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.  

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

Study of Kingdom – John the Baptist

John the Baptist is one of the keys I have used to divide my study of the Kingdom into four sections.  So, it seems right that I take time to do a study on John.  He is mentioned in all four Gospels and the Book of Acts.  Luke mentions him the most (Luke and Acts) and John, as usual, gives a different look into him and his ministry.  I am going to list a possible timeline drawing from all four writers.  Some events are easy to compare and the mentions in Acts just refer to previous facts.  The bullet points may have more than one scripture.

  1. Luke 1:5-63
  2. Luke 3:1-20, Matthew 3:1-15, Mark 1:1-8, John 1: 6 to 40
  3. John 3: 23 – 36
  4. John 4: 1
  5. Matthew 4:12, Mark 2:18. 
  6. Matthew 9:14, Luke 5:33. 
  7. Matthew 11: 1-18, Luke 7:18-33
  8. Matthew 14:1-14  
  9. Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:9
  10. John 5:33-36
  11. Matthew 16:14, Mark 8:28, Luke 9:19
  12. Luke 11:1 – This one may be out of place. 
  13. Luke 16:16
  14. Matthew 17:13
  15. John 10:40-41
  16. Matthew 21:25-32, Mark 11:30-32, Luke 20:4-6
  17. Acts 1:5,22; 10:37; 11:16; 13:24, 25; 18:25; 19:3,4

All of the Gospel writers included a story of Jesus’ baptism (#2). 

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) also have #11 and #16 in common.  #11 is the story of Jesus asking the Disciples who the people thought He was?  The answers included John the Baptist and Elijah.  #16 is Jesus’ challenge to the religious rulers in the Temple during Holy Week.

John, the last Old Testament prophet.  “The voice” (Isaiah 40:3) who called Israel to repent.  Matthew (#7 and 14) quotes Jesus comparing John to Elijah.  John, the source of many sermons.  Steven Furtick in his book, Crash the Chatterbox, studies John in the chapter The Expectation Gap and unpacks a little of John’s humanity.  But in doing this study, I have gotten the idea we have not appreciated John and his ministry enough. (Personally, I got sidetracked with the Elijah connection. That is another post.)

We do not know how long John preached repentance and baptized people before Jesus came to him in #2.  Luke quotes Peter, Paul, and Priscila and Aquila in Acts telling people about “the baptism of repentance” and that there was another baptism awaiting them.  Luke 7 (in #7) talks about the effects of that baptism and how it changed people to believe and accept Jesus.

John and faithful disciples and fierce enemies.  Like Elijah he had a crazy king and a vengeful queen, except John’s queen did get him killed.  He never did miracles but directed everyone to Jesus, which was his sole purpose in life.

John’s message and baptism went out before the Apostles and their mission trips.  This is seen in Apollos and Ephesus both knowing John’s baptism, and the way Paul addressed the Jews in Pisidian Antioch (#17).

MORE THOUGHTS ON JOHN:

  1. John could have been a High Priest!  Remember, his father Zachariah was behind the Curtain in the Temple.
  2. May have been an Essene.
  3. Identified, by his dress, as a prophet.
  4. He angered and awed Herod.  He had no problem killing people but was reluctant to kill John.
  5. He clearly heard from the Holy Spirit as to his mission in life.
  6. He lived his life for his mission.  He possibly never heard the accolades that Jesus spoke about him.

Pic from http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/

Kingdom – Fourth Block of Teaching

Since this is really an “on-going” study, I am changing my thoughts and adding a fourth block:}

WHY– 1. On Tuesday of Holy Week Jesus uses John’ baptism to silence/anger the religious. 2. This time period reflects Exodus 12: 1 – 13. Which is the time before the Passover when the lamb was prepared and in the time of no yeast. 3. This is the start of the final teaching/preparation period for Pentecost – the birth of the Church.

I am starting this block in Matthew 21 (the Triumphal Entry) and going to the Ascension.  This is an aggressive period for Jesus.  He has forceful actions and teachings that contrast His actions after His arrest.  Then, after the Resurrection, He takes on a new attitude as He prepares His followers for the future.

