Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wednesday, October 9th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Titus 2; Proverbs 31; Jeremiah 13-14
Today's scripture focus is Luke 17:20-21

Luke 17:20-21

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Coming of the Kingdom

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

The people of Israel had been anticipating the coming of the kingdom for so long, but they were expecting a kingdom of power and judgment, not a kingdom of mercy and meekness.  They were anticipating the 2nd coming, without realizing that the 2nd coming would be horrific without the 1st coming.

Chandler and MacArthur interpret this slightly differently.

They had in their mind that there were going to be some sort of moon turning to blood, stars fracturing 
in two and falling on the earth apocalyptic images that were going to occur when the kingdom of God was ushered in. Even if it was just military signs, they were looking for rebellion to fire up, they were looking for a marked defeat of some Roman outpost. That’s what they’re looking for, and Jesus is going, “You’re looking at the wrong things. You’re missing it here. The kingdom of God is not coming like this or like that.” The irony is they’re talking to the coming of the kingdom of God. The kingdom is not over there, over here. Look at how He answers. “...nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” If you have a version of the Bible that says, “inside of you,” I give you permission to mark that word out. That word is nowhere in the Greek. Now, Jesus just said to them, “I’m here. The kingdom is here. I’m in the midst of you right now.” So let’s see exactly what He’s saying. “The restoration of what was broken in Genesis 3, it’s here. The fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, that all the nations on the earth will be blessed, it’s here, it’s begun. Freedom from slavery, both external and internal, it’s here. Your king, your guide, your provider, the lover of your soul is here. I’m here. It has begun.” And then He goes on after this and talks about the consummation, what comes after this. “Okay, here’s where it begins, and here’s how it ends. But the kingdom of God has begun....

And  it has so many implications that you could talk for hours on this. It has spiritual implications. In fact, if it’s not for the  spiritual implications, there are no other implications. But spiritually the kingdom of God coming, Jesus Christ coming means that my soul is purchased, reconciled, made right. I am adopted as a son of God almighty. What was fractured  in Genesis 3 between me and God, the enmity in my heart towards Him is removed and replaced with worship and  affection. Sonship is given, the kingdom of God is here. But it also has social implications. Like I’ve been set free from  the asinine pursuit of hierarchy and positioning, and I can lower myself and serve all. I’ve been freed in a materialistic  sense, which means I’m not defined by my jeans, I’m not defined by my shoes, I’m not defined by my clothes and I’m  not defined by where I live or what I drive. In fact, I’ve been set free to give whatever I have away for the good of the  kingdom. I’ve been set free, spiritually coming to the kingdom, socially coming to the kingdom. Any power, any authority,  anything I have is not given to me to lord it over anyone,  but so that I might serve. That’s the coming of the kingdom.  Materialistically, I’m not, “Let’s gather trinket after trinket after trinket to fill some void in my life.” But instead it's open-handed generosity to the saints and the poor and oppressed.  That's the coming of the kingdom. And He's going "I'm right here.  I'm standing in front of you. The kingdom of God is in the midst of you."

MacArthur maintains that this was another mockery of Jesus.  They knew what a King was supposed to be like - absolute supremacy, absolute sovereignty, the king could do whatever he wanted with no repercussions.  Jesus keeps talking about the kingdom, but they could see no evidence of it.

The words of our Lord reveal their misunderstanding. They didn't understand the Kingdom. The King was there and the Kingdom was there, but they had a problem. And Jesus expressed what that problem was in a conversation He had with Nicodemus in John 3. Do you remember that conversation? Let me just pull one statement made out of it. "Jesus answered and said to him," John 3:3, "'Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.'" If you haven't been recreated, if you haven't been raised from the dead, if you haven't had the blinders taken off, if you don't have new life, you can't see the King or the Kingdom. And He went on to say, "You must be born of the water and the Spirit," that's spiritual birth cleansing by the power of God and be given His Holy Spirit, or you'll never see the Kingdom...never....
It was there then, it's here now and it's growing and it's expanding and the world still can't see it. It's the invisible Kingdom. It's moving toward a great day of immense visibility when He comes the second time, every eye will see Him....
God is King and He really rules over two Kingdom in two parts, two phases. First, there is His external universal Kingdom over which He rules by creation. That is He's the King of the universe. He's the King of everything and everyone. Everything and everyone in the universe at all times from their creation to their end or their eternity is under His absolute sovereign will and authority. He exercises supreme power over everything and everyone He has ever made, and He exercises it at all times. Since the Fall, this Kingdom has been in rebellion against its King. And by the way, there is a leader of that rebellion named Satan and the rebellion is unsuccessful and headed for a total destruction. But in the meantime, the system run by Satan is in violent rebellion against the King. And the King Himself has cursed His own creation. But one day that will all be over, the curse will end. Satan and all his minions will be cast into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels, all the ungodly will go there with them. And the Lord will destroy this cursed universe in an uncreation, a dissolution, an implosion described by Peter as the melting of all its elements with fervent heat. And in its place create a new heaven and a new earth. And the thing that is distinctive about heaven and the eternal state is that God is King forever. No more rebellion, no more curse.
But there's another Kingdom, or another aspect of His rule and that is not the external, universal kingdom over which He rules by creation, but the internal personal kingdom over which He rules by recreation. That is to say it is the spiritual realm. He rules over the souls that belong to Him eternally through the salvation He has provided in His Son. This is the Kingdom that they couldn't see and the world couldn't see. There's no pomp and circumstance with the establishment of this Kingdom, nor with its increase. This Kingdom is growing. ...Spiritual kingdom will grow into its fullest consummation in the glorious reign of Jesus Christ on earth that we call the millennium.
But it had already started. Let's go back to verse 20. So He says the Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed. The one that is now in motion in process is not observable....Every moment when someone has added to the Kingdom by salvation, the Kingdom expands but it is not visible. You can't say it's there, you can't say it's here. It's not an event to point to, it is externally invisible. That's indicated by the fact that these religious leaders were looking at the King and the Kingdom was growing right in front of them and they couldn't either see the King or the Kingdom.
And then in verse 21 He says this, you want to know the nature of this Kingdom? "Behold," He said, "the Kingdom of God is within you." Now some of you have a Bible that says "in your midst," translators bounce back and forth between those two. The original Greek text uses a Greek word entoswhich has a little preposition enwhich means in. Entosmeans inside. That's what it means.... The "you" here is generic. All He means to say is the Kingdom is inside, it's not outside, it's not external, it's not visible, it's not manifest in the way you expect it to be manifest.....It's an internal thing. It's righteousness in the heart imputed by faith in Christ. It is peace with God. It is joy. All of that as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom is within you because the King is within you and He reigns and rules within you. There is no other way to view Jesus Christ other than King. When we say we believe in the Lordship of Christ, we're just saying we know He's King and that means He's in charge, absolutely in charge....
We're in the Kingdom, we're fellow workers for the Kingdom, we preach the Kingdom, it's all about the Kingdom. So we are a part of this expanding spiritual Kingdom. We preach the Kingdom, we declare the Kingdom and in doing so what we're basically saying is that Jesus must be acknowledged as...what? King.
This isn't the only part of the Kingdom. It's moving, it's expanding toward that consummate earthly kingdom when Jesus comes back the second time. And when that happens, all the signs prophesied will take place.
No matter which way you define it - either "in the midst" or "within" - it does seem to lead to the same conclusion.  Every time someone is saved, the kingdom grows, and the restoration of what was broken in Genesis begins.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 17:22-25
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Titus 3, Ecclesiastes 1, Jeremiah 15-16

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