The Coming Kingdom
5-23-18 Matthew 12:28 Lesson 47
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to Matthew 12 and verse 28 as we finish the last study, I mean we’re not finished with studying the kingdom, we’ll pick it up in the fall, but the last study before summer recess. Continuing on in chapter 16 of the book I wrote so believe it or not we’re more than two-thirds through. This study is not going to go a thousand years like the millennial kingdom, at least I hope not.
Part one was what does the Bible say about the kingdom. And we walked through that very carefully from the Garden of Eden all the way into the eternal state, including what God is doing today. And we saw that the kingdom today is not cancelled but postponed. And of course most people in church history and most people today, by way of denominational affiliation really won’t teach it that way, they’ll say that the kingdom is now and the kingdom started; they usually start it in spiritual form with the ministry of Christ. And so we talked about a couple of reasons why that doesn’t work. Basically to argue for a spiritual form of the kingdom today in any shape or form you have to change what the Old Testament has revealed concerning the kingdom, which is always terrestrial and it always concerns the nation of Israel.
So if all of that is true that takes us into part three, why do some people believe that we are in the kingdom now? And we’re kind of in a section of our study where we’re going to go through various New Testament passages that people will use to argue for a present spiritual form of the kingdom. We have started by looking at passages from the ministry of Jesus.
We’ve looked at how they use Matthew 3:2, “the kingdom is at hand.” [Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”] And really we said that what that means is not that the kingdom is here but the kingdom is near. It was an opportunity for Israel to receive the kingdom had they enthroned the King.
And then we looked at the passages in the Sermon on the Mount which says “theirs is the kingdom.” [Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”] And basically there we indicated that “is” is in the present tense but that’s not indicating the kingdom is here; it’s indicating it’s certainty. So that’s an example of the futuristic present that we talked about.
And then from there we looked at the so called Lord’s Prayer, really the disciple’s prayer and when you look at that it has about six clauses in it, three clauses where we’re told to pray for the coming of the kingdom and then three more clauses or requests for our needs to be met while the kingdom is postponed. So we looked at that prayer very, very carefully and obviously if that’s what Jesus is saying He couldn’t have started the kingdom in His earthly ministry.
And from there we took a look at the expression “seek ye first the kingdom” and people use that to say we’re in the kingdom but we talked about how what that really means is we need to align our lives with kingdom realities or priorities because we are sons of the kingdom or ambassadors of the kingdom. So the future, a knowledge of the future should dictate how we live in the present. Amen! That’s all that’s saying.
And from there we looked at this little phrase “the kingdom suffers violence until now” and people say well, if the kingdom was suffering violence in Matthew 11:12 that means the kingdom must have been present. [Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”] But we talked about how when you look at other biblical passages on it it’s really not talking about the kingdom’s arrival but its proclamation; it was being preached; it’s nearness was being preached. And that’s really what’s being resisted. None of these passages, when you look at them specifically reveal that the kingdom is now here.
From that we looked at the passage that Jesus says “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” [Luke 10:18, “And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”] And people think that means he fell right then and there in the earthly ministry of Christ. And last week we tried to make the case that that passage is not saying that, what it’s saying is Jesus was contemplating the past fall of Satan, in eternity past and He was using that fall as a basis for teaching the disciples certain life lessons.
Tonight we come to this verse, Matthew 12:28 and then we’ll be getting to our next lesson, which will be in the fall, Luke 17:20-21 and these two verses, this one that we’re going to look at tonight and then Luke 17 are probably the two most quoted passages that people refer to when they’re trying to argue that we are in the kingdom now. [Matthew 12:28, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Luke 17:20-21, “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed;  nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”]
So take a look, if you could, at the first of those, it’s Matthew 12:28. It’s a very pivotal chapter in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus has performed an exorcism and the Pharisees have committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit meaning nationally the first century Israel rejected Christ. And there’s a lot going on here in Matthew 12 so this is sort of the pivot; it’s at this point the kingdom stops being offered to Israel because of the hardness of the hearts of their religious leaders. And they’re trying to discredit Christ, they’re trying to say He’s casting out demons by Satan’s power, He’s refuting them and in the process of all this stuff going on (it’s a heavy duty chapter) Jesus makes this statement? “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God,” in other words, He’s saying I’m not casting out demons by Satan’s power, I’m doing it by the Spirit of God, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God then the kingdom has come upon you.”
