If you were to ask the average Christian to define the term “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven,” how would they respond? They might say something like, “It is going to heaven when you die.” Or maybe they would think that it is the church or Christianity as a whole at work on this earth. More likely their answer would be some nebulous, pie-in-the-sky concept that is based more in Christian fantasy than biblical Truth. All of these answers would be missing the mark as to how the Bible defines this most overlooked subject in Christianity. So how does the Bible define the kingdom of heaven and why is it important to know?
To be sure, the kingdom of heaven or Elohim is a major, not to be underestimated, missing element in the preaching of the gospel in the mainstream Christian church and, I suspect, most so-called Hebrews roots or Messianic congregations as well. This is despite the fact that Yeshua made this subject a central theme of his preaching ministry and commanded his disciples to do so as well. This is also despite the fact the Gospels succinctly define the gospel message of John the Baptist, Yeshua and his disciples as “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Not only do few churches teach about repentance of sin or Torahlessness, but fewer still teach about the kingdom of heaven. This is a missing truth needs to be rediscovered and emphasized once again as it was in the first century.
This gross failure and blatant overlooking of this key aspect of the gospel message by most Bible teachers is punctuated by the fact that the kingdom of Elohim is the fourth most mentioned subject from Yeshua’s lips during his ministry (144 references in the Gospels of Matthew and John alone). The only other subjects that Yeshua mention more frequently were himself (316 references), his Father (184 references), the hypocritical religionists of his day (e.g., the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees et al with 177 references) followed by the kingdom of Elohim or heaven. In the Gospel of Matthew alone, “the kingdom of heaven” is mentioned 33 times. In the New Testament, “the kingdom of God” is mentioned 69 times. Obviously, Yeshua and the apostolic writers considered the kingdom of Elohim to be an important topic, and maybe our understanding of Scripture along with our future destiny would be expanded were we to follow suit.
Since the Gospel writers juxtaposed the two subjects of repentance and the kingdom of heaven, it is worth noting that the Bible is clear about an important truth: Without repentance of sin, one cannot enter the kingdom of Elohim. There is zero place for sin in the presence of a holy or set-apart (in Heb. kadosh), totally pure and sinless Elohim, for, as we read in the Bible, without holiness, no one will see Elohim (Heb 12:14).
Before delving into the subject of the kingdom of Elohim or heaven, let’s briefly note some other subjects that the modern church is more likely to teach about instead and then hold that up against the template of the actual words of Yeshua.
During his ministry, Yeshua preached on about 136 topics. The following list contains a number of topics that the modern church often teaches about compared to the number times Yeshua talked about them:
- Prophecy – 1 time
- The rapture or the resurrection of the dead – 1 time
- Grace – 1 time
- Money – 3 times
- Material blessings – 4 times
- Forgiveness – 24 times
- Heaven –10 times
- Hell – 17 times
- Salvation – 27 times
- Sexuality – 2 times
- Sickness (physical) – 1 time
- The soul –1 time
- Some subjects Yeshua never discussed include:
- Sex, Sexual pleasure and fulfillment
- Racism, Diversity, Inclusion (or so-called “wokeness”)
- Sexual orientation
- Personal happiness
- Social welfare
- The economy
- You fill in the blank as to the favorite subject of your local church pastor. It is likely it is not on the list of Yeshua topics!
Why is it vital to our spiritual understanding to learn about and then embrace the concept of the kingdom of Elohim? Because the establishment of the kingdom of Elohim starts with you and me. Yeshua declared that it actually starts within each person—in the heart and mind of each individual (Luke 17:21). He brought the kingdom of heaven down with him to the earth, deposited a bit of its spiritual territory into each of his disciples and then commissioned them to go forth and to expand that kingdom one life at a time. This is done by being salt and light to the world, and as each of us shares the good news of that kingdom everywhere. Are you fulfilling your role to be an emissary or ambassador for the kingdom of Elohim? If so, how?
The Scriptures have many things to say about the kingdom of Elohim that we need to learn about and that affect us directly. Let’s briefly explore some of the ramifications of this subject.
The Kingdom of Elohim Was a Main Theme of Yeshua’s Ministry and the Gospel Message
Spreading the good news of the kingdom of heaven or Elohim was the central theme of the gospel message. John the Baptist, Yeshua and his disciples all laid out the template for us to follow:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt 3:1–2)
From that time Yeshua began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17)
These twelve Yeshua sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matt 10:5–7)
To further emphasize the importance of the kingdom of Elohim in the mind of the Messiah, in the Lord’s prayer, for example, at the top of the list of prayer points after honoring the Father’s name, Yeshua instructed us to pray that the kingdom of Elohim would come:
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread… (Matt 6:9–11)
Moreover, the subject of many of Yeshua’s parables were about the kingdom of Elohim. In fact, Yeshua declared that the purpose of his parables was to reveal the mystery of the kingdom of Elohim.
