TODAY’S READING: MATTHEW 11-13
The refusal of the King and the “Kingdom of Heaven” (chapter 11); the official rejection of the King by the leaders of the Nation of Israel (chapter 12); the Kingdom is hidden in the form of parables (chapter 13).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As we continue to pursue getting our doctrinal bearings in the New Testament and particularly the Gospel of Matthew, as has already been stated, keeping your eye on the Jew and Jewish audience is of utmost importance. Regardless of popular Laodicean teaching, the church has not replaced Israel. The Book of Revelation has some pretty strong things to say about “them which say they are Jews, and are not” (see Rev. 2:9b and 3:9a)! Remember, we are the parenthesis! Daniel had a prophecy, you’ll remember, of 70 weeks of years (70x7=490 years). The way that the prophecy has unfolded is that the Jews “cut off” (i.e. crucified) their Messiah who had come to bring in the Kingdom that had been promised to them after 69 of those weeks of years (483) had been completed. That means there is one more week of years (7 years) remaining in Daniel’s prophecy. We now refer to that week of years as the Tribulation Period. The parenthesis began after the stoning of Stephen, and will clos!
e at the Rapture of the church. Once the parenthesis that we live in (i.e. church) has been removed, the final week of years will kick back in, and God will in fact, fulfill all of His promises to the Jews and the Nation of Israel in the Old Testament regarding the “kingdom of heaven.” Again, we are the “parenthesis,” certainly not the replacement of Israel.
Now concerning this thing of the “kingdom of heaven” that is strictly found in the Gospel written to the Jews (Matthew). (Note that it is also called the kingdom of Israel in Acts 1:6.) As mentioned yesterday, by in large, almost every commentator you will find will say that the “kingdom of heaven” is the same as the “kingdom of God.” Nothing could be further from the truth! This is where it is important not to leave the Bible in forming our definitions. Running to the Greek for our definition of these “kingdoms” is a sure way of insuring we will never really understand them biblically. If we just let the Bible be the Bible and provide its own definitions, there is a kingdom that was promised to the Nation of Israel. It is a literal, physical, governmental, Davidic, Messianic kingdom on the EARTH. It is this kingdom to which Matthew is emphasizing and to which he specifically identifies as the “kingdom of heaven.” Many people get confused by the title, “Kingdom of H!
EAVEN” when it is referring to a literal, physical kingdom on the EARTH, until they recognize that from God’s vintage point; the earth is actually the capitol of His heavens, and the place from which His plan for the universe is enacted.
By biblical definition, the “kingdom of God,” on the other hand, is something all together different. Observe the biblical composite of this kingdom:
Romans 14:17 – It is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy.
Luke 17:20-21 – It comes “not with observation” (i.e. you can’t say, “Lo, here” it is or “Lo, there” it is – it is “within you.”)
I Cor. 4:20 – It is not in word, but in power.
I Cor. 15:50 – Flesh and blood cannot inherit it.
John 3:3 – You enter it by a spiritual birth.
In other words, the “kingdom of God” is a SPIRITUAL kingdom, and the “kingdom of heaven” is a PHYSICAL kingdom. Again, more confusion concerning these kingdoms is caused by the fact that many of the parallel accounts in the other gospels contain the phrase “kingdom of God” where Matthew uses “kingdom of heaven.” Rather than presumptuously conclude that they are the same thing, however, simply recognize the fact that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of both kingdoms, and while He was on the earth, both kingdoms were present at the same time.
We preach a “kingdom of God” message today (Acts 8:12), because the “kingdom of heaven: was put on hold after Stephen’s final offer to the Nation of Israel in chapter 7. It will be a different message with different ramifications and promises during Daniel’s 70th week, (the Tribulation Period), once we have been removed (i.e. believers will need to endure to the end to be saved – meaning, not taking the mark of the beast). (For a more detailed study, refer to “Church History” series, tapes 5-9.)
A few pithy comments about some of the verses in today’s reading:
11:5 – This lets us know why Matthew recorded the healing ministry of Jesus in chapters 8 & 9. These things were how Israel was told they would be able to recognize their Messiah-King (see Isa. 53:5,6;61:1).
11:14 – Malachi 4:5 prophesied that Elijah would come before the establishment of the Day of Lord (i.e. the “kingdom of heaven”). Had Israel received her King, the parenthesis (Church Age) would have been non-existent, (That’s why the church was in a “mystery” form in the Old Testament), and John the Baptist would have fulfilled the prophecy concerning the coming of Elijah. (Note, all other Old Testament prophecies concerning the Day of the Lord could have and would have been fulfilled.) As it stands, Elijah himself will return during the Tribulation Period along with Moses (Moses = the Law, Elijah = the Prophets).
12:23 – The people recognize Jesus is the Messiah (i.e. “the son of David”)!
12:24 – The Pharisees (religious leaders) don’t! They attribute the power through which He performed His miracles to Satan!
12:31-32 –Note some things about the so-called “unpardonable sin”:
There are four criteria to committing it:
1) You must be a Jew.
2) Jesus Christ must be publicly manifest in bodily
form, performing signs & wonders.
3) You, as a Jew, are an eyewitness of the events
4) Your mind becomes so spiritually disoriented and
perverted, and your heart becomes as hardened
that you attribute the Person and works of
Christ to Satan.
Note the phrases in verse 32, “in this world” and “in the world to come.” There are only two times that all four criteria can be fulfilled. The first was during the earthly ministry of Jesus from 30 to 33 A.D. The second is during the millennium (“the kingdom of heaven”). Don’t worry, you haven’t, won’t and can’t commit it!
13:1 – This is identifying a major shift in Jesus’ ministry. The “house” = Israel. The “sea” = Gentiles. The “kingdom of heaven” now goes into a parable state. Contrary to popular Laodicean teaching, a parable is NOT an earthly story that REVEALS a heavenly truth. It is a heavenly truth wrapped in an earthly story for the purpose of HIDING the truth from those who don’t really want it anyway (see 13:11-17).
13:55-56 – So much for Mary’s perpetual virginity!