June 10

Text: Matthew 18:23

 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.” (NASB)

Your attention is called to a term Matthew used often in the gospel he wrote: the kingdom of heaven.  This term has been and still is discussed by many.  The use of the word “heaven” may be no more than a concession to Jewish readers and listeners who were offended by the use of the word “God.”  Devout Jews considered the word “God” to be too holy to write or speak.  Thus the practice arose of using a substitute word.  Whether “heaven” or “God” is used, we are discussing the divine rule of people.

This devotional is confined to the obvious.  (1) The first obvious thing is that Jesus used comparisons to reveal the nature of the kingdom of God or heaven.  Jesus’ explanation of “the kingdom” was radically different from the common Jewish expectation.   Jesus revealed his (and God’s) concept of kingdom a piece at a time through comparisons.  (The Bible never addressed a Gentile kingdom theology.)  Thus the phrase, “The kingdom of heaven (or God) is like . . .”   There is no section of the Bible that clearly declared all aspects of this kingdom with organized, detailed statements.

(2) The second obvious thing is that Jesus was devoted to producing understanding.  He used comparisons his hearers would quickly grasp.  Consider an example.  Until the late 1800s the Greek of the Bible was often called “Holy Ghost Greek.”  All Greek known at that time was classical Greek.  Gradually people discovered the Bible was written in koine Greek—the common language (the market language) of the people.  Even those who could not read could understand!

God wants you to understand!  He does not want a “blind” trust that just “does” because we are supposed to only trust and never question.  God wants a belief built on understanding.

Suggestion for reflection: Rate your spiritual willingness to learn in order to understand.  (Read Psalm 119:33-40 and Ephesians 4:17-19.)

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