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Not Of This World
26 July 2014
In my last article — see Yeshua In the IDF — I considered, if Yeshua (Jesus) were living in Israel today, would He would be part of the Israeli Operation Protective Edge ground incursion. More specifically, would Yeshua grab His Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued assault rifle and blast the "Palestinians" into eternity?
According to the New Testament, the answer is a resounding NO! But in that last article I wasn't able to take the time to dig deeper into the New Covenant writings in order to examine the details. Therefore today I will take an in-depth look at what the New Testament teaches concerning the nature of Yeshua as well as the nature of His Kingdom.
Ever since Yeshua ascended into Heaven forty days after His resurrection, none of His followers have been able to get to know Him in person. Instead, the primary way we can know who Yeshua is and what He is like is by reading the accounts of Him written in the New Testament. Therefore, in order to determine if Yeshua would be in the Israeli army killing the human "enemies" of His fellow Jews, we need to carefully examine the New Testament to see if that scenario is supported by what is written.
Even though Yeshua was born under the Old Covenant which God had made with the Jewish people, the Father had sent His Son Yeshua to make a New Covenant, which He had promised many years before:
Yahweh, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke My covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares Yahweh. "This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares Yahweh. "I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.... For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 33:31-33,34b)What God did not reveal at the time of the Old Testament prophets, but revealed later in the New Testament, is that this New Covenant is not only for the Jews, but non-Jews are included as well! Now that's really awesome news!
Under this New Covenant which Yeshua established through His death and resurrection, the old order of things is drastically changed — often to the point of being opposite of the way things used to be under the Old Covenant.
Just examining one part of Yeshua's teaching, called the Sermon on the Mount, could easily take a whole separate article — or more! To refresh your memory, you can read Matthew 5-7. So that we don't get lost in all of these wonderful details, I want to focus on those words of Yeshua which pertain to the topic of this article:
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.... You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you... (Matthew 5:38,39,43,44)Under the Old Covenant, God permitted His people to fight and kill their human enemies, and to seek retribution and revenge for wrongs and injuries committed against them. But under God's New Covenant, Yeshua is declaring that that way of living is no longer acceptable. He is calling us to a new, higher, different standard. One that is opposite of the old standard.
This teaching of Yeshua's is SO radical that many, many books have been written trying to water it down by saying that Yeshua didn't really mean what He said. They find all sorts of hidden meanings in the Greek word for "resist," and they have elaborate explanations of what "turn the other cheek" REALLY means. But in the end, if we truly want to be His wholehearted followers, I think we need to take these words at face value and assume that He meant just what He said.
One very important reason we need to do that is because the rest of the New Testament shows that Yeshua not only talked the talk, but he also walked the walk. He didn't just teach these things, but He actually LIVED them, to the point of being murdered on an execution stake (cross). Furthermore, it was not only Yeshua who lived these words, but all of the followers of Yeshua mentioned in the New Testament did so as well. Their lives and deaths clearly demonstrate what the New Covenant is all about!
The Old Covenant was centered around the Temple, the kingdom of Israel, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel — all external, physical, earthly realities. The New Covenant radically changes this focus. External realities fade into the background as spiritual, internal realities take prominence.
Under the New Covenant there is no physical building called the Temple, because the body of each individual follower of Yeshua is a temple for God to dwell in, and together His followers are a spiritual temple (1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:20-22). God's Kingdom during the New Covenant era is not a physical kingdom located in the land of Israel, but a spiritual Kingdom which manifests itself in the lives of His followers as they submit to His rule and reign, no matter where on the planet they live (John 18:36; Ephesians 1:21-23). Under the New Covenant, not only are the Jews God's special Chosen People, but ALL those who belong to Yeshua "are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession." (1 Peter2:9)
This spiritual, other-worldly quality of God's Kingdom under the New Covenant is what much of Yeshua's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is all about. Murder is not just a physical act, but originates as hatred in the heart. Adultery is not just a physical act, but originates as lust in the heart. Fasting and prayer are not just physical deeds for show, but are acts of obedience and devotion for the Father alone.
Under the Old Covenant, wealth and possessions were a sign of God's favor and blessing (Deuteronomy 28:12-13; Proverbs 10:22 & 22:4; Job 42:12). Under the New Covenant, riches are a snare (1 Timothy 6:9; James 1:10-11; James 5:1-5), it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 18:24-26), and we are told not to store up treasures on this earth, but to store up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). And once again, not only did they talk the talk, but Yeshua and His early followers all lived lives in keeping with these New Covenant principles.
For quite a few years before Yeshua was born, the Jews had eagerly been awaiting the promised Messiah, a deliverer who, in their minds, would fight the Romans, kick them out of the land of Israel, and then sit down upon the throne of His ancestor David as their king. After all, had not all these things been prophesied in the Tanakh (Jewish scriptures) hundreds of years previously? And God cannot lie — His promises MUST come to pass!
