The Coming Kingdom 043

Dr. Andy Woods | Apr 25, 2018 | Matthew 5:3, 10 | The Coming Kingdom

Andy Woods

The Coming Kingdom

4-25-18          Jeremiah 30:7           Lesson 43

Matthew 5, verse 3, continuing to progress on the doctrine of the kingdom, and the first part of the study was really laying out what does the Bible say about the kingdom so we went from Genesis to Revelation trying to understand that.  And we basically saw that the kingdom today is not in a state of cancellation but postponement, really awaiting the response of national Israel to her Messiah.  That took a while to go through that and then last time we completed number 2, what are the main problems with the idea that we’re in the kingdom now, because that’s sort of the buzzword today, that we’re in the kingdom. I gave you this quote from Dallas Willard, and many other people I could quote trying to argue that… the name of the game today is people trying to argue we’re in a spiritual form of the kingdom today.

And so I gave you two main problems with that.  The first problem is the kingdom, every time its portrayed in the Old Testament it’s always portraying it as earthly over a repentant Israel.  And the problem with kingdom now interpretation is you have to believe that somehow the New Testament changes the Old Testament meaning.  I gave you this quote from Colin Chapman where he basically is doing that very thing.  And that creates a lot of problems.  For example, God cannot lie, it makes God a liar in essence.  Number two, truth is determined by conformity to prior Scripture and if you have a spiritual form of the kingdom today and the Old Testament always portrays it as earthly and over Israel you have to come up with a definition of the kingdom in the New Testament which contradicts the Old Testament.  And then I also showed you number three there, that the over­whelming times, the New Testament will place the kingdom, not in the present but in the future.

A second major problem with this idea that we’re in the kingdom now is related to the fact that the Old Testament is very clear that the kingdom can’t come until the time of distress comes first.  The time of distress is the great tribulation period.  So Dr. Toussaint asks, “If the kingdom began in the ministry of Christ, where is the prophesied judgment in the Gospels?”  “Were the Old Testament prophets and John incorrect in their message?”  So again it’s a case of people developing their definition of the kingdom totally independent of what the Old Testament says about it.

And one    of the things the Old Testament is very clear on is the kingdom will come only after the time of distress.  The great tribulation period hasn’t happened yet.  Amen!  I mean, you might feel like you’re in the great tribulation period if you’re going through some difficulties but I would call what you’re in trial (little t), the Trial (big P) is coming upon the earth.  And you don’t want to be in that one and you won’t be if you’re a believer in Christ.

But the Bible is very clear that the kingdom can’t come until that time period elapses.  That’s why Revelation 20 follows that whole time period described in the Book of Revelation.  Revelation 20 describes the kingdom.  So The Book of Revelation is consistent with what the Old Testament says, you can’t have the kingdom until first have a time of distress.  So those two issues really are the biggest problems with kingdom now beliefs.

And we started last time, if I remember right, number three, if all of this is true why do some people believe that we are in the kingdom now?  And what we started to walk through are the problem passages that people point to arguing that we’re in the kingdom.  So we’re going to be looking at passages from Christ’s ministry, passages from Acts, passages from Paul, passages from the general letters, passages from the Book of Revelation and then some miscellaneous arguments.  Don’t worry, we’re not going to do all that tonight.

But we started last time with passages from the ministry of Jesus Christ indicating that the kingdom has started.  These are passages people use to try to argue that the kingdom has started.  So here are all the different passages we’re going to be walking through where people point to Christ’s ministry and they say the kingdom started in Christ’s ministry.  We only looked at, if I remember right, the first one last time.  The first one everybody points to (to argue that we’re in the kingdom) is the statements that Jesus, John the Baptist, the apostles and the seventy make where they show up early in the Gospels, like this quote from John the Baptist and he says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  And people misinterpret that to mean the kingdom is not near but the kingdom is here.  So they use that basically to argue that the spiritual form of the kingdom started in the ministry of Christ, here even in the ministry of John the Baptist.

And the last time we were together I gave you four reasons why they are misusing that verse, and I won’t rehash all of those but really what that verse is saying, “the kingdom of God is at hand,” it’s not saying that the kingdom is here but it’s saying the kingdom is near, and had Israel enthroned Christ, which they did not do nationally, the kingdom would have come.

So this takes us to another set of verses that people use routinely to argue that we are in the kingdom now.  That’s why I had you open up to Matthew 5:3, and also verse 10.  This our Lord’s teachings on the Sermon on the Mount and this takes place very early on in His ministry.  And Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount starts to give the beatitudes and He says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” And “is” there is the Greek verb eimi, which is in the present tense and so people try to argue that because the present tense of that verb is used then Jesus obviously started a spiritual form of the kingdom at His first coming.  See that?

