Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Rock, A Seed & A Bit of Yeast

In Daniel 2, God taught us a general doctrine of the kingdom. The teaching was couched in terms of a prophesy, but it was still a teaching of doctrine.

The kingdom of Jesus Christ was represented by a rock. This rock would grow into a mountain and cover the whole earth. The teaching is that Christ’s kingdom would start small, then grow to cover the whole earth.

Jesus taught this same doctrine of the kingdom. He used 2 analogies, a mustard seed and yeast. These were common elements in first century Israel. Jesus used them so that people would understand. In Matthew 13:31, Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed. It is a small seed, but grows into the largest of garden plants, so big that birds may nest in it. Mustard plants in Israel grew to 6 feet tall. The point Jesus made is the kingdom starts very small, with a few disciples, but becomes very large in time.

The 2nd analogy was yeast or leaven. Bread was a staple of diet for the people of Jesus’ time, especially poor people. They added yeast to wheat or barley dough to make it rise and expand, just as we do today. I once made my wife’s recipe for bread to help out. I put a small packet of yeast in a bowl of warm water to “bloom”, then added it to the mixture for the dough. After covering it and letting it set, it rose to several times its original size. So, Jesus said, will his kingdom grow from a small start to a large finish. As the yeast permeated the dough, the gospel of the kingdom will permeate the entire world.

What does this mean for us? Here are a few things.

1. We have hope! Even though things often look bleak, we are assured the kingdom will grow over all the earth. Jesus said “I will build my church”. (Matthew 16:18) Jesus began building the kingdom when he ministered on earth, he continues to build it from heaven through his people, and will finalize it when he returns. The picture of the world at the end of the book of Revelation is a world inhabited by those who serve Jesus while he reigns from his throne. It is a world-wide kingdom! There may be setbacks. When we see the Islamic State execute Christians, our prospects seem bleak. Then the United States government constricts our freedom of speech, we know Jesus is still working. When pastors in house churches in other countries “disappear”, we know Jesus is still building his kingdom. Setbacks may occur, but Jesus will prevail and the church\kingdom will prevail. Jesus specifically said the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18) He has authority over all the earth. (Matthew 28:18)

2. We have a mission! How will Jesus build his kingdom? By spreading the gospel through his disciples. That is why he told his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. As we reach out with the gospel, the Holy Spirit reveals its truth to people of every language and nationality. The New Testament book of Acts shows us this in the early church. We have seen it through the history of the church as the gospel spread through Europe, Asia and North Africa. We have seen the kingdom grow in China, in Nigeria and many other places. But we must go and spread the gospel. Jesus will work with the smallest of efforts to achieve great results. Jesus will build his church. He commissions us to work with him.
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