FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FOUR & FORTY– Part XVIII
The Four Divine Kingdoms-Part II
QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
— Mark Twain
“The death of Christ—the very event which the disciples had looked upon as the final destruction of their hope—was that which made it forever sure. While it had brought them a cruel disappointment, it was theclimax of the proof that their belief had been correct. The event that had filled them with mourning and despair, was that which opened the door of hope to every child of Adam, and in which centered the future life and eternal happiness of all God’s faithful ones in all ages.”
The Kingdom of righteousness
Some think two other kingdoms have been left out,—the kingdom of righteousness and the kingdom of Christ. Certainly not. When Jesus preached His Sermon on the mount, He said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal ; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also . . . Therefore I say, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? . . . Look at the birds . . . Consider the lilies. . . Which of you byworrying can add one cubit to his stature . . .
“ Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matt. 6: 19-21, 25, 27, 31-33, N.K.J.V. Christ was pointing to the kingdom that would be established at Calvary, designating both the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory—His spiritual kingdom in this present world, and the coming kingdom of glory at His second coming with all His angels to resurrect His sleeping elect from the four corners earth. This is the kingdom He taught His disciples to pray for :”Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6: 9-13). His will, as expressed in His law—the transcript of His character and the foundation of His eternal throne in heaven. In the heart recreated as by God’s grace, the law is no longer written on mere tables of stone but in the tables of their hearts and minds as the New Covenant, as it is in heaven among its heavenly sinless residents. Thus the church on earth is united with the church in heaven.
“He whose heart is fixed to serve God will find opportunity to witness for Him. Difficulties will be powerless to hinder him who is determined to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. In the strength gained by prayer and a study of the Word, he will seek virtue and forsake vice. Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith, who endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself, the believer will willingly brave contempt and derision. And help and grace sufficient for every circumstance are promised by Him whose word is truth.”– Acts of the Apostles, p. 467.
God’s Kingdom Compared to a Grain of Mustard Seed not to any Human Government
There are some recorded 40 parables of Christ, each teaching precious aspects of the gospel as penned by the living witness of the gospel writers. All should be studied carefully and prayerfully lest futuristic interpretations be applied to them such as are done to the prophecies. Oftentimes irreparable damage to the precious gems of truths presented therein. From the book, Christ’s Objects Lessons, pp. 76-69, based on Matt. 13: 31, 32; Mark 4: 30-32; Luke 13: 18, 19, we quote the following:
“In the multitude that listened to Christ’s teaching there were many Pharisees. These noted contemptuously how few of His hearers acknowledged Him as the Messiah. And they questioned with themselves how this unpretending teacher could exalt Israel to universal dominion. Without riches, power, and honor, how was He to establish the new kingdom? Christ read their thoughts and answered them:—
‘Whereunto shall we like the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?’ Inearthly governments there was nothing that could serve as a similitude. No civil society could afford Him a symbol. ‘It is like a grain of mustard seed,’ He said, ‘which, when it is sown upon the earth, though it be less than all the seeds that are upon the earth, yet when it is sown, groweth up and becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches; so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof.’
“The germ in the seed grows by the unfolding of the life-principle which God has implanted. Its development depends upon no human power. So it is with the kingdom of Christ [synonymous with the kingdom of God. It is a new creation. Its principles of development are the opposite of those that rule the kingdoms of this world. Earthly governments prevail by physical force; they maintain dominion by war but the founder of the new kingdom is the Prince of peace [Isa.9: 6, 7].
“The Holy Spirit represents worldly kingdoms under the symbol of fierce beasts of prey [Dan__; Rev. 13:__]; but Christ is ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1: 29). In His plan of government there is no employment of brute force to compel the conscience.
“The Jews looked [and are still expecting today] for the kingdom of God to be established as the same way as the kingdoms of the world. To promote righteousness they resorted to external measures. They devised methods and plans. But Christ implants a principle. By implanting truth and righteousness, He counterworks error and sin.
“As Jesus spoke this parable, the mustard plant could be seen far and near, lifting itself above the grass and grain, and waving its branches lightly in the air. Birds flitted from twig to twig, and sang among the leafy foliage. Yet from the seed which sprang this leafy giant plant was among the least of all seeds. At first it sent up a tender shoot; but it was of strong vitality, and grew and flourished until it reaches its present great size.
“So the kingdom of Christ in its beginning seemed humble and insignificant. Compared with earthly kingdoms it appeared to be the least of all. By the rulers of this world Christ’s claims to be a king was ridiculed. Yet in the mighty truths committed to His followers the kingdom of the gospel possessed a divine life. And how rapid was its growth, how wide-spread its influence! When Christ spoke this parable, there were only a few Galilean peasants to represent the new kingdom. Their poverty, the fewness of their numbers was urged over and over against as a reason why men should not connect themselves with these simple-minded fishermen who followed Jesus. But the mustard seed was to grow and spread forth its branches throughout the world. When the earthly kingdoms whose glory then filled the hearts of men should perish, the kingdom of Christ would remain, a mighty and far-reaching power.
