“The Kingdom of the Heavens”

Posted on November 21, 2010

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In the whole Bible, there are only two basic ministries: the priesthood and the kingship. The priesthood was given to Levi, and the kingship was given to Judah.

In the Gospels, again we have only two ministries. The first was of John the Baptist, a decedent of a priest and from the tribe of Levi. He was unlike any priest before him and his ministry signaled a change from the Old Testament dispensation to the New Testament dispensation. The other ministry was that of the Lord Jesus, a descendant of David and of the tribe of Judah. The whole book of Matthew presents Jesus as the King in His kingly ministry.

This is why Matthew talks so much about the kingdom. But what is the kingdom? John the Baptist’s message was “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” A closer look at this phrase “the kingdom of the heavens” reveals that it is not at all referring to what we might suppose.

In the New Testament, it does not refer to a far away heaven that we will go to. Neither does it refer to the Messianic kingdom. John said to repent because the kingdom of the heaves has drawn near. This indicates two things. First, the kingdom is coming to us; we are not going to it. Secondly, at the time of his speaking, the kingdom had not arrived.

Jesus referred to the kingdom of the heavens in the same way. But something changed in one of His parables. In the parable of the tares (v. 24), which indicates the establishment of the church at the day of Pentecost, the Lord said “the kingdom of the heavens is like”. The kingdom of the heavens arrived on the day of Pentecost. This means that it arrived at the very time the church came into existence.  The kingdom of the heavens is the church. These two terms, at least in the gospel of Matthew, are synonymous. This is confirmed by Matthew 16:18-19 use the terms “church” and “kingdom of the heavens” interchangeably.

So what does this mean to us? This: that God saved us, not for heaven, but for His church, which He established on Pentecost and for which He will return as a Bridegroom for His bride. “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”

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