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Seeing the Kingdom
I think one of the key verses in
this passage is verse 10. [John
3:10] Nicodemus is a master of
Israel, a teacher. This is the
equivalent of Rabbi. The definite
article “the” is used with both words here:
The teacher of the Israel. He
was the well known or the authorized or the accepted
teacher of the Israel of God.
Nicodemus was the master of
Israel, he knew the Scriptures, the OT. Jesus
is saying, “You know the OT yet you don’t understand?”
(Born from above; see verse 31) This
is talking about being born from above. This
is the way God explains to us our salvation so that we can relate to the family
and being a part of His family.
But the expression “he cannot
see the Kingdom of God” is an expression that a master of Israel should have
understood and been able to respond to. Obviously,
one must be saved before one can see the Kingdom of God.
If you’re not saved or born from above, you will spend the ages unto
the ages in the lake of fire, which is commonly known as hell, but it’s truly
the lake of fire. “Hell” is
simply the grave; the lake of fire is the place of everlasting punishment and
torment. We’re all going to hell.
(Unless we’re alive when the Lord returns.)
The word “hell” is
translated from the Hebrew word Sheol
or Greek word Hades;
this is just the restful part or the place of the redeemed that was in the lower
part of the earth. Our Lord and the
thief on the cross went there, and I don’t think Jesus went to the lake of
fire. This is also where Lazarus
and the rich man went; they didn’t go to the lake of fire, but they went to
hell; the rich man being in the part of the disobedient, whereas Lazarus was in
the part housing the obedient. There
are many words that are translated or inferred to as “Hell”, but what we
commonly refer to as “Hell” is the lake of fire.
The lake of fire is currently empty, but Revelation 19:20 tells us the
Beast and the false prophet will be thrown in at the beginning of the
millennium. After the 1000 years,
Satan is next (Revelation 20:10) followed by the lost at the great white throne
judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
As a master of Israel, Nicodemus
should have been able to relate to seeing and then entering the Kingdom of God,
and what I’d like us to do this evening is try to relate to it like the Lord
wanted Nicodemus to it. Now, this
evening, we’ll not be dealing with entering into the Kingdom.
We’ll do that next week. But
this evening, I’d like for us to understand and appreciate what it means to see
the Kingdom of God.
To see this from a master of
Israel’s perspective, we have to go to the OT.
The OT was written for our learning, for our admonition, and for our
exhortation that we might have hope, that we might be encouraged and that we
might be warned in these last days.
[Deuteronomy 34:1; keep your
finger in John] We find the Lord
and Moses being together in the plains of Moab, upon the mountain of Nebo, to
the top of Pisgah that is over against Jericho.
In other words, here is Moses looking across the Jordan River and seeing
Jericho. He was in the middle of
the land; that way you can get a broad perspective all the way to the north and
all the way to the south. And the
Lord showed him all the land of Gilead unto Dan; and all of Nephtali and the
land of Ephraim and all the land of Manassah and all of the land of Judah unto
the utmost sea or the Mediterranean Sea. And
unto the south and all of the plain and valley of Jericho, the City of Palm
Trees unto Zoar.
And the Lord said unto him,
“This is the Land”. “Moses, I
am showing you the land.” Moses
is seeing the land that God was showing to him.
And the Lord said, “this is the land that I sware unto Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob, saying that I will give it to thy seed.
I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over
thither.” Moses saw, but he could
not enter in.
[Keep your finger in Deuteronomy
and turn back with me to John 3:3] The
land of Canaan is a type or a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Kingdom
of God. The Word of God teaches us
in John chapter 1 that, “the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by
Jesus Christ.” The law will bring
us up to the Jordan River to give us a view of the land that God promised to
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He did
not promise it to Moses. Isn’t
that interesting? “I have
promised this to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to their seed, but not to you,
And He said, “I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou
shalt not go over. So Moses, a
servant of the Lord, died in the land of Moab according to the word of the
In Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 10 and 11, [Deuteronomy 6:10]; emphasize
great and goodly cities.