And verse 3 and verse 10 are sort of the brackets to a chunk of material, those two brackets, if you want the fancy word are called an inclusio, it’s sort of like eating a sandwich, you’ve got your roast beef in the middle and you’ve got your two pieces of bread on the outside.  The two pieces of bread are what we would call the inclusio, including everything in between.   So the inclusio is what starts the unit and what ends the unit, and then the content is what’s in between those two things.

So verse 3, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for there is the kingdom of heaven,” and then at the end, the end of the inclusio he says in verse 10, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is” again present tense of the Greek verb eimi, “there is the kingdom of heaven.”  So people will say well, there it is, right there in the Bible, Jesus says “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” when He was giving the beatitudes so therefore Jesus started a spiritual form of the kingdom in His first coming.  See that, see the argument?  And let me give you four fast reasons why I think that is not what Jesus is saying at all.

The first reason is yes, the present tense verb is used to describe the kingdom in verse 3 and verse 10 but if you go down to verse 19 of Matthew 5, it says, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”   You see when he says “shall be”?  Is he putting the kingdom there present or future?  He’s putting it into the future.

He does the same thing in verse 20, He says, “”For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  So is He putting the kingdom there in the present or the future?  It’s very clear, He’s putting it into the future.   And then if you go one chapter to the right and go over to Matthew 6:10, the so-called Lord’s prayer, you might be saying to yourself I’ve never really understood that prayer.  Well, stay tuned, you’re going to get an explanation of that prayer tonight like you’ve never heard before.  Okay.  When I received this explanation I was startled at how wrong I was in thinking I was praying the right prayer the right way and the reality is the prayer was nothing the way I was praying it because the Bible doesn’t support the way I was praying the prayer.  And I would say 99% of Christendom misunderstands this prayer, and yet we pray it all the time and we don’t even really know what we’re talking about.  That’s not a putdown to anybody, that’s a putdown to myself because I was in the same boat  until I had someone come along, Dr. Toussaint, and explain it.  But more on that in just a second.

If you look at verse 10 part of that prayer is “Thy kingdom come.”  Now isn’t that kind of odd to pray for the kingdom to come if we’re already in it?  So that verse puts the kingdom into the future as well.  And then if you go over to Matthew 6:33, people use this to argue that we’re in the kingdom, it says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”  And I don’t think that verse is saying we’re in the kingdom either.  It’s saying seek the values of the kingdom; your knowledge of the future and the values of the future dictate  your actions in the present.  So it is true that verses 3 and 10 of Chapter 5 of Matthew seem to indicate that the kingdom is now but when you keep studying this out what you learn is that the kingdom, other than in Matthew 5:3 and other than Matthew 5:10 is something that’s a future reality.

So I would encourage you when you’re constructing your theology not to build it on a verse or two but to keep reading in the context and see how the context uses the same word in other places.  And I think if you start looking at this the word kingdom is not viewed as a present reality physically, it’s a future reality.

So if that is true then how do I explain the use of the present tense verb, eimi, in Matthew 5:3 and Matthew 5:10?  What in the world is Jesus saying when He’s saying there “is” the kingdom?  Well, this is an example of what’s called the futuristic present.  You say what in the world is that?  Dan Wallace, the Greek grammarian, wrote a big thick book on Greek grammar and he describes the futuristic present as follows, a Dallas Seminary professor.  I had him for a class or two.

He says, ““The present tense” that’s in Greek, “may be used to describe a future event, though. . . . it typically adds connotations of immediacy and certainty….The present tense may describe an event that is wholly subsequent to the time of speaking, although as if it were present.”   [Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament with Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 535-35.]  So sometimes in the Bible what you’ll discover is the Bible will use a past tense or a present tense to describe a future reality to communicate the point that the future reality is certain, it’s going to happen, and it’s imminent, it can happen at any moment.   In fact, it’s so certain and so imminent that the Bible presents it as a present tense reality or uses the present tense verb when in actuality the Bible isn’t actually using the present tense to describe a present reality; it’s  using the present tense to describe the certainty of something.  Does that make any sense?

For example, have  you studied 1 John 2:17 lately?  It says, “1 John 2:17, “The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”  Now “passing away” is the Greek verb paragō, and that verb is in the present tense.  So two thousand  years ago John said the world is passing away, present tense.  He describes the world as passing away in his day and  you might say to yourself well John must have been wrong because two thousand years have passed and the world is still here.  So if the world never passed away in John’s day why did he use the present tense verb to communicate the passing away of the world?  Because in John’s thinking the passing away of this world is so certain that he describes it with the present tense.  See that?