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven… (Matt 13:10–11)
Here is a list of parables and analogies where Yeshua teaches on various aspects of the kingdom of Elohim:
- The Parable of the Weeds (Matt 13)
- The Parable of the Sower (Matt 13)
- The Parable of the Hidden Treasures (Matt 13)
- The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value (Matt 13)
- The Parable of the Net (Matt 13)
- The Analogy of New and Old Treasures (Matt 13)
- The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt 18)
- The Analogy of the Eunuchs (Matt 19)
- The Analogy of Little Children (Matt 19)
- The Camel Going Through the Eye of the Needle (Matt 19)
- The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matt 20)
- The Parable of the Two Sons (Matt 21)
- The Parable of the Tenants (Matt 21)
- The Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matt 22)
- The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt 25)
- The Parable of the Talents (Matt 25)
- The Analogy of the Sheep and Goats (Matt 25)
- The Parable of the Seed Growing (Mark 4)
- The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4)
- The Parable of the Leaven (Luke 13)
- The Narrow Door Analogy (Luke 13)
Again, the subject of the kingdom of Elohim was a major component of Yeshua’s ministry. So why doesn’t the Christian church spend more time teaching on this subject? Good question. Is there a good excuse for this dereliction of duty—for not following Yeshua’s clear command? I can think of none.
What Yeshua Taught About the Kingdom of Elohim
Let’s explore further what Yeshua taught about this most important subject that directly affects you and me and our eternal destiny.
Yeshua taught that being in the kingdom of Elohim should to be the first priority of every one of his disciples.
But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matt 6:33)
The kingdom of Elohim is a mystery that is only revealed to the disciples of Yeshua, the elect or called out ones. This message is so exclusive that even the modern mainstream church largely ignores it. When was the last time you heard a message on this subject in your church?
And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of Elohim; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’” (Mark 4:11–12)
Then Yeshua revealed an amazing truth that runs counter to everything that society (and most Bible teachers in the church) teach us about how to attain greatness. He declared that greatness in the kingdom of heaven corresponds to one’s observance of YHVH’s Torah-law (Matt 5:19). For sure, this truth is taught in few churches. Why should it be? After all, the law has been done away with, don’t you know! So when was the last time you heard a sermon on that verse? Never! From this statement of Yeshua, we learn that being in the kingdom of Elohim has basic requirements and that there are levels of rewards or greatness in the kingdom of Elohim as it relates to the redeemed believer’s afterlife. Within Elohim’s kingdom there are levels of rewards from the least to the greatest. All the church teaches is that when you die you either go to heaven or hell, and that’s about it. End of discussion. Even this paltry and insufficient explanation pertaining to the afterlife is a twist on biblical truth, but we will save that discussion for another time.
Sadly, not everyone will be in the kingdom of heaven, even among those who claim to be Christians. To this point, Yeshua clearly taught,
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt 7:21–23)
Yeshua gives additional insights on the subject of the kingdom of Elohim in his Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matt 25:1–13). This parable teaches us that all the virgins were “saved” and were now part of the kingdom; however, not all the virgins were permitted to go to the next level in the kingdom. That is, not all were permitted to be participants in the marriage of the Lamb of Elohim. Just because one is espoused or engaged to “marry” the Messiah does not mean that they will meet the qualifications actually to be his bride. Every redeemed believer is given the chance, but not all are properly preparing themselves for the lofty role of being the Messiah’s spiritual bride as the foolish virgins found out.
What the Apostolic Writers Taught About the Kingdom of Elohim
Now let’s explore what the apostolic writers taught about the kingdom of Elohim that his progressively coming down from heaven and is expanding little-by-little one life at a time. The kingdom of Elohim is, as Yeshua describes it, is like tiny mustard seed that grows into a mighty plant, or a pinch of leaven in the bread dough that slowly expands until it takes over the whole loaf of bread. This is how the kingdom of Elohim is has been slowly spreading one life at a time across the earth for thousands of years.
Here are some scriptures that discuss the kingdom of Elohim:
Romans 14:17, The kingdom of Elohim is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy. Too many believers spend their time fussing, whining, obsessing, debating over and focusing on twiggy issues, or “doubtful disputations” (v. 1, KJV) instead of the weightier matter of the laws that involve kingdom and eternal principles. This includes Hebrew roots or messianic type people was well (e.g., dietary laws, the validity of non-biblical holidays, dress codes, proper word pronunciations, sacred names, non-biblical Jewish traditions and so on). It is time for YHVH’s people to focus on the main aspect of the gospel message that Yeshua and his disciples emphasized. By so doing, perhaps we would have a greater influence within the mainstream Christian community and the world at large.
