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.
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…
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.