The Coming Kingdom
10-10-18 Matthew 21:43 Lesson 52
Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to Matthew 21 and verse 43. And we are continuing our study on the kingdom. As you all know the first part of our study we laid out the doctrine of the kingdom, Genesis to Revelation. We saw that the kingdom is in a state today of postponement, not cancellation but postponement. And from there we began to just make some general comments about Kingdom Now theology, that’s the belief that the kingdom is not in postponement, the kingdom is right here and now. And basically we indicated you have to change the definition of the Old Testament kingdom to get that to work. So that’s really the general problem with it.
And from there we went into what are the passages that people to use to argue that we are now in the kingdom? And that’s where we are now in our study, part three. And really the name of the game in all of this is people are trying to argue that Jesus set up the kingdom in His first coming. That’s really where people are at; that’s where the church has been at, really since Augustine, all the way back in the fourth century A.D. So everybody is always running to the ministry of Christ to find some kind of passage somewhere which indicates that He started the kingdom in a spiritual form back in the first century.
So that’s why we’ve been spending our time looking at the passages people use and showing them that they have been tried in the scales of justice (so to speak) and found wanting because when you look at each passage it doesn’t really say what everybody thinks it says. So in this part of the study we only have three more passages to look at in the life of Christ. And after we finish with that then we’ll move into the Book of Acts, Acts 2 is really a key battleground in all of that. So what we have left are Matthew 21:43, John 18:36 and then Matthew 28:18-20. And we might be able to get through one or two, I doubt we’ll get to all three of those this evening but you have them there on your packet and what we don’t finish tonight we’ll come back next Wednesday and continue on right where we left off.
So let’s open our Bibles to Matthew 21:43, this becomes one of the key passages that people use to argue that we are currently in the kingdom. And the passage says, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God” Jesus is speaking, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit thereof.” So Jesus here is speaking to first century Israel and most people in their systematic theology quote this verse and they don’t tell you what else is going on in that chapter but when you look it at first glance it looks that way, doesn’t it? It looks like the kingdom is taken away from Israel and given to the church. And this is one of the favorite passages Kingdom Now theologians use to say we’re in the Kingdom Now.
So really to understand this passage correctly you have to ask two things: Number one, was Jesus really saying the kingdom is taken away from Israel as a whole? That’s question one. Number two, was He really saying that after it was taken away from Israel as a whole was it given to the Gentile church? And what I’d like to show you is the answer to both of those questions is no. This is not at all what Jesus is saying, although many people will give you the impression that this is what Jesus is saying. So let’s take these one by one.
Was Jesus, in Matthew 21:43, “…the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit thereof,” was Jesus disinheriting the nation of Israel of the kingdom promises or the idea that God is going to establish the kingdom of God on the earth one day through the nation of Israel? Was Jesus taking that away from Israel because of her disobedience. That’s what most Christians believe that that verse is teaching. Well, verse 43 is followed by verse 44, and verse 44 is followed by verse 45. You guys all agree with me on that?
Take a look at verse 45, no one ever shows you verse 45 do they when they give you this theology, they just show you verse 43. And this really has to do with the whole parable of the tenants, if you recall, it’s how in Matthew 21 how the Lord kept sending, not tenants but representative of themselves, like the prophets, then My Son, to the managers of His property and they kept mistreating all of the people the Lord sent. Remember that story? And finally then He says well, they surely aren’t going to mistreat My Son and that’s what they did. So it’s in that context Jesus says “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you,” He takes that parable and he applies it to the Pharisees. “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing the fruit thereof.” That’s the whole context of Matthew 21.
And then when you look at verse 45 what does it say, because it talks in there about the building that the tenants were managing being caught on fire and God coming with judgment and all sorts of things. Verse 45 says, “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables,” what parable? The parable of the tenant, unrighteous tenants, “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables they understood that He was speaking about” who? “about them.” Who’s the “them”? First century Israel. See, that whole parable is aimed not at Israel as a whole but it’s aimed at first century Israel. That’s why Jesus, all the way through the Gospel of Matthew keeps saying, “all of these things will come upon” who? “this generation. [Matthew 23:36, “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”]
Which generation? The generation of Jesus that rejected Christ. Because of the Mosaic Covenant and the principles given to Israel in the Mosaic Covenant of blessings and curses, the curses were about to be poured out on that generation. So what Jesus is talking about here, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing the fruit thereof,” He’s not making a blanket statement that God is through with Israel. He’s making in context a statement about how discipline is going to come to who? Not Israel as a whole but first century Israel. That’s the context.