1 Corinthians 15:24, When he delivers the kingdom to Elohim the Father.After the first resurrection of the saints at Yeshua’s second coming, and after having destroyed Babylon the Great, Yeshua will establish his universal kingdom on earth. This will be after all of Yeshua’s antichrist counterfeit pretenders and rivals have been defeated and annihilated. Yeshua planted the seeds of his kingdom at this first coming in the hearts and minds of his disciples (Luke 17:21 cp. Matt 4:17), and then he commissioned them to spread the good news of that kingdom worldwide (Matt 10:7 cp. 26:18–20; Mark 16:16–18; Acts 1:6–8). After the gospel has been preached globally and the end of the age has come (Matt 24:14), Yeshua will return, defeat his enemies, become King of kings and then turn his worldwide kingdom over to his Father.
Colossians 1:13, Conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Through Yeshua, the Father “has qualified his saints to be partakers of the inheritance” (Col 1:12) and “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,” vv. 13–14). Yeshua is truly the way, the truth and the life, the entrance point or doorway into the kingdom of heaven and the only way to the Father in heaven.
1 Thessalonians 2:12, Who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. It is Elohim himself who calls people into his kingdom. We don’t choose him; he chooses us. We simply make the freewill choice to accept or reject that divine call.
2 Thessalonians 1:5, Counted worthy of the kingdom of Elohim. One must be counted worthy to be in the kingdom of Elohim. It is an exclusive “club” .
2 Timothy 4:1, Who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. At his second coming, when Yeshua judges the saints as they are resurrected and glorified, he will be bringing his kingdom with him. There is no king without a kingdom. Yeshua is returning as King of kings, and his glorified saints will be his kings and priests in that global kingdom during the Millennium (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
Hebrews 12:28, Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken. The kingdom of Elohim exists in the realm of the Spirit, so it cannot pass away; it is eternal. It is at a higher level of reality than the time-space continuum of the physical existence of the universe and all that is contained therein. Thus, it cannot be shaken, for it exists in the dimension of the spirit realm.
James 2:5, Heirs of the kingdom. YHVH has chosen (he has chosen us, not we him) the poor of this world who are rich in faith and who love him to be heirs of his everlasting kingdom.
The Saints Are Not of This World, But Are of the Kingdom of Elohim
The Scriptures reveal that the saints do not belong to the kingdoms of this world. YHVH has called them out of this world. Why is this? This has to do with what the Father’s opinion of this world is.
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim. (Jas 4:4)
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 John 2:16)
This is the Father’s opinion of this world and it should be ours as well!
The Father does not think much of this world because the world could care less about the Father…and the saints as well.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of Elohim! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)
In fact, the world hates Elohim, and it hates all those who are with Elohim.
If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19)
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:14)
Why else should we not love this world? Because the world is passing away, but the kingdom of Elohim is spiritual and eternal. So why place your hopes in something that is here today and gone tomorrow?
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of Elohim abides forever. (1 John 2:17)
In fact, Yeshua has called or chosen his saints out of the world.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16)
Yeshua declared that although his saints are in the world, they are not of this world.
Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.…They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:11, 14)
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:16)
The Bible refers to the saints as called out or set-apart ones by using the Greek word ecclesia (translated into English as “the church”). They have been called out of the world into a special spiritual entity or configuration called the kingdom of Elohim. They are the elect (Matt 24:22, 24) and part of a special group.
The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth… (2 John 1:1)
Therefore, as the elect of Elohim, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering… (Col 3:12)
The saints are part of another kingdom that started with Abraham, and then through Yeshua became a spiritual kingdom comprised of redeemed people, who will one day be resurrected bodily, then glorified and then adopted into the family of Elohim as sons and daughters of the Creator. This is the nation of Israel on spiritual steroids and elevated to a whole new level and dimension that is way beyond the physical dimension of this world!
Yeshua answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36)
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without the Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without Elohim in the world. But now in the Messiah Yeshua you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to Elohim in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of Elohim, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua the Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of Elohim in the Spirit. (Eph 2:11–22)
Despite it being a central theme of the gospel message as preached by John the Baptist, Yeshua the Messiah and the apostles, sadly and disobediently the mainstream church rarely teaches about the kingdom of Elohim. In fact, too many denominations and churches seem more preoccupied with building their own kingdoms rather than that of Elohim.
Needless to say, the church has been derelict in its responsibility to teach the whole Truth of Scripture, and it is time that this vital truth once again be revealed to YHVH’s people.
And this begs another question. What other subject does the church fail to teach about, and what subjects does it emphasize that Yeshua and his disciples seldom if ever talked about?
These are questions that we all need to ask ourselves and then answer when determining where we go to church and with whom we fellowship.
If you are in a church that fails to emphasize the subjects that Yeshua did and, instead, emphasizes subjects that he deemed unimportant or never even talked about, then maybe it is time to rethink why you are there!