Andy Woods The Coming Kingdom
2-22-17 Matthew 3:2 Lesson 8
Why don’t we open up to 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 and then once we’re finished with that we’re going to be going into the New Testament, into Matthew 3:2. If you’ve been tracking with us we’re continuing to move through this doctrine of the kingdom and really the first part of the class is trying to figure out what does the Bible say about the kingdom. That is a bus ride with 17 stops on it and we’ve made a few stops. We started in Eden and that’s where God made a decision to rule through a man, Adam. And that reign was lost with the fall of man. Satan becomes the god of this age and so the goal of history is how that structure is going to be brought back, where God rules through a man over the earth.
And from Eden we went into God’s covenant with Abraham where we learn that God took a nation, He formed it, He created it. Israel, to my knowledge is the only nation that’s directly created by God. When the prophet Isaiah describes the creation of Israel he uses the same Hebrew words that you find in the creation story in Genesis. And Israel becomes very special because it’s through Israel the kingdom program is going to come. So God’s purpose was to bless Israel and through Israel the world would be blessed. And He gave the nation of Israel three major blessings and those are land, seed and blessing. And Israel is the owner and she always will be the owner of those blessings.
The third stop on the bus ride is the Mosaic Covenant, where we go 600 years into the future from the time of Abraham where God basically entered into a covenant with Moses and He put into that covenant if/then language, if you do this then I will do that. So that covenant doesn’t give the nation of Israel ownership of her blessings; she already has those because of the Abrahamic Covenant but it gives the nation of Israel what? Possession or enjoyment of those blessings.
And from there we took the fourth stop on the trip which is the divided kingdom and here’s where we learned that after the reign of Solomon God divided the kingdom up through discipline, you have the ten northern tribes and the two southern tribes. The ten northern tribes are scattered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Only the southern tribes remain; the most important southern tribe, there’s two, Benjamin and Judah, which one is the most important? Judah, because the Davidic kings all reigned in Judah. So the Davidic lineage is going to be continued through Judah, and of course we have that prophecy going all the way back to the time of Jacob where Jacob made some predictions over his sons just prior to his own death and he said the Messiah is going to come from which tribe? Judah. You’ll find that in Genesis 49:10. [Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”]
So that’s why God is protecting Judah. Only tiny Judah remains in terms of God’s kingdom program after the divided kingdom. And tiny Judah is taken into captivity by the Babylonians and this starts a time period called the times of the Gentiles. And this is where God raises up the prophet Daniel to explain that the times of the Gentiles started when the captivity started. The times of the Gentiles will end after the reign of the antichrist in the distant future with the personal return of Jesus Christ to the earth to set up His kingdom. So during this period called the times of the Gentiles, and we actually are still in the times of the Gentiles now, don’t expect the kingdom to come. The stone cut without human hands, which is the kingdom that Daniel saw in Daniel 2, only is going to take place after the empire of the antichrist (which is yet future) runs its course.
So the kingdom today is not in a state of cancellation but in a state of postponement because Israel has never acknowledged her responsibilities under the Mosaic Covenant. So today Israel remains owner but not enjoyer of her blessings.
And the sixth stop on the bus ride is the Old Testament prophets and that’s where we were the last two weeks, and this is where the prophets function is a light shining in a dark place. So while the kingdom is in postponement God raises up these prophets to give us hope or a sketch, if you will, of what the kingdom is going to be like once it comes. If I remember right we went through about fourteen characteristics of the coming kingdom taken directly from the writings of the prophets. And so it’s the prophets that really start to get out the paint brush and start to paint a portrait of the beauty that the earth will be in once the kingdom arrives.
So this takes us to number 7, the postexilic time period. I’ll just make a few comments on number 7 and we’re going to spend most of our time tonight on number 8. We’re almost out of the Old Testament period and we’re going to be moving into the New Testament tonight. But the nation of Israel, in particular Judah, is in captivity for seventy years. Now why did God put them into captivity? Because they had the Mosaic Covenant and part of the Mosaic Covenant dealt with curses for disobedience. And all the way back in the time of Moses, Deuteronomy 28:49-50 says that this is how God is going to discipline His people; He’s going to bring a nation against them whose tongue they don’t even understand and He’s going to uproot them from their land. [Deuteronomy 28:49-50, “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,  a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.”]
So that’s why God brought the Assyrians against the northern kingdom in 722 B.C., about 700 years after Moses spoke these words in the Mosaic Covenant. And then about 136 years later, 586 B.C. comes and the remaining kingdom of Judah in the south is taken into Babylonian captivity. And this time period that the nation of Israel is now in, as I mentioned before, is a time period essentially called the times of the Gentiles.