So what people will do is they’ll just grab that verse, “the kingdom has come upon you” and they say well there it is, it’s right there in the Bible, Jesus established a spiritual form of the kingdom in His earthly ministry in the first century. And what I would like to communicate, and by the way, when you cross reference Matthew 12:28 with Luke 11:20 it says the same thing; Luke is recording the same story. And Christ also, in Luke 11:20 says the kingdom has come upon you. So people love to quote these verses.
What I would like to communicate is this statement that Jesus makes here, “the kingdom of God has come upon you” can be understood in the offer of the kingdom framework that we’ve already developed and explained earlier in this series. And what I mean by that is John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the twelve apostles and the seventy all said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” These passages, just like Matthew 12:28, are not teaching the breaking in of the kingdom into our world, as many interpret them. A lot of people say the kingdom has broken in, the kingdom is here in miniscule form, these kinds of things, Jesus inaugurated the kingdom, the kingdom promises were realized. And I don’t think any of that is what it’s talking about.
I believe that what is being revealed here is what I would call the tokens of the kingdom. In other words, what Jesus is doing with these various miracles is He’s showing them what life will be like in the kingdom, what life could be like for the whole nation of Israel and therefore the whole world if Israel had simply responded to their king. In other words, the miracles that He’s doing here He’s not inaugurating the kingdom, He’s basically saying here are the kinds of things that you can expect on a worldwide scale if Israel meets her conditions and enthrones Me as their King.
So for example, in Matthew 17:1-8, I’m not sure we’ll have time to read it all, but that’s the famous transfiguration of Jesus Christ. [Matthew 17:1-8, “ Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.  And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”  When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.  And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.”  And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.”]
Jesus transfigures Himself. He shows what He is like in His glorified state and He’s there with two prophets. Anybody know who those two prophets were? Moses and Elijah. So what is that right there? Is that the kingdom? No, that’s what you call a token of the kingdom. This kind of thing that you’re seeing could be a reality for the whole nation and it could also be a reality for the whole world if the nation will simply enthrone Me as their King.
So the nation of Israel had a basic responsibility under the Mosaic Covenant; this is as old as Moses, the Law giver, who gave to Israel the Mosaic Covenant. He was God’s instrument to give to Israel the Mosaic Covenant. There’s a provision in it that says this: “You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses.” [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.”] That’s always been Israel’s responsibility. And frankly, the nation of Israel has done a lousy job with that one. Don’t you think? I love the Jewish people and respect the Jewish people but as of yet they’ve never really gotten that one right. I mean, right out of the gate they didn’t get it right, they wanted this guy, Saul, to reign over them. And they should have known better because the kings are supposed to come from which tribe? Judah; Saul was from Benjamin, that should have ruled out his resume right out of the gate but they wanted him.
And you have this pattern of Israel over and over again submitting to the wrong kings and that goes right into the life of Christ, the ministry of Christ where you have Jesus who is the heir to the Davidic throne as Matthew carefully documents in his genealogy in Matthew 1. I mean, it’s right there in their midst, the miracles that He’s doing could have been a reality for the whole nation and the world but they wouldn’t submit to Him as their King. And so consequently the kingdom is postponed.
So because Israel never submitted to their King the kingdom never came. See that? What did come is the tokens of the kingdom, through Christ’s miracles. What the kingdom can and will be like on a national scale, on a global scale, if Israel fulfills their responsibility in Deuteronomy 17:15. So the whole arrival of the kingdom is totally contingent upon the elect nation’s responsibility to fulfill their obligation, which thus far they have never done. So that’s why today as we speak, in the year 2018, the kingdom is not present.
And I sort of like to interpret Matthew 12:28 through the lens of Hebrews 6:5 where the author of the Book of Hebrews, now we don’t know who the author was, some people think it was Paul but nobody knows, my wife likes to quote Hebrews when she wants me to make coffee in the morning, that’s her biblical basis, she says it says he brews not she brews! [Laughter] But the author of Hebrews writes to the audience, who are believers, and says “you have tasted of the Word of God,” now watch this, “of the powers of the age” what? “to come.” So they and those that shared the gospel with them had received, some of them, from the ministry of Christ when He was there and they had seen these tokens of the kingdom. The miracles that He did was not the kingdom but it was a token or a taste of the age to come.
