A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Show all posts

August 28, 2023

How Close Are You To Entering The Kingdom of God?

This title is a play on a blog post I originally wrote in 2017, and then revisited again in 2019. And here I am again in 2023, always amazed at what my God has revealed anew. You see, I like to take a frequent assessment of my spiritual awareness to see if I am staying tuned in to the Holy Spirit. The original post was based on Mark 12:33-34, in which one of the experts in Mosaic law [scribe] asks Jesus which commandment was the first and most important. Jesus answers him ... "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, is One Lord, and you are to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. There is no other commandment greater than these. The scribe responds, "Admirably answered, Teacher" and proceeds to repeat the commandments. And when Jesus saw that the scribe spoke thoughtfully and intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” 

It's important that we look at this exchange within the context of the entire passage. Jesus has made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, setting the stage for His eventual trial and crucifixion. He has already thrown the money-changers out of His Father's House, and then the chief priests, scribes, and elders begin questioning His authority to "do these things".  When they cannot answer His question about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, He refuses to tell them under Whose authority He acts. So, now in Mark, Chapter 12, we find both the Pharisees and the Herodians (Hellenistic Jews who were more Greek than Hebrew) trying to trap Him in their questions about loyalty to Caesar versus loyalty to God.  We then find the Sadducees trying to ambush Him about the afterlife (in which they don't even believe).   

But there's one scribe who has been watching all the arguing and subterfuge, and realizes that Jesus's answers are accurate. And then He asks a question that shows His heart ... Which commandment is the most important one of all? He is not interested in maintaining his own power or prestige, or in trying to diminish Jesus's authority. It is in his heart to be obedient to the commands of God and he wants to find out the answer that this man, Jesus, has to this important question.

And then follows Jesus's answer and the curious words that I wonder how many Christians have seriously pondered ... “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” What did Jesus mean, and what's the connection between the commandments to love God and your neighbor being more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and being not far from the kingdom of God? Let me see if I can make sense of what God revealed to meals  those years ago; revealed by casting a series of bread crumbs throughout Scripture that led me to a profound Biblical truth. 

Although this Scribe may not have come to the full realization that Jesus is the Son of God, he is beginning to connect the dots that are leading him to the doorstep of the Kingdom of God. I believe he was able to correctly discern the underlying principles of the Ten Commandments in Jesus's answer. The first five commandments point to God as the One True God, and that we are to love and seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  The last five commandments exhort us to love our neighbors as we would wish to be loved.

Then the Scribe realized that Jesus was saying that the two commandments He mentioned were greater in God's eyes than any of the rituals or sacrifices that had been instituted when Israel came out of bondage to Egypt.  Those rituals were established to separate the Israelites from 400 years of being immersed in a false god system.  They were meant to be temporary, and God now expected them to have grasped what He wanted to accomplish with them through His covenant. And it was also understood that these numerous rituals could never save them from the judgment of Almighty God. That's why they had to be repeated each year for the nation. Salvation would never come through observing rituals! It would come from a heart connected to God!

The next dot Jesus connected for the Scribe [and He connected for me through Scripture] was the understanding that God desires that we show our love for Him by obeying His commands. And I can remember the moment that connection was made in my spirit -- that I am to show my love for Him by obeying His commands to do the Great Commission [which is to cast out demons, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers/spiritually unclean, raise the dead, and spread the Good News that the Kingdom of God had arrived on the earth]. My obedience [and yours!] will certainly mean that territory will be taken from the kingdom of Satan and transferred to the Kingdom of God.

It wasn't long before Jesus led me to the next bread crumb ... a more credible understanding of His remark that the Scribe was not far from the Kingdom of God. And it is centered on Jesus's conversation with Nicodemus, another religious man, in John, Chapter 3. He tells the Pharisee priest that unless one is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified -- SAVED] he cannot see or enter the kingdom of God (John 3:1-5). So, can you see that Salvation is the key to our admittance into the Kingdom? But in the Mark passage, Jesus has not yet gone to the Cross, so mankind has not been given the gift of Salvation at this time. But it wasn't far off... hence, this is why Jesus tells the Scribe, "You are not far from the kingdom of God". Furthermore, it is important to understand that Salvation is the first essential step, but it's not the the ultimate conclusion of the matter. 

