What Is The Kingdom Of Heaven?
Copyright 2000 vveasey
(All Quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible)
You’ve heard a lot about the kingdom of heaven but do you know what or where the kingdom of heaven is?
I would say that most of you think it’s a place. Some place all good Christians go when they cast off this mortal shell (die).
Well let’s see what Jesus has to say on the subject
Let’s examine how he explains what the kingdom of heaven or God is in a few verses attributed to him in the New Testament.
We find him attempting to give people an idea of what the kingdom is in these words,
Luke 13:18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? And whereunto shall I resemble it?Luke 13:19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. Luke 13:20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?Luke 13:21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
In verse one Jesus asks, what is the kingdom of God like? Like means what’s it similar to. He asks what does it resemble? Resemble means what something looks like. (When you resemble someone you look like them or similar to them.) In verse two he says, the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed or something that grows like a seed, from it’s seed-state into tree or something like a tree, big enough for birds to nest in.
He’s obviously speaking symbolically because mustard seeds don’t grow into trees! He’s making the point that the kingdom of heaven resembles something organic, something that can develop from something insignificant into to something significant. So is he talking about a place?
But let’s look at some other verses, to see if I’m on the right track, or if I’m way out in outer space in my approach to the subject! Let’s look at some verses from Matthew as a comparison and to provide a little more ammo for those of you who think I’m just tripping out!
Mat 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: Mat 13:25 But while the man slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
Mat 13:26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.Mat 13:27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
Mat 13:28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? Mat 13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn".
My Symbolical Look At The Kingdom
Ok! In verse one Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a man (intelligent like a human) who sowed a good seed in his field. Again we have the imagery of the seed, of something that can go through a process of development and change. He’s saying it’s like a man; it can reason and think. (The man told his servants that an enemy planted bad seeds among the good)Jesus says the kingdom is like a man who uses good judgment or wisdom.
He tells his servants not to pull up the bad seedlings because they may accidentally pull up the good seedlings too. He tells them to wait until the harvest then they can separate the mature plants from the weeds (tares).) So is Jesus talking about a place? Do you know of a place that can reason and make choices like a man? I don’t think so. But let’s look further,
Mat 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Mat 13:32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
This is just a repeat of the text found in Luke. I don’t think any further comment on it is necessary. Let’s try another one,
Mat 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like leaven. Like Leaven? (We even have an interesting synonymy between heaven and leaven. They’re virtually the same word with interchangeable first letters.) The kingdom of heaven is like something that can be hidden in something else and has the power to alter that something's original state (the rising of the meal). So does it sound like he’s saying the kingdom of heaven is a place?
(It’s interesting that Jesus says three measures of meal. Three or the trinity symbolizes the three levels of human development:
Child, Adult, and Parent. And the three levels of developmental time: Past, Present, and Future. Or in the ancient spiritual systems the three degrees of knowledge or spiritual attainment: hindsight, insight, and foresight. 3 also symbolizes the 3 degrees of spiritual transformation purification, initiation and perfection. And of course, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost).
Mat 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; that which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Jesus says the kingdom is similar to a treasure hidden in a field. Like something hidden, that you find, that’s more valuable than anything else you have; and you're willing to all other values for this one invaluable possession.
Let’s go on,
Mat 13:45 again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Mat 13:46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Here Jesus says again that the kingdom is like a man, this time like a merchant, who found an expensive pearl (or the treasure hidden in the field) and sold all he had to buy it. He says the kingdom is like an intelligent man who can discriminate between things of greater and lesser value. This is virtually the same idea as in Mathew 13:44.
Mat 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Mat 13:48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
This time Jesus says the kingdom is like a net cast into the sea, catching all kinds of sea life. This is the same idea as the field with the good and bad seeds growing in it. In the field symbolism they separate the good from the bad plants. In this one, they separate the good from the bad sea life and throw the bad sea life away.
So I ask you again does the kingdom of heaven sound like it’s place to you? And for those of you who’ll say, yeah! You may be right about the kingdom of heaven, but the kingdom of God is different from the kingdom of heaven. Well this next one’s for you!
"Mar 4:30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
Mar 4:31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: Mar 4:32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
So you see here in Mark, Jesus is using the same analogy that’s in Luke 13:19 and Mathew 13:31 except this time, he uses the phrase the kingdom of god instead of the kingdom of heaven. (As he does in Luke also for those of you who didn’t catch it the first time around). The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are interchangeable terms for the same thing or experience!
I don't want to bore you but let’s look at a few more verses,
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Here it sounds like Jesus is talking about a place called the kingdom of heaven, because his talks about being great and lest in the kingdom of heaven and of entering the kingdom of heaven, but considering what you’ve read so far is he?
Mat 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mat 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Here Jesus says go preaching saying the kingdom is at hand! At hand means it’s here now! As proof that it’s at hand he says, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. These were the signs that let his followers know that the kingdom was present there and then, because those things couldn’t be done under normal circumstances.
I "hate" to keep belaboring the point but is Jesus talking about a place?
Putting The Pieces Of The Puzzle Together
See if you can put all the pieces of this puzzle together and see what picture it presents to you. In the meantime take a look at how I put the puzzle together and the picture it presents to me. I know this is long piece but bear with me a while longer it may be worth your wile!
So if the kingdom of heaven isn’t a place what is it? Let’s look at Jesus' descriptions of the kingdom spiritually or symbolically.
The mustard seed represents the mind in its immature spiritual state. The tree represents the mind in its mature spiritual state. The birds represent the spiritual awakening of the mind. (Birds are creatures of the air. They fly through the air like thoughts fly through the mind. Air represents spirit because although it’s invisible and vital to life.)
The growth of the mustard seed represents the growth of the mind, from spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity with all its spiritual powers developed (the birds nesting in the tree). (Luke 13:19)
The man who planted the good seeds and could discern the difference between the good and the bad seedlings. Represents how spiritual wisdom can sort-out the good from the bad thoughts in the mind (the field). And can detect and root-out bad thoughts planted in the mind by someone else (the enemy planting tares among the wheat while the man slept). (Matt 13:24)
The leaven, leavening the 3 measures of meal until it was all leavened, illustrates how a little wisdom can cause the whole mind to expand until its completely developed through the total process of spiritual development; childhood, adulthood, parenthood; hindsight, insight, foresight; purification, initiation and perfection. (Luke 13:21)
The treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price, illustrate how spiritual wisdom is hidden in the mind and how once we discover it, it’s the one thing we should value more than anything else. (Matt 13:44) (Matt 13:45)
The net cast in the sea illustrates how the mind is like a net that catches all kinds of good and bad thoughts and how spiritual wisdom can sort the good from the bad thoughts. (Matt 13:47)
The kingdom of heaven appears to be an expanded mode of spiritual wisdom where those so expanded (have entered the kingdom) can heal and do things considered impossible to us in our normal mode of awareness. (Mat 10:7)
But if you still think the kingdom of God or Heaven is a place, please write and publish your own article showing how you see it; how it all makes sense and how the facts in the text support your conclusion!
But to seal the deal here's one last quote from Jesus that proves the kingdom is not a place.
"Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you".
May the Light never cease to Lighten your mind!
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