But before we get to that how many years… I think I might have asked this already, did Judah go into captivity for? Seventy years. And you’re going to find that figure in Jeremiah 25:11, you’ll see the seventy year prediction. And you’ll find it in Jeremiah 29:10. [Jeremiah 25:11, “’This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.”]
And most people know that Israel went into captivity for seventy years but most people don’t understand why it was seventy years. Why wasn’t it 50 years? Why wasn’t it 100 years? And the answer really relates to Leviticus 25:1-7 where the nation of Israel was to, just like in the work week we’re supposed to work six days and rest on the seventh; that same pattern was to work with their land. They were to work the land six years and they were to allow the land to have a sabbath on the seventh year.
[Leviticus 25:1-7, “The LORD then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying,  ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD.  ‘Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop,  but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.  Your harvest’s after growth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. All of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you.  Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.”]
And what happened in the history of the nation of Israel is the nation of Israel at certain times just decided to ignore what God said. So they transgressed the land sabbath about 70 times so God says okay, every year you’re not going to allow the land to have its rest I will kick you out of the land, then it will rest. And that’s why we have this seventy year captivity; it’s not an arbitrary number at all.
Now if you look at 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 you’ll see it all right there. It says, “Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,” in other words they were to go into captivity into the Babylonians but they were to come back seventy years later, and then verses 21 says, “to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, [until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.”] And I gave you those two references where Jeremiah predicted that the captivity would last seventy years, Jeremiah 25:11 predicts it and Jeremiah 29:10 predicts it. But then 2 Chronicles 36 goes on and it says, “[to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah,] until the land had enjoyed its” what? “its sabbaths.” That’s an allusion back to Leviticus 25.
So Israel was told all the way back in the time of Moses let the land rest on the seventh year and the nation decides not to do that for seventy years. And so God forced His own people out of the land so the land of Israel would have its rest and the seventy years would be made up. So what you start to discover when you read things like this is God is a God of mathematical precision and exactness. And that’s why the seventy year captivity lasted exactly seventy years, not sixty-five years, not a hundred years but seventy years. There’s a reason behind it.
So what happens is Judah goes into captivity in Babylon about 350 miles to the east, they’re there for seventy years, they go into captivity under the head of gold, Babylon. But then Babylon is overthrown by the Persians, which is the chest and arms in this stature, chest and arms of silver. And does anybody remember the exact chapter in the Bible where the Persians would overthrow the Babylonians? I’ll give you a big hint, we’re going to be studying it on Sunday morning and it’s one chapter beyond where we are on Sunday morning—Daniel 5, which is the handwriting on the wall chapter.
So the head of gold, as Daniel saw it in Daniel 2, which represents Babylon, would give way to the chest and arms of silver, which represents Persia. And here is just a list of the various empires that Daniel saw; he saw Babylon rising to power, in fact Babylon was the nation that had taken him and his three friends into captivity. But then he saw the head of gold being replaced by the chest and arms of silver. But when Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came against Judah he came against Judah in three waves; the first wave was 605 B.C. and the king on the throne at that time was Jehoiakim, and this is the captivity that Daniel was taken away in, in wave one. So Daniel and a few of the princes were taken away. And as we’ve explained Sunday mornings what Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is doing is he’s brainwashing the best and the brightest and if he can brainwash them and get them on his team he can talk the rest of the population into peaceably coming along as well, the Jewish population.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came back again in 597, and I have all the Scriptures where you can find these three waves. [605, 2 Kings 24:1, Daniel 1:1. 597, 2 Kings 24:10-16, Ezekiel 1:1-2. 586, 2 Kings 25:1-2, Ezekiel 33:21.] The reigning king on David’s throne at that time was Jehoiachin and Ezekiel is taken in that second wave. Then Nebuchadnezzar came a third time, the last reigning king on David’s throne was Zedekiah and this is where Nebuchadnezzar finished the job. He destroyed the city, he destroyed the sanctuary, the temple was destroyed at this time and it’s during this era that the times of the Gentiles started. The Shekinah glory of God had left the Jewish temple and there was no longer a king reigning on David’s throne and that’s why God raised up Daniel, to help Israel, or Judah specifically understand that the nation is going to be trampled down by various Gentile powers all the way to the Second Advent, the first being Babylon and the second being Medo-Persia.
Now once the Medes and the Persians overthrow the Babylonians in Daniel 5, and that happened about 539 B.C., God uses the Persians to direct the nation back into their homeland after the seventy years of captivity had ended. And this is a copy of the Cyrus Cylinder. Cyrus was the king that basically conquered Babylon and it was under his leadership and subsequent kings in Persia that Judah was allowed to g back into the homeland.
