The First Block of Teaching on Kingdom

I see the first block of teaching about the kingdom of heaven starting at Matthew 3: 2 and going to 8: 12.  But this framework does not have the first mention of the kingdom of Jesus in it, so we need to go to the Book of Luke.  The angel Gabriel has visited Zechariah and announced the birth of John the Baptist.  He appears to Mary, introducing himself and stating why he has appeared to her.  This introduction makes the declaration that Jesus’ kingdom over the house of Jacob will never end. (Jacob, the natural-born descendants) Actually, the first four uses of the word kingdom in Matthew and Luke form an interesting picture when taken in order.

  1. Luke 1:33 – The angel Gabriel telling Mary of Jesus’ future.  The Heavenly view featuring past and future events.
  2. Matthew 3:2 to 12 – John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus by telling people to repent for the kingdom is near.  Verse twelve has several forceful words that could give you the idea that the “one” may produce violent actions.  Was this the prevailing thought on what the Messiah would do?
  3. Luke 4:5 – The Devil tempting Jesus with a shortcut to the kingdoms of the earth.  Lying and bartering with humans to get what he always wanted – praise.
  4. Matthew 4:17 – Jesus, after He overcame the Devil’s temptations, preached repentance for the kingdom is near.  The merging of the heavenly idea and the Bride for His Earthly kingdom.

“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” was the first use of the word “kingdom” in Matthew.  One came from the person who was to prepare the way and the other from “The Way”.  It makes me wonder if John and Jesus had the same idea when they used the word kingdom?  It might seem that John was thinking of an earthly kingdom with military victories (Matthew 3:11 + 12).  Jesus wanted righteousness!  John’s words were true, they just came to pass with a different look than what “the people” wanted to happen!

This block of teaching about the kingdom is wrapped around the Sermon on the Mount.  The additions that frame the Sermon are worth looking at in the context of what is said about the kingdom in the Sermon.  4:23 – 25 has Jesus preaching the good news in Galilee.  He is healing all sorts of problems and His fame spreads.  Syria, the Decapolis, and Galilee were not the bright spots of the Jewish world at the time, but the news spread to a hurting world of Gentiles (Syria, Decapolis).  So, in chapter 5 when it says He went to a mountainside, it makes you wonder what mountain?  Mt. Hermon near Damascus or Mt Tabor in Galilee would be possible; both of these are also possible sites for the Transfiguration.  But since this study has had me looking at Elijah (because of John) and Elisha I might wonder if it could be Mt. Carmel?  (It was an important place for both of these prophets.)  It was by the major trade route by the sea and would have allowed the news of healings to spread quickly.  On the other end of this time period of teaching are two major healings and acts of faith. 1) The leper asking for healing and being told to go to the priest as a testimony to them (Jewish).  2) The centurion (Gentile/Roman) asking for healing for a servant and his understanding of the kingdom and authority.  These are perfect object lessons from the Master Teacher demonstrating the Sermon.  This shows how Jesus saw the kingdom spreading, to both Jew and Gentile.

Just looking at “kingdom” in the Sermon, it seems to break down into four general areas of thought. 

  1. This is the Father’s kingdom. Matthew 6:9 – the Lord’s Prayer.
  2. Positive ideals. Matthew 5:3+10, 8:11 – who belongs in it. 19b – greatness in the kingdom. 6:33 – seek the kingdom.  
  3. Who is the least? Matthew 5:19a – poor teachers.
  4. Who is not getting in! Matthew 5:20 – self-righteous, 7:21 – those who do not produce fruit, 8:12 – subjects of the kingdom with no faith.

So far in my study of the Kingdom.  

Studying a topic should imply that you do not know everything about the topic!  In this study, I have looked at the 4th and the 1st groups of ideas on the kingdom.  The 4th group was added on from my original thinking on the kingdom.  To be honest, having the 1st block wrapping around the Sermon on the Mount also was not in my first thoughts either.  I consider this study to be going very well because I am looking at the “old” and the “new” is surprising me every day.  The Second Block study is also forcing me to add the good of the old with fresh ideas from the new.  