“So the work of grace in the heart is small in its beginning. A word is spoken, a ray of light is shed into the soul, and influence is exerted that is the beginning of the new life; and who can measure its results? Not only is the growth of Christ’s kingdom illustrated by the parable of the mustard seed, but in every stage of its growth the experience represented in the parable is repeated. For His church in every generation God has a special truth and a special work. [It is called the present, testing truth of its generation].
“The truth that is hid from the worldly-wise . . . is revealed to the childlike and humble. It calls for self-sacrifice. It has battles to fight and victories to win. At the outset its advocates are few. By the great men of the world and by a world-conforming church, they are opposed and despised.
“See John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, standing alone to rebuke the pride and formalism of the Jewish nation. See the first bearers of the gospel Into Europe. How obscure, how hopeless, seemed the mission of Paul and Silas, the two tent-makers, as they with their companions took ship at Troas for Philipi. See ‘Paul the aged,’ in chains, preaching Christ in the stronghold of the Caesars. See the little communities of the slaves and peasants in conflict with the heathenism of imperial Rome.
“See* Martin Luther withstanding that mighty church [The Church of Rome] which is the masterpiece of the world’s wisdom. See him holding fast God’s word against emperor and pope, declaring, ‘Here I take my stand; I cannot do otherwise. God be my help.’ See John Wesley preaching Christ and His righteousness in the midst of formalism, sensualism, and infidelity.
“See one burdened with the woes of the heathen world, pleading for the privilege of carrying to them the message Christ’s message of love. Hear the response of ecclesiasticism: ‘Sit down, young man. When God wants to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine.’
“The great leaders of religious thought in this generation sound the praises and build the monuments of those who planted the seed of truth centuries ago. Do not many turn from this work to trample down the growth springing from the same seed today? The old cry is repeated, ‘We know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow [Christ in the messenger He sends], we know not from whence he is.’ (John 9: 29).
“As in earlier ages, the special truths for this time are found, not with the ecclesiastical authorities, but with men and women who are not too learned or too wise to believe the word of God.
“Purposes of infinite mercy were reaching their fulfillment, even through the disappointment of the disciples [when Christ was crucified instead of being crowned king]. While their hearts had been won with the divine grace and power of His teaching, who ‘spake as never man spake,’ yet intermingled with the pure gold of their love for Jesus, was the base alloy of worldly pride and selfish ambitions. Even in the Passover chamber, at the solemn hour when their Master was already entering the shadow of Gethsemane, there was ‘strife among them, which of them should be accounted as the greatest’ (Luke 22: 34).
“Their vision was filled with the throne, the crown, and the glory, while just before them lay the shame and agony of the garden, the judgment-hall, the cross of Calvary. It was their pride of heart, their thirst for worldly glory, that led them to cling so tenaciously to the false teachings of their time, and to pass unheeded the Savior’s words showing the true nature of His kingdom, and pointing forward to His agony and death. And these errors resulted in the trial—sharp but needful—which was permitted for their correction. Though the disciples had mistaken the meaning of their message, and had failed to realize their expectations, yet they had preached the warning given them of God, and the Lord would reward their faith and honor their obedience. To them was to be entrusted the work heralding to all nations the glorious gospel of their risen Lord. It was to prepare them for this work, that the experience which seemed to them so bitter had been permitted.” – Ibid, pp. 349-349.
The Lion and the Lamb Saves! –“The Savior was presented to John [at Patmos] under the symbols of a ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah,’ and of a ‘Lamb as it had been slain.’ Rev. 5: 5, 6 These symbols represent the union of omnipotent power and self-sacrificing love. The Lion of Judah, so terrible to the rejecters of His grace, will be the Lamb of God to the obedient and faithful. The pillar of fire that speaks terror and wrath to the transgressor of God’s law, is a token of light and mercy and deliverance to those who have kept His commandments. The arm strong to smite the rebellious will be strong to deliver the loyal. Everyone who is faithful will be saved. ‘[Matt. 24: 31 quoted.]
“In comparison with the millions of the world, God’s people will be, as they have ever been, a little flock;but if they stand for the truth as revealed in His word. God will be their refuge. They stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. God is always a majority. When the sound of the last trump shall penetrate the prison-house of the dead [the grave], and the righteous shall come forth with triumph, ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Cor. 15: 55)—standing then with God, with Christ, with the angels, and with the loyal and true of all ages, the children of God will be far in the majority!”- Ibid, Acts of the Apostles, pp. 589, 590.
(Continued next week)