Arthur Pink, who I love, in Matthew 13, and I have to give a caveat here because Arthur Pink kind of went off the rails as he got older, which happens to people, he ended up moving into a really aggressive form of Calvinism and he ended up rejecting the dispensational view that he promoted early on. But early on Arthur Pink’s stuff is really good and I haven’t found anything better by anybody on the Matthew 13 parables than what Arthur Pink says. But when you use A. W. Pink’s work you’ve got to be careful concerning what time period you’re quoting him from. There’s a time period where he was really good, other time periods when he was off the wall. It’s kind of like quoting Thomas Jefferson; there are times in Thomas Jefferson’s life that he makes really biblical Bible based statements. I mean, you would think the guy is saved. But then there are other times in his life when he’s saying things that are kind of off the wall and denying the fundamentals of Christianity and so when you use Thomas Jefferson as a source you’ve got to reveal what time period of his life you’re quoting him.
I think I have a footnote in the book somewhere explaining Arthur Pink and why he should be used selectively. But Arthur Pink says something really good here. He says, “Both the signs” that’s the miracles of Christ, such as in Matthew 11, Matthew 16, “and the powers of the kingdom, Hebrews 2, Hebrews 6,” and then he says “the Messianic earthly one” meaning the future kingdom, it’s future because it was never received by the nation of Israel, “were displayed by Christ.” So the powers of the age to come, what the kingdom could be like on a global, first a national then a global scale is what we mean by the tokens of the kingdom.
So Jesus, in Matthew 12:28, when He does these miracles and says the kingdom has come upon you is not talking about the inauguration of the kingdom; he’s talking about what I would say are the tokens of the kingdom. See that? And one of the gentleman that I quote in chapter 16 is Dr. Toussaint, who I think probably (he’s with the Lord now) but he probably understood the doctrine of the kingdom better than any human being that’s ever lived, in my estimation. And he reviews the offer of the kingdom framework that we’ve been describing and he gives eight proofs for the offer of the kingdom, because what people are saying is well Jesus didn’t offer a kingdom, all He did was come in, in the first century, and start the kingdom. And what we’re saying is that’s not what Jesus did at all; He offered it to Israel and Israel turned it down, leading to its current postponement.
So why would we think we’re right with this offer of the kingdom viewpoint? And Toussaint gives eight reasons, and let me take you through those very quickly. The first reason is because contingency, where a benefit is conferred upon an offeree,( if the offeree receives the offer, that’s what I mean by contingency), contingency is something that is very common in the Old Testament, very common! For example, you remember when it was, I think it was Jeroboam that bolted with the ten northern kings and you remember, this is right after the reign of Solomon, when the kingdom was no longer united but divided between north and south, and remember the prophet, I think it was Ahijah, if I remember right, showed up and spoke to Jeroboam.
Have you read recently what Ahijah said to Jeroboam? He said, “Then it will be that if” see the contingency there, “if you listen to all that I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my sight by observing my statutes and my commandments as my servant David did, then,” see the ‘if” and “then”? That’s contingency, “…then I will be with you and build an enduring house as I built for David and I will give Israel to you.” And this is God through Ahijah basically promising to bless the northern rebellious tribes that bolted; if they walk as David walked then God promised to bless them. And that’s the northern kingdom.
So you see if/then language right then and there and that’s contingency, isn’t it? I mean, we understand contingency as New Testament Christians because the offer of salvation is given to us but whether we receive the benefits of that or not is dependent upon our response to the offer. So God is a God of contingency where benefits are contingent to the offeree if the offeree responds the right way. And what I’m trying to say is that’s all Jesus is doing in Matthew 12 is contingency.
But contingency is very well established in the Old Testament. Or you have contingency built into the messages of many of the Old Testament prophets. Jeremiah 18:7-10 says, “At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it;” that’s Jeremiah speaking.  “But if” see the contingency there, “if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.  Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it;  if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.” So what you have in the message of many of the prophets is the idea of contingency.
