Today we will be exploring the topic of the kingdom, and how the eternal kingdom of God, while starting from a small, single point will ultimately spread to consume the whole world.
Yeshua stated it this way:
Another parable set he before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is less than all seeds; but when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the heaven come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Another parable spoke he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened. Matthew 13:31-33
These two parables of Yeshua are illustrating the same picture: the kingdom is something that begins small and becomes larger and larger until it is all inclusive. This is one of the grand principles of all Creation: everything begins small and then grows to its mature state. Animals, plants, people; all things exemplify this principle.
Concepts and ideals are no different. We even use this terminology when speaking about some new trend or idea which began as a “germ” or a “spark” and then became massively widespread or “went viral.”
Yeshua is teaching us that the Kingdom of God operates in the same way, not because it isn’t special or unique, but because it is to follow the natural trajectory of every thing introduced into this Creation.
Most Christians today might say they believe the kingdom of God began with Messiah, and it began its spread throughout the world at that time.
Matthew 28:18-20 – Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
While that was definitely a springboard to the nations, the Bible actually traces the trajectory of the kingdom much farther back in history, all the way back to Adam and Eve “ruling” over Creation. Let’s trace this kingdom narrative to see how God has operated throughout the millennia to teach us about his eternal realm of righteousness.
Genesis 1:28 – God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
This was the earliest realization of mankind ruling as God’s image over the Creation that God had provided. However, once that era had passed, God continued to move the kingdom ideal forward through the stories of Noah and Abraham. The majority was bypassed, and only a faithful remnant was chosen.
Genesis 6:17-18 – “Understand that I am bringing a flood – floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.
Genesis 9:1-2 – God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. “The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority.
After Noah’s descendants had begun to re-populate the land and men began to spread throughout the earth, God once again chose another “branch” through which his kingdom would be realized, the man Abram. Again, the majority was bypassed, and a faithful remnant was chosen.
Genesis 12:1-3 – The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
Genesis 17:5-6 – “Your name will no longer be Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations. “I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you.
From Abraham came Isaac and then Jacob and his twelve sons. The majority of Abraham’s descendants had been bypassed, and a faithful remnant was chosen.
This family group became attached to Egypt through one of the twelve sons, Joseph, who became Pharaoh’s prince-regent. Once in Egypt, this family group continued to grow to become an independent nation within a nation.
From the slavery of Egypt, the kingdom narrative then gravitates toward Moses and this chosen group of people that God claims as his own: Israel.
Exodus 3:9-10 – “So because the Israelites’ cry for help has come to me, and I have also seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them, “therefore, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
Upon their dramatic departure, the majority of individuals in Egypt is bypassed, and the faithful remnant is chosen. They are led out into the desert of Sinai, where they arrive at the mountain of God.
Exodus 19:3-6 – Moses went up the mountain to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob and explain to the Israelites: “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, “and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”
As mentioned in previous teachings, this is actually the first mention in Scripture of an actual kingdom, a kingdom of priests and a holy, or set apart, nation.
Now that God has grown his own people to this magnitude, he begins to mold and shape them into his representative people through the giving of the Law, the Ten Commandments, and the covenant of Sinai. Through the remainder of the Bible narrative, the natural kingdom era of Israel is the focus of God’s interaction with mankind, the chosen people among the many nations of the world.
This natural kingdom had peaked with David and Solomon. After the demise of Solomon, the kingdom became divided and they were led through the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. Ultimately, this natural kingdom of God drew its way through the various subjugations of Persia, Greece, and Egypt, up to the Roman occupation. Under these various captivities and regional rulerships, the larger group of Israel had become complacent, corrupt, and scattered throughout the known world. It was time for God to bypass the majority once again and focus on a new branch, a new faithful remnant, for his continuing mission of the kingdom.
From within the faithful remnant of Israel at that time came forth Messiah Yeshua. He introduced the radical element of the culmination of God’s kingdom work with his chosen people: it was to be a leap to the next level, i.e., a spiritual and universal kingdom, that would take place after the judgment of God’s earthly people. This was prophesied to take place within the generation of those to whom Messiah brought his message, through what would become the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel as an independent nation in 70 AD. Finally, God’s kingdom could now be free to include all people and nations, and it continues to spread exponentially throughout the entire world.
Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
It is here that the seed which was planted among the nations had begun to sprout and grow. The seeds of the Word of God had spread to the Israelites among the nations through the missionary travels of the apostles and were beginning to bear fruit. With the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the people of God had broken outside the confines of national Israel, and the branches of God’s new spiritual kingdom were spreading across the face of the earth, drawing nourishment from the rich stump of the Israelite scriptures and the Torah of God.
Romans 11:17 – Now if some of the branches [Israelites] were broken off, and you [of the nations], though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree [Israel]…
As we can see through all of these examples from Adam and Eve up until the Messiah and his disciples, one of the overarching themes of the Bible is how God is tirelessly patient and persistent, beginning with individuals or small groups, and molding and shaping them to become the next phase of the kingdom, the next branch on the tree, the next batch of dough that continues to rise. This is how we can be confident the kingdom will continue to grow until “all is leavened.”
Today, those of us who believe in Messiah and in the eternal, ever-expanding kingdom of God should be viewing ourselves as a branch or branches within the multi-tiered expansion of God’s never-ending kingdom. The Bible teaches us that this kingdom will never end; it will never have to be re-started as God has done in the past with each of his faithful remnants. It will continue to grow “until all is leavened,” just as Yeshua prophesied.
