The sermon of the kingdom

In the gospel of Matthew, one of the most significant passages of the Bible is related in chapters 5-7: the Sermon on the Mount. It is also echoed in Luke 6:20-49. Within these verses, Yeshua is teaching his disciples and followers about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven; what it encompasses, who is included in it, and how one conducts oneself within it.

This passage is what I’ve come to call the core of the Bible message. It is the root of all balanced biblical understanding. Once one understands that Yeshua’s purpose was to define and firmly establish the kingdom of God upon the earth, the rest of the Bible falls into place.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

According to Yeshua, the kingdom of God belongs to those who are humble and who are constantly doing what is right regardless of personal cost. To be humble and obedient to God’s standards at all times should be the goal of every believer.

Matthew 5:19-20 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

Those whose righteousness surpasses that of the religious leaders are to be the believers whose humble obedience to God’s commands stems from the heart, not from mere outward conformity to rules and regulations.

Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come. Your will be done…

It is to be these heart-believers who bring the kingdom of God to the earth. When God’s will is accomplished by the humble and obedient faithful, his kingdom is present.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Humble obedience from the heart comes with the privilege of God’s provision for the basic necessities of life. When God’s kingdom is first in the believer’s life, then stresses over the pressures of life that affect those around us fall into the background and fade away. Accomplishing the will of God brings peace.

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is not made up of those who merely profess to believe, but of those whose profession is evidenced in the truth and power of their outward actions. Against all odds and opposition, even to death, true believers will stand for what’s right according to God’s will and purpose. They are rooted and deeply established within the word of God to recognize and act upon the principles that God expects of all people.

This is the message of the Bible reduced to its simplest form: the kingdom of God on earth is evidenced through the humble obedience of heart-believers. This is how God’s will is accomplished on the earth until his kingdom grows to encompass all nations and people.


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 coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A kingdom that is distinct from this world

When God revealed to Moses the true purpose for bringing Israel out of Egypt, he stated they would be a kingdom set apart.

Exodus 19:5-6 – Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

For God’s kingdom to be a kingdom to be a set apart kingdom, a holy kingdom, there would have to be a moral distinction between the people of the kingdom and the people of the world.

John 18:36 – Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

Yeshua had begun to draw the distinction between the two worlds; the world where God reigns supreme, and this world. However, as people began to accept the message of Messiah through the hands of the apostles, they had begun to bring some of their accepted practices from this world into the midst of the kingdom congregations, and Paul used one of these opportunities to bring correction to the Corinthian congregation of their error.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people–none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.

Not only were some of these practices evident among them, but they had even been reduced to taking each other to court (1 Corinthians 6:1-7). However, Paul encourages them to continue to turn away from those practices, because they were a changed people. When they believed in Messiah, they had become spiritually clean and were set apart as holy.

1 Corinthians 6:11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Messiah Yeshua and by the Spirit of our God.

Paul was clarifying that if people are changed by God, of course there will be a difference between their actions and those of the world around them. In the previous chapter, he had illustrated this distinction vividly.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 – When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about those of this world who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those within the congregation who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”

The lure of this world is to indulge in these things. The believers in Corinth had begun to think they might still be able to “dabble” with some of these because God’s forgiveness was readily available, or they had never fully repented of those things which were not of God’s standards for his children in his kingdom.

In his writings, the apostle John also makes it clear that believers were living in a tension between two worlds: this world, and the world of the kingdom.

1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

Yeshua even prayed for this very thing, knowing that believers would be challenged with continuing to live in a juxtaposition between two worlds.

John 17:9, 14-17 – “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. … I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil existing here. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.

His prayer was for the disciples to keep that distinction, and to remain safe from the evil in this world. And his prayer extends even to those of us in the kingdom today who have placed our faith in him.

John 17:20 – “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.

The privilege of knowing Yeshua prayed for us can be deeply reassuring when we are faced with the lure and temptations of this world. We need to remember his kingdom is not something that has been created here, but is something beyond this world and its shallow desires. We are called from another world to be a set apart and distinct example to this world.

Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.


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 coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The ever-expanding reality of the eternal kingdom of God

Core of the Bible podcast #37 – The ever-expanding reality of the eternal kingdom of God

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 coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The kingdom which spans multiple ages and realities

The kingdom of God is an historical establishment, a present possession and a future reality.

The kingdom was present throughout the history of the Tanakh (Old Testament). The revelation of God at Sinai began a formal assembly of what would become God’s people.

Exodus 19:5-6 – “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.”

Through the kingdom of Israel, the Torah or Word of God was established and made known. This historical aspect of the kingdom of God was brought to fruition when its prophesied head, the Messiah, taught of its principles to the generation of that age.

Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:19 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 9:35 – Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.

Yet, there was a sense of the kingdom that had not fully come yet, as the Messiah taught that the kingdom was always near but had not yet fully appeared in this reality.

Matthew 3:2 – and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near! “
Matthew 4:17 – From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Matthew 10:7 – “As you go, proclaim: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Mark 1:15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! “

Beyond these urgent admonitions for repentance, there was a sense in which Messiah conveyed that the kingdom would come in a new way before that generation all passed away. When certain signs of judgment were to be fulfilled, they would know that it was “even at the door,” i.e., extremely imminent.

Matthew 24:33-34 – “In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that it is near ​– ​at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.
Mark 13:29 – “In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that it is near ​– ​at the door.
Luke 21:31 – “In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

The reason the kingdom almost always appears to always be a future reality is because the writers of the Bible were living at a time where it had not fully blossomed into this reality. At the destruction of Jerusalem, when the old order of things had passed away, when the end of the age of national Israel had come, then could the next age, the age of the spiritual kingdom of God, begin to take hold in this world.

The early believers, the faithful remnant, were the seed that was planted among the nations. At the culmination of that age, the seed that had been planted in the soils of tribulation and watered with the blood of the martyrs then began to shoot forth. The work that was done among the fields of harvest of that chosen generation then began to bear fruit as the teachings of Messiah were taken up by those who had witnessed these things. As the writings of the apostles had been distributed to the congregations among the various nations of the Diaspora, the Tanakh was validated and the entirety of the Word of God began to spread.

Even while the apostles and early believers recognized that they were living at the end of that age, there was still a sense of the kingdom that they knew was beyond this present reality, an eternal inheritance that lie outside of this Created order. It was the inheritance of a heavenly kingdom, one that could only be entered when this earthly life is through.

2 Timothy 4:18 – The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen.
2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
1 Corinthians 15:49-50 – And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we will also bear the image of the man of heaven [Messiah]. What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption.

While we in this age can experience a spiritual communion with God and with his Messiah in the present spiritual kingdom of God, there remains as a hope for believers today a heavenly kingdom, an eternal reality beyond this Creation, the kingdom that cannot be shaken.

Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe…


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 coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The King over all the earth

Psalm 47:1-2, 7-9: Oh clap your hands, all you nations. Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For Yahweh Most High is awesome. He is a great King over all the earth…For God is the King of all the earth. Sing praises with understanding. God reigns over the nations. God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples are gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God. He is greatly exalted!

This psalm is one that captures the essence of the grand scope of the Bible: God will reign supreme over his Creation. All peoples of his Creation will abide by the principles of his kingdom. This is a message filled with hope and a longing that is fulfilled.

At the foot of Mount Sinai, God conveyed this concept of his kingdom being prevalent on the earth.

Exodus 19:5-6 – Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

Ever since God’s revelation of himself at Sinai, God’s people have longed for that promised kingdom to come to pass. It was the basis of national Israel and the hope for every king since the time of King David. Generation after generation of Israelites and Christians have looked for this to come to pass.

In the prophetic language of Isaiah, the consummation of the world’s acceptance of God’s rule over the whole earth is envisioned:

Isaiah 2:2-4 – In the last days, the mountain of Yahweh’s house will be the highest of all–the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For Yahweh’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. Yahweh will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.

