THE KINGDOM OF GOD
By Phoebe Clevenger
Romans 14:17 - For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Luke 17:21 - Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Two nouns . . Hebrew does not like adjectives or adverbs,
but likes to hook three or four nouns together in chains . . birds of the air .
. what other kind of birds are there? . . lilies of the field . . false
prophets . . prophets of lie . .
Kingdom of heaven . . Kingdom of God - in the New Testament, . Kingdom of heaven - in Hebrew = synonym for God. Rabbis did not use God's name directly because of Scriptural injunction . . Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain . . not to say it or use it in a light way. So they avoided using God's name at all times. So instead of saying "God," they would say, 'the place' or 'the Name' . . 'Blessed be the Name' rather than 'Blessed be God' . . or 'the power' or as here, 'heaven.' The prodigal son said, I have sinned against heaven, or in other words . . against God.
In English we say, Heaven help us . . meaning 'God help us.' It is a euphemism, a way of saying, 'God' without actually saying, 'God.' So Mark and Luke say 'Kingdom of God' so their Greek readers can understand it. To them 'kingdom of heaven' means nothing, or very little. Matthew says 'kingdom of heaven.' Hebrew does not say Kingdom of God. Matthew was writing to the Jews.
We have a lot of misunderstanding of phrase 'kingdom of heaven' . . not that 'heaven' means 'God' . that is simple. Most Christians understand kingdom as something that is going to be in the future due to Higher Criticism and scholars in Europe.
In the time of Jesus, people, rabbis, disciples understood 'kingdom' to be Here and Now, never in the future. Kingdom of heaven is a classic Pharisaic phrase. They developed this phrase and used it over and over again. . from many references in Old Testament to 'king' and to 'kingdom' and 'the Lord will reign.'
The first reference to 'kingdom of heaven' appears in Exodus 15:18 . . the Lord will reign for ever and ever. 'Will reign' and 'king' and 'kingdom' all have the same root. From these many passages where 'kingdom,' 'king,' or 'God reigning' is mentioned in the Old Testament, this gradually became bigger and bigger in their minds. They hoped for God's reign and rule to extend out over all the world.
Previous to the time when the Gospel went out when Jesus lived and died and was resurrected, and the early disciples and Paul went out and preached the gospel, the Jews had gone over all the Mediterranean world and far to the East spreading the knowledge of One God and so people were ready every where . . they had been prepared every where for the kingdom of heaven. That is why the belief in Jesus and early Christianity could spread so quickly, because these rabbis had spread the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven so far and wide.
It was so important to these contemporaries of Jesus that they say, 'A benediction which contains no reference to the divine kingship is no benediction.' In other words . . the benediction, or a blessing had to be introduced with the formula 'Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe '. . every prayer . . every blessing and still today, is introduced with this formula. Without that word 'king,' it is not a blessing in their eyes. They saw God as King and His Kingdom is spreading and taking over in place of all the paganism throughout the
There is another passage from the Prayer Book . . for background for 'kingdom of heaven' and how it was understood in the time of Jesus. This is the famous prayer which is said every morning by every religious Jew.
It is called 'Aleinu' because it begins . . It is upon us, or it is our duty to praise the Lord for all things . . in the middle of this prayer, it says (known as Malkuyot) Kingdoms . . because it refers to God's kingdom and His reign so often.
We therefore hope in Thee, O Lord our God, that we may speedily behold the glory of Thy might when Thou wilt remove the abominations from the earth and heathendom will be utterly destroyed, when the world will be perfected under the kingdom (Malhot) of the Almighty and all the children of flesh will call upon Thy name, when Thou wilt turn unto Thyself all the evildoers upon earth. Let all the inhabitants of the world perceive and know that unto Thee every knee must bow, every tongue must swear allegiance . . where have we heard that before? . . .our friend, Paul, who was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, and studied with the great Pharisee Teacher Gamaliel . . every tongue must swear allegiance before Thee, O Lord our God . . let them bow and worship and to Thy glorious Name let them give honour. Let them all accept the yoke of Thy kingdom (that's commitment to His kingdom) and do Thou reign over them speedily and for ever and ever. For the kingdom is Thine and to all eternity wilt Thou reign in glory, as it is written in Thy Torah . . the Lord shall reign forever and ever. Exodus 15:18. And it is said, The Lord shall be king over all the earth. In that day shall the Lord be One and His Name One. Zechariah 14:9
That is how the rabbis understood 'kingdom.' For them
it was God's rule. It was 'where' God was ruling. And it was the
'people' God ruled. It was not in the future, but it always was in the
'here' and 'now.'