The Bible and Science – Creation Qualities

 

Romans 1: 20 (NIV) For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (I added the bold lettering.)

There are three things that frame and shape our existence on this earth and in the universe – atomic forces, light/EM spectrum, and gravity.  I can see these as shadows of our triune God.

Atomic Forces

These forces are not completely understood.  We know about the particles of protons, neutrons, and electrons and how they combine, rearrange, and come apart.  There is some understanding of quarks and atomic glue, but the mysteries of atoms are vast and may never be completely understood.  The inquisitive nature of mankind will drive us to keep exploring! 

Atoms, particles, and forces are responsible for the EM spectrum and gravity.  The EM spectrum and gravity are intertwined with atoms, being a part of and coming from atoms and their varied interactions.

EM Spectrum

Light, the primary energy source on earth, is part of a group of energy waves called the EM spectrum.  All of the waves are useful and some are dangerous.  As electrons change position wavelengths of the EM spectrum can be emitted.  Science recognizes that light is energy and can exert a force.

Gravity 

The attractive force that pulls on everything.  Its strength depends on the sizes of the objects and the distance between them.  That force is always working, even though you may not be aware of it!  Mankind has found ways to resist gravity for small periods of time, but it will always bring things down to earth.

What I See

  • Father God is the atomic force. We, His people, know and understand some of our Father, but there is much we can only imagine.  It is nice to have a God that shows Himself as real and a mystery. 
  • The EM spectrum is Jesus.  He is our light and life.  Many people think of Him only as a baby and forget He rides a white horse, carries a flaming sword, and has an angelic army coming behind Him.  Jesus has a supernatural (invisible) side and a physical side.
  • Gravity is the Holy Spirit.  He draws us to Jesus.  The closer you get to Him the stronger the force of attraction.  You can resist Him, but I would look out for the landing (every knee will bow).  

∞ I praise and thank You that You have made Yourself seen in creation.  Give me eyes and ears to hear the sounds of You that are all around us.  Amen.

Elisha – The Man of God

Elisha the “Man of God”.  His name means “God of supplication or riches” (Strong’s #477).  Elisha is mentioned once in the New Testament in the Book of Luke.  God chose him to follow Elijah as the prophet to Israel, the wayward Northern Kingdom.  He served many years “pouring water” on the hands of Elijah.

Elisha came into his own in 2 Kings 2 when he saw Elijah taken away to Heaven.  He asked for a double portion of Elijah’s “ruwach” and he received it. (Note – this has for a long time been transferred to miracles.)  “Ruwach” means spirit or life, power/miracles are implied and there are many people who count miracles and make a case for this happening.  In Elijah, I started looking at the miraculous happenings not just miracles, and began to focus on “life” and the things in these men’s lives. 

This is one of “those” things that for some reason I don’t seem to get “right”.  I counted twenty-four miraculous things for Elijah and twenty-eight for Elisha.  (I have heard 8/16 and even 17/34 for a count.)  I tried and even redid Elisha – I will list verses at the end of the post.  BUT the Bible says he got a double portion!  I feel he did get a double of “ruwach” and things that are involved in life.  Please bear with me, here are some things Elisha had more of than Elijah.

  1. Length of ministry – 24 or 25 years of ministry for Elijah and 47 to 50 years for Elisha.  (I determined this by looking at the years of the kings that were in their lives.)
  2. Elijah – 2 kings of Israel; Elisha – 4 kings of Israel and 1 from Judah.
  3. Completed instruction of God to Elijah in the cave.  Elijah – 1 (anointing Elisha); Elisha – 2 (anointing Jehu and telling Hazael he would be king)
  4. Influence/servants.  Elijah – 2 servants, one unnamed (possibly the widow’s son) and Elisha.  Elisha – At least Gehazi and a company (at least one) of prophets, that may have been fifty or more men in each.

Concerning miracles, I noticed this and it is worth mentioning!  I am choosing not to quantify this topic.  Many of the miraculous things that accompanied Elijah are by angels, or “the Lord says”.  Most of the things Elisha did are not!  The Bible simple states that the “man of God” spoke.  To me that indicates that Elisha had a different type of relation with God than Elijah had during his life.  Elisha also had many things happen that concerned water.  Elisha, also helped “his kings” more with advice and warnings than Elijah.  I will leave the argument of who is greater to someone else, we just need the miraculous again in our churches!

