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MM00085 The Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence

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Mentoring Manna:  The Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence

© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell

MM00085

 

Matthew 11:11-12  “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who 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 suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

            John the Baptist was the forerunner to prepare the way for Jesus.  He came in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn people’s hearts back to God.[1] His message was “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”[2]  Before people would be able to receive the kingdom of heaven, they had to turn away from their allegiance to this world along with all of its sinful ideals and pleasures.

            John the Baptist had a great following, but many opposed him.  These included the religious leaders who had become a part of a corrupt religious system.  This also included the political leaders of that day.  King Herod was unlawfully married (according to God’s standards) to his brother’s wife and John the Baptist’s condemnation of it was a real thorn in his flesh.  Eventually he had John imprisoned and executed.  John exhorted men to repent in preparation for the coming kingdom of heaven, but he himself only beheld it from afar.

            When John the Baptist was put in prison, Jesus began to preach saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”[3] Believing the gospel is the doorway into the kingdom of heaven.  What is the “gospel”?  It means “good news.”  What is the good news?  Almost anywhere that the good news is defined in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), it is called the “gospel of the kingdom”[4] The good news is that in Christ the kingdom of heaven has come to man.  Our entry into this kingdom is through repentance toward God and obedient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.[5]

            What is the kingdom of heaven?  The kingdom of heaven is the rule and reign of God. Because of sin, this world has been under the rule and reign of the wicked one, Satan.[6]  God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom are directly opposed to one another.  Jesus’ reference to the nonreligious style and confronting nature of John the Baptist teaches us that the penetration of the kingdom of God into this world can be categorized as violent.  It goes against the natural course of this world.  It challenges the status quo.  It refuses to “dance to the music” of this world and confronts dead religious tradition.  This upheaval and violence is neither politically motivated nor carried out by armed advance.  The violence that Jesus speaks of is the result of God’s kingdom order penetrating into this fallen world order. The introduction of God’s kingdom order brings about a shaking in relationships, households, religious institutions, communities, cities, and nations.[7]  This shaking brings a backlash from Satan and from those held under his deceptive influence.  Christians cannot expect to live passively in the kingdom of heaven while on this earth.  Christians cannot expect to extend the kingdom of heaven in this world without opposition from the god of this world.  Neither can they expect to receive the promises and blessings of the kingdom without resistance.  We are involved in a spiritual conflict.  Those who embrace and extend the kingdom of heaven in this world must be determined to overcome Satan’s opposition and take it by force.

 

Application: Are you being opposed by people, circumstances, or even by the oppression of the enemy in your attempts to live for God?  Recognize the nature of the Christian life.  We are in a conflict between two kingdoms that will one day be resolved with Christ’s return.  Until then, determine to seize the kingdom of heaven in your life.  Determine to extend God’s kingdom in spite of the backlash you might receive.  Though things of this world may shake as God’s kingdom penetrates the darkness, we are sure to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. 

 

Prayer:  “Heavenly Father, thank You for bringing me into Your kingdom.  I trade in my passivity for passion.  I trade in my apathy for determination.  I determine to live in the blessing and in the responsibility of Your kingdom while on this earth.  I will seize and extend Your kingdom even as by force.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”


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[1] Luke 1:17

[2] Matthew 3:2 NKJV

[3] Mark 1:15 NKJV

[4] See Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14;

[5] See Luke 3:7-14; John 3:3, 5, 16; Matthew 7:21

[6] 1 John 5:19

[7] See Hebrews 12:25-29

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