Verse 43 if you just read it by itself won’t give you that context but if you read the whole chapter, particularly the second to last verse in the chapter it becomes very clear that Jesus’ remarks are aimed at only first century Israel. And we know from the biblical record that that’s exactly what happened; the Romans came in A.D. 70, about forty years later, and pushed the nation of Israel out of her land; over a million Jews lost their lives in the horrors of A.D. 70. Jesus predicted this whole thing would come through the parables of tenants and many other parables that He taught. But when God brought discipline against Israel in A. D. 70 He was not cutting the cord on the whole nation of Israel. That’s a misunderstanding. The statement that Christ makes relates to the discipline that first century Israel only would experience. And historically and prophetically we know that’s what happened.
So the first problem with people saying “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing the fruit thereof,” is they don’t really define correctly who the “you” is. The “you” is not Israel forever, the “you” is only first century Israel. You all with me on that so far? Then you’ve got to answer another question about this. Well if the kingdom is going to be taken away from first century Israel and Matthew 25:43 says, “[Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and] given to a people, producing the fruit thereof.”
Now the question is well, who was the kingdom given to? It was taken away from first century Israel, who is it given to? And most people would say it was given to the church. In fact, one of my Bible heroes, a man I hold in extremely high esteem is Charles Ryrie, I use His Ryrie Study Bible all the time, and this is a case where Ryrie gets it completely wrong. If you don’t own a copy of the Ryrie Study Bible I’d encourage you to get one, but you have to understand that the notes at the bottom are not inspired by God. He comments on this parable, chapter 21 verse 43, “Taken away from you and given to a people,” he writes, taken away from the Jews and given to the church. [Matthew 21:43 NASB, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.”] And then he goes on and he says, “which is composed largely of Gentiles.”
So Charles Ryrie is very much against replacement theology but if you look at his note here he gives an interpretation of chapter 21 verse 43 that you would find in Kingdom Now replacement theology. The kingdom is taken away from the Jews and given to the church. Well, number one, it’s not taken away from the Jews, in context it’s taken away from first century Jews. See the difference?
Number two, as I’ll show you in just a moment it’s not given to the church. That’s not what Jesus is saying here. So if the kingdom is not given to the church who is it given to? And why is it unacceptable to interpret this as the kingdom is taken away from Israel and given to the church. What exactly is the matter with that interpretation?
Well the problem with this, the kingdom is taken away from Israel and given to the church is the word “people” there. And this is where a knowledge of the original languages sort of helps you with a lot of false teachings that are floating around. The Bible, as you know, was not originally given in English, it was given in Greek. So the word “people” is a translation of a Greek noun and that Greek noun is ethnos. Anybody recognize what English word we get from ethnos? [someone says something, can’t hear] Yeah, like ethnicity or nationality.
Ethnos is a lousy synonym for the church. The church is not an ethnos. Why is that? Because, number one Paul specifically says in Romans 10:19, that the church is a non-nation. And when he says a non-nation he says a non-ethnos. Romans 10:19, “But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, ‘I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation” that’s the word ethnos, “by a nation” that’s ethnos again, “without understanding, I will anger you.”
And see Paul is making the point here that as God is lavishing His grace upon the church who’s becoming provoked to jealousy? Israel, because God has taken on another woman. I mean, I thought it was Israel that was the wife of Jehovah and then all of a sudden He’s pouring out His grace on a bride composed of Gentiles. That would be us! And thank God He is pouring out His grace on us. But one of the things Paul says is God is actually using this to provoke Israel to jealousy and He is actually using the age of the church to stimulate the nation of Israel to come back into faith one day.
The seed is being planted and how is that happening? The seed is being planted because God has taken His blessings, which used to be poured out on Israel and He’s pouring it out on the church. And Israel is getting jealous, she wants her position back. So that’s Romans 9, 10 and 11, it’s all about the future of Israel. This is one of the strategies God’s doing to bring Israel back one day, planting this seed of jealousy or envy within her.