For example, you have the prophet, Jonah, who went to Nineveh (reluctantly remember), and what did he say there? How many days was it? It was forty days wasn’t it? “forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” [Jonah 3:4, “Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”] Well guess what? That prophecy was never fulfilled; Nineveh wasn’t overthrown in forty days. Why not? Well, there was a built-in contingency into Jonah’s offer. So you have to sort of interpret Jonah through what the contingency is as revealed in the prophet Jeremiah. Nineveh did fulfill its contingency and consequently God relented. But you see, this is the whole subject of contingency, if/then, if/then, if/then, and this is very common in the Old Testament. And this is all Jesus is doing here in Matthew 12.
The second reason why the offer of the kingdom idea is valid is because of Israel’s Mosaic Covenant. God gave to the nation of Israel, in the Mosaic Covenant and in the Mosaic Law according to Psalm 147:19-20, a legislative system only for Israel. [Psalm 147:19, “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.  He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the LORD!”] And it’s what you call a Suzerain Vassal treaty. It’s well known from the archeological discoveries we have received from that time period that God was using a well-known covenant structure called Suzerain Vassal. Suzerain, just remember S–superior, Vassal—inferior. It’s where a Suzerain or vassal comes to an inferior and says if you obey, if you enter into this covenant with me and obey the covenant text then I will bless you. If you disobey me we’re still in a covenantal relationship with each other but I will bring forth curses on you. And this was very common in the Ancient Near East and that’s basically what God gave to the nation of Israel.
And in that Suzerain Vassal structure is if/then language, isn’t there? Contingency is there. Exodus 19:5-6, “‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then” see that? “you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;  and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”] So when Jesus shows up to the nation of Israel in the first century and offers them Himself as King He is just the embodiment or fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant, the Suzerain Vassal Treaty. The Mosaic Covenant points towards Christ ultimately. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see contingency in Matthew 12, that’s what Israel’s whole covenantal structure is, going back to the time of Moses.
There’s a third reason that Dr. Toussaint gives for the offer of the kingdom framework, and this is the idea that the offer, as you study it carefully, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is confined to Israel. John the Baptist preaches it, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2. [Matthew 3:1, “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,  ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”]
Jesus preaches it, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Matthew 4:17. Then He sends out the twelve to preach it and when He sends out the twelve did you notice what He says to the twelve? “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles,” you see that, “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.’”[Matthew 10:5-7] Now are we going to quote this at a missions conference? Christ for the nations mission conference? I don’t think we would quote this verse because Jesus specifically says you don’t go to the nations with this one. Now the offer of the gospel, which is in Matthew 28, after Israel rejected it and after it’s clear that the church is going to be formed, that’s a global gospel. But not this offer of the kingdom.
A lot of people are trying to argue that “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is Jesus showing up and starting the kingdom. For who? for the whole world. Well if that’s true then why was that offer only given to Israel? That doesn’t make any sense. And Kingdom Now theologians will rarely draw your attention to Matthew 10:5-7 but when you look at it very carefully this is a specific offer for the nation only because whether the kingdom is going to come or not is totally dependent upon what tiny Israel is going to do with the offer. And once they reject it, as I’ll mention in just a moment, this offer is taken off the table.
There is a fourth reason why the offer of the kingdom framework is valid and you find contingency in Christ’s own teachings. If you look at Matthew 11:14 He makes this very interesting statement concerning the prophet Elijah. In fact at the end of the Old Testament, in the Book of Malachi, chapter 4 around verses 5-6 there’s a prophecy that Elijah is going to come in the last days. In fact, devout Jewish homes set out what they call Elijah’s chair today because they believe Malachi 4:5-6 is literal and Elijah is going to show up. [Malachi 4:5, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.  He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”]
And then Jesus, concerning John the Baptist, says something very interesting in Matthew 11:14, He says, “And if you” now who’s the “you”? It’s Israel. “If you are willing to accept it, John” that’s John the Baptist, “himself is Elijah who was to come.” See the contingency there? He says “if you, “Israel, respond to this contingency and the offer of the kingdom, John the Baptist could very well be, and he will be, the fulfillment of Malachi 4. But we know that the nation of Israel rejected the offer so John the Baptist was not the fulfillment of Malachi 4. So how in the world is Malachi 4 going to be fulfilled? Ah, the Book of Revelation, chapter 11, where you have two witnesses, one of whom shuts up the heavens for three and a half years so that it can’t rain, in the Book of Revelation. Does that sound like anybody that you know of in the Old Testament? That sounds a lot like Elijah to me. 1 Kings 17 and other passages.
