Thursday, August 18, 2016
"When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (New Testament, Acts 1:6)
Many people in Christ's day including many of His disciples were looking for a Messiah who would be their political Savior and not their spiritual Savior. Many were looking for the Lion of Judah who would destroy Rome and restore Jewish sovereignty not only over Israel but over the whole Earth. Many failed to receive the true Messiah who was promsed to come as the humble Lamb of God to be slain for the sins of the world.
However, Christ told his disciples at His ascension that it "was not for [them] to know the times and seasons" of Christ's return in glory or the establishment of Christ's political Kingdom of Heaven. Christ instructed his disciples that they were to wait until they received the Gift of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost and then they were to to go forth by the power of the Holy Ghost and build up Christ's Church or Kingdom of God first. Christ taught that building up the Church was necessary before His political kingdom could be restored.
"Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come," (Doctrine and Covenants, 65:6)
But just as many of the Jews had a mistaken understanding of who the Messiah would be, many Christians today may also have a mistaken understanding of Christ's Millennial kingdom. What is their misunderstanding?
Matthew 13 records a series of parables where Christ describes the restoration of His future Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven referred to here in these verses is not just a theoretical, mythical or spiritual reality. The Kingdom of Heaven is a real, physical, and political government with land, leaders, and laws. But, what many may overlook, is that Christ is teaching here that His Kingdom will not just suddenly arrive one day all at once, but just as Christ's Church, it will begin small and be hidden from many who lack the spiritual eyes to see it.
Why would God keep His glorious political kingdom hidden and secret in the beginning? Why not openly advertize? Christ explains that the reason he wouldn't broadcast His Kingdom to the world is because it wouldn't have been fair to all the faithful prophets and righteous disciples throughout history who diligently sought after and prayed for the Kingdom to come in their day but never saw it. Christ taught that it would have been unfair to just make membership too cheap and easy for the wicked generation in the Last Days when it was appointed for the Kingdom to go forth.
"For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." (Matthew 13:17)
Christ plainly taught in Matthew 13 that His political Kingdom of Heaven would start out small and be mainly hidden from the world. Christ likened the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven to the size of a tiny mustard seed that would later grow into a majestic tree. Christ likened His political Kingdom to leaven (microscopic yeast) that when added to dough incorporates itself, mutiplies and expands the dough, transforms it from a dense dry hardly edible mass when cooked into moist, light and airy loaf of bread.
But even though Christ's kingdom would start out small and remain relatively hidden from the world, Christ painly teaches that not everyone in the Kingdom at first would be a righteous Saint. The Kingdom, even in the beginning, would like a fishing net, indiscriminately catch all kinds of fish that would later require sorting. The Kingdom was likened unto a farmer's field that grew just as many tares at it did wheat; and that the wheat and tares would be allowed to grow up together until a day of harvest. I think the righteous working with and among the tares, should remember not to be easily offended and leave Christ's Kingdom because of what a tare might say or do.
Christ then gives the parable the hidden treasure: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field."(Matthew 13:44)
This is one of my favorite parables. It kinda reminds me of the old Iraqi parable "Acres Of Diamonds" made famous by Russell Conwell who tells the story of Ali Hafed selling his farm and leaving his family in search for diamonds never to realize one of the richest diamond mines (Golconda) was to be discovered in his own backyard. The point here is that in the Last Days when the Kingdom of Heaven is expanding, people will be discovering this kingdom and sacrificing eveything to be a part of it, yet most people will have no idea anything is going on, even when the treasure is in their own backyard.
The main point here is that the Christ promised that in the Last Days, He would establish a literal kingdom upon the Earth but that according to Daniel 2:34, that kingdom would start out a small stone cut out of a mountain without hands that would roll forth and grow in size and momentum until it strikes and destroys the great idol representing all the false religions, political and economic systems of this world.
Secondly, Christ's kingdom would be mainly hidden from the world and by the world. Christ taught that He didn't want membership in His kingdom to be cheap and easy, so He set it up that enduring membership in His kingdom would require unquenchable desire, diligent searching, faithful devotion with a williness to sacrifice everything to possess this Pearl of Great Price.
Yes, a few people would be invited from off the street to the marriage party to furnish God's marriage feast with enough guests (Matthew 22:2). Some would show up off the street for the free lunch. But God promised that at some point the lukewarm and the freeloaders would not endure and the wicked would be separated out from the righteous and faithful. Only the wise virgins with their lamps trimmed and burning brightly with extra oil on hand would be invited into the marriage with Christ.