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The Mysteries Of The Kingdoms

(Mystery, in the Scriptures, denotes that which is only known through revelation, to those taught by the Holy Spirit.)

The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God had their own unrevealed secrets which were about to be made known by the Lord; not to men in general, but to those faithful disciples who followed Him. After He had spoken the parable of the Sower to the multitudes, "the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables? And He answered and said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given" (Matthew 13.10, 11). In Mark 4.11 it says "Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all things are done in parables." Similar words are used in Luke 8.10. It is evident therefore that the knowledge of these mysteries is intended for those who are capable of receiving such spiritual instruction, but to others, His teaching is veiled in parables. The Lord reminds the disciples that the words of Isaiah were being thus fulfilled which saith, "By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive." Judicial blindness had befallen unfaithful Israel, and now, in the day of the revealing of Jehovah's Arm, they could not believe, because, having closed their own eyes and hearts in unbelief, God "blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and should turn, and I should heal them" (John 12.40). The Lord Jesus was to them "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed " (1 Peter 2.8).

In the counsels of God, blessing was designed to flow far beyond the bounds of Israel as a result of the work of the Cross which Christ came to do, and these counsels are revealed to the disciples in the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. It is not our purpose to expound the meaning of the parables of the kingdom of heaven, or to try to show the difference between these and those referring to the kingdom of God; suffice it to say that in these there is teaching of world-wide application which takes us far beyond that which was proper to Israel alone, and pointing us on to the end of the age there are some principles which equally apply to both as seen in any kingdom and the predominant thought of rule and government is found in both, even though they may be in different spheres

We may think, first of all, of that sphere of heavenly rule among the host of created, unsinning beings in the glory of heaven itself. They are variously described as "innumerable hosts of angels," archangel, cherubim, seraphim, authorities, thrones, dominions, principalities, antipowers. The psalmist refers to such rule among the heavenly host, saying

"The LORD hath established His throne in the heavens;

And His kingdom ruleth over all.

Bless the LORD, ye angels of His:

Ye mighty in strength, that fulfil His word,

Hearkening unto the voice of His word.

Bless the LORD, all ye His hosts;

Ye ministers of His, that do His pleasure" (Psalm 103. 19-21).

In absolute sovereignty "He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven" (Daniel 4.85), and His rule is in perfect righteousness.

"Righteousness and judgement are the foundation of His throne"

(Psalm 97.2).

Even Satan, originally the anointed cherub that covereth, that being of unsurpassed created beauty, by the authority and judgement of God's throne was cast down when unrighteousness was found in him; as also were angels that sinned east down to hell (see Ezekiel 28; 2 Peter 2.4). There is rule, order, and government in the realm of heaven itself, where peace reigns in perfect righteousness.

"As He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, so also

He does "among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? " "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will" (Daniel 4.25). "The heavens do rule."

Apart from the rule of the heavens, absolute chaos would reign in this world. We know sin has entered bringing multitudinous sorrows to a fallen race, but God has not abdicated His throne. Whatever degenerate men may design in their worldly wisdom, we must recognize that "God is the Judge: He putteth down one, and lifteth up another" (Psalm 75.7).

"The LORD bringeth the counsel of the nations to nought:

He maketh the thoughts of the peoples to be of none effect.

The counsel of the LORD standeth fast for ever,

The thoughts of His heart to all generations" (Psalm 33.10, 11).

"God everywhere hath sway, And all things serve His might, His every act pure blessing is, His path unsullied light"

God is guided in all His ways by infallible wisdom and foreknowledge, and He knows all things as though they were already completed. He says

"I am God, and there is none else; lam God, and there is none like Me;

declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isaiah 46.9, 10).

