Kingdom & Empire: The Kingdom of Heaven, Righteousness In the Earth & Persecution of the Righteous

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ which was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirty-one through fifty-eight of the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the beginning of a specific method of Jesus’ teaching which was entirely and altogether different from the rest. In the fourth chapter you will find the apostle Matthew describing how Jesus would begin preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” while in the final verses of the chapter you will find Jesus teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and disease. As you come to the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of this gospel narrative you will find the apostle Matthew presenting us with that teaching and that preaching was has been commonly known as “The Sermon on the Mount.” What’s more, is that at the very outset and beginning of this sermon would be what has also been commonly known as “The Beatitudes.” I have previously written how the United States of America has a Constitution which essentially sets forth the laws, the liberties, the desires and the intentions upon which this nation and country was founded upon. Within the Constitution—specifically at the beginning of it—is what is known as “The Bill of Rights.” The Bill of Rights are a series of inalienable rights, liberties and freedoms that have been granted unto the citizens of the United States of America as a direct result of that which our founding fathers wrote and signed centuries ago. For more than two hundred years this country has held and clung tightly to the Constitution—and not just the Constitution, but also to the Bill of Rights which provides us with those rights, those liberties and those freedoms which we so readily and so easily enjoy. The Constitution is essentially that which this nation was founded on, and at the very heart of the Constitution is the faith and morality of our founding fathers as they envisioned one nation under God, and one nation that was indivisible in His sight and in His presence.

            As you consider the role the Constitution plays within the United States of America you must also consider the Law of Moses and that which was given unto Him atop Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai. It would be there in the wilderness atop Horeb when Moses was in the presence of the living God forty days and forty nights when the living and eternal God not only gave Moses the Law, but at the very heart of that Law were ten commandments which would serve as the bedrock and foundation of that Law. I would dare say that what the Constitution is to the United States, the Law given unto Moses atop Horeb in the wilderness was to the children and nation of Israel. What’s more, is that while the Bill of Rights is essentially a series of rights, freedoms and liberties that have been granted and afforded unto the people of this nation, the Ten Commandments are not necessarily rights, freedoms and liberties that were given to the children of Israel, but rather a series of commands that would show them how to live in relationship with each other, as well as relationship with the LORD their God. In order for you to understand that which is found within the Ten Commandments you must needs recognize and understand that at the very heart, at the very core and at the very center of it is a powerful set of laws and commandments that not only show the children of Israel how to live in fellowship and relationship with the living God, but also how to live in fellowship and relationship with each other. What’s more, is that these Ten Commandments would begin with four which would directly speak to and describe their relationship to and with the living God, and how they were to live in direct relation to and direct relation with the living God. The first four commandments dealt exclusively and specifically with the children of Israel and how they ought to live in relationship with the living God, while the fifth commandment would deal specifically with the Sabbath day and that day which was to be set apart as a day of rest given wholly and fully unto the LORD.

            The more you read and consider that which is found within the Ten Commandments the more you will be brought face to face with the fact that they would eventually shift and would eventually transition to the place where the LORD would reveal unto the children of Israel how they ought to live in direct relationship to and with each other. Beginning with relationship with parents the LORD would then instruct and teach His people how they ought to live their lives in direct relationship with their neighbors and their brothers and sisters. What’s more, is that we must needs realize and understand that at the very heart of how the children of Israel lived their lives in relation to others among them was how they lived their lives in relation to the living God. In other words—how the children of Israel related to their neighbors, and how the children of Israel related to their brothers and sisters would be directly influenced and impacted by their relationship to and their relationship with the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for even when you come to the gospel narratives you will find it being repeatedly spoken and declared how the greatest commandment was the commandment to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength. With this being true, we must also recognize and understand that the second commandment is likened unto the first commandment, for the second commandment instructs us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Concerning this second commandment we must also realize that we haven’t simply been called to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we have also been called to love our enemies. Moreover—not only have we been called to love our enemies, but we have been called to bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute and despitefully use us. This second commandment is actually truly remarkable and astonishing when you think about and consider it, for this second commandment not only touches upon our ability and willingness to love our neighbor and our brother, but it also touches on our willingness and ability to love our enemy—those who curse us, those who hate us, and those who persecute and despitefully use us. These two commandments summarize the whole Law—and not only do they summarize the whole Law, but they also summarize the Ten Commandments which are found at the very heart, at the very core, and at the very center of the Law which was given unto Moses.

            With this being said it is absolutely necessary that we recognize that what the Law of Moses was to and for the children of Israel, and what the Ten Commandments was to the children of Israel, the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes might very well be considered for and of the kingdom of heaven. What’s more, is we must also conclude and understand that the Beatitudes which are found at the very beginning of the Sermon—much like the Ten Commandments are found at the very beginning of the Law, and much like the Bill of Rights is found at the very beginning of the Constitution—are not only those of the kingdom, but they are also for the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when we think about and consider the words which are found in the parables Jesus taught and spoke unto the multitudes who gathered themselves unto Him—we must needs realize and recognize that at the very heart of those parables is an understanding concerning and an understanding of the kingdom of heaven. Bear in mind that when Jesus began teaching and speaking in parables He had already delivered the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus began teaching and speaking in parables He had already declared unto His disciples and followers that the poor in spirit are blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and how those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake were also blessed. Moreover, Jesus would also directly link and connect the kingdom of heaven to the earth, for within the same Beatitudes Jesus would declare how the meek would be and how the meek were blessed and would inherit the earth.