But notice that Paull says as God pours out His grace upon us He’s pouring it out on the church a non-ethnos. We are a non-ethnos, we are a no nation. Israel was a nation, she had one ethnicity, she had borders, she had an army, she had a taxation system. The church has none of those things. See that?
So if that’s true and Jesus says the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to an ethnos producing the fruit thereof ethnos, the ethnos can’t be the church because Paul says there in Romans 10:19 that the church is a what? A non-ethnos. Who are we as the church? Are we a nation? No, we consist of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we’re believers in the Messiah that Israel rejected and we’re put into a new man called the body of Christ. Does the church of Jesus Christ consist of just one ethnicity? I mean do you have to be white to be a member? Do you have to be an American to be a member? NO, the work of the church is going on all over the world. We consist of believers from how many nations? All nations, that’s the nature of the church.
Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek,” those are ethnicities, right? “there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all” what? “one in Christ Jesus.” Now if we consist of believers from all nations how in the world could we be an ethnos or an ethnicity. It doesn’t make any sense.
Paul, in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 2, and this is where Paul really, in particularly chapters two and three develops what the church is. If you want to understand what the church is you would study those two chapters. And he says a lot of wonderful things there but one of the things he says, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups,” now who is the “both groups”? Now who would the “both groups” be? Jew and Gentile.
See prior to the age of the church you have a sharp division between Jew and Gentile and today what we have is a crucified and resurrected Christ and people that are Jews and Gentiles, who are believers in that Christ, and once you become a believer in that Christ you’re put into this new man where there is no ethnicity anymore, or reigning ethnicity. And the two groups have been made one and what has been broken down is the barrier of the dividing wall. I mean, prior to the age of the church you had this sharp ethnic distinction running through the Jewish world and the Gentile world. And isn’t it interesting in the body of Christ you can have somebody that’s Jewish and you can have somebody that historically been at war with the Jews, like somebody from an Arabic country, and you can have both of them believers in the same Messiah and what happens to the warfare between those two groups? It’s gone.
That’s the nature of the church, and everybody today is talking about racial this and racial that and racial reconciliation, race, race, race. The fact of the matter is the Bible is probably the best book ever written on the subject of race because it takes people of different ethnicities that formerly hated each other’s guts and it makes people of those ethnicities, some of them anyway, believers in Christ, and they are baptized in the Spirit and brought into this one new nation called the body of Christ. That’s the mystery of the church, something that’s never happened before.
You even have in the body of Christ in early Acts the Samaritans and the Jews in the body of Christ getting along together. Think about that. Those groups hated each other’s guts before the church age started. That’s why when Jesus came into a Samaritan village and they rejected His ministry, remember in Luke 9, remember what James and John said? Who were James and John? The sons of Thunder. John, the love apostle, doesn’t seem very loving early on, does he. He says, “Lord, shall we not call down fire from heaven and destroy these people? [Luke 9:54, “When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them.’”]
So that’s racism, that’s what it is. The seven hundred year war between those two groups, if you understand who the Samaritans and the Jews are, but in the body of Christ they’re made one. So we’re not a Samaritan movement, we’re not a Jewish movement, we’re not an American movement, we’re not a Caucasian movement, we’re not an Asian movement, there is no dominant race in the church because we have believers in Christ from all races. So when Jesus says the kingdom is going to be taken away from you and given to an ethnos, that can’t be a description of the church. [Matthew 21:53, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people,” ethnos “producing the fruit of it.”]
And you even see really good people, like Charles Ryrie get this wrong. However, I’ll tell you this much: ethnos cannot describe the church but I’ll tell you who it describes real well. You know who it describes real well? Israel! Not first century Israel but what? Future Israel. See that? The word ethnos is used over and over again to describe national Israel. I just have two examples, one of them comes from John 11:51, it says, “Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,” what nation? In context that’s Israel. What is the Greek word for nation here–ethnos! So ethnos is a great description of Israel.
Over in Acts 24:17, I think this is Paull speaking, it says, “Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation” Paul was Hebrew, what nation is he talking about? Israel, and he calls Israel what? an ethnos! and to present offerings;” So ethnos does not describe the church, it can’t, it’s foreign to the concept of the church but it’s a great descriptor of the nation of Israel.
