Saturday, September 8, 2018

Treasures of God’s Kingdom


Jesus: 44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. 45 Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it! …” 52 Then He added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.” Matthew 13:44-46, 52 New Living Translation 2nd Edition

Matthew 13 gives essential teaching from Jesus about the treasures of God’s Kingdom. In Matthew 13, Jesus teaches the people through a series of brief parables. Jesus the Messiah was a great Teacher (Matthew 13:54; see also e.g., Matthew 4:23; Matthew 23:10; Mark 1:22-23; Mark 6:1-2; Luke 4:31-32; John 11:28). He regularly taught in the synagogues and was praised by everyone (e.g., see Matthew 4:23; Mark 6:2; Luke 4:15-16, 31-32, 43-44). Many Jews living in the first century Palestine were amazed at His wise, authoritative, and Spirit-filled teaching, and the people sometimes referred to Jesus as Rabbi (Matthew 13:56; see also e.g., Matthew 7:28; Matthew 22:33; Luke 4:22, 36; John 1:38, 49; John 7:15). Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power (e.g., see Luke 3:22; Luke 4:1, 14, 18; Acts 10:38). As Jesus taught the people in first century Palestine, large crowds of people often gathered around Him (Matthew 13:1-2, 36; see also Matthew 4:25; Mark 3:7-9; Luke 5:1-3). Jesus regularly taught the people about the reality of the Kingdom of God (e.g., see Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35; Luke 9:11).

When teaching about the Kingdom of God, Jesus constantly used parables (Matthew 13:3, 10, 34-36, 53; see also Matthew 22:1-3). Parables were not unique to Jesus. Parables were also used in the Old Testament but rarely (e.g., see Psalm 49:4; Psalm 78:2). Likewise, the Jewish rabbis of Jesus’ day used parables in their teachings. A parable has been defined in many ways by biblical scholars such as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Some scholars have defined parables as an allegory or a symbolic story. Essentially, a parable is a story or illustration, where one compares one thing to another (e.g., see Matthew 13:33; Matthew 18:23; Matthew 20:1; Matthew 22:1; Matthew 25:1; Mark 4:26, 30; Luke 13:18, 20). Jesus often used parables when teaching about the Kingdom of God with simple stories taken from common and everyday life, such as a field planted, a man finding treasure, or a seed planted (see Matthew 13:3, 24, 31, 36, 44-46). In fact, Jesus never taught the people about the Kingdom of God without using stories and illustrations in the form of parables, as predicted in the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 13:3, 34-35 referencing Psalm 78:2; see also Mark 4:33-34; John 16:25, 29).

In His public ministry, Jesus proclaimed the existence and treasures of God’s Kingdom available to ALL PEOPLE – saints and sinners - through our wholehearted and genuine REPENTANCE (turning from sin), FAITH (trust and dependence on God), and OBEDIENCE (practicing and doing God’s Word (e.g., see Daniel 4:27; Luke 6:47; Luke 8:19-21; Luke 11:27-28; 1 John 2:5). Everyone who repented, accepted and obeyed the message of God’s Kingdom and produced good fruit received the treasures of God’s Kingdom (Matthew 13:8, 23; see also e.g., Matthew 21:28-32, 43; John 14:15, 21, 23; John 15:5-8, 10; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 John 5:3). These abundant treasures included wisdom, insight, understanding, healing, deliverance, salvation, and many other heavenly blessings from the Most High God and His Kingdom (Matthew 13:8, 10-12, 16, 23; see also Isaiah 6:9-10; Luke 4:18-19, 33-35, 38-41; 1 John 5:20). The more you love, honor, and obey the living LORD God as your King, the more heavenly goodness, blessings, and treasures that He gives you from His Kingdom (Matthew 13:12, 16-17; see also Matthew 6:33; Matthew 25:29; Mark 4:24-25; Luke 19:26-27; John 15:2, 5). With the acceptance of God and His Kingdom comes full liberation and freedom from sin, sickness, and ignorance (e.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 10:7-8; Luke 10:8-9). Our faith and obedience to the living LORD God brings deliverance and protection from the evil one, physical and mental healing, and restoration (e.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 1:21-26, 29-34, 39-45; Luke 4:40-41; John 17:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:2-3).

One of the clearest examples of blessings from God’s Kingdom is Daniel, and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah (see Daniel 1:4-6). However, these four Jewish boys were given new names when God’s people were exiled to Babylon: Daniel was called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meshach, and Azariah was called Abednego (see Daniel 1:7).

Daniel and his three friends were continually faithful, loyal, and obedient to the living LORD God of Israel and acknowledged Him as the true King of all the world, even when they were exiled in Babylon. In their hearts, Daniel with his three friends refused to worship and serve any other gods or idols except the LORD God of Israel as the only true God of heaven and earth (Daniel 2:47 ; Daniel 3:3, 7, 10-12, 14, 16-18; Daniel 4:25; Daniel 6:5, 10-11, 13-14, 16-23; see also Exodus 20:3-7, 23; Deuteronomy 5:6-11; Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 13-14; Deuteronomy 10:17;  Matthew 22:37; Luke 4:8; 1 Timothy 6:15). Daniel and his three friends acknowledged to everyone – kings and paupers alike – that the living God of heaven controls and rules the universe, and He has all wisdom and power (Daniel 2:20-23; Daniel 4:17, 25; see also e.g., 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Proverbs 2:3-6; Isaiah 28:29; James 2:6). In their distress and trials, Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego discovered that the LORD God of heaven is mighty to save when we call upon His Name and trust wholeheartedly in Him (Daniel 3:19-30; Daniel 6:21-23; see also e.g., Joshua 24:14-15; 1 Samuel 17:36-37; Psalm 27:1-2; Isaiah 43:1-2; Zephaniah 3:17; Acts 2:21; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 1:9-10). Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had complete confidence in the LORD God!

Because of their faithfulness and obedience, the living LORD God blessed Daniel and his three friends with the secrets and mysteries of heaven – an understanding mind, eyes that see, and ears that hear (Matthew 13:10-13; see also Deuteronomy 29:4; Daniel 1:17-20; Daniel 2:19-20, 23; Daniel 10:1, 11-12; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16; James 1:5). Daniel and his three friends received from the living LORD God wisdom, insight, understanding, as well as high positions of authority and service in the Babylonian and Persian governments (Daniel 1:17-21; Daniel 2:48-49; Daniel 3:12, 30; Daniel 5:11-12; Daniel 5:28; Daniel 6:2, 28; Daniel 9:22-23; see also 1 Kings 3:11-15; 1 Kings 4:29-34; Romans 13:1). The more Daniel and his three friends trusted, served, and honored the living LORD God the more abundant treasures the living LORD God blessed them (e.g., Matthew 13:12; Matthew 25:29; Luke 8:18; Luke 19:26-27). Even when facing death for their allegiance and faithfulness to the living God, Daniel and his three friends relied upon God, and the living LORD God rescued them from harm and danger (Daniel 3:16-29; Daniel 6:21-23; see also Isaiah 43:2-3; 2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

Even more precious, the Spirit of the living LORD was with Daniel (e.g., see Daniel 2:11; Daniel 4:8-9, 18; Daniel 5:11, 14). Additionally, the living LORD God gave Daniel direct access to Him and His throne room of heaven, as well as knowledge of His Kingdom (see Daniel 7:1, 9-10, 13-14). While serving in his high government position, Daniel urged the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar to stop sinning, do what is right, break from his wicked past and be merciful to the poor (Daniel 4:27; see also Isaiah 1:10-20; Isaiah 55:6-7; Isaiah 58:6-7, 10). Most importantly, Daniel urged the government to acknowledge the living LORD God of Israel as the true King and that His Kingdom and dominion is from everlasting to everlasting (Daniel 4:2-3, 17, 25, 32, 34-35; Daniel 5:21; Daniel 6:25-27; see also Psalm 103:17-19; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 27:4-5)! The living LORD God alone is the eternal Most High God over all the kingdoms of the earth (e.g., see Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 37:15-16).