Isaiah 60:3 – Nations will come to your light, and kings to your shining brightness.

Albert Barnes writes:

The image [in Psalm 47] is that of the assemblage of great numbers of foreign princes and nobles as furnishing either a voluntary or involuntary acknowledgment of the fact that the God of Abraham was the true God, and that the people of Israel were his people…one who can thus subdue nations, and lead along captive princes and warriors, “must” be a Being greatly exalted; a Being that has dominion over the nations of the earth. This completes the imagery in the psalm, and gives occasion for the shouts and the joys of triumph. God had shown that he was a great King over the earth. Princes and armies were subdued to his will. They were led along as captives, and were gathered together to the people of God, as if to acknowledge their own inferiority; and in this solemn manner the nations thus subdued owned Yahweh to be the true God. In a higher sense this will be true when all the earth shall be subdued by the power of truth, and when kings, and princes, and people everywhere shall come and acknowledge God, reigning through the Messiah, to be the King of all nations.

The Pulpit Commentary concludes:

He is greatly exalted. The perfect submission to God of all his rational creatures is his highest exaltation and glory. When “all people bow down before him,” and “all nations do him service,” when rebellion and resistance to his will are at an end, then will he be established in his rightful position, and his exaltation will be complete.

Our understanding of this inevitability should provide motivation for us to continue to reach out to our generation with the truth of God and his Messiah. Each heart that is won will draw us closer to the fulfillment of this bright future of peace for all people everywhere.


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 coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The eternal inheritance of the kingdom

Ephesians 5:5 – For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

This verse is in the midst of a lengthy passage describing and encouraging the preferred conduct of the people of God. Paul arrives at this statement that there will be people who do not have an inheritance within the kingdom, and he lists a host of unsavory qualities as examples.

Rather than focus on the obvious qualities of those who would not obtain this inheritance, I would rather highlight the quality of those who do achieve this inheritance.

Ephesians 4:32, 5:1-2 – And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

Those who “imitate God” are the inheritors. We find the specific qualities of God that Paul is speaking of here in v. 32 of the previous chapter: being kind and compassionate, and forgiving one another. These are they who walk in self-sacrificing love like Yeshua did. These are those who demonstrate they are in the kingdom now, and who also have an eternal inheritance.

We know this inheritance is eternal from the words of Peter.

1 Peter 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.

An inheritance, in this context of the kingdom, is a place of dwelling, both as a way of life and a residence. We see this exemplified by both Noah (the inheritor of righteousness by faith; a way of life) and Abraham (the inheritor of a land; a residence).

Hebrews 11:7-8 – By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going.

But even in the example of Abraham, we find he never did “officially” inherit “the land,” but was living only as a temporary resident in a land of promise.

Hebrews 11:9-10 – By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:39-40 – All these [Abraham and other Old Testament saints] were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.

The city of God, “something better” than a physical land, was his true inheritance, the eternal residence of those who, as Paul says, “imitate God” by walking in love.

Hebrews 12:22, 28 – Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, … Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe…

This kingdom cannot be shaken because it is outside of and beyond this created world. This is why it is eternal; the rule of God exists here and now as we walk in love, and also exists as a reality of residence beyond this created existence. This is the hope of every believer! To live in the domain of God’s rule now, and forever!

Anytime we are not walking in love, we are operating in principles outside of the kingdom. These types of activities are against our true nature, and are not aligned with our eternal inheritance. Instead, we should abide by the same demonstrative faith of the saints of old by living by the principles of this eternal inheritance, the city/kingdom where God rules forever.


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 coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Fishing for the faithful to live in the kingdom

Matthew 13:47-50  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, “and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones. “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, “and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This parable is a popular one as it appears to explain how God will “tidy up” all of Creation at the end of all things at some point in the future. As to when this will occur depends largely on one’s view of the end-times that many say we are currently living in.

However, as mentioned previously, we have to remember that the parabolic teachings of Yeshua revolve around the nation of Israel, as they were his primary mission.