This list is intentional not pretty!  Some of these I felt like I was “pushing it”.  At times I picked one verse out of the story and did not give a range of verses for that story.  All of these are in 2 Kings and I used the NIV translation – 2:12,14, 21, 23; 3:11,15; 4:1,16, 33, 41, 43; 5:14, 26, 27; 6:6, 9, 10 17, 18, 20; 7:1,2; 8:1, 7, 10; 9:1; 13:15, 21.

Elijah – Questions, Observations, Comments

This post is because of the studying done for Study of the Kingdom – Elijah.  It is in note form and not meant to be complete statements or thoughts.  You , probably, will need your bible open as you go through this.       

1 Kings

17:7 – the brook dried up.  God changes somethings but lets others run their natural course.  What seems like a trial is really an opportunity.  The brook drying and going to Sidon. 

17:9 – Commanded a widow!  Did she know before Elijah got there?  The ravens were ordered, she was commanded!  This story makes the New Testament in Luke 4:24.

17:13 – a faith action, then a miracle/blessing.

17:18 –   In verse 15 she did as she was told and it started a blessing.  It may have been a year that she enjoyed the miracle.  Illness strikes and both the widow and Elijah are tested/challenged.  She acknowledged the man of God but blamed the source of her blessing.  Had she gotten too comfortable?  She shows a “religious” response – blames God (instead of be thankful), brings up her past, and blames the source of her blessing.

17:24 – miracles reinforced the words of truth that Elijah had brought.  Now she knows!

18:1 – another faith action to bring a miracle. Elijah had to go see Ahab.

Obadiah is a complex character.  His story of faith in-action is told twice! Usually an indicator of importance. (Elijah has several things that happen twice in his story.)  There was already myth surrounding Elijah and his ability to “disappear”. 

18:13 How could Elijah know of his story unless God revealed it to him, he was in hiding and it was done in secret.    

18:19 Why Mount Carmel?  Did Jesus ever go to Mount Carmel?  Elisha went back after Elijah was taken.

18: 20b, 24b, 39 The people said, “Nothing; what you say is good; the Lord He is God.”  May be a logical progression, but it just sits funny.

18:22 Elijah’s insistence on the fact he is the only one.  This is after Obadiah said he took care of 100 prophets.  He was not alone in serving God, and neither are we.  Paul repeats this story in Romans 11:2 to stress this point.

18:43 Elijah has a servant!  I think he was the widow’s son.

18:44 The cloud is rising.  Yes, that is how it works just you usually cannot see it happening, and then it progresses quickly. 

19:2 Steven Furtick called this an attack when you are in transition.  If Jezebel really had the power to kill him she would have just sent a death squad and not told him it was coming.

19:8 Follows the pattern of the Exodus.  It puts Moses and Elijah or law and prophet together in a similar circumstance.  Miracle food and water, forty days, and meeting God in a cave or cleft of a rock.  Normal travel in that length of time could be 800 to 1600 miles.  The pillar would allow the Children to travel at night.  Ref. Exodus 24:12. Was Elijah hoping he would die on the mountain?

19:11 Wind, earthquake, and fire are similar to what David reports/says in Psalm18 and the idea is also in Psalm 50.  It is also a picture of Law and Grace, harsh then gentle.

19:15 Did Elijah follow the instructions? Probably not!  First, he went to Elisha instead of Damascus.  Elisha had Jehu anointed in 2 Kings 9 and he told Hazel in 2 Kings 8:7. A possible out was that Ahab showed remorse in 1 Kings 21:9.  

19:19 to 21 Elisha is Elijah’s second servant.  He gave up a lot – 12 yoke or 24 oxen was a lot of money.  How big was that plow?  In a straight line 12 yoke may have been over 100 feet!  That was a huge party with that many cows.  It ended his business.  The cows did not belong to his parents.  Was he married?