            It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this direct link and connection between the kingdom of heaven and the earth, for we cannot distinguish and separate the two from each other. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—what good is inheriting the earth if and unless there is a manifestation of the kingdom of heaven within and upon it? What good is inheriting the earth if the kingdom of heaven is not being established in the midst of it among men? When Jesus came to the earth and was publicly manifested according to the word of John the Baptist, according to the words of the prophets, and even according to the declaration and voice of the Father, He came to set up and establish the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth. What’s more, is that this kingdom would be set up and established in the earth directly in the midst of the Roman Empire which dominated and controlled much of the known world at that time—including Judaea, including Galilee, including Jerusalem, including Samaria, and the surrounding regions. Jesus came preaching the kingdom of heaven, and the Sermon on the Mount was the initial manifesto of the kingdom of heaven, and the initial declaration of the kingdom of heaven and its presence in the midst of the earth. We must needs realize, recognize and understand this, for it calls and draws our attention to the incredibly strong and incredibly powerful truth that the kingdom of heaven would be set up and established in the earth according to a new righteousness that was not of the earth, nor even which was of and according to the Law and the prophets. The righteousness of the kingdom would be a righteousness which the eternal Father would establish by and through His Son, and the Son would spend three and a half years beginning the establishment of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth. What’s more, is that within the Sermon on the Mount we find Jesus emphatically and boldly declaring unto His disciples and followers that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and the Pharisees they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Not only this, but you will also find Jesus instructing His disciples to pray before and pray unto the Father asking and entreating Him that His kingdom would come—and not only that His kingdom would come, but that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What makes this reality concerning the kingdom of heaven so incredibly strong and powerful is when you consider how in the final verses of the sixth chapter we find Jesus instructing His disciples to seek first the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of God, and that as a direct result of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness those things which we have need of would be added unto us. Thus within the Sermon on the Mount—not only are we instructed to entreat the Father that His kingdom would come upon the earth as it is in heaven, but we are also entreated to seek first the kingdom of heaven. If the kingdom of heaven was this abstract and foreign reality within our hearts and lives, and if the kingdom of heaven was something which would and could only be experienced when we cross and pass from this life to the next, then we have to ask ourselves how and why Jesus would not only declare that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, but would also speak to us concerning entering into the kingdom of heaven, would instruct us to pray to the Father asking that His kingdom would come, and would instruct us to seek first the kingdom of God. What’s more, is that there is this strong and powerful link between the kingdom of heaven and righteousness, for in the fifth chapter we find Jesus declaring that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees we would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven, while in the sixth chapter we find Jesus instructing us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Oh it is absolutely apparent that there is this strong and powerful link between the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of God, and how this righteousness is manifested within and upon the earth. We have great need to understand and recognize this, for it calls and draws our attention to the implicit connection and link between the kingdom of God which not only can be manifested within the earth, but is also accessed by and through our righteousness.

When we think about and consider the kingdom of heaven and its manifestation within and upon the earth we must needs realize and understand that not only is the kingdom of heaven directly connected and linked to righteousness, but the kingdom of heaven is also directly linked and connected to the earth. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly powerful this reality truly is within our hearts and our lives, for we cannot separate the kingdom of heaven from the earth. What’s more, is that I would dare say that in order to truly have the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven we must needs have the earth, for the kingdom of heaven is to be manifested within and upon the earth—a reality which the Lord Jesus Christ came to set up and establish when He came to the earth. Jesus came to the earth as the Lamb of God who would indeed and would in fact take away the sin of the world, and Jesus came to the earth as the Lamb of God to be a sacrifice which would be offered upon the cross on Golgotha that man might be reconciled to the living God, however, we must also recognize and understand that Jesus came to the earth to set up and establish the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth. I continue to find it absolutely tremendous and astonishing to think about and consider the tremendous truth that Jesus would speak and declare unto His disciples that the meek would inherit the earth—and not only that the meek would inherit the earth, but also that the poor in spirit would be given the kingdom of heaven, and those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake would be given the kingdom of heaven. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to these words, for they provide us with a powerful picture of the kingdom of heaven and how the kingdom of heaven is that which is to be experienced in the here and now and not in the already but not yet. We would like to think that the kingdom of heaven is this eschatological reality that is somehow far fetch and far removed from our existence and our reality within the earth, and yet the truth of the matter is that the kingdom of heaven is to be manifested and experienced here and now. Even the apostle Paul—when writing unto the Corinthian saints—would declare that the kingdom of heaven was according to the Holy Spirit and power. Oh we have great need to realize and understand that the kingdom of heaven is not something that is not going to be experienced in the future, but rather is something that must needs be experienced, demonstrated and manifested in the here and now.