Jesus never talked about the kingdom and the coming of the Son of Man in the same context. We often get these confused. But the kingdom which is in the 'here and now' and the coming of the Son of Man which is future are two different things. There is no prophecy of Jesus in which He connects 'Son of Man' with the destruction of Jerusalem. He prophesied specifically about the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 21, but He was not going to be there and neither was He going to be responsible for it.
What causes the most confusion about the kingdom of heaven
is the proverbial future tense. There are many passages which talk about
the kingdom of heaven which happen to have the verb 'will come' in the future tense,
or seemingly with a future meaning. It is in the future tense in Hebrew,
but when we translate it back to English, we have to translate it in the
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. Righteous- ness often means 'salvation.' In the Old Testament, it always means 'God's salvation, or His redemption, or His deliverance.' Tsidekah in Hebrew. By the time of Jesus, the rabbis had begun to use it in a more specific meaning, being narrowed down to alms-giving. So in the time of Jesus, if they had had a dictionary and you had looked up 'Tsidekah' - righteousness, or what is translated 'righteousness', it would have said, 1. salvation, deliverance, redemption; 2. alms-giving.
Jesus is not telling us we are to be more righteous than the Pharisees . . they were very righteous. But Jesus is telling the people that if their concept of righteousness, or definition of righteousness is not the big Old Testament concept of righteousness . . God's salvation, if it is just the narrow 'alms-givine' . . that narrow meaning . . then you are not going to be in the kingdom of heaven.
Here we have the future tense . . you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is again giving us a truism, or a proverbial statement, something that is obviously true and He says, if your righteousness . .tsidekah . . a play on the two different meanings of this word . . if it is not No. l meaning . . but if it's rather No. 2 - almsgiving, then you are not going to get into the kingdom of heaven . . you are not going to be in the Kingdom of heaven, and we have to translate this in the present tense.
Verse 19 whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. It is not talking about rewards in the future when we get to heaven.
Heaven also confuses us. We think about 'when we get to heaven' . . the world to come, in other words . . after death. So because this term, 'kingdom of heaven' has 'heaven' in it, it also helps to confuse us.
Here, heaven does NOT mean 'after death.' It means 'God.' Whoever release one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. And he who does them . . how can we do them in the future . . he who does them . . see how it is talking about the 'here and now' . . he who does them and teaches them, shall be called great. It will be said of him that he is great in Jesus' movement . . in the kingdom of heaven . . within and among His followers.
Another good example of the use of the word 'righteousness,' in the sense of 'alms-giving' is in 2 Cor. 9:9, 10. Now that we understand that righteousness can be and was understood as 'alms-giving' we can now understand this passage.
Verse 6 He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Paul is talking about giving. He is taking up a collection. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. We are talking about giving.
And God is also able to provide you with every blessing in abundance so you may always have enough of everything and may provide an abundance for every good work. As it is written . . now he is going to quote . . from Isaiah 55:10. He scatters abroad; he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. Notice how Paul is going to give this a different meaning than the Old Testament meaning. He is going to give it more of a New Testament period meaning and interpret into it the meaning of righteousness in the sense of alms-giving. He scatters abroad. He gives to the poor. Someone is giving to the poor. His righteousness . .tsidekah . . think of it in terms of 'alms-giving' . . . his almsgiving is going to last forever.
