August 25, 2015

Second Coming Reflections, Part 2

The Kingdom of God

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We saw last month that Yeshua is coming back and He will rule and reign for 1,000 years. This time will be called the Messianic Age, the time of the kingdom. You may ask yourself, "Why have I not heard of this before?" Many denominations do not teach the full counsel of God's Word. It is sad but true. My advice is to pick up a Bible and begin to read it for yourself. It is not hard to understand and it is not hard to live by. Let's go through Scripture and see all that Yeshua (Jesus) has to say about His kingdom to get a better understanding of what it is and what we need to do to enter into it.

The Kingdom is at Hand

Let's start at the beginning of Yeshua's ministry in Matthew 4:17: "From that time Yeshua began to preach and say, 'Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" These were Yeshua's first words, but they were not His last about the kingdom. Yeshua tells us from the beginning that His kingdom is here for those who repent. Verse 23 goes on to say, "And Yeshua was going about in all of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people."

In chapter 5 of Matthew, the "Sermon on the Mount," Yeshua begins by saying, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Again, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." In fact, every one of the Beatitudes has to do with the kingdom. Yeshua goes on in verses 17-20, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets (this is what we call the Old Testament). I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Torah, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments and teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." So in other words, Yeshua is telling us that we must still follow His commandments to enter into His kingdom. God's word is one as He is one and nothing about God is obsolete. Yeshua finishes out chapter five expounding on the commandments.

In chapter 6 of Matthew, Yeshua talks about prayer. He began to teach His disciples by saying, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." The kingdom is so important to Yeshua's mission and purpose that after addressing His Father with praise, He speaks of the coming kingdom. Again, the whole rest of the prayer has to do with the kingdom and what we need to do to enter into it: "And forgive us our debts (sins, transgressions, and iniquities) as we also forgive our debtors." Forgiveness is very important for entering the kingdom: "For if you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." Forgiveness is essential to entering into the kingdom.

In chapter 8, we see that faith has a lot to do with the kingdom. A centurion comes to Yeshua and asks Him to heal his servant who is at home ill. He tells Yeshua, "Just speak the word and my servant will be healed." Yeshua, amazed at His faith, tells the people in verse 10, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith in all of Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." We see with all of Yeshua's miracles that faith is the key that unlocks the door; faith is even necessary for salvation.

We want to look at John 3:3, 5-6: "'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God' . . . Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.'" Being born of the Spirit and walking in the Spirit are a must to enter the Kingdom. Revelation 20:12, 15 say, "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened and another book was opened, which is the book of Life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds . . . And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

Will your name be written in the Lamb's book of Life?

We have seen a few of the key points to the kingdom of God: Repentance, forgiveness, keeping God's commandments, being born of the Holy Spirit of God, and having your name written in the Lamb's book of Life. Next time we want to look at what Yeshua tells us about the kingdom in His parables.

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