Previous blogs have covered the top ten teachings of Christ (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). Continuing now with Christ’s additional teachings. The next of which is ‘Seek first the Kingdom’.
What is a Kingdom?
Starting with the basics – What is a Kingdom? – a Kingdom is defined as, ‘a political or territorial unit ruled by a sovereign’. Eternally it is ‘the spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ’. The Kingdom of God is ‘the realm of this sovereignty’, ‘the realm or sphere in which one thing (God) is dominant’.
As a believer we live in two realms – the natural realm and the spiritual realm. The Kingdom of God and Kingdom of heaven are used interchangeably in the New Testament. Interestingly it is called the Kingdom of heaven in Matthew, but called the Kingdom of God in Mark, Luke and John. But the reality is, that it is the sovereignty of God upon His realm. As He is Lord of all, then it encompasses all. Yet there is a kingdom of darkness, where Satan rules and wages his sickly war. On earth we see the manifestation of both kingdoms. Whilst God is sovereign, the enemy of our souls is waging a battle for more converts to his eternal kingdom of death and decay.
Seek first God’s Kingdom
We, as believers, have been given the call to ‘seek first God’s Kingdom’. As Jesus directly charged us to several times in the Gospels, ‘But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also,’ Matthew 6:33. ‘All these things to be given us’ is described as our food, our drink, our clothing – our basic necessities for life.
In John 18:36 Jesus speaks, “My kingdom is not of this world [nor does it have its origin in this world]. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would be fighting [hard] to keep Me from being handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus did not come to set up an earthly throne within a castle. He came to establish His Kingdom in the hearts and minds of people. Bringing the Kingdom of heaven nearer than it’s ever been.
He will rule on this earth as a literal King
There will come a day when He will rule on this earth as a literal King. The new Jerusalem will come down and He shall reign and all shall come to pay Him homage. But for now we are commissioned with allowing our lives to be a vessel through which He can bring His Kingdom rule and be used to set those in captivity free.
In Luke 10:8-10 Jesus says, ‘Whenever you go into a city and they welcome you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick [authenticating your message], and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ Once we ourselves have the Sovereign Lord as Commander of our lives, we are to bring this near to others. By so doing we offer them to have God as their King and so it continues.
We are to prepare ourselves
In Luke 21 Jesus is describing what will come in the latter days. Nation against nation, earthquakes, famines, plagues, epidemics, terrible sights, great signs from heaven, betrayal of one another etc.. Yet He says, ‘when you see these things happening, know [without any doubt] that the kingdom of God is near. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, this generation [those living at that definite period of time preceding the second coming] will not pass away until everything takes place.’ Then the true Kingdom of God will come. How close are we? How ought we to prepare ourselves? We are to prepare ourselves as a bride getting ready for her bridegroom, to sweep her off her feet and bring her into the banqueting hall. ‘Just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you [the privilege] that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom’, Luke 22:29
There is only one thing needful
Henry says – Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Matt. 6:33. Here is a double argument against the sin of thoughtfulness. Take no thought for your life, the life of the body. For you have greater and better things to take thought about, the life of your soul, your eternal happiness. That is the one thing needful (Luke 10:42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her), about which you should employ your thoughts, and which is commonly neglected in those hearts wherein worldly cares have the ruling influence. If we were but more careful to please God, and to work out our own salvation, we should be less considerate to please ourselves, and work out a domain in the world. Thoughtfulness for our souls in the most effectual cure of thoughtfulness for the world.
You have a surer, easier and safer way to obtain the necessaries of this life, than by fretting and that is, by seeking first the kingdom of God, and making faith your business. Do not say that this is the way to starve, no, it is the way to be well provided for, even in this world. Our duty is to seek; to desire, pursue, and aim at these things. In many things we fail and come short in sincere seeking but the object of this seeking is to have in mind heaven as our end, and holiness as our way. “Seek the comforts of the kingdom of grace and glory as your happiness. Aim at the kingdom of heaven. Press towards it. Give diligence to make it sure. Prefer heaven and heavenly blessings far before earth and earthly delights. We make nothing of our faith, if we do not make heaven of it.”
Seek the righteousness of it
And with the happiness of this kingdom, seek the righteousness of it – God’s righteousness. This is the righteousness which He requires to be fashioned in us. We must follow peace and holiness, (Heb. 12:14 Continually pursue peace with everyone, and the sanctification without which no one will [ever] see the Lord).
In its rightful order we are to, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God’. Let your care for your souls and another world take the place of all other cares and let all the concerns of this life be made subordinate to those of the life to come. We must seek the things of Christ more than our own things. And if they come in competition, we must remember to which we are to give the preference. Seek these things first – first in your day – let waking thoughts be of God. Let this be our principle, to do that first which is most needful, and let Him that is the First, have the first.
You shall be given over and above
Then the necessary supports of life shall be added to you – given over and above. You shall have what you seek, the kingdom of God and His righteousness, for never any sought in vain, that sought in earnest. You shall also have food and clothing. Godliness has the promise of the life that now is, (1 Tim. 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come).
What a blessed change would it make in our hearts and lives, if we firmly believe this truth, that the best way to be comfortably provided for in this world, is to be most intent upon another world! Jehovah-jireh—the Lord will provide much more than we could wish for. Have we trusted in him for the portion of our inheritance at our end, and not trusted Him for the portion of our cup along the way to it? Let us be more thoughtful about the things that are not seen, that are eternal, than about the things that are seen, that are temporal! Also regard not your stuff, Gen. 45:20 Do not be concerned with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Two Kingdoms John 18:36 In the gaining of the Kingdom of heaven We will suffer earthly loss. So it is we are commanded to deny ourselves And take up His cross. We lose in trying to protect a thing This we most assuredly know Yet we’re slow to accept that the best way To keep a thing, is to let it go. How Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God To all the people again and again Of how its laws are exactly opposite To those of the kingdom of men. These are two separate kingdoms Children of two worlds are we. But we’re to live as in the new kingdom For we’ve been wonderfully set free. We join with Jesus who said My kingdom is from another place So let’s forego our earthly treasures And live in the fullness of His grace. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, forgive me for seeking to preserve my own kingdom here on earth. Lead me in Your perfect paths of surrendering all to follow You and being used as a vessel to bring Your Kingdom here and now. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.