand, as there are many today who say they love Elohim, yet their love is not expressed in obedience to His instructions and is not made vocally with a loud voice of faith! This love speaks of a true and complete commitment to Him. Those who claim to ‘stay’ in His house yet do not love Him by obeying Him are thieves and not servants! This is a call for voluntary service – we have been bought at a price and it is for freedom that he has set us free, yet we choose to be His bondservant!
“When a servant truly says” – speaks of one making a clear and definite choice with the intent for others to hear it!
If this be the case: Bring him to the door or doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl! Now let me make it clear that we do not pierce people’s ears today:
Bring him to the door – יהושע tells us in Yoḥanan/Jon 10:7 that He is the door of the sheep. We who declare our love for our Master who has bought us at a price – we come to Him and declare our desire to forever belong to Him.
Doorpost – Doorpost is where we are commanded to write the Ten Words upon and is a constant reminder to us as we go out and come in that we guard to do all He has commanded us to. It was on the doorpost that Yisra’ĕl was to apply the blood of the Pěsaḥ Lamb
Pierce the ear – the ear speaks of the ability to hear and allow His word to be heard as it is, even as it pierces!
Too many today who claim to be servants of Messiah only want their ears ‘tickled’ and not ‘pierced’ with the Truth.
The piercing of the ear to the doorpost would be symbolic of the servant now belonging to the house and be submitted to the authority of the house. So many today are unwilling to submit to authority like this! If they do not like what they ‘hear’ they all too quickly rush off to find another assembly where they will hear what they like, yet never show true commitment and submission!
The piercing of the ear would show a permanent decision that could not be reversed.
Our relationship to יהוה begins with the command to “hear“, so the ear is the appropriate place to bear this reminder of whom we have chosen to belong to. To commit to the house means to commit to the rulings of the house, which are written on the doorposts—to say, “I hear what you are saying and will guard to do all I hear!”
The piercing of the ear to the doorpost where the Torah is written shows us the commitment to the commands of the House and יהושע who is the Door, was pierced for our transgressions and it is to Him we listen and make our choice to commit to living in obedience to Him – the Living Torah!
He who has ears – ears that are ‘pierced’ that is committed by choice to follow Messiah – let Him hear His right-rulings and live by them! We must beware of ear ticklers who have the appearance of a door that has no commands upon them – tickling ears will listen gladly to a lawless doorpost!
We are now bondservants – ‘doulos’ – of the Most High:
Romiyim/Romans 1:1 “Sha’ul, a servant of יהושע Messiah, a called emissary, separated to the Good News of Elohim”
Ya’aqoḇ, the half-brother of יהושע was:
Ya’aqoḇ/James 1:1 “Yaʽaqoḇ, a servant of Elohim and of the Master יהושע Messiah, to the twelve tribes who are in the dispersion: Greetings.”
Kěpha Bet/2 Peter 1:1 “Shimʽon Kěpha, a servant and emissary of יהושע Messiah, to those who have obtained a belief as precious as ours by the righteousness of our Elohim and Saviour יהושע Messiah”
Yehuḏah/Jude 1:1 “Yehuḏah, a servant of יהושע Messiah, and brother of Yaʽaqoḇ, to those who are called, set-apart by Elohim the Father, and preserved in יהושע Messiah”
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy lists for us the reason for the curses that come as a result of disobedience:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 28:47 “Because you did not serve יהוה your Elohim with joy and gladness of heart for all the plenty,”
In the Hebraic mind-set becoming a bondservant of Messiah is not a burden, in fact it is a burden to not become one, and we recognise that we are no longer our own and that He has bought us at a price and we have made the choice to serve. He makes it clear for us – choose life or death – we choose life and with that choice comes the responsibility to live as He commands and give an account of how we have lived and managed His property when He returns. When we make the choice to become a bondservant of Messiah forever, we are in a way relinquishing our own ‘right to choose’ any other options to serving in our own manner or way of understanding as we accept by choice to submit and obey whatever He commands us to!
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 12:8 “Do not do as we are doing here today – each one doing whatever is right in his own eyes.”
It is to the ‘doulos’ of Messiah that the Ḥazon/Revelation of Messiah has been given in order to show us what must take place speedily (Ḥazon 1:1); and it is the ‘doulos’ of Messiah who are sealed on the forehead (Ḥazon 7:3); and it will be the ‘doulos’ of Messiah that will serve Him (Ḥazon 22:3).
As we recognise who our Master is then may we be a people who recognise that we have chosen to serve and we are to be found serving with great joy and not be found to be lazy in our duty and responsibility that He has given us as He has given us all collectively many talents for which He expects a 100% harvest of fruitfulness back. How are you serving the Master, while He has gone on a journey? Have you been struggling with the Greek mind-set of resistance to submit and obey to the Master’s will or do you embrace the true Hebraic mind-set of our faith in Messiah, our Master and are giving your all? TALENTED SERVANTS SERVE – are you!!!
When we also realise that this parable is of a master to his servants, we are then further able to narrow down the sobering reality of this clear teaching designed to awaken those who are asleep; and therefore I would by the picture drawn from this parable say that 1 in every 3 servants will be found to have been hiding the talents they were entrusted with. 1 in 3 servants – that is to say that 1 in every 3 ‘claiming’ torah obedient followers of Messiah are hiding and not truly serving Messiah – perhaps that is what the end result will be and maybe even a more accurate account we see at the moment is that it could be as many as 2 in every 3 are not serving as they should – which is a very sobering wake up call for us all!!!
You cannot serve Elohim and mammon!!!
We are no longer ‘slaves/servants’ or a ‘doulos’ of sin, but have been set free from sin so that we are now a ‘doulos’ (still a servant/slave) to righteousness and we must serve our Master with our all – the very thing Sha’ul speaks about in Romiyim/Romans 6 – he was, among other things, explaining the different mind-set approaches to being a ‘doulos’!!!
Romiyim/Romans 6: 16-18 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves servants for obedience, you are servants of the one whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? 17 But thanks to Elohim that you were servants of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became servants of righteousness.”
You are a ‘doulos’ of the one you obey, even if it of self, but we who were a ‘doulos’ of sin, obeyed from the heart that form of teaching – what is written upon our hearts? The Torah – we have obeyed the teaching of the Torah – the very Word we have been entrusted with as a ‘doulos’ of The Master and are now free from sin, equipped to be a good and faithful ‘doulos’ of righteousness, which is to guard to do all our Master commands us to do!!!
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, receiving an unshakeable reign, let us hold the favour, through which we serve Elohim pleasingly with reverence and awe”
Each and every one of us has received immeasurable gift and talent/s and so He has equipped us to be talented servants for Him!
DO NOT HIDE – TALENTED SERVANT – SERVE!!!