Taking the Kingdom by Force--Part 1
Jun 22, 2010
Jesus said in Matt. 11:12,
"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force."
This was a discussion about John the Baptist, who had been cast into prison earlier (Matt. 4:12). His imprisonment marked the real start of Jesus' ministry, for we read in Matt. 4:17,
(17) From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Jesus had already been baptized by John (obviously before his imprisonment), but since John's ministry was not yet complete in preparing the way, Jesus spent those months quietly calling disciples. Even the miracle at Cana in John 2 was before His time (John 2:4). When John was cast into prison, Jesus began His ministry.
When John sent disciples to Jesus to question if He really were the Messiah (Matt. 11:2, 3), Jesus then discussed John's calling and the kingdom, saying, "violent men take it by force." He was not speaking of John as a violent man, nor was Jesus advocating that we ourselves use violence to take the kingdom. He was prophesying of John's soon-coming death at Passover, which would also be a precursor to His own death three years later.
In other words, the "violent men" would kill them in order to usurp the Throne of David. In Matt. 14 we read of John's execution, and in verse 12 we read that John's disciples came and told Jesus what had happened. Jesus then withdrew. But the people followed him, and Jesus then fed the multitude with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish (Matt. 14:15-21). This was the occasion where Jesus sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee into the storm, and then walked on the water to them.
If you compare this with the account in John 6, where the same story is told, you will notice in verse 4, "Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand." In other words, this event took place at the time of Passover. And because Jesus fed the multitude with barley, it indicates that it was the time of the wave-sheaf offering, when the people could harvest and eat of the new crop of barley.
So John was executed at Passover of 30 A.D. about six months after he had baptized Jesus. Jesus was then crucified three years later, also at Passover.
Jesus came as the Lamb of God in His character, even though He was the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He had the strength and power of the lion, but the non-violent character of the lamb. Though He had the ability to establish His kingdom by force, this was not the proper manner of doing so. The leaders of that day thought that their Messiah would be a great military leader who would make war on the Romans and establish His kingdom by force. When He turned out to be a mere Lamb who treated the Romans with respect and compassion, they turned against Him.
John was executed because he demanded righteousness from King Herod (Matt. 14:4). Jesus was crucified because the leaders knew that if He were made the Messiah, they would lose their positions as rulers of the people, because Jesus demanded genuine righteousness instead of the hypocritical, ritualistic righteousness that they offered.
This is the root of the conflict of the New Testament. It is important to understand this, because we are seeing the same conflict today. The Israeli government is playing the same role today as the religious and civil leaders of Judea were playing in the first coming of Christ. We see the same example of violence in the attempt to establish a Jewish kingdom by force. Once again there is no compassion for any Palestinian who gets in their way by "existing" on soil that the Zionists want to usurp from them.
The spirit behind this is positively wrong. Christians ought to know better than to support such a thing, but it is commonly taught in churches that Christians ought to take the kingdom by force. They read Matt. 11:12 as a divine command to take it by violence. To be sure, most interpret this as a reference to spiritual warfare and spiritual violence. Yet because they do not see this statement as a criticism, they are blinded to the idea that we are to be tame lambs, not wild lions. The result is that they fail to see that the violent tactic of the Zionists is a grievous sin (crime) against Palestinians.
The Zionist tactic ought to be a wake-up call to the Church that not all is well in Zion. Even if the Zionists truly had the divine right to return, they were never given the right to steal, kill, and take the land by violence. Any house or nation that is built upon blood will end in blood. If this is supposed to be the start of the Kingdom of God in the Age to come, their tactic is all wrong. It is NOT what Jesus would do. It is what their carnal concept of a violent, military messiah would do. Their tactics are a direct result of rejecting Jesus as the true Messiah. When Christians support this, they need to repent quickly.
This is the first part of a series titled "Taking the Kingdom by Force." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones