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 THE PARABLE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

    The Government
of God

Matthew 11:7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went you out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what went you out for to see? A prophet? yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you. 11 Truly I say to you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you will receive it, this is Elias (Elijah), which was for to come. 15 He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

 

     These verses about John the Baptist are not generally recognized as a parable. The main reason for that is that Jesus didn't identify it as such. Jesus often spoke in the illustrative language of Bible prophecy though without identifying that what he was saying was allegorical or symbolic. He often left his stealthy language un-interpreted making people dependent on Gods Spirit and the Word of God for a proper understanding. The reason these verses are  included in the section of the website regarding the parables about the Government of God that was to come is twofold. First is because it is about the Government of God that was to come. Second; because it fits so well with the other parables as a set that build upon one another.

The backdrop of this parable is a little bit complicated. In Matthew 10 Jesus had just empowered, exhorted and sent out his twelve apostles to practice their future ministry. Like Jesus's cousin John the Baptist who was now locked up in prison, the people had all kinds of expectations and hopes tied to the promised coming of the Kingdom of God.  Unbeknownst to the apostles and the people. It was the apostles ministry, that they were just starting, their words, and their model that was the very thing that would eventually bring this promised Government of God. If you have read the previous parables leading up to this one on the website this should be becoming very clear. As he does in other parables and so often in the NT, Jesus uses this opportunity recorded in Matthew 11 to once more teach; that this prophesied government of God is not coming to the nation of Israel in the way they hoped and expected. Actually to be more specific. He teaches them using a play on words that the kingdom of God that reigned in ancient Israel in times past is not going to be restored to them. ( At least in the way it was in the past.) He taught further that what ancient Israel had along with the blessings that accompanied it would not even comparable to what will come.  Then, in opposition to their hopes and expectations. He brings them somber news no one would want to hear concerning their generations future. He verifies the part of the prophesy in Malachi 4:5 about their great day of judgment as belonging to them and not some other generation. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, (which is John,) before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD...."  Jesus uses words like these to say this in  Matthew 11: 20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21 Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you. This isn't to minimize the salvation Jesus brought to them as noted in the end of chapter 11.  It is just that Jesus, as a prophet, found it necessary to instruct them about their future in an effort to save them from the judgment prophesied and written for the wicked amongst them.  As further enlightenment, his apostles, when they really started their ministry did the same on the day of Pentecost.  The day God in the name of Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to those who believe and started his church.  Acts 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, (the last days of the first covenant age,) said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

       Here is the interpretation of the parable, or, Jesus's play on words.  John the Baptist represents or personifies the Law and the prophets. (He is more than a prophet.) To put this in another way. The Mosaic Law and the Prophets whom John symbolizes preceded and prepared the way for the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, Jehovah the Word. (10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you.) Jesus extrapolates this by saying that the law and the prophets gave birth to ancient Israel. (Among them that are born of women) He proceeds to state that there has not been a nation on earth like ancient Israel in the sense of the Government of God's influence over a people. (there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist:) Yet he states that even the least of nations in that age to come influenced by that Government of God will be better or greater than ancient Israel. (notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.) Now he drives this point home. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist (who represents ancient Israel) until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. You see what Jesus is pointing out that even though ancient Israel has been the greatest nation on earth as far as God's influential reign on earth through the hearts of men. The violent have taken it by force, meaning in war.  Israel's own wicked kings and foreign nations have conquered and ruled this incomparable nation on earth.

    Lets look at some history that verifies this parable. The Greek word for greatest here is used in the widest sense.  Since nations are the subject, especially in their connection to, or, under the influence of the government of God. Greatness would cover all areas.   Coming up with examples like these below is a very simple exercise that anyone with any knowledge of history or the Bible can do once they see the ease in which it can be done.  For instance.  Real idolatry was a constant temptation to ancient Israel. The word real is used as opposed to the figurative way Christians use it to describe any thing put before God. The way Christians in western lands figuratively use the term idolatry is a testament to the reality of the parable itself because real idolatry is almost non existent in any land that has had the Word of God for centuries. To see real idolatry one must travel to the eastern lands or the darkest parts of of the world were the Gospel is just now being brought. The demonic darkness of those who are involved in actually idolatry is barely understood in places like the western world where it is mocked and detested for the dark wickedness and absurdity it really is. This is due to the influence of the Government of God. Yet ancient Israel for all the light from heaven it had was constantly backsliding into a world of demons that isn't even a temptation anymore in the lands that have had the Gospel for centuries. So in this sense. The nations that are least,  Those that could be considered as having influence from Gods Government are greater than ancient Israel in that they were able to throw off the actual idolatry that Israel couldn't. Some might object to this saying the modern anti science, anti Christ environmental movement is steeped in real idolatry. This is true to some degree. These parables don't teach though that there is no danger of nations backsliding or being deceived. They are simply stating what the world will experience if the conditions are met and the fact that some, perhaps even most some day, will meet those conditions. History already does provide some good examples of modern nations falling away. Germany considered itself a Christian nation. It's emperor led it into WWI which then resulted in Germanys embrace of Adolf Hitler's national socialism based on his Darwinistic ideology that led to WWII. Which is a good lead up the to next example. Kings and emperors.

