Sabbath, May 25, 2019

Lesson 21 – The Kingdom Has Been at Hand Since John

“When Jesus sent forth the twelve on their first mission of mercy, He commissioned them ‘to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.’ Luke 9:2. ‘As ye go,’ He said, ‘preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.’ Matthew 10:7, 8. And as they ‘went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere’ (Luke 9:6), the blessing of heaven accompanied their labors. The fulfillment of the Saviour’s commission by the disciples made their message the power of God unto salvation, and through their efforts many were brought to a knowledge of the Messiah.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 465.

Proclaimed by Moses and the prophets
1. What was written by Moses about the coming Redeemer? What extraordinary mission would He accomplish?
Deuteronomy 18:15 The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

“Plain and specific prophecies had been given regarding the appearance of the Promised One. To Adam was given an assurance of the coming of the Redeemer. The sentence pronounced on Satan, ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel’ (Genesis 3:15), was to our first parents a promise of the redemption to be wrought out through Christ.

“To Abraham was given the promise that of his line the Saviour of the world should come: ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ ‘He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.’  Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16.

“Moses, near the close of his work as a leader and teacher of Israel, plainly prophesied of the Messiah to come. ‘The Lord thy God,’ he declared to the assembled hosts of Israel, ‘will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 222.

2. According to the prophets, what other great work would the Messiah fulfill? How is the holy reality of the spiritual kingdom pictured?
Isaiah 61:1-3; 40:11 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified…. 40:11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

“Isaiah prophesied: ‘There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.’ ‘Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for He hath glorified thee.’ Isaiah 11:1; 55:3-5.

“Jeremiah also bore witness of the coming Redeemer as a Prince of the house of David: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.’ Jeremiah 23:5, 6.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 223.

Since the time of John the kingdom is at hand
3. How did Jesus confirm God’s kingdom as active from ancient times until the beginning of John’s ministry? What core message became its reality?
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.

“In the commission to His disciples, Christ not only outlined their work, but gave them their message. Teach the people, He said, ‘to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’ The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which He had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included. Human teaching is shut out.… Nothing that does not bear His superscription is to be recognized in His kingdom.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 826.

“‘Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.’ ‘Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.’ John 1:45, 49.” –Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 26.

4. If Moses and the prophets proclaimed the coming of God’s kingdom in the Messiah, could that proclamation fail? Why was it impossible for Jesus and His disciples to preach a different message?
Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

“… Concerning the law of Ten Commandments the psalmist declares, ‘Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.’ Psalm 119:89. And Christ Himself says, ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law…. Verily I say unto you’–making the assertion as emphatic as possible–‘Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ Matthew 5:17, 18. Here He teaches, not merely what the claims of God’s law had been, and were then, but that these claims should hold as long as the heavens and the earth remain. The law of God is as immutable as His throne. It will maintain its claims upon mankind in all ages.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 365.

“… Christ came not to destroy but to fulfill the law. Not one jot or tittle of God’s moral standard could be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. Jesus died that He might ascribe unto the repenting sinner His own righteousness, and make it possible for man to keep the law.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 312.

Confirmation of the same great truth
5. What shows that the time of John’s ministry did not end the messages of Moses and the prophets but was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s kingdom?
Matthew 11:12, 13 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

“John went forth to herald the Lord’s anointed, and call men to repentance, saying: ‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’ Matthew 3:2, 3. ‘Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ Luke 3:5, 6. ‘Now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.’ Luke 3:9.” –The Youth’s Instructor, May 17, 1900.

6. What is sure in Jesus’ word and the disciples’ message?
Luke 9:1, 2; 10:9, 11 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick…. 10:9And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you…. 11Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

“During the life of Christ the sick and afflicted were objects of His special care. When He sent out His disciples He commissioned them to heal the sick as well as to preach the gospel. When He sent forth the seventy He commanded them to heal the sick, and next to preach that the kingdom of God had come nigh unto them.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 225.

“Christ has given an example, and the Lord will certainly bless the efforts of those who will move out in the fear of God, bearing the message the Saviour gave to the first disciples, ‘The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.’” –Evangelism, pp. 51, 52.

Partakers of the blessed inheritance
7. Therefore, what wonderful messages could the apostles write with trust and joy?
Colossians 1:12, 13 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. 1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

“Of the poor in spirit Jesus says, ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ This kingdom is not, as Christ’s hearers had hoped, a temporal and earthly dominion. Christ was opening to men the spiritual kingdom of His love, His grace, His righteousness. The ensign of the Messiah’s reign is distinguished by the likeness of the Son of man. His subjects are the poor in spirit, the meek, the persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The kingdom of heaven is theirs. Though not yet fully accomplished, the work is begun in them which will make them ‘meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’ Colossians 1:12.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 8.

For additional study
“The apostle Paul says that God ‘hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.’ Colossians 1:13. And everyone who has passed from death unto life is able to ‘set to his seal that God is true.’ John 3:33. He can testify, ‘I needed help, and I found it in Jesus. Every want was supplied, the hunger of my soul was satisfied.’” –Steps to Christ, p. 112.