So he’s talking about something completely future but it’s so certain and so immediate that it can happen at any time that John uses the present tense verb.  And that’s all Jesus is doing in Matthew 5, verse 3 and verse 10 when He says, “theirs is” eimi “the kingdom.”   He’s not saying you’re in the kingdom, he’s saying your citizenship in the kingdom is certain, in fact, it’s so certain I can describe it through the present tense verb.  And that’s what Dan Wallace means when he talks about the futuristic present.

So I give you this long quote here from Stanley Toussaint, explaining what I just said.  And Dr. Toussaint, in his commentary on Matthew, called Behold the King: A Study of Matthew, which I highly encourage you to get, I think it’s probably the best Matthew commentary available.

He says, “Those who are to inherit the kingdom are called blessed now because all these things shall be theirs. All of the verbs are future in verses three through ten except two. [According to M’Neile] “The present tense of estin [“is”] must not be pressed:” he says.  What he is saying here, and Toussaint was a Greek scholar, he’s saying don’t make too much of the present tense use of the verb.  All of the kingdom now theologians make a big deal about the present tense of the verb and Toussaint is saying don’t press it.

He says, “The present tense is timeless, and in Aramaic” and he’s bringing up Aramaic here because he believes that was probably the language, one of the languages conversations were spoken in, so biblical writers, biblical characters probably spoke four languages.  One would be Hebrew, the language that most of our Old Testament or Hebrew Bible is recorded in.  Another one would be Aramaic; another one would be Greek, and probably another language they spoke was Latin due to the influence of Rome.  So when you study the crucifixion of Christ and  you study the sign that was put over Christ’s head as He was crucified, the different gospel writers narrate those in different languages.  So one explains it in Greek, one explains it in Aramaic, one explains it in Latin and so forth.  That’s why he’s bringing up Aramaic.

He says, “The present tense is timeless, and in Aramaic” the language probably they were conversing in when those words took place, he says “in Aramaic the connecting verb would not be used. As a potential right, the kingdom is theirs now and always: as an actual possession it is still future,” see that, “as is shown by the verbs in vv. 4–9, which describe various aspects of the bliss.” Here he quotes another scholar who also makes an excellent comment on present tense  Montefiore also makes an excellent comment on the present tense of the copulative. “The present tense of the copula ‘is’ must not be pressed. There would have been no verb in the original. The future tense in the next verses makes it certain that the future is also meant here. The Kingdom is the eschatolog­ical Kingdom: the Kingdom which is to come.” [Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King: A Study of Matthew (Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2005), 96.]

So that’s a lot of scholarly language just to make a simple point that oftentimes Biblical writers describe something with a present tense verb not to communicate a present tense reality but to communicate the certainty of that reality.   I mean, it’s a certain issue that the kingdom is going to come to the earth; it’s a certain reality that the earth is going to dissolve one day.  And in fact, these things are so certain that the Bible describes them sometimes as a present tense.

Let me just give you another example. Romans 8:29-30 tells you that you have already been glorified.  [Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; [30] and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”]   Did you all know that, you’re already glorified?  You guys don’t look very glorified.  I don’t think I look very glorified either.  So why would the Scripture portray our future glory as if it’s already happened?   For a very simple reason; it’s a done deal!  It’s so certain that the biblical writers sometimes use the present tense or sometimes the past tense to describe it.  And that’s all Jesus is doing here when He says theirs is the kingdom.  See that.

Let me give you another example, you might want to hold your finger here in Matthew and turn to Jude.   If you go over to the Book of Jude, remember Jude is the Lord’s half-brother, and look at what he says here about the Lord’s coming.  Jude 14, only one chapter in the Book of Jude, that would only take me about ten years to preach through.  Jude 14 says, “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord’” look at the verb there, “came” see that, “with many thousands of His holy ones.”  Now this is talking about a prophecy that Enoch, way back in the Book of Genesis, we read about Enoch in Genesis 5, he made a prophecy about the Lord’s return.  It’s clearly a second advent passage because it talks about the Lord returning with thousands of His holy ones and yet Enoch, all the way back in the Book of Genesis, as his words are recorded here, says “the Lord came.”