And what you have to understand is Isaiah predicted Cyrus by name 150 years in advance. We don’t have time to look at it tonight but if you just jot down Isaiah 44:28-45:1 you’ll see Isaiah 150 years in advance naming the king that’s going to bring Judah back into their homeland. So that’s a staggering prophecy; it’s so staggering liberals don’t know how to handle this and so they just say well, Isaiah obviously didn’t write that, that was written by another guy claiming to be Isaiah, called Deutero-Isaiah or Trito-Isaiah or however or whatever you want to do with that.
I mean, this would be like saying a hundred and fifty years in advance Donald Trump, and naming his name, is going to be President of the United States. A hundred and fifty years ago no one even knows who Donald Trump is, he hadn’t even been born yet. And lo and behold here he comes into power and fulfills the prophecy. That’s the best explanation I can give that’s on par with what Isaiah would receive from God there in Isaiah 44:28. [Isaiah 44:28, “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.”’]
So Cyrus is actually one of the good guys in history and it’s under Cyrus and various Persian kings that those in Judah go back into the homeland after the 70 year captivity was over. So just as Nebuchadnezzar had taken them away in three deportations, under the Persians the Jews go back into the land in three returns. The first return is described in Ezra 1-6. The second return under Artaxerxes, the Persian king that followed Cyrus, is described in Ezra 7-10. And I have the Scriptures and the dates where you can look all these things up. The third return takes place, according to the book of Nehemiah, under Artaxerxes.
So the first time they return is to rebuild the temple; the second return they’re adorning the temple and reforming the people. And then in the third return, as recorded in the book of Nehemiah they’re rebuilding the wall. So this is all taking place in the Persian time period.
Now what modern nation today is a descendant of Persia? Iran! And that’s what’s so sad about the Iranians today going into this shite Islamic mindset where they’re trying to… the leadership anyway is trying to wipe Israel off the map and things like that. This is a group of people that have lost sight of their history. God originally raised up the Persians, not to be a curse to the nation of Israel but to be a blessing. So God said I’m going to use Cyrus even though Cyrus doesn’t know me. He says that in Isaiah 45:4. [Isaiah 45:4, “For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor though you have not known Me.”]
So God can use people in positions of power even though they don’t have a personal relationship with Him. And that’s why we’re called, as Christians, to be praying for our political leaders because God can use them and direct them. That’s what He did with Cyrus, in Ezra 1-6; that’s what He did with Artaxerxes in Ezra 7-10, and that’s what He did with Artaxerxes again as recorded in the book of Nehemiah.
So as you continue to move on through history, once the Jews are in the land they’re in the land for about five centuries after the return; five centuries is a long time before Jesus showed up. And this is all described in Daniel’s vision that he say, Daniel 2; he saw the chest and arms of silver being replaced by the belly and thighs of bronze, which would be Greece. And then you keep moving through and he saw the two legs of iron which would represent Rome. So the Persians basically ruled over the land of Israel after the Jews returned, from about 530 to around 331. Then came the Greeks, Alexander the Great and they ruled over the land of Israel from about 331-363 B.C. And after the Greeks came forth the Roman Empire. The Romans came into the land of Israel, probably about 63 B.C. 63 years before the time of Christ, under the General Pompeii. And they continued to rule over the land of Israel until the Romans finally kicked the Jews out of the land in A.D. 70.
So even though Israel has a long residency in the land, for about five centuries before Jesus Christ ever showed up, what I want to show you is the times of the Gentiles kept right on going. Israel, the nation, kept being subjugated by these Gentile powers. And so by the time Jesus shows up the empire that’s in power is Rome. Rome was really no friend of the Jews, I mean, the Jews hated Rome. It was Rome that put the nation of Israel under heavy taxation. That’s why, if you were a tax collector you would be looked at by the Jewish people as really the scum of the earth. That’s how we would look at drug pushers today, or pornographers, or abortionists, people like that, just the low of the low, because if you were a Jew who was a tax collector it meant you were a traitor because you were working for Rome to collect taxes. And it also meant that you were a traitor to your people and it also meant that you were a thief because you could extract whatever you wanted from the Jewish people for taxes for Rome, but then you could take any additional amount you wanted to line your own pockets with. So that’s why it’s just amazing that the Lord chose Matthew, a tax collector, to write the opening book of the New Testament, because Matthew had been given a touch by God’s grace and that’s why you have the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, up in the tree and Jesus comes and manifests grace to him, and says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.” [Luke 19:10]
That’s a little bit about Rome. There was a heavy tax burden and also the Romans at this time had taken away from the nation of Israel the right to execute their own criminals. There’s a reference to that in John 18:31. [John 18:31, “So Pilate said to them, ‘Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.”’ And this is why Jesus died on a cross. If the Jews had killed Christ they would have stoned Him to death but they couldn’t stone Him to death because the Romans, through the fourth empire here during the times of the Gentiles had taken away from the Jews the power of capital punishment and consequently Jesus had to die on a cross rather than be stoned to death. And that in and of itself is the outworking of God’s purposes because how do the Old Testament prophets predict the death of Christ? That He would be pierced.
