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Kingdoms Explored

There is a distinct difference between how the Lord regards physical objects in the Old and the New Testaments. For the purposes of this discussion we will call those differences the differences between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. It would be a mistake to describe the Old Testament as being the Kingdom of Heaven and the New Testament as being the Kingdom of God. Each Kingdom can be found in each Testament though the Kingdom of God became more pronounced and visible in the New Testament.

The Kingdom of Heaven can best be described as God ascribing the rules of heaven to an object, person or land as if that object, person or land was in heaven itself. For example, look at the Lord’s admonition to Moses when he approached the burning bush. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground, Exodus 3:5. How did a patch of ground become so holy? It became holy because God ascribed the rules of heaven to it. It became part of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Likewise, the Ark of God was more than a mere object built by man under God’s instruction. The Ark was imbued with the holiness of God as if it was in the throne room of God. And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter, 1st Samuel 6:19.

As I often tell my church, there is simply no place in this church where a man would be smitten for just looking into it other than the lady’s room. I grew up a Roman Catholic and was taught that the very presence of Jesus Christ was present in the host that had been placed in a receptacle called a monstrance and set upon the altar. It was for this reason that I was trained to genuflect before entering a pew. Today, I am a bible believer and I know that there is no such presence of God in any building on this earth.

Another illustration of the Lord’s tendency to imbue earthly objects or places with the holiness of heaven itself is found in the story of Naaman the Leper. After this powerful general from Israel’s sworn enemies the Syrians is healed, he made request of Elisha that he might have some of Israel’s dirt. And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD, 2nd Kings 5:17.

Can you imagine someone asking you for a couple of wheelbarrows full of dirt from your church so that they could kneel thereon and worship your God? How quickly you would explain that God is a Spirit and all those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth! Elisha did no such thing. He blessed Naaman’s request because the soil of Israel was different than the soil of any other spot on earth.

By the end of the Book of Acts, and probably much before that, there were no objects or places wherein or whereon the attributes of heaven were so laid upon them that they had to be treated as if they were part of heaven. There is though one exception in the New Testament Church whereby God has taken a physical object and so inhabited it that to defile it is to defile heaven itself. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid, 1st Corinthians 6:15.

The body of a person saved by the grace of God becomes a repository of God himself. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live, Romans 8:13. Upon salvation, a person’s body is imbued with the rules of heaven itself and God fully expects his saints to live by those rules. That does not mean compliance with the Law of Moses, but instead means developing sensitivity to what is acceptable to God for the individual believer to sanctify his body unto God in the society in which he lives.

To say that there is no aspect of the Kingdom of Heaven left in the New Testament Church is wrong. To claim that nothing changed from Testament to Testament is wrong. Instead, God has richly given us his word whereby we can know the things of God.

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