Matthew 15:22-24 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely tormented by a demon.”  Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples approached him and urged him, “Send her away because she’s crying out after us.”  He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

While Yeshua ultimately did assist this woman due to her demonstration of great faith in him as the Messiah of God, this does not diminish his own admission of his primary focus: the nation of Israel.

The parable of the net has been used (and misused, with the best of intentions) in the service of missions work and growing the kingdom. The idea is that the wide net of the gospel is cast into the sea of the world, surrounding everyone, and at the end of the world (or all time, whenever that is supposed to be) God will have his angels sort everyone out depending on if they are good or bad. Good people are spared, but bad people are sent to burn in hell for all eternity.

Pulling this parable back into the context of the culture of the day and the mission of Yeshua, I think we would do better to interpret it in light of what Yeshua was attempting to teach his immediate audience.

When Yeshua called his disciples, he mentioned how their fishing ability would be adapted to fishing for people.

Matthew 4:19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fishers of people.”
Mark 1:17 “Follow me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fishers of people.”
Luke 5:10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people.”

Charles Ellicott, on the topic of catching people in Luke 5, conveys: “thou shalt catch men, i. e. by teaching thou shalt win their souls for the kingdom of God.” This was the thrust of what Yeshua had taught his disciples when he charged them with following him. They were to spread the net of teaching the gospel of the kingdom that would affect everyone in Israel, good and bad. Some would respond, and some would not.

Now as we move to the timing of this sorting out of the good and bad, we find it takes place at the end of an age, not the end of the world, as the KJV relates. The Greek word aion means age, as in the end of a specific era of time, not the end of the world, as in the planet.

So what was the end of the age? From a host of corroborating scripture, the end of the age was to be the end of the national age of Israel at the destruction of the temple.

Matthew 24:3, 34  While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? ”  … [Yeshua said,] “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.

Yeshua prophesied that the end of the age would take place within that generation, and his ministry was a warning to all that God was no longer going to spare the nation due to its corruption and hypocrisy. He had warned the leaders directly:

Luke 11:49-51  “Because of this, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ “so that this generation may be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world ​– ​ “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. “Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible.

All of this came to pass with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Just as the parable of Yeshua taught, the net of the good news of the kingdom was cast (by the disciples, the fishers of men) into the sea of all the people of Israel, encapsulating them all. At the end of the age (the national age of Israel), the good (i.e., the remnant who was obedient to the Messiah’s teaching) were spared, but the bad (those who rejected the teaching of Messiah and the kingdom) were destroyed, with weeping and gnashing of teeth, when Jerusalem burned in its utter destruction from the Roman armies.

This is the reality of the parable of the net. The time of the end was the time of the end of the nation of Israel. God, through Yeshua, faithfully established the eternal, spiritual kingdom prior to the destruction of the earthly, natural kingdom of Israel.

Now we can still leverage some of the imagery of fishing for people in this current age, the age of the eternal kingdom. As we teach the good news of this kingdom, some will be drawn to this message while others will not. However, we would do well to avoid misapplying the consequences of not heeding the message, for in this age, those who reject the good news of the kingdom are simply depicted as living “outside the city,” (or the kingdom).

Revelation 22:11, 14-15 “Let the filthy still be filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; let the holy still be holy.”  … “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. “Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

The faithful and the holy will have the right to enter the New Jerusalem; those who reject the message will remain outside of its mercies and benefits. This is the way of the eternal kingdom of God for each generation.


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 coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Choosing to seek first the kingdom

When God established his natural kingdom on the earth at Sinai, he made it abundantly clear that the kingdom of God could not coexist with idolatry.

Exodus 20:3-5: “”You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them…”

The history of Israel and Judah is transparently laid out through the books of Kings and Chronicles. In reading these accounts, it is apparent that kings who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord prospered, and those who did not suffered at the hands of their enemies, and at the hands of God‘s justice.

