Sung Psalm 141
Reading Malachi 1
Notice that Malachi 1:14 speaks of the King of the kingdom, hence he has subjects. The word speaks prophetically of devoted awe (fear) among the Gentiles all over the world (v11). So this kingdom to come is of Gentles (mainly) and is worldwide. The context speaks of Jews who with their priests leading are worshipping in a disgraceful fashion with contempt for God’s altar. Note that the West (Europe and the USA) are largely devoid of true churches now and South America, Southern Africa and the Far East now have growing and faithful churches. God has largely abandoned the apostate western churches. Similarly we have here clear evidence that God will turn from the Jews to the Gentiles to see his kingdom advanced. Christ spoke and exemplified this (Matt.8:11, 12:21,21:43 and Luke 4:25-27). So did Paul and the apostles (Acts 13:46-47, 28:28, Romans 11:12 and 10:19-21). This is the fulfilment of Moses words in Deut.32:21!
The incense offered is typical of prayer (Rev.5:8, 8:3, I Tim.2:8 and Psalm 141:2). The offering is us! (Romans 12:1) and we are the new priesthood (I Peter 2:5). We worship worldwide without the temple (John 4:21-24). In other words this prophecy is NOT to be taken in a literalistic way. It exposes the error of the dispensationalists and the idea the Jews are still God’s chosen and that a literal kingdom among them is to come. Taking OT prophets literally would inevitably cause clashes. This kingdom is the church consisting Jew and Gentile, prophesied throughout the Old Testament, founded on the apostles and prophets and growing since Pentecost.
Reading Micah 4:1-5:6 Micah 4, Micah 5
Note 1: 7-8, the kingdom is coming, comprising weak disabled women and 5:1-2 the judge and king comes.
The threats in Micah’s day (contemporary of Isaiah circa 710-750BC) were:
- The Assyrians (5:5-6)
- The Babylonians (4:10).
We are looking for prophetic references to the New Testament age. The clearest references to this are “the last days” (defined as the time between Christ’s first and second comings) and the birthplace of the Messiah King in 5:2. In 4:3-5 we see characteristics of this kingdom namely peace, security and faithfulness among the citizens. In 5:1-3 we have the birth of the King Jesus, which even the Sanhedrin recognised and told Herod about (Matthew 2:5). The first verse here could apply to Assyria humbling King Hoshea or it could apply to messiah. In 5:4-6 we have a clear indication that this king will be the chief shepherd of his flock and keep them. Gentiles will be among the sheep. Christ did save Judah from the Assyrians (his angel smote 185,000) but more importantly he saved his church from their sins. These verses especially 4:7 are fulfilled according to Gabriel in Luke 1:32-33 in Christ. Micah 4:6-8 is prophetic of the kingdom coming in the N.T. age because the reign is everlasting. In 4:1-2 we have the gentiles coming to temple mount and flowing into it (uphill mind you which speaks of irresistible grace!). They come for divine teaching. This began with the birth of the N.T church when God began to gather peoples of all nations into his heavenly kingdom (the real Mt. Zion in Jerusalem above).
We sang Psalm 72:1-8
We read Amos 9
In Amos 9:11-12 we read prophecy regarding King David’s palace and his people-there will be a rebuilding and future blessing from the present ruins. The kingdom will spread worldwide and include the elect (called) of all nations. The times of ruin were in the hundreds of years before the first coming of Christ.
In verses 14-15 we see a restoration of the people to the land with wonderful productivity prefiguring in earthly terms for the Jews of the day (who were like schoolchildren) the heavenly blessings of the kingdom of God (Eph.1:3).
The premillennial dispensationalist view and that of the religious leaders and zealots of Christ’s day was the same, namely a literal Davidic Kingdom restored with either a resurrected David and/or the Messiah ruling from Jerusalem with a return to OT ceremonies.
How do Christ and the New Testament apostles interpret these prophecies? In Mark 1:14 Christ says that in him all these prophecies are fulfilled and James in Acts 15:13-18 show that this rebuilding of David’s palace and kingdom is fulfilled in the extension of Christ’s kingdom in the apostolic and NT age by worldwide mission among all nations, in other words the gathering of a catholic or universal church.
The Minor Prophets-Obadiah.
Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother would be destroyed (by the Babylonians) because of their pride (vv1-9) and their glee at Israel’s captivity (vv10-16). Salvation will come to Zion (vv17-21).
The coming kingdom of God will destroy Edom (v18).
The coming kingdom will possess their land (v17b) and indeed all the lands (of Canaan v19).
The kingdom is the Lord’s.
The wrong interpretation of this which characterised first century Jews, particularly the leaders (Pharisees), was that Rome would be defeated and there would be a reinstatement of the Jewish kingdom. Pre-millennial dispensationalists today also think wrongly that this kingdom with its centre in Jerusalem, the rebuilt temple and all the twelve tribes is still future when Christ returns.
The correct (A-millennial) interpretation of this is that Christ and the church will judge the wicked, the kingdom is the church possessing the new heaven and earth and Christ is king. All O.T. prophecy and typology MUST be interpreted through the “glasses” or perspective of Christ and the apostles’ teaching.
We sang Psalm 135:4-13
We read Matthew 24:14-31
God is sovereign about who inherits the kingdom-it is determined by eternal, gracious election (Matt.25:34) also Luke 10:17-22.
The citizens of the kingdom are the beneficiaries of particular atonement, the “many” of Matthew 20:28 and 26:28-29.
Regeneration is sovereign (John 3:8).
Calling is sovereign (Luke 19:9 and 13:16).
Prayer is the prerogative of the elect (Luke 18:7-8). Note the few who will be God’s people at the end of the world.
Eschatology centres around the elect (Luke 21:18 and 12:32).
Even everyone’s place in the kingdom is determined (Matt.20:21ff)
Everyone will have degrees of fruit and reward but are equally loved by the one infinite and eternal love of God (John 17:23).
The chapters in John that underscore the sovereignty of God in relation to the kingdom are John 6,10 and 17.
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We sung Psalm 145:3-6, 10-14.
We read Luke 10:13-24
Today we looked at how individuals are brought into the kingdom, or else excluded.
This teaching magnifies particularly that it is by grace alone and to the glory of God alone.
Matthew 13:11-17 Christ speaks of why he spoke in parables, also Mark 4:11-12, Luke 8:10, John 12:39, Acts 28:24-27 and Romans 11:8. cf. II Cor.4:4.
Parables, even more than Christ’s didactic teaching are clear illustrations of spiritual truth which separate the sheep from the goats. Almost all the NT quotes come from Isaiah which stress the sovereignty of God regarding who sees spiritually and who does not. Only those given spiritual eyes see! (John 3:3). All preaching leads to greater condemnation to those who reject it. The parables teach spiritual truth from creation and creation teaches spiritual truth about God (Romans 1). All God’s revelation leaves men without excuse.
Matthew 20:15-16 and 22:1-14 further emphasise that God’s sovereign election (“chosen”) determines who enters the kingdom. This salvation may come early or late in a person’s life, but no matter, they inherit eternal life.
Sung Psalm 65:1-5
Reading Matthew 20:1-16.
God alone establishes his kingdom (Daniel 2:44) and it is indestructible.
God causes his kingdom to grow (Matt.13:31-33).
God causes the continuation of his kingdom (Matt.13:25,47). Wheat and tares grow together.
God causes his people to inherit the kingdom (Matt.25:34).
God completes his kingdom (John 10:16).
We discussed God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. God has the right to decree and command and holds all men accountable.
We read in Daniel, the outstanding OT book on the kingdom (Dan.7:14,27). It contains the confession of the rulers of the empire (Dan.2:47; 3:28-29; 4:3; 4:34-35; 6:26). These verses show that signs and miracles cannot of themselves convert a sinner like Nebuchadnezzar, only God’s grace. Daniel contains the phrase Christ most used of himself namely “Son of man” (Matt.26:64).
We discussed correct and false interpretations of Scripture, particularly how so many pull a verse, often out of context, and build a doctrine from it, without considering all of the Bible-the lesson being that the Holy Spirit of God alone knows the big picture, since he wrote all of Scripture, and he teaches the right interpretation.
Sung Psalm 73:23-28
Read Luke 20:27-40; Matt.25:34ff; 13:43
The blessings of paradise (the intermediate state after death and before the general resurrection) were promised to the penitent thief (Luke 23:43).