In Matthew 13, the Lord Jesus proclaimed that Satan and his evil predators do not want people to receive the treasures of God’s Kingdom. When anyone hears the goodness of God’s Kingdom, Satan and his evil workers are the criminal birds, weeds, and thistles of the world, and they come to steal God’s good Word from your hearts and sow discord and false teaching among people (Matthew 13:4-7, 18-22, 24-28, 38-39; see also Matthew 24:4-5, 11; 24; John 8:44; 1 John 3:8, 10). Even worse, others simply refuse the blessings and treasures of God’s Kingdom because of their cares, hardship, and persecution or their desires for worldly wealth, riches, and fame (Matthew 13:5-7, 20-22; see also 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17; 2 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:15-17). Instead of loving and obeying the LORD God, some would rather follow the ways of this evil world and Satan’s evil kingdom by gratifying the seductions and desires of the body and mind (e.g., see 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:1-3; Galatians 5:19-21). However, Jesus promises that Satan and his weeds, lawbreakers, false workers, false prophets, and evildoers who do not submit, obey, and follow the LORD God and His Kingdom will be punished and thrown into hell with eternal condemnation (Matthew 13:30, 40-42, 47-50; see also Matthew 3:12; Matthew 25:41-46; Revelation 19:19-21; Revelation 20:7-10; Revelation 21:8, 27). The reason Jesus came was to destroy Satan’s evil and destructive work on earth and to deliver EVERYONE through faith in Him into God’s glorious Kingdom (e.g., see Luke 4:18-19, 36-37, 43; John 12:31; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8).

The Holy Scriptures are clear: those who reject Jesus, will not repent, and continually practice sexual immorality, adultery, corruption, deception, idolatry, witchcraft, sorcerers, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, as well as murderers, cowards, disobedient, drunkards, and all liars will not inherit and enter the glorious Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:41-42; see also e.g., John 8:44; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 22:15). The living LORD God and His Son Jesus are good, holy, and truthful (Matthew 13:24, 37-38; see also e.g., 2 Chronicles 7:3; Psalm 73:1; Psalm 145:9; 1 Timothy 4:4). Jesus promises that God will send His holy angels at the end times, and they will remove from God’s Kingdom everything that causes sin and do evil and throw such lawbreakers of God’s commandments into the fiery furnace (Matthew 13:39-42, 50; see also Matthew 24:30-31; Revelation 14:15; Matthew 19:20-21; Revelation 20:10).

Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is present now in the world, but the Kingdom looks small like a tiny mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32; see Mark 4:30-31; Luke 13:18-19). One day, Jesus promises the Kingdom of God will become grand and glorious (Matthew 13:32; see also Mark 4:32). The Kingdom of God will cover and saturate the ENTIRE earth (Matthew 13:33; see also Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15). The living LORD God and His Son Jesus will reign forever and forever in Kingdom here on earth (e.g., see Jesus promises that the faithful, repentant, and good workers of the living God will enter His glorious Kingdom and shine as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father, the LORD God Almighty (Matthew 13:38, 43; e.g., see also Proverbs 4:18; Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:3-12, 16; Matthew 7:12-13, 17, 21-23, Matthew 25:1-12; 14-30, 34-40; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 John 3:7; Revelation 21:9-11).

Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is like a valuable treasure a man discovered in a field (see Matthew 13:44). In his excitement and joy, Jesus proclaimed the man sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field and get the heavenly treasure (Matthew 13:44; see also Proverbs 23:23)! Again, Jesus described the Kingdom of God like a merchant on the lookout for valuable pearls (see Matthew 13:45). When the merchant discovered the precious pearl of great value, the merchant sold everything he owned to purchase the glorious pearl (see Matthew 13:46)! According to Jesus, the Kingdom of God is so valuable and important! Acceptance of God’s Kingdom brings a new life from heaven above and joy (e.g., see John 3:3-8; Roman 14:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17). “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge” (Romans 11:33, NLT2). The living LORD God graciously gives His heavenly wisdom, guidance, and understanding for all who seek, love, and obey Him (e.g., see Isaiah 8:19-22; Matthew 6:33)

Once more, Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God could be illustrated by a fisherman (see Matthew 13:47). The fisherman cast a net into the water and gathered in fish of every kind, valuable and worthless (Matthew 13:47; see also Matthew 22:10). When the net was full, the fisherman dragged the net onto the beach and sat down and sorted out the good fish into crates and threw the bad fish away (see Matthew 13:48). Jesus promised at His return at the end of the world God’s holy angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly and righteous who were kind, merciful, and humble towards others (see Matthew 13:41; 49). In His public ministry, Jesus promised that the peacemakers, merciful, good, and humble would inherit God’s Kingdom (e.g., Matthew 5:3-12; Matthew 9:10-13; Matthew 25:31-40). However, Jesus promised His Father the living LORD God of heaven and earth would cast the wicked who were unjust, unmerciful, and hateful towards others into the fire where they will be weeping and gnashing of their teeth (Matthew 13:42, 50; see also Matthew 25:41-46).

References
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).

Monday, August 27, 2018

Coming Kingdom of God


20 One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God cannot be detected by visible signs. 21 You will not be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It is over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” 22 Then He (Jesus) said to His disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘Look, there is the Son of Man,’ or ‘Here He is,’ but do not go out and follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes.” Luke 17:20-24, New Living Translation 2nd Edition

In Luke 17, Jesus gives teaching to His disciples about the Kingdom of God as He headed toward Jerusalem to suffer death as the world’s final sacrifice for sins against His Father, the living LORD God of heaven (Luke 17:11, 25; e.g., see also Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31-33; Luke 9:22, 51; Titus 3:5; 1 John 4:10). While Jesus was going to Jerusalem, Jesus took his Twelve disciples aside privately and said to them that He would be turned over to the religious leaders and the Romans to die, but He will be victorious over death (e.g., see Matthew 20:17-19).

Likewise, Jesus warned His disciples that testing, temptations, frustrations, hard trials, and stumbling blocks are sure to come from Satan and his evil workers in this world (Luke 17:1; see also Matthew 18:7; John 16:33). Satan and his lawless predators are the weeds in the world who causes sin, do evil, and try to harm and hurt God’s people (e.g., see Matthew 13:24-30, 41). Moreover, Satan and his evil prophets try to snatch God’s Word from our hearts through their false teaching and unbiblical doctrine (e.g., see Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 13:4, 19). However, Jesus promised that His Father will punish Satan and his evil workers who do and causes such trials, troubles, testing, and temptations to God's people (Luke 17:1-2; see also Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13:42; Matthew 18:6, 10, 14; Mark 9:42; Revelation 20:7-10). The living LORD God of heaven and earth is just and fair, and He will punish those who cause sin and trial and give relief to those who have been unjustly harmed and hurt by Satan and his evil workers (e.g., see Exodus 23:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

Also, Jesus warned His disciples to pay attention to yourself and not follow the wicked example of Satan and his evil workers (Luke 17:3; see also Matthew 7:1-5). Similarly, Jesus taught His disciples that if your brother or sister follows Satan’s example by sinning, they must go and point out their fault, just between the two of them (Luke 17:3; see also Leviticus 19:17-18; Matthew 18:15). If the fellow disciple repents and asks for forgiveness, Jesus taught His disciples always be forgiving and merciful towards our fellow brother or sister, even if they wrong and sin against you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness and mercy (Luke 17:3-4; see also Matthew 18:21-22, 26-27, 33-35; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Jesus taught that citizens of God’s Kingdom must be continually forgiving, patient, kind, and merciful to one another (e.g., see Matthew 5:7; Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 6:36; Matthew 25:34-36). Even more, Jesus taught His disciples when praying and believing God in faith, we must first forgive and reconcile with anyone that has an offense against us because our prayers without love and forgiveness is nothing (e.g., see Matthew 6:12, 14-15; Mark 11:25; Luke 6:37; 1 Corinthians 13:2).

One day, Jesus’ disciples asked Him how to receive more faith (see Luke 17:5). Jesus taught His disciples that if they have faith in His Father, the living LORD God of heaven, even only the size of a mustard or poppy seed, this small faith in the living LORD God would be large enough to uproot a large tree or move a large mountain at your command (Luke 17:6; see also Matthew 17:20-21; Matthew 21:21-22; Mark 11:22-26). Importantly, Jesus taught that everything is possible for one who believes and have faith in His Father, the living LORD God Almighty (e.g., see Matthew 21:19-22; Mark 9:23). Faith and trust in the living LORD God Almighty can move mountains (e.g., see 1 Corinthians 13:2; James 1:5-8). Even more, Jesus taught His disciples that faith and trust in Him will lead to good and mighty works for His Father’s glory (e.g., see John 14:12-14).

