In Matthew 13:33-52, Jesus continues to teach the crowds using parables. Today’s devotion (view it here) was recorded two years ago on Inauguration Day. The devotion is based on the parable of the hidden treasure. Finding the kingdom of heaven comforts us as we read of a mix-up world in Genesis 47-48.
The Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God
A significant difference between Matthew and the other gospel writers is his use of the term “kingdom of heaven” where the other authors use “kingdom of God.” Matthew was writing to people of Jewish background. From little on, they were told of the kingdoms of David and Solomon. When they heard the term “kingdom of God,” they may have jumped to the conclusion that God wanted to establish an earthly kingdom like David's. So Matthew uses the term “kingdom of heaven” to lift the sights of his readers from this world to the spiritual and eternal kingdom that God has planned for us.
Even now, the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God has come.
- Wherever and whenever God rules as king in our lives, his kingdom comes.
- When another individual is brought to faith, she or he becomes a part of God’s kingdom.
- When Jesus returns, he will not start to rule as King. He rules as King now. We will simply see his ruling power more clearly.
When we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are praying…
- Come and rule as King in my heart.
- Bring more people to faith and rule as King in their hearts.
- Return and allow us to see you reign as King in all your glory.
Lord, enable us to see the kingdom of heaven as the treasure that helps us make sense of a mixed-up world. Amen.
Finding Treasures on the Internet!
Jacob's promise to Joseph that he would get "the ridge of land" (Genesis 48:22) led me to do a little map work. I found an excellent 3D illustration of Israel.This is one I will save for future reference.
We are looking northeast from the Mediterranean Sea
- First you see the coastal plain - in an irony of history, the coastal plan was the part of the land the ancient Israelites couldn't control. They lived primarily in the mountains (think Appalachian Mountains height, not Rockies). Today the Israelis live primarily on the plains. The "West Bank" where the Arab population lives are the mountains. On the picture, at the foot of the mountains, you can see a yellow line dividing the plains and the mountains - that is where the wall separates Israel from the West Bank. See a picture of the border wall below.
- Second - on the south you see the foothills - what is called the Shephelah. Notice the rivers (from the south - Elah--David and Goliath, Sorek--Samson and Delilah, and Aijalon--Joshua and the sun standing still). Battles with the Philistines were fought in these valleys because they were the pathways from the coastal plan into the mountainous heartland of ancient Israel.
- Next you see the mountains. Judah is on the south. The territory that Ephraim and Manasseh would receive is north of Jerusalem. These three tribes received the most easily defended parts of the nation.
- Then you see the Jordan River Valley with the Sea of Galilee on the north and the Dead Sea on the south.
- At the top of the picture you can see that the land of Jordan east of the Jordan River is higher than Israel.