    Ancient Israel was founded as a republic by Moses and Joshua. It's basic framework consisted of patriarchal or family based leadership.  There was no national or even district wide armed government structure. The people were armed. It had hardcore property rights. Most notable though was the method in which personal responsibility in lieu of an armed central government was inculcated into the culture.  It was to be instilled in the population by divine guidance through preachers, pastors and prophets.  It was designed so that God could influence the people towards right, voluntarily, through the preaching and teaching of his Word without the interference of an armed government structure that the wicked could appropriate for their own purposes. However, as even today this seems to be the struggle. Israel saw something wrong with all of its freedom. Perhaps they didn't like all the personal responsibility. They opted for a strong central government, a king, of which God warned them would turn into gangsterism in the guise of human government. Kings and emperors of the ancient world mandated idolatrous worship to keep the people immoral, superstitious and therefore easily manipulatable.  Israel's kings eventually did the same and were the main cause of Israel being overthrown: 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Today though, through the influence of nations influenced by the Government of God. The majority of the world considers the idea of kings or dictators as being almost and abomination. Not only this: It was the advent of the Bible getting into the hands of common men starting 500 years ago that enabled the peoples to throw off their rulers in favor of various types of other government more amicable to freedom and justice. In this sense. The nations that are least in the Government of God are greater than ancient Israel.

     Legal slavery is an easy one. In Ancient Israel God was able to put forth some laws concerning the ownership of other human beings.  However this was not a priority on Gods part at that time because  he could not deal with the issue of slavery until he dealt with actual idolatry and the idea of Kings.  Until nations ridded themselves of idolatry and kings through God's influence first. Then mankind could not rid their nations of slavery either.  Slavery is illegal in every nation that has had just minor influences from the Gospel and the Word of God. So in another clear example. the nations least affected by the Government of God (yet affected) are greater than ancient Israel.

     Another great issue is the treatment of the weaker sex by the physically stronger sex. How men treat woman in a culture is a direct reflection of Gods influence among the men of that culture. Or,  it could be said. The state of woman in a culture directly reflects the state of men's relationship with and their knowledge of God in that culture. That is what the scripture means when it says: 1st Co 11:7..... for as much as he (men) is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. In ancient Israel polygamy was tolerated by God for the same reason slavery and many other things modern westerners who's cultures have been significantly influenced by the Gospel might find appalling. Until God's influence was great enough that men ridded themselves of much greater sins it would have been a waste of time for God to try to get them to rid themselves of this abusive treatment of woman. Those who would have liked to yield to God on this issue would have simply been overwhelmed by those who were not willing. Every enlightened society has put the practice of polygamy behind them because it is abusive both in its tendencies and in its overall practice. This was due to the influence of the Word of God in the affairs of men. In this sense once more. Even the nations who are influenced the least by this government of God that was prophesied to fill the earth are greater than ancient Israel. God has greater influence in the affairs of men in these nations than he did in ancient Israel under Moses and the prophets.

     One other factor that can be mentioned is the military of nations influenced by the Word of God verses ancient Israel's military. Israel's military might under David and Solomon was not contestable by the nations that were around it. However the militaries of the nations who have been founded or are significantly influenced by Biblical principle have taken this one step further. They, starting 500 years ago when the Roman Empire fell have not only overcome and defeated the armies of those nations and empires that tried to conquer them. They have also set many nations free of oppression and saved the world from satanically inspirited empires that sought to conquer it.  This is something that never existed in the earth until the Gospel of Jesus Christ impacted whole nations through the Word of God getting into the hands of the general populations. There is nothing to compare this to in all of humanities existence. Since though, there is a significant minority of real Christians who cannot reconcile this fact with their faith. A few prophesies about the military might of nations influenced by the Gospel in this age might be relevant. These scriptures are talking about the New Jerusalem, Gods people of faith in this age. Zechariah 12:8  In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. Isaiah 54:13 And all your children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of your children. 14 In righteousness shall you be established: you shall be far from oppression; for you shall not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near you. 15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against you shall fall for your sake. Isaiah 60: 12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; yes, those nations shall be utterly wasted. .... 14 The sons also of them that afflicted you shall come bending to you; and all they that despised you shall bow themselves down at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.....18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land, wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you will call thy walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. .....22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time. Isaiah 65:21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and miy elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. These are very simple and practical promises and prophecies of a day when Gods people who are illustratively called the New Jerusalem live in geographical area's we call nations that are significantly influenced by Gods Word. That those nations would be so militarily strong that oppressors and conquerors (the violent that Jesus spoke of) would no longer be able to conquer them at will, as they had in the past.

     The simplistic, common sense, realty based profoundness of these parables have been lost to generations of those who have accepted pop culture end time teachings as if they were gospel truth. On the airwaves of any city and on multitude's of internet sites it can be heard 24/7 that the world has never been as evil as it is today which will herald the coming of the Lord and the great judgments prophesied in scripture. Such is the worldly darkness surrounding these teachings that those who have accepted them into their hearts cannot see what has transpired in the world via the Gospel and the Word of God. They cannot see the great things God has wrought in the earth. There is a uneducated ignorance concerning the enormity of the evil of the ancient world. Even worse though. There is a veil hiding the future from them. A complete loss of a scripturally based faith and hope founded not only on what God has already done, as these parables have elucidated;  but also what God will do. There exists a void of God breathed faith and hope for what the Bible prophesied regarding this age we live in, which was to come after the fall of the Roman Empire in 1453 AD. There are over a hundred chapters of scripture of promise and prophecy regarding this age that if embraced by believers as  whole would result in one thing. A revival the like of which the world has never seen. Not because past generations have not known these things, they have! But because: There are closing in on a billion new Christians in the world that have come to Christ in the last 50 years. Most of these in nations that have not had the Word of God up until the last 50 years. An awakening to these scriptures would be an awakening to God and his Government that would propel the world to a place not seen yet. Where or how far could it all go? No one but God knows but wouldn't we like to know it by experiencing it? I think so!

© Daniel Martinovich 2014