It is important that we realize and recognize these words found within the Sermon on the Mount, for the words which we find in the Sermon on the Mount call and draw our attention to the awesome and incredible truth that the kingdom of heaven is that which is not only at hand, but that which is being established and manifested within the earth. Jesus would initially preach and declare that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, however, He would spend the next three and a half years manifesting, demonstrating and establishing the kingdom of heaven upon the earth. For us to state and declare that the kingdom of heaven cannot and will not be manifested within and upon the earth is to entirely and altogether ignore the entire reason and purpose Adam and man was put upon the earth—namely, to exercise dominion upon the earth. To state and declare that the kingdom of heaven has absolutely no demonstration, no manifestation and no purpose within and upon the earth is to completely ignore the covenant the LORD made with Noah after the flood when He instructed them to not only be fruitful and multiply upon the earth, but also to exercise dominion over and upon the earth. Not only this, but there was this concept of dominion that was expressed within and through the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as although they were three men and three generations—they would exercise dominion in their own ways and in their own rights upon the earth. It would be through the lives of these three patriarchs and these three fathers of the Jewish and Christian faiths that we witness and behold this dominion being manifested within and upon the earth during their generation.

With all of this being said we must also realize and recognize the days and generation of Joshua and the children of Israel he not only led through the Jordan River, but also in conquest and battle against the nations, peoples and lands which were present in the land of Canaan. During the days of Joshua the children of Israel not only exercised dominion over the enemies and adversaries of Israel, but they also exercised dominion upon the earth as they conquered and subdued that land which would ultimately and eventually become the land of Israel. What’s more, is that we must needs realize and understand the days of David the king of Israel, for it would be during the days of David king of Israel when he would conquer and subdue the nations and kingdoms round about Israel and would bring them in subjection to Israel. It would be during the days of David that great wars and battles were fought within and upon the earth that the nation and kingdom of Israel might be established within and upon the earth. Not only this, but it would be during the days of Solomon that he would not only reign over all the kings of the earth, but all the kings of the earth would come unto him to hear the wisdom God had given unto him, and would also bring tribute to him. To emphatically state and boldly declare that the kingdom of heaven is not going to be manifested within and upon the earth is to completely and entirely ignore the words which David spoke and wrote within the eighth chapter—words which were echoed by the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews—when He declared that man was made a little lower than the angels and was given dominion upon the earth. Oh there is a great and powerful need for us as the people of God to truly recognize and understand that we have been called to inherit the earth, and yet only to the degree and measure that we are able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. What’s more, is that we must needs realize and understand that the earth has absolutely no worth nor any value without and apart from the direct manifestation and demonstration of the kingdom of heaven. Unless the kingdom of heaven comes down and is manifested within and upon the earth there is absolutely nothing about this earth has any appeal to those who are the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Taking this a step further we must needs realize and understand that the Law and the prophets prophesied of a coming ruler who would rule all the nations of the earth. The prophets—and even David himself—saw one who would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of Israel and would rule, reign and govern over the nations of the earth. This reality is absolutely remarkable and astounding when you think about and consider it, for in the twentieth chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will find Jesus reigning upon the earth from Jerusalem—perhaps even from the throne of David—for a period of one thousand years with His saints. Pause for a moment and think about the fact there is going to come a point in time when the Lord Jesus Christ is going to rule and reign with His saints for a period of one thousand years—and not only will He reign upon the earth for a period of one thousand years, but that rule and reign will be absent and apart from the deception of Satan. During this period of one thousand years Satan which is the ancient serpent in the garden and the great dragon in the prophetic book of Revelation will be bound with a great chain and cast into the bottomless pit where he will remain for a period of one thousand years. When Jesus does indeed and when Jesus does in fact reign upon the earth for a period of one thousand years He will do so together with His saints and without the presence of Satan in the earth deceiving the hearts of men. Stop and think about that reality for a moment—the reality that for a period of one thousand years the earth will be entirely and altogether free and absent from the deception and lies of Satan who will be cast and bound in the bottomless pit. How absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to think about and consider this truly wonderful and powerful truth, for when the Lord Jesus Christ rules and reigns upon the earth for a period of one thousand years it will be the greatest manifestation of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth. During those one thousand years Jesus can and Jesus will rule and govern the nations, and will do so with justice, with righteousness, with equity and with peace.

I sit here today thinking about and consider the awesome and incredible truth that is found within this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the reality that Jesus initially came preaching the kingdom of heaven was at hand, but He would then preach the Sermon on the Mount which would speak and reveal to men and women that the kingdom of heaven was something that could be experienced in the here and now within and upon the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ—when delivering the Sermon on the Mount—emphatically and boldly declared unto those who walked with and followed Him that the kingdom of heaven was something that could be entered into, was something that could be manifested in the earth from heaven, and was something that must be sought after. When Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven He spoke of it in direct connection to two distinct realities—it’s manifestation within and upon the earth, and its direct link and connection to righteousness. If we want to truly understand the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth we must needs recognize these two intrinsic links and connections concerning and regarding the kingdom, for the kingdom of heaven was intended to be manifested within and upon the earth and not merely something which we were to look forward to when we pass from this life to the next. We as the people of God have a great and powerful need to truly realize and understand that the kingdom of heaven was something that was both tangible and real during the days of Jesus Christ. Not only this, but we must needs realize and understand that the kingdom of heaven was about more than simply the signs, wonders and miracles Jesus performed while upon the earth. While through those signs, wonders and miracles Jesus exercised authority and dominion over sickness, over disease, over leprosy, over death, over demons, and at times even over nature itself—we must needs realize and recognize that the kingdom of heaven is not entirely, nor is it altogether centered upon and around the manifestation of signs, wonders and miracles. If the kingdom of heaven was entirely and altogether about signs, wonders and miracles then there would be absolutely no need for the words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is a powerful picture that brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the kingdom of heaven is something that is to be experienced, manifested, enjoyed, and demonstrated in the here and now.

