Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 40: Foretaste of the Kingdom

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 40 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “If you knew a disaster was coming what three things in your house would you try to save beside family members?”

Read: Luke 17:20-37

The Pharisees who questioned Jesus concerning the coming of the Kingdom asked him a legitimate question. Jesus had constantly referred to Himself as the Son of Man and these Pharisees recognized that in essence He was claiming to be the Messiah. They arrived at their conclusion based on the Messianic prophecy in the Book of Daniel 7:13-14.

Essentially the Pharisees wanted to know when Jesus would begin reigning as the King of Israel and establishing His rule over all the nations. They were expecting a physical kingdom whose beginning could be dated with some precision. But Jesus’ reply was somewhat cryptic. The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or, “There it is!” For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

In order to unravel His cryptic reply we will need to gain some understanding about the idea of the Kingdom of God. In simple terms “the Kingdom of God” means “the rule of God.” The kingdom of God is established when God begins to rule over His people. When Jesus told the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God is in your midst, He was alluding to the fact that God rules when people accept Him as Lord and obey His laws and decrees (Jeremiah 31:33-34). That’s why Jesus told the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God was not coming with signs to be observed.

Then turning to His disciples, Jesus cautioned them not to give heed to people who would say that the Kingdom of God was either here or there since the Kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed. But wishing to give His disciples more information, Jesus turned the conversation back to the Son of Man, thus linking Himself with His future reign as Messiah.

He told them that they would long to see the day when He, the Son of Man, was ruling on the earth but they would not see it in their lifetimes because He would have to suffer many things and be rejected by the current generation. However, He did tell them that He would return to the earth in the future. And He likened that day to a lightening flash: occurring suddenly, in the sky, transpiring quickly and noticeable to all who were watching for it.

As if to give force to His point, Jesus likened His return to the day that Noah entered the ark (Genesis 6:9-9:17) and the day that Abraham’s nephew Lot left Sodom (Genesis 19:1-29). As in those times there will be two groups of people coexisting on planet earth at the same time: those who belong to the Kingdom of God and those who do not. God will deliver those who are His and reign down wrath on those who are not. Those who belong to God will hear His voice and obey Him. Then He instructs them to remember Lot’s wife.

To those who do not belong to the Kingdom of God that day will be like any other. They will be eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting, and building. They will be unsuspecting! Then on that night the wrath of God will fall upon them. From the scripture it appears that one-half of the remaining people will be destroyed.

The point of the lesson is those who hear and obey God’s voice will be spared.

With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider, along with a little homework assignment until my next posting:

Doubt is the enemy of faith. What are some doubts you have when praying?

. . . and the homework assignment . . .

Read: Genesis 19:15-26

Take a few minutes to reflect on what Jesus had to say, and ask yourself these questions:
  • What happened to Lot’s wife?
  • Why did Lot’s wife turn back?
  • What was wrong with looking back?
Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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