And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)
WE NEED TO RETURN TO KINGDOM!
I am fully convinced that God is calling all His people, Jew and non-Jew alike, to return to to KINGDOM, and to leave religion alone. There are many people who read Jeremiah 6 with the wrong focus in view:
Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ANCIENT PATHS, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16; Emphasis Mine)
Although Judaism is older than Christianity, it is NOT the “ANCIENT PATHS” spoken about by Jeremiah. Before the Babylonian captivity, Israel was a THEOCRATIC KINGDOM, NOT a RELIGION. What we now know as the RELIGION of JUDAISM did not begin until the Babylonian captivity; consequently, there’s an ANCIENT PATH older than the Jewish RELIGION.
WHAT IS THE “KINGDOM OF THE LORD”?
Today, we look at God and His Kingdom through the lens of RELIGION, and it distorts the view of it that we should have. Rather than as a “spiritual kingdom,” we should understand it in the same way we understand all kingdoms:
A KINGDOM, or MONARCHY, is a political form of government, in which a KING rules and reigns over a population of PEOPLE who live within a given TERRITORY. A KINGDOM is not only political, but its also social, cultural, historical, and spiritual (in this case), with its own values, beliefs, holidays and worldview.
Throughout the Bible, God treats His Kingdom and those in it, not as a RELIGION, but as an actual, literal Kingdom. For example, in I Chronicles 28, David is announcing that Solomon would be the next king of Israel. He says,
And of all my sons, (for the LORD has given me many sons,) He has chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD over Israel. (I Chronicles 28:5; Emphasis Mine)
The context here is most definitely a political one, not a religious one, and in this verse, David refers to “THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD” Heb. malkhut YHVH). During their time in Babylon, evasive synonyms begin being used for the covenantal name of YHVH, so that by the time of the New Testament, “THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD” becomes “THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” or “THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”
And it is the reality of living in a “THEOCRATIC KINGDOM” that is the “ANCIENT PATH” that Israel, Judaism, and even Christianity has said, “We will not walk in it,” by their beliefs, choices and conduct. But this is where God is leading all His people to realize, to accept and to live. To illustrate the difference Kingdom makes, let’s look at a few examples:
In a Kingdom, citizenship is NOT a right, nor can you do anything to “earn” citizenship, like you could in the Roman empire. For example, in the Roman empire, you could actually buy your citizenship into the empire. In contrast, citizenship in God’s Kingdom is based solely on the choice of the King.
In a True Kingdom, the King owns everything within His Kingdom: the land, the buildings, the minerals under the land, the plant life and animals, the crops, the businesses, the people, and even the work done by the people. Consequently, there is absolutely nothing that anyone could do to “earn” or “merit” citizenship. If the King decides to choose you to be a citizen, then He has graciously shown you His “unmerited favor” (or “grace”). Therefore, as Paul writes,
Therefore by GRACE [the King’s unmerited favor] are ye SAVED [rescued from the Kingdom of Darkness and made part of His Kingdom] through FAITH [Your trust, loyalty and faithfulness to the King]; and that not of yourselves [there’s nothing you could’ve done to earn this]: it is the gift of God: not of works [nothing by what we’ve done], lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Emphasis Mine)
Giving thanks unto the Father,…who has translated us from the power [or Kingdom] of Darkness, and has translated us into THE KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON. (Colossians 1:12a, 13).
Consequently, when we place this passage back into the context of KINGDOM, it makes complete sense. Through the sole discretion of the King, He has chosen us and rescued us from “the power [or kingdom] of Darkness” and “has translated” or “has changed our location” to “the Kingdom of His dear Son,” a synonymous name for God’s Kingdom.
In fact, God’s Kingdom is referred to as “the Kingdom of the LORD” (I Chronicles 28:5); “the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11); “the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11); “the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5); “the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13); “the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelations 11:15). Jesus called it “My kingdom” (Luke 22:30); and Paul, referring to Christ, called it “His kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). All of these are just different ways of referring to the same kingdom.
