The Kingdom of God and The Messianic Hope: Yeshua and the Kingdom of God

“This very day, in the town of David, there was born for you a Deliverer, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11, CJB).

This verse breaks forth the news that the waiting for Messiah has come to an end.  The Messiah has been born into the world, and the Messianic redemption is now to begin.  This baby born in Bethlehem was Yeshua, the righteous heir of David that would rule forever on David’s throne over Jerusalem and the cosmos.

McKnight (1992) commented on Matthew’s view of Yeshua and the Kingdom:

“Jesus Christ inaugurates the kingdom of heaven, apparently in three moments or phases: in his public ministry, in his passion, and in his vindicating resurrection. Each of these moments is important to the story line of Matthew, and each is associated with the inauguration of the kingdom” (p. 534).

In line with tradition of Jewish teachers and sages, Yeshua taught his disciples to pray, and we read the model prayer he taught, commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:

“You, therefore, pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven! May your Name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us the food we need today. Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us. And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One. For kingship, power and glory are yours forever. Amen.’” (Matthew 6:9–13, CJB).

In these words, Yeshua gave his disciples a picture of God’s Kingship and the importance of acknowledging it and that the coming of the Kingdom will require that God’s will to be done in the world.  The recitation of this “Kingdom Prayer” can be seen in connection to the Jewish understanding of the recitation of the Shema (Deut 6:4) which acknowledges the oneness of God and is considered in Judaism to be taking upon oneself  “the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Lipson, 2007, p. xviii) as can be seen in BT Berachot 13a I,

“So that one should first accept upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven and afterward accept the yoke of the commandments” (Neusner, 2011).

As with the traditional Jewish understanding of first accepting the oneness of God and “the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven” then accepting obedience to the commandments of the Torah (“the yoke of the commandments”), Yeshua in the Lord’s Prayer first calls His disciples to the recognition to the Kingship of God and then to a life of seeking the Kingdom, dependence on God, repentance and forgiving of others and then returns to God’s Kingship.  In both cases the first focus on the King and His Kingdom and then the walk of faith follows.

Lipson (2007) further connected the closing of the Lord’s Prayer with the traditional blessing added to the recitation of the Shema in Jewish prayer:

“The prayer pattern he taught his disciples includes the words, “May your Kingdom come,” and ends with this doxology: “For kingship, power and glory are yours forever” (Matt. 6:10, 13). These words surely recall the insertion in the Shema: “Blessed be his name, whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever.” However,  Yeshua saw that Kingdom, not as a dream of the future, but as a present potential reality. Where God reigns as King in people’s lives and communities, there is the Kingdom”.

In instructing the disciples to pray for the Kingdom to come, it can be seen that Yeshua is teaching that the coming of

 “the kingdom is a process which cannot be imposed upon others through political activism. The kingdom comes by God alone. It is a divine force in the world that brings healing to suffering humanity. Hence, Jesus did not define the kingdom in terms of the future. He viewed the reign of God from his experience in the present” (Young, 2011, p. 80).



 

References

 

Lipson, I. (2007). The greatest Commandment: how the Sh’ma leads to more love in your life. Clarksville, MD: Messianic Jewish Publishers.

McKnight, S. (1992). Matthew, Gospel of. In (J. B. Green & S. McKnight, Eds.) Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 1). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Young, B. H. (2011). Jesus the Jewish theologian. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

 

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