What Abraham saw was goodly
cities, which thou buildest not [Deuteronomy 6:11; stop at plantedst not].
This is just like if we were to go to Lake Tahoe in the desert, and we
can see all of those beautiful homes out there and the lady of the house went
shopping before we got there and all of the cupboards are full, and there are
apple trees out back full of fruit, and the gardens are full of fresh
vegetables, and the shrubs are well-kept and beautiful.
God is saying to the nation of
Israel, these are things that you’re going to enjoy. He says here in the end of verse 11, “when thou shalt have
eaten and be full”; “you’ll have plenty.”
This is what He showed Moses: He
showed him cities, houses, wells, vineyards, and olive trees and said,
“You’re going to have plenty to eat”.
You and I have not been in the
desert for 40 years, and it still sounds good.
Can you imagine living in a tent for 40 years? Have any of you ever stayed in an old canvas tent?
[Describe tents: animal skins, maybe cloth similar to canvas, etc.]
You get them out and they smell; they stink.
They’re mildewed and it’s hot. In
some of the areas around here, some of the nicer houses are air-conditioned.
Think what that would seem like if you had been in the desert for 40
years. In Anchorage even, some of
the wealthier houses have swimming pools. I
guess that would sort of be the equivalent of wells being digged since everyone
has indoor plumbing today with hot and cold running water.
Well, almost everyone. A
swimming pool in the desert would be the equivalent of wells dug.
The point is this:
When you’ve been living in a hot, smelly tent for forty years and
you’ve been eating the same diet of manna every day (kind of like eating
salmon every day for us); I’m sure they butchered an animal occasionally, they
brought flocks with them; they bought water and food as they went through the
land of Edom which was the inheritance of Esau, and some other people and they
did conquer a few; but the point is this: These
people were anticipating these blessings that God had promised to them.
[Numbers 13:26; don’t read
yet] The neat thing about the lord
is this; he didn’t just have a bunch of brochures printed up.
Even though that’s what we have today of sorts; the Bible.
But in the days of Moses and in Kadesh Barnea, they sent out spies and
checked it out. They didn’t have
brochures to describe the land. [Numbers
13:26,27] The spies brought back
Let me say this:
From Kadesh Barnea until the life of Moses was taken was a forty year
period of time. Here, they had only
been out in the desert for two years. They
had been to Mt. Sanai, they had received the law, and here they were at Kadesh
Barnea and the Lord brought them fruit. They
had it in their hands.
They had knowledge of the land in which they had to carry
a cluster of grapes (look up in verse 23) they had to bear it between two upon a
staff, and they brought some of the pomegranates and some figs.
Can you imagine carrying a cluster of grapes that takes two men to carry
one cluster? Those grapes must have
been as big as apples or maybe bigger; they were big!
And I’m sure they were good, too.
God doesn’t give us bad fruit.
And when you think of a land
flowing with milk and honey, you think of a land that has plenty of produce;
wheat fields, barley fields, things growing.
I’m sure the Browns can relate to this, but as a beekeeper, you
anticipate the honey flow. If
there’s nothing for the bees to work, no flowers or anything, there will be no
flow. When it says the land was
flowing with milk and honey, we also know that there has to be cattle (you’ve
got to have pregnant cows if you’re going to have milk; you’ve got to have
goats that are bearing kids); the land flowing with milk and honey:
cows, goats, flowers and produce, and the Lord permitted them to have
We’ve got the brochures, but
the spies were able to go over and they were able to say, “It’s just like
the Lord said it was”. The Lord
let them have some grapes, some pomegranates and some figs, and they were, I am
sure, very good and juicy and tasty.
Turn with me to Nehemiah chapter 9.
This is over past 2 Chronicles; between Job and 2 Chronicles.