I just love it when the Holy Spirit reveals another nugget of truth and glory in the Word! Remember, Scripture says it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out (Proverbs 25:2).  The dots of truth that the wise Scribe connected are these:  God commands us to love Him and others ... we show our love for Him by following His commands ... Jesus commands us (in the Great Commission) to do the things He did (healing, casting out demons, preaching the gospel) ... and it brings the Kingdom of God to earth! I just added dots that the Scribe would have been unable to understand because Salvation was not a reality yet. 

So, I invite you to join me; whether you are Saved or not, the Kingdom is nearer than you may think. But it's not enough to be Saved --- to enter the Kingdom, Jesus desires that we DO kingdom ... anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father. Don't waste another day! I believe that seeing the Kingdom and entering it may be two different things. For myself, I do not want to be like those servants who were invited to the wedding feast, but paid no attention and disregarded it with contempt, choosing to go about their business. I want my life to be about doing Jesus's business! I want a seat at that wedding banquet table! Thank you, Father, for revealing these scriptural jewels, and I am not through with being willing to learn more. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 

Matthew 5:20    "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." 

August 24, 2023

The Different Mysteries Hidden in God Until Paul Revealed Them!

For the last several posts, I have dived into the various mysteries of God and of the Kingdom of Heaven. As we discovered, both Jesus and the Apostle Paul referred to these mysteries often, and from different perspectives. Their respective audiences and their purpose for preaching and teaching on these mysteries was all part of God's "mysterious" plans to re-establish His relationship with His creation. I invite you to read Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this discourse to fully understand what I'm presenting today.

I want to stress that these mysteries revealed to Paul [by the Holy Spirit] are best viewed as "sacred secrets", hidden throughout history by God until He determined the time was right to reveal them and set His final plan of redemption in motion. Daniel, Chapter 12, tells us that as the time nears for the earth's final tribulations and turmoil to take place, that the mysteries [kept hidden] will be revealed and Many will go back and forth and search anxiously [through the scroll], and knowledge [of the purpose of God as revealed by His prophets] will [greatly] increase. The Bible will yield its secrets through revelation by the Holy Spirit, and we will walk in the knowledge that ushers in the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God!

So, let's take a look at some of these mysteries/secrets that were revealed to Paul, and in turn, revealed to us through Scripture. Keep in mind, that some of them are clearly visible to us today, while others are in sight [yet not fully realized], and some may be a total surprise for the future. The first mystery that is revealed through Paul's writings is "The Mystery of the Incarnation". 1 Timothy 3:16 tells us, And great, we confess, is the mystery [the hidden truth] of godlinessHe (Jesus Christ) who was revealed in human flesh, Was justified and vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. Understand that the mystery here is the godliness (God's sovereign will) associated with Jesus's incarnation as a man. Although Jesus is a man, salvation and righteousness can only be found in Him. What was hidden in the past [of God's plan] has now been revealed ... Jesus came to earth from Heaven to manifest [display] God to mankind. 1 Timothy 3:16 plainly says that Jesus Christ [God] came to a sinful world [in the flesh] in order to save us from our sin, and has now returned to Heaven, glorified in both realms. The saints in the Old Testament did not see this mystery played out, but Paul fully reveals it.

The next mystery we'll consider is "The Mystery of Israel's Blindness". I will admit that until I began my own deep dive study of the Word 20 years ago, I did not understand this mystery -- it had never been satisfactorily taught in my church. But Romans 11:25-26 says it so that we have no doubts: I do not want you, believers, to be unaware of this mystery [God’s previously hidden plan]—so that you will not be wise in your own opinion—that a partial hardening has [temporarily] happened to Israel [to last] until the full number of the Gentiles has come in; and so [at that time] all Israel [that is, all Jews who have a personal faith in Jesus as Messiah] will be saved; just as it is written [in Scripture], The Deliverer (Messiah) will come from ZionHe will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” We know that the Old Testament tells us that Israel was God's chosen people through whom He would bless the world. But they failed and rejected Jesus as their Messiah, so God temporarily blinded them to His Truth, so that He might have mercy on the rest of the world. But Paul reveals that God uses the Gentiles to complete His plan of presenting Jesus to the world as their Savior. Once that full number of Gentiles are saved, then believing Israel will resume their leadership role. This truth has been hidden until recent history, when Israel once again became a recognized nation in the world. We are still in the process of fulfilling God's plan in the fullest sense. Stay tuned!

