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Yeshua in Context » Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Discipleship - Formation, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Kingdom Present, Teaching of Yeshua » Kingdom as Social, Economic, Communal Resistance

Kingdom as Social, Economic, Communal Resistance

I wrote on my main blog today about “Discipleship in [Coming] Hard Times.” See it here. The following is some evidence for the notion that Yeshua intended more than simply waiting for the World to Come, that the future kingdom is in some sense already here and disciples are to bring its realities into the here and now.

Kingdom at Hand?
What did Yeshua mean about the kingdom of God being at hand (soon to appear) in Mark 1:15? He followed this proclamation up by calling disciples, defeating evil spirits, and making people well. In the world to come there will be no evil, people will be well, and all will be as a family in union with each other and God. Yeshua was bringing future realities into the present. Note that many of Yeshua’s kingdom parables (Sower, Mustard Seed) represent present realities and not just future.

Sinners and Mustard Plants
Yeshua came to call sinners (Mark 2:17). The parable of the Mustard Seed is more about the plant than the seed (Mark 4:30-32). The mustard weeds are a gardener’s nightmare. They grow up all over and become nesting places for birds. One reading is that the birds that nest are undesirables, like sinners and gentiles. So the present kingdom grows up unstoppably and attracts those who might not seem like kingdom people.

Binding the Strongman
Yeshua announced his intention to enter the house of evil and plunder its goods, by first binding the strongman (Satan, see Mark 3:27). Some might read the “plunder his goods” in purely conversionary terms (converting lost people and saving them from Satan’s control), but everything in the gospels suggests Yeshua freed people from evil in more holistic ways (wellness, provision, and redemption).

As I discuss in chapter 10 of Yeshua in Context, the Beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12; Luke 6:20-23) have both a present and future aspect. For example, Matthew 5:2 has a future part (“theirs is the kingdom of heaven”) and a present (“blessed are the poor in spirit”). It is more than implied that disciples hearing Yeshua’s sermon will bless the poor in spirit, comfort mourners, fill the hungry, and so on. Yeshua is calling us to live now in light of what will come in God’s kingdom.

As You Measure, Alms, Do Not Worry
It is the Father’s pleasure to give us the kingdom, says Yeshua (Luke 12:32). So we do not need the treasures of this world. But instead we should sell things and give alms (12:33). This principle is stated without balance, causing many to disregard it completely. It is not an absolute principle. Possessing things is clearly not wrong (a case I can easily demonstrate if challenged). But the balance of owning versus sharing is way off in the lives of nearly all people who have the opportunity to own many things. Treasure in heaven (not in the sky or in the future, but treasure in the heavenly court–as in reward from the one who sits on the heavenly throne) is stored up for the righteous. And Messiah tells us: “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6:38). So we are not to worry about our life, our food, our clothing (Luke 12:22). The Father knows we need these things. And Matthew records it this way, “When you give alms…” (6:2).

When You Fed These
There are sheep and there are goats, the blessed and the judged. Those blessed fed the least and in so doing fed Yeshua. Those judged, as Keith Green says in his famous song on the Sheep and Goats, were too busy running religious organizations to help (not that I am innocent of this myself). See Matthew 25:31-46.

The Temple State
Yeshua’s protest against the Temple (Mark 11:15-19) was about commerce in the holy precincts, about the violation of the sacred by carrying things through God’s courts, about hypocrisy in the leadership, and a protest against a Temple state that demanded obedience from the masses but which did not obey in turn. Had the Temple state followed Torah as it demanded of the people, the tithes would have been redistributed and the people blessed with abundance. See “Yeshua and the Mishnah on Carrying in the Temple” and “Yeshua and Idolatrous Coins.” Mark 11 contrasts the Yeshua-community with its faith and prayer with the Temple state (see below, “The Disciple Communities as Alternative”).

The Disciple Communities as Insiders
To you (plural, disciples) has been given the secret of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11). To those outside, all looks like a riddle. But they will know you are my disciples by your love (John 13:35).

The Disciple Communities as Alternative
These are my mother and brothers, said Yeshua (Mark 4:34), those who do the will of God (4:35). The powers of death (some say “gates of hell”) will not be able to stand before this community (Matt 16:18). In Mark 11, Yeshua curses a fig tree right before he protests the Temple state. Afterward, he uses the fig tree as a lesson. His disciple movement will be about prayer that moves mountains and forgiving one another as their Father in heaven forgives their sins. What the Temple state cannot accomplish (bringing the world to come through righteousness), Yeshua’s disciples community will do. For more on this, see “Discipleship and the Fig Tree.”

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Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Discipleship - Formation, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Kingdom Present, Teaching of Yeshua

One Response to "Kingdom as Social, Economic, Communal Resistance"

  1. Don Young says:

    Absolutely, the kingdom is here in a very powerful, real way.

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