Last and First – Matthew 17 to 21

Matthew 17 to 21 is what I call the Forth Block of Kingdom Teaching, and we will focus on the “first to last, leaders to servants, greatest to the humble” teachings Jesus gave His disciples. These chapters start with the Transfiguration and go to Jesus delivering His first sermon from the Two Mounts. I have used mentions of John the Baptist to frame the blocks of teachings about the Kingdom. Yes, there are other thoughts and teachings in this period. Three standout examples are: Jesus was questioned twice on divorce, He uses children several times in His teachings, and foretells His death twice. If I extend the block into His Sermons on the Two Mounts (the fifth block), He tells two parables about weddings. Jesus’ changes in physical locations are also worth noting.

This Last to First series of studies has already challenged some long-held paradigms. That is never comfortable; it is necessary but not pleasant. There are many first/last ideas in these chapters. After playing the tour guide of Jesus’ travels I will focus on three related kingdom thoughts.

His Final Pilgrimage – I will not go into great detail here, as I have done some of that in other studies. Even His movements have a “least to great” lesson in them.

  • He is on the mount where He is transfigured and meets with Moses and Elijah. (John the Baptist is mentioned here.)
  • Capernaum, for the last time.  
  • Jesus leaves the land of Naphtali and Zebulun (Galilee). He “goes over” the Jordan and to the area across from Jericho.
  • If you check with the other Gospels, He does several trips to the west bank.
  • He begins His final trip to Jerusalem by crossing the Jordan and going to Jericho. He is busy here and possibly was there for several days.
  • He travels to the Mount of Olives where He sends for a donkey.
  • Jesus does a “victory ride” into Jerusalem and inspects the Temple. (John the Baptist is mentioned in His first of two sermons on Tuesday of Holy Week.)

I know that I have a tendency to single out a story or thought. It seems that the Holy Spirit has grouped several separate lessons together to highlight a theme. In this block, the timespan is probably several weeks and completely different locations. The audience however is the Twelve Disciples and the others in His camp.

Children – Chapter 18 opens with the disciples wanting to know who was going to be the greatest (megas) in the kingdom of heaven. There is no doubt, in my mind, that they were asking about an earthy kingdom. I believe that Jesus planted the seed for this question when He asked about the Temple tax. The Master Teacher did a show and tell by using a little (mikros) child to focus on being humble (tapeinoō). The test for this teaching unit came in 19:13-15. The disciples did not make an “A” so Jesus did a quick reteach.

The Father then supplied an object lesson of a rich young ruler who did not want to become humble. This “righteous” child of Abraham, this megas, knew something was missing. Jesus quizzed him on Commandments 5-9, and he was good. I always find it interesting that Commandments 1- 4 were not mentioned. (Exodus 20) You may form your own opinion on that. His title and money had not brought him peace and he doubted his salvation. The young man did not like Jesus’ answer, he wanted a spiritual answer and was told to do away with his earthy hinderance. (I have not forgotten the l. Earthy = dust.)

Put a Selah in-between 19:22 and 23. Ignore the French printer’s chapter break and look at 19:23 to 20:16 as one whole, new lesson.

Last/First – The Spirit and Matthew changed terms in this new teaching, but the thought stays true. The “camp of disciples” saw the megas’ first (prōtos) position, and they knew he had salvation, because! Jesus segways from the earthy kingdom and moves to the Heavenly one in 19:28. The word/phrase is “palingenesia” Strong G3824. (All of the Greek is from Mounce.) It means renewal, new birth, or regeneration.

Your heart and vision will determine how you view first (prōtos) and last (eschatos). Your starting position is important. There is an interesting switch in last/first from 19:30 to 20:16, see my first post in this series.

