kingdom of heaven is God’s promise to man
but the message is hidden mysteries to most people.
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are hidden in Christ’s parables.
is telling us how we
can obtain the
promise of that kingdom in the scriptures.
us about that through all of the scriptures because He was the Word and
Creator from the beginning.
John tells us about that when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3)
Verse 14 says the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.
The Father sent Christ to do His creation work, the greatest of which was the creation of man in His image. He also sent Christ as His Word. As His Word, Christ spoke the Father’s message of the kingdom through the prophets. The message of the kingdom is the message of our salvation.
Peter said that when the prophets spoke ahead of our salvation, they were searching and “seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” (1 Peter 1:11)
Christ came to earth to redeem us from our sins but while He was here He went about preaching the message of the kingdom to the crowds in parables. We can see Him doing that in Matthew, chapter 13.
After recording Jesus speaking several parables to them, Matthew tells us, “All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable.” (Matthew 13:34)
Mark says that, "He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples" (Mark ).
He was explaining the spiritual meaning of His parables to His disciples but not to the crowds. That brings up an obvious question.
Why did He only speak to the crowds in parables? His disciples obviously wondered the same thing because, scripture says, “the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” (Matthew 13:10-11)
He said the crowds, “while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Verse 13)
The crowds came by the thousands to hear Jesus. They were expecting a Messiah and most of them wondered if Jesus was the One. They wanted to hear His message but they never heard it. They only heard earthly copies of the spiritual message. They could not understand the true message.
Some of them would come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, but Jesus was only speaking of His disciples being granted to know those mysteries, not all believers. Few believers are willing to pay the cost of discipleship.
Of that cost Jesus once told a crowd, "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
Only believers who continued to listen to, and study Christ’s word would become His disciples. We can hear Jesus tell us about that in John, chapter 8.
Jesus was speaking to a crowd of Jews and John says that, “As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Some had heard enough of His word to become believers but many will not continue to listen to Him and believe everything that He says. They wondered why they needed to be made free if they were already free. They were descendants of Abraham and they asked Him, “how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
John says, “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)
They believed in Him but they were having trouble understanding the spiritual message because they doubted Him as He continued His message. They thought He was speaking of earthly slavery. The spiritual message was of what is needed to become free from slavery to sin.
that they began as a nation in slavery in
What we heard Jesus say is beginning to sound like a parable; a spiritual parallel of that earthly Hebrew salvation story.
nation had been promised an earthly
was to Abraham’s descendants by faith.
His promise to them is a heavenly land but they found
slavery to sin in this world. Just
God sent Moses to bring that earthly
Did the Creator cause that old covenant earthly story to happen as it did just as He spoke to the crowds in parables when He was on earth?
We heard Matthew tell us, “All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable.”
His next words were, “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD." (Matthew 13:35)
We heard Peter say that when the prophets spoke of our salvation, the Spirit of Christ was speaking through them. The Spirit of Christ was speaking through that prophet to foretell how He would come speaking to the crowds in parables of things hidden from the foundation of the world. He came preaching the message of the kingdom of heaven.
If Jesus would come speaking to the crowds in parables of things that had been hidden from the foundation of the world and He was speaking the message of the kingdom of heaven then the promise of that kingdom was God’s plan before the world was created.
When Matthew said those words, he was referring to what the Psalmist had written in Psalms, chapter 78. The Psalmist began that chapter, "Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us." (Psalms 78:1-2)
He said that He would utter dark sayings of old but He also says that they were things their fathers had told them. The Psalmist then repeated what their fathers had told them and it was the old Hebrew salvation story.
He said that they were not to conceal those things, “- -But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.” (Verse 4)
He says that we must tell it to the generation to come. We should tell them how they should put their confidence in God and not forget His works.
spoke of the ones that God brought out of
The Spirit of Christ is speaking through that prophet. He says that He is speaking that old earthly Hebrew salvation story in a parable. He tells us how He saved them from slavery, “Yet they still continued to sin against Him, To rebel against the Most High in the desert.” (Verse 17)
They sinned and did not believe His wondrous works, “So He brought their days to an end in futility And their years in sudden terror.” (Verse 33)
The Spirit of Christ is speaking through that prophet in a parable and He will retell that old Hebrew story. He was speaking through the prophets in parables just as He would speak in parables when He came to earth.
