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Remember: “Consider carefully what you hear.”[1]

When the Pharisees who love money heard what Jesus was saying about serving God and Money, and were sneering at Jesus, Jesus said this to them: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the Good News of the Kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”[2] This sounds similar to what He said about the Kingdom of Heaven, but if you consider it carefully, it is not at all similar, for about the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”[3]

When you look at Luke 16:16 and Matthew 11:12, you can see the ‘tidewater’ marks of the three kingdoms, the Kingdoms of Israel, Heaven and God. The Law and the Prophets, the Kingdom of Israel, was proclaimed until John, then John proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven, and from that moment on, the Kingdom of Heaven suffered violence, and “the violent”[4] and “violent men”[5] take hold of it, until Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God, which began in Mark 1:14. Not immediately after He came out of the desert, but after He heard that John was put into prison[6] was when He took over and preached the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew and the Kingdom of God in Mark.

In the interim period, from John’s start of his preaching to his imprisonment, the Kingdom of Heaven suffered violence, and the violent was attempting to take it by force. Not violent men, for there was little violence at John’s preaching, but the violence was happening elsewhere, for the one who was filled with violence through his widespread trade started a war in the Heavens. That person is of course Satan, for God said, “Through your widespread trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned.”[7] John the apostle saw this in the Revelation: And there was war in Heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.[8] Satan’s defeat in Heaven was recorded and he was thrown to the Earth, where to this day he continues his violence through spirits and men trying to lay hold of Heaven.

Jesus came and continued John’s preaching, and also started His own, that is, of the Kingdom of God. That is why He said, “Since that time…” meaning, since John’s preaching, “the Good News of the Kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” “…everyone strives violently to go in.”[9] The forcefulness or violence, which Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God that everyone is forcing their way into, differs from the violence suffered by the Kingdom of Heaven, which is war. The Kingdom of God that everyone is forcing their way in, speaks not of war, but rather the use of methods that are not prescribed for the entry. Jesus mentioned this in the context that He was speaking to Pharisees who loved Money and were sneering at His comment, “You cannot serve both God and Money.”[10] And He had replied to them harshly, saying, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees about their way of trying to gain entry into the Kingdom of God by self justification in the eyes of men, by works and by finances, which are valued in men’s eyes rather than by faith without works.

You see, entry into the Kingdom of God is by repentance and faith, “Repent and believe,”[11] which means anyone, anyone who is not rich, who is not religious, or who has no standing in society, can also enter. The money and status of the Pharisees count for nothing when that is highly valued in men’s eyes. And with the status comes what men value —experience. Thus, when Jesus said, “…everyone is forcing his way into it,” He was speaking literally of everyone, both the rich and the poor, the Pharisees and the common sinners, for this conversation of Luke 16 started in chapter 15 with: the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear Him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law muttered, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”[12] So the “everyone” Jesus was speaking of to the Pharisees in Luke 16:16 includes both the tax collectors, sinners and the Pharisees who value money and what is valued in men’s eyes.

Now tax collectors and sinners forcing their way into the Kingdom is not the same way as the Pharisees forcing their way in. The way valued by Pharisees, that which is valued in men’s eyes, that is, financial wealth and status, including education and experience, is not the way to get into the Kingdom of God. Thus, their way of forcing entry into the Kingdom of God is not acceptable by Jesus. Indeed, to Jesus, the way of the Pharisees with their love of money and the things valued by men is a form of adultery, which is why He followed verse 16 with these two statutes: “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”[13]

These are not additional teachings as the commentators would have you think, but rather, in the context of what and who Jesus was speaking about and to, the love of Money by the Pharisees had broken the Law, and their love of Money and all things valued by men is akin to adultery and the breaking of a marriage. That is why Jesus put verses 16-18 there, which appears to sit out of place and out of context, for He was not teaching us morality on marriage, but rather teaching on how the lost are valued from Luke 15:3-31. And then He was teaching His disciples from 16:1 about what is really valuable in God’s eyes, while having a dig at the Pharisees and setting them up for what He would have to say to them in verses 14 to 31. He used the story, not parable, story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, to show the Pharisees that though they appeared to be listening to Moses and the prophets, they were not at all. Hence the verse: “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead,”[14] which was a rebuke to those Pharisees. For Moses never taught on love of money or things valued by men, but that they should love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and might, and the prophets kept warning them of repentance because they had strayed from the Lord and chased after other gods, and in the case of the Pharisees, they loved money. Loving money while trying to serve God is like committing adultery.

Then, Jesus turned back to His disciples and warned them: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”[15] The love of money and things valued by men is the sin that the Pharisees had brought, and with it they had brought disbelief of even Moses and the prophets. Then how can they believe Jesus? And the “little ones” whom Jesus talked about are not the children in this context, but rather the tax collectors and “sinners” whom the Pharisees were complaining that Jesus welcomed. For the Pharisees belittled the tax collectors and “sinners”, saying, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus was saying that it would be better for the Pharisees to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than for them to cause one of these “tax collectors” and “sinners” to sin.