Now here we are in the twenty-first century and the Lord hasn’t come  yet.  So why would Jude and Enoch describe a holy future event with a past tense verb like that?  Well the issue is the coming of the Lord is so certain, just like your glorification is so certain, that the concept yet future can be spoken of as if it’s already happened.  See that?  Because God is outside of time, isn’t He; to God tomorrow is already today, God doesn’t have to wait for His alarm clock to go off tomorrow for it to be tomorrow.  God is outside of time and He can see tomorrow and He can see yesterday and He’s not bound by time so He can describe events in His Word with present tense verbs and past tense verbs even though those events (from our standpoint, from our time zone) haven’t even happened yet.  That’s how the Lord’s coming is described, this is how our glorification is described.

So when Jesus said “theirs is the kingdom” you shouldn’t make too big a deal about the present tense verb because the present tense can be a futuristic present describing something not in terms of factual reality today but in terms of certainty.  See that.  That’s why it’s great to know the Lord, right, and walk with the Lord because the Lord knows what’s around the corner.  I mean, He knows what kind of day you’re going to have tomorrow and He’s already provided the grace thereof. Amen!   Because He’s outside of time.

Another problem with taking “theirs is the kingdom” and trying to make it sound like we’re in the kingdom now is  you’ll notice in Matthew 5:3 the word “kingdom” which is the Greek noun, basileia, is the kingdom defined here when he says “theirs is the kingdom,” verse 3 and verse 10 of Matthew 5 is the kingdom defined?   [Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”   Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”]  No it’s not.

So where do you think we ought to go to develop the meaning of the word “kingdom”?  The Old Testament, particularly since Jesus here is speaking to the Jews who knew the Old Testament and the Sermon on the Mount, and since Matthew’s Gospel was written to… I believe Matthew’s Gospel was probably the earliest gospel, written to Hebrew Christians.  A lot of people will tell you that Mark was the first gospel written; I don’t think that’s true at all.  I think Matthew was the first gospel written and I think that because Matthew is answering a Jewish question—if Jesus is the King where is the kingdom.  And when was the early church Jewish?  At its inception or later on?  Right at the beginning the whole church was Jewish.  You don’t have a Gentile convert until Cornelius and the population of the church really doesn’t start to become Gentile until Paul’s first missionary journey.

So since Matthew is answering a Jewish question doesn’t it make sense that it would be the first gospel written, while the church was still Jewish?  I mean, it doesn’t make any sense to make Mark the first gospel and yet in most seminaries today they’ll tell you Mark was the first gospel.  In fact, one of the members of our youth group goes to a local Christian school and at the women’s fellowship, while we were waiting to serve the tables our youth pastor was doing sort of a pop quiz with our kids on Bible things and all of a sudden out of her mouth came this idea that mark is the first gospel.  And I said who taught you that?  Oh, over at the Christian school I go to they taught us that Mark was the first gospel.  And I said well, you might want to rethink that, and I gave her some of the reasons I’ve been giving you today, and she kind of looked at me and said that’s very interesting.  And that kind of ended the conversation.  But that’s to show you that in Christendom today the majority believe that Mark is the first gospel.  And yet the church for 2,000 years unanimously believed Matthew as the first gospel  This idea that Mark is the first gospel really doesn’t come about until the last century, being developed in Europe  really, under German rationalism and higher criticism.

So Matthew is a Jewish gospel written to Hebrew Christians.  It doesn’t define the word kingdom so when Jesus used the word kingdom, speaking to Jews, He’s expecting them to fill the definition of the word with what had already been revealed where?   In the Hebrew Bible.  And you see, this is not what people are doing today.  They’re coming to the word “kingdom,” basileia and they’re just dumping into it whatever their political philosophy they happen to have.  If you’re a Marxist  you dump Marxism into that.  If you’re into social critical theory you dump social critical theory into it.  And so the kingdom is sort of a buzzword to advance people’s personal agenda.  And what I’m saying here is that’s not how you interpret the Bible.  It’s certainly not how you interpret “kingdom” in the most Jewish gospel that we have, the Gospel of Matthew.

So we have spent forty lessons, haven’t we, developing the Old Testament definition of the kingdom.  I mean, the kingdom is something that will be worldwide; “they will beat their swords into plowshares.”  [Isaiah 2:4, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” KJV]   And it will be headquartered where? Washington D.C.?  NO, in Jerusalem and that is how the kingdom was meant to be understood when Christ said “theirs is the kingdom.”  He’s not saying you’re in the kingdom now; it he were to say that he’d be changing the whole definition. What he’s saying is  your citizenship in the kingdom is absolutely certain; that’s why He describes it with a present tense verb, eimi.