And think of how outlandish those prophecies seemed at the time. You don’t pierce criminals, you stone them to death. But the prophets saw the time in history, like Zechariah 12:10, Isaiah 53:5, and other places, Psalm 22 around verse 16-18, that the Messiah would actually be pierced and that has to do with Rome and how they taxed the Jewish people and how they removed from the Jews the power of capital punishment.
[Zechariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” Isaiah 53:5, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” Psalm 22:16, “For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.”]
So Israel has been in the land now for about five centuries by the time of Christ; coming back into the land under the Persians; the Persians were followed by the Greeks; the Greeks were followed by the Romans, but despite the long residency in the land the times of the Gentiles kept right on rolling through this time period that we’re talking about here.
So this causes us to leave the Old Testament and to now develop the kingdom program into the New Testament. And that’s why I had you turn to Matthew 3:2. There had been, prior to this time, 400 years of silence, God was not speaking through any specific prophet and actually I told you Matthew 3:2 [Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”] but look for a second at Matthew 1:17, Jesus Christ shows up at this time in history and this is how Matthew begins his Gospel; he begins it with a genealogy of Christ. And Matthew sums up the genealogy this way in verse 17, it says, “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.”
Now when you cross reference this with the book of 1 Chronicles what you’ll discover is there’s a lot more here than three groups of fourteen; he’s just randomly picking the number fourteen. And he picks the number 14 because of something called gematria, where you could take someone’s name, spell it out either in Hebrew or Greek and you could attach a number to each letter. So the Hebrew alphabet had numbers associated with each letter, the Greek alphabet had numbers associated with each letter, and so you could convert anybody’s name to a number just by spelling it out and attaching the right number to the right letter. And that’s the whole significance behind the antichrist of the future being 666; whoever the antichrist is you can spell out his name in Greek, attach the right number to the right letter and it will wield the number 666 and that’s why those in the tribulation period are going to know exactly who the antichrist is.
But Matthew picks 14 because the gematria of David yields which total? 14, so that’s why Matthew here randomly picks three groups of 14. It’s a literary device designed to show or to demonstrate that Jesus is the Davidic heir. Jesus is the heir to the Davidic Covenant.
So the genealogy traces the lineage of Jesus Christ, first of all back to David and then back to Abraham. And what Matthew is showing is that Jesus is the guy! He is the guy we have all been waiting for; He is the Messiah, He is the rightful heir to the Abrahamic Covenant, He is the rightful heir to the Davidic Covenant. In Matthew 9:27 He is called the Son of David. In Luke 1:32-33 and 68 and 69 He again is called the rightful heir to David’s throne, David’s promises.
[Matthew 9:27, “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!”’ Luke 1:32-33, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;  and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:68-69, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,  And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant—“]
And let’s remember Israel’s covenant structure for just a second. The Abrahamic Covenant gave Israel what over her blessings? It starts with an O… Ownership. The Mosaic Covenant gave Israel, if she meets the condition what over her blessings? Possession. So it says in the Mosaic Covenant, “Now then if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant then you shall be My own possession.” [Exodus 19:5, “’Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;”] And then later on it mentions the kingdom. So once the nation of Israel fulfills the condition of the Mosaic Covenant she is not just the owner but also the what? The possessor, and the kingdom arrives. See that? I mean, that’s all building to the covenant structure going all the way back to the time of Abraham, all the way back to the time of Moses.
Now who does the Mosaic Covenant ultimate point towards? Jesus. Deuteronomy 17:15, part of the Mosaic Covenant, tells Israel, “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, [one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.]”
So they are to usher in their kingdom blessings to fulfill this condition where they become owner and possessor and the manifestation of the kingdom arrives. What does the nation of Israel have to do? They have to enthrone Christ; Christ is the King of God the Father’s selection. See that? And this is why Jesus stood before His accusers and said in John 5:45-47, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.  For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. [47, But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?]” Well where did Moses write about Jesus? Many places, but specifically he wrote about Him in Deuteronomy 17:15. [Deuteronomy 17:15, “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.”]