When we think about the kingdom of heaven we must needs realize and understand that it is the means whereby the government, the economy, the righteousness, the authority, and the dominion of heaven is established and manifested within and upon the earth. The more we think about and the more we consider the words which are found within the kingdom of heaven the more we are brought face to face with the fact that it is this very real and powerful truth that the kingdom of heaven is that which is to be manifested within and upon the earth and not something that is far off in the future, nor even something that is in heaven above and cannot be experienced within and upon the earth. We dare not allow ourselves to be caught up and consumed with the notion and thinking that the kingdom of heaven has absolutely no direct link and no connection to the earth, and the parables which Jesus spoke unto the great multitudes and followers not only demonstrated this, but also revealed how that kingdom was accessed. Moreover, the parables which Jesus spoke were intended to reveal unto those who walked with and followed Him what that kingdom would indeed look like, and how that kingdom of heaven would be manifested in the midst of the earth. The words which we find in the parables Jesus spoke are absolutely and incredibly powerful when you take the time to think about it, for even though He spoke in parables and only those who had ears to hear would truly understand—He would reveal the meaning concerning some of the parables He spoke. Not only this, but before Jesus would even get into the parables which directly spoke to the kingdom of heaven and what the kingdom of heaven was likened unto He would first describe those who would hear the word concerning the kingdom.

While it is absolutely and entirely necessary for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount in direct relation to the kingdom of heaven, we must needs also recognize and understand that the parable which Jesus spoke concerning the seed and the different types of soil it was sown upon are a powerful tool and key to understanding the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would indeed teach and speak in parables concerning the kingdom of heaven, however, what we also find within this particular chapter is an incredibly awesome and powerful picture of the word of the kingdom is received, and the direct impact the word of the kingdom has within the hearts and lives of those who actually heard it. If we are to understand the parables Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven we must needs understand that the very word of the kingdom would indeed and would in fact be sown into the hearts of all those who heard it. With that being said, however—Jesus makes it abundantly and perfectly clear although the word of the kingdom would be heard and received by countless individuals within and during those days, there would be massively different responses to the word. There would be those who would hear the word of the kingdom and would have no understanding of and concerning the kingdom. As a direct result of this lack of understanding the enemy and adversary would come in and steal and snatch the word which was spoken, thus leaving that individual with absolutely nothing of the kingdom. There would be those who would hear the word of the kingdom, would receive it with joy, and would endure for a while, however once persecution and tribulation arose for the sake of the word they would become offended. This being offended because of the word concerning the kingdom would be something we would see in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, for within this chapter we find many of those who walked with and followed Jesus turning back and no longer walking with Him. What makes this so incredibly tragic and alarming is that these individuals didn’t turn back and choose to no longer walk with Christ because tribulation and persecution had arisen because of the word, but rather because they could not handle the words which the Lord had spoken unto them. He had spoken to them concerning His being the bread of life and declared that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood they would have no part in Him and would not have eternal life.

Within the words Jesus spoke concerning the word of the kingdom we find those who experienced tribulation and persecution because of the word of the kingdom being offended, and I would dare say would no longer and no more walk with Jesus the Christ. Their endurance would be short-lived so long as they experienced freedom, liberty and the ability to do so absent any type of conflict, turmoil, tribulation and persecution, and yet the minute they experienced that persecution and tribulation they would become offended and would turn their hearts and backs on Jesus. There would still be others who would hear the word concerning the kingdom and yet the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches would choke the life of the word out of their hearts. Oh it is necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to this, for there would also be those—in the midst of those who would be offended, in the midst of those who would have no understanding of the word, and in the midst of those who would have the word of the kingdom choked out of their hearts would be those who would hear the word of the kingdom and would bring forth fruit. We must needs pay close attention to this, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that when we consider the word of the kingdom which Jesus would speak within and upon the earth there would essentially be four different responses to the preaching of the word of the kingdom—and not only would there be four different types of responses, but there would be four different types of people. If we are going to understand the nature of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth we must needs realize and understand the different types of people who heard and still hear the word of the kingdom, and how there are countless different groups of individuals who each have a different response and reaction to the word of the kingdom—and not only concerning the word of the kingdom, but also concerning what they experience within their lives as a direct result of the word of the kingdom.