And beyond that, if Jesus set up a spiritual form of the kingdom through the expression, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 4:17, or in the expression “theirs is the kingdom”  Matthew 5:3, Matthew 5:10, if the kingdom has already been set up then what in the world are the disciples offering five chapters later?  [Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”   Matthew 5:3,  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”]

Do you remember these verses, these are very important.  [Matthew 10:5-7]   “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; [6]  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7]  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand ’”  I mean, are these verses that we’re going to quote if we had a missions conference, would we quote these verses here?  A Christ for the nations conference?  We might quote Matthew 28, the great commission, but we don’t quote the offer of the kingdom because this is an offer limited to who?  First century Israel. [Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”]

So when he says “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” He’s not saying the kingdom is here; He’s saying it’s near and if Israel, the chosen nation, the elect nation enthrones the King the kingdom would have come.  So this offer to Israel doesn’t make any sense if Jesus, already in the Sermon on the Mount established a spiritual form of the kingdom.  That’s my point.  So “theirs is the kingdom,”  [Matthew 4:17] how do we understand that?  We have to understand that it is used in the present tense there but its primary usage is in the future tense.  So this would be an example of a futuristic present describing something in the present tense because of its certainty coming one day.  The kingdom is totally undefined here so you can’t dump into the word a spiritual meaning when we’re expected to go into the Old Testament to develop the meaning.  And if a spiritual form of the kingdom was established in Matthew 4, 5, 3, or wherever then why would it be offered to Israel in Matthew 10?  Do you follow me on this?

So passages from Christ’s ministry saying that we’re in the kingdom now… the first one, “the kingdom is at hand,” we dealt with that last week.  The second one, “theirs is the kingdom” we just dealt with that one.  And now if you go one chapter to the right you’ll come to Matthew 6:9-13 which is the so-called Lord’s Prayer.  And if we were to really understand the Lord’s prayer we would completely understand that there’s no way that we could be in the kingdom.  The prayer is structured completely NOT on the basis to argue that we’re in the kingdom now.  In fact, the whole prayer, if we understand it correctly, is a request for the kingdom to come.  If that’s our request then how could it be set up already?

So let’s spend a… I don’t think we’ll finish this this evening but tonight and then next week let’s spend some time talking about the Lord’s prayer, the so-called Lord’s prayer.  And I have here the dispensational and kingdom implications of the Lord’s prayer.  Now you know the Lord’s prayer, right?  You’ve been saying it forever, since you became a Christian.  I was saying it before I was a Christian not even knowing what I was saying but I had it memorized.

Jesus is with His disciples and he says this: [Matthew 6:9] “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  [10] Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, o On earth as it is in heaven.  [11] Give us this day our daily bread.  [12] And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  [13] And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Does that sound familiar at all?  Now let’s make one thing very, very clear before we get into the Lord’s prayer.  This is really not the Lord’s prayer.  The Lord’s prayer is a prayer we would think that Jesus Himself prayed, right?  But Jesus never prayed this prayer.  You say well how do you know that?  Well, there’s a clause in it that says, verse 12, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  Did Jesus have any debts?  Did He have any sins that needed to be forgiven in His life?  NO!  He’s the perfect God-man without sin.  So there’s no way He could have prayed this.

The great Harry Ironside says, “Jesus Himself could not pray for it,” this prayer in other words, “for it includes a request for forgiveness of sins, and He was ever the Sinless One.”  [Henry Allen Ironside, Expository Notes on the Gospel of Mattthew (New York: Loizeaux, 1948), 63.]   So we have completely misnamed this the Lord’s prayer; it is not the Lord’s prayer because Jesus could not have prayed this.  You say well where is the Lord’s prayer then if it’s not here. If you really want to find the Lord’s prayer in the Bible you would study John 17; that is the prayer that Jesus prayed just before He died and then left the earth.

And by the way, in that prayer, John 17, He prayed for you and He prayed for me.  He prayed for Himself and He prayed for His disciples and then He prayed for the church that was about to be birthed on the day of Pentecost.   And the whole John 17 is in red and I don’t like these red letter editions of the Bible because people think well, the red parts are important and everything else is unimportant.  But the last time I checked, “All Scripture is God-breathed,” the whole Bible should be in red.  Now people put in red to identify the words of Christ and so that’s fine but it mistakenly gives people the impression that some parts of the Bible are more important than others.  And that’s not true, the whole Bible is given by God. But it is true the Bible does record some of the words of Christ and in John 17 you’ll see the whole thing in red because that’s the Lord’s prayer.

In Matthew 6 it’s not the Lord’s prayer but it’s His prayer, it’s the disciple’s prayer, He’s teaching them how to pray in other words.   Now the Lord’s prayer, can I stop calling it that, can I call it the disciple’s prayer… you guys with me on that?  You guys  won’t pick up stones and stone me to death if I do that?  The disciple’s prayer is found in Matthew’s Gospel.  Matthew’s Gospel revolves around three purposes.  So therefore the disciple’s prayer found in that Gospel has to revolve around those three purposes.