Note on Chapter 20. To reinforce that Elijah was not alone there are two unnamed prophets.  They seem to have no connection to Elijah but Ahab knows them and accepts their words.

21:20 Ahab blames everyone but himself and they are them the enemy. 

21:25 + 26 God did carry out the words of Elijah but He showed mercy.

Chapter 22 – Another prophet besides Elijah.  Elijah’s ministry could have been twenty-four years long – twenty-two years of Ahab’s reign (1 Kings 16:29) and the two years of Ahaziah’s reign 22: 51.  

2 Kings 2

Bethel > Gilgal > Jericho > Jordan This is a reverse trip for Joshua and the children.  It is also the reverse of Jesus going Jerusalem before His death. 

Elijah, Elisha, and the company of prophets knew he was going to be taken.  I think Elijah knew how he was going.

2:10 Elijah’s statement to Elisha could be – if you see what I see or the way I see.

Study of the Kingdom – Elijah

Elijah, the mysterious prophet, who is introduced in 1 Kings 17 announcing a drought on Israel is a powerful figure, both in Judaism and Christianity.  John the Baptist and Elijah are linked together because of prophecies in Isaiah, Malachi and an angel of the Lord (Luke 1), the tradition of Jewish elders, and the testimony of Jesus.  Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:2, and Luke 1: 11-17 and 76 refer to Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1 and 4:5.  John does not quote the Old Testament but refers to the Baptist as a witness of the Light.  Jesus instructs the Three on the Mount of Transfiguration of the John/Elijah connection.  Elijah’s miracles of the drought, blazing offering, and the killing of the prophets of Baal are focused in 1 Kings 18:37 while he was praying and acknowledged that God was “turning their hearts back again”.   This idea is reinforced in Malachi 4:5, which also opens the door for John the Baptist and the empty chair at Passover. 

The Jewish custom of an empty chair or an extra glass of wine at Passover is linked with him reportedly visiting each circumcision because he is checking on the people’s heart and turning them to God (check the websites below).  John the Baptist fulfills this by his message in Matthew 3:2 – “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near”.  John’s baptism or ritual washing echoes requirements of the Law, but also carries the idea of leaving Egypt.  It is amazing that this wild man of the desert, this deliverer of fire has become a signal fire of hope as we wander through this wilderness of our lives.

As I read Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 17 I get the feeling that he was well known before the drought.  He had an audience with Ahab in verse 1 and Obadiah recognized him. For two powerful officials to know you, it should mean that they were accustomed to seeing you.    

Elijah in the New Testament

Elijah is mentioned twenty-nine times in the NIV New Testament.  I am going to list a loose timeline of when Elijah is mentioned.  I am doing this more by event because Matthew and Mark share the same references.

  1. Luke 1:17 + 47 – Gabriel and Zechariah talking about John’s mission and how it related to Elijah.
  2. John 1:21+25 – John being questioned if he is Elijah.  He says no and then quotes Isaiah 40:3.
  3. Luke 4:24 – Jesus at Nazareth teaching about prophets.
  4. Matthew 11:24 – Jesus links Elijah to John the Baptist.
  5. Matthew 16:14 – People think Jesus is Elijah.
  6. Matthew 17: 3-12 – Elijah is at the Transfiguration and Jesus teaches the Disciples about John.
  7. Matthew 27: 47+49 – Jesus on the cross, the people think He is calling for Elijah. 

Elijah is also mentioned in Romans 11:2 and James 5:17.

Luke 1:17 has given me a lot to think about!  Gabriel said, “In the spirit and power of Elijah.”  John did not do miracles!  So, the concept of “spirit and power” has made me think hard about Elijah and then how it manifested in John.  I can see “the spirit” part fairly well – both had no problem being alone in the desert, and both got kings and queens mad because of their stand for righteousness.  “The power” part is another story.  Elijah had fire fall three times and the chariot of fire.  No rain, then rain and he divided the Jordan River; so, he was given power over water.  My solution was easy!  I have the wrong idea of power.  James 5:17 talks about Elijah’s power of prayer, not fire falling.  1 Kings 1:17 – it was by his word that it stopped raining.  I do believe that today’s church needs the miraculous acts of God but in themselves miracles may not cause revival, they are to confirm the Gospel.  The power of Elijah in John the Baptist was his message and deeds – repent and be baptized.