If you’re over in Esther’s house, turn one door to the left.
[Nehemiah 9:16.17] This is
referring to the nation of Israel at the time of Kadesh Barnea.
They ate that fruit! They
had some fried apple pies, and some pomegranate jam, and some Fig Newtons, and
yet it tells us here that they dealt proudly, they hardened their hearts, they
harkened not, they refused to obey, they didn’t want to think about it, and
neither were they mindful of the wonders, they hardened their necks, they
rebelled and they wanted to go back to Egypt.
They were already in the land of promise.
Genesis 15:18 says, “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with
Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt
unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”
The children of Israel wanted to turn back from the blessings the Lord
had in store for them; back to the pleasures of their former lives.
Do you ever want to turn back to the pleasures of your life from before
you were saved or do you want to persevere to the land flowing with milk and
honey? You didn’t feel guilty
about your behavior then, did you? I
didn’t. We didn’t know better.
Sometimes it’s easier to turn back.
Being obedient to God is sometimes hard; He never said it was easy.
There are Christians like that
today; they want to turn back. You
start talking about the Kingdom and ruling and reigning, and the hardships
involved and they want to go back to bondage.
They don’t want to cross over the Jordan River.
The Lord wasn’t unkind to them. They
had been eating manna for a long time. God
didn’t tell them when you cross over the Jordan and start fighting, “I’m
going to stop feeing you and your shoes will wear out and your clothes will wear
out and your feet might even swell.” He
didn’t tell them that; He didn’t scare them.
He gave them encouragement!
That’s what we need to be
doing today. If you’re saved; if
you’re born from above, you can see what God has for you and for me.
We need to be concentrating on that and thinking about that.
What’s in our thought lives
today? What are we thinking about
today? We’re thinking about
security, retirement, the good life after work, things we can buy, food,
The Lord says, “If you think of the things that are important to me, I’ll take care of the things that are important to you.” That’s what he said in the sermon on the mount.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of
God.” That’s the Exhortation.
What’s the first thing on God’s mind?
The Kingdom of God. What do
we need to be focusing our attention on? The
blessings that are there for us. It’s
a land flowing with milk and honey.
As soon as you begin to
concentrate on the manna, what’s God going to have to do to us?
He’s going to have to send serpents among us to strike us.
The children of Israel started thinking about the manna that they had to
eat every day and they said, “we loathe this light bread”, and what did God
do? He sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the
people and much of the people of Israel died; they perished. This is punishment for disobedience. They lost their lives. We
can lose our lives also; we can perish. We
can’t lose our salvation, as that’s impossible, but we can lose out on our
In our testing and trial here on
earth, we can get very discouraged if we concentrate on what’s happening to us
rather than concentrating on the blessings that God’s preparing us to have in
[Hebrews 6:3-5; don’t read
yet] We find a parallel passage to
numbers 13. When I read Hebrews
6:3-5, I automatically think of Numbers 13, and you should too.
Verse 3 says, “This we will do if God permits”.
What he’s saying here is we’ll go onto maturity; we’ll cross over
the Jordan River. We’ll learn to
do without manna every day and start living off the land.
Let’s go onto perfection; let’s go onto maturity.
[Hebrews 6:4-5] (age to come) See the word taste? It’s in there twice. They
tasted the fruit of the land. We’re
not tasting literal fruit today, but we can taste from the Word of God the
blessings that are coming for those who will cross over the Jordan River and
begin the warfare to enter into the land or to posses the land, once they are
Just think about Moses looking
out over the land flowing with milk and honey.
He saw! When you see,
you’re enlightened and you understand. You
see those houses and those fields and those cattle; those vineyards and those
olive trees? You’re enlightened.
The Lord has enlightened us
through the Word of God that there is a Kingdom to be seen and to be entered
into; not just being saved. We need
to be thinking about these things. But
there is a responsibility with those who have been enlightened and have tasted
of the heavenly gift and were made ministers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted
the good Word of God. This is not
talking about getting saved (saved is by believe; Acts 16:31).
