The Kingdom of YEHOVAH God
Recent world events, despite the unspeakable horror of such senseless murder and mayhem, may stimulate the rest of us to tighten our grip on faith and what it means to believe in Yeshua the Messiah. This organization is committed to the conviction that it makes no sense at all to claim allegiance to the Messiah if we shirk the responsibility of finding out what he taught. No one claims to be a Platonist if he does not know what Plato advocated and taught. But multitudes of churchgoers, it is reliably reported, have little or no idea about what Yeshua expects us to believe, understand and promote. There can be no real Christianity in the absence of the teaching of Yeshua. Such was John's final warning: "If anyone should approach you and not bring the teaching of Christ..." -- beware! (II John 9). The great trap laid by the Devil is "Yeshua" without his teachings, Yeshua (may we suggest) as invented by popular preaching.
The Devil really only has one trick: To separate the Messiah from his words and teaching. That is why the Gospel of John on page after page insists that we come to know and believe the word and words of Yeshua (John 5:24, etc.). By this he means the Gospel which Yeshua preached, the Gospel which he mandated that his followers preach until the Kingdom -- which is the main subject of the Gospel -- comes.
All this makes perfect sense when we realize that a person is his word. We are what we think and speak. No one gets to know another by unbroken silence -- at least such knowledge would be abnormal in the extreme. But YEHOVAH God has spoken, and spoken finally (Heb. 1:1-2) in the one He accredits as His ultimate agent and messenger. Thus the writer to the Hebrews warns: "We ought to pay greater attention to the things we have heard" (Heb. 2:1). And what was this? He goes on: "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation which was first announced by the Lord [Yeshua] and was confirmed to us by those who heard him" (Heb 2:3). "Accepting Jesus in your heart" is devoid of real meaning unless this includes accepting his Gospel preaching. "He who hears my Gospel/Word and believes Him [YEHOVAH God] who sent me has the life of the age to come" (John 5:24). There it is in a wonderful encapsulation. Paraphrased, Yeshua said, "He who hears and understands and responds to my word is the successful convert." Such a person embarks on the journey of faith. But what if the convert is invited to "accept Jesus" in the absence of any clear presentation of the Kingdom word/Gospel offered by Jesus? Would this not promote a false sense of security? Such a convert might well believe that he had "accepted Jesus." But the words of Yeshua are demanding. He makes real repentance and forgiveness conditional upon an intelligent reception of the Gospel about the Kingdom as he preached it (Mark 4:11, 12; Matt. 13:19; Luke 8:12; Mark 1:14, 15). That Gospel of the Kingdom is the object of faith, according to Yeshua, in addition to faith in his atoning blood and his resurrection. The Gospel of the New Testament is a two-pronged Gospel. In a widely popular form today the Gospel seems to lack the vital Kingdom component. It is somehow a one-legged Gospel. Our objections are echoed by scholars of various camps. Seeing the ineffectiveness of much preaching they suggest a remedy:
Tom Wright (Jesus and the Restoration of Israel, p. 251), the world's most famous current writer on Christianity and on the Messiah, writes, "The church's use of the gospels has given scant attention to what the Gospels themselves are saying about the actual events of Jesus' life and his Kingdom proclamation [Gospel of salvation]... Therefore the church is in effect sitting on but paying no attention to a central part of its own tradition that might, perhaps, revitalize or reform the church significantly were it to be investigated... This must involve understanding what the Gospels are saying about Jesus within the world of first-century Judaism, not within the imagination of subsequent piety (or impiety) ...To content oneself with a non-historical Christ of faith seems to me demonstrably false to NT Christianity."
