“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” -Jesus
“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” -Jesus
“…encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
“I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus…” (Revelation 1:9)
This may be one of the most important blogs I have written, because it exposes one of the most persistent deceptions and hindrances facing those who are truly seeking to know and honor God. It’s a deception I’ve faced myself. The deception is basically this: passive faith is all that is needed to access God’s Kingdom and to fulfill His will. It’s simply not true. Both Jesus and the first apostles told us multiple times that we must be diligent, strive, suffer and be violent to access the Kingdom of God and to do His will. But today, for whatever reason, there seems to be a prevailing attitude that we simply need to “believe,” and God will do and give us everything. Certainly we need to believe, but certainly not is everything “automatic” after that.
In pursuing God and understanding the new covenant which Jesus brought, it’s helpful to look back to the old testament, because the old testament is full of physical examples that represent spiritual realities for us today. The following scriptures (and many more) demonstrate this:
“Now these things happened to them (ancient Israelites) as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)
“Now if He (Jesus) were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (spiritual realities which Jesus taught about)…” (Hebrews 8:4-5)
“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself…” (Hebrews 9:24 ESV)
If the physical “promised land” which in the old testament God promised to the Israelites represents the spiritual Kingdom of God today, it’s helpful to see how God gave the physical land to Israel and how they came to inhabit it. Between the time God promised the land to Abraham and his descendents and coming to actually inhabit the land under Joshua, Israel faced years of hardship such as enslavement and oppression in Egypt, wilderness wandering, brutal wars with surrounding nations, etc. And even once Joshua led them into the land, there were enemies there that needed to be conquered and driven out.
Thus we see clearly that in the spirit realm all believers in Jesus are going to have to wander and seek and fight and strive, at least for a season. The enemies faced by spiritual Israel, the church, are religion, fear, pride, self-preservation, disapproval of family, desire for worldly success, security and pleasure, distractions, boredom and dryness, bitterness and unforgiveness, discouragement, etc. We fight these enemies with spiritual weapons. Once the church finally cries out to God and persistently, diligently and violently follows Him, as Jesus did, the promised land will be taken spiritually. I believe that day is coming. Seek Him while you can, from a motive of love. God bless you.