Jesus warned His disciples against doubting the power of the living LORD God Almighty but instead always humbly BELIEVE, SERVE, and OBEY Him and His Father from our whole hearts and TO SERVE OTHERS (Luke 17:7-10; see also Matthew 20:25-28; Matthew 24:46; Luke 12:37). The Lord Jesus Christ and His Father, the living LORD God Almighty, are One (e.g., see John 10:30). Moreover, Jesus taught His disciples to have a heart of thanksgiving, worship, and praise to Him and His Father in heaven for every answered prayer (see Luke 17:11-19). Our continual FAITH, worship, and thanksgiving to the living LORD God Almighty and His Son Jesus bring our healing, restoration, and salvation (Luke 17:17-19; see also Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 10:52; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48; Luke 18:42).

One day the Pharisees demanded and asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come (see Luke 17:20). Like many people today, the Pharisees and the religious leaders looked for signs of the coming end of the age (e.g., see Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; Luke 11:16). The Pharisees and the religious leaders were aware of the evils, persecutions, and suffering in first century Palestine. Most likely, the Pharisees saw society getting worse and believed that God was about to bring an end to human history and the coming Kingdom of God.

During first-century Palestine, the typical expectations of the Jews was that the Kingdom of God would occur in the future as a dramatic and cataclysmic inbreaking of God at the end of the age when God’s righteous ways would triumphant over evil and wickedness (e.g., see Isaiah 65:17-15; Isaiah 66:15-24; Malachi 4:1-3, 6). Moreover, the Pharisees believed that the coming Kingdom of God would be a time when the Jewish people would be restored to their fortunes as the people of God as in the days of King David and Solomon and punish Israel’s enemies (e.g., see Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 62:1-5; Isaiah 66:7-14). Furthermore, the Pharisees believed a future military ruler – the Messiah (Christ) – such as King David would come to restore Israel’s fortunes. Until God established His Kingdom, the Pharisees tried to maintain ritual purity in this world by careful observation of the Law. The Pharisees saw the presence of the Kingdom of God when they submitted themselves to the Law (e.g., see Exodus 20:3-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Malachi 4:4).

However, Jesus taught the listening Pharisees that the Kingdom of God does not come by counting the days on the calendar, observation, nor visible signs (see Luke 17:20). Essentially, Jesus warned the religious leaders against speculating on the coming Kingdom of God while not enjoying the present. Jesus’ Father, the LORD God of heaven, is reigns and rules earth! Even more, the LORD God of heaven is omnipresent and omnipotent, and He fills the heaven and earth (e.g., see Psalm 139:7-10; Isaiah 66:1-2; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Daniel 5:21; Acts 17:24-28). Most important, the LORD God of heaven is the true and living eternal King of kings and Lord and lords, and His Kingdom reign is eternal and from everlasting to everlasting (e.g., see Exodus 15:18; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 10:16; Psalm 145:13; Isaiah 37:16; Jeremiah 10:10; Daniel 4:3, 34-35, 37; Daniel 6:26; 1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 4:1-2, 8-11).

In the Old Testament, the living God through His servants Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel declared that He would exercise His eternal Kingship by establishing His Kingdom over people’s lives and hearts through His chosen King – the Davidic Messiah (e.g., see Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8, 10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-5; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Ezekiel 37:25; Daniel 2:44-45; Daniel 7:13-14, 27; Matthew 3:2; Luke 1:32-33). God’s eternal Kingdom came with His Son, Jesus the Messiah, who is a direct descendant of Abraham and King David (e.g., see Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:31-33, 68-69; Acts 13:22-23; Romans 1:3-4). Jesus taught the listening Pharisees that the Kingdom of God had already come and was present in His life and ministry (see Luke 17:21). Through the Lord Jesus, the living God was establishing His reign and rule despite opposition and resistance of Satan and his evil workers (e.g., see Matthew 11:12; Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:18-20). The Kingdom of God began in the life and ministry of Jesus, continues in the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, and will climax in the return and subsequent world rule of God and His Son Jesus (e.g., see Romans 14:16-17; Revelation 11:15).

With Jesus’ public ministry, He brought heaven to earth! Jesus was the Anointed One, which means the Messiah or Christ, and He was filled with the Spirit of God (e.g., Luke 3:21-22; 4:1, 14, 18-21, 32-36, 41; Acts 10:38). Jesus’ life and ministry revealed miraculous signs and evidence that He brought the Kingdom of God to earth (e.g., see John 9:16; John 11:47). The vast crowds of people who REPENTED and PLACED THEIR FAITH IN JESUS received the Kingdom’s restoration and healing (e.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 1:14-15, 29-34). Through repentance and faith in Him, Jesus healed and restored ALL who were sick, paraplegic, blind, hurting, maimed, crippled, and mute — all sorts of people in need (e.g., see also Luke 4:18-19, 38-41; Luke 6:17-19; Luke 17:11-19; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:3-4). The people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the dead raised to life, the paraplegics walking around, the blind seeing, and the poor refreshed because of their faith in Jesus (e.g., see Matthew 15:29-31; Luke 7:21-23). The people were amazed and knew the Kingdom of God had arrived in the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., see Matthew 21:8-11)! Jesus taught the listening Pharisees that the Kingdom of God had already come and was present in His life and ministry (see Luke 17:21).

Nevertheless, the Kingdom was present in the life and ministry of Jesus in its beginnings though future in its fullness. In one sense, the Kingdom of God is here already with the first coming of Jesus, but in the richest sense the Kingdom of God is still to come with God’s final judgment (e.g., see Mark 13:1-3, 26-27; Luke 11:20; Luke 16:16-17; Luke 17:20-21; Luke 22:16, 18, 29-30; John 3:16-21).

Jesus taught His disciples they will long to see Him when He returns to heaven with His Father, the living LORD God of heaven and earth (Luke 17:22; see also Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35). Then, Jesus warned His disciples not to be deceived by false and evil workers coming in His Name proclaiming that He has returned or that the time is near for His return (Luke 17:23; see also Mark 13:21-23; Luke 21:8). Jesus cautioned that false messiahs and false prophets will appear and use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders to deceive and trick people, even God’s elect people (e.g., see Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:5, 11, 23-26; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; 1 John 2:18; Revelation 13:13-15). Jesus taught His disciples that they and the entire world will know the future day when He returns as it will be as evident as the lightning that flashes across the heavenly skies (Luke 17:24, 30; see also Zechariah 9:14; Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39).

Jesus warned when He returns the human world will be as uncaring, corrupt, and evil just as in Noah’s day (Luke 17:26; see also Genesis 6:5-13; Psalm 14:2-3; Matthew 24:37). During the days of Noah, Jesus taught that the people ate, drank, and married right up to the day when Noah went into the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all (Luke 17:27; see also Genesis 7:6-23; Matthew 24:38-39). By faith, God warned righteous Noah about the coming flood (see 2 Peter 2:5). Noah in holy fear and obedience built an ark to save his family from the disastrous floods (see Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20). While people were saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction came upon them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they did not escape (see also 1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Likewise, Jesus taught that the day of His future return into the world will be as it was in the days of Lot when people went about their daily business — eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building (Luke 17:28; see also 2 Peter 2:6-7). Nevertheless, Jesus taught the morning Lot walked out and left Sodom, then fire and brimstone (sulfur) swept and rained down from heaven and destroyed them all (Luke 17:29; see also Genesis 19:15-16, 24). In the same way, Jesus predicted it will be “business as usual” right up to the hour of His sudden return when the Son of Man is revealed from heaven in blazing fire, power, and glory with His holy angels, and the Kingdom of God arrives (Luke 17:30; see also Daniel 7:10, 13-14; Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; Jude 14; Revelation 1:7).

On the glorious day of His return, Jesus cautioned that those away from home must not return to pack and those in the fields must not return to town (Luke 17:31; see also Matthew 24:17-18; Mark 13:15-16; Luke 21:21). As a reminder, Jesus teaches what happened with Lot’s wife who looked back and wanted to return to Sodom, but she became a pillar of salt (Luke 17:32; see also Genesis 19:17, 26). Importantly, Jesus taught that whoever clings to his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life for His purpose shall save himself and find life (Luke 17:33; see also Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25; Matthew 19:25-30; John 12:25).