FOUR TYPES OF HEARTS AND RESPONSES! FOUR TYPES OF INDIVIDUALS AND FOUR REACTIONS TO THE WORD! FOUR TYPES OF HEARTS AND TWO CLASSES OF PEOPLE! As you continue reading the words which are found within the thirteenth chapter you will transition past the initial parable concerning the seed which is the word of God and the four different types of soil which represents the different types of people who hear the word concerning the kingdom and the result it has within their hearts and lives. It is this entry point with which we are brought into the parables of the kingdom of heaven and how we come to the very next parable which Jesus speaks concerning the kingdom of heaven being likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field, however, while this man slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat. As a direct result of that which the enemy had done—and as a direct result of sowing tares among the wheat—we find that when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, there were tares which appeared among the wheat as well. When the servants of the householder saw that had taken place within the field they proceeded to ask the man whether or not he sowed good seed in his field and how there came to be tares in the midst of the wheat. This man in whose field the enemy had sown tares immediately recognized and understood that an enemy had come in stealthily and privately and had sown the tares among the wheat. As a result of that which the enemy had done the wheat which was produced by the good seed sown in the ground had now sprang forth with tares being present in the midst of it. The servants of this man asked if the tares which had sprouted up together with the wheat should be removed, and the owner of the field instructed them to let the tares and the wheat grow up together, lest while they were uprooting the tares they damaged the wheat as well. These servants were instructed to allow the wheat and the tares grow up and abide together in the midst of the field until the time of the harvest when both would be removed together and the wheat would be gathered into the barn while the tares would be bound together and burned in the fire.

What makes this particular chapter all the more intriguing is when you continue reading and discover how immediately after Jesus likened the kingdom of heaven to an enemy sowing tares in the midst of a field in which good seed was sown He goes on to describe the kingdom of heaven as a grain of mustard seed and sowed in his field—a mustard seed which was the least of all the seeds, however, when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can come and lodge in its branches. Moreover, Jesus would then go on to describe the kingdom of heaven as being likened unto leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. Following these additional three parables the apostle Matthew would then go on to describe how all of these mysteries concerning the kingdom of heaven Jesus would speak unto the multitude in parables, and without a parable Jesus did not speak unto them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” OH how absolutely incredible and tremendous this concept of Jesus speaking unto the multitude in parables truly is, for what we find when reading concerning Jesus speaking in parables concerning the kingdom is essentially a wonderful and powerful way for Jesus to draw a dividing line between those who gathered themselves unto Him. Through the parables Jesus would speak unto the multitude who followed Him Jesus would draw a clear and present distinction between those who would understand the word of the kingdom and would bring forth the fruit of the kingdom within their hearts and lives, and those who would not understand the word of the kingdom and would be unfruitful, unprofitable and barren. The parables was not only a means to speak and reveal mysteries concerning the kingdom of heaven, but also to utter those things which were kept secret from the foundations of the world.

I sit here today and I can’t help but think about the fact that even within the Old Testament we see glimpses and measures of the kingdom of heaven being established in the earth. Through the command given unto Adam—and then again unto Noah after the flood—to exercise dominion and authority upon the earth we find a powerful and clarion call for the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth. Through the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we see three generations of men who would walk in dominion, authority, prosperity and blessing in the midst of the earth, and who through them the nations of the earth would be blessed. Through the conquest of Joshua and the children of Israel after crossing the Jordan River into the land of Canaan we find this manifestation of the kingdom of heaven within the earth being demonstrated even further as the children of Israel would not only conquer and subdue the land, but would also exercise dominion and authority over their enemies and nations whom the Lord instructed His people to drive out from the land. What’s more, is that through the reign of David king of Israel we find him subduing and bringing under the dominion and authority of Israel the kingdoms and nations round about Israel that there might be a tremendous manifestation of peace in the earth. This peace would be extended unto and during the reign of his son Solomon, as it would be during the days of Solomon that the kings of the earth would be subject to him. It would be during the days of Solomon when all the kings of the earth would pay tribute to the king of Israel, and would even give gifts and come unto him that they might seek out and hear the wisdom the living God had given him. Even the queen of the south would travel a great distance that she might behold the greatness which she had heard concerning Solomon, and might hear the wisdom which the Lord his God had given unto him. Oh we cannot read the Old Testament and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that there was indeed a wonderful manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth, and how there were glimpses of that kingdom being manifested upon the earth. What’s more, is that it would be through the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem we find the government, the authority and the dominion of heaven being manifested within and upon the earth.

Even when you consider the words which the prophet Isaiah spoke concerning the coming Messiah you will find him prophesying how of the increase of His government there would be no end, and how the government would be upon his shoulders. The prophets of Israel and Judah saw the coming of the Messiah, and they saw One coming who would rule and reign over the nations of the earth with a sceptre of righteousness. The prophets foresaw a time to come when the Messiah would indeed be manifested within and upon the earth and would rule and reign as the government of heaven would be extended all over the earth. It’s interesting to note that when Jesus came the first time He came to preach the gospel concerning the kingdom and HE came to reveal what the kingdom of heaven truly looks like in comparison to our present world economy and global infrastructure, however, when He comes the second time He will indeed and will in fact come to sit on the throne. The first time Jesus came to the earth He came not to sit on the throne, but to die on the cross—and not only die on the cross, but also be buried in a borrowed tomb where His body would lie for three days. On the third day—through and by the power and person of the Holy Spirit—Jesus would rise from the dead, and would spend the next forty days demonstrating and manifesting Himself alive through many infallible signs and proofs until He would ascend into heaven. In heaven Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father who is seated upon the throne until all enemies have been put and brought under His feet. Oh we must needs realize and understand the initial element of the kingdom of heaven which was not only taught, but also lived and fleshed out by and through the life of Jesus as He humbled Himself and allowed Himself to lay aside all the glory He had with the Father that He might take on the person and form of human flesh. The first time Jesus came to the earth He would not come to sit upon a throne, nor even to establish a throne in the midst of the earth, for nearly forty years after His ascension Rome would destroy the city of Jerusalem as well as the Temple which stood on the Temple Mount. Oh we must needs realize and understand that when Jesus came the first time to this earth, He did not come to set up, nor to sit upon the throne, but to lay His life down as a sacrifice for the sins of a fallen world that the kingdom of heaven might be manifested and established in the midst of the earth.