So with that background in mind what is Matthew 21:43 saying? What is Jesus saying when He says, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit thereof.” Here’s what it’s not saying; it’s not saying God is through with Israel and He’s transferred His kingdom blessing to the church. That is not what He’s saying. That’s what 99% of Christians think that verse is saying but that’s not what it’s saying.
What it is saying is God is taking His kingdom blessings away, not from Israel as a whole but from who? First century Israel and transferring it to who? Not the church, but who? Future Israel. See the difference there? A completely different meaning. And you say well, is that in the context? Does Matthew’s Gospel talk about future Israel receiving Christ in the tribulation period? I would say that becomes the dominant subject at the end of chapter 23 and right into chapters 24 and 25. In other words, this interpretation I’m giving you fits perfectly with what Matthew reveals concerning the future of Israel. Take a look at Matthew 23: 37-39. This is where Jesus continues to open the door to a future generation of Israel that will respond to the message of salvation.
Jesus is speaking and He says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” so who’s He talking to? Not First Baptist Church of Houston but the Jewish people. Right? “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!” Now didn’t He just reveal that in the parable of the tenants? He just revealed that reality in parabolic form. Everybody God has sent to Israel they rejected, including the Son of God in the first century. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!” And this is very beautiful language here, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” but the problem wasn’t Me, Christ says, the problem was who? “and you were unwilling.”
Now just as a quick side point on that, there’s a lot of people out there that say you have no free will in salvation, God just grabs you and you are forced against your will to get saved. That’s called what’s being taught today is very aggressive Calvinism. You’ll notice that Jesus did not bring His kingdom promises to these people because of their will. See that? If Calvinism was true Jesus would have just rammed His kingdom right down the throats whether they wanted it or not, in the first century. They “were unwilling,” they would not exercise their will to acknowledge Him. So that’s how God works, He convicts people but ultimately whether a person goes to heaven or not they have to bend their will through faith. And why does God work that way? Because He’s made us in whose image? His image, He has free will, we’re made in His image so you have free will.
So God is not going to… now He’ll convict you and agitate you and bother you that you need to get saved but He’s not going to bring you against your free will into salvation. At some point you have to make a choice unto Him. And if He didn’t do it that way He would not be respecting how you’re manufactured. See that? So yes, people can go to hell today if they want to, and they can harden their heart against God until their dying day and go right into hell. If someone wants to do that based on how they’re manufactured as an image-bearer of God, they have complete permission to do that under God. It’s a very powerful thing we have, this free will. [37b] “I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, [and you were unwilling.]” now “gather” there is episunago, gather, sunago, can anybody think of what word comes from sunago? Synagogue, which is a Jewish gathering place.
See, He’s speaking to the Jews and He basically is saying I wanted to have synagogue with you, that’s basically what He’s saying. But the problem wasn’t Me, the problem was you. So He says, in verse 38, “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” Now what house is it? The temple, the temple is going to be destroyed because in the blessings and curses of the Mosaic Covenant there are penalties and one of the penalties is national dispersion and destruction and worldwide dispersion which would involve the Romans coming in A.D. 70 and sacking the temple, which they did forty years later.
Now it’s interesting when He talks about the temple He used to say, all the way through the Gospels, “My Father’s house will be a house of prayer.” He kept calling the temple “My Father’s house.” You see how He switched the pronoun there? It’s not “My house” anymore!. It’s not My Father’s house, it’s your house because you kicked Me out of it. And I like to use this story, my wife denies it but I have the microphone so…. [laughter] My wife will switch the pronouns very fast related to my daughter. So for example, if my daughter is doing something cute my wife will say “isn’t our daughter wonderful?” And then when she acts up she’ll switch the pronouns and she’ll say “Did you see what your daughter did?” She’s shaking her head no back there… but I’ll have to tape record it at some point.
That’s what Jesus just did there, He switched the pronouns. He says “it’s not My house, it’s not My Father’s house, it’s your house because you threw Me out.” So their house is going to be left to them desolate, and then He says, “From now on you will not see me.” Now most people stop reading right there, God’s finished with Israel. Right? He’s taking His promises related to Israel and given them to the church. That’s kingdom now theology. But you see the word “until” there? Verse 39, that’s a big deal, that word “until.” “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you” who’s the “you”? Who’s He talking to, go back to verse 37, “Jerusalem” or Israel. “…until you” that’s a generic “you,” collective “you,” “until you say,” what? “‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD’” [Matthew 23:37-39, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.  ‘Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!  ‘For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”]
And Ron, you all know Ron who comes to this church, what’s Ron’s last name again, Ron Smith, he’s got that memorized in Hebrew but in English it’s “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’” Which is Psalm 118:26 which is a Messianic Psalm. [Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD ….”] And what He is saying is I’m not coming back for this nation until this nation verbally acknowledges Me as the Messiah. That’s what He’s saying.