His Spirit speaks to us through the prophet Hosea and He says, “I have also spoken to the prophets, And I gave numerous visions, And through the prophets I gave parables.” (Hosea 12:10)
That old Hebrew salvation story sounds like a parable but it is not fiction; it really happened. Did God cause that story to happen for our instruction, just as Christ spoke in parables for our instruction? Is Paul telling us about that in what he told the Corinthians?
Paul told them, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5)
Speaking of what happened to those Israelites he says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (Verses 11-12)
Are we listening? Christ is explaining the spiritual meaning of that earthly salvation story to His disciples through Paul. Paul said those things happened as an example and it was all written for our instruction. Most of those Israelites were laid low in the wilderness. We should take heed lest we fall like they fell.
Speaking of how God causes true stories to happen, if God caused that old Hebrew story to happen as it did, Christ did it because He was the Creator from the beginning.
Paul spoke of His creation work. He said that Christ is the image of the invisible God the Firstborn of all creation, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)
All things have been created through Him and for Him and that work includes selecting all rulers, authorities and kings. As Paul says in another place, "there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." (Romans 13:1)
work includes placing all rulers and authorities into their positions
is causing true stories to happen as they do.
Every ruler since Adam was selected by Christ and that
Pharaoh who ruled over
Paul referred back to what Moses had written about that Pharaoh and said, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH." (Romans 9:17).
The Spirit of Christ was speaking that message to Pharaoh, through Moses. Christ put Pharaoh into power and then He made that old earthly story happen as it did to display His power and that His name might be made known throughout the earth.
He told Moses how He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let the people go, before Moses went to Pharaoh (Exodus ).
Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let
Did Christ make that old covenant story happen to foretell how the gospel’s power to save would later be proclaimed throughout the world under the new covenant?
Paul said that he was not ashamed of the gospel because, "it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans ).
told the apostles that, “repentance
for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name
to all the nations, beginning from
If He was causing that old Hebrew story to happen for our instruction, did those people not have a choice? It appears that Pharaoh had no choice if the Creator raised him up and put him into power and then repeatedly hardened his heart to cause that old story to happen as it did.
That does not fit with other scripture. Peter says that God is, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
see that same
message in the Old Testament scriptures.
The Lord spoke through Ezekiel to say, “As
I live!' declares
the Lord GOD, `I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but
the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your
ways! Why then will you die, O house of
If God is making the choice for us and if He means what He said (He always means what He says), then God would cause everyone to repent so that all could be saved. We know that is not the case. Only a few people will believe and obey the gospel and be saved.
God allows us to make our own choices and His wish is that we will make the right choice. Whatever choice we make, He foresaw us make it.
Remember, God is not limited in time or space. He was in all time in the beginning and He is in all time now. He foresaw us make our own choices and based on what He foresaw us choose, He is causing our life story to happen as it does.
We can see that when we hear Paul say, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans -19).
God foreknew who would choose to love Him because He foresaw them and for those whom He foresaw make that choice, He causes “All things” to work together for good. They have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.
God hears the prayers of the faithful. When we pray to Him and He answers our prayers (Not always like we have in mind), then God is causing our life story to happen as it does but we had input by what we prayed for.
God was in all time in the beginning, so He heard our prayers before the foundation of the world. That sounds like something that David said about God’s foreknowledge of him.
David said, “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.” (Psalms 139:1-4)
If God foreknew what David would say the day before he said it, then He foreknew what he would say from the beginning of time.
God foresaw David and heard him speak from the beginning. No wonder David says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psalms 139:6)
God knew David’s whole like before he was born. David says, “My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” (Verses 15-16)
Every day of David’s life had been recorded in God’s book before David was born because God had already foreseen him being a man after God’s heart. Based on what He foresaw, He was making David’s life work out for his good. Some awful things would happen to David in his earthly life but his spiritual life would be glorious.