Psalm 145:9-13 – The LORD is good to everyone; his compassion rests on all he has made. All you have made will thank you, LORD; the faithful will bless you. They will speak of the glory of your kingdom and will declare your might, informing all people of your mighty acts and of the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your rule is for all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his actions.
Daniel 2:44 – “In the days of those kings [the fourth kingdom of Daniel’s prophecy, the Roman empire], the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever.
Daniel 7:27 – “The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey him.’
And yet, popular within the halls of congregations today, is a mentality that insists things are so bad in society that God is preparing to take his people, his kingdom people, from the earth. The biblical response to that type of misguided thinking is that if the darkness is so great, then this is the very time the kingdom people need to shine. We shouldn’t be preparing to leave, but we should be establishing deep roots of righteousness that will survive our brief time here on this earth as we continue to build upon the foundations of the apostles and the prophets. Our lives may be transient, but God’s kingdom clearly is not. If we can take the baton of this eternal relay further down the track, then we will have fulfilled our role within this generation.
The prophet Jeremiah fought a similar battle among God’s people when they were taken captive to Babylon. God had revealed to Jeremiah that Israel would be captive there for at least 70 years.
Jeremiah 25:2, 8, 11 – The prophet Jeremiah spoke concerning all the people of Judah and all the residents of Jerusalem as follows: … “Therefore, this is what the LORD of Armies says: ‘Because you have not obeyed my words, … “This whole land will become a desolate ruin, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.
Yet, even after they were taken captive, the people sought word from false prophets like Hananiah that they would be returning to their homeland soon. Hananiah had proclaimed:
Jeremiah 28:2-4 – “This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. “Within two years I will restore to this place all the articles of the LORD’s temple that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took from here and transported to Babylon. “And I will restore to this place Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon’ – this is the LORD’s declaration – ’for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’ “
In response to this false prophecy, Jeremiah replied that “As for the prophet who prophesies peace – only when the word of the prophet comes true will the prophet be recognized as one the LORD has truly sent,” Jeremiah 28:9. In verses 15-17, he continued to correct Hananiah, “The prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The LORD did not send you, but you have led these people to trust in a lie. “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: ‘I am about to send you off the face of the earth. You will die this year because you have preached rebellion against the LORD.’ ” And the prophet Hananiah died that year in the seventh month.”
Instead of preparing the people to leave the place of their captivity return to Israel, Jeremiah encouraged them to put roots down in that foreign place, a place where they were considered aliens and strangers.
Jeremiah 29:4-10 – “This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Find wives for yourselves, and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Pursue the well-being of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive. For this is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Don’t let your prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you, and don’t listen to the dreams you elicit from them, ‘for they are prophesying falsely to you in my name. I have not sent them.’ This is the LORD’s declaration. For this is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place.'”
Just as Jeremiah had to redirect God’s people to the reality of their situation, it appears that God’s people today are in a similar condition. They have been listening to false teachers for so long that they have not been able to distinguish the truth of the eternal kingdom of God from the lie of immanent removal from the earth. Instead of preparing to leave, we should be putting down our roots and living respectfully among these foreign lands of our brief sojourn on this earth. We should be building and growing and establishing God’s kingdom, not packing to leave. God has decreed that his kingdom will fill the earth. When that happens, he will be “all in all.” This is the end-goal of the entire Bible message, the message of the kingdom that has been played out over and over through those whom God has chosen as his own.
The eternal spiritual kingdom of God has been behind every natural iteration that God has produced as examples for us. This was even recognized by Nebuchadnezzar after being released from a seven-year bout of madness as a judgment from God upon his pride.
Daniel 4:1-3, 34 – King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation. … At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation…”
From the mouth of a foreign ruler comes the praise of the eternal God of Israel and his everlasting kingdom!
Since this is the reality of all things that has not yet fully come to pass in our natural world, we must recognize our role in following the traditions of the faithful before us, and reaching out to each contemporary generation until the fullness of this promise comes to pass. Our mission is to continue to grow the kingdom among us, his dwelling place through his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22 – So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.
The principle of the Great Commission, the “making disciples of all nations,” does not have an expiration date. God desires that all people come to know him, to come to an understanding of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Instead of decrying the injustice around us, the injustice that has existed in every generation, we should be praying for those who are so misguided and causing detriment to our societies through their godless perspectives. Our role as believers is not to win elections but to magnify God and win hearts for him. When hearts are changed by God’s Spirit, his kingdom organically expands, and the rest will follow. Since a world of people in awe of God’s majesty is the foregone conclusion of all history, why are we standing in the way of the fulfillment of these sure prophecies?
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; truth has gone from my mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to me, every tongue will swear allegiance. It will be said about me, ‘Righteousness and strength are found only in the LORD.’ ” All who are enraged against him will come to him and be put to shame.” Isaiah 45:22-24
For God’s eternal kingdom to prosper and continue to fill the earth, we must allow God to be recognized as the ruler of all kingdoms, and for people to turn to him. This can only happen as he is magnified among us through our righteous actions and our diligent prayers for those hearts to become subject to his eternal rule and reign. May we be bold and resourceful in fulfilling this obligation, that we may be faithful in our generation to continue the ever-expanding kingdom of God.
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.