One thousand five hundred years earlier God had said you’ve got to get the kingdom, to receive the kingdom you have to enthrone the king of God’s choosing and the New Testament, through the Matthean genealogy, we learn that Jesus is the King of God’s choosing. He is the rightful heir. And it’s still incumbent upon Israel to enthrone Him as the King and if they were to enthrone Him as the King they would be not just owner but also possessor of their blessings and the kingdom of God would have arrived.
Now what I’ve just described here is what is called the offer of the kingdom. Israel has an opportunity in the first century, with the arrival of Christ, that no generation had ever had. They simply had to enthrone the King on the King’s throne; had had happened Deuteronomy 17:15 would have been fulfilled. [Deuteronomy 17:15, “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.”] The Mosaic Covenant would have been fulfilled, Israel would be owner and possessor and the kingdom of God would have arrived.
And this is why when Jesus shows up you have a repetition of the phrase, “Repent,” now what does repent mean? Change of mind, metanoeō, meta means change, as in metamorphosis, and from noeō you get the word notion, which comes out of the mind. Metanoeō is the Greek word for repentance, translated repentance, change your mind. In other words, what he is saying is change your mind about Christ, don’t look at Him as somebody that’s a usurper, look at him as the rightful king that He is.
So John the Baptist, in Matthew 3:2, Jesus, in Matthew 4:17, and then the twelve apostles in Matthew 10:5-7, and then in Luke’s Gospel the seventy, as the Lord sends out the seventy in Luke 10, verse 1 and verse 9, all four sections you’ll see this expression “repent,” change your mind, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
All four sections you’ll see this expression “repent” (change your mind), “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The first person to utter it was John the Baptist, the first prophet that God began to speak through after the 400 years of silence and it says in Matthew 3:1-2, “Now in those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,  Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And then Jesus shows up, and He starts preaching the same message. Matthew 4:17, ““From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” See how this phrase keeps repeating itself.
And then when Jesus sends out the twelve to preach in Matthew 10:5-7, it says, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
Luke’s Gospel records Jesus sending out a larger group to Israel called the seventy, Luke 10:1 says, “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.” And then He’s giving instructions, [Luke 10:9,] “and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come” now here the language is a little different, it’s the same idea, “The kingdom of God has near to you.’”
What does all of this mean? What it means is the kingdom has drawn near because the King was present in their midst. Had the nation of Israel enthroned the King on the King’s terms the kingdom would have become a reality. And this is what is meant by the expression “the offer of the kingdom. As you go through the early Gospels it’s hard to miss this.
So this leads to five basic questions about this offer of the kingdom, about this expression, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Number 1, what does he mean by “the kingdom.” Question 1. Number 2, why is it called “the kingdom of heaven”? Number 3, why is it called “at hand”? Number 4, to which specific group was this kingdom offered? And number 5, what are some mis-interpretations today of this kingdom offer? And sadly on the landscape there are many misinterpretations of it and this is why people today don’t preach the gospel of grace; they grab language from early Matthew and pretend like that’s the gospel and they’re preaching the wrong message, in essence, is what I’ll show you. That’s why this issue is a big deal. The better you understand this issue the better you’ll keep your gospel clear because you’re making a basic distinction that the Word of God wants you to make. But more on that later.
Question number 1, what does he mean by this expression, kingdom? John the Baptist, the Twelve, Jesus showed up and said “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” He uses an expression “the kingdom.” What is He talking about? Now most people come into this word “kingdom” and they define it any way they want, they just dump their own meaning into it. It’s the rule of God in our hearts, or whatever you want to make it out to be. But the fact of the matter is the word “kingdom” here is never defined. So if we’re going to define the word “kingdom” correctly what do we have to dial back into to understand it? All of the Old Testament history that we’ve covered! So when the New Testament writers use the expression “kingdom” and leave it undefined they are expecting us to define it by prior revelation, which we just spent seven weeks going through meticulously. I don’t have the freedom to define the word kingdom any way I want to define it. I have to define it by how prior revelation, in this case the Old Testament, has developed this expression “kingdom.”
So everything that we’ve covered, the rule of God in Eden, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the divided kingdom, the times of the Gentiles, the portrait given in the Old Testament prophets, God’s dealings with Judah as he brought them out of exile, all of that has to factor into my definition of the kingdom. So everything that’s in the Abrahamic Covenant that we’ve gone over meticulously defines that expression “kingdom” in Matthew 3:2 which is the Greek word, basileia, [βασιλεία] everything that we know about this stone cut without human hands that destroyed the antichrist’s empire, has to be factored into my definition of the word “kingdom” in Matthew 3:2. [Matthew 3:2, “‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”] Everything the Old Testament prophets revealed about the kingdom has to be part of my definition as well. Now we spent two weeks, did we not, going through everything (not everything but most of the things) the Old Testament prophets said about the kingdom.
