October 30, 2020
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come (Matthew 11:12-14).
Violence. It’s the product of sin. The world knew no violence until sin entered into the human experience. Who’s behind it? Satan. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
In the text Jesus spoke of the violence that was being done to the Kingdom of God since the days of John the Baptist. That would amount to about 12-18 months. The point is that as soon as God’s Word (which had not been heard since the days of Malachi - over 400 years) was spoken by John the Baptizer, Satan got busy stirring up trouble. What’s interesting to note is that as long as the Jews remained religiously occupied everything went smoothly. Satan is happy when people are satisfied with religion. But as soon as the truth of God’s Word is broadcast, Satan gets riled up.
Case in point. In Ezekiel 9:3; 10:1,3,4,18-19; 11:22-23 the prophet saw the glory of the Lord leave the Temple in Jerusalem. There is no record that His glory ever returned to the city or the Temple. Yet the cultus of the Jews continued on as normal even to the days of Jesus. Think of it - God left the Temple and didn’t return until Jesus visited the Temple - that’s over 500 years. Yet the worship, sacrifices, priestly ministry, etc. continued on as though God was still there!
John MacArthur makes an interesting point, “The form of biazo (from which ‘suffers violence’ comes) can be read as either a Greek passive or middle voice. As a passive, it would carry the idea of being oppressed or treated violently, which would indicate that violence is brought on the kingdom of heaven by those outside it . . . In the middle voice the verb carries the active idea of applying force or of entering forcibly - in which case the translation would be, ‘The kingdom of heaven is vigorously pressing itself forward, and people are forcefully entering it’ . . . Both interpretations are possible and true.”
John the Baptizer suffered a violent death. Jesus suffered a violent death. All of the apostles (except John) suffered violent deaths. (1 Peter 5:8) Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Millions of Christians have suffered for the sake of the Gospel. To be a Christian is to incur the wrath of Satan who can destroy the body. To refuse the Gospel is to incur the wrath of God who can destroy the body and the soul in hell. It’s a decision all people must make.
“Father, give us courage to press the claims of Jesus Christ by preaching, teaching, and bearing witness of His Gospel despite the efforts of Satan to shut us down. May You be glorified through our efforts to extend Your Kingdom to this and the next generation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”