Kingdom Of Heaven Taken By Force

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Matthew 11:12-15 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

As we start the Advent Season and recognition of our Lord Jesus Christ coming into humanity (an event called “The Incarnation”) we will sing about the birth in the manger. We will celebrate the shepherds watching their flocks by night, and the celebration of angels as Messiah was born in a manger. We will talk about the little virgin called Mary and her faithful and godly husband Joseph. We’ll see and hear the children sing about that Holy Baby born.

So why am I in the middle part of Matthew instead of Matthew 2? Because the birth of Christ came according to Bible Prophecy. Someone asked me once “Why do you trust this Bible and what it says? Hasn’t it changed over the years? Haven’t people changed?” My answer is, “No, people haven’t changed, and the Bible hasn’t changed. Before Christ could come prophesies – written in Scripture – had to be fulfilled. When Jesus Christ came He fulfilled every single prophecy of the Messiah found in the Old Testament”. That’s why I trust the Bible. It has proved itself over and over again, and I love God it’s Author for it! Praise Him!

Before Messiah could come someone else had to come. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Daniel 2:47; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 1:5; Matthew 28:18; Acts 10:36), our Blessed Jesus, was going to be born into humanity. The King was coming! The Promise of salvation from the serpent of sin (Genesis 3:15) was going to be fulfilled! The blessing of Abraham was now going to come on the world (Genesis 12:1-3).

Before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords could be clothed
in flesh a Herald must be raised up.
Part of the miracle of Christmas is John the Baptist.

John The Baptist – The Herald Of Christ
Was The Elijah & Moses Which Was To Come

Jesus never spoke a lie or made an error. Jesus is …

1 Peter 1:19 … a Lamb without blemish and without spot

Or as John spoke of Him:

John 1:29 … Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!

Jesus said of John the Baptist:

Matthew 11:13-14 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come.

Elijah was one of the Greatest Prophets in the Old Testament. It was Elijah who stood on Mount Carmel – just he and God, together against the false idols of that day. No one else stood with Elijah but God. But Beloved, if you and God are standing together, you are in a majority! It does not matter if the whole world stands against you.

Romans 8:31 … If God be for us, who can be against us?

Elijah and God that day on Carmel proved God’s faithfulness. The idols were overturned, satan was cast down, and God once more showed Himself to be faithful. Yet Israel would not hear.

Time passed, and the Messiah did not come. The Messiah was prophesied. One of the texts you will hear this Season prophesying Jesus’s birth is:

Isaiah 7:14 … Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

God the Messiah would come to us through a remarkable birth, a virgin birth. But there is significance in Jesus saying that John the Baptist
was the Elijah who was to come.

After Elijah defeated idolatry on Mount Carmel God took him up to Heaven without death – he was caught up by a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:3-9). After taking Elijah into Heaven God foretold through the Prophet:

Malachi 3:1 … Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 4:5-6 {God said} Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

John the Baptist was the messenger that God sent to prepare the way before Jesus. He – like Elijah – would stand strong against the forces of evil, often standing by himself against the religious evils of satan. Jesus said …

Matthew 11:14    And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come.

The first Elijah – that great Prophet – after fighting the forces of evil with God by his side grew weary and despondent. He was exhausted. Why was he exhausted if God stood by his side? Because the devil and the forces of evil are relentless. They never cease! When righteous Elijah stood up against the false prophets – the false religious system of Jezebel and Ahab – he trusted in God. But after battling and standing with God there was one more evil to come. The queen of Israel, Jezebel, sent to Elijah a messenger:

1 Kings 19:2-4 … saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

The first Elijah experienced what even the strongest of God’s servants will experience. Evil is relentless. Evil is Judas Iscariot hiding among the twelve. Evil is the soldiers hiding in the bushes of Gethsemane, waiting to see who Judas kisses. Evil is the deacon who rises up against the overseer. Evil is the religious Pharisee plotting Christ’s death because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Evil takes many faces. It is violent. It is pretty. It is winsome. It is sneaky. It is shining as Lucifer – that fallen angel – shines.

Elijah let evil effect him. He broke, and ran. His mind went away from God and, for just a moment, he took his eyes off of Jesus.

Evil Is Persistent – But God Is Greater Than

Just as even Elijah broke and ran from evil,
John would have his failure.

But just as God stood with Elijah, so now Jesus stands with the Elijah who was John the Baptist. Jesus said:

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come.

Elijah failed and ran – and John the Baptist had a crisis of faith, too. What lead up to our text of today? Evil starting attacking John as soon as he came into ministry. His story starts at his birth, which was miraculous and part of the Christmas story.

Luke 1:5-7 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

Zacharias and Elisabeth were faithful to serve God, but they had no child. Then God sent an angel to them, saying:

Luke 1:13-14 Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

Why was John being born? Because he was the prophesied Herald of the Lord. The angel told Zacharias that John (whose name means “The Grace of the Lord”) …

Luke 1:17 … shall go before {the Messiah} in the spirit and power of {Elijah}, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

John the Baptist was a cousin to Jesus Christ, and would be born about 6 months prior to Jesus. This was so his ministry would herald Jesus for 6 months or so until Jesus the Messiah began to minister.

The devil did not want the Messiah to come. He tried to kill the Messiah in Bethlehem through evil Herod. But God protected His Son. As John and Jesus grew John started preaching about six months before Christ Jesus came to be baptized. As John preached the kingdom of Heaven suffered violence. All of the forces of evil rose up to discredit John. When John began to preach the idolatrous Pharisees and the fallen world began to attack:

John 1:19-22 … And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou {Elijah}? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet {Moses}? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

The forces of evil struggled against John. They tempted him, asking him “Are you the Christ?”. There are many preachers who, in the preaching of the Gospel, as their churches grew to the glory of God began to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think (Romans 12:3).

John kept his eyes on Jesus.

Are you Elijah, John? Are you the Moses that was to come?” the idol worshipers of religion asked. You see, God promised that when Moses died:

Deuteronomy 18:15 … The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

John, are YOU that Moses? But John was very careful, and very humble. He would not say he was the Elijah that was to come, and definitely knew that he was not the Moses of God’s people. That title was reserved unto Christ Jesus. He is our Moses, our Leader, our Lawmaker, our Lord! So John said, “No, I am not Moses nor Elijah”.

If the idol makers cannot get you to follow their idol, they will try to get you to make yourself into an idol. John the Baptist was not fooled – and neither should you be!

They pressed John. “Then WHO ARE YOU! We must know!” And John replied, quoting the prophesy of …

Isaiah 40:3 {John the Baptist was} The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

John 1:23 … I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet {Isaiah}.

Evil is persistent! They pursued John. The demanded:

John 1:25Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

John kept his eyes on Jesus. He cried out:

John 1:26-27 … I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

John stood on the mountain just as Elijah stood on the mountain many years ago, standing up for the Messiah. The Christ has come – He now is! Yet You, false god called “religion”, false light called “secularism”, false doctrine called “humanism” and “progressiveness” – oh it’s gone by many names over the years. But it still is evil. John stood, and pointed to Christ.

The Kingdom Of Heaven Suffers Violence,
And The Violent Take It By Force

Returning to our text we read Jesus’ words once more:

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

You will not coast to Heaven. If you are born again and living for Jesus then evil will seek you out. Evil will attack you. On the day that Jesus uttered these words the Bible tells us:

Matthew 11:2-3 Now when John {the Baptist} had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

The first Elijah had a crisis of faith in 1 Kings 19, and now the second Elijah has a crisis of faith.

John has been serving the Lord, and if you serve the Lord you are often not politically correct! Politicians are often professional liars who say what everyone wants to hear. But Beloved, if you are God’s child by faith in Christ then you are to say what God wants to hear.
That will get you into trouble.

John had been preaching of the coming Christ. As part of that, John preached REPENTANCE. John stepped on people’s toes because he lived for the Lord. This is where his focus was.

John is in prison for saying that King Herod’s sexual incest was evil (see Matthew 14:4“it is against the Word of God for you to have her”). If you are the Light of God that God has called you to be YOU WILL NOT DRIFT TO HEAVEN ON GOSSAMER WINGS. Jesus told us:

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

There is nothing more the world hates than to be told that sin is wrong and God is right. There is nothing more hated than those who speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The devil wants us all to buy into his lie that we can all just get saved by faith in Jesus, and then drift into Heaven on a cushion of grace, never going against the tide. Oh Beloved, if you believe this then hear the words of our Savior and Lord:

Luke 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

The mark of the false prophet is the one who says:

Ezekiel 13:10-13 … Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar: 11 Say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it. 12 Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it? 13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.

If you are saved, you are called to stand with the God Who saved you. You are called to be Light even if you are the only one shining. You are called to stand up for Jesus and be counted. Those who believe in a salvation that brings no change of lifestyle nor change of temperament are believing in a Baal sort of religion, a Pharisaical abomination that crucified Christ, a godless paganism that drove the nails through His hands and feet.

If you are born again you may fail – but Jesus will stand with you and lift you back up. When John had his crisis of faith Jesus did not abandon him. No, Jesus never abandons His children. Jesus did not condemn John, no more than He condemned Elijah in 1 Kings 19. After ministering that day Jesus told John’s disciples:

Matthew 11:4-6 … Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

John, keep looking toward Me. Keep your eyes on Me. Though you may be in a valley now, one day you will be in glory with Me. And John, I will not forsake you. I love you. Keep standing. Keep your eyes on Me. Not on others. Not on the idols of the ages. On Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

I love Jesus, and there have been times in my life when I have cried out to God. Every believer has, Old or New Testament. But keep your eyes on Jesus. He is there. And realize, dear ones – that Heaven is taken by the violent. The devil will attack if you are following Jesus. He will seek to destroy you. He will seek to destroy this Church. As Robert Turnage of Alpha & Omega School of Christ writes:

The powers of hell will try to prevent the salvation of a soul. God is the Victor. But, when you enter into God’s Kingdom, every opposition of hell will be brought against that soul. From the beginning, a born again soul realizes that God’s dealings with him were not just for his redemption, but he now has the realization of his new life and how he must guard and fight against every attempt to rob him of this treasure. That individual will fight every prejudice and bias leveled against him. The overcomer will stand and fight against every hindrance, criticism, and personal attack against his testimony. He knows God did not just make him a citizen of heaven at the moment of salvation; he knows God not only started a good work in him but, has an eternal purpose to finish what He has begun. God saves and keeps His children. His chosen ones will never only accept His eternal plan but will follow {His Word}…”

The message of Christmas is that God came into the world to save us from damnation. The forces of hell will do everything it can to damn a soul – so we must, as John did, keep our eyes on Jesus. As that beautiful song “It’s About The Cross”:

It’s not just about the manger,
Where the baby lay
It’s not all about the angels,
Who sing for Him that day
It’s not just about the shepherds,
Or the bright and shining star:
It’s not all about the wise men,
Who traveled from afar:
It’s about the cross …
It’s about my sin ….
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again.
It’s about the stone …
That was rolled away …
So that you and I could have real life someday.
It’s about the cross.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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