John the Immerser sent
representatives to Yeshua to ask Him whether or not He was the Messiah,
and if He would really bring the promised Kingdom of the Age to Come.
Yeshua's response was:
"Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard. The blind
receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf
hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." (Matthew
The Kingdom of God Has Broken into this Age
Yeshua was proclaiming Himself the promised Messiah and proclaiming the
Kingdom of God had broken into this age. Yeshua saw the manifestations of
power and the preaching of the Good News to the poor as signs of the
Age to Come. Yet Yeshua also noted that a person might fall away on account
of Him, or be offended. Why? Because He was not bringing the
fullness of the Kingdom, not overthrowing the occupying foreign
power (Rome) and not literally reestablishing David's throne in
In light of Yeshua's signs and wonders, responsive hearts believe in
the presence of the Kingdom and gladly accept the invitation to enter into
it, despite other features that do not manifest until His second coming.
The Kingdom comes in a state of progressive extension, spreading within a
given society and among the nations (as the mustard seed grows and as the
sower scatters seed).
The Kingdom Changes Life Circumstances
This understanding of the Kingdom has been applied to Matthew 5:17-40 and
especially the section called the Beatitudes. This passage is not
telling us we should be: poor, grieving and meek. Rather it is stating that
because the Kingdom has come in the Person of Yeshua, the poor need no
longer live lives determined by their poverty. Those mourning are no longer
in bondage to grief and loss. There is a great reversal in the
situations of people according to their response to the message of the
Kingdom. "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good
News" (Mark 1:15). When we attach ourselves to Yeshua, or allow Him to
join Himself to us, we enter the realm of the Kingdom. In the Kingdom,
everything in our lives is put in right order. Although eternal salvation
is important, the Kingdom is much bigger than saying the sinner's
prayer. The invitation to experience and enter the Kingdom starts now and
affects every aspect of our lives today.
Preaching Good News to the Poor is the Cutting Edge of the
An important aspect of the Kingdom of God is preaching Good News to the
poor. It is not that others cannot be saved, though it is hard for the rich
to enter into the Kingdom (at least until they see their poverty before
God!). The poor are really delivered supernaturally and find power that is
not limited by normal human situations. Heidi and Roland Baker chose to go
to Mozambique to preach the good news to the poor and prove that God could
provide in the most poverty stricken nation in the world (by their
calculations). Their book, Always Enough, tells the wonderful story.
Extraordinary signs and wonders, amazing healings, even resurrections from
the dead have accompanied such preaching. We find a similar story in Canon
Andrew White's book, the Vicar of Baghdad. There are amazing
signs and wonders and provision in this very persecuted community and also
much martyrdom. Yet the presence of God has been amazing. The scholar Dr.
Craig Keener in his remarkable 1,200 page book, Miracles: the
Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, explores several countries
in the Majority World (formerly known as the Third World). He
reports extraordinary, documented miracles that have accompanied the
preaching of the Gospel to the poor in these countries, as in the Book of
Acts. The key to this astounding Kingdom advance, is that those preaching
to the poor believe in and walk in the power of God.
Has the Church Followed the Example of Yeshua?
The United States recently saw an explosion of tension between the police
and the black community over the deaths of two unarmed men by police
actions. Grand juries failed to find the policemen liable for trial. Yet
the great problem of the poor is not the police; it is the culture of
poverty, crime, divorce, and family breakdown. If all mid and large size
churches in America had embraced the poor as their primary mission the
present conditions of poverty would not exist. If they had preached the
gospel to the poor with power and been involved massively in education and
discipleship in these communities, partnering with smaller ethnic churches,
these tensions and destructive divisions would not exist. The American
church lacks power largely because Kingdom power is in manifestation
in a most primary way when the Gospel is preached to the poor. I believe
much of the Church has simply failed to follow Yeshua in this.
So much of Western Christianity is geared mainly toward helping Christians
find personal peace and affluence through their faith. Yes, those who are
not poor have their struggles and need attention and discipleship too. But
I believe that if we focused on the poor, our power to address their needs
would be much greater.
