Yeshua, the Kingdom of God and the Messianic Community

The Kingdom of God is initiated by the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Yeshua and the reality and gospel of the Kingdom of God is made known in the world by the Messianic Community.

““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”” (Luke 4:18–19, 21, ESV)

In this passage that comes from Luke’s gospel we see Yeshua at the beginning of his ministry in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth reading from the haftarah or Prophetic reading from the Old Testament that follows the weekly reading from the Torah.  Yeshua takes this passage from Isaiah that prophetically looked toward the coming of God’s Kingdom to make His hearers aware that the dawning of the Kingdom of God had begun.  With Yeshua’ life and ministry the good news was preached, liberty for captives was proclaimed, sight for the blind was realized and the breakout of God’s favor had begun.  The promise of God’s Kingdom was initiated and Yeshua was the one to initiate it.

Commenting on Yeshua and the Kingdom as seen in the Gospel of Matthew, McKnight (1992) wrote:

“[Messiah Yeshua] 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).

Though the Kingdom of God was initiated it was a yet to be a completed reality and in this we see Yeshua teaching His disciples to pray for the Kingdom to come (Matt 6:9-13), commonly known as the “Lord’s Prayer”.  Tied to the Kingdom coming is God’s will to be done in the Earth which can be seen as a call for Godly living and for the disciples to seek to live their live in line with God’s commands.

“Yeshua in the Lord’s Prayer first calls His disciples to the recognition of 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”. (Emslie, 2014. p. 6-7).

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

“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, Yeshua 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).

The connection of the affirmation of God as King as the basis for living as a “Kingdom Person” can be seen in Yeshua asking his disciples:

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Yeshua, the Son of the living God.” And Yeshua answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Messianic Community, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:15–18, ESV)

It was Peter’s assertion that Yeshua was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God that was to be the foundation of the Messianic Community, (ἐκκλησίαν), a bilateral ekklesia of a Messianic Community of Jews (Messianic Judaism) and Messianic Community of Gentiles (Christianity) that included those like Peter that affirmed Yeshua as the Messiah and Son of God.  The foundation for the Messianic Community and those who were members of it was defined by the belief and affirmation of these two values: the Messiahship and Lordship of Yeshua.

So then we can see that the Messianic Community was to be the community of those who seek the Kingdom and follow the initiator of the Kingdom.  Those who were in this community were sent out to proclaim,

“The Kingdom of Heaven is near,’ heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those afflicted with leprosy, expel demons.” (Matthew 10:7, CJB).

The proclamation of the Kingdom was also accompanied by physical and spiritual healing as God’s power was demonstrated as His Kingdom message spread.

In Matthew 28:18-20, known as the Great Commission,  Yeshua makes His final Kingdom command to His disciples to:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”” (Matt 28:19–20, ESV).

It is the work of the Messianic Community that began with these disciples that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God would be proclaimed to the world and with the making of disciples from all the nations of the world, God’s Kingdom first proclaimed in Israel would reach to all the corners of the Earth.  The making of disciples from all the Nations will be a fulfillment of God’s plan to bring all of humanity into connection with Himself through Yeshua and in connection with His Messianic Community, the collection of the faithful that follow the God of Israel.

Yeshua taught that the Messianic Community was built on the affirmation of His Messiahship and Lordship (Matt 16:15–18, ESV) and was expanded by the proclamation of the Gospel (Matt 28:19–20, ESV).  The Messianic Community is the body that is to be the force in the world to proclaim the Kingdom and live now as Kingdom People, awaiting the glorious return of Messiah to bring fully the promise and reality of the Kingdom of God.


References

Emslie, R. (2014). The kingdom of God and the Messianic Hope (Unpublished paper).  Grand Canyon University, Phoenix.

Ladd, G. E. (1959). The gospel of the kingdom: Scriptural studies in the kingdom of God. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans.

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

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

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