In the previous article, we discovered the importance of Kingdom focus rather than earthly focus. While it is true that we live in the world, it is also true that we are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Our assignment is to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. How do we do that?
Yeshua told us that if we believe in Him and the One who sent Him, then the Kingdom of Heaven already resides in us. Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?” Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is withinyou.” (Luke 17:20-21 NCV) The kingdom of God is within us! As we grow in His ways, the kingdom of Heaven will radiate through us into the world. The Spirit works through us to change the atmosphere around us.
Yeshua told us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a bit of yeast in a batch of dough. [Yeshua] also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.” (Matt 13:33 NLT) As we interact with the world, the “yeast” of the Kingdom within us will begin to permeate every part of the earth.
The Kingdom of Heaven grows within us as we interact daily with Yehovah and sit at His feet, eager to learn His ways. We meditate on His word so that we gain more of His wisdom and knowledge. As we grow more like Him, our influence (yeast) will be more effective and on a larger scale. We should live in unity and love with our fellow believers.
So, what happened? The Body of Messiah has multiple fractures due to division and even malice among its members. Yeshua warned us that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). The Body of Messiah is fractured because we, individually and collectively, have failed to yield to the Holy Spirit. If each of us dies to himself or herself and yields to the Holy Spirit, we will have unity, for the Holy Spirit does not disagree with Himself or with the Father or Yeshua. Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Where we fail to die to ourselves, we introduce death into the Body of Messiah.
The fractured Body of Messiah is the reason why evil has prevailed in this world. It is only in unity that we have the strength to address the evil that is covering the world in darkness. Some leaders and other individuals in the Body of Messiah have already recognized this and have begun to work together and pray together. In order to do this effectively, they have to die to themselves. The rest of Yeshua’s followers must follow their example. How will we stand before the Judge one day and explain that we were too busy fighting among ourselves to carry out our assignments from Him? Rather than fight the adversary and his followers, we aided and abetted them with our disagreements and divisions. How will the Judge respond?
As we ponder these questions, perhaps we should consider 1 John 4:20 (ESV), If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.Another Scripture verse to meditate on are Yeshua’s words in John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
When the Holy Spirit reigns in our hearts all the petty disagreements which people have clung to for decades, even centuries, will fall away like so much chaff, and divisions in the Body of Messiah will be healed. The unity and love that is in us is the yeast that is supposed to permeate throughout the world, just as a little yeast permeates the entire dough as Yeshua explained in Matthew 13:33. If we want to share the Kingdom with others, we will have to live it as well as preach and teach about it. We can only do this successfully by yielding to the Holy Spirit.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt 6:10).
We are presently facing numerous challenges on many fronts and fear, unrest, and division are now more prevalent among us. These reactions are not in keeping with Yehovah’s will for us, for the Holy Spirit brings love, shalom and unity. How do we handle these challenges without falling into ungodly traps? We know from Scripture that Yeshua does only what He sees His Father doing (John 5:19). Therefore, as followers of Yeshua, we must do what we see Yeshua doing, for then we will also be doing what our Father is doing.
Since our challenges are very evident in the physical realm, there is strong temptation to address these issues in the physical realm and to rely on earthly leaders and experts for guidance. Sadly, many of us are discovering that this is not an effective solution. So, what is a better strategy?
In response to my cries for help to Abba, the Holy Spirit guided me to pursue the following Bible study: Get a sheet of paper and put a vertical dividing line down the middle. Title the left column “Kingdom of Heaven” and the right column “Earthly Governments”. Now peruse the four Gospels, and record any words or actions of Yeshua that belong to either category. Below, is a partial listing (the first two gospels) of the results of my own study. All references were taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) unless otherwise noted. Before we begin, however, let us review some of the governments of Yeshua‘s time. The Jewish government was headed by corrupt leaders who had created their own religion. The Romans, known for extreme cruelty, had conquered and occupied Israel. Anyone traveling the main roads was forced to see victims of crucifixion dying slow, tortured deaths. The victims might even be family members or close friends. In view of very real threats and horrors, what was Yeshua’s main focus?
Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God
Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matt 4:17). Matthew 5-7: Yeshua talks about living as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. When Yeshua had finished saying thesethings, the crowds were amazed at Histeaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers or religiouslaw (Matt 7 28). “And I tell you this, that many Gentileswill come from all over the world—fromeast and west—and sit down with Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in theKingdom of Heaven (Matt 8:11). “Go and announce to them that theKingdom of Heaven is near” (Matt 10:7). “And from the time John the Baptist beganpreaching until now, the Kingdom of Heavenhas been forcefully advancing and violentpeople are attacking it” (Matt 11:12). “But if I am casting out demons by the Spiritof God, then the Kingdom of God has arrivedamong you” (Matt 12:28). “You are permitted to understand the secretsof the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not” (Matt 13:11). Matthew 13 contains several other parables concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from yoursins and become like little children, you willnever get into the Kingdom of Heaven….” (Matt 18:3-11) “Some are born as eunuchs, some havebeen made eunuchs by others, and somechoose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven… (Matt 19 12) Matt 20:1-16 is the Parable of the Vineyard Workers “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors andprostitutes will get into the Kingdom of Godbefore you do” (Matt 21:31). Matthew 33-44 is the Parable of the Evil Farmers Matthew 22:14 is the Parable of the Great Feast Matthew 25 is two parables about the Kingdom of Heaven and teaching on the final judgment when the King returns to reign on the earth. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News (Mark 1:15) In Mark 4, Yeshua speaks in various parables concerning the Kingdom of God. “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see theKingdom of God arrive in power!” (Mark 9:1) “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands….and if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.” (Mark 9:43-48) “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15) “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23-25) Parable of the Evil Farmers (Mark 12:1-12) Realizing how much the man understood, [Yeshua] said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:34) And [Yeshua] said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:24-25)
“Beware of false prophets…” (Matt 7:15-16)
“You hypocrites! Isaiah was and right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote… (Mark 7:6-23)
Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)
Jesus turned around and looked at His disciples, then reprimanded Peter, “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Mark 8:33) Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap [Yeshua] into saying something for which he could be arrested…. “Should we pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them or shouldn’t we?” [Yeshua] saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” When the handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?’“Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well then,” [Yeshua] said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Mark 12:13-17) [Yeshua] also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet, they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” (Mark 12:38-40)
Kingdom of Heaven vs. Earthly Governments
As we can clearly see, Yeshua’s main focus was on the Kingdom of Heaven. Did He make a difference in the physical realm? Of course! He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry and taught the crowds. However, He did not try to change the current governments nor did He get caught up in political arguments. His focus was on the Kingdom of Heaven. He did and spoke only what He saw His Father doing and saying. He submitted Himself to the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19 NIV). Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. (Luke 4:1 NIV). “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matt 12:28 NIV):
Yeshua did not get caught up local politics with one exception (Matt. 25-15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26). He frequently admonished and confronted the Jewish leaders because they were disqualifying themselves from the Kingdom of Heaven and they were leading many others to follow suit. Still, His focus was on building the Kingdom of Heaven. Many of His followers turned away from Him because they wanted Him to address the issue of Roman subjection. Actually, He did address the issues of bondage, oppression, cruelty and many other things in His work on the cross and in His resurrection. But He was going to the source of the problem and the source had its roots in the spiritual realm. Although He did something physical when He suffered beatings, mocking, and crucifixion, He was addressing a spiritual matter. Many followers had left Him because He would not take a stand against the Romans.
Instead, He was taking a stand against the evil behind the Romans’ sinfulness and the sinfulness of the whole world.
Our first response to any threat in the physical realm should be seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He will show you the spiritual root and help you address the problem at that level. When we get to the source of the problem, we can truly see everlasting results. When we address only the physical realm, we apply a bandage to a wound that continues to fester.
The bandage will hide the wound, but the wound will still be around, just under the surface. When we focus on problems, they are magnified. When we focus on Yehovah, He is magnified. If we keep our focus on Yehovah and seek His kingdom and His ways, then we have His shalom that passes all understanding. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). If we focus on Yehovah and His Kingdom of Heaven, we learn to address the fear, unrest and division that is so prevalent in the physical realm by confronting the source of this ungodliness in the spiritual realm. We will become peacemakers. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matt 5:9 NIV).