Kingdom of God

The Cost of the Kingdom

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his famous Canterbury Tales in the 14th century. One of the stories in this narrative is the Knight’s Tale. As a group of pilgrims is on its way to Canterbury, the knight tells his tale about two rival knights, Arcite and Palamon, both vying for the hand in marriage of a fair maiden, Emily. The knights face each other in a public tournament for her hand. Both seem to want victory, but…

But then come the prayers which reveal their true desires. Emily prays that she will marry the one who truly loves her. Palamon prays that he will marry her. Arcite prays for victory in the tournament.

All three prayers are answered when Arcite wins the tournament, but then he falls off his horse and dies, so Palamon, who truly loves Emily, gets to marry her.

This story shows what happens when true desires are exposed, which is what we see in Matthew 13.

In Matthew 13:44-46 we see two short parables about the Kingdom.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Jesus tells two short stories of men who found something of great value, and whose desire for that object was greater than any other they had. From this we learn…

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King & Kingdom in Genesis

This was written as an excursus for a chapter in the book The Words of the Covenant.

I am well aware of the view held by many respected scholars who believe that “the Kingdom of God” is the main theme of the Bible.1 But it must be admitted that it has not been an overarching theme of Genesis, and therefore of the first several thousand years of history. Though it may be rightly intimated from the image of God of Genesis 1:26-27, and the creation mandate of Genesis 1:28f., that man was to rule over the world for His Maker,2 the idea of a kingdom of God had not yet taken clear shape in the biblical text, especially from the time of the Fall.3

What we see, rather, is the story of fallen humanity moving away from their Creator and His program, and a providential counter-movement through Noah to Abram finalizing at some future point in a coming potentate from Judah. Hence, the kingdom theme emerges very gradually from the Hebrew narrative. Surely a more prominent theme has been the figure of the coming “Deliverer King”4 who is promised at the beginning and the end of the Book (Gen. 3:15; 49:8-10).

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What is the Central Theme of the Bible?

Review: “He Will Reign Forever” by Michael Vlach (Part 4)

Image of He Will Reign Forever
by Michael J Vlach
Jpl Books 2017
Hardcover

This is the final installment of my review of this book. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

As he moves through the Book of Acts, the author addresses the main kingdom passages only. An author must be selective with his material, so the relatively brief look at Acts is no mark against the book. In fact, due to his ability to sum things up quickly and accurately, Vlach can pinpoint the salient passages and continue into the Pauline corpus.

That said, he manages to dwell on the really crucial texts in Acts. He says, for instance, “Acts 3:19-26 is a strategic passage for the kingdom program” (421), and he has spent 7 pages getting to that conclusion. He not only exegetes Acts 3:19-21, he demonstrates Peter’s compliance with expectations raised by the Old Testament. He then mentions how Acts 3:25 cites Genesis 12:3 and 22:18 to prove that Israel — representatives of which the Apostle is speaking to — is still the same national entity as was envisaged in the Abrahamic covenant (420-421).

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Review: “He Will Reign Forever” by Michael Vlach (Part 3)

Image of He Will Reign Forever
by Michael J Vlach
Jpl Books 2017
Hardcover

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

This is the third part in what has become a four part review of this book. I think the work is important enough as a Dispensational Biblical Theology to merit a piece of this length. I hope you will agree.

As Vlach entered upon the New Testament, I was curious how much space he would devote to developing the message of Jesus in its pre-Pauline context. That is to say, I wanted to see if he would trace the teachings of Jesus from its grounding in the prophetic expectations in the Old Testament and its effect upon Jewish hearers in the first part of the first century A.D. I was not disappointed.

The author chooses the Gospel of Matthew as his frame of reference for understanding the kingdom aspect of Christ’s mission. This was a natural enough choice, although I am also a fan of the speeches in Luke-Acts for this purpose. Of course, the selection of Matthew in no way eliminates interaction with the other Gospels, and Vlach picks up on some of the main kingdom emphases in Luke, especially the crucial Parable of the Nobleman in Luke 19:11-27 (e.g. 357-360).

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The People of the God of Abraham

"Jerusalem," by Aryeh Weiss (2016)

At a time when the daily news trumpets the latest political scandal, our Facebook walls vomit forth more madness, our Twitter feeds grow ever darker, and the comment boxes on our favored websites grow more vile by the moment, a Christian ought to pause to consider the end-game. Christ will return, and there will be true peace on earth for all those with whom He’s favored. Then, on that day, there will be no more “fake news,” no more victimized gymnasts, no more predatory medical doctors — no more sin at all. Christ declared to the Apostle John, “Behold, I make all things new!” (Rev 21:5). This passage of Scripture (Psalm 47) gives us a brief glimpse of what this day of rejoicing will look like.

Clap your hands, all peoples!
    Shout to God with loud songs of joy! (Psalm 47:1)

This is clearly a psalm celebrating a momentous event. All the people are commanded to clap, and shout to God with riotous joy. Is the psalmist referring to the Israelites in the congregation, or to “all peoples” who belong to Yahweh, including Gentiles? This is interesting, but we’ll have to wait for more context before making a decision. For now, just consider — why should the people shout for joy, and clap with such glee?

For the LORD, the Most High, is terrible,
   a great king over all the earth (Psalm 47:2)

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Review: “He Will Reign Forever” by Michael Vlach (Part 2)

Image of He Will Reign Forever
by Michael J Vlach
Jpl Books 2017
Hardcover

Read Part 1.

As the author comes to the Prophets, he gives his reader a summary of the overall message of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel:

Israel was being judged and dispersed to the nations for covenant disobedience, but in the latter days Israel would be regathered and restored to her land and experience New Covenant blessings, both material and spiritual, under the leadership of the ultimate Son of David. As a result, the nations, who will be judged for a time, will also benefit from the reign of Messiah, and the restoration of Israel and become the people of God alongside Israel in an earthly kingdom. (He Will Reign Forever, 145)

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