Under the Old Covenant, God's Kingdom and the kingdom of Israel were fairly synonymous. Therefore, the Jews pictured the coming Messiah as an earthly-type king who would set up an earthly-type kingdom in the land of Israel. That's one reason why, even AFTER His death and resurrection, Yeshua's disciples asked Him, "Master, are you at THIS time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6b)
That's why, when Yeshua was born, the Magi from the east were seeking "one born king of the Jews" (Matthew 2:1-12). That's why the Jewish ruler of that time, the evil King Herod, tried to kill Yeshua, in an attempt to preserve his own rule (Matthew 2:13-18).
That's why, once John the Baptist was arrested and put in jail, he sent his disciples to ask Yeshua, "Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?" (Matthew 11:13) That's why the crowds of people who came to hear Yeshua teach "intended to make Him king by force" (John 6:15).
That's why, when Yeshua was not welcome in Samaria, and two of His trigger-happy disciples asked,
"Master, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them, just as Elijah did?" Yeshua turned and rebuked them, saying "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy human lives but to save them." (Luke 9:54-56)Yeshua WILL one day set up a physical Kingdom on this earth, with Jerusalem His capital, from where He will rule the entire world as King of kings and Lord of lords, as I discussed in The Return Of the King. What a glorious day THAT will be! The Jews of 2,000 years ago were confusing the prophecies about Yeshua's first coming with the prophecies about His second coming, both of which were intertwined in numerous Old Testament passages.
"You have begun to reign in God's Kingdom without us! I wish you really were reigning already, for then we would be reigning with you! (1 Corinthians 4:8b)
This is a very crucial understanding to have a solid grasp of — I examined it in detail in Not Reigning Yet. If you have not read that article yet, I strongly encourage you to take a detour and do so before continuing here. Referring to the confused early believers, I wrote:
So it is with many Christians today. Because Yeshua IS a king, and because many of the Biblical prophecies talk about that kingship, they mistakenly assume, like His early followers did, that His rule and reign will be established at THIS time — and that THEY will reign in THIS age. The way to escape this confusion and misunderstanding is to keep the purposes of His first and second comings clear and distinct.Until the day of His return and the establishment of His physical Kingdom, the only Kingdom of God on this planet is a SPIRITUAL Kingdom which operates on SPIRITUAL principles that are the opposite of how the kingdoms of this world operate. Yeshua had MUCH to say about this during His three and a half years of earthly ministry.
He came the first time to bring salvation to mankind through His suffering and death. During this present age until His return, our calling is to follow His example and help bring His salvation to mankind through our suffering service and perhaps even our death in His service. It is not until His second coming that the prophecies of His rule and reign will be fulfilled. At that time He will BEGIN His reign, and we will BEGIN to reign with Him, IF we are found worthy of this inheritance by suffering with Him. Yeshua has NOT entered into His inheritance yet, so therefore neither have His followers.
Yeshua said to His disciples, "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.... I am among you as one who serves.... I confer on you a Kingdom, just as My Father conferred one on Me, so that you may eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:25,26,27b,29,30)Notice that even as He explains to His disciples that the power structure of the Kingdom of God is opposite that of worldly kingdoms, He also promises them some of those physical Kingdom "perks." You can also see in the rest of the New Testament that they did not enjoy those perks anytime during the remainder of their earthly lives. Even though the promises where given, and the kingdom was conferred, at Yeshua's first coming, the fulfillment of that Kingdom and of those promises will not happen until His second coming.
In other teachings, He further explained the principles of this New Covenant, spiritual Kingdom:
So how did Yeshua respond to the people's tremendous expectations that He would set up a physical kingdom in Israel at that time? In addition to trying to change their incorrect understanding through His teaching, He "slipped away into the hills by Himself" when the crowd wanted to make Him king by force (John 6:15). Or take this instance:
One day the Jewish religious leaders asked Yeshua, "When will the Kingdom of God come?" Yeshua replied, "The Kingdom of God can't be detected by visible signs. You won't be able to say, 'Here it is!' or 'It's over there!' For the Kingdom of God is already among you." Then Yeshua said to His disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns... But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation." (Luke 17:20-22a,25)Once again, the Jews were looking for and asking about a physical Jewish kingdom. Yeshua made it clear that the Kingdom He was establishing at His first coming was not a VISIBLE Kingdom, but a SPIRITUAL Kingdom which was already in their midst. Then, in this context, He tells His disciples that even though they are longing for this physical Kingdom, this time around He would suffer and die, and they would have to wait until His return, His second coming, for that physical Kingdom to also come.
On the night of Yeshua's arrest, as He and His disciples were about to head out to the garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives, He told His disciples to bring swords with them (Luke 22:36). Why did He do that? Was He getting ready to make His move and establish His Kingdom by force? Did He want His disciples to defend Him and fight for Him?
No, not at all. And we don't have to wonder why He told them to bring swords, for in the very next verse He explains why. In Isaiah 53:12 there is a prophecy that the Messiah will be "numbered with the transgressors," and He wanted them to bring swords so that they would fulfill their role as transgressors (lawbreakers, sinners), so that Isaiah's prophecy would be fulfilled! But that's not all — a lot happens during that short time in Gethsemane! When the soldiers sent by the Jewish authorities arrive in the garden to arrest Yeshua,
Wow! There are so many details here worth pondering! Yeshua's disciples had been hanging out with Him every day for more than three years. Out of all the people in the world, they were the ones most instructed by Yeshua about the true nature of the Kingdom of God. Despite all that, they STILL didn't get it! They were still thinking in terms of a physical kingdom defended by violence. To their credit, they ask for Yeshua's permission before they attack, but then again, Peter is so zealous that he can't wait for an answer!
Yeshua's followers saw what was going to happen, and they asked, "Master, should we strike with our swords?" (Luke 22:49)
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. Yeshua commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?" (John 18:10-11)
Then Yeshua said, "No more of this!" And He touched the man's ear and healed him. (Luke 22:51)
"Put your sword back in its place," Yeshua said to Peter, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" Yeshua asked the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture Me?" (Matthew 26:52-55a)
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Yeshua. (John 18:12)
Even in the midst of being arrested, Yeshua gives His disciples yet another lesson about the true nature of the Kingdom! He tells Peter to put away his sword, because His is NOT a kingdom like the kingdoms of this world that are defended by violence. Those who depend upon such violence will eventually be destroyed by it. This is NOT what the Kingdom of God looks like.
Then, as a further demonstration of the true nature of God's Kingdom, he heals the man Peter had injured — one of the human "enemies" who had come to arrest Him and do Him harm. THIS is what the Kingdom of God looks like!
Because Yeshua truly is King of kings and Lord of lord, who WILL one day have a physical, earthly Kingdom, He has at His command more than twelve legions of angels. With a typical Roman legion comprised of 5,400 soldiers, twelves legions turns out to be 64,800 angles! Seeing that in one Old Testament incident, just one single angel put to death 185,000 enemy soldiers during a single night (2 Kings 19;35), 64,800 angels is a whole lot of firepower!
But Yeshua does not call upon those incredible resources because it's not time to establish His Kingdom on earth. That will happen when He returns at the Second Coming to set up His Millennial Kingdom — see Revelation 19:11-21. But that's a whole nother story for a whole nother article!
Because it was not the proper time for the physical Kingdom to be revealed, Yeshua allows Himself to be arrested. When He is brought before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, there is another fascinating and revealing exchange:
Because Yeshua's Kingdom during the New Covenant era is NOT a physical kingdom like the kingdoms of this world, His followers do NOT have to resort to violence and fighting to defend it! This concept is SO vital! This concept is SO easy to understand! But then why has the vast majority of Christendom gotten it SO wrong for the past 1,700 years, right up to this very day?! The amount of blindness and deception crippling and destroying the Church is beyond words or belief!
Pilate asked Him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
"Is that your own idea," Yeshua asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it You have done?"Yeshua said, "My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now My Kingdom is from another place." (John 18:33-36)
Pilate said to the Jewish people, "Look, here is your king!"
"Away with Him," they yelled. "Away with Him! Crucify Him!"
"What? Crucify your king?" Pilate asked.
"We have no king but Caesar," the leading priests shouted back.Then Pilate turned Yeshua over to them to be crucified. (John 19:14b-16a)
Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, "Yeshua of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." The place where Yeshua was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, "Change it from 'The King of the Jews' to 'He said, I am King of the Jews.'"Pilate replied, "No, what I have written, I have written." (John 19:19-22)
The word "now" in the phrase "but now My Kingdom is from another place" is not being used in its meaning as a conjunction, nor in any figurative adverbial sense. The Greek word Yeshua used means "now" as in "at the present time." We could understand this as "For the time being, My Kingdom is from another place," or "For this current New Covenant age, My Kingdom is from another place."
It always sends a chill down my spine when I read the word of the Jewish leaders of Yeshua's day: "We have no king but Caesar!" Wow! They TOTALLY disowned their Messiah King sent from God, preferring a pagan king instead. Well, as the past 2,000 years of history have demonstrated, God took them at their word! Their True King was taken back to Heaven until the time He would return to set up His Millennial Kingdom. And during all this time the Jews have been harshly ruled over by the pagan kings of the world. Yeshua's parting word to Israel was this: "Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'" (Luke 13:35)
The New Testament has SO much to say about who Yeshua is and what His Kingdom is like that we could continue examining and discussing it for a long, long time! But even the brief survey in this article should be enough to give us a pretty good idea of what lines up with His words and deeds, and what does not.
To answer the original question, it should be very obvious from what we have seen so far that if Yeshua were living in Israel today, He would absolutely NOT be part of the Israeli Operation Protective Edge ground incursion, nor would He be using a weapon to blast the "Palestinians" into eternity! If that is not clear to you, then you have a lot more reading, studying, pondering and praying to do!
Nevertheless, as the book of Revelation explains, one day, potentially in the not-too-distant future, Yeshua will return to establish His earthly Kingdom with MUCH violence against His human enemies. But as I mentioned above, that's a whole nother story for a whole nother article — see The Day of the Lord.
This article is 14th a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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