Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Coming of the Kingdom of God 6-27-2018


By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International
The video version of this teaching is available at:
The scripture reading for this teaching is: Luke 17:20-37
To what can the kingdom of God be compared?  This is an often-asked rhetorical question of the Master Yeshua.  A central focus of His encounters with pilgrims on the road as well as meetings with His followers, disciples and detractors alike, is the coming of the Kingdom of God.  Their expectations were many and varied. But given the rampant corruption among the Jewish leadership along with the brutal oppression of the Roman rulers, most Jewish people of the day were looking for a conquering King to rise an army and physically defeat the Romans.  Many looked to Yeshua to be this conquering king!
In the gospel of Luke, chapter seventeen, while on the road to Jerusalem from where the Master was resting, across the Jordan where John was preaching and baptizing, Yeshua further explained the kingdom of God and how it was to be recognized.
Luke 17:20-21 NKJV 20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 "nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
Yeshua was trying to convey to the pilgrims along the road, the exact nature of the kingdom of God.  But were his words confusing to the listener?  In saying that the kingdom would not “come with observation,” was this in keeping with the well-known scriptures about the Messiah and the kingdom of God?  What does it mean that the kingdom of God is within them?  What is the true nature of this kingdom?
Yeshua’s answer to the inquiring Pharisees in verse 21 seems, at least on the surface to contradict the descriptions of the Messianic kingdom in the scriptures as well as widely accepted traditions among the Pharisaic schools. The prophet Joel spoke of signs at the coming of the Messiah.
Joel 2:30-31 NKJV 30 "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
Is Yeshua’s statement in verse 20 of Luke 17 consistent with the voices of the prophets? Just a few verses later Yeshua said that the coming of the kingdom would be like a flash of lightning.
Luke 17:24 NKJV 24 "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.
Well, lightning is certainly visible!  What is this kingdom of God that Yeshua speaks so often about in His parables and teachings?  It is apparent in these varying descriptions of the kingdom, that Yeshua is speaking of many different aspects of the kingdom.  All of these descriptions are in keeping with His words and with the Torah and prophets.
As we have described in previous teachings, Yeshua spoke of the kingdom in terms of a mustard seed, which is among the smallest seeds and grows to become a very large tree.  He also compared it to a small amount of leaven placed into three measures of flour.
First Fruits of Zion in their work The Chronicles of the Messiah, quote a commentary by Rabbi Lichtenstein on Luke 17:20
The kingdom of God, with the coming of the Messiah the first time and in low level, was not visible to the sight with great wonders, where everyone would understand and take note of it. But the kingdom of God in the second coming of the Messiah will come with power (Mark 9:1); and as it is written (in Luke 21:27; “They will see the son of man coming in great power and great glory.”[1]
With Yeshua’s first coming, the process of establishing the kingdom of God had begun.  It didn’t come with a flash of lightning and the sound of a great shofar.  Much like the Galilean fisherman who cast their trammel nets at night, so the fish cannot see the nets, so too the kingdom of God “is at hand” in a somewhat invisible way.  Through the work of the Messiah and the deeds of His disciples going forward through the centuries since His first coming, the kingdom of God is still being established in the world today. The net has been cast over the earth and the harvest is in progress. The kingdom of God is at hand, but not yet visible or recognized until the final redemption at His second coming.
The seventeenth century theologian, Matthew Poole in his commentary on this verse, uses a paraphrasing of Yeshua to explain the meaning:
“Men have taken up a false notion of my kingdom, as if it were to be a secular kingdom to be set up in the world, with a great deal of noise, and pomp, and splendour, so as men may observe it and gaze upon its coming. But that which I call my kingdom is not of this nature.”[2]
At this time, Yeshua is speaking to a group of Pharisees, probably a group from the Galilee region who, unlike the corrupt scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem and Judea, had come to respect and admire Yeshua of Nazareth as a gifted teacher if not fully convinced of His Messiahship. In verse twenty-one, Yeshua warns them to be on the lookout for false teachers and prophets proclaiming that the Messiah is “here” or the Messiah is “there.”
Yeshua often warned His followers about the rise of false Messiah’s and false prophets.
Matthew 24:24 NKJV 24 "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
And Peter also warns his own followers:
2 Peter 2:1 NKJV 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