John’s Eema – I have no doubt that John and James’ mother was in the camp that left Capernaum. There is no reason not to think that she had heard all of the teachings and witnessed the miracles that were done by Jericho. Like the young ruler, she asks a kingdom question. Was she talking about the earthy one or the Heavenly one? Jesus’ answer is about the Heavenly one. It is not settled in my mind if the disciples realized that Jesus was talking about a different kingdom than what they thought was coming. In verse 25, He meets them where they are and talks about leaders (megas) and servants (diakonos). See Paul and Slaves. Mom’s question makes you think about the disciples’ question in Chapter 18.

Jesus has told His disciples several times that He is going to Jerusalem to die. Did that sink in before the Garden? The questions and indignant feelings make me want to say no. But they heard and eventually lived the teaching, may we be able to say that also.   


Before the Rich Man – In this series of teachings Jesus answers how to be the greatest or first in the kingdom. The lessons had a “least” action: finding lost sheep, forgiving someone, and helping little children come to Jesus. The last or least path is the way to go.

The Kingdom Teaching – Matthew 19:28 and 20:1 give this idea a heavenly setting. In between those verses, it is very heavenly. The parable in chapter 20 lends itself to the Earth. This really does need more study.

After the Teaching – John’s eema is an example of what not to be. Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem is an interesting lesson about the topic. Jesus rode into the city as a “great or first” and carried a cross out of the city as a “servant or last”. Then because of the shame-ridden cross, He became Lord and Master of all.

Bible 911-Daniel

Daniel 9:11 is part of a prayer of repentance by Daniel for the people of Israel. The timing of this prayer is during the first year of Darius the Mede and at the end of the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah (9:1).

Daniel’s Kings

Daniel served several kings. Four are named in the Bible, some are not. The named kings (in order) are:

  1. Nebuchadnezzar – Chapters 1-4
  2. Belshazzar – Chapters 7 (first year),8 (third year), 5 This was the last thing he did as the city fell that night, verse 5:30
  3. Darius – Chapters 9 (first year), 6 is early in his rule but some time had passed; 10:21 and 11:1 refer to his first year, which includes the angel Michael and the job he does.
  4. Cyrus – Chapters 10 (third year), 11 +12 are part of this last vision. He is first mentioned by the Prophet Isaiah and is the king who sent Ezra to Jerusalem.

Daniel 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. (KJV)

To appreciate what Daniel was repenting of we should start in 9:2. He had STUDIED Scripture, especially Deuteronomy 27: 14 to 26 and 28: 15 to 68, and had accepted the words of the Prophet Jeremiah. So, he prayed and petitioned by fasting and by humbling himself (vs. 3). I view this as huge when you remember that Daniel had been ripped away from his family, forced from his country, and made a eunuch because Israel had done these things. I will add the two death threats (okay maybe three) that had happened by this time in his life.     

Jeremiah’s seventy years of desolation were due to Israel not giving the land its sabbath rest. They did not believe that God would supply for the off years or thought they would make more profit. Daniel 9:20 is where God introduces a new seventy. In the process, He announces the coming “Anointed One” or Jesus’ birth. Gabriel brings this message and is sent again in Luke to Zechariah and Mary. (I have never studied this seventy. There are plenty of thoughts about how it is to be accomplished.)

The Prophets Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were alive and ministering during the “eleventh hour” of Jerusalem and Judah. Ezekiel and Daniel had experiences of angelic visions and interactions that pointed to current assistance and future events. Gabriel is the angel who delivers the messages from God. Michael is introduced as the one who fights and defends God’s people. This is also the picture we get of him in Jude and Revelations. In Daniel 10:21 and 11:1 we get a glimpse of the conflicts in the spirit world, Michael is supporting Gabriel against the prince of Persia. This must be a “spiritual prince” because Darius is Persian, and he was an ally of Daniel.

Bible 911 – Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel

This Bible 911 is an overview of the 9:11 verses in Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The unifying thought in these three verses is the destruction of Judah/Israel and Jerusalem.