So what is the purpose of Matthew’s Gospel.  Remember it’s the first Gospel written to Hebrew Christians.  It has three purposes. Everything in Matthew’s Gospel can be explained in light of these three purposes.  Number 1, Matthew’s Gospel was written to explain that the Jesus in whom they (the Hebrew Christians) had believed in was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah because to all of these Jews that had gotten saved, you don’t even have a Gentile saved yet until Cornelius, and they’re sitting around wondering well, if Jesus is the King then where is His what?  Kingdom! So king and kingdom are like horse and carriage, they are supposed to come together.  That’s what the Old Testament said.  So they’re starting to doubt, man, maybe we believed in the wrong guy, maybe this isn’t the Jewish Messiah.

So the first purpose of Matthew’s Gospel is to explain that Jesus, in whom they had believed in, was the long-awaited Messiah.  Then it’s to explain to them why the kingdom had been postponed, despite the fact that the King had arrived.  Matthew is answering a question that a Hebrew Christian is wrestling with.  And you can’t understand Matthew’s Gospel until you think like a Jewish person.  A Jewish person who is now saved is wondering if Christ is the King where is the kingdom, and maybe I have believed in the wrong guy, the kingdom is not here.  So Matthew is written to explain that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.  That’s why it gives the genealogy in Matthew 1, and His miracles and His fulfillment of prophecy.  And then it goes on and explains that the kingdom had not been cancelled but what?  Postponed, despite the fact that the King had arrived.  Now why had it been postponed?  Because national Israel had done what with Jesus?  Rejected Him.  The coming of the kingdom is dependent upon the response of the nation’s leaders to their King.  The nation’s leaders had rejected their king, a remnant had believed, and so the kingdom was not cancelled but it was in a state of postponement.

Then the issue becomes well, if we’re not in the kingdom now then what is God doing today?   So Matthew takes it to a third level and he says his third purpose is to explain the interim program of God during the kingdom’s absence.  That’s why he lays out the interadvent age in the form of eight parables that we’ve studied, Matthew 13, and that’s why he starts talking about, in Matthew 16:18, I will build my…” it starts with a “c”, “church.”   Church?  What’s that?  That’s the interim program of God; that’s us while the kingdom is not here.  So everything that happens in Matthew’s Gospel is going to relate to one, two or three of these purposes, to explain that Jesus, in whom they had believed in was the long awaited Messiah, to explain why the kingdom had been postponed despite the fact that the King had arrived, and to explain the interim program of God during the kingdom’s absence.

So if that is what Matthew’s Gospel is all about then the prayer of the disciples, that He taught them to pray in Matthew 6, has to relate to those three purposes.  See that?  So as you try to fit the disciple’s prayer into Matthew’s purposes in writing suddenly the disciple’s prayer starts to make sense.   Dr. Toussaint says,  “The sample prayer, it can be concluded, is given in the context of the coming kingdom.”  Now do you want to understand this prayer?  You have to understand there’s six clauses in it, six requests.  The first three requests is part one, the second three requests is part two.  The first three requests are petitions for the coming of the kingdom, there basically are synonyms, same meaning, different word, all requests for the kingdom to come.  The last three are for the needs of the disciples in the interim preceding the establishment of the kingdom.”  [Behold the King: A Study of Matthew (Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2005), 112.]

So requests one, two and three are different ways of praying for the kingdom to come.  The second set of requests is since the kingdom is not here right now I’ve got three needs so I’m asking God to fulfill those needs, to meet those needs, while the kingdom is not here, because once the kingdom comes am I going to have those needs any more?  No, I won’t have those needs any more.

Now this to me was very earthshaking and eye opening because for years and years and  years I have followed the A.C.T.S. method, not the Book of Acts, but A.C.T.S   I had thought that this prayer was about “A” stands for adoration, you get in the presence of the Lord and  you adore Him and you say “Hallowed be Thy name” and things like that.  The “C” in the Book of Acts is confession so you get before the Lord and first you adore Him and then  you confess  your sins.  And then the “T” in the Book of Acts is thanksgiving, thanking God for things.  And then the “S” in, not the Book of Acts but the pneumonic A.C.T.S. is supplication, you’re asking God to meet a need in your life.  So Adore, Confess, Thanksgiving, Supplication, and for most of my Christian life, until I got under Dr. Toussaint, who started explaining these things to me, I was running this prayer through that grid.  Now has anybody else ever done that or am I the only one, followed the A.C.T.S. model.  See, it’s very, very common, people do this all the time and they don’t really understand what this prayer is.