The third mystery is this, " The Mystery of the Church". Hidden in the past, but revealed through the Holy Spirit to Paul is what Ephesians 3:1-10 tells us. Read all the verses, but at the heart of its content is the revelation in verse 6, that the Gentiles are now joint heirs [with the Jews] and members of the same body, and joint partakers [sharing] in the [same divine] promise in Christ Jesus through [their faith in] the good news [of salvation]. Paul actually says in verse 5 that this "is the mystery of Christ". The wisdom of God's plan, and His design to keep it hidden until He determined it was time, is found in verses 9-10: to make plain [to everyone] the plan of the mystery [regarding the uniting of believing Jews and Gentiles into one body] which [until now] was kept hidden through the ages in [the mind of] God who created all things. So now through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God [in all its countless aspects] might now be made known [revealing the mystery] to the [angelic] rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Note that God expects the church to declare [and display]  to the "angelic rulers and authorities" that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven; that means the rulers and authorities of both God's army of angels and Satan's!  

Sadly, too many churches are still blind to the revelation of this mystery. For those churches who preach false Replacement Theology -- the theological conviction that the Christian Church has superseded/replaced Israel as God's chosen vessel to reveal Him to the world -- they are among those who have still not received righteous revelation as to the purpose of the church. Time is running out! Perhaps they should read Revelation 2-3 to see what Jesus reveals happens to those churches!

One of the most important mysteries to be revealed is "The Mystery of the Indwelling Christ". I believe this mystery is very much in the process of being revealed. By that I mean, a good portion of the Western Church does not yet fully understand this secret of their life in Christ. Paul writes in Colossians 1:24-28, about "the mystery which was hidden [from angels and mankind] for ages and generations, but has now been revealed to His saints (God’s people). God [in His eternal plan] chose to make known to them how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in and among you, the hope and guarantee of [realizing the] glory"

In order for us to carry out our purpose on the earth, it is vital that we understand and know that we are now the temple in which God and the Holy Spirit reside. Ephesians 2:22 implicitly states this: In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. I believe the "fellowship" in this verse refers both to believing Jews and Gentiles, as well as the church itself. Together we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us to participate in seeing God's plan come to fruition, and indeed, to do our part in seeing this happen.

The next mystery revealed is "The Mystery of the Headship of Christ". In Ephesians 5:22-32, Paul uses the example of marriage to give us an image of Christ's position as head of the church. I have personally seen this passage misused to define the nature of marriage between men and women. Its real purpose is to describe the relationship between Jesus and His believing followers (the church). The word "submission" has been used to indicate a wife's duty to capitulate to, or surrender to, her husband. In reality, Paul is telling us that, together, man and woman's primary mission is to serve the Lord, in all His ways. Therefore, we have a sub-mission, or secondary mission, to honor each other -- the wife honoring her husband as protector and head of the home, respecting his responsibility and accountability to God; just as the Church honors and respects Jesus as the head and protector of the church. Likewise, the husband's secondary mission is to his wife -- to seek the highest good for her, surrounding her with a caring and unselfish love; so that he honors her by nourishing her, protecting her, and cherishing her, just as Christ does the church. Scripture tells us,  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to is wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church. Oh, how it saddens me to see how this beautiful passage has been corrupted!

The next mystery is a difficult one for many believers: "The Mystery of the Translation [or Resurrection] of the Church". Because Satan has been able to introduce confusion, doubt and unbelief in the midst of this mystery, many in the Body of Christ have differing doctrinal beliefs on this issue. But if the Body would just study the Word, which has been provided to us for revelation of God's heart and mind, and for the truth regarding these mysteries, they would find answers in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. Scripture says, flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]... For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death]. And when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the Scripture will be fulfilled that says, “Death is swallowed up in victory (vanquished forever). 

Of course, this is referring to what has been called The Rapture. Again, Satan has sown confusion as to the timing, but I think it is more important to receive the knowledge that this mystery reveals, i.e., all true believers will be changed and transformed from mortal bodies of flesh and blood to immortal, imperishable bodies and be transported from earth to Heaven to dwell with the Lord forever. I am personally concentrating on that glorious promise, rather than getting caught up trying to figure out "when". I'm looking forward to that event and being reunited with my loved ones. 