These prophets lived and wrote during the same period. They may have met each other in Jerusalem before the deportations started. As adults, they lived in different parts of the Babylonian empire. Each was given a specific message and duty from God. The words and actions of these prophets provide a picture of the heart of our God during this dark time in Israel’s history.

The 9:11 verses seem to overlap each other in content. The circumstances surrounding each of these three verses are very different and will be studied in their own Bible 911 post.  

My reflections on Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel

  • The books (because of the kings of Judah) would indicate Jeremiah started his ministry first, followed by Daniel, then Ezekiel.
  • Jeremiah and Daniel started their ministry as young men; Ezekiel could have been in his thirties.
  • Jeremiah died first. Daniel lived the longest.
  • Jeremiah and Ezekiel were priests and Daniel was a son of a ranking official in Judah.
  • Jeremiah had contact with priests, kings, and the people in his ministry. Daniel was involved in the political aspect of the kingdom. Ezekiel was with the community and spoke to them.
  • Daniel and Ezekiel had dealings with angels.
  • All were alive at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah.
  • I am sure there are more and I have missed some interesting facts. I did not give references as they would come from all three books and these are my reflections.

The Three Verses with observations – these are KJV

Daniel 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. (THIS IS PART OF A PRAYER OF REPENTANCE. JEREMIAH’S PREDICTION OF SEVENTY YEARS IS REFERENCED. THE OATH IS FROM THE CHAPTERS OF DEUTERONOMY 28-31.)

Jeremiah 9:11  And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant. (THIS IS EARLY IN HIS MINISTRY AND IS PART OF A SERIES OF WORDS FROM GOD ABOUT THE SINS OF HIS PEOPLE AND THE JUDGEMENTS THAT ARE COMING. DRAGON IS ALSO TRANSLATED AS JACKEL AND DOG.)

Ezekiel 9:11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me. (EZEKIEL IS WRITING ABOUT A VISION HE HAD THAT SPOKE OF THE COMING JUDGEMENT ON JERUSALEM. THE MAN IS FINISHED MARKING THE UNFAITHFUL PEOPLE FOR DESTRUCTION.)

Other prophets who ministered during the same periods of time.

  • Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah ministered before Jeremiah. They spoke frequently about the “day of the Lord”. Jonah is also around this period.
  • Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, and Haggai did their work during the restoration period of Judah and Jerusalem. This is the period after Jeremiah’s seventy years of rest for the land.


Crossing Jordan has been a metaphor for dying and going to Heaven (the Promised Land). I have heard that metaphor stems from Joshua leading the Children from the east bank to the west bank of the Jordan River. Going across the Jordan was part of life in Israel and is mentioned many times from Judges to David. There were no bridges, it seems, and people waded across at fords or shallow spots.

There are Biblical characters that crossed the river in the same direction as Joshua at key times in Israel’s history. I am looking at their stories in this post. I will start with someone who went contrary to the metaphor and had his way back blocked with a flaming sword and cherubim.

Adam and Eve – They started in Paradise and were sent to the East (Genesis 3:24). I believe there was a Garden with five rivers, and two very important trees, and Adam was responsible for tending it. God has always shown an interest in this region. Terah was sent there but he did not go, Abram did. Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God was in the area. I said that because it makes more sense to think the Garden was here because this place means something to God. Before the objections start, I live in America, and we have recycled names pinned on many cities, rivers, and regions so renaming four rivers is a high possibility. I can see Noah’s grandchildren using things he told them just to honor him. My God has mysteries that He has not shared, but the world changed after Adam and Eve ate the fruit and Noah’s Flood.

If the land of Canaan (Noah’s grandson by Ham, Genesis 9:18-24) was part of the Garden; Adam would have traveled over where the Jordan was or would be. East is an important direction in Genesis 2 and 3.

