To begin this lesson let me first start by saying that the Kingdom of God is synonymous with the Kingdom of Heaven. We read both terms in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament). Please let me explain why.
In Yeshua's time the tetragrammaton, YHWH or YHVH, could only be pronounced inside the Temple, in the daily priestly blessing spoken over the people and in the confession of the High Priest on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). This “pronouncing” of The Name was so much prohibited that the Rabbi's included those who would have “no share in the world to come” with those who spoke the Memorial Name of Elohim. For this reason “substitute” names were used for His Name. Among these were Adonai. Eventually even Adonai became a sacred word and it was used only in Scripture reading and during prayer. When it was necessary to refer to God in everyday conversation, other substitutes were used. Some of these were HaShem (The Name), Hamakom (The Place), Hagavoah (The High), SHAMAYIM (HEAVEN) and many others. Even Elohim, which can refer to YHVH or other false gods, was often avoided.
In the gospels we find that the phrase "kingdom of heaven" is only used by Matthew (who was writing to Jews), in the other gospels "kingdom of God" is used. The reason being that many Jews also avoided using "God" for the same reasons and substituted "Heaven" instead. The reason I have started out by sharing this is because I wanted to bring clarity that the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are the same thing.
In Exodus 19:6 we read, “ And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
We find here that it was the children of Israel that were called out to be a “kingdom of priests” to Yah. However, we know that they failed to keep the commandments of their God. So, instead of “all” of the people becoming a kingdom of priests, God had to now introduce a mediator, the priests, to facilitate their approach to a righteous God.
This same nation failed again during the time of Samuel when they asked for a king. God had wanted to be their King, and they His subjects, in a righteous kingdom, but they wanted an earthly king to rule over them; like the other nations. So, God gives them an earthly king, along with warnings about what living in that kingdom will be like. The prophet Samuel declares:
“And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” - I Samuel 8:10-20
It is also recorded that Samuel wrote in a book these warnings and gave advice for it to be preserved so that it would be a testimony against them for their desiring an earthly king:
“Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.” - I Samuel 10:25
It was not as if God did not know ahead of time that they would request an earthly king to rule over them, for in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 Moses instructs them as to the way of kings that will rule over them in the future. What was one of the warnings that God spoke through Moses concerning their future kings?
“And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law (Torah) in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law (Torah) and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.” - Deuteronomy 17:18-20.
Notice that the Hebrew word for “law” in these scriptures is Torah; as added by me above. So, it appears that God is giving notice that whenever they do ask for an receive a king, that He expects that king to have a copy of the Torah and that the king is to read and study it and it is by the Torah that he is to live and govern the people. We know that didn't happen with the vast majority of their kings.
So, what happens now to this people group and their destiny? Will they ever be able to recover what was lost by disobedience?
In I Chronicles 28:2-8 we read of a promise made to King David, a man after God's own heart, that the Kingdom of YHVH would be established forever through him; from his descendants, from his tribe of Judah, (through his son Solomon).
“Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. Howbeit the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel: And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD (YHVH) over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day. Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the LORD, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the LORD your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you for ever.”
Now we know that Solomon disobeyed and the Kingdom was divided up after his death. However, that did not take away from the promise of God to King David that he would reign forever. The prophets foretold of the coming “branch” from David that would come and rule over the House of David forever and be the ruler of, not only all the tribes of Israel, but the entire world. See Zachariah 3:1-10; 6:9-15; 9:9-10:1-12.
The Hebrew prophets foretold of the coming Anointed One, the Messiah, who would be this Son of David. This Messiah would come with great power and authority and He would not only restore a Kingdom to Israel but He would indeed rule the entire world. This Messiah would be “the righteous King” who would rule and govern according to the Torah of YHVH, as instructed by Moses (see above) for earthly kings. Under His rule all inhabitants of the earth will live in peace and tranquility. The government of Israel, under this great King, will rule the entire world.
King David and the people of his time understood this concept:
“Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”
I Chronicles 29:10-13
The Kingdom of God has always been about Israel. Who does He promise a Kingdom too? Israel
The literal fulfillment of the Kingdom of God is the physical manifestation of God's government in the earth. And this Kingdom is for the restoration and exaltation of the people of Israel (Jacob – all 12 tribes) and also the deliverance of the earth from the curse of the fall. This will come through Israel and her King.
The Kingdom of God is a righteous Kingdom brought about by a promise made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David, and a people who would inherit a righteous kingdom. All nations of the world will be under the government of Israel and her righteous King.
There will still be nations besides Israel during the reign of this King, and they will be given their lands, but Israel will lead the world because they were the ones who were originally to teach the nations the way of YHVH. YHVH has always cared about the nations.
