Are we walking in Messiah’s Footsteps?
Are we proclaiming His Gospel of the Kingdom?
by Michael Arnold
In a recent issue of Zachariah’s Patrol Report, there was an article regarding “All Israel” with a question posed by its author, Susan Miller: “Is Now the Time for the Reunification of All Israel?” In another article by Susan concerning Anti-Semitism in the church, she poses a statement and a question: “As Americans, we don’t have a king; as Believers, do we even think about Yeshua as our King?” I think Susan poses a timely and important comment.
At Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a photo of Albert Einstein is prominently displayed in the orientation building. Of the many quotes captured from his life, this laboratory chose to highlight his thoughts about the importance of a question, wherein he states, “The question is more important than the answer.” This is a very Talmudic thought. It speaks of man’s quest to know the unknown whether it relates to science or life itself. In contrast, the questions posed by Susan are man’s quest to know and understand the time of the known, the time of the fulfillment of the known events revealed to us in scripture. We know our destiny, and Susan’s questions encourage all of us to be cognizant of the fact that the time for that destiny to be fulfilled is now upon us.
The questions asked by Susan also point us to the very goal of our Messiah, the restoration of His “Kingdom to Israel.” The last question asked of Messiah was, “Are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” This was the most natural and important question these mostly Jewish apostles could have asked, for they were raised with the understanding and an expectation of His kingdom. They had just spent 40 days with the risen Lord and were asking the “King of Israel” when their brothers would be reunited with Judah in His Kingdom. They knew their history. They remembered how King David had gathered a group of men around him and given them positions of authority in his kingdom. So, months earlier, one of their mothers had even asked Yeshua if her sons could sit on thrones next to Him. They thought Yeshua’s kingdom would also be an earthly kingdom.
They knew that Judah was under Edomite and Roman authority as a punishment for their transgressions, and they were looking for the end of that punishment and a return to former greatness and glory. They asked their question because they had walked with the King of Israel for the past three and a half years. They remembered His statements and teachings about the kingdom wherein He said… “The kingdom of the heavens is at hand.” They were looking for the time of the kingdom restoration.
I believe the sooner the body understands our King and His Kingdom message, the sooner we will see this Kingdom restoration in our own lives. We will not yet see it in its fullness however, but according to the measure of our obedience and our faith. To that end, I would like to add another question to those presented by Susan, and with it, present a kingdom focused teaching that will help us understand the importance of all three questions. I ask, Do We Have A Kingdom Perspective In The Messianic Movement Today?
The Itinerant Teacher
It was about 1985 years ago that an itinerant teacher from Nazareth walked the dusty roads of Judea, Samaria and Galilee. He came teaching about the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of the Heavens. During His travels He gathered disciples and followers who had ears to hear and faith to believe His gospel, the good news that the long awaited kingdom was at hand. At times, it was only a small group of disciples which followed Him, and on occasion, He drew multitudes. From the seaside, to the hillside, to the great temple which stood in Jerusalem, the central theme of His message was always the same. It was the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of the Heavens. He began His teaching at the age of 30, as was the custom of the day, and after being baptized, He spent 40 days in communion with His Father. At the end of those 40 days the adversary tried to tempt Yeshua into interfering with His own life mission.
Satan first tried to tempt Messiah Yeshua into turning stones into bread so He could satisfy His hunger, His human need. He was then challenged in His divinity, He was asked to prove that He was the very son of God and had charge over the angels. Lastly, Satan tried to tempt Yeshua concerning His life mission. Satan showed Yeshua “the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” The adversary then “said to Him, all these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” The temptation was progressive. The adversary saved the most precious of all to be the subject of His last temptation. For, haSatan understood Yeshua’s mission, he understood that Yeshua is the King and that He had come to reclaim His Kingdom.
Yeshua’s Kingdom Message
After the prophet John was put into prison, Yeshua came into Galilee, preaching the “gospel of God” saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Yeshua taught and preached this message of the kingdom in their homes, in their streets and in their synagogues along the way. In one city, the people “tried to keep Him from going away from them. But He said to them, ‘I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.'” So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea (Luke 4:42-45).
Messiah Yeshua didn’t teach about tithing in the traditional sense, but instead told the people to “give all that you have to the poor, and come follow me.” His Gospel of prosperity taught them to, “store up your treasures in heaven.” He did not teach escapism, but that the road would not be easy. He even warned that “the road was narrow and few are they that find it.” And that, “we must struggle to enter into the kingdom” (see Footnote 1).
