Jesus Teachings Part Three: The Kingdom of Heaven

As I read through 2 Peter the other day I wondered what Scriptures Peter referred to when he said:

But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.
2 Peter 3:13

Considering that Peter opens this portion of his epistle with an expression of his intent:

“…to develop a genuine understanding with a reminder, 7 so that you can remember the words previously spoken by the holy prophets and the command of our Lord and Savior given through the apostles.” (2 Peter 3:6,7)

I knew to look to the “Old Testament” prophets as well as the words of Messiah.

A few days later I was thrilled when I came across these verses in Isaiah 66:

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will endure before Me” — this is the Lord ’s declaration — “so your offspring and your name will endure. All mankind will come to worship Me from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another,” says the Lord .
Isaiah 66:22-23

The promise of a new Heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells is the true hope of the gospel. As I continue sharing the teachings of Jesus, now is a fitting time to note that Jesus talked about the Kingdom of Heaven ALOT. His teachings on the Kingdom of Heaven stir up expectation, encourage preparation for entry, and provide a road map for traveling to His kingdom as a destination.

Expectation:

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.”
John 14:1‭-‬4

Pause.

I want to zoom in:

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not I would have told you.”

There are many dwelling places in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus follows this statement with the declaration “…if not I would have told you.” The reality is, I have not seen the kingdom of Heaven yet, Jesus has. I believe His testimony. He descended from heaven with teaching to inform mankind about things that have not been known prior to Him revealing them.

“If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven? 13. No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven – the Son of Man. (John 3:12,13)

“I am going to prepare a place for you.”

Expectation oozes from this words. The KING of kings has gone to prepare a place for His disciples.

“If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.”

The heartbeat of this is echoed several times in Jesus ministry. He will come back, He will receive His people, so that where He is we may be also. I have no doubt that Jesus desire is for His people to be with Him where He is because He prays about it as well:

John 17:24 Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You have loved Me before the world’s foundation.

The true hope of the gospel is being with Jesus where He is. Jesus teaches that there is a coming Kingdom that He rules. Righteousness dwells in this kingdom. All evil is cast out of this kingdom. This kingdom will permeate and completely overtake the current kingdom of this world.

A Little Deeper:

The second post in this series Jesus Teachings Part Two: Parable of Wheat/Weeds distinguishes between God’s desire for good and His enemy’s desire for evil. Please read that post for more information. When Scripture talks about the kingdom of Heaven, there is a narrative that begins in Genesis and culminates in Revelation. It spans the entire existence of humanity. The teachings of Messiah point to His kingdom overtaking all other kingdoms. His references to the Kingdom of Heaven are built upon foundations laid in the law and the prophets.

The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey Him.’ (Daniel 7:27)

The “New Testament” writers draw upon the “Old Testament” prophecies to teach and testify to Jesus as Messiah

Peter gave testimony in his epistle:

“For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory:

This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!

18 And we heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from ones own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

As God gives me grace I will continue to share more about Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Jesus such as:

“The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff from between his feet until He whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him.” (Genesis 49:10)

For now I would like to end this post with the sustaining hope expressed in this passage from the book of Revelation:

“The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever! (Revelation 11:15)

Jesus Teachings Part Two: Parable of Wheat/Weeds

I am thoroughly convinced no one has more powerful teachings than Jesus. Today we will take a look at the next parable in Matthew Chapter 13 that follows the parable of the sower (see part one). Not only does this parable teach us something about God, it teaches us something about His enemy as well. As we walk through this message from the Messiah, I want to hone in on the fact of intention, in other words we can ask the questions:

1. What did God intend to accomplish?

2. What did His enemy intend to accomplish?

Here it is:

“He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from? ’ “ ‘An enemy did this! ’ he told them. “ ‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up? ’ the slaves asked him. “ ‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’ ”
(Matthew 13:24‭-‬30)

The great news is we have an explanation provided for this parable:

Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.” He replied: “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; and the good seed — these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!”
(Matthew 13:36‭-‬43‭)

These passages reveal a contrast between good and evil. Jesus (the Son of Man) sows good men (seeds) in the world (the field). His enemy, the devil, sows evil men (weeds) in the world. Thus the intention of God is revealed as good and the enemies intention is exposed as evil. This parable is critical for understanding the world we live in today. There are children of God and children of the devil (1 John 3:7-10). The children of God live for righteousness and the children of the devil live to carry out his wicked intentions.

With that in mind we can see there are two agenda’s being carried out in the world we live in. One plan is the Most High’s plan to redeem His children from sin and death. The other plan is the devil’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy. While God works through grace, mercy, and truth; the enemy works through fear, force and deception.

I was studying the writings of Josephus and I came across a very relevant and appalling message concerning Nimrod the mighty man mentioned in Genesis 10:8-9, it reads:

“Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, -a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God as if it was through His means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed their government into tyranny [cruel and oppressive rule], seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power.” -Josephus

Wait.

Don’t miss what Nimrod did. Nimrod convinced the people at the tower of babel that they should not acknowledge God as the source of goodness and happiness in their life. Instead he persuaded them to consider themselves as the source of their happiness, health and wealth so to speak.

CATCH THIS: Then he gradually changed their government to tyranny. The people became dependent on their government, which was ruled by Nimrod. What was his motive? To turn the people away from the fear (reverence) of God.

May the KING of glory give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart to understand His Word and how to apply it to our lives. May He grant us discernment in our generation that we may serve as His faithful children shining light and hastening His kingdom.

Come LORD Jesus come quickly!