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Eternity 104 - The Kingdom Of The Heavens

(Matthew 4:17 NKJV) From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

(Matthew 5:3 NKJV) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus starts His ministry by talking about something called "the kingdom of heaven". Its a strange phrase to our ears so it worth exploring. It is one of the foundational concepts of Jesus' message on earth and gets at least 101 mentions in the NT by my counting in the NKJV.

Firstly we need to at least translate it correctly. Matthew refers to the Kingdom of God as "the Kingdom of the Heavens" and in translation the plural is often lost so it comes across in English as "the Kingdom of Heaven". Its plural in the Greek (ouranon - omega nu ending) and also in the Hebrews "shamayim". )

The Jews had three heavens: The first heaven is where "the birds of the heavens" fly. (Genesis 1:20, Psalm 104:12, Daniel 2:38). The mid-heaven or second heaven is where the angels fly and do battle. (Revelation 12:4-12, 14:6,7) After the second heaven is cleanses in chapter 12, the gospel is proclaimed in it in chapter 14! The third heaven is where God dwells, where Satan was cast out of and where Paul or the person He knew heard "inexpressible things". (2 Corinthians 12:2 NKJV) I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago; whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows; such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

The easiest way to see this is to follow the doom of Satan. Satan falls from third heaven where he as an anointed cherub, to second heaven in the OT, after the cross he falls from second heaven to become "the prince of the power of the air" in Ephesians. After a battle in Rev 12 where Satan tries to retake the second heaven he is cast out of the heavens entirely. He is forced to Earth and incarnates as the Anti-Christ. He wars with God and is cast to the Pit. After 1000 years Satan tries to retake Earth and loses yet again and his final place of punishment in the lake of fire. So Satan goes from the third heaven, to the second heaven , then the first heaven, then earth, into the pit, and finally into lake of fire.

The kingdom of the heavens is Jesus saying that the powers of the heavens were becoming available on earth and a new lifestyle was being declared, a holy lifestyle to handle holy things. The kingdom of the heavens is where God's heavenly power is manifest, where the will of God is done 'on earth as it is in heaven" where His power reaches out of the Third heaven and down to us in healing, resurrections, exorcisms and transformations and in the gospel being preached to the poor.

The kingdom of the heavens is not so much a theological term as a reference to where heavenly power is unleashed. (Matthew 10:7-8 NKJV) "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' {8} "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

The kingdom of the Heavens is available only to the repentant. To the contrite the Kingdom of Heaven is "at hand", just as a carpenters hammer is at hand - available to those who reach out. While there are no special requirements to enter the Kingdom it is not available for mere lip-service. The Kingdom is for those who love righteousness and is only available to those who adopt its lifestyle of doing the will of God. (Matthew 7:21 NKJV) "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Thus the Kingdom of the Heavens is where people agree to behave as if they were in Heaven and do God's will on earth as it is done in heaven and where the powers of heaven intersect human history in Christ and in his church. Its about exchanging the lifestyle of the world for the Christ-centered, loving, joyous and peaceful lifestyle of Heaven. This is why it was central to Jesus's message and why the Sermon On The Mount makes constant reference to it. Heaven sets the true standard for Christian behaviour and lifestyle. When we enter the Kingdom of the Heavens we get a new, born-again nature, seated in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6), that wants to live a supernatural heavenly life of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). We are citizens of Heaven and dwell spiritually in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus was saying something very profound when He started talking about the Kingdom of the Heavens. For Him entering it was a matter of ultimate importance. Its standards were the right standards. Its values the right values. So we will explore what is meant by the Kingdom over the next few Eternity Daily Bible Studies. If you have any questions email me at . Also for a longer article on this go to:


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