Archive for the ‘kingdom’ Category

Perception, Power and Puccini

December 15th, 2012
Old canal in Milan, Italy

Old Canal

In 1 Samuel 9 and 10, we find the narrative about the beginning of the United Kingdom under Saul. One of the signs by which the Lord confirmed his selection of Saul as king involved lost donkeys (9:1-5). But, the donkeys were not the main show; the kingdom was the power to be perceived (10:2, 16). This origin story of the Kingdom of Israel introduces an important point, that the communications in Scripture often involve information which requires a searching and contrite heart to get it.
Recently, my wife and I were walking in our neighborhood of Porta Nuova, Milano. We had just turned the corner, when upon looking up, I noticed a plaque on a building (palazzo). It read that Giuseppe Puccini, the famous Italian composer had once lived there. This information was new and surprising to us! Now, if we had not known of the work of Puccini, the information would have been meaningless or not well appreciation. But, since we knew Puccini, we were able to drink it in and be glad about this serendipity.
The parables of our Lord are also like this. These parables contain coded messages for those who are able to see, able to hear, and able to understand (Matthew 13: 14-16). But, for those who are unable, they become a hindrance and a problem resulting in spiritual resistance.

In front of La Scala Theatre, Milan, Italy

In front of La Scala Theatre

When Jesus described the kingdom he likened it to small things, common things, insignificant things, which in turn become grand, uncommon, and significant. The seeds (such as the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds); the little coins; the one lost sheep (Luke 15), these all serve to show the nature of the mystery of the Kingdom of God. In other words, the kingdom has arrived (Colossians 1:13), but not with irresistible force. God allows for humans to reject it, if they wish; which, of course, is not his wish at all.
In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus explains that the kingdom is not subject to observation in the common sense.  When he says that the kingdom is “within (entos) you,” [rather than among you] there is good reason to prefer this meaning which infers within your hands; that is, in your power of choice, if you choose it (See Zerwick and Grosvenor, 251-252).

So, who was that Puccini fellow?

The Kingdom of God in Luke’s Gospel

May 29th, 2009

(1:32-33;  2:4; 34-35; 3:31; 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:10; 9:2; 10:23-24; 11:2, 17; 12:31-32; 13:20; 14:15; 16:16; 17:20-21; 18:15-17; 19:12; 36-40; 22:14-16; 23:1-3; 35-43)

“…and of his kingdom there will be no end”

(Luke 1:33)

The word kingdom is meaningless to most people.  It may evoke certain ancient images of swords and jousting, but there will be no ultimate personal relevance.  In the face of this casual approach to kingdom, one is confronted with Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Luke.   What should one make of this startling kingdom which is anything but casual?

1.       The Kingdom of God provides a context whereby one may discuss and perceive God in history [bear in mind, your history!].

2.      The primary meaning of “kingdom” is royal power. It more often carries the force of dominion (see Dan. 4:31, where dominion is departed, but not domain); more reign than realm.  In Luke, the ideas associated with Kingdom are heightened (see the Luke references above).

3.       For God’s people (who seeing-see and hearing-understand, Lk. 8:10), it is not the past which determines the future, but the future which directs the present.  For the Christian, the Lord of history is not prominent, but preeminent (Col. 1:16-18).

-Robert M. Housby

Providence 101

May 8th, 2009

“…Tertullus began…saying, Seeing that by thee [Roman

procurator, Felix] we enjoy great quietness, and that very

worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence…”

(emph. mine, RMH)

(Acts 24:2, KJV [the term providence, here, is pronoias; it is the only such reference in the Bible; and, here, in a secular sense. Of course,  the concept of providence is everywhere in the Scriptures] )

Providence is a reference to God in  the world (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11).  To have a Christian world-view is to believe in purpose on earth (Eccl. 3:1) and transcendent purpose in heaven (Eccl. 3:11; Isa. 55:8-9).   Christ Jesus merges these two concepts (Eph. 1:10); so far as is practical (Deut. 29:29).

Jesus, himself, lived with a strong sense of providence, and encouraged others to do the same (Matt. 5:45; 6:25-34; 10:29-31).  Jesus’ view of providence was undoubtedly influenced by his earthly instruction in the Bible.  This would have included Psalm 104.  This is a long and loud praise of universal providence.  It begins and ends with a summons for the individual to recognize and participate in the providence of God.  The recurring phrase which marks the beginning and the ending of Ps. 104 is “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” (Ps. 104:1,35).  Further resources of providence include: Ps. 33:21; 97:10; Prov. 16:33; 20:24; and Gen. 45:5.

The Kingdom of God is an excellent context for discussing Divine Providence.  Kingdom is about God in history (Lk. 10:11).  The perception of God in history will influence how one characteristically  looks outward on the universe.

Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, kingdom, Old Testament, providence, Psalms Tags:

Time in the Kingdom

March 11th, 2007

“…but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

(Luke 12:56)

In the story, “The Well of the Star,” by Elizabeth Goudge (Farmington, PA: The Plough Publishing House, 1996), we meet David, a young, ragamuffin shepherd boy whose father is ill. David’s mother is desperate as her entire family is plunged into wanton physical needs. It is recalled that a fabled well offers hope to those whose hearts are pure enough before God who is able to answer the prayers of the needy. The story goes on to suggest that David encounters three kings at the well. These royal travelers had temporarily lost sight of a star which they were following. After it is found again, David goes with them to a stable in Bethlehem. Taken by the moment, he gives his only possession to the baby boy—his treasured shepherd’s pipe. The way home was long, for he had not served the purpose for which he left. Reluctant to return to the family hut helpless, he falls at the well, broken and empty-handed.