The last mystery I'm going to look at is staring us right in the face ... "The Mystery of Lawlessness". Once again, the Enemy has used this mystery to stir up controversy and doubt by over-emphasizing the "when" of "the Rapture". But 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9 tells us not to be guessing when that celebrated event will take place. Scripture clearly tell us Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed], who opposes and exalts himself [so proudly and so insolently] above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he [actually enters and] takes his seat in the temple of God, publicly proclaiming that he himself is God ... For the mystery of lawlessness [rebellion against divine authority and the coming reign of lawlessness] is already at work; [but it is restrained] only until he who now restrains it is taken out of the way.    

It's interesting in this passage that Paul was correcting a false teaching that the Day of the Lord [the End Times Judgment] had already come. And we have that same false teaching still in existence today. There are those who will say the Bible is talking about events in the Old Testament (Antiochus Epiphanes) or the the New Testament event of the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. But Paul makes it clear that two things need to happen before the Rapture and occur ... the apostasy, or "falling away; rebellion" of the Church, and the revealing of the Man of Lawlessness (the Antichrist). I believe that both are already at work in the world, but are being restrained until the number of Gentiles [that God has determined] have come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. We're close, folks, do don't let your guard down, and stay focused on Jesus!

In conclusion, I want to stress that together, these mysteries are what God revealed to the Apostle Paul because it was time to set the final stages of His plan of redemption in motion. And it is important to know and understand them so that we can participate with God to see His plan fulfilled. We need to be able to identify what He is doing in the world today and what to expect Him to do in the Future. With this knowledge, we can go forth in boldness and faith to experience His glorious promises; not out of fear, but in resolution and conviction to see them take place. I thank my God, my Savior, and the Holy Spirit for allowing me to be a recipient of the knowledge of these mysteries, and I pledge [through my faith] to reveal and share them with others, so that we might all live out our time on earth in the expectation of seeing these divine mysteries carried out. All Praise and Glory to God Almighty!

 Deuteronomy 29:29    The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

August 20, 2023

Part 3: What Did Paul Mean By The Mysteries of God?

In the last post I wrote about what Jesus meant in Matthew 13 when He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted". Jesus spoke to His small group of faithful disciples who had heard and received His teaching on God's plan to redeem Israel so they [Israel] might reveal Him to the world. These plans were "mysteries" to the crowds who showed up to hear Jesus teach, largely because they had forgotten -- or no longer paid attention to -- the prophecies [of the Messiah] that God had sent through His prophets of old. 

That's why He often cautioned witnesses of His power [and miracles] to not tell others about what He had done. Satan must not get a glimpse of God's redemptive work [through Israel] before Calvary could happen. The Enemy must not figure out that God planned for Israel to become a kingdom of priests that would influence and lead the Gentiles to a saving knowledge of Jesus as King of God's earthly kingdom. While this initial plan did not play out, we will see that it ultimately does come to fruition at Christ's return.

That understanding leads me to the next step in our study of what the Bible tells us about God's "mysteries". So, let's now consider Paul's statement to the Jews of Israel in Romans 11:25,  I do not want you, believers, to be unaware of this mystery [God’s previously hidden plan]—so that you will not be wise in your own opinion—that a partial hardening has [temporarily] happened to Israel [to last] until the full number of the Gentiles has come in; and so [at that time] all Israel [that is, all Jews who have a personal faith in Jesus as Messiah] will be saved; just as it is written [in Scripture].  So while Jesus's mission was to point the unbelieving Jews  back to the prophecies of the Messiah, so that they might recognize Him and step into Israel's earthly kingdom role, Paul speaks to mysterious things Jesus never mentions. In fact, what Paul reveals are Godly mysteries that were intentionally hidden until it was time for the Holy Spirit to reveal them to Paul. 

Consider the teachings of Paul ... Throughout Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Titus, and 1 Timothy, we find Paul teaching about the events/God's plans that establish His heavenly kingdom on earth: the temporary hardening [and fall] of Israel; salvation by faith without the necessity of the Mosaic Law; the formation of the Gentile Church and the Body of Christ; salvation being made available to all Jews and Gentiles without preference or distinction; the Rapture and Christ's return for His Bride; and the ultimate wrath of God against all who reject the Kingship of Jesus. 

Remember, when Jesus spoke to His disciples about God's program for Israel, it was understood that the original plans were for Israel alone. Jesus did not offer it to the Gentiles. At that time, there was a separation between Jew and Gentile. But after the Jews rejected Jesus, and there was no redeemed Israel, then the plan pivoted to salvation through the Gentiles, with the message taken to them by Paul. But Paul makes it clear that God has not cast away Israel! It will eventually be a restored Israel that will reach whatever unbelieving Gentiles remain on the earth and invite them into King Jesus's earthly kingdom. 

