Sabbath, March 9, 2019

Lesson 10 – Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven

“With no elaborate arguments or fine-spun theories did John declare his message. Startling and stern, yet full of hope, his voice was heard from the wilderness: ‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matthew 3:2. With a new, strange power it moved the people. The whole nation was stirred. Multitudes flocked to the wilderness.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 332.

The message

1. As John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming Messiah, what exciting message did he present to the people? Later, when Jesus sent out His disciples, what good news did He tell them to preach?
Matthew 3:1, 2; 10:6, 7 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…. 10:6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

“Just such a work as that which John did, is to be carried on in these last days. The Lord is giving messages to His people, through the instruments He has chosen, and He would have all heed the admonitions and warnings He sends. The message preceding the public ministry of Christ was, Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees; ‘for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’… As a people who believe in Christ’s soon appearing, we have a definite message to bear–‘Prepare to meet thy God.’” –(The Southern Work, March 21, 1905) Seventh-day Adventist
Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1184.

2. From the beginning of His ministry in Judea and throughout the whole land, what message did Jesus proclaim? What were the people and the disciples’ expectations concerning this?
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, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

“In Judea first the coming of the kingdom had been proclaimed, and the call to repentance had been given…

“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.

“… Some of these disciples had joined themselves to Him at the beginning of His ministry, and nearly all the twelve had been associated together as members of the family of Jesus. Yet they also, misled by the teaching of the rabbis, shared the popular expectation of an earthly kingdom.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 2, 3.

Nature of God’s kingdom

3. What did Jesus explain about the nature of His kingdom? Is it in any way similar to that of earthly kingdoms?
Mark 4:30, 31 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? 31It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth. 

“In the multitude that listened to Christ’s teaching there were many Pharisees. These noted contemptuously how few of His hearers acknowledged Him as the Messiah. And they questioned with themselves how this unpretending teacher could exalt Israel to universal dominion. Without riches, power, or honor, how was He to establish the new kingdom? Christ read their thoughts and answered them: “‘Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it?’ In earthly governments there was nothing that could serve for a similitude. No civil society could afford Him a symbol. ‘It is like a grain of mustard seed,’ He said, ‘which, when it is sown upon the earth, though it be less than all the seeds that are upon the earth, yet when it is sown, groweth up, and becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches; so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof.’ Mark 4:30-32, R.V.” –
Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 76.

4. Is His kingdom temporal, with monarchs, rulers, and subjects?
Luke 22:25, 26, 29 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve…. 29And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.

“Just before leaving His disciples, Christ once more plainly stated the nature of His kingdom. He recalled to their remembrance things He had previously told them regarding it. He declared that it was not His purpose to establish in this world a temporal kingdom. He was not appointed to reign as an earthly monarch on David’s throne.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 30.

The kingdom is present

5. What work and teaching of Jesus among the people showed that in His ministry the kingdom of God was already present and active?
Matthew 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto 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.

“When the promised Messiah was about to appear, the message of the forerunner of Christ was: Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees; ‘for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matthew 3:2.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 715.

“The kingdom of God comes not with outward show. It comes through the gentleness of the inspiration of His word, through the inward working of His Spirit, the fellowship of the soul with Him who is its life. The greatest manifestation of its power is seen in human nature brought to the perfection of the character of Christ.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 143.

6. What else showed that the kingdom of grace was already present?
Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

“The kingdom of God begins in the heart. Look not here or there for manifestations of earthly power to mark its coming.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 506.
“I ask you, Is the kingdom of God within you? God’s people are to be minutemen, always ready, always composed in Jesus Christ. The time is now come when one moment we may be on solid earth, the next the earth may be heaving beneath our feet. Earthquakes will take place where least expected.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 421.

The glorious kingdom is future

7. At the same time, what did the Lord teach about the coming of the kingdom of glory?
Matthew 6:10; 8:11 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven…. 8:11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 22:16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

“Had they not just before proclaimed everywhere, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’? Had not Christ Himself promised that many should sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God? Had He not promised to all who had left aught for His sake a hundredfold in this life, and a part in His kingdom? And had He not given to the twelve the special promise of positions of high honor in His kingdom–to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel? Even now He had said that all things written in the prophets concerning Him should be fulfilled.
And had not the prophets foretold the glory of the Messiah’s reign?” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 547, 548.

For additional study

“The message preceding the public ministry of the Son of God was, Repent, publicans; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees, ‘for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matthew 3:2. Our message is not to be one of ‘peace and safety.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:3. As a people who believe in Christ’s soon appearing, we have a work to do, a message to bear–‘Prepare to meet thy God.’ Amos 4:12. We are to lift up the standard, and bear the third angel’s message–the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 150.