Summary: I believe that the church is in a transitional period. God is waiting for us to become all that He has given us to be.
December 27, 2009
Text; Matthew 3:1-12
Subject: The Kingdom of God – Part 1
Title: Making the Transition Into the Kingdom
Charlotte and I were sitting at the breakfast table yesterday morning watching the snow fall. What a delight it is to be able to see those big flakes floating down, blowing here and there until they finally reach the ground. What a joy it is to be able to sit inside while that is all taking place on the outside. But at some point I knew that I would have to get outside to do some things. I can’t stay in my comfort zone forever can I? There would have to be a time of transition, when I went from being inside in the warm house to being outside in the cold and snow, even if it were just for a short time – until I could get over to church to do what I needed to do here.
From the day that Jesus was born until He began His earthly ministry, the earth was in a time of transition. The nation of Israel was especially in transition and didn’t even know it. It was the period of time between when the King left His throne in heaven and then thirty years later began to exhibit attributes of His kingdom on earth.
That is a pretty good description of where the church is today. Annually we celebrate the birth of the King and then the death and resurrection a few months later, and it seems that we stop there. We are in transition waiting for the promise of His coming to receive His church. But in the next few weeks I want to show you that Jesus never intended for the church to be in a holding pattern. When He came to earth as a baby boy He brought heaven with Him. And His desire is for the church to realize the fullness of its potential and then act accordingly.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Read Matthew 3:1-12.
Lord, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
As the Spirit opens your eyes and ears ask Him to help you make a complete transition into the kingdom.
I. BRINGING THE KINGDOM INTO PLAY. 1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is the end of the thirty-year transitional period of Jesus’ life before His public ministry. When Matthew begins the passage with, In those days… he is referring to the time that Jesus lived in Nazareth. John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the kingdom’s coming to its fullness. This was truly a time of transition for Israel. This was the time when the provisions given under the Old Covenant would come to an end and the New Covenant would begin. You see, God had called a people to be His own with His solemn covenant with Abraham. That covenant was extended through his son and grandson. When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egyptian captivity and into the Promised Land Israel had only One King – God Himself. But as they began to have contact with other nations and then began to conquer those nations something began to change in them. They wanted to be just like the people they were conquering – they wanted to have their own king. They were no longer satisfied with a king they couldn’t see – they wanted an earthly king. 1 Samuel 8:4-9, 4So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 6But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” … 19But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” From that time forward Israel was under control of an earthly government, whether it was their own king or the government of a conquering nation – God was no longer their king. But something new is about to take place. 1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea … This time of transition in the history of man was foretold by the prophets and fulfilled in John the Baptist. Even though John is mentioned in the New Testament, he is the last of the Old Covenant prophets. And the message he proclaimed was not the message that Israel expected concerning the coming of their Savior. Isaiah 9:6-7, 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Israel was looking for a government but God never intended His kingdom to be a physical, government based kingdom at this time. When Jesus came He instituted a spiritual kingdom that was intended to transform the natural realm. John’s message gives us instructions about entering into that spiritual kingdom.