He is" King of the nations," " He is the living God, and an everlasting King" (Jeremiah 10.7, 10). In the governmental sphere of rule among the nations, God has declared His purpose to defeat the designs of the great enemy, Satan, who would usurp, if possible, divine authority in heaven, as we have noted in Ezekiel 28, and by means of the coming Man of Sin would do the same on earth. But God has declared: "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: until He come whose right it is " (Ezekiel 21.27). There will be mighty upheavals in the earth itself, and among the nations of the world, and "ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: ... For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places." False christs and false prophets shall arise showing great signs and wonders. The deceiver will practise deception to the end, and men will believe the lie. The sequel is found in Revelation 19 and 20, where we see the beast and the false prophet taken and cast into the lake of fire, their armies destroyed, and the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, bound for a thousand years in the abyss, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be finished. God's King enters into possession of the kingdom; it is His by right of creation and of redemption. He executes judgement and takes possession in perfect righteousness, and establishes peace, world wide, on the basis of righteousness. "Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins (Isaiah 11.5). Thus we see the outworking of divine purpose in what, to the present writer, may be described as the governmental phase of the kingdom of heaven, for the heavens do rule.

When the Lord revealed the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to His disciples in the days of His flesh, He was indicating a spiritual phase of the kingdom as seen in the world-wide application of "the word of the kingdom," for men were saved or lost by the acceptance or rejection of the word. Moreover, in the parables we see tremendous spiritual forces operating in the world in opposition to each other until the time of final separation at the end of the age. In the revelation of these mysteries we may take a look behind the scenes and observe what is not visible to the human eye, or known to the human mind, otherwise. Note-the Devil snatcheth away the word or seed, lest they should believe and be saved. Again, the enemy came in the night and sowed the tares in the field. There is opposition to the work of God to the end; the devil never takes a holiday, but final judgement overtakes the devil and his dupes at the end. God will deal with individuals, as with nations, in perfect righteousness, and in the kingdom of heaven after the great divide has taken place, "the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations" (Isaiah 61.11).

"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence for ever" (Isaiah 32. 17).

In the Scriptures, the truth of the kingdom of God is seen associated with a called-out and gathered-together people or nation. In the past the kingdom of God was entrusted to the nation of Israel who had a land, a city, a temple and a priesthood of men, chosen and ordained of God, to function according to His will. They were a separated nation, circumcised, numbered and known, pledged to obey the voice of the LORD their God. Alas, Israel turned away in heart from God and failed to fulfil His purpose, that through them the knowledge of God might be spread abroad throughout the earth. Their attitude toward God is revealed by their attitude toward Christ, the Son of God, and Him they east out and crucified (Matthew 21.33-45). The consequence of this is seen in verse 48, and the kingdom of God being taken away from them and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. To the disciples the Lord said " Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God" (Mark 4.11). And again, Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke

12. 32). The mystery of the kingdom has many facets, but in particular this surely was an unrevealed secret made known by the Lord. That called and gathered-together disciples of Christ should be regarded as the kingdom of God was foreign to the materialistic views of God's earthly people.

There was a spiritual thing coming into existence, based upon the cross-work and Lordship of Christ, composed of men who heard God's call in the gospel, and who bowed to His all-authority. This is later called a holy nation, a people for God's own possession". Such are "a spiritual house ... a holy priesthood ... to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2).

This new expression of the kingdom of God is characterized by righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14.17). Righteousness, or doing right, was bound up with their being obedient to the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and that the kingdom of God was to be, not in word, but in power, is seen in the action of the church of God in Corinth putting away the sinning man from among them (1 Corinthians 4.20). "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" (1 Corinthians 6.9).

It is well to note that some of the parables regarding the kingdom of heaven, as found in Matthew 13.24-30, 47-50, could not be fitted into this conception of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God in this dispensation as expressed in the holy nation, the nation to which the kingdom of God was to be given, was to be composed of born-again persons, sanctified in the truth, and together in one thing for a testimony for God upon the earth, persons in whom the Spirit of God dwelt and operated, producing the fruits of the Spirit, and using spiritual gifts, in a spiritual house for the edifying of the saints, and the spreading of the gospel. Thus they would bring forth the fruits of the kingdom of God under the rule of Him whom God made both Lord and Christ, and who is now Son over God's house" (Hebrews 3.6, R.V.M.). The key word to the kingdom of God in the writer's view is obedience," while the key word to the kingdom of heaven is "faith" in the message of the gospel. We have made no attempt to expound the truths pertinent to the two kingdoms, but to state some of the things connected with the revelation of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God. We feel that we have but touched the fringe of a great subject.

I meditate on all Thy doings:

I muse on the work of Thy hands" (Psalm 143.5).