2 Chronicles 28:1-5: “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign; and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: and he didn’t do that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, like David his father; but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for the Baals. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom Yahweh cast out before the children of Israel. He sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. Therefore Yahweh his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they struck him, and carried away of his a great multitude of captives, and brought them to Damascus. He was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who struck him with a great slaughter.”

In his blindness to the things of God, Ahaz even went so far as to blatantly worship the gods of his enemies because he figured that they had helped them against his own army.

2 Chronicles 28:22-23: “In the time of his distress, he trespassed yet more against Yahweh, this same king Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, which struck him; and he said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, so I will sacrifice to them, that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.”

In it’s national and natural form, the kingdom of God was being demonstrated and lived out through each of the kings that had arisen to power. Time and time again, the good kings prospered, while those who did what was wrong in God’s sight did not prosper. These examples in the natural realm were the model and pattern for the spiritual kingdom which was to follow.

The apostle Paul spoke to this issue in his letter to the church at Corinth. Today many people interpret this passage as applying to marriage; however, the context actually applies to the believers coming out from amidst idolatry in their society which they had turned away from to follow God. Paul was encouraging the believers to maintain separation from the idolatry around them because, as God had stated on Sinai and as the natural history of Israel and Judah had proven, the kingdom of God cannot exist alongside the kingdom of darkness.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18: “Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever?  What agreement has a temple of God with idols? For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “‘Come out from among them, and be separate,’ says the Lord.  ‘Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you.  I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.””

We, as believers today, are the kingdom of God on earth and we are his representatives. If it was critical in ancient times that the entire nation of Israel and the groups of early believers were to come out from the idolatry around them, it is just as critical and important for us to do the same. According to Paul, the two cannot exist side-by-side and work in harmony. We must choose whether we are seeking first the kingdom or if we are choosing to compromise with the corrupted standards around us.

Matthew 6:33: “But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”

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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The transforming nature of the kingdom

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and mixed into fifty pounds of flour until all of it was leavened.”

Matthew 13:33

This is one of the briefest parables of Yeshua, and yet it is rich with meaning and purpose.

In his parables about the Kingdom of God, Yeshua always likens an aspect of the kingdom that he is teaching about with some earthly counterpart; “The kingdom of heaven is like…” The simplicity of this method of teaching belies the profundity of its power. In a very direct way, these little “truth-bombs” summarize volumes of doctrine that explode into new areas of understanding and wisdom.

When studying the parables, we must also keep in mind that the parabolic style of teaching that Yeshua adopts was for a reason: so that the religious leaders would be given the message of the kingdom but they would also be confounded by it. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah.

Matthew 13:10-15 Then the disciples came up and asked him, “Why are you speaking to them in parables? ” He answered, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. “For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. “That is why I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. “Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You will listen and listen, but never understand; you will look and look, but never perceive. “For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back — and I would heal them.

This is why we have to keep in mind that the parables always revolve around the centrality of Israel, both as a nation and a religious standard.

Viewed from this perspective, the simple message of the woman and the leaven was a direct challenge to the traditions and exclusivity that the religious leaders had assigned to their religion of Judaism. Yeshua explains that “the kingdom of heaven is like leaven.” While it is small and unseen, once the leaven is mixed into the dough, eventually the entire batch of dough will become leavened. Once underway, the process cannot be stopped. The good news of the kingdom was ultimately to consume and overrun the stale traditions and practices of the corrupt and dying religiosity of the nation.

If we view the message of the kingdom as the leaven, and the batch of dough as the nation of Israel, Yeshua is intimating that the kingdom message, though small and insignificant to start, will grow among the people until it transforms the nation completely.

That the nation is equated with bread can be shown by the pattern of the tabernacle. Within the tabernacle (and later the Temple), there was always to remain twelve loaves within the presence of God; hence the “bread of the Presence.” Each small loaf was arranged in rows on the table of show bread and represented one of the tribes of Israel.

