Intro to the Kingdom Parables

SunsetOur Messiah did not teach in a vacuum.  He taught in a particular place and time and within a particular culture, and that culture had expectation for that place and time.  In Jewish literature just before the coming of Messiah there is evidence of a great expectation for the coming Messiah and His kingdom.  The emphases was on the kingdom and not the Messiah.  The grand view of the universal acceptance of His rule, all of mankind becoming the children of the Heavenly Father was lost to them. The Law being written on the hearts, the new spirit of forgiveness and righteousness they did not perceive.  They had misunderstood the figurative language of the prophets.  Instead their interpretations where woodenly literal.  Messiah’s reign was seen as subjugation of the nations, with the Jewish people receiving all the wealth and power.  It was nationalism injecting itself into the theology.  They saw nothing of the repentance, spiritual growth, and the universal mercy that Messiah taught.  Nothing that was “good tidings of great joy, for all people.”

Messiah came to emancipate us from the rule of such men and restore the liberty of the individual.  His principles were of positive freedom and an inward subjection to God.  There is no need to be concerned with whether something or someone is clean for Messiah touch makes anything and anyone clean.  His guardianship is not over the temple but rather the soul.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, Luke 4:18

The Messiah explained that this new spiritual Kingdom was to be hidden from the natural man.  It was and is known only to a few.  The Pharisees expectations were of a grander commitment to the letter and bondage to the external.  Where the Sadducees who were of the Priestly class, saw their lives revolving around and even greater sanctuary.  Guarding ever more vigilantly the sanctity of the Temple.  They saw themselves above others because they maintain themselves in a state of ceremonial cleanness, that no ordinary person could achieve.  They avoided contact with any and all who might make them or the temple unclean.

Where as the kingdom which Messiah presented was not one of a physical temple or the physical ceremonial rituals in it.  These Laws had always been intended to be symbol of the coming kingdom.  We see over and over in Moses and the prophets that they were to circumcise their hearts, all the nations were to be blessed, He has no delight in sacrifice, etc.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees has lost the symbolism with their practice of all that was literal. There was no understanding that the Laws physical rituals were to be replaced by Messiah’s sacrifice.  The harem i.e. church would no longer need to circumcise the flesh but rather our hearts must be cut.  No longer are the letters of the Law one of bondage to the external but now they are a guild to the spiritual.  We have been emancipated from the letter of the Law to follow the rules that are now written on our hearts.  We are now at liberty no longer subject to the oppressions of the ceremonial ritual Law.

This New Kingdom is explained in the Kingdom Parables and other kingdom passages.  However over the centuries several common misconceptions have arisen. 1. There is some kind of doctrinal or historical difference between the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Heaven.  2. The Kingdom is to be put off till some future Jewish type Millennial reign of Messiah. Both of these misunderstandings stem from the dispensationalist who try to confuse the issue by saying that this future kingdom was delayed because the Jews did not accept their Messiah.

The truth is that these titles are used interchangeable by Messiah. As well as the idea that these passages are about a future, yet to come kingdom, makes John the Baptist a false prophet.

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt. 3:1-2  

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

FYI: Matthew tends to favor the use of kingdom of heaven where Mark, Luke, and John favor the use of the kingdom of God.

If something was “at hand” two thousand years ago, it can hardly be future to us.  If John the Baptist is to be trusted as a prophet we must start looking for this kingdom in the first century, when John said it was at hand. Not all these centuries later.  The plans and purposes of God can not be delayed by the actions of men.

Messiah knew nothing of putting the kingdom off to some future time or age.

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. Matt. 11:12

nor will they say,  ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:21

He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, Col. 1:13

The idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is a future, physical place of fabulous luxury and wealth, a place of peace and well being, of health and longevity, is just not here in the Bible.  These  attributes are never mentioned. As we study the parables we will find no future kingdom of perfection but we are repeatedly told, that the present Kingdom is hidden, partly corrupt, and full of persecution and tribulation.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not establish by violence.  Messiah when He presented Himself as king was meek and lowly.

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Matt. 26:52

“Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.” Matt. 21:5

Even though the world was hostile to His Kingdom.  He founded His kingdom not on the blood of His enemies but in His own.   He conquered all enemies not by outward means but by the moral power of the Truth.

and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

His Kingdom is made up of those who are constrained and influenced by the Holy Spirit, who’s work is inward turning rebellious heart into willing submission.  His Kingdom is not of this world so there is no need to fight for it.  Over the centuries many have lost this ideal, when evil or desperate men try to force on others the kingdom.

The true Kingdom is within, it is righteousness, peace, and joy.  This is the Kingdom presented in the Gospels.

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; Rom. 14:17

He was King, He is King, and He will be King.

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