Following in His Footsteps
His style of teaching was in the Greek form called “Peripetetic.” It was in this style that He would walk from place to place and from town to town teaching the message of His kingdom. This method of teaching required that His followers walk in His very foot steps, in a literal sense. It was not just a cognitive understanding that He was conveying. To be His disciple one must learn to actually follow Him in His ways, to walk as He walked, and to see things as He saw them. To accomplish this, they followed Him, ate with Him, and slept with Him. They were always with Him and He with them.
For three and a half years these disciples followed, listened and learned from “The Teacher.” They followed the One whom a disciple said was, “the King of Israel.” For three and a half years He taught them about His Kingdom with discourse – and with actual demonstrations of His power.
Yeshua also hid truth and understanding from the “professionally righteous.” He taught in parables while in public and explained their hidden meanings to His disciples in private. He would not cast His pearls before swine. He instead said that “it was not given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom.” Those who only knew about Him would not receive the truth, while those who followed in His footsteps would have the truth revealed to them.
Thirty nine parables have been counted by some, many of which begin with the words, “The kingdom of the heavens is like, unto a merchant man… unto a mustard seed… unto leaven… unto treasure hid in a field… unto a net… unto a certain king who made a marriage for his son. Yeshua said of His Kingdom message, “He that hears and believes this message is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock.” The Rock on which we need to build is the “King of Israel”! His Kingdom is supernatural! Those who walk with Him in the Kingdom need to learn to walk in the supernatural – even as He did! (see Footnote 2).
The New Birth
Israel’s prophets had taught about Israel’s coming Kingdom, and the people thought they understood it. However, Yeshua expanded their knowledge of His kingdom by reveling that it was one of peace, love, and joy in the Spirit of Holiness. He said that His kingdom was a mystery that could only be seen and entered into by faith. His kingdom became a “present reality” for those who believed in His “good news,” He told the man who came in the night that, “unless he was born from above, he could not see the kingdom of God,” and that, “unless he was born of water and the Spirit (of God) he could not enter the kingdom of God.” Yeshua taught this man that his focus must first be on seeing, and entering into, His kingdom.
Yeshua spoke of our “new birth” only twice, yet this topic is widely preached in churches and congregations today. On the other hand, the good news of the Kingdom is mentioned more than 121 times, yet most teachers and pastors have difficulty explaining what it is, or what it requires of its citizens. The word “kingdom” is mentioned 54 times in Mathew, 19 times in Mark, 45 times in Luke and 3 times in John. John chose to instead use the term “eternal life” 17 times, and “life” 19 times, in order to reach his Hellenistic audience on a level that they could understand. These terms were both metaphors for the kingdom; seeing this point is important to our being able to understand how John also presented the central theme of the kingdom.
When one considers the prominence given to the kingdom in the gospels and the epistles, it begs the question: Why do we not hear more of this teaching in the body today? The entire Bible is about our King, His kingdom and its restoration. Once we begin to understand more about His kingdom, the Bible becomes a different book to us. The things we thought we understood take on a much fuller and richer meaning.
The Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of the Heavens is the message Yeshua taught to the twelve and the seventy. This is the message of the Prince of Peace: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). With the sword of His mouth, meaning the Word that He delivered, He separated light from darkness, wheat from chaff, goats from sheep. And, He did it all in order to establish His eternal kingdom.
In our day, one can be a member in good standing of, First Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Church of Christ, or First Messianic congregations, and know all of the rules of our particular organization, but, if we do not choose to be a subject of the King we will not understand that the goal behind our new birth is to empower us to be able to help restore His kingdom! Unless we seek His kingdom first we miss the inheritance that is available to His subjects – right now! The Kingdom of God is here now, although not in its fullness, it is here sufficiently enough for us to be able to walk in it right now!
What is the Gospel?
Scripture records that the Gospel was first preached to Abraham. It was handed down from father to son to son, from Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to Joseph. The promise of the Kingdom was confirmed again and again, by the Lord. “I will give you…”, was spoken 8 times to our forefathers. As children of Abraham and children of the King, should the church not hear more about this promised kingdom and the inheritance that is due to its subjects?
We read in the Word that, after John was put into prison, Yeshua came into Galilee, preaching the “gospel of God” saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Yeshua taught His kingdom message in their homes, in their streets and in their synagogues along the way. He did not focus on His death, burial and resurrection. He did not teach them to “say a little prayer and ask Jesus into your heart.” Our “Say a little prayer message” is found nowhere in Scripture. Yeshua instead taught that we must die to live and give all to gain the kingdom, that we must humble ourselves and be servants of all if we are ever to be lifted up. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and met the needs of the people. This is the gospel He demonstrated to His disciples for more than three years. This is the gospel that turned the world upside down! It is the gospel of the narrow path and the straight gate. It is the gospel of the good news that, “when we seek Him with all of our heart, we will find Him.”