Now, how do you cause a sinner to sin? There is only one sin Jesus is concerned about—the same sin the Holy Spirit convicts the world of – unbelief in Jesus. When the Pharisees belittled Jesus, saying, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them,” therefore implying that Jesus is not a proper person to be believed in by their religious standards, they were sowing the seed of unbelief in Jesus into them. They were doing the very thing that is against God’s will in the Kingdom of God.

You see, in the Kingdom of Israel, it is God’s will that all should obey the Law and listen to His prophets, so that the love of God is the will of God in the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Heaven. All to repent and none to perish, as Peter wrote: The Lord… is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.[16] But Jesus was sent to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth, which is why He taught us to pray: “Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth…”[17] And what is the will of the Father, not the will of our God or our Lord? “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”[18] Now compare this to John 7:17 where Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own.” The will of the Father for His kingdom, the Kingdom of God, is that those drawn to Jesus believe in Jesus, so that they may have eternal life[19] and Jesus will raise them on the last day. Question is: Which is the last day?

Hence, in the Kingdom of God, there is only one sin —unbelief in Jesus Christ. Woe to anyone who propagates that sin to any of the tax collectors and “sinners” who are drawn to Jesus. You see, the Pharisees belong to the Kingdom of Israel. They have no business interfering with the Kingdom of God and forcing their way into it. Now see the meaning of “his way” in the context of the Kingdom of God. It is not making your entry into the kingdom. See Matthew 11:12 to help you understand when you compare the Kingdom of Heaven with the Kingdom of God. “The violent take it by force,[20] and violent men siege it by force;[21] violent men take it by force[22] and forceful men lay hold of it.”[23] One, the Kingdom of Heaven, is taken and sieged; the other, the Kingdom of God, everyone is forcing his way into it. Not as an entry, but as a dictation of how it should be run their way. The way of the Pharisees is hypocrisy, it is the love of money and all things valued by men, and men value things by scarcity. That is why a rare jewel or painting is worth so much, because it is scarce.

Thus, scarcity, hard to get or rare things, or rules that artificially make things rare, are the way of the Pharisees that they are trying to force into the Kingdom of God. What does this mean? It means you must have so much learning or experience or be of a certain age, class or right training, Bible school, etc, before you are fit for service —rare, scarce situations, setting up the ministries of the “super apostles” and “super preachers” who are specially anointed by God. That is NOT the WAY of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of Heaven, however, does entertain scarcity and rarity—for Jesus used the terms, “pearl of great worth” and “treasure in a field” when He taught about the Kingdom of Heaven,[24] and how the pearl merchant and the treasure hunter sold all they had to possess what they found. Yes, the Kingdom of Heaven will cost you all you have, for to enter it, you must repent and die to get there.

But for the Kingdom of God, you only need to repent and believe, and though you have to give up houses, fields and family, you get them back 100 times as much in this age. There is no dying in the Kingdom of God, no giving up all you have to possess it, just a period of waiting. That is why the Kingdom of God is like: “A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”[25] For the Kingdom of God, the ‘giving up’ is not permanent, but for the Kingdom of Heaven, the ‘giving up’ is permanent. The pearl merchant is no longer a pearl merchant. You die and enter Heaven. You will never live again on this Earth if you are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.

But if you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God, you may die, and after a little while, you will be back on this Earth, living a life 100 times more than you gave up to be a disciple, even reigning through the Millennium with Christ. Thus, “everyone forcing his way into it,” is not just everyone making his way into it. Indeed, in Luke 13:22, when asked this question, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” Jesus answered, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. … There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the Kingdom of God. Indeed there will be those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”[26] Making every effort to enter is not forcing your way into it. Those who try to enter and will not be able to are those who are forcing their way (that is, enforcing their way of doing things) into the Kingdom of God, like the Pharisees. And concerning the last being first in the Kingdom of God, we omegans are the last to hear of the Kingdom of God, but we will be the first to experience it in full on Earth, when Jesus has asked us to pray for it to come, “Your Kingdom come… Father…”

So then, do not force your way into the Kingdom of God, but make every effort to enter, that is, make every effort to believe in Jesus Christ and look to Him to see Him—to see Him doing and saying what the Father has shown Him so that we will do things His way. Now, here is the lesson: In the Kingdom of God, things are all done His way, and not anybody else’s way – not Moses’ way, not the prophets’ ways nor the psalmists’ ways —but His Way. You may have heard that things should be done this way or that way, but it is what Jesus says that counts. Only His way is the way. That is why Jesus said, “I am the Way.”[27] And this explains the manner in which He was speaking in Matthew 5 to 7 when He said, “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you…” so many times.

If you are under the Law, you must do things the way Moses said. If you are under sin, you must do things the way the prophets up to John the Baptist said, “Repent,” for all the prophets sent to Israel preached repentance. Very few of them preached anything else, from Moses onwards, once the Law was in place. The next half of the message was “Repentance,” because they had broken the Law. Whereas Christ Jesus preached, “Repent and believe,” because now through Him, the righteousness is by faith and not by observance of the Law. If righteousness is by observance of the Law, then the loss of righteousness is by repentance only, for there is no faith, only obedience demanded.