So we know that the Malachi 4, 5 and 6 is going to be fulfilled with a future generation that will respond to the offer of the kingdom. And John the Baptist could have very well been the fulfillment of Malachi 4 had the nation of Israel responded. And the if/then language is very clear that you’re dealing with a contingency here that’s on the table. In fact, Dr. Toussaint, my mentor on this subject, of Matthew 11:14 says concerning Matthew 11:14, “There is scarcely a passage in Scripture which shows more clearly that the kingdom was being offered to Israel at this time. Its coming was contingent upon one thing: Israel receiving it by genuine repentance.” [Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King: A Study of Matthew (Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2005), 153.]
That’s what holds it up today, that’s what will bring it to the earth in the future, that’s why it wasn’t set up in the first century. And you see, when people quote to you Matthew 12:28 “the kingdom of God has come upon you” and say the kingdom started in the first century of Christ, they don’t give you any of this background that I’m giving you. They don’t explain the offer of the kingdom, they don’t explain what that means, they don’t explain why it’s a valid concept, they just want you to read Matthew 12:28, ignore all this other stuff… or it’s not even brought to your attention and wallah, we’re in the kingdom. But I’m saying the issue if far more complicated than that; there’s an obvious contingency going on in Matthew’s Gospel which was rejected by the nation of Israel leading to the kingdom’s postponement.
The fifth reason why the offer of the kingdom framework is valid is because there is a cessation or ceasing of the announcement, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” there’s a cessation of it after Matthew 12. Once you get into Matthew 12:24 and it’s very clear that the leaders… you see, God deals with the nation based on its leaders, it’s the leaders that are going to make the decision for the direction the nation is going to go. That’s why the Bible says when the righteous rule the people rejoice; when the wicked rule the people what? look and groan. [Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.”]
Are you doing more groaning or rejoicing in our country? Well, there’s a biblical reason for that, “When the righteous” are in authority “the people rejoice.” When the wicked rule the “people groan.” And it’s the same within the nation of Israel. What happens to the kingdom is contingent upon the response of the leaders. God deals with leaders. Adam sinned, we all fell, right? Because he’s our federal head. So God is very into leaders and what they do. And the leaders are going to have to make a decision what to do with the king here in the first century. And they had a golden opportunity to enthrone the king and they turned the offer down and once they turned the offer down Matthew 12:24, where they attribute His miracles to Beelzebub, I mean, once they do that it’s pretty obvious which direction the leaders are going to go. What you’ll discover is the offer disappears from Matthew’s Gospel. [Matthew 12:24, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.’]
I mean, it’s there in early Matthew, Matthew 3:2, you’ll see it; Matthew 4:17 you’ll see it; Matthew 4:23, it’s called the gospel of the kingdom, it’s there. It’s there as Jesus is sending out the twelve, Matthew 10:5-7, and you get to Matthew 12 you see this rejection, something that’s called the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” where it’s now irreversible for first century Israel, the offer is withdrawn. [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 4:23, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” 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;  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.’”]
The offer is not there anymore. You’re not going to find it in chapter 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. What’s Jesus doing in that section? He’s revealing a new man called the church, “I will build My” what? “church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” [Matthew 16:18] He’s training the twelve, who are going to be the foundation stones of that church. Well what happened to the offer of the kingdom? It got turned down and the reason we know it got turned down is because the offer disappears in latter Matthew. Why does it disappear? Because it got taken off the table at that point. And I know that to be true because you have the cessation of the announcement of the kingdom and the nearness of the kingdom after the leaders of the nation in Matthew12 reject the offer.
So you can take Matthew’s Gospel and structure it chiastically; now you, if you were with us in the Daniel study you know what chiasms are, right? It’s called a chiasm because it sort of looks like a part of an X which is Chi in Greek, so we get this literary pattern, chiasm, where chapters 1 and 2 parallel the theme in chapter 28. Then you move inward in the chiasm, chapters 3 and 4 parallel a theme in chapters 26 and 27. Chapters 5-7 parallel a theme in Matthew 24 and 25. You keep working your way inward, inward, inward, and the middle of it is the turning point and you can take the whole Gospel of Mark and you can structure it like this as well. In fact, I would argue the whole Book of Esther is structured like this. And of course, Daniel 2-7 is structured like this.
So the most inner part of the chiasm is the turning point, so when you look at Matthew’s Gospel chiastically what’s the inner point of the chiasm? It’s chapters 11 and 12 where the nation is going to reject the King. Once that happens the die is cast, we’re now at a turning point and from that point on the offer is withdrawn. And if you know your Old Testament pretty well then you’ll know that this happens a lot for the nation. For example, do you recall the folks that came out of Egypt and saw all the signs and wonders in Exodus and got to the northern border there, of the nation of Israel, to a place called Kadesh-barnea, Numbers 13 and 14, and they looked into the land and what did they see in the land? Giants! And instead of saying well, if God did all this other stuff for us He’s going to help us with these giants. But they didn’t walk by faith, they went into fear and once that happened God shut the door on that whole generation. He says none of you will enter except for Joshua and Caleb and you’re going to enter forty years later as senior citizens with the kids.
So this idea where a nation rejects what God is doing and an offer is withdrawn, this is not some new teaching here, Matthew is writing to a Hebrew Christian audience, they would know all this, going back to Kadesh-barnea and Numbers 13 and 14. So the offer of the kingdom is withdrawn, just like the opportunity to enter the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey, was withdrawn for that generation. That’s what’s happening here in Matthew 12.
And then, a sixth reason why this offer of the kingdom framework is legitimate, as a legitimate way of interpreting the Bible, is because the moment the offer is rejected and withdrawn what does Jesus start talking about? He starts announcing the judgment on that generation that rejected the offer. You say well, what is He doing? He’s going back to Deuteronomy 28, blessings for obedience, Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and then what’s Deuteronomy 28:15-68 about? Curses for disobedience. You can’t have the blessings without the curses Israel because this is part of your covenant that God gave to you all the way back in Mount Sinai, which is still in effect when Jesus was walking the earth. And so once the offer is withdrawn the kingdom is no longer at hand but now the discipline of the Mosaic Covenant, which is very severe, starts to get highlighted in the ministry of Christ.
This was predicted by the prophet Daniel, and you guys know these verses, right, the seventy weeks? We spent seventy weeks teaching the seventy weeks prophecy, so we won’t re-teach it but you might recall verse 26, “Then after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come like a flood….” What is he alluding to? The cycles of discipline announced in the Mosaic Covenant, going back to Mount Sinai and Moses. And so Jesus starts saying things like this: [Matthew 23:35] “so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  Truly I tell you, all these things will come upon” who? “this generation.” Which generation? The Matthew 12 generation, first century Israel that turned down the offer.
And then you have Luke 19:42 where Jesus says, and this is His triumphal entry, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.  For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,  and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” That’s talking about what the Romans would do to the Jews in A.D. 70, about four decades after Jesus made this statement. Why is Jesus talking like this? All Jesus is doing is reemphasizing what Moses said would happen in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. So what you see in the ministry of Christ is the offer of the kingdom stops, number five, and then number six He starts immediately announcing judgment.
And then the seventh of eight reasons why this offer of the kingdom framework is legitimate is because now what you start seeing is a postponement of the kingdom announced in Christ’s parables. It’s now we start learning that the kingdom is not cancelled but it’s postponed. So remember what all of these guys announced in early Matthew? The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Then the offer is turned down, Matthew 12. Jesus early on was saying the kingdom has come near, Luke 10 and other passages. But then the offer is turned down and what does He start talking about? He starts talking about a delay in the kingdom and He starts revealing parables which speak of this delay.
One of those parables is the parable of the minas, and this is what Luke 19:11 says: “While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.” So He told them the kingdom was going to appear immediately early on but the nation’s leaders rejected the offer. And now you see a switch in the ministry of Christ where He starts to reveal parables to educate them… guess what folks, the kingdom is not going to appear immediately. In fact, there’s going to be a long age of time where you’re going to be entrusted with various minas which is possessions, things God gives us to invest for Him while the kingdom is not here. But one of these days He’s going to come back and hold us accountable for how we invested what He gave us during His absence.