The prayer, clauses 1, 2 and 3 are for the kingdom to come.  The last set of requests,4, 5, and 6 are for needs that we have now while the kingdom is in postponement, because once the kingdom comes we won’t have those needs any more.   And see, that prayer fits beautifully, the way Jesus taught them to pray here, with Matthew’s purpose in writing. Right?   And that’s one of the things you want to do when you go through any book of the Bible, you want to figure out what is the purpose of this book and how do the different paragraphs relate to the overall purpose?

So this is Dr. Toussaint’s outline, the prayer, as follows: Verses 9 and 10 are requests for the kingdom to come, “Hallowed be Thy name” is a request for the kingdom to come as I’ll show you.  “Your Kingdom Come” is a bold expression for the kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven” is another expression for the kingdom to come.  But until the kingdom comes I’ve got three needs; one physical and two spiritual.  So once the kingdom comes prosperity will break out all over the earth but is that what’s happening today?  I mean, we have a lot of prosperity in the United States but worldwide there’s famines, there’s starvation, and that’s because we’re not in the kingdom now.  So I have a need for my basic needs to be met through the use of the expression “daily bread” that I’m to pray to God while the kingdom is not here.  That’s verse 11.

And then do you guys ever get mad at people?  Do you ever hold grudges?  Not this group, maybe some of the online folks do that, certainly not us. What does that do to you when you hold a grudge and harbor anger towards people?  Does that make  you unsaved?  No, you’re as saved now as you’ll always be but what it does is it damages your fellowship with God.  It damages your moment by moment enjoyment with God.  So as long as I’m living in this fallen body I can go back to the sin nature and I can harbor animosity towards people, I can treat people, at least in my mind, with justice even though God has treated me with grace.

So my spiritual need, verse 12, is to forgive, ask God to forgive me as I forgive other people.  That doesn’t get you saved, that restores fellowship with God.  It’s like a marriage.  If I do something to offend my wife we’re still married. Right?  She’s sitting out there saying maybe not!  [Laughter]  I mean positionally we’re still husband and wife but the sin has damaged my moment by moment fellowship with her, enjoyment of her. That’s hindered; see that?  That’s what unconfessed sin does and so part of this prayer is that we ask God to forgive us as we have forgiven others.

And then in the kingdom Satan is going to be bound. Amen.  Is he bound right now?   He’s not bound right now, he’s the prince and power of the air.  So the last part of the prayer is we need to be praying for deliverance from evil; I think the better translation, as I’ll show you, is deliverance from the evil one.  And by the way, don’t waste your time in your prayer life binding Satan; people do this all the time, “I bind Satan,” that’s not a biblically informed prayer because Satan is not going to be bound until the beginning of the millennial kingdom, Revelation 20:2-3.  [Revelation 10:2, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; [3] and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”]   So I’m not wasting my time binding Satan.  What I can pray for is protection from him, that God would protect me from his evil devices.  Do you see the structure of the prayer?

So let’s start off with the first part of it, clauses 1, 2 and 3, requests 1, 2 and 3.  These are basically requests for the kingdom to come.  So you notice how the prayer begins, “Pray then in this way, ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”  Now “name” is the person of Christ or God and “hallowed” means reverence or respect.  So what are you praying for in request one?  You’re praying for the time in history to arrive when His name will be respected all over the earth.  Is that happening today?   Obviously not, based on a news report I just read, someone at GQ Magazine, not that I’m a regular subscriber or reader, basically says the Bible is a ridiculous book and anybody that believes it is just dumb and stupid because the Bible is filled with silly things.   A major magazine now says that.

And in the State of California, if you followed this, they’re now passing laws to ban the sale of the Bible.  Yes,  you heard me correctly, and basically it relates to all this same sex agenda stuff that they’re pushing all the time.  And so they’re banning any book that would tell people to change their sexual orientation.  Now wouldn’t that include the Bible?  Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, so everybody is saying conceivably the way this law is written, and it’s going to pass overwhelmingly through the assembly, which is one party controlled, super majorities of the Democratic party in all the committees, Upper Chamber, Lower Chamber, Jerry Brown… do you think Jerry Brown will veto a bill like this?  Jerry Brown, he’s like a reincarnation from a nightmare, I mean, he was the governor when I was a little kid, now he’s back in there, and what in the world is going on.  But anyway, this bill is making its way through and there are several others where they’re going to start policing home schooling because we all know home schoolers are abusers… right?   We’ve got to unleash an army of bureaucrats to spy on the home school parents, even though the home school kids score way better on national tests than those in public schools (they don’t tell you that part).  Anyway, I need to stop talking, I’m going to start talking politics here.  My point is we’re living in a world where God’s name is not respected at all.  Just turn on TV.