It is Israel who will play the “central role” in the Kingdom of Heaven. That is the way it was meant to be from the beginning at Mt. Sinai when He called them out. It is Israel that has always been called the “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). It is only when Israel is operating within the Kingdom as YHVH always desired, that the world will have peace and live according to Yah's rules; Torah. As long as Israel lives in exile, the world lives in exile. They were the ones chosen to be a “Kingdom of Priests” (Exodus 19:6). It is Israel, with their Messiah, which will usher in the redemption of the entire world. They were to be a blessing to all peoples of the earth. This is the END GOAL of the Kingdom of God, when all the world will know and worship Him:
Zachariah 14:9 “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”
Not only will this Messiah be King, but He will also be the Mediator, the High Priest, according to the Older and Renewed Covenants. Our Mighty God will restore to His people what they lost – Himself as their King and Priest. He will do this through YHVH Yeshua Messiah (God of Salvation).
According to Hebraic understanding, redemption is directly tied to the Kingdom of God. It is a national process, not just an individual process, even though it starts with individuals. To the Children of Israel, which includes Yeshua, “redemption” means “buying back” or “re-acquiring” something that was lost.
Israel lost their kingdom because of sin. They have been driven into exile many times. However, the time is coming when the kingdom of Israel will be established permanently with a righteous King sitting at the head of the Kingdom. Israel is central to redemption.
John the Baptist and Yeshua preached that through Yeshua the Kingdom of God had come. While not yet “physical” the redemption process started with repentance and acceptance of Israel's Messiah and His blood atonement. It is in this way that the exile from sin will take place. In Galatians 5:19-21
and I Corinthians 6:9-11 we are told who will not enter this righteous kingdom:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. and such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Since we are told that only the righteous will enter this kingdom, then we should be able to see that the kingdom begins inside of us, through repentance, long before there is a physical manifestation of this kingdom on earth.
This is what redemption and the Kingdom of God would have meant to Yeshua (Jesus) and the hearers of His day:
...The return of all the children of Israel to the land (all 12 tribes)
...Israel existing as a monarchy under the righteous King who was from the lineage of David
...A holy temple standing on the temple mount which will be a “house of prayer for all nations”
...Peace and security for Israel; no danger to them from nations and peoples of the world
...All nations learning from Israel about YHVH and His Torah, and everyone in the world
obeying Messiah and His Torah (see Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-5)
...A land flowing with “milk and honey” or abundance in every area of their lives; crops, children, health, etc (Ezekiel 37:24-26 makes this very plain) along with many others
So, we should be able to understand that the “greater exodus” mentioned in Jeremiah 16:14-21 is tied to the redemption and the physical coming of the Kingdom of God. All of Israel will be saved and all the lost sheep have been found and all gentiles have a part in this Kingdom by association with the body of Israel and acceptance of their Messiah.
The children of Israel believed that the Kingdom would come with great power. This is why it is recorded of the Messiah Yeshua that He went about healing the sick, raising the dead, preaching to the poor, giving sight to the blind, and proclaiming the Kingdom to be at hand. He showed that He had power over the seas and over death. This is why when questioned by John the Baptist's disciples in the book of Matthew if “He was the one to come”, Yeshua made reference to the works of His ministry. It was the establishment of the Kingdom authority and power. Yeshua even had authority to forgive sins, since He was God in the flesh.
It is evident that the disciples understood this concept of power, authority, and redemption as manifested in Yeshua, and they looked for Him to establish the Kingdom of God immediately, bringing about those things for Israel listed above. Let us consider these verses:
Luke 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.”
Luke 23:51 “(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.”
Acts 1:6-7 “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”
Even the thief on the cross understood the concept of the coming Kingdom:
Luke 23:42 “ And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
YHVH is active with all people groups, however He is directly concerned with the fate of the Hebrew people. They are the ones who are the apple of His eye – Deuteronomy 32:10. Their end is pre-destined to a determined goal. That goal is to make for Himself a family, a righteous Kingdom of Priests who will rule and reign with Him. Individuals, Jew and Gentile, can choose to get on board through Messiah Yeshua, the Righteous King and Priest, or they can make the choice to remain unrighteous and not enter the Kingdom of God.
Does he care about all people groups? Of course. He cared about the wicked Nineveh and sent Jonah the Prophet. Isaiah 19:19-25 declares that He cares for Egypt, calling them “His people” and He calls Assyria the “work of my hands”.
The spiritual Kingdom of God is already manifested in this world since the coming of Yeshua, but the physical manifestation of the Kingdom will soon take place.
Revelation 12:10-11 “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night, and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Revelation 19:11-16 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Will you choose to be a part of this Kingdom of God? If so, you will come in by way of a Jewish Messiah and His nation of Israel. There will be only 12 gates to that New Jerusalem, bearing the names of the 12 sons of Israel (Revelation). Which gate will you enter? If you are a direct descendant of one of the sons you can enter the gate bearing that name but if you are not - consider that Yeshua has made a way for you to enter through His bloodline- the tribe of Judah!
Far from being replaced- Israel remains!
(All scripture is from the KJV unless otherwise noted)
New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus; Bivin, David; 2007