The violence referred to in this post is not that of physical assaults upon and wars against individuals and people groups, as depicted daily in the media, but of human and natural processes of force, exertion and upheaval that bring about change and growth. It’s the kind of violence I learned about as a ‘newbie’ investigating Jesus Christ’s answer to a question about John the Baptist and the Kingdom of heaven.
This post was started a week ago and I inserted the above image but thought its quantity doesn’t match the data pieces I’m blogging about. Therefore, this morning I’m delighted to discover blogger RJ Dawson’s latest reply to his readers’ congratulations upon the 6th anniversary of Real Christianity. Without realising it, this goes direct to the very heart of my subject as one of those awaited pieces – thank you Lord! RJ writes, with emphasis mine,
“The Lord gave us a picture one time of a morning sheepfold all crammed into close quarters for the night wanting to get out into the dewy field and into freedom. Once the shepherd opened the enclosure out they streamed. This is a picture of what must happen. Too many Christians have grown used to the protective safe space that certainly has its place in times of danger, and resist breaking out.”
I’m grateful for his expanding upon this in the Comments to this post, as below.
[To continue as drafted…] As intimated in my introduction to last Wednesday’s Lion Bite on ‘new boldness’ I wish to pick up on the previous week’s two posts on 2017 being a year of breakthrough.
Their re-posting was unplanned because I was simply checking matters upon return home and then continuing with my break from blogging. Nevertheless, I’d been impressed to post an extensive prophecy on 2017 from Cindy Jacobs’ team that had been languishing ready for publication – a quick task, BUT I just had to insert a short connective scripture!
Little did I know an appropriate message was going to be heard over that weekend on a similar topic; definitely not unusual, just another ‘piece’ of the Lord’s ‘invisible jigsaw’ dropping into place!
These are the relevant paragraphs of a fortnight ago today, starting with the sub-head:
APOSTOLIC COUNCIL OF PROPHETIC ELDERS’ WORD OF THE LORD FOR 2017 THE YEAR OF THE BREAKTHROUGH (click to read the whole paper)
2017: The Breakthrough Year
“The One who breaks open will come up before them; they will break out. Pass through the gate, And go out by it; their king will pass before them, with the Lord at their head.”
Micah 2:13 (NKJV)
Immediately preceding that title and passage, and by way of introduction, I connected it into the New Testament with the following:
‘The opening verse is directly related to Mathew 11:12 on Jesus saying “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force”, according to David Bivin and Roy Blizzard in their Understanding The Difficult Words of Jesus (1983 page 123!). HA, on now checking the NKJV my bible opens right at the notes on that very verse headed, ‘Taking It By Force’! The inescapable conclusion of this instance of ‘serendipity’ is: the ‘Author of the Bible’ is pointing His finger at both related verses!‘
Now, I’d add the Lord may want to point also to what was taught on the next Sunday too! (See Part 2.)
First, however, we should consider those verses and, with permission, I quote notes on verses and extract from ‘Kingdom Dynamics’ in Spirit-Filled Study Bible, editor Jack Hayward (emphases mine).:
vv11:12 – Though the Greek here is somewhat difficult to translate, the idea is that ‘the kingdom of heaven’, which Jesus set up as a powerful movement or reign among men (‘suffers violence’), requires of them an equally strong and radical reaction. ‘The violent’ who then take ‘it by force’ are people of keen enthusiasm and commitment who are willing to respond to and propagate with radical abandonment the message and dynamic of God’s reign (see Luke 16:16). This is an allusion to the messianic nature of Jesus’ ministry and to those who are participating in it…Jesus is likely recalling Micah 2:12-13 where the prophet speaks of the deliverance of the people from exile through the activity of the shepherd-like Messiah.
Taking It By Force, Conflict & the Kingdom – J.W.H. writes, “Jesus asserts the “violence” of the kingdom. The text’s unique grammatical construction doesn’t make it clear if the kingdom of God is the victim or if, as the kingdom advance sin victory, it does so through violent spiritual conflict and warfare. But the context does! Jesus’ references to the non-religious style of John and the confrontational, miraculous ministry of Elijah teach that the Kingdom of God makes its penetration by a kind of violent entry opposing the human status quo…The upheaval caused by the kingdom of God is not caused by political provocation or armed advance. It is the result of God’s order shaking relationships, households, cities and nations by the entry of Holy Spirit’s power working in people.’
Matt 11:12 ‘difficult’ common Greek translated literally reads, ‘the kingdom of-the heavens is-being-forced and the forceful-ones are-snatching her’. Note, Greek tense for ‘snatching’ is ‘harpazousin’, which reminds me of the renowned ‘rapture’ reference in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to believers being caught up to meet the Lord upon His return! Therein, the Greek is ‘harpagesometha’ – literally, ‘shall-be-being-snatched’. In other words, ‘seized’.
Those ‘verses of violence’ seem to contradict the rest of Jesus’ teaching. In their thesis Bevin and Blizzard refer to a ‘midrash’ (old rabbinic interpretation) on Micah 12-13 that focuses upon the ‘breach-maker’ (poretz), who isn’t the same as the ‘king’ and ‘LORD’. They suggest Jesus was referring to that understanding and the translation of His words is better as “The Kingdom of Heaven is breaking forth [not ‘suffering violence’] and every person in it is breaking forth”…
‘Two tremendous things are now happening simultaneously: the Kingdom is bursting forth in to the world (like water from a broken dam) and individuals within the Kingdom are finding liberty and freedom’. John the Baptist is the breach-maker for he makes the breach in the rock-fence of the sheep pen (per Micah 2:12) is the Elijah of Micah 3:1 and 4:5-6 who goes before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. So, Jesus then follows John and leads His sheep through the gate – the iconic, powerful image of breakthrough.
Since then the Kingdom – the Lord and His sheep – has been breaking out. ‘Though Jesus does not refer directly to His own role as shepherd leading the sheep out, no listener could possibly misunderstand Jesus’ stunning assertion – I am the LORD’. The authors opinion, therefore, is that the Kingdom is not futuristic but has been in existence since that time!
So far, of the illustration’s five jigsaw pieces we have a sequence of four, viz:
- first of 2 posts published a fortnight ago today in between posts on my testimony into which I insert Matt 11:12 referring to a book influential to my walk, especially as post refers to ‘2:12’ (which related to a validation aspect of my personal testimony),
- second post on 2017 as year of breakthrough, this time for the United Kingdom,
- A week later whilst blogging on item 1, my bible falls open at the verse’s notes,
- Today I find R.J. Dawson’s prophetic picture relating to Micah 2:12-13.
In Part 2 we consider the fifth piece, but which preceded the fourth and like it and the first came from over ‘the Pond’ – seizing God-given opportunities.