So you see the total shift that’s going on here in Christ’s ministry? It’s no longer “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” it’s now here’s a bunch of parables, including the parable of the minas showing you that the kingdom is not going to come for a very long time, during an inter-advent age. And why did Jesus start talking this way? Because they all thought the kingdom was going to appear immediately.
And then finally number eight, when does the offer of the kingdom reappear? It’s very strategic in Matthew’s Gospel. The expression, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” or what’s called the gospel of the kingdom, or the offer of the kingdom, is never spoken again by Christ while He was on the earth. It was never spoken again by the apostles as the Lord used them to build the church. All these people today that are trying to say that the kingdom was reoffered in the Book of Acts, it is NOT reoffered in the Book of Acts because to reoffer it in the Book of Acts would be to reverse what Jesus is saying here, that it’s going to be delayed for a long period of time.
So when does this offer reappear? It doesn’t reappear until when? The tribulation period. It doesn’t reappear until when? The 70th Week of Daniel. And then you start reading words like this, describing the 70th week of Daniel, how do I know Matthew 24 is talking about the 70th Week of Daniel? How do I know verse 14, which is called the what discourse, does anybody know? Olivet discourse He gave it on the Mount of Olives. I asked my students once why do we call it the Olivet discourse and one guy said because we get all of it, and that’s not the right answer. He gave the discourse on the Mount of Olives. It really wasn’t even a discourse, they just came to Him with private questions about the temple’s destruction and He gave them a heck of an answer that goes on two chapters.
But in the Olivet Discourse He starts to outline the seven year tribulation period. How do I know He’s talking about the seven year tribulation period in the Olivet Discourse? Because if you look at verse 15 He’s quoting Daniel 9:27, which is the seven year tribulation period. [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]
And right before verse 15 He says, “This gospel of the kingdom” which one would that be? The same one that was offered to Israel in the first century, “will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” [Matthew 24:14] So some way, somehow that offer gets reinserted in the end times. Until the seven year tribulation period the offer is not reasserted. So today our message to the world is not “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When Paul preached the gospel he never said “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When the Philippian jailor said “What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30-31 he didn’t say “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What did He say? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.”
We have a lot of people that are trying to develop their gospel presentations from the wrong passages of the Bible. You don’t go to passage of the Bible where Jesus is offering something to first century Israel as a nation and hold that out to the lost as some kind of cure for them to be saved. You preach the gospel of grace the way it’s modeled for us in the church age. See, what I’m giving you is what are called dispensational distinctives; that’s what I’m giving you. Dispensation basically means house rules; the word translated “dispensation” in Ephesians 1:10 and Ephesians 3:2 is oikonomia, oikos means house, nomos means law or rules, house rules. You have to figure out what rules apply when to understand the Bible correctly.
So “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is taken off the table after Matthew 12 and is never even reinserted until the tribulation period yet future. So Jesus, at one time said, early in His ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of God has come near to you” as it was offered to Israel. Then towards the end of His ministry, in the Olivet Discourse, Luke 21:25-26 where He talks about, “There will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, the earth in dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,  men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Sounds like the tribulation period, doesn’t it.  ‘then will they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory.  But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’  Then He told them a parable: ‘Behold the fig tree and all the trees;’  as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near.  So you also, when you see these things happening,” watch this, “recognize that the kingdom of God is near.”
You see what’s happening here? Luke 10, when the kingdom is offered to first century Israel He says the kingdom is near. When they turn down the offer, the leaders do anyway, the offer disappears. And you don’t find the expression “the kingdom of heaven” or “the kingdom of God is near” until the tribulation period, Luke 25:31, then all of a sudden Jesus again says, “the kingdom of God is near.” So why does the statement appear early on in Christ’s ministry disappear, disappear from the age of the church and then reappear in the tribulation period. You can’t make any sense of this unless you understand what I’m trying to explain to you, that there was an offer of the kingdom on the table for the first century. And this is the way to understand the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 11:15 explains how that offer is going to be accepted one day by a future generation. Just like Kadesh-Barnea was rejected by generation one coming out of Egypt, so God says okay, that doesn’t bother Me, you turned down My offer, I’ll reoffer it to the next generation. The next generation comes along and they decide to walk by faith and they enter Canaan under Joshua, who is now a seasoned citizen at the ripe old age of eighty roughly, along with Caleb, and they take the giants. So one generation turns down the offer, God says okay, I’ll offer it to the next generation, that generation receives it and gets victory.