John the Baptist– Each of my sections have John the Baptist at or near the start of them. I know I am starting with the last section but there is nothing wrong with reading the end of the story first.  Using John’s signature teaching and act truly honors him and his place in God’s story.  I know Isaiah links John to Elijah but there is also a link to Moses because of baptism, which is linked with the passing through the Red Sea. (See Dividing the Red Sea in Passover to Pentecost Week 1.)

At the start of Matthew, John is physically present and doing his ministry, and as the story progresses he is slowly removed until it is just his primary teaching and act.  After all, John the Baptist did say he had to decrease and Jesus increase.

Sunday– Jesus fulfills Zechariah 9:9. The Kingdom principle He allows praise.  This probably runs over into Monday (Matthew 21: 15 – 16).  Luke has Pharisees complaining about the praise as Jesus enters the city.

Monday– It is not recorded, but I have an idea that Jesus returning to Jerusalem set off another round of praise.  This would have set off the Pharisees, again!  When He cleaned the Temple, stopping the selecting/buying of the lamb and other offerings, He focused on prayer.  Not a bad combination – praise to bring Jesus in and prayer once He is there! Mark/Peter has the fig tree being cursed today and then found dead on Tuesday.  Luke simply says He taught daily. John is the only one to add (12:20) that Greeks wanted to meet Him and that the Father confirmed Jesus’ message about why He had to die with a voice from Heaven.  John also includes Jesus teaching that He came as a Light and not a judge – the Father’s word will do that.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

This is the time period required in Exodus 12: 5 + 6 when the Lamb was to be taken care of before the meal. (After some consideration, Tuesday maybe be a better start to the fourth block of teaching.  The fig tree represents religious acts/systems that started with Adam and Eve.). “Tuesday” starts at Matthew 21: 18 and goes to chapter 26: 6.  Following when and how Jesus used the word kingdom will be this portion of the study, I will use one of the three times “kingdom” is mentioned in John.

Jesus putting the elders in a bind with the question about John is very fitting for the season they were in.  Baptism is connected to Passover with the parting of the Red Sea and passing through the Jordan (Joshua’s Passover).  Unless noted all of the references will be in Matthew.

  1. 21:31 – Jesus uses the Kingdom of God (here and in 43).  I feel it is an “in your face” move for the Elders.  He stresses those who repent and believe and going into the kingdom.
  2. 21:43 – Jesus is prophesying a change of membership in the Kingdom.  He emphases’ doing what the Father wants – “fruit production”.
  3. 22:1 – The new membership is again shown in verse 8.  The bad attitudes will be left out and not being “clothed” correctly will get you removed!
  4. 23:13 – This is restating 21:31 and begins the “Seven Woes” against the religious elite.
  5. 24:7 – Power struggles are a sign of Jesus’ return.
  6. 24:14 – Another sign of the Return is the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached so no nation will have an excuse about not knowing Jesus.
  7. 25:1 – The parable of the Wise Virgins and the mindset to be ready for Jesus’ return.  The foolish Virgins give the idea that just “playing church” will not get you into the Kingdom.
  8. 25:34 – The Kingdom has been prepared for the Sheep!
  9. 26:29 – The promise of a party when we get to Heaven.
  10. John 18: 36 – Jesus clarified His Kingdom for Pilate.

It is important to remember that item 1 through 8 is taught in one day (Tuesday).  As the Master Teacher He states who are going into the Kingdom, why the religious leaders are missing the kingdom, and examples for the people to follow in waiting for the Kingdom.

To the Ascension– Acts 1: 3b (NIV) He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God. (See Passover to Pentecost Week 4 – See Class in Session, Passover to Pentecost Week 5 – The Great Commission, Passover to Pentecost Week 6. I wrote several posts on topics about Jesus teaching the disciples and The Ascension.  My favorite is After the Cloud.)

Jesus began His ministry of teaching and showing the Kingdom with a forty-day fast, after His baptism. The baptism is symbolic of passing through the Red Sea (Week 1).  He ends His time on earth with a forty-day time of teaching.  The Holy Week teachings are very pointed about the Kingdom but they were being taught to the people and the Disciples.  This forty-day period was just for the Disciples and I believe that Jesus went into great detail.  These teachings would frame the first church attempt in Jerusalem.