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Friday, September 11, 2009

There's No Other Place To Fly

In the parable of the wheat and the weeds ( Matthew 13:24-30,36-43), we see the “Son of Man” (Jesus) planting “good seed” in “His field.” He calls the good seed the sons of the kingdom, and refers to His field as the world (v. 38).

Which “world” is Jesus referring to here? I believe He is referring to the created realm of planet Earth, which is a wide "field." And in this parable, Jesus refers to this field as “His kingdom” (v. 41).

But then Satan came and planted “bad seed” into Christ’s field, the world (v.39).

So both “wheat” and “weeds” are growing in Christ’s field. We just need to watch the 6 o’clock news to see that "weeds" abound.

But it's strange to think of both the Lord's “wheat” and Satan's “weeds” co-existing side-by-side in Christ’s kingdom! Yet Jesus clearly says that “at the end of this age, the Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness…” (v. 41)

What's that? Are people who “practice lawlessness” in the Kingdom of God? Does the Kingdom of God contain “things that offend?”

For this to make sense, I have to think of the Kingdom of God in its broadest sense as the domain over which Christ is King, and the jurisdiction over which He rules.

When I think of it in this way, I can easily understand how both “wheat” and “weeds” are in God's Kingdom. That’s because no one lives outside His jurisdiction. There’s no other place to exist!

His Kingdom rules over all (Psalm 103:19), and that covers a lot of territory. And it also includes a lot of stuff. That’s why I said last week there are "many airplanes in His kingdom." There’s no other place to fly.
At least that's how I view the Kingdom of God--in it's broadest sense.

Have any of you picked up on the faulty idea that when sin entered history, God turned this world over to Satan, and now the planet belongs to him?

Big ideas have big consequences.

What differences do those two contrasting ideas make on how we view earthly occupations, like building airplanes?

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  1. Dr Christian:

    Three or four disparate comments...

    If the Kingdom of God includes the entire earthly realm-including the weeds and other offensive stuff-then why in the world would followers of Jesus need to pray that "His Kingdom Come and His will be done?" Using your definition of the Kingdom of God, these things should happen automatically.

    Also, if God literally "turned the world over to Satan" after the fall, then that would mean that Satan is included in the Kingdom of God (in its broadest sense).

    If the good seed are "sons of the kingdom", this implies that the bad seed are NOT sons of the kingdom. If they are not sons of the kingdom, then how can they be IN the Kingdom? Rather, it seems to me that the bad seed is graciously permitted to live on the earth but outside the realm of God's Kingdom. This would change the meaning of the kingdom "in its broadest sense." Satan may be under God's authority but he certainly isn't in His Kingdom.

    These premises create several dilemmas, not the least of which is "(W)hat is the power in prayer if God's Kingdom extends to all parts of our world? Why would he need our petitions?

    Daniel 2 describes the Kingdom this way. "But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth" and "Of the increase of Christ's government and peace there shall be no end."

    But there was a beginning to Christ's Kingdom work to restore the Kingdom of God. And there is a clear time of increase of His government... That said, how can a Kingdom be over everything and everyone when it is still growing?

    It seems to me that while much of what you have said has linear truth, overall the issues are much more complex that your description. And my comments have only scratched the surface.

    Not meaning to upset the apple cart. But breadth and depth are both vital parts of growing in knowledge and grace of God.

  2. Dr. Bluebird,

    Thank you for your comments! Some other readers may have similar questions.

    As I will address in next week's post, describing the Kingdom of God is like the blind men describing an elephant. How we describe it depends on which aspect of the Kingdom we emphasize.

    I have been emphasizing the present Kingdom, in its broadest sense. But there is another aspect of the Kingdom which is yet to come. This coming Kingdom is "without weeds," where God’s will is fully done.

    In my own mind, I have to distinguish between the rightful jurisdiction of God's legal rule [as is in the present rule of God over all things in heaven and on earth], and the full recognition and acceptance of that rule by all those who exist within the borders of that Kingdom (which is boarderless).

    While "the earth is the Lord's and all it contains, the world and those who dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1), this does not mean every human being is a redeemed child of God, or that everyone on earth is doing His will, as it is in heaven. Clearly, not everyone who is in the Kingdom of God is of the Kingdom of God. In and of are dramatically different things.

    The “bad seeds” are not of the Kingdom, but they are in it. Just as followers of Christ are to be in the world-system but not of it, so the “sons of the wicked one” are in the Kingdom but not of it.

    There is a lot going on in the world today that is not of the Kingdom, yet it is happening within the legal jurisdiction of God’s authority and rightful rule. While His Kingdom is “over all” right now, not everyone is dwelling in harmony with His will. The Kingdom-come-in-its-fullness is yet to be experienced. It is coming.

    In the broadest sense of God’s Kingdom, I believe Satan does exist within its borders. The book of Job attests to the fact that Satan exists within the jurisdiction of God’s rule. In the account of Job, we see Satan unable to do certain things because God forbids him. But while Satan exists in the Kingdom (roaming the earth, seeking whom he may devour), he is clearly not of the Kingdom.

    As for prayer, I see prayer having greater purpose and power in view of the fact that not everything that currently goes on in the Kingdom is of the Kingdom. Our petitions are all the more needful and necessary!

    As for the Rock that struck the statue in Daniel 2, I believe it refers to the first coming of Christ. At that time, God set into motion another aspect of His Kingdom. [Remember the blind men and the elephant…] This aspect of His Kingdom is currently in “expansion mode” and still growing.

    Again, we are running into the hazards of “either-or” thinking. The way I see it, the Kingdom is not either present or future, but both present and future, in varying degrees of fulfillment and expression.

    That's how I see it, anyway.

    It is not easy to wrap our minds around all this. Now we see “through a glass dimly…,” as Paul put it. But in the Kingdom-come, we'll "get it."

  3. Whoops!

    Sorry, Dr. BluBeard, for misspelling your name in my comment above! Somehow "Bluebird" came out of my fingers in error.

    (Notice I also spelled "borders" as "boarders"...)