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your . . not righteousness as if we were somehow righteous, . . but the harvest of your almsgiving . . righteousness in the sense of almsgiving. Now for another example of how the future tense is often associated with 'kingdom of heaven' and how we get confused when and what the kingdom of heaven is, turn to Matthew 7:21. Verse 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles? So every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. He is talking about the different kinds of disciples and how we are going to be able to tell them. You will know them by their fruits. You don't gather thorns from grapes or thistles from figs. So every sound three bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and throw into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. Another good Hebrew idiom. We usually say 'fruit' in English and not in the plural.
Verse 21 Not everyone who says, Lord, Lord comes into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. This is generally translated literally as it was translated from Hebrew, literally into Greek and then from Greek literally into English and weend up with the future tense . . not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven.
Again the Kingdom of heaven . . Jesus is talking about His Movement. He is calling people to follow Him . . to become His disciples. The word He uses for this is 'kingdom of heaven.' That is His Movement. He is calling them to enter the Kingdom of heaven. That is like we say, Get saved! Become believers! That is what He is calling them to.
He is saying here . . not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, gets in the Kingdom of heaven. That's how we would have to translate it in the present tense . . but he who does the will of my Father which is in heaven . . that is he who bears fruit. Isn't that what we have in the Lord's prayer? Thy kingdom come . . Thy will be done. Kingdom of heaven and God's will is often associated in Scripture.
There is one more reason why we know this refers to people who were becoming the disciples of Jesus. If you carefully study the Gospels, you will see that those people who are becoming believers or who already are believers in Jesus, when they approach Him, they address Him as 'Lord." Why? Because of Psalm 110:1. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. Since this passage was taken as referring to the Messiah, 'The Lord said unto my Lord', . . consequently 'Lord' was one of the Messianic titles of Jesus. And His disciples knew that. Jesus claimed that and the disciples addressed Him as that. And so when a believer came to Jesus .
. someone who was in His Kingdom of heaven, they always addressed Him as Lord. But when an outsider came to Jesus, they called Him, 'Rabbi.' Sometimes it is translated 'teacher,' sometimes 'Master,' sometimes 'Rabbi,' but it is all the same word, 'Rahbee.' My Teacher. You can study for yourself and see this careful distinction. Look at who is talking when someone addresses Jesus as Rabbi, or Teacher or Master. And look at who is talking when someone addresses Him as 'Lord.' . . it is someone who is in the Movement . . who is in the Kingdom . . or who is beginning to believe in Jesus.
Matthew 6:10 is the beginning of the Lord's prayer. Our Father . . used over and over again in Rabbinic prayers. Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. Two things happen here. First of all, again because of the connection between things like 'Maranatha' . . Come Lord Jesus . . because of the connection with 'come,' and the Lord's coming . . His Second Coming and the Coming of the Son of Man, when we hear this 'Thy kingdom come,' we latch on to the word 'come' and we associate it with the Second Coming of the Lord, or the coming of the Son of man as Jesus says . . and that is not what we are praying here.
'Thy Kingdom come' is the same as 'Thy will be done.' It is Hebrew poetry. You say the same thing twice in Hebrew when you want to make Hebrew poetry. You do not rhyme things, but you say the same things twice. 'Thy Kingdom come' means whatever 'Thy will be done' means. 'Thy will be done' means whater 'Thy Kingdom come' means.
What is the scene? What are we praying here? We are praying for God to start ruling over more and more lives, just like we saw here in the prayer of the rabbis. 'Let Thy Kingdom come, Lord.' Start ruling more and more in my life and start ruling more and more in the lives of everyone around me and out into the world. Start ruling over more and more people. That is what we are praying. 'Let Thy Kingdom come.' And it is not something in the future. It is referring to lives being changed in the here and now and not in the future. We are not praying for the Lord's return . . at least not here. This has no connection with 'Lord, come quickly.' This is praying for God's reign to begin and to spread out and encompass the world.
