The Kingdom of Heaven
In Matthew chapter one, we see a list of people who show us that Jesus was the genealogical heir to the throne of the king. In other words, he had the right to claim the thrown of David.
And we see that that the list begins with the name Abraham (not Adam, or the in eternity past as John indicates). But showing that his genealogy came from Abraham this shows that he has the right to be king. Herod kills all the male children in Bethlehem because he was afraid that the Christ child would take his throne as rightful heir.
There is a new king (Jesus) and there is a new kingdom, and all the miraculous signs (Prophecy was fulfilled several times through his birth. Wise Men from the East followed a moving star that brought them to Jesus. The virgin birth, the claim of His divinity – “He shall be called Immanuel,” there were dreams from God, multiple times to multiple people, and angelic visits that gave warnings and instructions.)
Joseph and Mary were told that Herod had died and so they moved to Nazareth (and again prophecy is fulfilled of Jesus being a Nazarene).
After 400 Hundred years of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament, we see a flood of miracles and God’s hand moving among His people – all point to an establishment of God’s kingdom – which John the Baptist calls the kingdom of heaven (3:2) and Jesus calls the kingdom of heaven (4:17).
So we see that Jesus has the birthright to be king, He is God who has come down to earth, and the “kingdom of heaven” is at hand – is here.
The Kingdom of Heaven
What is the “kingdom of heaven”? – In Matthew there are 31 verses relating to the “kingdom of heaven.” There are 66 references to “kingdom of God.” Which is essentially the same thing.
The Managers & The Owner
The first time we see the concept of a kingdom is Genesis 1:27-28 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God creates all that exists and then shares his reign with mankind. Mankind is to oversee creation and continue to re-create as we go. So we build cities, put people on the moon, create things, advance technology, etc. We are made in his likeness, in this fashion. The Bible begins as a kingdom, and we as humans have to make decisions about what is right and wrong, good and evil in that act of dominion.
Mankind chooses to reject God’s rule and we begin to rule instead. The Old Testament is this back and forth between God re-establishing His rule, and other rejecting it.
God Selects A Family
The first way that God does this is by choosing a single family – and God will reveal to this family what it means to live according to His ways and how mankind is supposed to be before their God. Abraham and Sarah were to train their family the ways of God. Abraham’s family grew and became really large and end up as slaves to Egypt and Pharaoh.
God then raises up a leader (Moses) and he goes to war against Pharaoh. – God wins the conflict and Pharaoh destroys himself. The slaves are liberated and freed.
He then invites them to a mountain and gives them over 600 laws that shows them how to live in a new covenant. Then as time goes by the kings of Israel become little pharaohs, all driving the people into the ground and being horrible kings.
Prophets are sent to tell us that God is going to fix this problem. Isa. 52:7-10, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” 8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion. 9 Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
A Long Line of Pharaohs
The newest pharaoh in a long line of pharaohs is Rome. So when the Jewish people heard that a Jesus was saying that He was a new king and that he was establishing a new kingdom – they would have been very excited.
What is Jesus mostly known for in the world? Many people would talk about how He encouraged people to love each other. But this only occurs on two occasions. Jesus was not crucified for teaching “love your neighbor as yourself.”
He is claiming to be the new king who will reign, as God, and fix this mess. Remember, the kingdom of heaven/God is mentioned 97 times throughout the book of Matthew – Jesus talked about this more than anything else.
The King Enlists A People
Then the king begins to enlist a people; He goes walking along a lake and says to fisherman, “come follow me.” He is claiming that He will be taking over the world. If you were putting your boat into the water at a lake and someone came up to you and said, Come follow me” I am taking over the world, we would think they were crazy.
But, Jesus’ kingdom is going to be radically different than any that has come before it. Matthew 4:23 tells his new followers what He plans to do, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” Jesus has to do a lot of teaching and preaching in order to explain that His kingdom is different.
The King’s Reign
What does it mean to live under the reign of Jesus? Mark 10:43 “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus teaches what it means to be significant, the renewal of the human condition – we must first face the dark parts of our hearts, and false beliefs. We then lay all this before Christ and experience His grace, mercy, and healing.
This is not about information, it is a call to encounter the king of creation. He wants us to live under His reign and we are challenged to make a decision, because our sin is destroying the world and the people around us.
We can all agree that the abuse of children is evil and wrong and that it needs to go away. Jesus goes even further by saying it’s not just the abuse of children that needs to go, but the root desire of lust that needs to go. Lust is a distortion of love.
Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” We don’t want murder in our world, but Jesus goes even further to the root of anger and feelings of superiority needs to go.
But how do we separate the root of sin in all people from them, without destroying them?
The critical part of Jesus coming and the kingdom of heaven being near is that this new king must be crucified for the kingdom. There has to be a way for mankind’s sin to be done away with. Our rebellion against the One true King has to be punished – but instead of mankind being punished for the sin they deserve, the king dies for the kingdom instead, as a substitute.
So king Jesus gets a crown of thorns, He receives a royal robe where he is mocked and scorned, and instead of sitting upon a throne, He is raised onto a cross and crucified.
Jesus dies, was buried, and rose again three days later – and then ascended into heaven. So the good news of the gospel is that Jesus, the king, has defeated sin and death through his death on the cross.
So I look around and I still see horrible things in the world (child trafficking, kidnapping, disease, rape, war, famines, disease, and the king went back to heaven. If the kingdom came near, why is there still all these things two thousand years later?
Tabernacles & Temples
In the Old Testament after God’s family left the mountain they made a giant tent (the Tabernacle) according to the instructions given to them from God. It had three sections, (the courtyard, the holy place, and the holy of holies). The Temple was a permanent building but it was set up the same way. Heaven and Earth crossed over in the holy of holies.
The earth is filled with sin, and every person has a sin nature. Animals were sacrificed and their blood covered (or absorbed) the sin of a person for a period of time on the earth, so that they could pray and interact with God.
Jesus “tabernacled among us.” John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,”
1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price.” The place where the kingdom of heaven and earth come together is in the temple (the body) of the believer. Your body becomes the temple of God. That temple moves all around.
So as Jesus was leaving, He gives this command in Acts 1:6-8 “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Illustration – Gränsfors Bruk small forest ax.
The disciples assume that the kingdom of heaven will be set up in Israel, but the kingdom is to spread all over the peoples of the earth. The king says that he will return, and until he does, his followers are to witness to others what they have experienced (everywhere). There will be good and evil, light and darkness, existing at the same time, until the king returns and as king judge the earth.
It’s the king’s desire that all people all over the earth, come to realize the destruction that is caused by sin and learn how they can have a relationship with God.
The Eventual Kingdom
The book of Revelation tells us that heaven and earth will be brought together at the end of time, 21:1-3 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,2 and God himself will be with them as their God.”
There will be a day when the kingdom of heaven and earth will be brought back together again completely and God will live with His people.