And you see, that’s where you need to put Romans 10:9-10. Everybody’s got Romans 10:9-10 down today as part of their gospel tract and evangelism. Romans 10:9-10 is not the gospel for the church age believer, you all know Romans 10:9-10, right? What does it say, it says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Romans 9 is all about Israel, Romans 9-11. Romans 9, Israel in the past elected; Romans 10, Israel in the present rejected; Romans 11, Israel in the future accepted. That’s where you put Romans 10:9-10. Romans 10:9-10 is what future Israel will publicly say. What are they going to publicly say? “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD,” Psalm 118:26. Until future Israel publicly acknowledges Me as Messiah I am not coming back to this nation. See that? And the problem with taking Romans 10:9-10 and making it part of the gospel that’s proclaimed in the age of the church is you added a condition that God never added for people coming into the church to the gospel.
I mean, think about this; when people say we’ve got to follow the ABC method to get people saved, “A” admit you’re a sinner, “B” believe in Jesus, “C” confess. You’ve all heard that, right? That’s kind of a standard formula that a lot of parachurch ministries will use. A. B. C., so if you just do A and B and you never do C then you probably aren’t a Christian. Well think about this: what if you don’t have any vocal cords, who are you going to confess to? Or what if you’re in an Islamic country and somehow you hear the gospel from somebody, a missionary or something and you know that if you speak up about Christ your family could be tortured and so you don’t say anything. Are we going to say that those people over there aren’t Christians because they didn’t do C, they didn’t confess.
I mean, when you really start to think about this A. B. C. method it works pretty well in America but it doesn’t work real good in a totalitarian country. And with this A.B.C. method almost nobody ever will show you John 12:42. What does John 12:42 say, John 12:42 says, “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear” of the Jews, or “for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue.” So you got a lot of people that heard Christ and they believed in Him for salvation but they wouldn’t say anything about it because they were afraid of being kicked out of the synagogue.
Now are we going to say that all those people aren’t saved because they didn’t follow the A. B. C. method? Of course they were saved, because John sets up one single verb that must be acknowledged by a lost sinner before they can be saved. It’s not A.B.C. It’s the B, anytime someone adds an A or a C to the simple Believe they’ve just altered the Gospel. Do you see that? And one of the reasons people do that is they think Romans 10:9-10 teaches you’ve got to confess Christ publicly to be a Christian. What I’m trying to show you is Romans 10:9-10 doesn’t belong in the proclamation of the gospel today; it belongs in Matthew 23:37-39, something Israel had to publicly acknowledge for Jesus to return. Romans 10:9-10 is what we would call a dispensationally misapplied verse for another dispensation and concerning Israel and it’s setting it up as a condition for someone to receive the gospel today.
Now having said all that am I against people confessing Christ? I think it’s a great idea to confess Christ but here’s the deal. Your confession of Christ publicly doesn’t relate to whether you go to heaven; it relates to rewards at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. The confession of Christ publicly relates to rewards received or not received. A person believes and never says anything because of fear of man, they’ll go to heaven but they won’t have rewards at the Bema Seat Judgment. See that? And the moment you add an “a” or a “c” to a simple message of “b” or believe is the moment we just taught a works salvation and people do this all of the time because they use Romans 10:9-10 not understanding the context of what Romans 10:9-10 is talking about. [Romans 10:9-10, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”] I had no plan on going off on all that, by the way.
So he says, “You” (Israel) will not see Me again until you say ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” So He’s opening the door that there’s going to be future Israel that’s going to receive Christ and experience salvation. So the interpretation of Matthew 21 that I’m giving you is consistent with what follows in Matthew’s Gospel. Do you see that? It fits beautifully with the whole context of the book.
And flip over to Matthew 24:31, what does Jesus start talking about in Matthew 24:31? The tribulation period? If you look at verse 15 it talks about the temple being desecrated, if you look at verses 21-22 it talks about a time of unequaled distress coming upon the whole world.