Matthew 7:24, 26 This passage does not say anything about Kingdom, but it is another excellent example of how you must not understand the future in a future sense. 'Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them . . notice how this is so much like of what Jesus teaches and like the Lord's prayer . . Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock. Not 'will be like,' but 'is like.' Everyone who does them is like a man who built his house upon the rock, and 'the rock' is not good English either. In English, you should say, 'who built his house upon 'a' rock . . not
'the' rock . . any particular rock, but 'a' rock in the general sense.
Notice all the 'ands' in this next passage. This passage is so Hebraic that it could never have been invented by someone who is a Greek speaker . . only by a Hebrew speaker. 'And the rain fell. And the floods came. And the winds blew. And beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it was founded upon a rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them 'is like' . . again the proverbial future, . a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. We should say in English . . who built his house upon sand . . not upon 'the' sand. And the rain fell. And the floods came. And the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell and great was the fall of it. Beautiful Hebrew. Lousy English. But again we have to translate it 'is like unto a wise man' . . 'is like unto a foolish man.'
The second thing that causes us confusion, in addition to this proverbial future . . a future tense which should be translated as present tense . . the second major thing that causes us to misunderstand 'Kingdom of heaven' is the phrase 'the Kingdom of heaven, or the Kingdom of God . .is near.' As long as we try to understand the Greek word 'engidzo' which means 'about to appear,' or is almost here. But if we translate the Greek word back into Hebrew, we get a different meaning. The Hebrew equivalent is the verb 'karav.' It means, 'come up to and be with', or 'be beside', or 'be next to.' The Greek or English means, 'it is not yet here.' The Kingdom of God is not here. It is near. It is at hand, but it is not here yet.
But once we put it back into Hebrew, which is always the name of the game . . when we are working with the Gospels, it is to find out what the Hebrew equivalent is and understand that Hebrew word. The Hebrew word means the exact opposite. The Hebrew means, 'it is here,' 'it has arrived.' In English or Greek, has come near is temporal. We think of it in terms of time. But in Hebrew, 'to come near,' 'to come up to' is spacial. You come up to something. It is not something to do with time. It is something to do with space. You come up to something and it has nothing to do with time.
Old Testament examples . . When King Ahaz was in Damascus and he saw the altar there of Tiglath-pilezer, he right away sent a model of it and the exact dimensions to Uriah, his priest in Jerusalem. Uriah built it and had it ready when King Ahaz came back. 2 Kings 16:2 The text says, When the King came from Damascus, the King viewed the altar. Then the King drew near 'karav' to the altar and went upon it and then he offered sacrifices, etc. He took the Lord's altar and he stuck it over on the side and got rid of it and he set up this altar like the one in Damascus.
The King 'karav' literally 'came close' and went upon it. In other words, the King went right up to the altar and then he climbed upon it, or on the side of it to offer the sacrifice. In other words, he was right there. There was no distance between him and the altar.
Jonah 1:16 Jonah was down in the hole of the ship. He was way down some place in the ship. And he was asleep. The captain, the Bible says, 'came near' and said to him, 'thus-and-so.' The captain had to 'karav' to go down and he had to come down to beside and said to him. He did not stand around the corner some place and say, Jonah! . . shout at Jonah from a distance. He came right up next to him and woke him up. Again you see this is not something that has to do with time, but it is coming up next to, to beside something, something physical, something spacial.
Deuteronomy 22:14 If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then spurns her and charges her with shameful conduct and brings an evil name on her, saying, I took this woman and when I came near 'karav' to her, I did not find in her the tokens of virginity. And then instruction is given in Scripture how to deal with the problem. Here, 'karav' 'came near' is used in the same way as 'to know' is used in the Bible. To come near and to know, are Hebrew idioms for sexual relations . . they are used in this special way in Hebrew.
Isaiah 8:3 (1-4) Karav . . does not mean there has to be any distance between the thing that is coming near and the thing it is coming near to. It is here . . right here in our midst.
Luke 10:9 Jesus is sending out His disciples and He instructs them, Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, The Kingdom of God has come near you. The Kingdom of God has come near you. Does that mean it is going to be some time in the future. Heal the sick and then say, The Kingdom of God is here. When they see the sick healed, then you just tell them what it is. This is the Kingdom of Heaven . . and not that is come near, which is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word translated literally into the Greek and right on into the English for us. That Kingdom of God has come near you. It is not near. It is right there, right in our midst.
This is what Jesus said in the famous Beelzebub controversy. If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. The demons do not fight with each other. The demons and satan rule, but they do not oppose one another. So when Jesus comes and throws out a demon, then God has begun to rule, then the Kingdom of God has started taking the place of that rule of the demons . . that rule of satan.
In order to understand this better, there is a beautiful exciting passage in the prayers that are prayed every Friday night on the eve of Shabbat. Shabbat begins at sundown on Friday night. People go to the synagogue and they pray quite a long prayer and in the middle of it are these surprising words. This talks about the redemption from Egypt and how God brought them through the Sea and how He killed the firstborn in Egypt and He sank the Egyptians in the depths of the sea. Then His children beheld His might. They praised and gave thanks unto His Name and willingly accepted His Kingdom . . His Malkot.
Moses and the children of Israel sang a song unto Thee with great joy, saying all of them . . and then they quote Exodus 25:11 'Who is like unto Thee, O Lord among the mighty. Who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness, revered in praises doing wonders. Then it says these surprising words, . at least surprising for us as Christians . . Your Kingdom saw Your sons as You split the sea before Moses. Your sons, or Your children, in other words . . the children of Israel saw your Kingdom as You split the sea before Moses. Now, how can we see God's Kingdom?
Is it possible to see God's Kingdom? That's the way the people understood it in the days of Jesus and that is the way Jesus under- stood it. Go into these towns, heal the sick and say, You see the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is here.
Or, when He speaks to the Pharisees He says, If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then has the Kingdom of God come near. It's here.
WHENEVER GOD DOES A MIRACLE that is where the Kingdom of
heaven is. It is not something to wait for in the future. It is
The Beatitudes are so misunderstood because we do not understand the hints Jesus is making to the Scriptures and because of the proverbial future. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. It should be translated . . for they inherit the earth, and 'inherit the earth' is a replacement for 'inherit eternal life in the world to come.'
The Be-attitudes are Jesus' call to discipleship, to follow Him. They really tell about what attributes someone who is in the Kingdom must have to get in, or someone who is in the Kingdom has if he is in there. But when you hear the first one, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven, . . it should be translated 'for of such kind of people is the Kingdom of Heaven. You immediately hear 'Kingdom of Heaven,' and you immediately hear Jesus calling you to join the Kingdom . . to join His Movement. So all of these passages, including the Beatitudes are all talking about something in the HERE and NOW, something
which is salvation in the HERE and NOW.
Matthew 11:11 - The Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence and men of violence take it by force. John has sent and asked a question of Jesus. Jesus was not living up to John's messianic expectations and Jesus had to straighten him out a little bit. John the Baptist was expecting the baptism, the Holy Spirit to fall and the fire to fall and he did not understand that the Holy Spirit wasn't going to fall until Jesus died and rose and so Jesus had to assure him that he was the Messiah by hinting at passages from Isaiah 65 and 35 and 42 and 61.
Then Jesus goes on to talk about John the Baptist. He does not put John the Baptist down. He does not have any animosity towards John the Baptist at all. He says about him, Amen. He says, I say to you, among those born of women, there has risen . . and in Hebrew, 'has risen' can also mean, 'there has appeared' . . no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. Of all the prophets, and John is the last of the Old Testament prophets, none was greater than John the Baptist, and yet anyone who is in My Movement, anyone who is a member of the Kingdom of Heaven, is greater than John the Baptist. That is in the here and now.
Then he goes on with this very cryptic, very mystifying passage. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. What is all of this violence? How can we understand this passage? As far as I know, there has never been a scholarly treatment, or a scholarly explanation of this passage. Not just that people in the pews do not understand it, . none of the scholars understand.
But if you can understand what passage Jesus is referring to, what passage he is again hinting at, then, even if the passage is garbled in Greek and in English, we can still know what Jesus is talking about.
