Matthew 10 contains instructions for ministry. At this time the instructions were just for the twelve. But they are also valid for any disciple who leaves their daily work, and their family, to go out and preach “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
So the message, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” is a different one than most of us are used to hearing evangelists or preachers preach. Why that message, what did it mean to Jesus’ Hebrew disciples and their Hebrew audience?
First a little background. Since the day of Adam’s sin, the righteous line (Seth –> Noah –> Shem –> Abraham –> Israel) had believed that the promise of God was coming. And that promise was, the Seed of the woman will bruise Satan’s head, and he shall bruise the Seed’s heel (Gen 3:15). They were waiting for the coming of the One who would deliver them from Satan –> sin –> death, and all that he instigated in the earth (the Tower of Babel rebellion which dethroned Elohiym as God, and enthroned man, who established paganism (nature worship) as god, Gen 11:1-9). Remember Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2)? Babylon (Babel) is the head of gold; it is the philosophy and worldview of Babylon (Babel) which rules the kingdoms of this world, which is the kingdom of man.
Ever since, the righteous line has lived in subjection to the kingdom of Man, where men are king, where men decide what is right and wrong, where men establish their own law, and force others to bend to it. Where men rule their own hearts, lives, and nations.
To preserve the righteous line, through whom the Promised Seed would be born, which Satan was continually trying to harrass and kill (Sarah was barren. Then when she bore a son by a miracle, his wife Rebekah was barren for 20 years. Then when she bore sons in answer to prayer, the son who held the birthright and blessing — through whom the Line would continue — married Rachel, who was barren, and who only began having children when God intervened and opened her womb).
To preserve His people, God set apart one nation for Himself which would bring forth the Promised Seed. This nation was unique in that it was to be subject to King Elohiym rather than a fallen human king. It was to be a mirror or a visual, historical prophecy of the kingdom of heaven, where the two greatest laws were, Love God with all you are, and Love your Neighbor as yourself.
But the nation rebelled, and men ruled that kingdom in the same way that the kingdoms of the world were ruled. So for thousands of years, the Hebrews were looking for the Promised Seed who would establish the Kingdom of Heaven, who would rule as King from the sons of David, the shepherd- king. They were looking for the abolishment of Satan and his works, the abolishment of the rebellions of man against God, and the establishment of righteousness, or lawfulness, or torah-fulness instead of lawlessness. The establishment of the will of God being done in the earth, just as it is in heaven.
Jesus sent His disciples with the message, that the end of the rule of Satan and the rule of man was at hand, and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven — where God reigns as sovereign and where His will is done on earth as it is in heaven — was at hand.
When we hear the gospel, we usually hear the part about the destruction of the rule of the devil, as it pertains to our sins being forgiven. We hear that Jesus is our Savior. But we usually don’t hear the second part of the message, about the establishment of the rule of heaven on earth. That Jesus is our Lord and King, and His word is (ought to be) our command.
2000 years later, we are still living under the kingdoms of this world. But that is the point. We have been freed from the world, and are no longer to live in subjection to it, but to God. We are in the world, but not of it. So when we obey God rather than men, because the kingdom of heaven has dawned within our hearts, within our households, we will get turned in, turned over, hauled before kings and governors (the kingdoms of this world), who will then hear the witness of the Spirit that their kingship is over. They may kill the body, but they will not be able to make the heart of that one they kill bow to them or serve them.
And soon, when the Lord returns, the physical reign of man and the world will come to an end, and will never be again forever. 🙂