Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Taking the Kingdom by force

My question is regarding…

Matthew 11:12
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

How did the kingdom of heaven suffer violence if it was not yet in existence?  How could that violence take a non-existent kingdom by force? 

(By the way, thank you so much for your diligent study of the Word and especially for making yourself so available to those who desire the truth instead of traditions of men.  I have also enjoyed and benefited from your answers posted on the YouTube channel.)

Remember, the term ‘kingdom of heaven’ is only found in Matthew. (See 1/2/2013 post:  Kingdom of God.)  It is synonymous with ‘kingdom of God’, which is used in the parallel passage in the book of Mark.  The kingdom of heaven is the focus in the book of Matthew because Jesus Christ is the King, the fulfillment of the heavenly promise of God.  He is the God of heaven who will establish the kingdom that shall never be destroyed.

Daniel 2:44
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

When Jesus talked about the days of John the Baptist until now and the kingdom of heaven suffering violence, what was happening in the days of John the Baptist?  There was resistance by the religious leaders of Israel who were in power.  They hated the Lord Jesus Christ because he would take away their place, their position of authority in Israel.

John 11:48
If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

He would be the religious, spiritual leader in Israel.  He would be the King.  He would be the issue.  They had a pompous hierarchy of religious leaders:  scribes, Pharisees, lawyers and other hypocrites.  Christ threatened their position.  When John the Baptist showed up, the scribes and Pharisees sent men to ask who he was.

Luke 22:66-67
And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:

John 10:24
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

Even 30 years earlier, Herod the king was threatened by the announcement of the birth of Messiah.

Matthew 2:3
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

So there were many who were threatened by the announcement of the King and the kingdom. 

Matthew 11:12
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence…

What was happening during that time?  Persecution.   John the Baptist was falsely accused and put in prison (Mark 6:17-27).  They were violent men.  They used violence against the Lord and his people, the little flock.

…and the violent take it by force.

The violent are the religious leaders of Israel.  They were trying to take what was rightly the Lord’s.  Remember the parable of the vineyard which is about the kingdom (Matthew 21:33-41).  But first, let’s look at your verse in context.

Matthew 11:9-15
But what went ye out for to see? A prophet?  yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet [speaking of John the Baptist].  For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger [the forerunner of Messiah] before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater [prophet – Luke 7:28] 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.   For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.  And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

He is saying that when John appeared to Israel as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, he was the forerunner of Messiah and the sign that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.

Malachi 4:5
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord

The kingdom was within reach for Israel.  It hadn’t come yet, but it was on the brink.  The message that John preached about the coming of Messiah and his kingdom—that he would be the one in power—threatened the status quo of the religious leaders of Israel. 

Now let’s look at the parable about the kingdom in which Jesus speaks of God sending his prophets that were spitefully treated and killed.

Matthew 21:33-45
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder [God], which planted a vineyard [the nation of Israel], and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:  And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants [the prophets] to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.  And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

The husbandmen were the ones who had watch-care of Israel—the religious leaders.

Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.   But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son [the Lord Jesus Christ].

The religious leaders killed the prophets and then when God sends his Son, the enemies say, “Kill him!”

But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.  And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him [the crucifixion].

They murder him and take his inheritance.  What is the inheritance? 

Psalm 2:7-8
I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou [Messiah] art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.  Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Jesus Christ is the King and it is his kingdom, and he will rule and reign over Israel and the world one day; even though the religious leaders of Israel wanted to do that.  It is his rightfully; he died for it and paid for it with his blood.

When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?  They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons [the believing remnant].  Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?  Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you,

Who is he talking to?  The unbelieving religious leaders.  They were supposed to be the leaders of Israel who would establish the kingdom by looking for, receiving and accepting Messiah and his kingdom and then being a part of his rulership.  They had the opportunity to receive that privilege.

and given to a nation [singular] bringing forth the fruits thereof.

(Not nations [plural—aka, gentiles]; not what God is doing today.  If you rightly divide the word, that new nation is the believing remnant in Israel.)  The unbelieving religious leaders were trying to take the kingdom by force by killing their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  They will not get the kingdom; they will be destroyed.

And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

God will destroy those wicked men and take the part of the kingdom under Messiah that he planned to give to those religious leaders of Israel, had they received him, and give it to a little flock of believing Jews – the remnant.

John 10:16
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Zechariah 8:12
For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

Hopefully this helps...Maranatha!

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