What is the kingdom? It’s the time in history where Jerusalem is the center of world, spiritual and political authority; it’s a time period of perfect justice, world peace, peace in the animal kingdom, and the earth is filled with the universal spiritual knowledge of the Lord. These are all factors which fill out this expression “kingdom,” which is never defined, at least in the New Testament.
Now Michael Cocoris, one of my favorite Bible teachers, wrote a book called Repentance: The Most Misunderstood Word in the Bible and in that book he says something that I think is critically important to understand. Look at what Michael Cocoris says. He says, “The nature of communication is such that once authors define a term,” like the word kingdom in the Old Testament, “they are obligated to use that term the same way, until they notify the readers otherwise.” See that.
So what do you have in Matthew 3:2? You just have the word “kingdom, it’s not defined. So I am not free to pour into that word another definition. What I am obligated under God to do is to search the Old Testament and to figure out how prior revelation defines that term. It is the geopolitical and spiritual rule of Christ manifested on planet earth; that’s the kingdom. And you see, the amillennial system, which teaches that Jesus set up kingdom in spiritual form in the first century completely pours a bunch of meaning into that word kingdom that you’re not going to find anywhere in the Old Testament. It’s almost like they’ve cut off the New Testament from the Old Testament. And our amillennial brethren are in tremendous error here because they’re not following the principle that Michael Cocoris articulated and they’re not diligently searching out what the Old Testament says about the kingdom.
Arthur Pink, who wrote a very helpful book called The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen says this: “In [Daniel 2] verse 44 we are told, ‘And in the days of these kings (the “kingdom” before referred to) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.’…Further details concerning it are given in Daniel 7:13, 14 . . . After Daniel, the voice of prophecy was soon silenced, and for four hundred years the people of Israel remained in a state of eager expectation, waiting for God to fulfill His promises. Next appeared John the Baptist, who took… up the kingdom message just where the O. T. prophets had dropped it.”’ He’s got it right here.
“In Matthew 3:1, 2 we read, ‘…Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’—it was ‘at hand,’ because the King Himself was about to appear in the midst of the Jews. When John said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ what do you suppose his Jewish hearers” that’s who Jesus showed up to, right? First century Jews; how do you think they understood the word “kingdom”? They obviously understood it based on how the Old Testament had carefully presented it because they, the Jews, were the custodians of the Old Testament. They didn’t just pour their own meaning into the word “kingdom.” They knew exactly what it meant because they had the pages of the Old Testament that defines what the kingdom is. “…what do you suppose his Jewish hearers understood by that expression? They had the whole of the O.T. in their hands, but that is all which they then had. Obviously, all their thoughts would naturally turn to that kingdom which the Son of Man was to receive in heaven at the hands of the Ancient of days.” [A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software]
In other words, when John the Baptist uses the expression changes and the Jews heard what he said they defined it, not by their favorite theological system; they defined it by the Old Testament. And that’s why I’ve started in the Old Testament helping us define what the word “kingdom” is because I knew the time would come when we would get into the New Testament and we would see references to the kingdom undefined and I wanted you to have the background by which you, just like a first century Jew would, define the word “kingdom.” So I think Arthur Pink is right on here.
So what, then is this kingdom? It’s the unchallenged rulership of God that has now drawn near to man in the person of Jesus Christ. And if the Jews had simply fulfilled their condition that rule and authority would have boom, blanketed all of planet earth exactly as the Old Testament prophets predicted that it would. So that’s what the word “kingdom” means.
Now you hear all these ministries saying we’re bringing in the kingdom today, we’re building the kingdom, we’re going kingdom work, we have a kingdom connection; you hear all these buzz words and none of these ministries, and this is what really gets under my skin about the whole thing, are doing the careful biblical study that we’re doing because they’re not defining the word “kingdom” by how the expression is carefully developed by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. I’m not free to just attach any meaning to the word “kingdom” that I want, I have to pay attention to prior revelation, which is what we’ve been studying.
