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Query for the Month

of August 1998

Next up-date: September 1st 1998 (God willing).

 


Query:

What do these words of Jesus mean? "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force". Matthew 11:12.

Response:

Jesus was referring to the new enthusiasm which had been generated by the sudden appearance of John as the forerunner of the Messiah, and which had been made even stronger by His own works since that time. Not for some 400 years had there been a living prophet in Israel, and therefore there had been no direct communication between God and mankind during that time. This had now changed and the people were responding.

But, like many other revivals, this enthusiasm did not last! Within a short time of His beginning His ministry the leaders of the church were planning to kill Jesus and when the occasion arose, the people were led along by them (Matthew 27:25).

With the great truths the people of Israel had been privileged to receive, they all should, and under the power of the Holy Spirit they all could, have become living channels of light. They could have approached (in their prayers) the "mercy seat" (Exodus 25:22), and seeing the "bow of promise" over the throne of God (Genesis 9:12-13; Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:3), they could all have knelt with contrite hearts and sought the kingdom of heaven with a spiritual "violence" that would have brought its own reward. They could have taken it by "force" as Jacob had done so long before (Genesis 32:24-30). With such an attitude they would not have been denied.

But the sad fact of history is that the majority eventually gave up their enthusiasm for the "new" teaching (which Jesus maintained was just the old revived, Matthew 5:17).

Apart from His close disciples, it was left to those like the Syro-Phoenecian woman with her love for her daughter (Matthew 15:22-28) and the Roman centurion with his care for his slave (Matthew 8:5-12), to "take" the kingdom and receive that which they sought. Not until the day of Pentecost was there any great response to God's plea, and on that occasion the "violence" was also associated with "knowledge" as shown by the split tongues of flame by which the Spirit chose to identify Himself. Acts 2:3.

Conclusion:

  • To "take the kingdom of heaven by violence" is to plead our great need and refuse to be turned away even if God seems to take His time in answering our prayer. Jesus taught in a parable that this attitude should be ours today, but ended the story with the sad words, "Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:1-8.

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    Spiritual Dictionary.

    VIOLENCE in the kingdom of heaven:

  • To "take the kingdom of heaven by violence" is to plead our great need and refuse to be turned away even if God seems to take His time in answering our prayer. Jesus taught in a parable that this attitude should be ours today, but ended the story with the sad words, "Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:1-8.

  • Next thought. To be discussed from September 1st 1998.

     

     

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