[Matthew 24:31, “”And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew 24:15, “”Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),” Matthew 15:21-22, “Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.  And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”]
So it’s talking about God’s dealings the nation of Israel after the church has been removed through the rapture. He says things like verse 20, “Pray that your flight will not take place in the winter or on the Sabbath.” [Matthew 24:20] Does that sound kind of Jewish to you? I mean, we don’t even meet as Christians on the Sabbath, the Sabbath is the last day of the week; we meet on Sunday, the first day of the week, because that’s when Jesus rose from the dead. So it’s obvious that He’s talking to Jewish people.
So you can go to Israel today and you can go into what they call a sabbath elevator, where you walk in there and what you’ll notice is every single button has been pushed so the elevator goes to every single floor in the hotel, ten story hotel it’s going to go to every elevator and you think some kid got in there and pushed all the buttons and so you let the doors shut and you say okay, everything’s back to normal, I’ll get in this elevator and do it right, and you find once again it goes to all ten floors, all ten buttons are lit up. Why is that? And that only exists on the Sabbath. Why would they have that kind of elevator on the Sabbath? Because you’re not supposed to work on the Sabbath and so part of working on the Sabbath in their mind is what? Pushing the buttons. So we’ll just have an elevator where the buttons are all pushed. I mean, that’s in Israel today you’ll see that kind of thing.
So when Jesus says “Pray that your flight will not take place in the winter or on the Sabbath” He’s talking to Jews because the Jews won’t travel on the Sabbath. The name of the game is when they see the temple desecrated they’re supposed to flee to what many people believe is Petra in Jordan because Satan, Revelation 12, has been kicked out of heaven at that point and he begins to go down to the woman clothed with the sun and the moon and the twelve stars, which is Israel, and he tries to gobble her up. That’s why Israel is fleeing here.
So in context he’s saying when you run pray that your flight will not take place on the Sabbath. It’s obvious he’s talking to a Jewish audience here. And so Israel enters this time of unparalleled distress, the church is already in heaven watching this thing from the balcony seats and what is the end result of it? A converted Israel, which is exactly what Jeremiah 30:7 says, right. A time of trouble for Jacob, who’s Jacob? Israel, “But he will be” what? saved out of it.” [Jeremiah 30:7, “’Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved out of it.”]
And if you look at verse 31 it says, “And He will send…” this is not the rapture, the rapture relates to the church; this whole chapter, these two chapters really, is related to Israel. What did he say? ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kills the prophets and stones those sent to you. [Matthew 24:31, “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”]
So if you look at verse 31 it says, “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL” what’s the next verb there in verse 31, “THEY WILL” what does it say? “ GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Who’s the elect? Believing Israel, they’re in faith now. So Jesus returns and what does He do? He gathers them, what’s the Greek word for gather? Episunago, where we get the word synagogue, it’s the same verb used in Matthew 23:37. [Matthew 23:37, “”Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.]
He wanted to have synagogue with them in His first coming but they didn’t want Him. So He says you’re not going to see me again until you say, Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” That’s where you put Romans 10:9-10, right in there, not in the gospel tract for people to get saved today but something Israel’s got to do yet future. [Romans 10:9-10, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”]
And then once they’re in faith, they’ve publicly acknowledged Him as the Messiah, according to Matthew 24:31, which is happening at end of the tribulation period, He is returning and regathering them and protecting them from Satan who has been thrown out of heaven trying to kill Him. So He’s having the synagogue He wanted to have with them in His second coming, He wanted to have that synagogue with Him in His first coming. See that, because Israel always gets it right which time? The second time. Here’s a perfect example of it.
So this, Matthew 24:31 is the ethnos through whom the kingdom promises will be fulfilled. See that? And if you go to Matthew 25:31 it talks about a converted Israel and the inauguration of the Davidic Kingdom, because it says at the conclusion of these things, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His” what? “glorious throne.” Any guesses as to which throne that would be? The Davidic throne that we talked about many, many lessons ago in this study, 2 Samuel 7:12-16.
[2 Samuel 7:12-16, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,  but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.  Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.  In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.”]