The Voice

The Apostle/writer John quotes John the Baptist in John 1:21+25 that he is not Elijah but the voice of one in the wilderness.  Was this statement humility or cluelessness?  Gabriel said he was; Jesus said he was, why would John say anything different?  I really don’t think it is either of those!  Like Elijah, in 2 Kings 1, John knew he was a man of God and he knew his mission.

Elijah and the Miraculous

Elijah means God of Jehovah #452 (Strong’s Concordance) which is a combination of #410 and #3050.  #410, however, is also power (definition 7,8); so, Elijah could be “the power of Jehovah”. 

Moses, Elijah, and Elisha are the main people in the Old Testament that walked in the miraculous.  Yes, others had powerful encounters but not at the intensity of these three.  It has become popular to jump on Elisha’s bandwagon of the double portion of Elijah’s anointing.  There are many websites that count individual miracles to show the “double” blessing.  It was disturbing to realize that one claimed eight/sixteen and another seventeen/thirty-four and other sites had different numbers and different miracles.  Elisha, however, asked for “ruwach” or spirit which, for the most part, means breath or life.  So, I will try to list the miraculous in Elijah’s life but also some of the other things he had in his life.  (Note – the miraculous is not just what Elijah spoke, but what God did for him.  Elijah did not “ask” for every miracle.)

  • One servant and Elisha
  • He had dealings with three kings – Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram (Judah, 2 Chronicles 21:12)
  • Did one of the commands from the cave.

Okay, this list is very subjective but I am listing the miraculous not just miracles.  This is a combination of Elijah spoke, the Lord says, or angels did something.

  1. 1 Kings 17: 1 – Announces no rain
  2. 17:2+3 – go hide
  3. The ravens did feed him
  4. 17:8+9 – go to Sidon
  5. Widow to feed you
  6. 17:14 – Elijah was specific on the flour and the oil
  7. 17:19 – widow’s son healed
  8. 18:1 – go to Ahab
  9. 18:36 – prayed and the fire fell
  10. 18:41 – he heard the sound of the heavy rain
  11. 18:46 – the power to run with Ahab’s chariot approximately 40 miles
  12. 19:5 – angel delivered food and water
  13. 19:7 – angel delivered food and water
  14. 19:8 – traveled 40 days and nights on the two meals
  15. 19:7 – meeting God and receiving the instructions
  16. 21:17 – took a word to Ahab
  17. 21:28 – the word about Ahab’s change
  18. 2 Chronicles 21:12 – word to Jehoram
  19. 2 Kings 1:3 – word to Ahaziah 
  20. 1:10 – fire fell
  21. 1:12 – fire fell again
  22. 1:15 – okay to go with the third captain
  23. 2:8 – struck the river and it divided
  24. 2:10 – he knew how he would be taken (implied); the school of prophets and Elisha also knew he would be taken. 

I will do a comparison list of things for Elisha. See Elisha.

Turn the Hearts

The idea that Elijah turns hearts toward God is still part of his legend today in Jewish culture.  That really is a great idea/ministry.  In 1 Kings 18: 37 Elijah credits that action to the Lord God, which is why fire came down and burned the sacrifice on Carmel.  This also was the ministry of John the Baptist before the revealing of Jesus.  People who were baptized did believe while the Pharisees did not.  Malachi 4:5 gives Elijah the same responsibility.  This in turn leads many to wonder about the two witnesses in Revelation.

Here is a list from Bible Gateway when I used the word “turn” in a search.  I felt turning was the key word and these are examples of that idea.  There are others!

  1. Isaiah 6:10
  2. Isaiah 40:3
  3. Malachi 4:6
  4. Matthew 13:15
  5. Luke 1:17
  6. John 12:40 
  7. Acts 28:27

https://reformjudaism.org/passover-mystery-fifth-cup

https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/504495/jewish/Why-Is-Elijah-the-Prophet-Invited-to-the-Seder.htm