So that’s what the kingdom is. Question number 2 is what does it mean when it says “the kingdom of heaven,” why in the world is it called “the kingdom of heaven”? Matthew 10:7 says, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Why is it called “the kingdom of heaven”? The answer relates to Daniel 2. Daniel saw the stone cut without human hands coming from where? Heaven to the earth, and destroying the empire of the antichrist. Daniel 2:44 of that transaction says, “In the days of those kings” what kings? The ten king confederacy of the antichrist, the last Gentile power at the very end of the times of the Gentiles, just prior to the Second Advent of Christ. “In the days of those kings” the ten king confederacy of the antichrist, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”
It’s called the kingdom of heaven not so much because of its content, and this is where people get confused, oh, it’s just a heavenly kingdom… no, it’s not just a heavenly kingdom because the Old Testament prophets, actually going all the way back to Eden, defined the kingdom as a rule of God on this earth. So it’s not heavenly, it’s earthly. It’s called, therefore, the kingdom of heaven not because of its content but because of its source. Where does this kingdom originate from? From heaven. Where does this kingdom come from? It comes from heaven.
John Walvoord, in his Matthew commentary, writes this: “What did John mean by ‘kingdom of heaven’? While the precise phrase is not found in the Old Testament, it is based on Old Testament terminology. Nebuchadnezzar, for instance, referred to God as the ‘King of heaven’ (Dan 4:37). Daniel had predicted that the climax of world history would come with the advent of the Son of Man, who would be given an everlasting kingdom. This was likewise to be fulfilled by the prediction of Daniel 2:44” which we just read, “that ‘the God of heaven’ would ‘set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.’ Matthew, alone of New Testament writers, uses ‘the kingdom of heaven’ and rarely uses ‘the kingdom of God,’ which is often used in parallel passages in the other gospels and throughout the New Testament. Most expositors consider the two terms identical.” [Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come (Chicago: Moody, 1974), 30.]
Matthew likes the expression “kingdom of heaven.” Do you know why that’s true? Because Matthew is Gentile or Jewish? Jewish, so he doesn’t really like to use the word God; even our secretary, who went on to another ministry, who was a Jewish Christian, when you got an e-mail from her she would not spell out the word God, you could tell she was using the word God but she would leave out… I think the o, because in Jewish thought you don’t dare use the word God. Luke, on the other hand, who’s a Gentile writer, uses the expression kingdom of God. But kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven are terms that are interchangeable, they’re synonyms. Kingdom of heaven is more of a Jewish expression; kingdom of God is more of a Gentile expression but both are talking about the rule of heaven that is now drawing near to the earth in the person of Jesus Christ. It’s not talking about the content of the kingdom; it’s not talking about Jesus reigning in our hearts and things like that. It’s talking about the origin of the kingdom, from where does the kingdom come?
Now let me ask you a question; is God ever outvoted in heaven? No! God always gets His way in heaven; nobody challenges His authority, His reign is supreme. And what is being said here by repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand is the unchallenged rulership of God in heaven has the potential of manifesting itself to the earth as Jesus rules this planet of sinners with a rod of iron where His will, will never be second guessed. And to get it Israel all you have to do is fulfill your condition, because genealogically the guy you’ve been waiting for is here, just enthrone Him on His terms and the kingdom will come, because Israel, once you do that you will not just be the owner but the what? the possessor, the covenant structure will be satisfied and the kingdom will come. So that’s why it’s called “the kingdom of heaven.”
The third question, why is it called “at hand”? Why is it called “near”? What does Jesus say when He sent out the twelve? “The kingdom of heaven is” what? “at hand.” Now listen to me very carefully; it does not mean the kingdom has arrived. Do you follow me? This expression found in the offer of the kingdom does not mean that the kingdom is here; what it means is the kingdom is not here but near. The kingdom is in an any moment state of expectancy. The kingdom could materialize in the next nanosecond contingent upon how the nation of Israel responds to this offer of the kingdom.
Back to Arthur Pink, I’ve read this quote already but look at this part I’ve got underlined here, “it was at hand it was ‘at hand,’ because the King Himself was about to appear in the midst of the Jews.” The possibility or potentiality of any generation enthroning Christ and receiving the kingdom and the kingdom coming to the whole world was right there in their midst. You talk about an opportunity of multiple generations they had it.
Now what I want to point out is this expression, “at hand” and you Greek students up here in the front will appreciate this, the verb there is ἐγγίζω – engízō, the parsing of that word is third person singular perfect active indicative. Don’t let your eyes gloss over, I’ll show you what I’m talking about. That is the identical parsing of the same Greek word, or verb in James 5:8, “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord” this is talking about the rapture, “is” what? “near.” Now that’s engízō, third person singular perfect active indicative, just like it is in Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Matthew 10:7. [Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 10:7, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”]
Nobody takes James 5:8, that Jesus is here in that verse. That verse is not saying Jesus is here, it’s saying He’s near. In the doctrine of the rapture we believe he can come back any second, any split second. So when we have this same verb with the identical parsing of the verb in Matthew 10:7 in the expression “the kingdom of God is at hand,” in the same way it’s not saying the kingdom is here, it’s saying the kingdom is near, the kingdom is imminent, the kingdom is in a place of any moment expectancy.