The Davidic Covenant is in fulfillment now. And then He is gathering people and letting them into verse 34, an inheritance in the what? An inheritance in the what? Kingdom, see kingdom there in verse 34, I’ve got it underlined. [Matthew 25:34, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”]
So what has just happened? Israel has been saved thanks to the events of the tribulation period. They have been regathered and so now the kingdom is being started through that ethnos. What ethnos? Believing future Israel. You see that? So what people are doing and this is one of the things that frustrates me about modern day Bible interpretation, is they’re grabbing one verse, they’re ignoring everything that comes before it and goes after it and making it look like it’s teaching some doctrine that the Bible is not teaching. If you did this in the area of law you’d be disbarred. If you did this in the area of medical practice you’re probably lose your license for doing this kind of stuff.
But for whatever reason, I don’ t know why it is, when it comes to Bible interpretation everybody feels they can do this with the Bible, because the fact of the matter is I can take Bible verses and string them together and make them sound any way I want them to sound if I don’t care about context. Judas went out and hung himself, go thou and do likewise, and what you do, do quickly. [Laughter] So there we have it, the Bible promotes suicide. Well the Bible does NOT promote suicide, all I did was grab a bunch of verses and string them together and make it fit my preconceived idea. See that? And that’s what people are doing with Matthew 21:43. That’s exactly what they’re doing. And the fact of the matter is it doesn’t teach that at all. And your average person sees that verse and they say oh well, even the great Charles Ryrie, well, there it is, Jesus took the kingdom away from Israel and gave it to the church; we’re in the kingdom now.
So the bottom line to the whole thing is this: Therefore,” and this is where we start Matthew 21:43, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom will be taken away from you” who’s the “you”? First century Israel because they rejected Christ and they went off into discipline. And given to a people, or an ethnos producing the fruit thereof… who is the ethnos? Future Israel, not the church. That’s all Jesus is saying. And when you put it in the whole context of Matthew’s Gospel, particularly the end of chapter 23 and then 24 and then 25 you’ll see that very obvious interpretation.
Is the kingdom of God really taken away from Israel? No, it’s taken away from first century Israel. Is the kingdom of God really given to the church? No, because the church is not an ethnos; the future Israel is.
Now very quickly, we believe Matthew was the first gospel written. Why do we believe that Matthew was the first gospel written? We believe that because that’s what every church father taught until German higher critical liberalism started in the 19th century. Before that happened everybody, every church father, they all believed that Matthew wrote first, the fancy name for that is Mathian priority. And one of the reasons we believe Matthew wrote first is because of all the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, it is the most Jewish. For example, Matthew’s genealogy in chapter 1 links Jesus back to who genealogically? David and then Abraham. Abraham is the starting point. Why start with Abraham? Because he’s the beginning of the Hebrew race. Right? Luke, in his genealogy, in Luke 3 links Jesus back to who? Adam.
So why would Luke link Christ’s genealogy back to Adam but Matthew links Christ’s genealogy back to Abraham and David? Answer: Luke is written to a Gentile audience, emphasizing Gentile themes; Matthew is written to a Jewish audience emphasizing Jewish themes.
Another example: Mark 7 talks about a washing of the hands and it says, in a parenthetical comment, this is something the Jews did. [Mark 7:1-5, “The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem,  and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.  (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders;  and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)  The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”]
This is a custom among the Hebrews. Matthew 15 talks about the same ceremonial handwashing but it leaves out the parenthetical comment, this was common amongst the Jews. So question—why would Mark’s Gospel give the explanation that this is a Jewish custom and Matthew’s Gospel wouldn’t? Because Mark is written to a Roman audience who largely didn’t understand Judaism so they would need some explanation. See that? Matthew is written to a Jewish audience and so if you tell them, well, this is a common practice, the washing of hands, they’d be saying dah, of course, we all know that. That’s like explaining the Pledge of Allegiance to an American; you don’t have to explain the Pledge of Allegiance to an American, they understand it. But someone in another country, the flag and the stripes and the stars, you’d have to explain it because they don’t have the cultural background to understand it. See that?
So you put all this date together and it’s very clear that Matthew was written to a Hebrew Christian audience; the earliest church fathers believed that Matthew was written to the Jews who had come to believe. So Matthew is answering a Jewish question; if Christ is the King then where is the kingdom, because king and kingdom go together in Judaism like horse and carriage. And so they would need an explanation as to why the kingdom is in postponement.