Who is this King of Glory Who came proclaiming His kingdom? Do we know Him as our King? Do we truly know His Majesty? Do we understand what He requires of His subjects? Do we walk in His way? Does He consider us to be subjects of His Kingdom?
In Susan’s concluding paragraph about the time being near, she refers to Judah and Ephraim and says, “The time for the revelation of Truth to come to both of these groups is nearing.” That is so true. The gospel of the kingdom must include the truth about the full restoration of the whole house of Israel. For this to happen, the Church needs to understand the truth about both the houses of Israel (Isaiah 8:14). And, she needs to be rooted in the kingdom message that was taught by her Messiah and the Apostles. It is my conviction that revelation of Messiah’s Kingdom truth will be realized when Judah sees Ephraim following the King from Nazareth and walking in His manner of love and with demonstrations of His power.
I ask again, do we have a kingdom perspective in the Messianic Movement today? Are we proclaiming the same “gospel of the kingdom” that was proclaimed by Messiah Yeshua and his Ambassadors? That is the gospel of the kingdom that must be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and “then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Copyright Jan 29, 2012
Note 1. The presence and coming of the Kingdom of God was the central message of Jesus. For example, “his teaching was designed to show men how they might enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 5:20; 7:21). His mighty works were intended to prove that the Kingdom of God had come upon them (Matthew 12: 28). His parables illustrated to His disciples the truth about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:11). When He taught His followers to pray, at the heart of their petition were the words, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). On the eve of His death, He assured His disciples that He would yet share with them the happiness and the fellowship of the Kingdom (Luke 22:22-30). And He promised that He would appear again on the earth in glory to bring the blessedness of the Kingdom to those for whom it was prepared (Matthew 25:31, 34).” 
The term “Kingdom of God” occurs four times in Matthew (Matthew 12:28; 19:24; 21:31; 21:43), fourteen times in Mark, thirty-two times in Luke, twice in the Gospel of John (3:3, 5), six times in Acts, eight times in Paul, and once in Revelation (12:10). Matthew actually prefers the term “Kingdom of heaven” which he uses over 20 times in his gospel.
While Matthew primarily uses the term “kingdom of heaven” and other gospel writers (notably Luke) use the term “kingdom of God,” it is clear that these two expressions mean exactly the same thing (e.g. compare Matthew 5:3 with Luke 6:20). In the past some have tried to maintain a distinction between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God; however, the vast majority of theologians today recognize the terms as synonymous. From Theopedia.com. Freely redistributable under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
Note 2. The supernatural character of the present Kingdom is confirmed by the words found in association with it. A number of verbs are used with the Kingdom itself as the subject. The Kingdom can draw near to men (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; etc.); it can come (Matthew 6:10; Luke 17:20; etc.), arrive (Matthew 12:28), appear (Luke 19:11), be active (Matthew 11:12). God can give the Kingdom to men (Matthew 21:43; Luke 12:32), but men do not give the Kingdom to one another. Further, God can take the Kingdom away from men (Matthew 21:43), but men do not take it away from one another, although they can prevent others from entering it. Men can enter the Kingdom (Matthew 5:20; 7:21; Mark 9:47; 10:23; etc.), but they are never said to erect it or to build it. Men can receive the Kingdom (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17), inherit it (Matthew 25:34), and possess it (Matthew 5:4), but they are never said to establish it. Men can reject the Kingdom, i.e., refuse to receive it (Luke 10:11) or enter it (Matthew 23:13), but they cannot destroy it. They can look for it (Luke 23:51), pray for its coming (Matthew 6:10), and seek it (Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31), but they cannot bring it. Men may be in the Kingdom (Matthew 5:19; 8:11; Luke 13:29; etc.), but we are not told that the Kingdom grows. Men can do things for the sake of the Kingdom (Matthew 19:12; Luke 18:29) but they are not said to act upon the Kingdom itself. Men can preach the Kingdom (Matthew 10:7; Luke 10:9), but only God can give it to men (Luke 12:32) “The Presence of the Future” 1974, George Eldon Ladd, Harper and Roe.
We are engaged in some serious last-days spiritual warfare. If you have not yet read our key books and made them available to your friends, we hope you will do so at this time.The Father tells us that, the things that need to happen in the end times, the things that we need to accomplish as members of His Army, will happen, “Not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6; Isaiah 2:9). Our book special this month will help us to better understand the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Messianic Believer.
See the books here: February Specials
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