That is the wonderful thing. This is a hint at Micah 2:13 (12) This is a shepherd story. This is a sheep story. This has to do with the culture and the way of life, which was an agricultural economy with lots of sheep herding and it says, I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, I will gather the remnant of Israel. I will set them together like a sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men . . here is the verse . . . He who opens the break will go up before them, they will break through and pass the gate, going out by it, their king will pass on before them, the Lord at their head.
The Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence . . it should be translated, the Kingdom of Heaven is bursting forth, breaking forth, and 'men of violence' should be 'those that are breaking forth,' 'the breachers,' 'the breakers.' From the days of John until now, the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking forth, NOT suffering violence.
In Israel in those days and still today, when the shepherd finishes for the day and he brings the sheep in, he is out in the hills, out in the desert, far from home, and he will put these sheep up at night up against the face of a cliff, of a wall. There are lots of rocks and lots of faces of hills and cliffs. And he will find a flat place, flat steep cliff. Often there is a cave. There are lots of caves out there in the hills of Judea and he will build a little wall out of rock around in front of the cave to make a little sheep fold. He just piles up the rock. The sheep are not that great of jumpers. They are pretty docile and passive, so you build up a wall about waist high or even lower, close that in. Sometimes they pile up sticks and thorny branches from round about over the top of that like we use barbed wire and you go to sleep for the night.
In the morning, the shepherd gets up and makes a breach in that wall. He removes some of the stones to the sides. He breaks open that wall and the sheep all come charging, come running out pall mall out through the breach and they break out and they are all pushing and shoving to get through and running pall mall right out through that breach. And that is the picture that we have.
I will surely gather the remnant of Israel like sheep in a fold. The breaker . . or, we could translate it . . he who opens the breach, will go over . . literally it says . . will go up before them. They will break out and pass through the gate, going out by it. Their King will pass on before them, the Lord at their head.
In order to understand the way Jesus is using this, you have to also know another famous Rabbinic Midrash . . that is an interpretation of Scripture. And here is the way it went. On this passage, about this passage, they said that here, 'the King' is referring to Elijah, and 'the Lord' is referring to Messiah. It does not matter that in the original this is Hebrew poetry, and it means the same thing. 'Their King will pass on before them' 'the Lord at their head,' means the same thing.
'The King' is the same as 'the Lord' . .' pass on before them' is a synonym for 'at their head.' It is Hebrew poetry. You say the same thing twice.
But the rabbis would play with these things. They would interpret them in their special way and the way they interpreted this was in a Messianic way, and they said, Their King will pass on before them . . that is Eliyaho, first . .the Lord will be at their head . . that is the King Messiah. So Jesus is evidently referring to Micah 2:13 and to this Midrash . . rabbinic interpretation and what He is saying as best as we can understand it is something like this:
From the days of John the Baptist, from the time that I came along, from the end of John the Baptist's ministry, or from the beginning of My ministry, . . From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking forth, and those that are breaking forth are breaking for in it, or with it.
You have to get this picture. Jesus the Shepherd is leading the sheep out. He does not say anything about Himself here in his characteristic way of not referring to Himself . . but it is clear. He is the King Messiah and He is going out first. Now notice, He is actually God Himself . . the Lord at their head. Suddenly He becomes Lord God Almighty Himself and He is leading the sheep out and they are all bursting forth and He is saying something like, 'From the time of John the Baptist, from the time I started My Movement, from the time I started calling disciples until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been breaking out into the world and all those who are breaking out in it, or all those who are breaking out, are breaking out in it. The kingdom is spreading out in the world and those that are in it are being saved in it, as it spreads itself. The Kingdom of Heaven is in the THEN and NOW and not something in the future, if we understand this passage correctly.