Importantly, Jesus taught that one day His Father, the living and true LORD God Almighty of heaven and earth, will judge all nations when He returns in His glory with all the holy angels at His second coming (e.g., see Isaiah 66:6, 15-16; Matthew 25:31). The LORD God will judge and punish the evil, wicked, and disobedient with an everlasting punishment and destruction for their sins, injustices, and lawlessness (e.g., see Isaiah 66:18; Matthew 25:32, 41-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; 2 Peter 3:7). Moreover, Jesus warned His disciples that His coming with the future Kingdom of God will come suddenly, unexpectedly, and without warning (e.g., see Matthew 25:1-13; Mark 13:33-37; Luke 12:35-48; Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 16:15). NO ONE KNOWS the day or hour when the future Kingdom of God will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself (e.g., see Matthew 24:42-44). Only Jesus’ Father, the living LORD God of heaven and earth, knows the future coming Kingdom of God when He will send His Son Jesus in the clouds with great power and glory with His holy angels (e.g., see; Zechariah 14:6-7; Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:26, 32-33, 35; Luke 12:40, 46; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:7).

Until the future Kingdom of God arrives, Jesus proclaimed we must turn from our sins (repent) and always be alert, prayerful, and ready for His return at any time (e.g., see Matthew 24:44-51; Luke 13:3-5). The work of the church as Jesus’ disciples is to faithfully GO AND PROCLAIM THE KINGDOM to all people and not retract and separate from the world (e.g., Matthew 28:18-20). The Gospel of Jesus is still the Gospel of the Kingdom (e.g., see Matthew 4:17, 23-25; Matthew 24:14). The early disciples of Jesus faithfully proclaimed the Kingdom of God to the world (e.g., Acts 20:25; Acts 28:23, 31; Colossians 4:11).

The LORD God welcomes all into His Kingdom whenever His Son Jesus is accepted in REPENTANCE, FAITH, AND OBEDIENCE (e.g., see Mark 1:14-15; John 1:12-13). One of the clearest messages of the Holy Scriptures is that the LORD God of heaven is the King of Glory that rules and reigns the earth (e.g., see Psalm 24:1-2, 7-10; Isaiah 66:1-2)! The LORD God gives His grace, blessings, and Kingdom to those who are HUMBLE, MERCIFUL, REPENTANT, FAITHFUL, and OBEDIENT to His Word more than any meaningless religious ritual, ceremony, or sacrifice (e.g., see 1 Samuel 15:22-23; Psalm 24:3-6; Isaiah 1:11-20; Isaiah 66:2-6; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 5:3-16; Matthew 19:14-15; Luke 18:13-14). Even more, the LORD God is faithful, and He will keep His obedient servants safe from the evil one until His Son Jesus is revealed from heaven (e.g., see 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

1 This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. So do you think you can build a house for Me? Do I need a place to rest? 2 My hand made all things. All things are here because I made them,” says the LORD. “These are the people I am pleased with: those who are not proud or stubborn and who fear My word. Isaiah 66:1-2, New Century Version

References
Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2012).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
J.I. Packer. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993).
Melton, Loyd, Senior Professor of New Testament (Due West Campus, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2018).

Monday, August 13, 2018

Kingdom Is Here


I.       Scripture

Jesus:  6 “I tell you, there is One here who is even GREATER than the Temple!
7 But you would not have condemned My innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ 8 For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!... 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. 27 And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. 28 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 29 For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only Someone even STRONGER — Someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house….” 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and Your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to You.” 48 Jesus asked, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” 49 Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look, these are My mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:6-8, 25-29, 47-50, New Living Translation 2nd Edition