Just as God had foreseen and recorded every day of David’s life before he was born, God foresaw Pharaoh as one who would choose not to obey Him and He selected Pharaoh to become a vessel meant for destruction. The Potter made it happen.
That helps us understand Paul when he speaks of God being the Potter and we are the clay.
He asks, “Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans -23)
appears that Pharaoh was a vessel prepared
for destruction. God’s
power would be
made known in that earthly copy but the message is how it speaks to
We heard Paul speak of how they were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. That sounds like an earthly copy of how we are baptized into Christ by water and Spirit.
When we look at what happened to cause that event to happen (The parting of the sea), we can see how it all happened as an earthly copy.
the death of
the firstborn of
Why would God do that? God told Moses that Pharaoh would see them wandering aimlessly and God would harden his heart and he would chase after them (Exodus 14:3-4).
and his army
He did exactly that when He displayed His power by parting the sea so that His people could go through the sea on dry ground. Moses stretched out his hand and the sea parted and he led God’s people through the sea.
When the Egyptian army chased after them, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea from the other side and the waters returned to their place. The entire Egyptian army was drowned in the sea.
Pharaoh had already let God’s people go after the sign of the death of the firstborn but God hardened his heart again and caused him to change his mind and gather his army and go after the Israelites. God made it happen that way for a reason.
it just to
punish the Egyptians? All of the Egyptian’s
firstborn had already
died during that Passover night. Most of their livestock had
their crops had been destroyed.
saw the Egyptians they cried out to Moses. Moses told them, "Do
not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD
which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians
whom you have
seen today, you will never see them again forever. "The LORD
fight for you while you keep silent." Then the LORD said to
"Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of
God told Moses, "As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:17)
How was God honored by the destruction of Pharaoh and all his army? Was it done to show an earthly copy of how He is being honored when we are brought out of slavery to sin? Remember, we heard Jesus tell the Jews, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”
We are all sinners and therefore we are in slavery to sin but Jesus will make us free if we follow Him out of slavery. Will it be like what happened when those Israelites passed through the sea?
When God’s people went through the sea, their Egyptian slave masters were washed away in the sea. Not one of them remained (Exodus ).
Moses told his people to, “Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today”. Did Paul see the salvation of the LORD happen like that when he was saved?
Paul had been an unbeliever but when he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, he became a believer. He became a believer by sight. It will not happen like that for us. We must believe by faith.
After Paul became a believer, Jesus told him he was told to, “get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do." (Acts 9:6)
Paul was later told by Ananias, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts )
Paul saw the salvation of the LORD which He accomplished for him that day when he obeyed God and went forward into the sea. His slave master was washed away in the sea.
At first glance, it appears that our sins are our slave master but the scriptures really say something else. Paul tells us what happens when we come through the sea of baptism in Romans.
He says that all of those who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death and “if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:5-6).
Our slave master is our worldly body of sin. If we have heard and believed and obeyed the gospel message and repented of having lived for that body of sin, we will be set free. It happens when we follow Jesus through the sea of baptism and that body of sin is done away with in the sea.
Paul says that if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, "certainly", we will be in the likeness of His resurrection. We will have been crucified with Christ.
The new body that comes up out of the sea will belong to Jesus and it will have become a part of His church body on earth. God’s Spirit dwells in Christ’s body, therefore, it dwells in us if our body is His body.
Christ spoke through Moses to tell them to go forward into the sea. He tells His disciples to, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
Peter showed his love for Jesus when he obeyed Him and preached that gospel message on the Day of Pentecost.
Many of those who heard him believed his message and cried out and asked what should they do? Peter told them to, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts )
Those who received his message and believed were baptized and they were added to the church. They heard God speak through Peter to tell them to go forward into the sea and they would be saved from slavery to sin.
If we are obedient to Christ’s Great Commission we will be preach the same message that Peter preached. We will tell the lost to repent and follow Jesus through the sea and have their slave masters washed away.