I think it is important that we realize that Jesus's mysteries, and Paul's mysteries, are revealed for two separate reasons; those reasons are not the same. Jesus's ministry was primarily to the Jews, and it was mysterious to the citizens of Israel because so many no longer believed that the prophecies of old would materialize in their lifetime. They had been subjected to so much bondage from other "kingdoms" -- [Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome] -- that they were naturally skeptical that the prophecies of the Messiah would ever come true. So, Jesus revealed God's mysterious plan for Israel to a few trusted followers and believers. 

But the mysteries that Paul preached were the mysterious plans of God that had been kept "hidden" until after His original plan did not transpire [because of Israel's unbelief], and they could be revealed to Paul by the Holy Spirit. These mysteries would become the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy that said, "In the days of those [final ten] kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will its sovereignty be left for another people; but it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it will stand forever". They are the mysteries that would ultimately lead to God's heavenly kingdom on earth, which is why He had to keep them hidden until Christ went to the Cross at Calvary!

You see, Satan thought he had defeated God at Calvary. The prophesied Messiah was judged and crucified by the very people God had commissioned to lead the world to the knowledge of the Most High God, Jehovah Adonai! Instead, Jesus defeated Satan's most devastating strategy [Death] by dying, Himself, for all of us and offering a way to be free from Satan's bondage. You see, God's plan was bigger than the devil knew! YHWH would now work His plan through a different spokesman and a different group of humans, but the end result would be the same. The Gentiles would spread the Gospels of Salvation and Kingdom to the ends of the earth, bringing Israel back into the fold. And once the Christian ekklesia is taken up to Heaven in what we know as "the Rapture", God will restore Israel to their original role of teaching the world of the sovereignty and glory of YHWH and Yeshua's righteous rule. 

As you can see, the "mysteries" that are revealed by Jesus and Paul are quite different, but they both point to the Sovereignty and Supremacy of our God. In the next post, I will discuss exactly what mysteries were revealed by Paul; those secrets that were hidden in the past, but revealed after Christ's resurrection -- many of which are still playing out today. Join me as we discover the glory and wisdom of God as He establishes His heavenly kingdom on earth.

Romans 11:33     Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and decisions and how unfathomable and untraceable are His ways! 


August 17, 2023

Part 2: What Did Jesus Mean by the "Mysteries" of the Kingdom of Heaven?

Before I begin this conversation, let me ask you this: How many of you have given any thought to the difference between the "Gospel of Jesus" and the "Gospel of the Kingdom"?  I would surmise that many of you are like me; I never gave it much thought, or at the very least, I combined them into one concept, under the heading of "The Good News". 

But I want to build a foundation going forward in regards to my thoughts, and I want us to understand the difference. I would submit to you that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of eternal life in the Kingdom of God through His work on the cross, while the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is a call to interface with God in His Kingdom ... in both the earthly realm and the Heavenly realm. In more precise terms, the Kingdom of God is the realm in which God is King (with the understanding that He resides in all realms and all dimensions).  We also know that a kingdom is a government.  Every kingdom needs a founding document, and God’s Kingdom on earth is founded on the Bible.

Here's another concept to consider: Every kingdom has an expansion agenda for its growth. The agenda is to expand and take territory for the King so that He might gain more influence in the world. Has that been God's intention from the beginning? How does the Word explain our part in that plan? And if that is the plan, why did Jesus tell the Disciples in Matthew 13, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted"? [NOTE: Some versions of the Bible use the word "secrets" instead of "mysteries".]

First of all, we Western-minded Christians need to come to a very important understanding of Jesus's mission while He was on the earth. Jesus was born a Jew; into a Jewish family and was raised according to the Jewish laws. He chose Jewish disciples, and His mission, which fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish prophets, was to the Jewish people. BUT, that does not mean that His ministry was exclusively for the Jewish people! However, in Matthew 15, when the Canaanite woman comes to Him to ask for help with her demon-possessed daughter, Jesus actually dismisses her with the statement, I was commissioned by God and sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But she persists, even when the disciples beg Jesus to send her away. When Jesus insists that it is not appropriate to take "the children's bread" and give it to "the pet dogs", she responds with one of the most poignant statements in the Bible: "Yes, Lord; but even the pet dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their [young] masters’ table". Jesus's response indicates that His power and compassion has been recognized by this woman. He says, "Woman, your faith [your personal trust and confidence in My power] is great; it will be done for you as you wish". Then the Bible states, "And her daughter was healed from that moment".  Her trust and confidence in Jesus's power to heal her daughter has great implications for us and the rest of the world who would come to believe and trust in Him.