All of this background, to take you back to Matthew 21:43, a Hebrew understands how God can cut off one generation of Jews and put His hand of blessing on a future generation of Jews. A Hebrew Christian, particularly someone with Judaism in their background, already knows that’s a reality. Why do they know it’s a reality? Because they have a Hebrew Bible and one of the great stories, historical accounts, of Hebrew Bible is Numbers 13 and 14. Right? What happened in Numbers 13 and 14? They were in Goshen there in Egypt for four hundred years (that’s a long time), God brought them out through the ten plagues, He parted the Red Sea, He brought them to Mount Sinai, they received the Law. According to, I think it’s either Deuteronomy 1:2 all they had to do was trust God for eleven days and they’re in the promised land. [Deuteronomy 1:5, “It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea.”]
So just trust the God that parted the Red Sea and provided the manna and brought the ten plagues down upon Egypt for eleven days and you’re in. You remember what happened? They go there, up into Canaan, they got to what is called the southern border of Canaan, a place called Kadesh-Barnea, and what did they see in Canaan? The giants. And so what did they say? No problem, we’re going to keep trusting God…. NO, they went into fear and they became like grasshoppers in their own eyes. In other words, they stopped trusting God and their eyes got on their own circumstances.
Now that never happens to any of you guys, right? It is a great story for us because we fall into fear all the time and part of it is our vantage point, we’re looking at our own circumstances rather than God whose done all these great things for us in the past.
So God was so displeased with that generation that what should have been eleven days turned into forty years. He just said okay, you guys are going to just walk around out here for forty years until you all drop dead and then I’ll start working with your kids. The next generation, or the next what? ethnos, and they’ll trust Me and I’ll bring them into Canaan. The only exception to the rule will be Joshua and Caleb who entered Canaan with the kids as seasoned citizens, not because they were believers but because they were believing.
See the difference there? God didn’t discipline that generation because they were unbelievers. They were all saved, they’re in the hall of faith. If you say they’re unsaved you’ve got a big problem because Moses didn’t enter either; he died on Mount Nebo, right? So is anybody here going to say Moses wasn’t saved? That’s silly because who’s there in the transfiguration with Christ? Moses and Elijah, obviously Moses was saved. These people didn’t go to hell; they missed out on a blessing that they could have had had they not just been believers but believing. In other words you keep trusting God in the midst of your problems. Do you want to be blessed in your Christian life? Number one, get saved, trust in Christ for salvation. And number two, when problems come into your life keep trusting God to help you with those problems. Don’t go into fear because you become a grasshopper in your own eyes because your vantage point is wrong.
So this whole generation lost a blessing which they could have had. See that? And so God says that generation won’t trust me, okay, I’ll work with the next generation, the next ethnos, and they entered Canaan under Joshua and Caleb forty years later.
So if God can shut the door on one generation in terms of a blessing and then transfer that blessing to a subsequent ethnos, or generation, then Matthew 21:43 would make sense to a Hebrew Christian mind who knows that story. [Matthew 21:43, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.”] Because what He’s saying is the same thing is going to happen with the kingdom. First century Israel, just like the folks coming out of Egypt, could have had Canaan. First century Israel could have had the kingdom! Think about that! What a major royal mess-up. They could have had the kingdom of God on the earth that they wouldn’t receive it on Christ’s terms so God shut the door on that ethnos and He said okay, there’s a future generation that will receive My offer of the kingdom in the tribulation period.
So what I’m saying is my interpretation of Matthew 21:43 fits exactly with a Hebrews Christian mind who already knows that God does this kind of thing anyway, going back to the Kadesh-Barnea incident. I mean, does God really close the door on one generation but bless the next generation because they’re believing? That’s what Jesus is saying here is going to happen with the kingdom, and they’re thinking well, of course that could happen. That’s the whole Numbers 13 and 14 story. So what I’m explaining here is consistent with what we know in Hebrew Bible concerning Numbers 13 and 14.
So what’s the bottom line? The kingdom is taken away, not from Israel as a whole but who? First century Israel and is going to be transferred to the church? NO, transferred to who? The future ethnos, or future Israel. And so the next time we’re together, which will be next Wednesday, we’ll look at John 18:36 where Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” We’ll try to explain that. All right, I’m finished talking.