The Beatitudes Series – Part 2
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10)
The whole universe is the kingdom of God. He gave “dominion” to Adam and Eve over all His creation (Genesis 1:26-28). But they rebelled against the Lord and joined themselves with satan, His enemy (Genesis 3). In the fall, the age of sin and death began (Romans 5:12).
To save mankind, God promised to send the Messiah. Through the coming King and Savior, Yahweh’s kingdom will be re-established on earth. Prophets and believers in the Old Testament looked forward to that “day of the Lord”, when God’s son will defeat satan (Genesis 3:15) and rule as King over all creation (Daniel 7:1-14). Then, “the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).
The New Testament teaches that, in Christ, God’s kingdom has already arrived (Matthew 1:1; 2:2; 3:2; 4:17; 5:3, 10; 10:7; 11:12; 12:28; 21:43, etc.). Yes, the “day of the Yahweh” has dawned. The Adamic age of sin and death is coming to an end. The Messianic age of grace and salvation has already began. But the best is yet to come! On His second coming, Jesus our Messiah will establish the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1). There, all God’s people “will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).
As I explained in my previous blog post, God’s gives His kingdom only to true believers in Christ. And true faith is marked by its fruit – humility (“poor in spirit”), repentance (“those who mourn”), mercy and other qualities of true godliness.
In the Beatitudes, the Lord Jesus also assures us that God gives His kingdom and blessings to such true believers. They already enjoy God’s kingdom today. And on Christ’s second coming, they will enjoy God’s kingdom blessings in all their fullness forever and ever.
Through unrepentance and by rejecting Christ the Savior, the people of Israel failed to inherit God’s kingdom blessings (Matthew 21-22). But by the grace of God, a small remnant of repentant and believing Israelites were saved and blessed by Christ’s coming (Matthew 28).
This serves as a stern warning to all of us who profess faith in Christ. At the same time, the Lord is also comforting and strengthening us.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, be always aware that you are living in the time of great fulfillment. Be a true believer. Trust in Christ’s person and saving work with all your heart. Grow in the fruit of true faith – in humility, repentance and godliness. As your faith bears fruit for God’s glory, you can be assured that His kingdom and blessings belong to you… indeed… already…now… because in Christ the kingdom of heaven has already arrived.
“God is the Lord of creation who makes His Kingdom to come in His Son Jesus Christ. He is not helpless against a so-called closed world-order. That is why God raises Him from the dead. And that is why Christ is the hope of the world, and why the Kingdom that came is only the announcement of the Kingdom that is to come. And that is why the Church of today is living in the interim between the great times of Christ. The resurrection of Christ is casting its light in two directions. It is the proof of what has happened, and the guarantee or pledge of what will happen.” – Herman Ridderbos
“The kingdom of God, therefore, is to be understood as the reign of God dynamically active in human history through Jesus Christ, the purpose of which is the redemption of his people from sin and from demonic powers, and the final establishment of the new heavens and the new earth. It means that the great drama of the history of salvation has been inaugurated, and that the new age has been ushered in.” – Anthony Hoekema
“Our central thesis is that the Kingdom of God is the redemptive reign of God dynamically active to establish his rule among men, and that this kingdom, which will appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age, has already come into human history in the person and mission of Jesus to overcome evil, to deliver men from its power, and to bring them into the blessings of God’s reign. The Kingdom of God involves two great moments: fulfillment within history, and consummation at the end of history. It is precisely this background which provides the setting for the parables of this Kingdom.” – George Eldon Ladd