Charles Taber, Professor Emeritus of World Mission, Emmanuel School of Evangelism, Johnson City, Tenn. wrote to Christianity Today:
"I read with the greatest interest the nine statements attempting to answer the question, `What is the Good News?' I am amazed and dismayed to find not even a passing mention of the theme which was the core of Jesus' Gospel in three of the four accounts: The Kingdom of God. Every one of these statements reflects the individualistic reduction of the gospel that plagues American evangelicalism. In addition to being biblical, founding one's understanding of the gospel on the Kingdom of God bypasses two false dilemmas that have needlessly troubled theologians for several centuries: the either-or between individual and systematic salvation, and the either-or between grace and works. On the one hand God intends to rescue the entire cosmos from the bondage to decay; on the other hand how can one claim to be saved who does not make every effort to do God's will?"
Gary Burge in the NIV Application Commentary quotes from Revisioning Evangelical Theology: "Stanley Grenz has reviewed the failed attempts of evangelical theology to fire the imagination of the modern world. He argues for the Kingdom of God as the new organizing center of what we say and do."
Churchill said: "If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time -- a tremendous whack."
Such will be our continued emphasis. Our readers are encouraged to promote the Kingdom Message with all means at their disposal.
What then is the Good News about the Kingdom? The Kingdom of YEHOVAH God is firstly in Scripture the new political/spiritual order to be introduced by Yeshua at his second coming. We hardly need to add that this event did not come to pass during the ministry of Yeshua in Israel, nor did it materialize in AD 70! Joseph of Arimathea was still waiting for the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God even after the resurrection of the Messiah (Mark 15:43). Had he missed the great event?! Of course not. With all the faithful (Joseph of Arimathea was a Christian disciple, Matt. 27:57) he was looking forward to the end of all present world governments and the inauguration of a brand new world system in which Yeshua the Messiah and YEHOVAH God the Father will preside from their thrones in a rescued and renewed Jerusalem. Yeshua is the Messiah and the greatest of all falsehoods is the denial of his Messiahship (I John 2:22). That is why we emphasize that the contradictory proposition that "Yeshua is God" is to be avoided. The biblical Messiah is a representative of the human race. He is neither an angel nor is he God. There is only one God, and if the Father in heaven is God and Yeshua the Messiah on earth was God, that makes two Gods, which is polytheism and paganism.
Yeshua came recruiting for the Kingdom. He urged repentance -- a complete reorientation in thinking and lifestyle. Converts to his Kingdom agenda, his manifesto as a King under YEHOVAH God of that coming Kingdom, were to grasp the Kingdom Plan and busy themselves with its promotion. This would be an act of self-sacrifice so that all who heard and responded to the Gospel of the Kingdom could one day participate as fellow executives in that Kingdom and acquire immortality.
Yeshua warned constantly of the danger of a faith not shared. The light of Gospel truth was not to be hidden. The use of talent in the service of the Kingdom was not optional. Those who had done little with the talents allotted to them would find themselves excluded from the joy of the coming Kingdom. The one who buried the divinely bestowed talent was judged as lazy and ineffective, and unfit for a place in the Kingdom (Matt. 25:24-30).
What can the world expect prior to the coming of the Kingdom? The Middle East is the center of biblical prophecy (not the Common Market). The current war between Arabs and Israel will continue. An important reason for the return of the Messiah will be to rescue suffering Israel and reestablish her in peace in the land. But a greater purpose even than this will be to gather the Israel of YEHOVAH God, the faithful church (Gal. 6:16), from every part of the world and grant them the inheritance of the land which he promised to the meek (Matt. 5:5). It is fundamentally false to say that the land of Israel belongs to unconverted Jews! The seed of Abraham, as of New Testament times, are the believers in Messiah Yeshua (Gal. 3:29). Much popular literature proceeds on the premise that the land was given to the flesh and blood Jew with no conditions attached. But if that is so, why did YEHOVAH God cast His people out of the land? Occupation of the land in peace is conditioned on faith. Israel currently does not demonstrate faith in her Messiah who has come and is coming. Until she does, she can make no claim to the inheritance of the land. Meanwhile those (Jews and Gentiles) who have espoused the cause of the true Messiah and accepted his atoning death replace the ethnic Jew as heirs of the land (Matt. 5:5; Rev. 5:10). Is this then a doctrine of permanent "replacement"? No. The replacement taught by the Bible is temporary only. There remains also an inheritance of the land for that body of Jewish people who collectively turn to the Messiah. But such inheritance is not granted to any, Jew or Gentile, in disobedience to the Messiah.