So, let's go back to that seemingly exclusive statement in Matthew 13... Jesus makes the statement that the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom have been granted to His Jewish disciples, but not to "them". At this point in His journey, Jesus had spent between one and two years preaching to Israel in plain, uncomplicated language about His mission. But here, He is sitting by the Sea of Galilee when a large crowd gathered around Him, and He is forced to begin teaching from a boat offshore. Remember, that most of Israel had rejected His message; they had mocked him and most certainly ridiculed Him. But He's still focused on reaching them. And because their rejection had reached a critical point in His mission, He introduces the parables in order to speak the Truth, but hide it from those who did not want to hear it nor believe it. He would later explain the meanings to His twelve disciples. 

Why did He reserve the explanations for a private conversation with just the twelve? It is important to understand that throughout the Old Testament we find the prophets predicting that a Messiah would fulfill all the promises and covenants that YHWH had made to Israel, and set up His Kingdom on earth. Isaiah and Jeremiah's writings are full of these sacred promises. Daniel says it as plain as it can be said: "In the days of those [final ten] kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will its sovereignty be left for another people; but it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it will stand forever" (Daniel 2:44). And Zechariah states, "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord shall be the only one [worshiped], and His name the only one". So, Israel had been schooled in the anticipation of a heavenly king establishing his kingdom on the earth. But sadly, so many of the Israelite's in Jesus's time had not been faithful in teaching their children to look for the promised Messiah of the Old Testament! [This is an important lesson for us, as well]! Since these promises, hope, and doctrines had not been passed down to the next generations, there was so much spiritual knowledge that was missing in Jesus's time. [Which is why my husband and I constantly sound the alarm for our generation: My people perish for lack of knowledge!].

And since much of Israel was steeped in ignorance, doubt, and unbelief when Jesus showed up on the scene, it was difficult to recognize Him as the Messiah. In fact, when He intimates that He was sent by the Father, they would not recognize the passionate prophecy of Him as The Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. Please take the time to read this important Chapter! There is so much in Isaiah that points us to Israel's coming Messiah, but this chapter is without a doubt, the most convincing. But because of their unbelief, the Jews that Jesus came to did not see that their ancient prophecies were fulfilled in Him. They had lost the promise and the hope that Israel was destined [in God's plan] to host His earthly kingdom. Jesus came to teach them so they might reclaim that role. Hence, His statement to the Canaanite woman that He was "sent only to the lost sheep of Israel".

So, to summarize what Jesus means by "the mysteries the kingdom of heaven" in Matthew 13, He is referring to the principles and aspects of God's plan to redeem Israel so they might reveal Him to the world -- to both unbelieving Jews and the pagan Gentiles. And He relates this concept to them in the parables. But they were "mysteries" to the crowds because Israel had ignored all the divine revelation YHWH had given them through the Old Testament prophets. The truth is, the crowds did not what to hear it or believe it, so Jesus saved the explanation for His loyal disciples, who had hearts to believe. 

But I also want to stress that this is not the end of Israel's redemptive purpose for all mankind. I urge you to read Romans Chapter 11, to see how God plans on using them again to redeem the world before Christ's Second Coming! It is a truly exciting prophecy! But suffice it to say, that the mysteries that Jesus revealed were given to a small flock of Israel's believers. They could not, and would not, be fully understood until after Calvary, in order to defeat Satan's plan to keep Israel from becoming a kingdom of priests to influence the Gentiles, thereby continuing with God's redemptive plan for the entire world. And that leads me to my next blog post, Part 3, which will be titled "What Did Paul Mean by the Mysteries of God"? I will attempt to explain how God would use Paul to reach the Gentiles and reveal His hidden mysteries. Oh, what a Great God we serve, and I thank Him for revealing Himself in His sacred Word! Stay tuned!

Matthew 13:16     But blessed [spiritually aware, and favored by God] are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.