II.        Introduction

Most scholars agree that the primary focus of Jesus’ public ministry was proclaiming the Goods News of God and His glorious Kingdom.[1] Jesus’ initial public sermon, His teaching in the form of parables, and His miraculous acts revealed the freedom, healing, deliverance, and restoration that come with accepting God’s Kingdom into one’s life through our repentance, faith, and obedience in Jesus and His Father, the living LORD GOD Almighty.[2] Through faith and obedience, we are set free from disease, bondage, and despair and receive a foretaste of God’s Kingdom on earth.[3]
In fact, Jesus primary message encouraged everyone to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God.[4] Moreover, Jesus taught the people to treasure and love the Kingdom of God beyond all else.[5] Jesus anointed and sent out His disciples with His power and authority to proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God and bring God’s deliverance through faith in Him.[6] After His death and just before His ascension to heaven, Jesus gave further teaching about God’s Kingdom and commissioned His disciples to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom throughout the whole world to all the nations.[7] Jesus’ disciples faithfully continued His message of announcing the Kingdom of God starting in Jerusalem and eventually into Rome and the world.[8] 
Jesus viewed the Kingdom of God as both a present reality and a future promise that He feverously sought to proclaim at His first coming to earth.[9] In Jesus’ first public sermon, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel (also known as the Good News) of the Kingdom of God. Jesus declared, “the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the Good News!”[10] Numerous biblical scholars have studies Jesus’ initial sermon at Mark 1:14-15 with parallels in Matthew 4:17. Most scholars agree that Jesus’ initial sermon gave a simple summary statement of His life and ministry.[11] The life and ministry of Jesus is the proclamation that the Kingdom of God had come now in Him to bring God’s salvation ALL people, races, sexes, creeds, and nationalities through faith in Him.[12] The living LORD God had entrusted everything to His Son, Jesus.[13] Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom.[14] Now, Jesus called upon EVERYONE to REPENT (change your life) and BELIEVE (faith) in the Gospel message.[15]
The living LORD God reigns upon His throne in heaven, and the earth is His footstool.[16] Jesus proclaimed that no one could enter into God’s Kingdom unless one accepts and believes in Him as the Son of the living God.[17] Eternal life is virtually synonymous with entering the Kingdom of God and receiving salvation through our faith in God’s Son, Jesus.[18] Finally, Jesus promised that the Kingdom of God will also appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age.[19]
In summary, the Kingdom of God involves two great moments: fulfillment within human history and also consummation at the end of history with the coming of Jesus in great power and glory.[20] The parables and miracles of Jesus give insight into both the present and future nature of the Kingdom of God.[21] Yet, the mere fact that God proposes to bring His Kingdom to all people is no secret nor mystery. The Jewish apocalyptic writings and orthodox Jewish theology reflect that expectation in one form or another.[22] However, the Lord Jesus Christ has taught a new disclosure or new truth to all humanity. In His Person and mission, the Lord Jesus Christ announced the arrival of the Kingdom of God, and this same Kingdom will also come finally in apocalyptic power, as foreseen by the prophet Daniel.[23] However, the first coming of the Kingdom entered the world with Jesus in a hidden and in veiled form working secretly within and among humanity.[24] In the Person and mission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, He overcame evil, delivered humanity from the evil one’s power, and brought EVERYONE into the blessings of God’ reign through faith in Him.[25]
III.       Presence of God’s Kingdom
Matthew 12 reveals the present revelation of the Kingdom of God in Jesus’ earthly ministry. In Matthew 12 with parallels in Mark and Luke’s Gospels, Jesus gives the clearest statement on the presence of the Kingdom of God.[26] Even more, the entire chapter of Matthew 12 concerns conflict and struggle of God’s Kingdom against Satan’s evil kingdom.[27]
Matthew 12 begins with Jesus walking one day through some grain fields with His disciples.[28] This story is also told in Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5. The Gospel writers report this was the Sabbath, the Jewish day of worship.[29] Jesus’ disciples were hungry; therefore, the disciples began breaking off heads of wheat and eating the grain on the Sabbath.[30] However, some Pharisees saw Jesus’ disciples breaking off heads of wheat and eating the grain.[31] The Pharisees begin protesting to Jesus and said, “Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”[32] To prevent breaking of the Sabbath and other Commandments of God, the Jews established many human-made rules and regulations, often called the “traditions of the elders.”[33]  According to the Pharisees, Jesus’ disciples were breaking their human-made Sabbath laws by harvesting on the Sabbath.[34]
However, Jesus defended His disciples when they violated the Jewish Sabbath customs.[35] The religious leaders ignored the Law because the Law of God permits one to enter their neighbor’s vineyard and grain field to pick kernels with one’s hands to satisfy their hunger.[36] Moreover, Jesus taught the Pharisees from the Old Testament that when King David and his friends were hungry, they ate the special bread called the bread of Presence reserved to be eaten only by Aaron and his descendants, who are the priests of Israel.[37] Furthermore, Jesus explained to the Pharisees that in the Law of God the priests on duty in the Temple broke and profaned the Sabbath by working on the Sabbath but are innocent before His Father, the living LORD GOD.[38]
Then, Jesus taught the Pharisees that He is GREATER than the Temple.[39] As the Messiah and the Son of the living God, Jesus was more exalted and more majestic than the earthly Temple. Importantly, Jesus proclaimed to the listening Pharisees that He is the Son of Man and Lord of the Sabbath.[40] Indeed, Jesus is Lord of all.[41] We can have peace with God and heart rest through our trust and obedience in Jesus as our Lord.[42]
Markedly, the Pharisee’s authority was their knowledge and obedience to the Law and their study under various rabbis.[43] In Matthew 12, Jesus undercuts the man-made tradition of the Sabbath’s laws and declares that He is the Lord of the Sabbath.[44]
IV.       Son of Man
Notably, Jesus routinely identified Himself as the Son of Man throughout the Gospels involving the coming Kingdom of God.[45] In the Gospels, the title Son of Man only occurs on the lips of Jesus, and only Jesus uses the designation Son of Man for Himself.[46] No disciples, nor the crowds, the religious officials, nor other places throughout the New Testament and Gospels identify Jesus as the Son of Man. Only Stephen identified Jesus as the Son of Man in Acts 7 just before Stephen’s death.[47]
Apart from Ezekiel and Daniel, the term son of man appears in the Old Testament as a synonym for “man” or “humankind.”[48] In the Aramaic language spoken in Palestine in Jesus’ day, the expression son of man was similarly used to mean “the man,” “a man,” or simply “someone.” The Old Testament book of Ezekiel uses the term “son of man” over 90 times to address the prophet Ezekiel.[49] The most distinctive Old Testament use of “Son of Man” is found Daniel 7:13-14 with the reference of the Son of Man coming in the clouds of glory.
In Jewish apocalyptic literature such as Enoch and 2 Esdras, the “Son of Man” is a Messianic reference and a coming apocalyptic figure. Sometimes in Jewish apocalyptic literature, the Son of Man is a warrior figure that would come to earth and prepare for the coming Messiah and the Kingdom of God. In some rabbinic writings, the Son of Man is designated as the Messiah. Sometimes, the Son of Man is a third party.
Notably in Jewish apocalyptic literature, the Son of Man defeats the powers and forces of evil who opposes God’s purposes in the world. Once the Son of Man destroys the forces of evil, then the Messiah arrives and brings God’s Kingdom. Importantly, the Son of Man is a warrior figure who destroys the forces and reign of evil through military power. Moreover, the Son of Man is a heavenly figure sent from God and not an earthly figure nor an earthly prophet.
Ironically in Mark 8, when Jesus makes His first announcement of His trip to Jerusalem to suffer to bring salvation, He designates Himself as the Son of Man that be will be rejected, die and be raised.[50] Jesus describes Himself as the Son of Man, who is the apocalyptic figure that comes to destroy the forces of evil. Thus, Jesus took the popular Jewish apocalyptic notion of the Son of Man sent into the world by God to destroy the forces of evil and combined with Isaiah’s prophecy on the Suffering Servant.[51] Thus, Jesus combined the Son of Man that comes to destroy the forces of evil with Isaiah references to the Suffering Servant. Jesus announced His destruction of evil not by military force as predicted in the Jewish apocalyptic literature but by submitting to the power of evil and soaking up evil within Himself.[52] This is the supreme paradox of the Gospels. God sent His Son Jesus to absorb evil and protect Jesus’ faithful believers from the evil.[53]
In Matthew 25, Jesus describes the future Kingdom of God and this passage gives the only detail account of the judgment at the end of the age.[54] Jesus promises that the Son of Man will come in His glory with all His angels, and He will sit upon the throne of glory as our great and perfect King and the Judge.[55] Matthew is a clear affirmation that the end is coming and Jesus’ assurance that God will complete His purposes, reign, and judgment at the end of the age. At the end of the age, all the nations will be gathered, and He will separate the goats from the sheep.[56]
V.        God’s Kingdom and Mercy
Afterwards, Jesus went over to the Jewish synagogue, and He noticed there a man with a deformed hand.[57] This story is also told in Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 6:6-11. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it legal to work by healing on the Sabbath day?”[58] Of course, the Pharisees were hoping Jesus would say yes, so they could entrap and arrest Him.[59] These Pharisees believed that Jesus was not sent from God because He worked on the Sabbath by doing good works.[60] Jesus taught the Pharisees that His Father the living LORD God always allows one to do good, even in the Sabbath.[61] The Holy Scriptures has no law against doing good for others.[62] Moreover, the Law of God permits a person to retrieve and help an oxen or sheep.[63]
Jesus answered the Pharisees by asking, “If you had just one sheep, and it fell into a well on the Sabbath, would you work to rescue it that day?”[64] Jesus stated that of course they as Pharisees would work and save their sheep.[65] Then, Jesus taught the Pharisees how much more valuable is a person than a sheep.[66] At this point, Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Stretch out your arm.”[67] As the man stretched out his arm, Jesus healed this deformed man’s hand and both his hands were now normal and healthy.[68] In verses 9 through 14, Jesus exerts His authority and power over disease.
At that moment, the Pharisees went out and conspired against Jesus on how to destroy and murder Him.[69] Amazingly, the Pharisee’s plot to kill Jesus was a specific violation of the Law of God.[70] Although the Pharisees quoted the Law of Moses, they were lawless and disobedient like Satan because they did not keep the Law by trying to kill Jesus.[71] Sadly, the presence of evil kingdom occurs in the church and religious people, such as the Pharisees.[72] These religious leaders were utterly blind. Generally, Pharisees were not bad people as most Pharisees are deeply concerned with obedience. Here in Matthew 12, these Pharisees represented the evil kingdom that comes with bondage, destruction, and darkness.[73] Thus, there are many faces of evil and has many forms.
