Sabbath, May 9, 2009

“As the message of Christ’s first advent announced the kingdom of His grace, so the message of His second advent announces the kingdom of His glory. And the second message, like the first, is based on the prophecies….

“We have reached the period foretold in these scriptures. The time of the end is come, the visions of the prophets are unsealed, and their solemn warn­ings point us to our Lord’s coming in glory as near at hand.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 234, 235.

1. What had the prophet Isaiah foretold about Jesus’ mission?
Luke 4:18, 19, 21
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord… And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
(see Isaiah 60:1, 2
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.)

“But when Jesus announced, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,’ they were suddenly recalled to think of themselves, and of the claims of Him who had been addressing them. They, Israelites, children of Abraham, had been represented as in bondage. They had been addressed as prisoners to be delivered from the power of evil; as in darkness, and needing the light of truth. Their pride was offended, and their fears were roused. The words of Jesus indicated that His work for them was to be altogether different from what they desired.” – The Desire of Ages, p. 237.

2. Which message full of joy and hope did Jesus preach from the very beginning of His ministry?
Matthew 4.17
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mark 1:14, 15
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

“His work there had continued some months before the Sermon on the Mount was given. The message He had proclaimed throughout the land, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17), had arrested the attention of all classes, and had still further fanned the flame of their ambitious hopes. The fame of the new Teacher had spread beyond the limits of Palestine, and, notwithstanding the attitude of the hierarchy, the feeling was widespread that this might be the hoped-for Deliverer. Great multitudes thronged the steps of Jesus, and the popular enthusiasm ran high.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 2, 3.

3. Did Jesus present the nature of God’s kingdom in a clear manner?
Luke 17:20, 21
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 11:20
But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
Matthew 12:28
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

“The kingdom of God comes not with outward show. The gospel of the grace of God, with its spirit of self-abnegation, can never be in harmony with the spirit of the world. The two principles are antagonistic. ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ 1 Corinthi­ans 2:14….” –The Desire of Ages, p. 509.

“But as Jesus explained that His mission on earth was to establish a spiri­tual instead of a temporal kingdom, His hearer was troubled. Seeing this, Jesus added, ‘If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?’…

“The Jews misinterpreted and misapplied the word of God, and they knew not the time of their visitation. The years of the ministry of Christ and His apostles–the precious last years of grace to the chosen people–they spent in plotting the destruction of the Lord’s messengers. Earthly ambitions absorbed them, and the offer of the spiritual kingdom came to them in vain. So today the kingdom of this world absorbs men’s thoughts, and they take no note of the rapidly fulfilling prophecies and the tokens of the swift-coming kingdom of God.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 509, 173, 235.

4. Did the disciples understand the spiritual nature of God’s kingdom?
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 24:21
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
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.

“Like the Saviour’s disciples, John the Baptist did not understand the nature of Christ’s kingdom….
“With longing heart He has listened for some expression of faith from His disciples. He has heard only the mournful words, ‘We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.’” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 215, 750.

“The disciples, with a sudden revival of their old hope that Jesus would take His place upon the throne of David at Jerusalem, inquired, ‘Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ Acts 1:6. The Saviour threw an uncertainty over their minds in regard to the subject by replying that it was not for them ‘to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.’ Acts 1:7.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 241.

At the same time, referring to the future, what prophecies had been given regarding the kingdom of Jesus?
Luke 1:31-­33
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Daniel 7:14
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Hebrew 1:8
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

6. Did Jesus clearly indicate that His kingdom of glory was still in the future? What was an example of that glory?
John 6:16
And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Matthew 16:28
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Referring to the transfiguration reported in Matthew 17:1-9, the Sister Ellen G. White commented:
“The Saviour’s promise to the disciples was now fulfilled. Upon the mount the future kingdom of glory was represented in miniature–Christ the King, Moses a representative of the risen saints, and Elijah of the translated ones.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 421.

7. According to Jesus, what should be the first and greatest interest of every true believer?
Mathew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Mathew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mathew 6:11
Give us this day our daily bread.
Mathew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

“Christ calls upon the members of His church to cherish the true, genuine hope of the gospel. He points them upward, distinctly assuring them that the riches that endure are above, not below. Their hope is in heaven, not on the earth. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness,’ He says; ‘and all these things’–all that is essential for your good–‘shall be added unto you.” –Christian Service, p. 218.

8. Therefore, what should we ask request of God?
Matthew 6:9, 10
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

“The disciples of Christ were looking for the immediate coming of the kingdom of His glory, but in giving them this prayer Jesus taught that the kingdom was not then to be established. They were to pray for its coming as an event yet future. But this petition was also an assurance to them. While they were not to behold the coming of the kingdom in their day, the fact that Jesus bade them pray for it is evidence that in God’s own time it will surely come.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 107, 108.

“The kingdom of God’s grace is now being established, as day by day hearts that have been full of sin and rebellion yield to the sovereignty of His love. But the full establishment of the kingdom of His glory will not take place until the second coming of Christ to this world. ‘The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven,’ is to be given to ‘the people of the saints of the Most High.’ Daniel 7:27. They shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them ‘from the foundation of the world.’ Matthew 25:34. And Christ will take to Himself His great power and will reign.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 108.