Read: Matthew 4:17
Like all Jews in his day, Jesus knew that God was the eternal sovereign over all of his creation. But the Old Testament also revealed that God planned for his eternal kingship to be displayed in his visible kingdom on earth. He began this process when he created the world and appointed Adam and Eve as his vice-regents. But they failed miserably in their assigned task of perfecting the world. God’s kingdom moved forward again in the nation of Israel as it grew into a great empire. But it was seriously set back again by Israel’s sin and exile. And although God offered to restore the nation in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people’s unfaithfulness resulted in the exile being extended for several centuries. By the time of Jesus, Israel had endured hundreds of years of exile, waiting for the Christ to bring the fullness of God’s kingdom and all its blessings to earth. So, when Jesus announced the good news that the kingdom was at hand, this was a message of tremendous hope.
Jesus announced the good news that the final stage of God’s kingdom on earth was coming in his day. The patterns of heaven were going to characterize the entire world. As we see in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3–12, all God’s faithful people would be tremendously blessed in God’s kingdom. Their sorrows would end, and they would inherit the entire earth. No foreign powers would compel false worship. No corrupt religious leaders would compromise with Israel’s enemies for the sake of relative tranquility. Those who had sinned would be forgiven. Those who had been exiled would be restored. Those who had fallen under the curses of sickness and disease would be healed. The Lord would personally defeat Israel’s enemies, purge the people of their sin, and restore the entire creation.
What Jesus was preaching and teaching about and modeling was clearly the kingdom of God. There’s no doubt, from John the Baptist’s preaching (which foreshadows Jesus) to the very first words of Jesus, “The kingdom of God is drawn near,” or “has drawn near,” or “the kingdom of heaven has drawn near.” And then in all his teaching, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” — all the parables about the kingdom of heaven, all the teaching, all the ways in which he shows himself to be the true Davidic king riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, all the manifest ways make it very clear that the Gospels, the evangelists, the gospel writers, want us to clearly understand that Jesus’ message, his whole life, was about the bringing, the restoration of God’s reign or God’s kingdom.
— Dr. Jonathan Pennington
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