However, the righteousness that comes by faith requires not obedience to a law to redeem what was lost, but rather more faith to redeem what was disbelieved. Hence the Gospel of the Kingdom of God begins with, “Repent and believe.” That is why the disciples rightly cried out, “Increase our faith,”[28] though they may not have understood why they cried out.

Now, if faith as small as a mustard seed can uproot a mulberry tree,[29] then what would a mustard seed of faith placed in God do? Hence, Jesus said, “Have faith in God.”[30] To have faith in God is to believe Him and also to believe in the One He has sent… for that is the work of God as Jesus said. “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”[31]

So, if God sent you Moses, then you must believe in Moses, and then you have done the work God requires of you. If God sent you prophets, then you must believe the prophets, and then you have done all the work God requires of you. And if you say God sent Jesus to you, then you must believe Jesus, and then you have done the work God requires of you.

Now you can see why Jesus then went on to teach about the master who had a servant and taught us to say, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”[32] Firstly, it was again another backhanded rebuke to the Pharisees who had not done everything they were told by Moses and the prophets. Secondly, it is an instruction to us—have we done everything that Jesus has told us to?

We must make every effort to do everything Jesus has told us, and not force our way into the Kingdom of God, but learn to do things His way, which is the only way in the Kingdom of God. As I have said before, Jesus is not the only way to God, for Noah, Abraham and Job all met God before Jesus came, but no one can come unto the Father except through Jesus, and if you cannot see the Father, how can you see His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are God.

So what are the things the Pharisees love? They love Money and things valued by men, where things achieve a value by scarcity. Then, the way of the Kingdom of God must be the way of abundance and commonness embodied in such commands as, “Freely you have received, freely give,”[33] and “the last will be first.”[34] And above all else, “Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing…”[35] The Kingdom of God is the kingdom where anyone can do what Jesus does and greater things. And the later they come in, the more likely they will be the first to do them, so that those who are considered ‘children’ or ‘little ones’ will lead them.

A mistake made by the eleven, Matthias excluded, was when they introduced scarcity into the church, not only in the area of food by buying it with money instead of multiplying it with power, but when they introduced scarcity into the ministry of feeding with real food, when they said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you, who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”[36] The fruit of their foolishness is that Nicolas was one of the seven chosen, and the one who gave rise to the Nicolaitans whose practices Jesus hates,[37] as Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved by her actions.”[38]

When they strayed from waiting on the tables and devoted themselves to the word and prayer, which sounds good, they forgot the way Jesus showed them. He was the One who broke the bread and blessed the cup. He was the One who took off His outer clothing and washed their feet. He served not only the W/word from the Father and interceded in prayer, but He also physically served the food. The actions of the eleven in Acts 6 set up the so-called division of duties between the clergy and the lay people in the religious orders. Not so for the Kingdom of God, the greatest amongst us must be servant to all so that anyone who is in the Kingdom of God can serve food and drinks, as well as dispensing the word and pray.

And who is in the kingdom of God? He in whom the Kingdom of God dwells with power to testify for Jesus. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power, not of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.[39] And what brings joy to the Holy Spirit? When we testify with Him with power that Jesus is the Son of God.

So, choose you this day which kingdom you serve, and know which kingdom you cannot serve. Examine your ways and believe in the One God has sent you. If you are a Jew, be a Jew to all the fullness that God has decreed. If you are a Gentile sinner, repent to all the fullness that God has decreed. And if you are a believer of Christ, then believe Him and do whatever He tells you. No, make every effort to do all He tells you. So you better listen carefully then, and as He said, “Consider carefully what you hear.”


 

[1] Mark 4:24

[2] Luke 16:14-16

[3] Matthew 11:12 KJV

[4] KJV

[5] NASB

[6] Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14

[7] Ezekiel 28:16

[8] Revelation 12:7-8

[9] Luke 16:16 AMP

[10] Luke 16:13-14

[11] Mark 1:15

[12] Luke 15:1-2

[13] Luke 16:18

[14] Luke 16:31

[15] Luke 17:1-3

[16] 2 Peter 3:9

[17] Matthew 6:9-10

[18] John 6:40

[19] John 17:3

[20] KJV

[21] AMP

[22] NASB

[23] NIV

[24] Matthew 13:44-46

[25] Mark 4:26-29

[26] Luke 12:23-24,28-30

[27] John 14:6

[28] Luke 17:5

[29] Luke 17:6

[30] Mark 11:22

[31] John 6:29

[32] Luke 17:10

[33] Matthew 10:8

[34] Matthew 20:16

[35] John 14:12

[36] Acts 6:2-4

[37] Revelation 2:6,15-16

[38] Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35

[39] 1 Corinthians 4:20; Romans 14:17

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