Jesus knew the Pharisee’s thoughts and motives; therefore, He left the synagogue.[74] Our Lord's response to the religious leaders’ hatred was withdrawal and not openly fighting and attacking His enemies.[75] Thus, Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees was not a minor conflict but a conflict of life and death.[76]
Sadly, some of these Pharisees no room in your hearts for Jesus’ message on the Kingdom of God.[77]  In the first-century world that Jesus lived, the Jewish people had many varying expectations of the Kingdom of God. Not all Jews shared the same definition of the Kingdom of God. Not everyone wanted Jesus’ kind of Kingdom.
During first-century Palestine, the typical expectations of the Jews was that the Kingdom of God would occur in the future as a dramatic and cataclysmic inbreaking of God at the end of the age when God’s ways will be triumphant in human history. Particularly, Pharisees believed that the coming Kingdom of God would be a time when the Jewish people would be restored to their fortunes as the people of God. Moreover, the Pharisees believed in a future military ruler such as David as their coming Messiah to restore Israel’s fortunes. Until God established His Kingdom, the Pharisees tried to maintain ritual purity in this world by careful observation of the Law.[78] Yet, Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God probably confused the Pharisees and many other Jews.[79] Jesus did not come the first time as a military leader but as a compassionate Suffering Servant to bring God’s deliverance, salvation, and freedom through faith in Him.[80]
Many people followed Jesus, and Jesus healed ALL the sick among them.[81] As Jesus traveled during His earthly ministry, He proclaimed and announced the Good News about the Kingdom, and He healed every kind of disease and illness.[82] When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion and mercy, just like His Father, the living LORD God Almighty.[83] Jesus stated it is always right to do good everyday even on the Sabbath.[84] In His public ministry, Jesus always obeyed the moral aspects of the Law. One of the clearest marks of a Kingdom citizen is goodness and mercy towards others.[85]
Importantly in Matthew 12, Jesus taught the Pharisee from the Old Testament Law that His Father, the living LORD God Almighty, desires mercy, goodness, forgiveness, more than sacrifice and religious rituals in His Kingdom.[86] If the religious leaders wanted to obey the Old Testament Law, they would have been merciful, good, and kind to others and not condemned the innocent and guiltless.[87] From the Old Testament into the New Testament and today, God ALWAYS requires wholehearted love and obedience to Him as our only true King.[88] Equally important, the living LORD God commands our mercy, compassion, patience, peacefulness, goodness, generosity, forgiveness, kindness, and wiliness to help ALL PEOPLE more than religious rituals and sacrifice.[89] The Lord Jesus taught that our wholehearted love for His Father, the living LORD God, and equally our love for others summarizes the ENTIRE BIBLE.[90] ().
The living LORD God Almighty is King, and He is all-knowing and forever present on this earth.[91] The very nature and character of the living LORD God Almighty is mercy, grace, patience, faithfulness, and steadfast love.[92] Jesus taught that citizens of the everlasting Kingdom of God equally reflect their King’s good nature and character in the world.[93]
Jesus proclaimed that one day He will return in His full glory with all the holy angels with Him.[94] Amazingly, Jesus taught that those who will inherit God’s Kingdom and enter His Presence will be the righteous ones – the kind, merciful, loving, and humble people – who welcomed, cared for, and loved the hungry, thirsty, the aliens, the poor, the sick, the prisoner, the outcasts, drunkards, sinners, tax collectors (thefts), prostitutes, and the hurting.[95]
One of the primary missions of Jesus’ ministry was His announcement of God’s invitation and grace to ALL PEOPLE – not just the Jews – into God’s glorious Kingdom who repented of their sins and turned to the living God with faith and obedience.[96] Jesus welcomed ALL PEOPLE, including the notorious sinners into God’s Kingdom by our sincere and wholehearted repentance and faith.[97] Sadly, Jesus’ invitation of ALL PEOPLE – righteous and sinners alike – into God’s Kingdom often offended many Jews who believed they were the only ones allowed into the Kingdom of God.[98]
Jesus’ compassionate and merciful life and ministry fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy at Isaiah 42:1-4 concerning Him. The Lord Jesus was the living LORD God’s Servant and His Anointed One.[99] Even more, the Lord Jesus was the living LORD God’s Beloved Son in whom His soul delighted and brought the Kingdom of God.[100] The living LORD God placed His Spirit upon His Son Jesus without measure, and He empowered His Son Jesus to proclaim justice and hope to the nations.[101] As predicted by the prophet Isaiah, the Lord Jesus did not fight, shout, nor raise His voice.[102] Moreover, the prophet Isaiah rightfully predicted that the Lord Jesus never crushed the weak nor quenched the smallest hope.[103] Instead, the Lord Jesus will end all conflict with His final victory, and His Name shall become the hope of all people of the world – Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles).[104] 
VI.       Satan and His Kingdom
The climax of Matthew 12 comes at verses 22 through 32. This section begins with a demon-possessed man that was brought to Jesus. This demon-possessed man was both blind and unable to talk.[105] This story is also told in Mark 3:23-27 and Luke 11:14-22. Jesus graciously healed the demon-possessed man so that he could both speak and see.[106] The crowds were amazed and began to wonder that maybe Jesus is the long-awaited Son of King David and the Messiah (Christ) promised from the Old Testament.[107]
However, when the Pharisees heard about Jesus’ miraculous healing they said, “He can cast out demons because he is Satan, king of devils.”[108] In the King James, the Pharisees stated that Jesus cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.[109] In these verses, the Pharisees accused Jesus of blasphemy and casting out demons by the powers of evil.
During the days of Jesus, many people believed demons were the servants of Satan.[110] These demons essentially went into the world to bring problems to people, including physical and mental illness, disease, to destroy and not build up human life. In the common thinking of demons in the first century, they were head by a prince called Beelzebub.[111] For Jesus, evil has personality and not a neutral force. This evil personality found in Satan is actively engaged in stopping the Kingdom of God on earth.[112]
In Matthew 12, Jesus acknowledged the presence of Satan and evil that is present with a personality. During His public ministry, Jesus taught that Satan’s purpose is the destruction and death of humans.[113] From the very beginning of time, Satan and his evil minions are murderers, liars, and destructive to humans.[114] These evildoers hate mercy, kindness, truth, and goodness,[115] like their leader, Satan who also hates the truth as he is a deceiver, murderer, and theft![116] The Apostle Paul also acknowledged that humans struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.[117] Thus, when Jesus cast out demons in Matthew 12, He was assaulting the very realm of Satan.
Moreover, Jesus taught the listening crowds, including the religious leaders that every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.[118] A divided kingdom ends in ruin and a city or home divided against itself also cannot stand.[119] Jesus declared that if Satan is casting out Satan, he is fighting himself and destroying his own kingdom.[120] Any kingdom or house that is divided against itself will be brought to destruction and no house nor kingdom divided against itself will last and continue to stand.[121] Then, Jesus asked the Pharisees that if He is casting out demons by invoking the powers of Satan, then what power do the Jews use when they cast out demons during an exorcist.[122]
Most important, Jesus affirms that if He delivers and drives out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has now come and is present in Him.[123] Jesus’ exorcisms of the demon possessed man was specific evidence of the presence of Kingdom’s power and revealed that the Kingdom of God had begun. In the Old Testament, the Prophet Daniel predicted the living LORD God of heaven will set up an eternal Kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered.[124] Then, the Kingdom of God will crush all the earth’s kingdoms into nothingness.[125] The greatness of the eternal Kingdom of God predicted in Daniel’s prophecy arrived in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus, a direct Heir from the line of King David.[126] The Kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever. Ultimately, the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah will reign over a new heaven and earth.[127]
Moreover, Jesus affirmed that Satan had a kingdom, for he is the god of this age.[128] Jesus taught the Pharisees that no one cannot rob Satan’s kingdom without first binding Satan.[129] Jesus was able to cast out demons because He had first defeated Satan, the prince of the demons through the power of Spirit of God.[130] Through out faith and obedience in the Lord Jesus, He brings our freedom and deliverance from Satan and his evil destruction.[131]
However, Matthew 12 reveals the presence of God’s Kingdom often comes with opposition, fighting, and conflict.[132] The clearest example of Jesus’ conflict with Satan’s kingdom was His wilderness temptation and testing.[133] Jesus went into the wilderness, and He was tempted and testing by Satan. However, Jesus teaches in the Gospels that He had come with the Kingdom of God to defeat and unseat evil ruler of this age and plunder the strongman's house.[134] This plundering by Jesus caused great anger and fighting by the strongman, Satan.[135] In the Gospels, when demons were cast out by Jesus and God’s Kingdom, they put up a fight with resistance and screaming.[136] The reign of God does not come effortless and without pain and testing. However, Jesus has complete power and authority over Satan and his demons![137]
The presence of the Kingdom of God comes into the world by usurping the one who rules this age, Satan.[138] The presence of Satan’s kingdom is often revealed in the lives those possessed and overcome by demons.[139] Demon possession is a life fragmented and hurting that has been robbed by Satan and his minions.[140] So the very presence of people possessed with demons is the sign of the evil kingdom in the world.[141]
Notably, the Holy Scriptures reveal a direct connection between Satan’s kingdom and disease, bondages, and sickness.[142] Sin and wickedness often bring sickness, disease, and death.[143] With the presence of God’s Kingdom, Jesus brought the Kingdom’s freedom and deliverance with healing of every disease, sickness, and affliction among the people through faith in Him.[144] God never intended sickness and disease, but the presence of Satan’s evil kingdom brought about sickness, disease, and bondage.[145]
The Good News is that the Kingdom of God has come with Jesus to replace and defeat the evil kingdom.[146] The hallmark of the Kingdom of God is liberation, restoration, healing, and freedom.[147] One of the signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God is that people are set free from Satan’s bondage. With God’s Kingdom comes full liberation and freedom from sin, sickness, and ignorance.
VII.     Good Fruit and Bad Fruit