Another example of how KINGDOM differs is in how God’s laws are viewed. In a Kingdom, obedience to the laws of that kingdom does not make you a citizen of that kingdom, just like if someone comes from another country, and they want to become an American citizen. Obeying all of our laws will not make them into a citizen; instead, there’s a special process, called “Naturalization,” that they have to go through to become a citizen. In the same way, God has His own special Naturalization process, called “salvation,” that we have to go through to become citizens of His Kingdom. But once we become a citizen of His Kingdom, or of any nation, we are expected to keep the laws of that kingdom or nation. This is easy to understand within the context of Kingdom.
Instead, obedience to God’s Kingdom laws has nothing to do with “being Jewish,” but about showing our loyalty, allegiance, and trust in our King, whether we are a Jew or non-Jew. And as any King will do, He will reward those within His Kingdom who demonstrate their faithfulness and loyalty to Him. And this view of the Torah, God’s instructions and commands, fits in with the following rabbinic Midrash:
The Torah was given in public for all to see, in the open. For if it has been given in the Land of Israel, Israel would have said to the nations of the world, you have no share in it; Therefore, the Torah was given in the wilderness, in public, for all to see, in the open, and everyone who wishes to receive it, let them come and receive it.
Consequently, if this is why God gave the Torah in the wilderness, then how does our obedience to it make us “Jewish,” since God gave the Torah to both Jews and non-Jews, as taught within the Scriptures themselves?
KINGDOM – A BETTER ALTERNATIVE
It’s past time for the Messianic Movement to redefine itself from “a religious movement” or “a cultural outreach to Jews” to an International “KINGDOM MOVEMENT.” A KINGDOM that’s open to all nations, all races, all people, Jew or non-Jew, regardless of background. We shouldn’t just focus on what was behind, but we also need to keep in focus what’s ahead of us: the return of the Lord and the establishment of His Kingdom here on earth, where He will rule and reign over Israel and all the nations from the city of Jerusalem.
There’s a whole new reality coming just around the corner, and what I don’t see in Christianity or in Messianic Judaism are people trying to warn people that it’s coming, or even to prepare people in the congregations for its arrival. For example, all of the different religions, the crime, the dirty politicians, the mobs, drugs, illicit sex, abortion, etc., are all about to vanish. It won’t take a vote of congress, nor will it take a decision from the Supreme Court, but it only take a word spoken from the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and it will all be gone.
In addition, He’s going to rebuild the Temple, re-institute the priesthood, the animal sacrifices, the Sabbath and New Moon feasts, and the biblical feasts, are we ready for all of that? Are we ready to obey God’s commandments, not for the purpose of justification, nor to make us “Jewish,” but for the purpose of learning about God, Yeshua HaMoshiakh (Jesus Christ), and who we are in Messiah (Christ), for the purpose of our sanctification, and to show our love and loyalty to our King.
THE BENEFITS OF THIS APPROACH
I believe by redefining the overall movement from Messianic Judaism, it will provide those within the movement a clearer focus on who we are, what is our combined purpose as a movement, where are we going as a movement (i.e., our vision), and what is the distinction between the religions (Judaism and Christianity) and us (an International Kingdom Movement). Because as it stands right now, the understanding of who we are – both from those inside the movement and those outside of it – is not clear at all.
God is moving us to viewing things from a kingdom perspective, so that when He comes back, He will find us living as His loyal citizens and servants of His Kingdom, doing the work of the Kingdom, as we were expectantly waiting for His return. Bringing Israel back to Kingdom was, I believe, the intent behind the “Original Kingdom Movement” that Yeshua/Jesus and His disciples proclaimed, and that He commissioned them and us to proclaim throughout all the nations of the world. And, of course, as we proceed forward, it is crucial that we are sure that our message, purpose and vision is in sync with His.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)