I sit here today thinking about and considering just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truly is, and I can’t help but find myself being absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that Jesus the Christ came to the earth preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and came to the earth that He might establish the kingdom within and upon the earth. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truly is, for it helps us understand the parables which He taught and spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would emphatically declare that the kingdom initially starts off as small as a mustard see, however, it eventually grows into a full tree that provide shade and shelter for others. The kingdom of heaven stars as a little leaven which a woman hid in three measures of meal until the whole batch was leavened. Oh we must needs realize and understand this, for even the vision which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon saw was a vision of a stone which came not from man but came from heaven, and not only struck the image and statue of the kingdoms of the earth, but also crushed them all until they would become like the chaff of the wind and blown away. That stone which would strike at the very feet of the image would become a mighty mountain that would essentially fill and cover the entire face of the earth. Oh how we must needs realize and understand that the kingdom which the Lord Jesus Christ came to set up and establish was that which would be established within and upon the earth, and would be established upon righteousness. When Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount He taught the characteristics and principles of the kingdom, while through the parables Jesus would actually describe how and what the kingdom of heaven was actually like Through the Sermon on the Mount Jesus would emphatically and dramatically describe the principles, the behaviors, the attitudes and the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven, and when we get to the parables we find Jesus taking this reality of the kingdom of heaven even further as Jesus would teach men and women concerning what the kingdom of heaven was like.

HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN? WHAT DOES THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN LOOK LIKE? It is necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to these questions, for through the parables Jesus was showing something we must needs realized when considering the kingdom of heaven. Through the parables Jesus was teaching and showing us how the kingdom of heaven would be manifested in the midst of the earth, and what the kingdom of heaven would indeed look like. Through the parables Jesus taught and spoke in the midst of the multitudes and crowds He demonstrates and reveals how we can discern, how we can see, and how we can understand the kingdom of heaven and its manifestation in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly awesome and powerful this truly is, for through the parables we are taught and brought face to face with how to recognize the kingdom of heaven within the earth. In the Sermon on the Mount we learn and discover what the kingdom of heaven looks like within the hearts and lives of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, while through the parables Jesus describes what the kingdom of heaven looks like within the earth. When and as you read the words found in the Sermon on the Mount you are given a full on discourse and lesson on how you can recognize the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth, and how the kingdom of heaven is indeed that which is not only present within and upon the earth, but is also visible within and upon the earth. Through the Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches and speaks about a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees, and how the kingdom of heaven is manifested in and through individuals who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and who are even persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Jesus would emphatically declare that the poor in spirit would be given the kingdom of heaven, and that the persecuted would be given the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth, thus indicating that we can see the kingdom of heaven in the lives of those who are not only poor in spirit, but also those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

I have to admit that the more I read the words which are found within the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that is found within in—namely, that it is within this chapter where we begin to see Jesus teach the gospel concerning kingdom unto the multitudes. It is indeed true that when speaking about the kingdom of heaven on this particular day within the ministry of Jesus that He spoke unto them in parables, however, what we must needs realize and understand is that there would indeed be those who would hear the words which were spoken in this parable who would either go their way and seek understanding surrounding what Jesus spoke, or they would lave having already had some type of understanding. We know when reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture that there were at least two times when Jesus would explain some of the parables which He had taught and spoken unto the people. We have already witnessed and experienced earlier on Jesus explaining and expounding to the disciples the meaning of the parable with the seed and the different types of soil, and yet as you continue reading within this chapter you will find that after Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house His disciples would come unto Him asking that He explain and expound unto them the meaning of the tares of the field. Upon the disciples request Jesus would begin to open up this parable in their hearing and would declare unto them that the one who sowed the good seed is the Son of man. The field into which the seed was sown was the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom. Taking this even further, Jesus would go on to declare that the tares of the field are the children of the wicked one which the enemy sowed into the world—the enemy being none other than the devil. Furthermore, the harvest which was spoken of in the parable was the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels of heaven.