This takes us to question number four: to whom was the kingdom offered? Now I’ll finish with number four, to whom was the kingdom offered? Did you catch Matthew 10:5-7? “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles” so are you going to use this verse at your missions conference, about how we are going to take the gospel to all nations? Jesus says don’t even go to the Gentiles with this. Do not “enter any town of the Samaritans.  But rather go to the lost sheep of Israel.  As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’”
Who was the kingdom offered to? It was offered to Israel, first century Israel because only Israel was given the Mosaic Covenant. Only they could have satisfied the conditions. See that? Now this becomes very clear in the story of the Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15 where Jesus was in an area of Israel that was heavily Gentile, there were some Gentile populations in Israel, Matthew 15 tells us this, she talks about… I think it’s her son that has an illness, so she’s a Gentile coming to Him, a Jew, wanting a miracle and you remember what He said to her? “But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the” what? “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” [Matthew 15:24] In other words, get away from Me lady, I’m not here to perform miracles for you, I’m here to offer the kingdom to first century Israel. And you remember her response? She talks about well even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off the master’s table and she understood that she was to be blessed through Israel; that’s what she acknowledged. And He said you know, I haven’t seen faith like this even in Israel itself. And that very hour the infirmity in her, I can’t remember if it was her son or her daughter is taken away. You can read about it in Matthew 15.
[The Syro-Phoenician Woman, Matthew 15:21, “Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.  And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.’  But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, ‘Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.’  But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’  But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’  And He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.  But she said, ‘Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’  Then Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once.”]
But notice that Jesus says, in this exchange with this Syro-Phoenician woman, “ I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And that’s why he says to the twelve don’t go to the Gentiles with this, don’t even go to the Samaritans, the half-breed race,, but go “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” So as the chosen people they were the ones given the first bite of the apple to receive this offer of the kingdom. Had they received it the times of the Gentiles would have ended, just like that. The Roman Empire, who they hated, that attacks them out of existence and took away their right to execute their own criminals would have been immediately overthrown by Jesus Christ. The stone cut without human hands that Daniel saw would have arrived.
Arthur Pink sums it up very well. You’ll notice in my book, that I wrote, I’m very fond of Arthur Pink’s treatment of this. He said, “Had Israel remained in subjection to their King and obeyed His laws,” now I’m going to qualify what he says here, Israel didn’t have to obey His laws, what they had to do was change their mind about Jesus, which is meant by the expression what? Repent! “Had Israel remained in subjection to their King and obeyed His laws not only would He have continued in their midst, but through them He would have governed the whole earth—as He will yet do in the Millennium.” [A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software]
So the millennial kingdom that we read about, yet future, would have come to the earth had the nation of Israel responded to the offer of the kingdom. And this is what is meant by the expression, “the gospel of the kingdom.” Matthew 4:23 says, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the” what? “kingdom, [and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”] The kingdom is going to come, the kingdom can come now if You will enthrone Me on My terms as your King over the nation.
And as we’ll be studying in this series tragically what happened, and the Gospels all lay this out, that the nation of Israel turns down the offer, therefore the gospel of the kingdom will not be preached again until what time period? The tribulation period. It’s only when we get a description of the tribulation period in Matthew 24:14 that we read the expression, “the gospel of the kingdom,” now this is Israel after the rapture. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” So the offer has been taken off the table. I’ll show you exactly how that happened, really the turning point is in Matthew 12.
So what is the kingdom? It is what the Old Testament reveals about the kingdom, it’s not some mystical reign of Jesus in our hearts. Why is it called “the kingdom of heaven”? Because it’s the source, not the content, the source of the kingdom; it’s the unchallenged rulership of God coming to the earth. Why is it called “at hand”? It doesn’t mean here, it means near because the King was present in Jesus, according to the Matthian genealogy which shows Jesus is the rightful heir. To whom was the kingdom offered? Only to national Israel. It’s not something… when I evangelize people today I don’t go up to them and repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. And a lot of people are out there saying that because they are misinterpreting the kingdom offer as the normative gospel that people preach in the church age.
Now next week I’ll be showing you names of people that do this, people you know, people that re very popular and they are bringing massive confusion into the life of the church; they’re bringing massive into the evangelistic activities of the church because they don’t make this basic distinction about what the offer of the kingdom was. So anyway I’ll quit talking and we’ll look at misinterpretations of the kingdom offer next week.