Imagine yourself the president and CEO of a company you founded forced by illness to be away from your flock for an extended period of time, now finally coming back to assume the reigns. However, new leadership has evolved in your absence that does not inspire or lead as you did, and now your people are anxiously looking and listening for something—anything to indicate you are alright, you still care for them, and are coming back with a new and exciting plan for the future. Wouldn’t you have a lengthy, carefully crafted speech ready, written to reassure them all was good and tell them exactly what you were planning to do to launch the company boldly in to the future?
This is where the Father found Himself just before sending His Son to earth. After over 400 years of silence, and with this new and glorious covenant and age dawning upon His church, God could have chosen so much to say. Yet He chose nine simple words. Just nine, and they advanced a concept His people were completely unfamiliar with. I can just imagine the collective, “Huh?” as they were spoken, but those were the words. How important was heralding the kingdom of heaven come to earth? Evidently the most important news to God. After hundreds of years of silence, the words God gave John and Jesus to re-establish connection lost and herald the new and eternal covenant between Himself and mankind? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Jesus’ incarnation was the moment of time upon which all history would hinge, the event all of history-past had pointed to, and the one all of history-future would look back upon as the ultimate game-changer. These nine words were carefully crafted to help us understand still today how critical it would be to understand God’s New Covenant, and the choices it presents. An entirely new kingdom has opened up to us, and everything depends upon the choices we make as to whether or not to engage fully in it and become citizens of it.
I believe these nine words were more important than the Great Commandment, for if those words were the most critical there would have been no need for a second covenant. I believe they were more important than any of the Ten Commandments or other laws of the Hebrew Covenant for the same reason. These nine words were the only ones God gave John the Baptist to announce Jesus’ coming (Matt. 3:2), the words Jesus first preached (Matt. 4:17), and the words He told us to preach (Matt. 10:7), because the kingdom of heaven coming to earth, and us “changing our minds” to grasp the reality of it and live in it, was the most important message of all time.
So important is this kingdom Jesus referred to it in eleven of His parables. So important is this kingdom Jesus provided two entirely different governments to rule over it and the kingdom of man (1 Pet. 2:13-14 v Isa. 9:6), different militaries in which to enlist (2 Tim. 2:3-4), different weapons with which to fight (Eph. 6:11-17), and different commissions to live for (Matt. 28:19-20). In addition to Jesus referring to it as a pearl hidden, for which one would forsake everything the world has to offer, Paul described anything the one could offer as “rubbish” compared to the incredible value of living in and for the other (Phil. 3:8), and proclaimed if there was one thing he would spend his life doing it would be striving toward it while forgetting everything else (Phil. 3:13). Jesus began the Beatitudes with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for it shall be theirs,” and whenever we prayed His most famous prayer He wanted us to be reminded to ask the Father to impose this new kingdom upon the earth.
And did you know the only Gospel we find Jesus preaching in the New Testament was not the gospel of salvation as we preach today, but the “Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matt. 4:23, 9:35, 24:14, Luke 16:16)?! And why not? When speaking generically of the definition of evangelist, Webster’s defines one who evangelizes as “an enthusiastic advocate.” John and Jesus did not preach, “Repent for salvation is at hand,” for that would only be one part of what Jesus came to bring to His people. He wanted so much more for us than merely salvation to look forward to, and that when we die. He wanted us to enjoy all the benefits of life with Him: right here and right now while we live! It was the kingdom He came to bring to earth, and therefore the Gospel He was such an enthusiastic advocate of.
The two kingdoms in play on earth are not just different. They are diametrically opposed, requiring completely incompatible mindsets [more on this later in this series]. The kingdom of man cannot even discern its counterpart, inasmuch as without the Spirit’s indwelling it is impossible (Matt. 13:11-14). Jesus’ new kingdom was the light the darkness could not understand, and brought us spiritually discerned truths the world could not, in its finest moments, faintly comprehend.
This kingdom was not to be given out to everyone, not even many who proclaimed, “Lord, Lord!” as so many do today. When asked by His disciples why He spoke in parables to the crowds constantly around Him, just like so many today hear His words and yet do not respond, Jesus replied, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted” (Matt. 13:11). And so the $64.00 question is, will you and your business be one of the blessed ones to whom the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven will be opened? Or will you be one of the 90-95% of those whom Jesus called “slaves who [according to any recent poll of self-professed Christians you wish to review] do not know what He is doing” (John 15:15)?
Make no mistake about this, Jesus has not just given us eternity in heaven, but “a better country, that is, a heavenly one (Heb. 11:16)” to live in here! However, to move into it we must grasp the reality and importance of it. When the revelation dawned on me as to which kingdom I would choose to live in, that decision became the answer to every question I would face in life because all answers really come down to which kingdom I want to live for. I pray, brothers and sisters, embrace the critical reality and importance of the nine words that changed everything! Repent from worldly thinking and living, and accept the reality of this incredible kingdom that is now “at hand, joined to our world.”
Kingdom companies cannot be shepherded by worldly, carnal Christians who do not know what their Master is doing. Nor can well-intentioned Christians who desire to run a kingdom company, but do not understand the kingdom in their own lives, do it. “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). It starts with individual believers pursuing an understanding and application of those critical nine words that heralded God returning to His people after 400 years of silence with a miraculous new plan!
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