The Kingdom of Heaven

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
THE expression, the “Kingdom of Heaven,” does not refer to heaven as such, but to the rule of heaven over the earth. It will be seen that corruption and false profession find their place in the Kingdom of Heaven, and such will assuredly not find a place in Heaven.
When Did the Kingdom of Heaven Begin?
Was it known in Old Testament times? Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, as he interpreted his dream, prophesying that monarch's approaching insanity, that the judgment was sent to humble his pride, and in order to teach him “that the heavens do rule” (Dan. 4:2626And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. (Daniel 4:26)).
This was not the Kingdom of Heaven, but meant the governmental rule of God over the world. Our inquiry will show that the Kingdom of Heaven has a spiritual significance.
When did it begin? One verse settles the question. The Lord said: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:1111Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)).
And again: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:1616The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. (Luke 16:16)).
These two verses prove that John the Baptist was not in the Kingdom of Heaven, but that though never in it himself, yet his preaching prepared the way for it. Let it be at once grasped that there could be No Kingdom Without First a King, and that John was the forerunner of the King. But seeing that the King is rejected, the Kingdom is in mystery now, as it will be in display when Christ rules as the King of Israel and as the Son of Man over the whole world.
It may be noted that the term “Kingdom of Heaven” only occurs in Matthew's Gospel, which thus presents its dispensational character, whilst the expression, “Kingdom of God,” occurring in all the Gospels, especially in Luke's, and running through the Acts of the Apostles and occurring in the Pauline Epistles, presents more often the truth in a moral character, though in some cases the expressions cover the same ground, as the context proves.
The Kingdom in Mystery.
That the Kingdom should take this character was necessary because of the rejection of the King. When Christ takes His rightful place it will be in display.
Matthew 13 is the great chapter which indicates the course of the Kingdom of Heaven in mystery. It consists of seven parables, which fall into three divisions. The first parable stands by itself, then the three following form the second division, and the last three the third division. The chapter begins: “The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side” (vs. 1). This action of His was symbolic, “the house” signifying Judaism, “the sea side” the nations of the world. His attitude indicates a new departure in the ways of God. Christ turns His back upon Judaism as such; it had rejected the rightful King, and He indicates a new line of action in this parable.
Notice, it is the only one of the seven parables that does not begin with the expression, “The Kingdom of Heaven is likened.” The reason of this is because it is by the sowing of the seed of the Kingdom that the Kingdom is formed.
Hitherto Jehovah had been seeking fruit from Israel; now He is no longer seeking, but is giving, and that not to Judaism only, but to the whole world. It is not a question now of seeking fruit, but sowing seed to produce fruit. We do not need to go into the details of this beautiful parable: it speaks for itself.
The next three parables present the Kingdom in mystery in its outward form or aspect. The parables are as follow:
(1) The Wheat and the Tares.
(2) The Grain of Mustard Seed.
(3) The Woman, the Meal, and the Leaven.