Paradise originally was a garden (Eden). In this blessed place, as in the new heavens and earth there may be beautiful palm trees, there certainly will be:
- No marriage (because we will be like the angels and the real marriage of Lamb and his bride will have taken place).
- Immortality in glorified bodies (like Christ’s).
- Eternal life (meaning covenant fellowship with God through Christ).
- Light (without sun or moon).
- Rewards (Matt.5:11-12; 16:27; Luke 19:12-27; Matt.25:14-30; Mark 10:30.
We had a lengthy discussion about the fall, entry of sin into creation etc. and concluded that although God decreed sin he is not the author of it (i.e. he does not sin).
This Kingdom is the ONLY sphere of blessing because of the character of the King.
The cost to entering in it and being a citizen include:
- Making yourself a eunuch (Matt.19:12).
- Mortifying sin (Mark 9:43, 45, 49).
- Giving up riches (Mark 10:41).
- Making the Kingdom priority (Matt.13:26).
- Sacrificing close relationships (Luke 14:26).
In the epistles key verses on the blessedness of the Kingdom are: Romans 14:17; Colossians 1:13; I Corinthians 15:50ff
Reading Matthew 13:1-23
Those citizens of the Kingdom are blessed in this world and the next.
Beatitudes Matthew 5 contains 9 “blesseds” some concerning this world, some the next and some both.
- In this life: Material and spiritual provision.We have the promise of Matt.6:33 against worry.
Matt.7:11 promises care.
Matt.13 we have revealed to us the mysteries of the kingdom, we bring forth fruit.
God through Satan prevents understanding and retention of truth, hides it in fact, and
Blinds people (Matt.11:25).
We have treasure! (Matt.13:44). The gospel-knowledge of the Son (eternal life).
We exert Christian (spiritual) violence against sin and for truth (Matt.11:12).
We have rest from the burden of sin (Matt.11:29).
Includes children (Luke 18:16).
- In the next life: Marriage supperSitting with all the elect, including the patriarchs (Matt.8:11; Luke 13:28-29; Luke 16:22; Matt.20:23; Luke 14:15; 22:16, 18, 29-30; Matt.26:29) in order to eat and drink with them (Rev.19:7-9).
Sung Psalm 119: 9-16
Reading Matthew 7:12-29
After the Sermon on the Mount Christ speaks about three aspects of the believer’s life and how to go about them. Whether it’s giving, or praying or fasting, all have to be done without ostentation and if possible in secret, with an eye only to our Heavenly Father and not looking for the praise of others. In other words, in the kingdom the motive has to be the glory of God alone. Solo Dei Gloria!
Matthew 6:33 is the central verse in this discourse and the righteousness spoken of here is not the imputed righteousness of justification but actual sanctification of life. In fact you will look in vain for any gospel verses that link the kingdom with justification! You need to turn to Paul’s epistles!
Christ goes on to highlight in chapter 7 righteous (non-hypocritical) judgment, persistence in prayer and discernment with regard to teachers, as being vitally important in the kingdom.
In Matthew 13 and 25 good works and the DOING of God’s will are expected of kingdom subjects. This is further highlighted in the fruit that good kingdom trees (us) are to bear (Matt.13:23, 43).
Scripture in both the gospels and epistles clearly excludes certain people from God’s kingdom.
- Those who do not obey the King (Matt.7:22-27).
- Those who bear no fruit (Matt.13:22ff)
- Those whose deeds are wicked and who are unrepentant (I Cor.6:9-11, Gal.5:19-21, Eph.5:5-6).The classic Pauline verses equating Kingdom to righteousness are Romans 14:17 and I Thess.2:10-12.
- It should be emphasised again that almost every verse we have looked at in the gospels, and many in the epistles too, concern the righteousness of a godly life (sanctification) rather that than definitive sanctification/justification which is our entrance into the kingdom by faith. This all goes to show that James is right,” show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (Jas.2:18).
- On the other hand it includes eunuchs (for whatever reason), true servants (as explained to the sons of thunder), those who minister to fellow believers in need (Matt.25:35ff), those who sacrifice homes or relationships (Mark 12:30-34), those who love God and their neighbour (however poorly! Mark 12:30-34).