After Moses led them through the sea and the Egyptians were drowned in the sea, scripture records that when the Israelites saw what God had done and they saw the bodies of the Egyptians dead on the shore, they were saved believers.
said that, “When
Just as they were a nation of saved believers after their slave masters were washed away, we are a nation of saved believers after we have been brought through the waters of baptism.
We may have been saved but the same thing can happen to us as happened to that earthly nation. Paul said those things happened to them as an example and they were written for our instruction, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
Jesus continues to explain the meaning of that old Hebrew story through the New Testament Hebrew writer. The writer spoke of that Israelite nation and how they refused to hear God’s voice and they hardened their hearts and provoked Him in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:8).
He says that God swore in His wrath that they would not enter His rest. He then tells us to, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” (Verse 12)
In the next chapter he tells us not to harden our hearts like they did. He says, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11)
We heard Paul say that what happened to them happened as an example. We will not receive that land unless we can overcome our wilderness (This world is our spiritual wilderness). We must overcome this world.
Of the men in God’s earthly army, only Joshua and Caleb continued in His word and only Joshua and Caleb wanted to keep fighting for that land. They were the only ones of God's army who would be allowed to enter that land. God told them that their children would also enter.
In Deuteronomy, chapter 1, Moses recounts to the next generation what had happened when their fathers had refused to obey God and fight for that land. Forty years had passed and the rebels had all died in the wilderness.
Moses repeated God’s promise of how none would enter except Joshua and Caleb but he adds, “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it”.
Only those who do not know good from evil and those faithful soldiers in God’s army will enter into, and take possession of that land. Everyone else will die in the wilderness.
Christ only speaks to the crowds in parables but He reveals the spiritual meaning to His disciples. His disciples will take the time to hear Him and they will believe Him.
They will hear Jesus tell them to go preach the gospel to all creation and those who believe and are baptized will be saved and those who do not believe will be condemned. The crowds can’t hear that.
Included in the revelations of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven is how God is reconciling man to Himself through Christ. No one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). We can only be reconciled to God in Christ Jesus and we must be baptized into Christ for that to happen.
Paul says, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29).
When we become clothed with Christ in baptism we will have met God’s covenant requirement of circumcision of the flesh.
God told Abraham, "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. "And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.” (Genesis 17:10-11)
He told him, “thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” (Verse 13)
God also told Abraham that any male that was not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, “that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant." (Verse 14)
Circumcision of the flesh for Abraham and his earthly descendants was a sign of true circumcision of the flesh that God requires of us. God was showing an earthly copy of our true circumcision. God’s true circumcision requirement is spiritual circumcision of our heart.
Paul was speaking of that circumcision when he wrote, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29)
We must keep God’s everlasting covenant and be circumcised, “with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11-12)
Our new covenant is the only everlasting covenant. We must meet God’s everlasting covenant requirement of circumcision of our body of flesh. It happens when we repent of having lived for that earthly body and make the commitment to do away with it in the sea.
That old body of flesh must be removed in baptism so that we can be raised up with Christ. Paul says, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
Jesus tells us to not be like those fathers who provoked Him and were struck down in their wilderness.
We must be careful what we tell others. We must tell others what Jesus told us to tell them because those who teach others will be judged more closely than others (James 3:1).
doubt that the
LORD would have been pleased with any elder or leader who would tell
that they could go around the sea without having to go through it and
brought out of the land of slavery. God’s message through
Moses was to, “Tell
the sons of
We should listen to our teachers and preachers but we must be sure to check out what they say. We are truly saved by faith in Jesus and, therefore, we must believe that He means what He says in the scriptures.
That old Hebrew story is a copy of our story but everything necessary for salvation has been clearly revealed in the New Testament scriptures.
We sometimes, however, have trouble understanding the word spoken so He created the same message in that earthly copy.
If we are confused with the direct statements of the New Testament, we need to study the old earthly copies. We need to study them so that we can know that, "JESUS IS LORD".
Image of the cross is from FreeFoto.com
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org )