Matthew 6:33 This is a passage about being anxious. This passage has to follow . . in our view and our opinion . . the passage about Mary and Martha, and Jesus says, 'Martha, Martha, . you are anxious about a lot of things and just one thing is important. And then He continues on here, even though this passage is found in another place in the Gospel it originally followed the story of Mary and Martha, we think. And so you continue on here . . Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, about what you shall eat or what you shall put on and He goes on to give illustrations of this, illustrating food and clothing, until He comes down to the 33rd verse where He says, 'Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness . . that is God's righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well. This is like the 8th Beatitude. Blessed are those who pursue righteousness. Blessed are those who are persecuting or pursuing, or running out after righteousness; that is God's redemption, His salvation, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Here Jesus says, Seek . . that means pursue . . go after it . . make it of first importance . . the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness . . God's salvation . . Notice how salvation or righteousness are linked here also to Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added to you.
To summarize . . The Kingdom of Heaven as beautiful and as powerful and as full of meaning as it was to Jesus and those who heard Him, it is almost completely misunderstood today. First of all, because of the proverbial future which so often has the Kingdom of Haven linked with a verb in the future tense like, will come . . and so we think of the Kingdom of Heaven as something in the future, or something apocalyptic.
Secondly, because of the verb in Hebrew . . . karav . . . which gets translated literally, and comes out 'the Kingdom of Heaven is near, and we seem to think that first of all, it's not right here, but it is at a distance. And secondly that it has something to do with time, which it never is in Hebrew, but always something to do with space. Thirdly, the Kingdom is never verbal in English, or Greek. In English, or Greek, we always think of something static, something like territory. But in Hebrew you can have the verbal idea. In Hebrew, the Kingdom is action.
This is where the action is. This is where God acts. This is where God rules. This is also the place where the people God rules are and this is the people God rules, the Movement of Jesus.
Scriptures concerning the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven, which are the same thing.
Matthew 3:2 - And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 4:17 - From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 5:3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10 - Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:19-20 - Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 6:33 - But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 7:21 - Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 8:11 - And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 10:7 - And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 11:11-12 - Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Matthew 12:28 - But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Matthew 13:11 - He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Matthew 13:24 - Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Matthew 13:31 - Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Matthew 13:33 - Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Matthew 13:44-45 - Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Matthew 13:47 - Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Matthew 13:52 - Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Matthew 16:19 - And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Matthew 18:1 - At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Matthew 18:3-4 - And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:23 - Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
Matthew 19:14 - But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:23-24 - Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Matthew 20:1 - For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
Matthew 21:31 - Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
Matthew 21:43 - Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
Matthew 22:2 - The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
Matthew 23:13 - But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Matthew 25:1 - Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Matthew 25:14 - For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mark 1:14-15 - Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Mark 4:11 - And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
Mark 4:26 - And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
Mark 4:30 - And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
Mark 9:1 - And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
Mark 9:47 - And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Mark 10:14-15 - But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
Mark 10:23-25 - And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!  And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Mark 12:34 - And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
Mark 14:25 - Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
Mark 15:43 - Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.
Luke 4:43 - And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
Luke 6:20 - And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
Luke 7:28 - For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
Luke 8:1 - And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
Luke 8:10 - And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
Luke 9:2 - And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
Luke 9:11 - And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
Luke 9:27 - But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:60 - Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:62 - And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 10:9 - And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 10:11 - Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 11:20 - But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
Luke 12:31 - But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Luke 13:18 - Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
Luke 13:20 - And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
Luke 13:28-29 - There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.  And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
Luke 14:15 - And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
Luke 16:16 - The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Luke 17:20-21 - And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 18:16-17 - But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
Luke 18:24-25 - And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Luke 19:11 - And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
Luke 21:31 - So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Luke 22:16 - For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
Luke 22:18 - For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
Luke 23:51 - (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.
John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:5 - Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Acts 1:3 - To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Acts 8:12 - But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 14:22 - Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Acts 19:8 - And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Acts 20:25 - And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
Acts 28:23 - And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
Acts 28:31 - Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Romans 14:17 - For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
1 Cor. 4:20 - For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1 Cor. 6:9-10 - Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Cor. 15:50 - Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Galatians 5:21 - Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Col. 4:11 - And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.
2 Thes. 1:5 - Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
“THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU” - By Wanda Mason