Monday, March 7, 2011

Blessed are the Persecuted

I grew up in an eschatological system that saw the Jews as God's special chosen people over and against the New Testament saint and I think it is fair to say that this system sees them as even more special or loved than Gentile saints.  Some might argue this but I think a case can be made.  Part of this system then sees the culmination of the ages in a kingdom long promised by God to the Jews, fulfilled in the 1000 year millennial reign on earth of Christ from Jerusalem. 

To make the gospel accounts of Jesus fit into this system they teach that Jesus at first offered the Jews this kingdom but when they rejected him he postponed it and set up the church age in which he would work mostly among the Gentiles; something the Jews never saw coming in the Old Testament prophecies. 

Now I have long ago abandoned this system for many reasons that I believe are biblical.  As I am preaching through Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount I seem to have happened on yet another reason why something doesn't ring true about Dispensationalism.  I assume all would agree that this sermon would be typical of the type of kingdom preaching Jesus did when he proclaimed that the kingdom of God is at hand.  Certainly this was early on in his ministry and he was addressing Jews almost exclusively.

Verses 10-12 struck me as interesting in light of all this.  Mat 5:10  "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Mat 5:11  "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Mat 5:12  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  It seems that the kingdom Jesus was offering was not one in which he would be reigning literally from Jerusalem with a rod of iron but one in which those in his kingdom would be persecuted and mistreated.  Not only would they be on the bottom of the social totem pole but this is God's will for them and they were to see the eternal state as the end of suffering, not any kingdom on earth. 

If this is the kingdom that was postponed because it didn't sound very inviting to the Jews, how is this going to be worked out in the long awaited "1000 year millennial reign" that the dispensationalist is looking for?  I know enough about that kingdom to know that saints are supposed to have their glorified bodies and will not be suffering but reigning. 

Suffice it to say that the kingdom Jesus came "offering" was a spiritual kingdom, prophesied in the Old Testament ,2Sa 7:12  "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.
2Sa 7:13  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever"; 
entered in through regeneration, Joh 3:3  Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.";  propagated through the preaching of the gospel, Act 8:12  "But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."; realized through the cross, Rev 5:9  "And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, Rev 5:10  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."; includes Jew and Gentile alike,  Eph 2:14 "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility"; and the greatest in this kingdom are the ones who gladly serve the Lord and joyfully suffer for their trouble, Matt. 5.  I can't find any other kingdom on earth promised in the Bible.

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