It was not very long after the time of the original disciples that perhaps the most infamous false prophet and Messiah arose.  In the early part of the second century of the common era, Rabbi Akiva proclaimed that a prominent leader of the second Jewish revolt against Roman rule, Shim’on bar Kosiva, commonly known as Bar Kochba, was the Messiah. This ended in a terrible disaster for the Jewish people, resulting in the near total exile of the Jewish population of Jerusalem.
With the constant questions aimed at Yeshua and His kingdom, we get a clear picture that the people were expecting the establishment of an earthly kingdom and the reestablishment of the throne of David. In Luke seventeen verse twenty-one Yeshua states that the kingdom of God is within you.
The Greek word translated as “within you”, is number 1787 in the Strong’s Lexicon, entos, meaning inside or within.  The Word Study Dictionary from AMG Publishing, further explains that the word is always used in the sense of “something located in your heart or affections, not external.”[3]  Many English translations render this word as “among you,” which indicates something external and would be a clear deviation of the Greek meaning.
Yeshua told the questioning group of Pharisees that the kingdom of God was not visible because it was within them! And He was clearly internalizing their expectations of the Messianic age.  The prophets indeed speak of an age when Messiah will reign, hearts will be transformed, Israel will be cleansed of her sins, and a new covenant established with the House of Israel and the House of Judah!
The Pharisees understood the concept of an internalized submission to the rule and reign of God.  This is reflected in the daily recitation of the Shema.  The Talmud comments on this:
“Why is the first section of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD in one…), recited before the second section (Deuteronomy 11:13-21, “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today…)? Because a person should first accept upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven and then take upon himself the yoke of the commandments.”[4]
Yeshua was clearly pointing them to a kingdom which could be realized and entered into here and now.  The final redemption and establishment of the physical kingdom of the Messiah spoken of so often by the prophets was part two, and is yet to come!
In the next verse, Yeshua turns His attention to His disciples:
Luke 17:22 NKJV 22 Then He said to the disciples, "The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.
This was a kind of warning to His disciples and followers. Although many were beginning to understand that the kingdom of God was first a matter of the heart and would later be established on the earth, the warning was of difficult days ahead, not only for Himself, but for His disciples as well.
The Master Yeshua gave them, and us, a clear warning to be vigilant and watch out for false prophets and teachers who would take advantage of our desire for the establishment of the physical Messianic age. When He does come again to establish His earthly kingdom, there will be no doubt that He has arrived! But before that can happen, Yeshua told them that He must suffer and be rejected.  He also told them what those days before His earthly kingdom would be like:
Luke 17:25-30 NKJV 25 "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 "And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 "They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 "but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 "Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Yeshua compared the days leading up to the establishment of His earthly kingdom to the days of the generations of Noah and that of Lot.  The parallel passage in Matthew’s gospel gives more detail:
Matthew 24:37-39 NKJV 37 "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Noah was considered a righteous man in the sight of God.  He was busy in the task that God had assigned him while those around him engaged in their everyday comings and goings. The description of the time of Lot is much the same. When Yeshua returns for the final redemption, people not in tune with God will be going about their daily lives, just as they always have, and will be caught off guard. Yeshua was not saying that eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage were bad or sinful.  He was just pointing out that in addition to our concerns about our daily lives, that there are more imperative things to take into consideration.
Yeshua’s warning is very much like the warning given to Lot’s family, especially his wife.
Luke 17:31-32 NKJV 31 "In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. 32 "Remember Lot's wife.
In the book of Genesis, we read about what happened to Lot’s wife.
Genesis 19:17 NKJV 17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed."
The skipping down to verse twenty six.
Genesis 19:26 NKJV 26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Yeshua’s warning was to be prepared.  Tribulations and trouble were ahead and all who believe must prioritize their lives and be ready on a moment’s notice.  Remember Lot and his family were nearly destroyed along with everyone else, not because they were wicked, but because they were too attached to their lives in the city. Lot and his family may not have engaged in the wicked indulgences of the city in which they lived, but they didn’t sufficiently distance themselves from it either.
It’s not an easy thing to separate ourselves from the things we have worked so hard to gain and maintain. Lot’s wife could not help but look back, and the results were disastrous for her.
Yeshua further warns His followers by giving examples.
Luke 17:33-37 NKJV 33 "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 "I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 "Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. 36 "Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left." 37 And they answered and said to Him, "Where, Lord?" So He said to them, "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."
This passage is, for the most part, terribly misunderstood by the Christian church.  The church teaching that one person taken and another left behind as a description of the “rapture” where believers are swept up from the earth at Yeshua’s return is misleading at best.
Brenda and I did a teaching on this, which is available in Vol. 1 of our Bible study series, “Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah”.  The key to understanding the words of Yeshua in this passage and its parallel found in Matthew’s gospel, is a careful understanding of the Greek.
Although our English translations seem to indicate one group of people are taken and the other group left, the original Greek words convey a slightly different message. The English word “taken” is translated from the Greek word paralambano, #3880 in Strong’s Greek Dictionary, it means to receive near. And the word translated as “left” is from the Greek word aphiemi, #863 meaning to send forth. So one person will be received near, and the other will not be left behind, but will be sent away! Neither one really stays behind!
The apostles asked where, where will they be sent? Yeshua’s answer says they will be sent to the place where the eagles are gathered. The eagle is a carrion bird as well as a bird of prey. They will gather together at the site of many dead bodies.
Yeshua uses the phrase “depart from me” in several of His parables when talking about those who are lawless or who work iniquity. He uses “depart from me” in Matthew chapter seven when He talks about a tree producing good fruit, also in Matthew twenty five when He talks about separating those who fed, clothed, and visited the brethren in prison from those who did not, and in the parable of the talents, Yeshua sends away those He does not know.
We are reminded of the story of the rich man and Lazarus which we studied just a couple of weeks ago, where, upon their deaths, Lazarus is received to Abraham’s bosom and the unnamed rich man is exiled to a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Apostle John also writes about this event in Revelation when God gathers the carrion birds to feast on dead flesh. I certainly don’t want to be where the dead bodies are! It sounds like it’s the unrighteous who are indeed sent away.
Revelation 19:17-18 NKJV 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 "that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great."
And skipping down to verse 21.
Revelation 19:21 NKJV 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
We need to listen carefully to the words of our Master about the nature of the kingdom of God.  We need to understand that His kingdom is a kingdom, that is not around us, but is within us, realizing that we can take hold of His kingdom today!  We can take hold of the beginnings of the great harvest that is yet to come.  But we must also remember to prepare ourselves by being vigilant, hiding His teaching in our hearts and sharing the gospel message when we walk on the road, when we lay down and when we rise up.  Let the kingdom of God be a part of our lives each and every day, and be ready to answer His call, either to drop everything and embark of a mission at his calling, leaving our present lives behind, or answering the sound of the Great Shofar at the final redemption.
Study Questions:
1. Compare the “Be Attitudes” (Matthew 5:1-10) with the concept of the kingdom of heaven being within you.

2. Some ancient manuscripts/translations of Isaiah 54:9, including the Qumran Isaiah scroll, render the verse as “as it was in the days of Noah” instead of as in most modern translations “…as the waters of Noah…”  How do Yeshua’s words in Luke 17:26 refer to this verse and the overall passage in Isaiah 54:4-10?

3. How do we heed Yeshua’s warning about false christs and false prophets?  How are we to discern between the imposters and the real thing?  Support you answer with scripture.

4. Yeshua told other parables about receiving some and casting out others.  How does the timing of receiving and casting out relate to each other?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International.  All rights reserved


[1] Lichtenstein, Commentary on the New Testament, on Luke 17:20 as quoted by FFOZ
[2] Matthew Pool, A Commentary on the Holy Bible
[3] The Word Study Dictionary; New Testament. AMG Pub. Page 594
[4] M. Berachot 2:2

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