It is actually quite interesting and unique to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the parable of the tares and the wheat was taught as the means of explaining how the kingdom of heaven is likened unto the children of the kingdom which have been sown into the world by the Father in heaven and Son of man, and how the tares of the field are the children of the darkness which the enemy and adversary have sown into the world. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this, for when you read the words which are found within this parable you will find Jesus explaining unto the disciples that the kingdom of heaven is indeed manifested—and is not only manifested in the earth, but is manifested in the distinction that exists between the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked one and of the enemy. Pause for a moment and think about and consider just how absolutely incredible that truly is when you truly take the time to consider it, for when Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven He spoke of it in terms of this dichotomy which existed in the earth between the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked one. Not only this, but Jesus would even explain that the field mentioned in the field represented the world, thus directly linking the kingdom of heaven once more to the earth. Jesus explained unto His disciples that the kingdom of heaven was likened and could be seen in the world in the difference between the children of the kingdom whom the Son of man sowed into the world and the children of the wicked one whom the wicked one called the devil had sown into the world. What we must needs realize and understand when reading these words is that this explanation of the kingdom not only touched the earth, but would also heaven as well. In fact, when you begin reading the forty-first verse of this chapter you will find Jesus going on to further explain that the Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they would gather “out of his kingdom” all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. Those which offended, and those which did iniquity would be cast into the furnace of fire where there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth. The righteous, however, would shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Pause for a moment and think about just how absolutely incredible it is to read these words and this understanding given by Jesus, for within this particular portion of Scripture there seems to be two extensions and two manifestations of the kingdom of the Father. It’s quite interesting and astounding to read the words which are found within this passage, for Jesus would declare unto His disciples how the Son of man would send His angels to gather—not necessarily out of the earth, and not necessarily out of the world, but out of His kingdom. Please don’t miss the significance of these words and this declaration, for it is with these words Jesus directly links the kingdom of heaven to the earth. What’s more, is that not only does Jesus directly link the kingdom of heaven to the earth, but Jesus also speaks of this separation and removal of the children of the wicked one—everyone and everything that offends, and everyone who does and works iniquity from the kingdom. It is truly something remarkable and astounding to read and consider these words, for these words bring us face to face with the reality that the kingdom of heaven is not this abstract reality that is found in heaven and in what Jesus would refer to as His “Father’s house,” but the kingdom of heaven is manifested within and is present upon the earth. When Jesus spoke of the Son of man sending forth His angels into the harvest to remove all that offends and all that does iniquity He spoke of the field as the world—and not only of the field as being the world, but also as their being removed from the kingdom. Oh how truly incredible this actually is when you take the time to actually think about it, for with these words we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful picture that the kingdom of heaven is indeed and is in fact manifested within and upon the earth—and not only is it manifested within and upon the earth, but also contains the presence of both the children of the kingdom, as well as the children of the wicked one.

I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I cannot help but be absolutely captivated with and by this tremendous truth and this tremendous reality, for it is with these words we are brought face to face with an additional reference that helps us understand and recognize that the kingdom of heaven is indeed manifested in the midst of the world and in the midst of the earth. When Jesus emerged from the wilderness after being tempted of the devil He would preach declaring the kingdom of heaven was at hand. From that time on—quite honestly even from the time of John the Baptist who would prepare the way before Him and make ready a people for His coming—there would be this establishing of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth. This kingdom of heaven being set up and established upon the earth would indeed and would in fact be manifested directly in the midst of the earth as the righteous would begin to rise up and be established within the earth. Please do not miss this concept of righteousness, for it is mentioned twice in the Sermon on the Mount—namely, when Jesus spoke of the righteousness of His disciples and followers needing to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, and when He instructed His disciples and followers to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. When we speak of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth we must needs recognize and understand that this kingdom of heaven is indeed established in righteousness—and not only is it established in righteousness, but it is also established in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not think and believe for a single minute that the kingdom of heaven was not brought down from heaven unto the earth that the earth might be transformed into the image and likeness of heaven. What this parable reveals, however, is that even in the setting up of that kingdom upon the earth there would be the presence of the children of the wicked one. What’s more, is that not only would there be the presence of the children of the wicked one, but Jesus would also speak concerning that which offends and those who did and worked iniquity. What makes these words even more sobering—particularly the words concerning those who worked iniquity—is when you consider the fact that there will be those who will come to Jesus in that day, saying, “Lord, Lord,” and yet Jesus will declare unto them to depart from him, and that they were workers of iniquity whom He never knew.

Stop for a moment and think about the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for when we think of the kingdom of heaven we tend to think of it in terms of the Father’s house which is in heaven, and yet this parable of the tares in the field suggests the kingdom of heaven is indeed present upon the earth. Jesus came unto the earth to set up and establish the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth—a kingdom that was made up of and for the children of the kingdom and the children of the light. What we must  needs realize and recognize, however, is that in the midst of the kingdom of heaven upon the earth there would indeed be those whom the wicked one known as the devil and Satan would sow into the earth as tares in the field. Not only this, but Jesus speaks and sets forth very clearly within this passage that the Son of man and the Father would indeed allow both the tares and the wheat to grow up together in the midst of the harvest which is the world, and in the midst of the kingdom which is upon the earth. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of just how incredibly significant this truly is, for when we think about and speak of the kingdom which Jesus spoke of we must needs realize and understand that the kingdom was indeed present and established upon the earth. The kingdom of heaven was intended to be set up within and upon the earth, and was intended to be set up with the children of the kingdom who would inherit and enter into the kingdom which was present within and upon the earth. What makes this even more intriguing is when you think about the fact that when Jesus spoke of those inheriting the kingdom of heaven whose righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and the Pharisees—I would dare say that He wasn’t merely speaking of His Father’s house and the kingdom which was present in heaven, but the manifestation of the kingdom within and upon the earth.

