Times that the Phrases “Kingdom of Heaven” and the “Kingdom of God” are used Interchangeably

Times that the Phrases “Kingdom of Heaven” and the “Kingdom of God” are used Interchangeably

 

Most Christian denominations claim that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are the same.  A Bible Believer has figured out that they are different after applying the basic rule of “Things that are different are not equal.”  Are God and Heaven the same? No, then the kingdoms connected to them are different. However, we would be foolish to believe that there are NO similarities.  There most definitely are.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is literal and physical and earthly.  To prove this we look at Matt 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. To make this a spiritual kingdom, as the Kingdom of God, would be to do violence to the text (pun intended).  If it were spiritual, how could a violent person take something spiritual from you? They couldn’t.

 

The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom.  Rom 14:17 – For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. This verse makes it so plain that no commentary is necessary.

 

We would do well to look at the Companion Bible’s way of rejecting this basic truth. “Now “heaven” is frequently used by the Figure Metonymy (of the Subject), Ap. 6 for God Himself, Whose dwelling is there. See Psa 73:9. Dan 4:26, 29. 2Ch 32:20. Mat 21:25. Luk 15:21 (“I have sinned against heaven” is thus contrasted with the words “and in thy sight”). Joh 3:27.”  Look those references up and realize that none of them prove the case that God and heaven are the same. That would be pantheism. Congratulations, Bullinger, you just tried to teach New Age Pantheism. That ought to be interesting at the judgement seat of Christ. Folks, God is a spirit. Heaven is a place. THEY ARE DIFFERENT.

 

So we can see the differences, but what about the similarities?  Why would they have similarities if they are different?

 

Of course as seasoned veterans of answering questions about “why?” God would do something (anything) we are going to have to delve into the character of God.  Not the character of the God invented by humanists (be it secular or religious humanists), but the character of the God revealed in the King James Bible. The character of the God of the humanists is described by David in Ps 50:21 – These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

 

The God of the Bible words certain statements and phrases in such a way as to test the reader.  In the case before us, the similarities between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are made so that if a church leader wants to get involved in politics (church of Pergamos, if you are familiar with that teaching), then God will give him verses about the Kingdom of Heaven and the leader will apply them to the church’s mission today, even though the Kingdom of Heaven is only around today in mystery form (Matt 13).  Liberal theologians will also get a false plan of salvation from verses like, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt 5:9) and in so doing, they will damn themselves to a Devil’s Hell.

 

However, we will not leave the explanation there.  God’s character is not the only reason that the kingdoms are similar.  One could say that the reason that a cat and a dog are the same is because of the character of God, however this explanation is a little too simple.  They have many similar characteristics because they are in the same category of animals (I know science cringes at the fact that I don’t use “species” and “families”, but that matters not…).  Jesus taught by pointing out differences and similarities. A parable is a story about the similarities between two things, such as a “seed” and “the word of God”. They are not the same, but their similarities help us to understand better what they really are.  So, by the help of God, we will look at each place where they are similar and try and give a simple explanation. And in so doing, we hope to learn something about each of the two kingdoms.

 

BOTH ARE “AT HAND” DURING THE BEGINNING OF JESUS’ MINISTRY

 

Matt 4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 1:15 – And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

 

The main idea to understand from this is that whenever Christ is present, both kingdoms are available and if they are available then they are close.  Biblically, “at hand” means it could come any time.  We see that from the first mention of the phrase in Gen 27:41 – And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. Esau knew that his father could die any day, so he planned to wait to get his revenge on Jacob until his father died, thinking it would be soon.  

 

So in Matt 4 and Mark 1, both kingdoms are “at hand”.  The obvious question is, where have they been?  

 

As far as we can tell from Scripture, the Kingdom of God (as defined as righteous, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost) was not present from Genesis 3 to after the cross.  In Luke 22:18 – For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. So, it’s still not present as late as Luke 22 and although there is fellowship with God, forms of righteousness, peace and joy before the cross, they are only small types or illustrations of the fulfillment that we enjoy in the Kingdom of God after the cross.  

 

Luke 17:20,21 – And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.  This is a nice monkey wrench here, but I think it reasonable to think that it only a comment that the Kingdom of God isn’t something that will be visible and not a comment that it is actually present in Luke 17 especially in light of Luke 22.  

 

The Kingdom of Heaven seems to have been gone since the destruction of Jerusalem.  Lam 5:16 – The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! That crown symbolizes kingship and kingdoms and that Jewish Kingdom was gone around 606 BC.  It seems to have been given to Lucifer, Adam, Noah, Abraham, down to Moses and David, through the kings of Judah, but after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, it is gone and the Gentiles have the Kingdom.

 

Look at Dan 2, especially vs 37 and 38 – Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.  Technically speaking, before this there was a limit to the control of the Gentile kings.  They couldn’t control the land given to Abraham although they really tried. That was given to the children of Israel.  Now after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Gentile kings controlled all that land.

 

Both kingdoms have been gone for a while but the first thing that Jesus Christ tells Israel is that both are about to come back.  Of course the offer is conditional and the condition is REPENTANCE. They didn’t repent so they lost out.

 

The children of the Kingdom won’t get into either kingdom.

 

Matt 8:11,12 – And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Luke 13:28,29 – There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

 

The passages are pretty clear that the children of the kingdom (either the KOH or the KOG) are the children of Israel and to be very specific, the verses are talking about the current generation of Israel that rejected Christ.  Both kingdoms are offered to Israel as a nation first but both are rejected.

 

Because of their rejection the generation of Jews during the days of Christ end up in hell, even though they were supposed to end up ruling a physical kingdom and a literal kingdom, part of the problem is that they never figured out that before the physical kingdom manifests, they needed to get right spiritually, that is why in the middle of Christ’s “Constitution of the Kingdom” also called the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), Jesus Christ introduces the Kingdom of God in a very popular verse. Matt 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Hypothetically, had Christ walked into Jerusalem and said, “Hey, do you want to kill the Romans and set up the Kingdom?” and then proven he was able by signs and wonders, every Jew would have completely obeyed in my opinion.  But before that could happen, they needed to get some things right spiritually. And they didn’t care for that. So they reject Christ and in one of the saddest chapters of the Bible, Matt 11, they reject the ministries of Christ and John and he lambasts them.  And talks about how Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon had more sense than they did. From then on things change and Jesus starts talking about the Kingdom of Heaven in mystery form in chapter 13.

 

So they are similar in that the rejection of them both causes Christ’s generation of Jews to end up in hell.  Beyond that, the Gentiles get in on the promises and this is fulfilled in the church which also gets into the physical promises in the Millennium.  

 

The least in both kingdoms is greater than John the Baptist

 

Matt 11:11 – Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Luke 7:28 –  For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

 

Both have mysteries connected to them

 

Matt 13:11 – He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Luke 8:10 – And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

 

Both are connected to seed

 

Matt 13:24 – Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

Mark 4:26 – And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;

 

Both are also like a mustard seed

 

Matt 13:31,32 – Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Mark 4:30-32 – And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

 

Both are like leaven stolen used by a woman.

 

Matt 13:33 – Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Luke 13:20,21 – And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

 

Both are connected to the humility of a little child.

 

Matt 18:3,4 – And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Mark 10:14,15 – But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

 

No would should get in the way of little children coming into either kingdom

 

Matt 19:14 – But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Mark 10:14 – But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

 

Rich men have trouble into into either kingdom

 

Matt 19:23 – Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 18:24 – And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

 

Both are connected with the parables about talents/pounds.

 

Matt 25:14 – For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Luke 19:11,12 – And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

 

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