This is talking about preparing or crossing over into the land and
possessing our inheritance.
Did you know that they hired Aaron to take them back into Egypt at one
time? He built a golden calf and
they all partied; but the Lord was merciful.
There were some that lost their lives there, but God was merciful.
He was really merciful to Aaron. Aaron
was caught red-handed, preparing to go back into Egypt.
[Reminds me of the kid; mother knew he couldn’t tell time; what’s the
big hand on? A cookie.]
Red-handed. They were
Moses came down the mountain and
they were preparing to go back into Egypt.
We need to see things afar off. We
need to buy eye salve to put on our eyes so we can see things afar off.
[Revelation 3:18] We need to
put ointment in our eyes. We need
to be persuaded that there are better things ahead of us and we need to be
concentrating on them.
If we don’t do that, then
we’re going to be caught up in the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of
riches, having a good time; lawlessness that abounds.
Look around us: Lawlessness
abounds. Innocent are persecuted
and the guilty are set free. There’s
always a “good” reason for it, though, isn’t there?
In this world today, bad behavior is rewarded and moral behavior is
taxes, welfare, etc.]
We need to appreciate the fact
that Jesus told His disciples in John 14:2, “In my Father’s houses are many
mansions [dwelling places; abodes; houses; cities] and if it were not so, I
would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you.”
The Lord prepared the land of Canaan for the children of Israel to enjoy.
He has prepared dwelling places for us.
Did you know that you could miss entering into those dwelling places?
That’s not guaranteed. Most
preaching and teaching today guarantees us those cities and houses and vineyards
and olive trees… They’re not
Take Achan for example.
The name Achan means one who troubles (from Aker), and was given to him
because of his crime, which brought upon him and Israel an awful destruction
(Josh. 7:1). On the occasion of the
fall of Jericho, contrary to the commands of God, he seized an ingot of gold, a
quantity of silver, and a costly Babylonish garment, all of which he hid in his
tent. Joshua was convinced that the
defeat which the Israelites sustained before Ai was because of some crime.
So they used lots and discovered the criminal.
It was then found that Achan was guilty, and he was stoned to death in
the valley of Achor. He and all
that belonged to him were then consumed by fire, and a heap of stones was raised
over the ashes. (Your sins can
Achan was already in the land;
he was in Jericho. But, he saw some
gold and some silver and some glad rags (a change of garments; better clothes
than what he had). He took them!
And he and his family perished; they died.
May the Lord help us to seek
first His Kingdom. Lord willing,
next week, we’re going to look at what it means to enter into the Kingdom of
Heaven and not just see it.
[2 Peter 1:5-7]
and then he says down in verse 10: For
if ye do these things, you’ll not fall. What
if you don’t do these things? You
will fall. If
you do them, you will never fall and you will have an entrance into the coming
Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it will be abundant.
The cupboards will be full, not half full.
of blessings, and so we want to be prepared to enter into those dwelling places
with the cupboard full.
What do we need to be doing!
We need to be thinking about those things.
We don’t need to be thinking about the way things are here on Earth.
We don’t need to be thinking about our plight or the things that are
happening to us.
We need to be dwelling on those
things that are before us; ahead of us; yet to come.
As soon as we start looking at
our circumstances and our difficulties and the difficulties of others, we need
to open that jar of eye salve and start rubbing our eyes.
We need to get in the Word and remind ourselves that we are pilgrims.
We are sojourners. We need
to be persuaded that there are better things ahead for those that will live by
faith and trust God.
Thank you for Your Word that gives us the vision You want us to have of entering into your blessings that we cannot understand or comprehend; but they’re there. We can relate to full cupboards and vineyards that never run out; we will be full and we will not be hungry. We need to anticipate the things we will be entering into; we need to anticipate hearing “well done, thou good and faithful servant”.