Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
The Kingdom, Part 2
We know that “the Kingdom of God/Heaven” was Jesus' central teaching, because He frequently referred to the Kingdom (e.g., Lk. 4: 43). In yesterday's post we also briefly looked at the account of how the Israelites, rejected their invisible King for a visible one and the consequences of their rebellion. Additionally, we contrasted the self-serving motives and actions of secular monarchs with those of the Monarch of the Kingdom, whose focus is on the well-being of all His subjects. Finally, if we desire to invite people to become part of the Kingdom, then we need to be able to explain the reality of it.
What is the Kingdom?
The primary meaning of the word “Kingdom” in both the Hebrew and Greek languages is the rule, authority, and dominion exercised by a monarch. Some of these rights are listed in 1 Samuel 8: 11-18, and refer to the claims a king could demand from his subjects (e.g., their livestock, possessions, monies, and even their very lives as they were pressed into service). This would leave the Israelites in a state of uncertainty and anxiety, but they would not back down from their demand for a king. While we may get a glimpse of what life may have been like during Bible times, we may never have the same appreciation of it as those who lived it.
Thus, we may find it hard to comprehend circumstances we haven't experienced, such as 'suicide bombers' or 'human trafficking'. One way we try to expand others' comprehension is to use metaphors, which are familiar images that may help us understand unfamiliar concepts. We may describe unknown ideas by likening them to known concepts. For example, “his eyes are like limpid pools”, which we understand to be that he has clear eyes. However, in our generation the word 'like' is frequently used as a conversation-filler.This can detract from the being able to use the word in a meaningful manner. Nevertheless, when Jesus used the word “like” in parables to describe the Kingdom, He did not insert it into His teaching as a filler (i.e., something to say when you don't know what to say). This means that we need to go back to the Scriptures to find our baseline for understanding the Kingdom of God.
We will pick up with the Kingdom-related parables in tomorrow's post.
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)