I have to admit that the more I read and consider the words which are found within this parable the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that when we think and speak about the kingdom of heaven we must not speak of it and seek to understand it in terms of the Father’s house and having absolutely no connection to that which is found within and upon the earth. It would be very easy to think about and consider the kingdom of heaven as being this distant and foreign reality which is on the other side of time in the realm of eternity, and yet Jesus clearly demonstrates within and through His parables that the kingdom of heaven is indeed manifested in and present upon the earth. WE dare not, we must not and we ought not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this truth truly is, for it call and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that when we speak of the kingdom we must needs speak of it in terms of the earth—and not only in terms of the earth, but also as being that which is present within us. What’s more, is that we must needs understand and recognize that we are the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth—the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who walk in righteousness in the midst of the earth are indeed the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth. Oh we dare not and must not lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and wonderful this truly is, for with and through this reality we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the kingdom of heaven is not necessarily made up of angels, and cherubim, and seraphim, and the four and living creatures, but the kingdom of heaven is made up of the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ—those whose righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. This is precisely what Jesus meant when He declared that the meek would inherit the earth, for when the meek inherit the earth they do so by establishing and manifesting the kingdom of heaven upon the earth. When the meek inherit the earth they do so through the demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven—and not even necessarily in power alone, but also in righteousness, and even in persecution, in tribulation, in suffering, in trial, and in hurt and pain. Oh it is this last and final concept we must needs realize and understand, for it is indeed possible to experience the kingdom within and upon the earth, and to do so through hurt, through pain and through suffering.

Pause for a moment and truly think about just how absolutely incredible that truth and concept really is—the fact that the kingdom of heaven can indeed be manifested in the midst of the earth, and can indeed be present within and upon the earth, and can be manifested in and through suffering, tribulation and persecution. We dare not and must not think that the kingdom of heaven which exists within and upon the earth cannot be manifested and experienced together with suffering, affliction, tribulation and persecution—and not only this, but that the kingdom of heaven cannot be entered in through the door of suffering, tribulation, persecution and affliction. It is indeed entirely and altogether possible that those who enter the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth do so through suffering, do so through affliction, and do so through persecution and opposition. It is indeed possible that those who enter into the kingdom of heaven do so in direct response to the word of the kingdom, however, directly linked and connected to that word of the kingdom is the call and invitation to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Directly linked to the kingdom and the word of the kingdom is the clarion call to lose our lives that we might gain them—and not only this, but that we must indeed love Jesus the Christ more than anything and anyone within this world. In fact, Jesus would emphatically declare that anyone who loved father or mother, or brother or sister more than Him was not worthy of Him. Furthermore, Jesus would also declare that anyone who did not take up their cross and follow Him was not worthy of Him.

STOP PREACHING THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AS BEING INDEPENDENT OF THE EARTH! STOP PREACHING THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AS BEING ABSENT SUFFERING, PERSECUTION, TRIBULATION AND AFFLICTION! I am absolutely and completely convinced that when we indeed enter the Father’s house in heaven there will be no more suffering, there will be no more hurt, there will be no more pain, there will be no more tears, there will be no more crying, and there will no more affliction and tribulation. Until that moment truly manifests itself within our lives—or I should say until we are brought into that reality—the kingdom can indeed and can in fact be manifested within and upon the earth. Not only this, but the kingdom can indeed be manifested within and upon the earth through suffering, through affliction, through tribulation and through persecution. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truly is, for it helps us understand the tremendous truth surrounding the kingdom of heaven and how the kingdom of heaven is intended to be set up and established upon the earth in the midst of men. The kingdom of heaven is indeed manifested within and upon the earth, and the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ are the kingdom which Jesus came to set up in the midst of the earth. The church and the body of Christ is indeed the kingdom which is manifested within and upon the earth, and we must needs realize and recognize it. We might be able to say and make the declaration that “I am kingdom,” and/or even that “We are kingdom,” for the kingdom of heaven is indeed manifested within and upon the earth through the saints and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, I would even dare say that without and apart from the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ the kingdom of heaven might not truly be established upon the earth. The kingdom of heaven is established within and upon the earth through the manifestation of the children of the kingdom and through the presence of the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ. OH dear brother, oh dear sister, we must needs realize and understand this, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that the kingdom of heaven is indeed manifested within and upon the earth through the presence of the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ—and not only within and through the disciples and followers of Jesus, but also in the distinction between the children of the wicked one and the children of the kingdom.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is necessary and imperative that we recognize that even after Jesus explained the parable of the tares of the field unto His disciples He would again speak forth three more parables unto them concerning the kingdom. The first parable was spoken by Jesus to declare how the kingdom of heaven was like a treasure hid in a field—the which when a man found it, he hid it, and for the joy of the treasure which he had found went and sold all he had and bought the field. The second parable Jesus would speak was that the kingdom of heaven was likened unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls, who when he had found one of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Third and finally the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net which was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind of fish in the sea. When the net was full it was brought to the shore, and upon being brought to the shore men would gather the good fish into vessels, but would cast the bad away. This would be likened unto the end of the world when the angels would come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and would cast them into the furnace of fire where there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Oh how we must needs realize and understand this, for not only is the kingdom of heaven likened unto the separation of the good and the wicked, but the kingdom of heaven is also likened unto selling all that we have—giving up everything we have—that we might lay hold of and obtain the kingdom within and upon the earth. Oh the question I leave you with in this writing is whether or not you can and are willing to sell and give up everything you have that you might lay hold of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth as we strive to lay hold of that kingdom and the very heart and center of the kingdom which is the person of Jesus the Christ.

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