Exodus 25:30 “Put the Bread of the Presence on the table before me at all times.
2 Chronicles 2:4 Now I am building a temple for the name of the LORD my God in order to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for displaying the rows of the Bread of the Presence continuously, and for sacrificing burnt offerings for the morning and the evening, the Sabbaths and the New Moons, and the appointed festivals of the LORD our God…

Yeshua’s message implies that the leaven was already at work. As it was being mixed into the dough (the nation of Israel), the process of leavening was already underway. Typically, the bread of the Presence would be removed and replaced week after week with fresh bread. However, Yeshua is implying that the bread dough was not to simply be removed and replaced by fresh loaves, but was itself to be transformed into a different type of bread entirely.

This is how the kingdom would come: through individual transformation working its way through the whole batch of dough. This is also why Yeshua instructed his disciples to spread the message to every town in Israel first.

Matthew 10:5-7 Jesus sent out these twelve after giving them instructions: “Don’t take the road that leads to the Gentiles, and don’t enter any Samaritan town. “Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. “As you go, proclaim: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’

All of Israel would have an opportunity to hear and believe the message. Those who received the “leaven” of the message would be transformed. This was how the kingdom was to come: by transforming individual lives until everything in their lives became new. And as the message continued to spread, it would ultimately transform the entire nation into the bread of life for the world.


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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The priceless objective of accomplishing God’s will

Core of the Bible podcast #30 – The priceless objective of accomplishing God’s will

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of the kingdom, and how the kingdom of God, defined as doing his will, should be the primary and most urgent focus of our lives every day.

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46

How invested are you in the kingdom of God? Yeshua taught us that we should be seeking the kingdom first, not somewhere further down a list of spiritual things we think we should be doing.

This parable illustrates the immense value that a true seeker places on the discovery of the kingdom of God. To be willing to sell everything you have in order to gain one single objective is a demonstration of the very highest commitment.

John Gill in his Bible commentary comes to this interpretation of this parable, which I have paraphrased a bit for clarity from the 18th-century prose:

“…in conjunction and harmony with the other parables, I believe this is to be understood of those who seek knowledge in all of its branches, natural, moral, and spiritual; and who, like a “merchant man seeking goodly pearls,” find the Gospel and prefer it to everything else. … for those who seek wisdom and knowledge through proper means are like merchant men who trade abroad and for valuables; and these, under divine direction, find the truths of the everlasting Gospel in the Scriptures, and through the ministry of the word, and by prayer and study…”

If the merchant is the seeker of truth and the pearl is the gospel of the kingdom, then we would do well to first of all ensure we know what the kingdom is.

What is the kingdom of God?

In a very small nutshell, the kingdom of God is exhibited anywhere God reigns supreme. While he ultimately rules heaven and earth, he is not always granted rule here by men who don’t believe in him or who prefer to follow their own ways rather than his. Hence Yeshua’s prayer that God’s kingdom would come and that his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The carrying out of God’s will on earth is the demonstration of the reality of his kingdom. According to Yeshua, God’s kingdom is all about God’s will being done here on earth in the same way that his will is accomplished in heaven. Consider the following:

Matthew 6:10: “May your Kingdom come, your will being done, as in heaven, so on earth.”

Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

When we are doing God’s will, his kingdom comes, or is present. God’s desire is for his kingdom to cover the earth; that is, that his will would be accomplished in the lives of his creation. We can know God’s will by being in his word on a continual basis. Understanding God’s perspective helps us make the choices each day that honor him. As we live out his word, we become the light and salt of the world that Yeshua spoke of in other parables.

In this parable we are encouraged to be like this merchant. In a believer’s life, everything one has and does should stem from the reality of the kingdom. God’s purposes should have priority in all decision making. Once we find the treasure of God’s will in his word, we should engage every resource we have to see it come about by living it out. It should consume all of our actions and thinking.

—–

If the kingdom of God is all about accomplishing God’s will on earth, then how do we discern God’s will?

Matthew 12:50: “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.””

We know that it must be possible to know and do God’s will, otherwise Yeshua has a set a standard that is unachievable in this life.

In a similar way, the apostle Paul challenges the Ephesian believers to the same standard of knowing what God’s will is so that they can bear fruit that is pleasing to him.

Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light —  for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth —  testing what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Pay careful attention, then, to how you live — not as unwise people but as wise —  making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

In his letter to the Roman congregation, Paul provides some insight into how God’s will is discerned. In this specific instance, while sarcastically cautioning the Jews among the congregation against their potential for hypocrisy, he does let slip a secret on what God’s will is based.

Romans 2:17-18, 21 Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law … you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal” ​– ​do you steal?

You see, he mentions the key principle that to know God’s will was to rely on and be instructed from the law. The law, or torah of God, is how we can know and approve what God sees as best for his created beings.

Paul continues this thought later on in the epistle, saying that the only way to really understand God’s will is to be transformed by not conforming to the world around us, and to have a renewed mind. Since he has already set the precedent that the knowing God’s will is based on being instructed from the law, we can know that this renewing of the mind comes from understanding God’s will from his law.

Romans 12:2: ” Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Further, in other epistles, both he and Peter specify aspects of God’s will for his people that are once again based on his torah. Let’s look at each of these admonitions and compare them with their roots in the law of God.

SEXUAL IMMORALITY

1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” What defines sexual immorality? The law does in Lev.18 and 20:9-21 when it explains all of the different family members and and appropriate and inappropriate relations.

GIVING OF THANKS

1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” Where are we encouraged to give thanks to God? From God’s law:

1 Chronicles 16:8 Give thanks to the LORD; call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart celebrates, and I give thanks to him with my song.

Psalm 92:1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praise to your name, Most High…

DOING GOOD

1 Peter 2:15: “For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Where are we encouraged to do what’s right? Once again from the law:

Deuteronomy 6:18 “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that you may prosper and so that you may enter and possess the good land the LORD your God swore to give your fathers,

2 Chronicles 19:11 … Be strong; may the LORD be with those who do what is good.”

Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.

All of God’s word is his torah, his instruction for his people. By purposefully and intentionally spending time each day in his word, we are transformed by understanding what things God desires for his people, so that his will can be done on earth by us. This is the way his kingdom comes.

1 Peter 4:2: “that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

1 John 2:17: “The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.”

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When you are fully invested in seeking the things of God, this desire for conformity to the kingdom becomes second nature. It becomes all-consuming and touches every aspect of your life. Living out the principles of God’s kingdom brings it to life among all of those around you.

How do you know what the most important things are in your life?

The things you value most are the things that consume your time, your energy, and your resources.

In the case of this merchant seeking the pearl of great price, we can imagine his search consuming all three of those qualities.

He would have spent time searching for what he was looking for. We can imagine this to have been a lifelong pursuit. He was a merchant, a trader, this is what he did for a living.

He would also have had to expend energy in his search. Day after day he would have continued to travel to market after market and comb through merchandise. There could have been wasted trips with no results. Long, hot days would have been spent jostling among the crowded venues, trying to find the ultimate prize.

And when he finally discovered what he had been looking for, imagine his relief! All of the efforts and time expended was worth it. He had obtained his goal, the most amazing pearl he had ever seen in all of his travels. He knew he needed to obtain it, whatever it took, because it was valued above every other precious treasure he had seen. So all of his resources then went in to obtaining it to make sure he would be able to purchase it for himself.

Yeshua explains that this is what the kingdom of God is like. It’s like this merchant, spending his time, his energy and his resources to obtain the most precious treasure. The kingdom should be made up of individuals who value God’s principles and his will above everything else. All of our time and energy should revolve around the goal of accomplishing God’s will in our lives. We should be willing to travel long distances, struggle amidst crowded marketplaces and invest all that we have in this commodity which contains the highest value in our lives.

Is the kingdom to you a pearl of the highest value, or only one of many other similar pearls strung together that you wear to adorn yourself to be admired by others? By applying the principles of accomplishing God’s will in all we do every day, we can overcome our vain efforts at shallow beliefs and be engaged in the most rewarding pursuit of all: the kingdom of God on earth.


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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.