“The utter deadness of the hour before dawn weighed on him. Like a pall and the cold of it numbed him from head to foot. He felt himself sinking lower and lower, dropping down to the bottom of some black sea of misery”

While we realize the revisionist nature of Goudge’s novel, based loosely upon the biblical narrative, are there not times in our own lives when we question the worth of our time spent in the kingdom of God? Church work at times brings heartaches and headaches. But, the kingdom of God is its own reward. A spiritual depth that quitters never know. To serve in the kingdom of God will mean sacrifice, brokenness, and selflessness. But, the godly among us will not give up. Time in the kingdom is its own reward. “He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

Will God widen his kingdom through you, with you, and in you?

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, kingdom, Luke, New Testament Tags:

Disappointed with the Kingdom of God?

August 6th, 2006

“He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, Lord, will those who are saved be few? And he said to them, Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, open to us, then he will answer you, I do not know where you come from. Then you will begin to say, We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets. But he will say, I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil! In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

(Luke 13:22-30)

Through the years, we have seen people both elated and disappointed with their various  experiences in the kingdom of God. Some have expectations of being served, instead of serving; others work themselves into a burn-out and wind up becoming bitter; and, yet others serve with no other agenda than being well-pleasing to God their Father. The story of Luke 13:22-30 uses the phrase, “the kingdom of God” twice. Those seeking to enter, but who are unable to enter, start to present a false picture of their association with the master. The best light they could spin, however, was to say, we know who you are. We saw you teaching in our streets while we dined. All of a sudden, the kingdom becomes gravely important.

The time for seeking is now.

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, God, kingdom, Luke, New Testament Tags:

On The Second Coming

October 2nd, 2005

“…This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way as you have seen him go into heaven.”

(Acts 1:11)

The Second Coming of Jesus is meant in Acts 1:9-11. The late J. W. Roberts, a recognized Greek scholar within the churches of Christ, said of Acts 1:10,11— “This declaration that the Lord will return is a basic tenet of the Gospel proclamation (Acts 3:21; 17:31; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 1:10) (Acts of Apostles, Part 1: Austin, TX: Sweet Publishing, 1967), 15. The respected 19th century scholar, J.W. McGarvey, wrote concerning this passage: “It is a positive announcement of a literal and visible second coming” (Original Commentary On Acts of Apostles. 7th ed. Nashville, Tenn, Gospel Advocate Co 1978), 19.

Unlike many other religions, Christianity is based upon a linear approach to history. That is, we believe that the world had a beginning and shall have an ending (Genesis 1:1; Acts 1:11). We do not believe in superstition, nor circular world-views, such as are found in the Eastern religions (re-incarnation, etc). Furthermore, the second coming of Christ teaches world judgment (Acts 17:31). But, both, the Second Coming of Christ and the judgment of mankind are currently being challenged: Namely, “Thou shalt not be certain about the truth of any one religion; and, Thou shalt not be morally conservative. Sin is often viewed as nothing more than a neurosis caused by socio-economic and psychological factors. And so, some say, the hope of salvation is available only through counseling, psychiatry, and education. Christians know better (Prov. 1:7). May the Second Coming serve to heighten our awareness of his expectations for us.

We await his return (2 Pet. 3:4; Heb. 9:28).

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Acts, Bible, Jesus Christ, kingdom, New Testament Tags:

“How Important Is the Pearl to You?”

May 29th, 2005

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like this. A merchant looking out for fine pearls found one of very special value; so he went and sold everything he had and bought it.”

(Matthew 13:45,46 REB)

The parable of The Pearl of Great Price raises a profound question, “How important is the pearl to you?” Since the entire context of Matthew 13 is about the kingdom, not to mention the preface to 13:45,46 being “kingdom” content, we are to understand, therefore, that this pearl is also about the kingdom.
Now, we know that the kingdom has specific content:

1. The kingdom is about people (Matt. 13:2)……………………………. Church
2. The kingdom is about the word of God (Matt. 13:23)……………… Bible
3. The kingdom is about the harvest (Matt. 13:39)…………………….. Service

Now, regarding Matthew 13:45,46 – the pearls are concretions formed within the bodies of certain mollusks, especially, Avicula margaritifera, found in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. But, we must keep in mind that we are in parabolic territory, where the point is not about what’s being pointed out, but, rather, about what the Master meant. And, what did Jesus mean here? If the merchant is Christ, the pearl is the church (see Tenney, ZPBD, 632). If, however, the merchant is a disciple (as we tend to think), then what is meant here is nothing short of the disciples’ commitment to obtain what is truly valuable in this world, and in the next.
Two lessons appear significant in this parable: (1) There is a cost to be made to
acquire the pearl, and (2) According to Jesus, the pearl is worth every cost involved.
So, with Jesus, we say: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful
pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and
bought it”
How important is the pearl to you– Church, Bible, Serving?

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, kingdom, Matthew, New Testament Tags: