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When will the Kingdom come?

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Having been asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come Jesus replied,the Kingdom of God does not come with [meta, following] your careful observation [parateresis]" (Luke 17:20).

The Pharisees were very devout Jews and careful observers of the Law, and Jesus said of them "the teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything is done for men to see; they make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the market places and to have men call them Rabbi" (Matthew 23:2-7).

In fact, the Pharisees taught that God would not grant his grace except to those who carefully observe His commands. Their piety in which the state of the heart had less importance than exterior acts, thus became formalistic and the same Pharisees didn't hesitate to remark to Jesus "why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat" (Matthew 15:2).

For them, observation of the Oral Law (Talmud) was even more important than the written Law (Torah), so much so that Jesus said to them: "and why do you breach the command of God [Torah] for the sake of your tradition [Talmud]?…Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition" (Matthew 15:3-6). Then Jesus explained to them that all of God's Law would be accomplished according to God's plan (Luke 16:16-17).

When will the Kingdom of God come?

Jesus replied concerning that of which the Pharisees were proud, that's to say the observation of the Law: "the Kingdom of God does not come with [meta, following] your careful observations [parateresis]". The Greek word parateresis means to attentively observe with the eyes but also never to neglect that which is required by religion. The Pharisees believed that they would be the first to enter into the Kingdom of God thanks to their careful observation (strict, conscientious) of the Law, and particularly of the Jewish Oral Law. They believed that in this way they would be able to recognise the Kingdom of God, obviously visible, according to them, to those who carefully observed the Law.

"nor will people say 'here it is' or 'there it is'. For the Kingdom of God is within [entos, inside] you" (Luke 17:21).

But Jesus reminds them here, in another way, what he had said in a parable: "this is what the Kingdom of God is like: a man scatters seed on the ground…" (Mark 4:26 NIV). The Kingdom of God then is a seed that Jesus has put in our heart, and this seed germinates and grows without us knowing how, then it bears fruit. There is humanly speaking nothing to do to establish the Kingdom of God, other than to accept that the Sower puts his seed in us (that is faith in Jesus Christ).

As this Kingdom is within us we don't have to look elsewhere, neither within a person nor in a particular place. That which was true for the Pharisees, is still true for us today. We don't have to run to the right or left, or towards men of reputation but to search daily in our hearts to see how we can show the Kingdom around us. This is what Jesus taught to the seventy disciples: "when you enter a town…heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'the Kingdom of God is near you'" (Luke 10:8-9).

Contrary to what we may believe, the presence of the Kingdom of God in us has visible effects: "And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison it will not harm them at all; they will place their hands on sick people and they will get well" (Mark 16:17-18). The Kingdom of God itself, is not yet visible, because the Son of man has not yet appeared but visible signs indicate his presence in us.

Where will the Son of man appear?

"it will be just like this on the day the Son of man is revealed… 'where Lord?' they (the disciples) asked. He replied 'where there is a dead body there the vultures will gather'" (Luke 17:30,37).

The establishment of the Kingdom of God must have given rise to many questions amongst the believers: "When will it be?" (Acts 1:6)and "Where will it happen?" (Luke 17:37). And every one at this time, believed that the establishment of the Kingdom of God was imminent (Luke 19:11). But Jesus settled this question of the time in his teaching on the parable of the ten minas (Luke 19:11-27) and just before his ascension when he explained to his disciples "it is not for you to know the times [chronos] or dates [kairos] the Father has set by his own authority" (Acts 1:7 NIV). Concerning the time we have only to closely observe Israel to have an idea of the proximity of the return of Jesus (Matthew 24:32-35).

Concerning the place, Jesus said, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you 'there he is' or 'here he is' Do not go running after them" (Luke 17:22-23). Jesus clearly tells us not to seek a place or an appearance of the Son of man. He says that because these appearances are snares; and he was giving a warning by quoting a popular proverb of his day: "Where there is a dead body there the vultures will gather" (Luke 17:37 also quoted in Job 39:33).

In this proverb the vultures are the demons and the evil spirits which use a person (spiritually dead but having the appearance of a servant of God, 2 Timothy 3:1-7), to achieve the evil designs of Satan. Their objective is to seduce the elect of God, distance them from the truth, and teach them false doctrine. The nearer we get to the return of Jesus Christ the more we will see these 'men of God' rising up with seductive doctrines concerning His return and His Kingdom. Jesus says: Don't go there! Don't look for signs!

Jesus has said "For the Son of man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other" (Luke 17:24), and "He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other" (Matthew 24:31). There is not a precise place then to look, because the whole earth will be affected.

Where are we then?

"See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does you also will remain in the Son and in the Father" (1 John 2:24).

The apostle John says that in the last times the antichrists (antichristos) will come from within the church, they will appear to seduce God's elect and lead them in false doctrines (1 John 2:18-19). An antichrist doesn't fight Christ he replaces him; that's why John asks us to have trust in the anointing (chrisma) that dwells in us to discern the things of God. It is obvious that the antichrist spirit shows him-self by denying God the Father and Jesus Christ, no one will follow him. But this spirit is much more subtle, he's going to take the place of Christ (the Anointing in us) to lead us to follow another anointing which is not of God.

The apostle Paul has already said to the Galatians "You foolish Galatians who has bewitched you?…After beginning with the Spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Galatians 3:1,3). By not using the anointing in us, we walk by the flesh. Again obedience to the Father assures us of entry into the Kingdom of God (Matthew 7:21), also sticking to (in response to seduction) false doctrine takes us out of the grace of God and distances us from the Father and the Son (1 John 2:24), and thus from their Kingdom.

Jesus then must find us doing that to which he has called us "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning (be filled with the anointing), for the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Luke 12:35,40). The Lord has given us a test to fulfil and has given us the gifts to bear fruit (parable of the ten minas in Luke 19:11-27). These gifts represent the investment of the Kingdom that Jesus has put in us. But he warns us: "I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away" (Luke 19:26).

At our new birth, Jesus invested in us, in order to establish His Kingdom. Disobedience to our Master, that is to say fear of using His gifts and His anointing will cause us to loose even the little we have received. The purpose of the Anointing is to teach us all things, particularly that which Jesus said and that which the apostles wrote in their Letters (1 John 2:27). Lets obey then the call of this Anointing when necessary, because whenever Jesus Christ returns, we should be doing the works of the Kingdom, so that He and the Father are glorified.

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