In verses 33 through 37 of Matthew 12, Jesus speaks a harsh word of eternal judgment to those who follow Satan’s kingdom and produce unhealthy fruit. Jesus warned the people to beware of Satan and his false followers, who will often come disguised as harmless sheep, but they are vicious wolves.[148] Jesus taught the people that one can recognize Satan and his minions by their evil fruit.[149] A good tree produces good fruit while a bad tree produces bad fruit.[150] For a person’s heart determines one’s speech because the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.[151] As the old saying goes, “From evildoers come evil deeds.[152]” A good person produces good deeds and words season after season while an evil-hearted person in alliance with Satan’s kingdom is filled with venom and hate that his speech reveals from his evil heart.[153]
Likewise, Jesus promised that every tree that does not produce good fruit will chopped down and thrown into the fire with Satan and his evil followers.[154]  Jesus taught the Kingdom of God will be given to everyone who produce good fruit.[155] Moreover, Jesus proclaimed that EVERYONE must give account on Judgment Day for every careless word they have spoken and every evil deed.[156] For the living LORD God Almighty will bring every word and deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.[157] Our words are powerful.[158] Words can be either our salvation or our damnation.[159]
Subsequently, some of the Jewish leaders, including some Pharisees, came to Jesus asking Him to show them a miraculous sign.[160] This story is also told in Luke 11:29-32. However, Jesus called these Jewish religious leaders evil and faithless because they refused to accept and believe in Him.[161] Then, Jesus taught that when the Old Testament prophet Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh repentance and their need to turn to God from all their evil ways the people of Nineveh repented and turned to God and turn from evil.[162] Jesus proclaimed that He is greater than Jonah, and yet the Jewish leaders refused to believe Him.[163] Next, Jesus declared that the Queen of Sheba shall also raise against the Jewish leaders in the judgment and condemnation.[164] Queen of Sheba came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and now One greater than Solomon is here but the Jewish leaders refused to believe Him.[165]
Then as Jesus was teaching the crowd, His mother Mary and brothers were outside, wanting to talk with Him.[166]  This story is also told in Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21. Jesus taught the listening crowd that His mother and brothers are those who believe in and obey Him and His Father in heaven.[167] Jesus declared that not everyone who calls out to Him “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of God, but only those who actually do goodness, mercy, and obey His Father’s laws will enter the Kingdom of God.[168] On judgment day, Jesus taught that everyone that causes sin, all who does evil, and break His Father’s Laws will be cast into the fire and utter darkness.[169] 
The Holy Scriptures teaches that those who do evil and wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God.[170] Everyone who indulges and does sexual sin, worship idols, commit adultery, male prostitution, cowardly, the faithless, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, practice homosexuality, thieves, murderers, deceivers, all liars, greedy people, drunkards, practice magic arts, abusers, cheaters and everyone who practice falsehood will not inherit the Kingdom of God.[171] Such evildoers follow Satan, who is the prince of the power of the air and the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.[172]
The Good News is that the Lord Jesus Christ has cleansed us of from our sins, and He made us holy and right with God by calling on His Name by faith and by the Spirit of our God.[173] As we repent of our sins and turn to the living God by faith and obedience in Jesus, Jesus rescues us from Satan’s kingdom into the Kingdom of God.[174] Jesus taught EVERYONE can only enter God’s Kingdom only through Him, who is the narrow Gate.[175] Through faith and obedience in Jesus, we have access to the Kingdom of God.[176] The highway to hell and destruction is broad and its gate is wide for those who choose that way of turning from faith and obedience in Jesus.[177] Faith in Jesus brings a full life now and for all eternity.[178] 
VIII.    Conclusion
            The living LORD God Almighty reigns on His heavenly throne in His glorious Kingdom. From the beginning of time, the living LORD God has wanted a fellowship with the humans He created. However, sin and disobedience shattered humanities’ fellowship and union with the living LORD God. The Good News is that the living LORD God continues to pursue and invite ALL people into His Kingdom since the Old Testament prophets and continued His invitation through His only begotten Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and now through Jesus’ disciples. At His first coming, the Lord Jesus Christ brought the Kingdom of God to earth, and He welcomed.  EVERYONE to repent and enjoy the blessings of God’s Kingdom. Just before His death, the Lord Jesus Christ promises He will come again!
References
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).

Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

Melton, Loyd, Senior Professor of New Testament (Due West Campus, SC: Erskine Theological
Seminary, 2018).

Ladd, George Eldon. Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974).


[1] E.g., see Matthew 4:17, 23; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1; Acts 1:3.
[2] E.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 9:19-22, 27-33, 35-36; Matthew 11:4-6; John 8:31-32, 36.
[3] E.g., see Luke 4:18, 38-41; Luke 13:10-12, 16; Hebrews 6:4-6.
[4] E.g., see Matthew 6:10, 33
[5] E.g., see Matthew 13:44-46, 52.
[6] E.g., see Matthew 10:1, 7-8; Luke 10:8-9.
[7] E.g., see Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:19; Mark 13:10; John 20:21; Acts 1:3, 8.
[8] E.g., see Acts 8:12; Acts 19:8; Acts 20:25; Acts 26:15-18; Acts 28:23, 31; Colossians 4:11.
[9] E.g., see Matthew 4:23; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1; Luke 13:28-29.
[10] See Mark 1:14-15.
[11] Melton, Summer 2018.
[12] E.g. see Matthew 8:11; Matthew 21:31-32; Luke 13:28;
[13] E.g., see Matthew 11:27; Matthew 28:18; John 3:35; John 13:3; John 17:2.
[14] E.g., see Luke 23:1-3; John 18:36-39.
[15] E.g., see Matthew 1:21; Matthew 4:17.
[16] E.g., see Psalm 47:8; Psalm 146:10; Isaiah 52:7; Isaiah 66:1; Revelation 4:1-7; Revelation 19:6.
[17] E.g., see John 1:12-13; John 11:25-26; John 14:6.
[18] E.g., see John 3:3, 5, 15-16.
[19] E.g., see Matthew 24:1-51; Mark 13:3-37; Luke 21:5-36.
[20] Ladd, George Eldon. Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), p. 218.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ladd at 224.
[23] See Daniel 2:44-45.
[24] Ladd at 224-25.
[25] Dr. Loyd Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of the New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, Summer 2018).
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] See Matthew 12:1-8.
[29] Matthew 12:1; see also Mark 2:23; Luke 6:1.
[30] Matthew 12:1; see also Mark 2:23; Luke 6:1.
[31] Matthew 12:2; see also Mark 2:24; Luke 6:2.
[32] Matthew 12:2; see also Exodus 20:8-11; Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:12-15.
[33] E.g., see Mark 7:3.
[34] Matthew 12:2, 10; see also Mark 2:24; Luke 6:2.
[35] See Matthew 12:1-8.
[36] See Deuteronomy 23:24-25.
[37] Matthew 12:3-4; see also Exodus 25:30; Exodus 29:32; Leviticus 24:5-9; 1 Samuel 21:6.
[38] Matthew 12:5; see also Numbers 28:9-10; 1 Chronicles 9:32; John 7:22-23.
[39] See Matthew 12:6, 41-42.
[40] See Matthew 12:8.
[41] E.g., see Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 1:9.
[42] E.g., see Matthew 11:28-29; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1-5.
[43] Melton, Summer 2018.
[44] E.g., see Luke 6:5.
[45] E.g., see Mark 2:10, 28; Mark 8:31.
[46] Melton, Summer 2018.
[47] See Acts 7:55-57.
[48] E.g., see Isaiah 56:2; Jeremiah 50:40; Psalm 8:4; Psalm 80:17; Job 25:6.
[49] E.g., see Ezekiel 2:1; Ezekiel 3:1, 3-4, 17, 25.
[50] Mark 8:31; see also Mark 9:30-31; Mark 10:33.
[51] See Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
[52] E.g., see 2 Corinthians 5:21.
[53] E.g., see John 17:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 5:18-19.
[54] See Matthew 25:31-46.
[55] Matthew 25:31; see also Matthew 16:27-28.
[56] Matthew 25:32; see also Matthew 24:31.
[57] See Matthew 12:9-10.
[58] See Matthew 12:10.
[59] Matthew 12:10; e.g., see also Luke 11:53-54; Luke 20:20-26.
[60] John 9:16, 33; see also Luke 13:14; John 5:9-10.
[61] Matthew 12:12; see also John 5:16-17.
[62] E.g., see Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9.
[63] See Exodus 23:4-5; Deuteronomy 22:1-4.
[64] Matthew 12:11; see also Luke 14:5.
[65] See Matthew 12:11.
[66] Matthew 12:12; see also Matthew 6:26; Matthew 10:31.
[67] See Matthew 12:13.
[68] See Matthew 12:13.
[69] Matthew 12:14; e.g., see also Matthew 26:4; Mark 3:6; John 5:18; John 7:1, 19; John 11:53.
[70] Matthew 12:14; see also Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17; Romans 13:9.
[71] E.g., see John 7:19, 25; John 8:37, 40, 44.
[72] E.g., see Mark 1:23.
[73] Melton, Summer 2018.
[74] Matthew 12:15; see also Mark 3:7; John 10:39.
[75] E.g., see John 7:1.
[76] Melton, Summer 2018.
[77] E.g., see John 8:37
[78] Melton, Summer 2018.
[79] E.g., see Matthew 21:10-11; Mark 1:21-22, 27-28.
[80] E.g., see Matthew 1:21; John 3:15-18, 36.
[81] Matthew 12:15; see also Matthew 4:23; Matthew 19:2; Mark 3:7.
[82] E.g., see Matthew 9:35-38.
[83] E.g., see Lamentations 3:22-25; Psalm 107:7-9; Matthew 14:14.
[84] Matthew 12:12; see also John 5:16-17.
[85] E.g., see Matthew 5:7, 13-16; Matthew 25:34-36; Luke 6:36.
[86] Matthew 12:7; see also Matthew 9:13.
[87] See Matthew 12:7
[88] E.g., see Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Psalm 145:1; Matthew 22:37.
[89] E.g., see Isaiah 1:10-20; Isaiah 66:3; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 6:20; Jeremiah 7:22-23; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 5:23-26; Matthew 22:34-40; Luke 6:31; Luke 11:39-42; Galatians 5:22-26.
[90] E.g., see Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:40; Luke 10:25-28; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14.
[91] E.g., see Psalm 2:6; Psalm 5:2; Psalm 24:7; Matthew 6:4, 8, 18.
[92] E.g., see Exodus 34:5-7; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 108:4; Joel 2:13.
[93] E.g., see Psalm 145:8-13; Psalm 107:7-9; Matthew 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-23.
[94] E.g., see Matthew 25:31.
[95] E.g., Matthew 21:31; Matthew 25:32-40; Hebrews 13:1-3.
[96] E.g., see Matthew 4:17; Matthew 11:11-12; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:18-30; Luke 13:24-30; Luke 14:12-14; John 10:7-10; John 14:6-7.
[97] E.g., see Luke 15:1-7.
[98] E.g., see Matthew 9:10-13; Matthew 11:18-19; Luke 5:29-31; Luke 7:39; Luke 19:7.
[99] Matthew 12:18; see also Acts 3:13; Acts 4:27, 30.
[100] Matthew 12:18; see also Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 17:5; John 20:30-31.
[101] Matthew 12:18; see also Isaiah 11:1-2; Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18; John 3:34; Acts 10:38.
[102] Matthew 12:19; see also Isaiah 42:2.
[103] Matthew 12:20; see also Isaiah 42:3.
[104] Matthew 12:21; see also Romans 15:12.
[105] See Matthew 12:22-32.
[106] Matthew 12:22; see also Matthew 9:32-34; Luke 11:14-15.
[107] Matthew 12:23; see also 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Matthew 1:1; 16-17; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 21:9; John 4:29; John 7:26-31; Romans 1:3-4.
[108] Matthew 12:24; see also Matthew 9:34; Matthew 10:25; Mark 3:22.
[109] see Matthew 12:24, King James Version.
[110] Melton, Summer 2018.
[111] Ibid.
[112] Ibid.
[113] E.g., John 10:10.
[114] E.g., see Genesis 3:1-4; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 John 3:8, 12, 15; Revelation 12:9.
[115] E.g., 1 John 3:8-10.
[116] E.g., see Matthew 13:18-19; John 8:44-47.
[117] E.g., see Ephesians 6:12.
[118] See Matthew 12:25.
[119] See Matthew 12:25.
[120] See Matthew 12:26.
[121] Melton, Summer 2018.
[122] See Matthew 12:27.
[123] Matthew 12:28; see also Matthew 12:18; Luke 17:20-21.
[124] Daniel 2:44-45; see also Psalm 145:12-13; Daniel 4:3, 34; Daniel 6:26.
[125] Ibid.
[126] Daniel 7:13-14, 27; see also Isaiah 9:6-7; Ezekiel 37:25; Matthew 1:1, 16-17; Matthew 3:2; Luke 1:30-33; John 18:36-37.
[127] E.g., see Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:10; Revelation 21:1.
[128] E.g., see Ephesians 2:1-3.
[129] See Matthew 12:29.
[130] E.g., see Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; John 12:30-33.
[131] E.g., see John 8:32.
[132] E.g., see Matthew 11:12; Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28.
[133] E.g., see Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13.
[134] Melton, Summer 2018.
[135] Ibid.
[136] E.g., see Mark 3:11; Mark 5:5-7; Mark 9:26.
[137] E.g., see Mark 1:23-27;
[138] Melton, Summer 2018.
[139] E.g., see Mark 1:24; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:41.
[140] Melton, Summer 2018.
[141] Ibid.
[142] E.g., see Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-8.
[143] E.g., see Numbers 25:1-9; Joshua 22:17; Psalm 38:3; Psalm 107:17;
[144] E.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 12:15; Mark 2:17; John 9:1-3.
[145] E.g., see Matthew 17:14-19, 22-23; Mark 9:14-28; Luke 9:37-45.
[146] E.g., see Mark 1:14-15, 32-34.
[147] E.g., see Luke 4:18.
[148] Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22-23; see also e.g., Deuteronomy 13:1-3; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1.
[149] Matthew 12:33; see also Matthew 7:15-16, 20; Romans 1:28-32; Galatians 5:19-21; James 3:12.
[150] Matthew 12:33, 35; see also Matthew 7:17-18; Luke 6:43-45; James 2:18.
[151] Matthew 12:34; see also Matthew 15:17-20; Luke 6:45.
[152] E.g., see1 Samuel 24:13; Matthew 15:19.
[153] Matthew 12:35; see also Matthew 7:20; Ephesians 4:29.
[154] E.g., see Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:19; Luke 3:9; Luke 13:6-9; John 15:2, 6; Revelation 20:7-10.
[155] E.g., see Matthew 21:43.
[156] Matthew 12:36; see also e.g., Romans 14:12; 1 Peter 4:5.
[157] E.g., see Ecclesiastes 3:17; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Acts 17:31.
[158] Matthew 12:37; see also Matthew 5:22.
[159] Matthew 12:37; see also Proverbs 18:21
[160] Matthew 12:38; e.g., see also Matthew 16:1, 4; Mark 8:11-12; Luke 11:16.
[161] See Matthew 12:39-40.
[162] Matthew 12:41; see also Jonah 3:3-10; Matthew 11:20-24.
[163] See Matthew 12:6, 41.
[164] See Matthew 12:42.
[165] Matthew 12:42; see also 1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1.
[166] Matthew 12:46-40; see also Matthew 13:55-56.
[167] Matthew 12:50; see also John 12:50; John 15:14; Hebrews 2:11.
[168] E.g., see Matthew 7:21; Matthew 25:31-40; Romans 2:13; James 1:22; 1 John 2:17; 1 John 3:7.
[169] E.g., see Psalm 5:4-6; Psalm 6:8; Matthew 7:22-23; Matthew 13:41-42; Matthew 25:41-46; Luke 13:27.
[170] E.g., see 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-7; Hebrews 13:4-5; Revelation 9:21.
[171] E.g., see Revelation 21:8, 27; Revelation 22:14-15.
[172] E.g., see John 8:34-34-44-47; Ephesians 2:2.
[173] E.g., see 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 6:11.
[174] E.g., see Matthew 3:2, 8-9, 11-12; Matthew 4:17.
[175] Matthew 7:13-14; see also Psalm 16:11; Luke 13:23-24; John 10:6-9; John 14:6.
[176] E.g., see Ephesian 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrew 4:14-16
[177] See Matthew 7:13.
[178] E.g., see John 1:4; John 3:15-16.