Jacob and Family – When Jacob ran from Esau, he was by himself. Genesis 28:10 says he left Beersheba to go to Haran. He stopped at Luz (Bethel) and spent the night. That is the end of his route until he is with the “eastern people” in Haran. I believe from Luz (28:18) he had three routes he may have taken: 1. The road along the seashore, 2. The highway through the mountains that went above Lake Galilee, and 3. to cross the Jordan and go through the Bashan/Gilead. I would have taken the coast road, but in Genesis 32:10 Jacob says he crossed the Jordan with just his staff.

When Jacob ran from Laban, he had four wives, eleven sons, a daughter, and a lot of possessions. After the ordeal of Chapter 31, Jacob’s camp made it to Mahanaim. There he was met by a camp of angels (reminds you of Elisha). Sometime after meeting Esau Jacob’s camp(s) crossed the Jordan and went to Shechem. Jacob had returned to his land which was part of the promise to Abraham from God. It makes me wonder what route Abram took to get to Canaan.

Thoughts on Jacob – 1. He had many experiences with angels. 2. He is older than you might expect. I had to work backward from his death and consider every timestamp that was given during his life. I made mistakes in How Old Were These Guys. I did better in the Patriarch Timeline and the Tribes of Israel Timeline. 3. Angel of the Lord or Metatron means angel of countenance this is a theophany.

Joshua and Israel – The event that gave the name of this post is found in Joshua 3 and 4. God exalted Joshua in the people’s eyes because of this event (3:7). He also dried up the Jordan to show Israel and the world His power (4:24). We tend to focus on the human aspect of this day, but I believe it was much more important to the Father. He was bringing His children home.

This day was an end and the beginning for Joshua and Israel. With years of learning to trust God behind them, they were facing a new test of their faith. They now had to fight for the land promised to Abraham for his family. In the crossing of this Jordan, they left behind the Moabites and Midianites and now had to face the giants and walled cities that had intimidated their forefathers. When we cross the spiritual Jordan, our fighting is done. Metaphors are limited and this is a good example of that.

This is a good time to compare and contrast the passage out of Egypt and the entrance into Canaan. (Please, ignore Exodus through Joshua and look at the rest of the Scriptures.) Passing through the Red Sea has more references than going through the dried-up Jordan River. I found two – Psalms 114:5 and 74:15. (If you know of others, please share.) If you use that as an indicator, leaving Egypt (baptism) is more important than the crossing at the Jordan. I have used the crossing of the Jordan as a shadow of baptism, I will not do that anymore. Israel went through two walls of the sea; the Jordan was dry. Remember, the water was stopped about twenty miles above the crossing site, they were not flanked by walls of water. You could stretch that and say the Dead Sea was on one side and the water at Adam (man or red) was on the other side. (Some bullet points.)

  • Both Crossings had enemies just before going through.
  • The oldest people at the Jordan were Joshua and Caleb. The nineteen-year-olds were now fifty-seven. It seems that the men thirty-eight and younger were not circumcised.
  • Some of the people had seen both crossings.
  • The people took memorial stones from the Jordan. Solomon may have built a memorial on the eastern side of the Red Sea.
  • The Red Sea was after Passover. The Jordan was just before. They crossed on the day they were to choose the lamb for the meal, the tenth day of the first month. (That could be a preaching point.)
  • The direction of travel was different for the two crossings.

This crossing happened at Jericho/Gilgal. Gilgal was the first campsite where they were circumcised and celebrated Passover.

David, His Family, His Officials – David and those fleeing from Absalom left the west bank and traveled east to Mahanaim, 2 Samuel 17:22. (The same city Jacob named. It was also a refuge city.) David returned, east to west, in 2 Samuel 19 and proceeded to Jerusalem. Jesus would follow the same path in Matthew 20 + 21. Both had a mess to clean up when they reached Jerusalem.

This crossing occurred at the fords or shallow spot near Gilgal. Even the king’s return caused an uproar that had to be fixed.

ElishaElijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan near Jericho, going west to east. Elisha, a shadow of Jesus, returned east to west at the same spot. Both of these crossings were done on dry land with the waters dividing for the men. 2 Kings 2

This set of crossings involved the fewest people and the least amount of material goods. Elisha crossed back to the west with a well-used cloak and a double anointing. The entire scene is a shadow of John the Baptist (Elijah) diminishing before Jesus (Elisha) took center stage.

Jesus, His Disciples, His Camp – Jesus’ final pilgrimage to Passover started in Matthew 19:1, Mark 10, Luke 17:11, and John 10:40. (Matthew is my main reference.) He left Galilee crossing the Jordan and went to the area across from Jericho, where he taught and healed the people. If you compile all of the Gospels, it is clear He crossed back and forth several times before going to Jerusalem for Palm Sunday.    

I blame too many movies about Jesus for the idea that just twelve men followed Jesus as He preached about the Kingdom. Mark 15:41 talks about women in Galilee, Luke 24:9 speaks of others that were with the Eleven after the resurrection and Acts 1:21+22 mentions the requirements for taking Judas’ position, so there had to be more than just the Twelve.

This parade started big with His Camp at the Jordan and got larger. The only parade for Jesus that was bigger was the one in Heaven after He disappeared in the clouds when He ascended.

Thoughts – Crossing Jordan is a beautiful metaphor. I admit that my thoughts have changed as I have grown older. But for these crossings, work, warfare, and new experiences waited for those that crossed from east to west over the Jordan.

The Exodus Story in Other Places Part 2

This edition of the Exodus story in other places in the Bible complements the first one. I see all of these references as to how important the Exodus was and is to God. The Holy Spirit directed many authors to a site that period from Egypt to the Jordan River. In many of these God refers to the trip to teach a current lesson.

1 Samuel

  • 10:18 Samuel quoted God when He references His mighty works and the people rejecting Him.
  • 12:6-8 Samuel’s farewell speech.

Nehemiah 9:9-23 Ezra and the Levites recount their history.


  • 68: 8+17 A song telling of the Mighty One of Sinai going out with His armies. Written by David. Psalm 68 is very Messianic.
  • 74: 12-15 A metaphorical look at crossing through the sea.
  • 80: 7-11 A metaphorical telling of the story in the second “restore us, O God Almighty” in this Psalm. It is written by Asaph.
  • 103: 7 Made His ways and deeds known to Moses and the people
  • 111 – A “secondary telling “of how God does things. I think it applies to Him bringing the people out and leading them in the desert.


  • 4:5-6 It is a reference to the pillar of cloud and fire that led Israel.
  • 43:3 Egypt was given as Israel’s ransom.
  • 63: 10-16 The people remembered that God was with them when Moses led and they followed His will. Divided seas are mentioned as proof of His greatness.


  • 2:2-3,6 God gives Jeremiah these two references that describe Israel in the desert. They use to follow the Lord, now they do not even ask about God.
  • 32:20-21 Jeremiah points out the signs and miracles God did in bringing His people out of Egypt.


  • 12:9-10 God brought them out of Egypt and they will live in tents again.
  • 12:13-14 A prophet (Moses) was used in bringing them out of Egypt.
  • 13:4-6 God brought them from Egypt. He fed them and they will acknowledge Him.
  • It seems the important part of each verse is what God did to care for the people, not just the fact He brought them out.

New Testament


  • 7 Stephen testifying
  • 13:16-20 Paul gives a foundation for the Gospel

2 Corinthians – 3:7-18 Moses’ veil after he met God


  • 3:7 testing in the desert
  • 11:23-29 A history of Moses up to the Red Sea.
  • 12: 18-21 Moses at the mountain meeting God.

Jude 9 – Satan wrestling for Moses’ body. (Okay maybe not the actual Exodus) Why would Satan want that body?  

I finished this study to find verses about crossing the Jordan River, this will be another post. To my surprise, there are not many places where that crossing is used. To be honest my study of Crossing Jordan has challenged a long-held thought of mine.