Beyond the troubled times ahead there lies an era of peace and prosperity for restored Israel and for the whole world. When the Devil is put out of commission (Rev. 20:1-6), there will be an unprecedented increase of true understanding and true faith in YEHOVAH God and the Messiah. YEHOVAH God and the Messiah will be back on earth. They will preside from Jerusalem and "execute justice and righteousness in the land" (Jer. 23:5). The faithful believers of all the ages will assist the Messiah and YEHOVAH God in the supervision of that coming era of peace, prosperity and the absence of the insane violence which has so terribly marred the history of mankind thus far (1 Cor. 6:2; Luke 22:28-30; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:1-6).
Page after page in the Hebrew Bible outlines the main events of the end time leading to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. For example: Isaiah 26 looks forward to unprecedented celebration in Israel. This will happen beyond the times of trouble and exile of Israel. "In that day [the time of the arrival of the Kingdom when Yeshua begins to subdue his enemies] this song will be sung in the land of Judah. `We have a strong city. God makes salvation its walls and ramparts."' Restored Jerusalem will invite righteous nations to enter the city gates (v. 2). There follows this reflection: "When your [YEHOVAH's] judgments come upon the earth the people of the world will learn righteousness." What a contrast with present conditions! But even then some will rebel: "Though grace is shown to the wicked they do not learn righteousness. Even in the land of righteousness they do not learn righteousness and they do not regard the majesty of the LORD." Those who stubbornly resist YEHOVAH God "will be put to shame. Let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them" (v. 11). Restored Israel will look back on her past experience (including the present time): "LORD, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us. O LORD, other lords beside You have ruled over us, but Your name alone we honor. They [those other political tyrants who will have oppressed Israel] are now dead, they live no more. Those departed spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; You wiped out all memory of them" (w. 12-14). Now the prophet turns to the future Kingdom in Israel: "You have enlarged the nation, O LORD. You have gained glory for Yourself [by sending the Messiah back to conquer the enemies of YEHOVAH God and restore Israel to a position of leadership]. You have extended the borders of the land" (v. 15). Israel will reflect at that time on the awful tribulation she will have suffered: "As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, we [Israel] were in your presence, O LORD" (v. 17). Next comes a description of the triumphant resurrection of the faithful of all the ages. "But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust wake up [from their present sleep in death] and shout for joy. Your dew [the symbol of fresh vitality and energy] is like the dew of the morning. The earth will give birth to her dead" (v. 19). Then follows a word of advice to believers: "Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you. Hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath has passed by. See, the LORD is coming out of His dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her [the end times will be marked by warfare]. She will conceal her slain no longer" (v. 21).
In this way the advance news of the Kingdom is laid out by the prophet Isaiah. Believers are to cultivate this vision and build their hopes on it.
Isaiah 26:19 speaks of the fresh vigor with which the resurrected and immortalized saints will be equipped, at the outset of their new indestructible life. For further glimpses of the triumph of the coming Kingdom, readers should refer to Psalm 110. The saints are there described as the troops of the Messiah (v. 3). They will volunteer for a genuine "holy war" under the direct supervision of the Messiah. Arrayed in their new "clothing of immortality," they emerge from the womb of the dawn. As persons incapable of death from that moment on, they will acquire perpetual youth: "You will receive the dew [vitality] of your youth" (Ps. 110:3). This is what followers of Yeshua the Messiah, according to the biblical model, can expect for the future.
Hope of Israel
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Temple City, CA 91780, U.S.A.