That’s what’s happening with this offer of the kingdom. First century Israel turns it down; the kingdom offer is off the table, the kingdom is postponed. Does that throw God off? No, He says I’ll just offer it to the next generation, a distant generation, a Joshua generation, a second generation down the road. Now what generation of Israel is that? That’s the tribulation Jews, they’re the ones that are going to receive it, THEN the kingdom of this world at that point will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.
So why is the offer of the kingdom framework legitimate? Because there’s a contingency in the Old Testament, because the Mosaic Covenant reveals contingency, because the message of the offer is confined to Israel only, there’s contingency in Christ’s teaching, there’s a cessation of the announcement of the offer of the kingdom after Matthew 12. Then Jesus starts to talk about judgment on first century Israel and Christ begins to reveal postponement in His parables, like the parable of the minas, and then the offer doesn’t reappear anywhere until texts and prophecies dealing with the distant generation of Israel in the future.
So when Jesus shows up and says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” and He says, “the kingdom of God has come upon you” you can’t interpret the passage like that without this framework. If you just come in and say well, He just started the kingdom you totally ignore all this background that I’ve just gone over. He didn’t inaugurate the kingdom there in Matthew 12:28, He revealed tokens of the kingdom to the generation making the choice. His miracles were tokens of the kingdom. Here’s what it’s going to be like if you receive it. Here’s what it’s going to be like for the world. Here’s what it’s going to be like for the nation. He didn’t inaugurate the kingdom, He didn’t start the kingdom. He offered it and gave to them visible manifestations of what it could be like. But tragically we know they turned it down.
One other fast thing, I’ve got three minutes left here and I can do this very quickly, believe it or not, Jesus says, [Matthew 12:;28] “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God then the kingdom of God has come upon you,” the word there it phthanō in Greek, and when you study this word out in Greek, phthanō is very different than erchomai, which is used in Luke 17:20, it’s a different word than anathanō which is the word for appear, they thought the kingdom of God was going to appear. Phthanō is a word in Greek that communicates contingency much different than those other words.
- R. Craven, in his Excurses on the basileia kingdom say this: “In the New Testament . . . phthanō occurs only in the later, weakened sense of reaching to. . . . The phrase is similar to the one in 1 Thessalonians 2:16, where, manifestly, it was not designed to represent the wrath spoken of as already poured forth upon its objects—they were living men, but as having reached unto, overhanging them, compare also Rom. 9:31; 2 Cor. 10:14; Phil. 3:16; 1 Thess. 4:15. . . . The passages under consideration” Matthew 12:28, “aptly accord with the idea of a near approach of the Basileia” which is the Greek word for kingdom, “to the Jews in the person of Christ, ‘implying an offer of establishment which might be withdrawn; they are equivalent to the declaration of Luke 10:9, 11.” [E. R. Craven, “Excursus on the Basileia,” in Revelation of John, J. P. Lange (New York: Scribner, 1874), 96.]
So translation, the word phthanō better fits a contingency as something overhanging, something that could be a reality if the nation responds. If Matthew 12:28 was saying Jesus showed up and started the kingdom E. R. Craven’s point is it’s unlikely that phthanō would have been used; erchomai would have been used, or anathanō would have been used but not phthanō. So this is where the knowledge of Greek helps a little bit because it brings out some of these nuances.
So what am I trying to say? I’m trying to say that in Matthew 12:28 “the kingdom of God has come upon you” is not the establishment of the kingdom or its inauguration but it’s offer. And when we reconvene, after our hiatus we’re going to look at the most cited passage that Kingdom Now theologians use. It may take us a few weeks to look at that one; that’s in Luke 17:21 where Jesus says the kingdom of God is in you. [Luke 17:21, “nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”] Now ask yourself this: when He said that who was he talking to? He’s talking to the Pharisees. Would Jesus be saying the kingdom is in the Pharisees? That wouldn’t make a lot of sense, would it. So He must be saying something different than the kingdom has started.
So anyway, I’m done.