So this prayer is to pray for the time in history when God’s name will be respected.  Now when do you think that’s going to happen?  In the kingdom, because you interpret an expression like this by the Old Testament.  And Isaiah 29:23 talks about the manifestation of the kingdom on the earth and it says this:  “But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, They will sanctify My” what? “name; [Indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob And will stand in awe of the God of Israel.]”  When the kingdom comes God’s name is going to be respected again, all over the earth.

Another Old Testament passage that reveals the same thing as the famous Ezekiel 36 passage, the regathering of Israel in the last days and the coming forth of the kingdom, God says when all these things are accomplished I will vindicate the holiness of My great name.  [Ezekiel 26:33, “I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.”]

So when Jesus, a Jew, is talking to Jewish disciples and He’s saying pray “Hallowed be Thy name” they would automatically interpret that as pray for the manifestation of the what?  The kingdom.  So the first part of the prayer is “Hallowed Be Your name,” that’s a roundabout way of saying pray for the coming of the kingdom.   The second petition in the prayer, verse 10, is the most obvious because it says we should also pray “Thy” or “Your kingdom come.”  Now is the word “kingdom” here defined?   Yes or no?  NO!  So how do you think we should define it?  By the Old Testament because this is a Jew speaking to Jews who know the Old Testament; this is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, the most Hebrew of the Gospels which we have, our first Gospel, and the Old Testament lays out what the kingdom is.   And we’ve walked through that in detail, haven’t we?

The kingdom is a time period when Jerusalem will be the center or worldwide spiritual and political authority; it’ll be a time of perfect justice, world peace, they will beat their swords into plowshares, there’ll be peace in the animal kingdom, you’ll be able to stick your hand in the cobra’s nest, or your child or your grandchild will go out back and put their hand in a cobra’s nest with no fear of harm.  And the earth will be filled with the universal knowledge of the Lord.  It’s the smiting stone that we’ve studied in the Book of Daniel that will shatter the antichrist’s empire in a nanosecond.

And this is why our doctrinal statement, whether it be the College of Biblical Studies that I used to work for or Dallas Seminary, or Sugar Land Bible Church, all of these doctrinal statements under­stand this because they’ve placed the kingdom in the what?  In the future, because they’re, at least these doctrinal statements were written, now whether people working at these schools respect the doctrinal statement is a different discussion.  But at least the founders of all of these doctrinal statements understood what I’m saying here, that the kingdom is future, because you can’t just fill it up with your own idea what the kingdom is, you have to pay attention to what it says in the Old Testament which pushes it into the future.

Toussaint criticizes those who with platonic concepts subjectively spiritualize the future aspect of the kingdom of God in Christ’s teaching.  Let me just conclude here with this quote by Ed Glasscock, another really good Matthew commentary you ought to think about adding to your library.  He says, “It should be remembered that Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray, and the petitioning for God to bring about His kingdom certainly indicates that the world in which we live is not yet under His rule.”  Amen.  “Jesus introduced the kingdom at His appearing (cf. Matthew 4:17) but was rejected by His own people who chose to have Caesar as their king (John 19:15). He was not declaring that the kingdom would come in the hearts of His servants but that it would exercise dominion over the whole earth (). Thus, even though He was the Messiah and brought the promise of the kingdom to the nation, the kingdom is still expressed in eschatological terms, “let it come,” because it is not yet realized in human history since the Messiah was rejected and killed.”  [Matthew, Moody Gospel Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1997), 147.]

I mean, how in the world could the kingdom be here when the nation not only rejected Jesus but turned Him over to the Romans for execution, and said we will not have this man reign over us.  So when we are to pray we are basically praying for the kingdom to come.  “Hallowed be Your name,” you’re praying for the time in history for the kingdom to materialize when God’s name will be respected.  And then the second request is “Thy kingdom come,” not defining “kingdom” by any other definition other than the Old Testament.

And then the next time we’re together I’ll share with you the rest of these clauses; clause 3, what does it mean when he says “on earth as it is in heaven”?  That’s another roundabout way of saying the kingdom, a desire for the kingdom to come.  And while the kingdom is not here I’ve got three needs, one physical, two spiritual, and so we’ll fill those in next time.   So look at that, I’ve stopped right at 8:00 o’clock.