Communities that Emphasize the Poor
A few years ago at an international apostolic conference, a Christian
sociologist stated that the credibility of Christianity would come down
to providing solutions to systematic poverty. Rev. Tommy Barnett of the
First Assembly of God Church in Phoenix spoke in Jerusalem on the great
blessing of God upon his church as this became its top priority. Without
this emphasis we are really missing the Kingdom. Today some young adults
are moving to the cities and forming communities to make a difference
through the Gospel. And they are succeeding.
By God's grace my wife Patty and I have been able to minister to some
very needy Jewish people. In Israel, this is a great opportunity as over
20% of the population is in poverty. Several of our ministries emphasize
serving the poor, but we need to do so much more, and we also need a
greater outpouring of Holy Spirit power to meet the needs. Please pray that
the same Kingdom Gospel will be effective in modern Israel just as it was
in ancient Israel.
Dan Juster is on the board of Tikkun International and oversees the Tikkun America network of congregations.
to Restoration from Zion.
Let us know what you think - why not comment to this
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11:38 04Mar15 Fr. Nicholas A. Marziani, Jr. -
Excellent observations. If I may I'd like to add one more
perspective that may be surprising to some. In a very real
sense, the "poor" of the sixth century A.D. in the Arabian
peninsula were the victimized populations that suffered
infanticide, abuse of women and the poor in general, among
others. The Byzantine Church, the Eastern wing of the Old "Great
Church", had FAILED miserably in evangelizing Arabia up to that
point. So, nature and the spiritual world abhoring a vacuum,
history witnessed the rise of a prophet who claimed to bring -
"recite", actually - a revelation that would stop the oppression
of the weak. And so today we have Islam, which at least in its
non-radical forms actually prescribes "praying without ceasing",
or at least five times a day, and proscribes the kind of
immorality that is sinking the West.
-- Dr Juster replies: Yes, I have noticed this before. The world is so very complex.
15:54 04Mar15 JF -
You state that "In the Kingdom, everything in our lives is put in
right order." Are you implying what the prosperity gospel
preachers promise? If you're a child of G-d, everything will
be perfect. His grace will give you the desires of your heart,
regardless of how you live. You just have to believe right! Is
that the gospel of the Kingdom? Do we have any responsibility to
Teshuvah? If so, to what do we return to, if we previously been
slaves to sin?
-- Dr Juster replies: Right order or Kingdom order is life according to God's
will. It has to do with obedience, love, justice, etc. There is
no New Covenant promise that the believer has a right to opulent
wealth or that living according to God's ways delivers from
suffering in this life. Right order is the ability to live
according to God's order, the teaching of Yeshua, so it
heals the marriage, the family, delivers form demonic bondages
and besetting sins, it enable us to live lives motivated and
dominated by love.
18:35 04Mar15 Jay Axtell -
Very challenging to read, Dr. Juster. Thank you for the stark
wake-up call. I've heard of Dr. Keener's book, but have
not read it yet. It's on my list. Blessings to you and all
Israel as you continue walking in His steps.
18:50 04Mar15 Susan Larkins -
Great article - foundational truth.
11:21 06Mar15 Hermann Boshoff -
Thanks for your very important aspect regarding the Kingdom of
GOD Almighty. Just to add to your very important message which
GOD Almighty puts on your heart to share with many other readers
... If looking into the Word of GOD then one can see right from
very beginning (Deuteronomy 10:18) throughout many Old and New
Testament books (1 John 3:17-18)and maybe beyond, that GOD
Almighty (Yeshua)is very very much concerned about HIS people in
need (the poor). This is a very serious aspect and I do believe
that this link without doubt to all Christian leaders to be
confronted with the command of JESUS (Yeshua) to be found in the
Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19-20) that says, "Go and make
disciples of all nations" and also (Matthew 14:16) But JESUS
(Yeshua) said, "They need not go away; you give them something to
eat." One must just let the HOLY SPIRIT flow through you so that
you as a child of GOD can become subservient to HIM. Even if it
is just to give to the one in need just a glass of cold water;
(Matthew 25:35-40) Very important!!!
15:02 09Mar15 Nancy Hinga -
The truth in this article is so profound, simple and mind
blowing. It is the truth! Thank you for sharing it.