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The Mysterious Kingdoms of Heaven and God

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The Mysterious Kingdoms of Heaven and God

The next prophetic key is the mysteries in the kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven references, which are mentioned over a hundred times throughout the New Testament. These descriptions reveal many aspects of God's spiritual kingdom and the search for their underlying meanings often inspires impassioned debates. Understandably, most of the kingdom references occur within the four gospels and most prominently in Jesus' parables. The significance of the two different kingdoms causes confusion and stirs debate among scholars. Some contend one represents heaven while the other represents Jesus' millennial reign. Others believe they are two names for the same thing.

Kingdom of heaven references are found only in the book of Matthew while kingdom of God references appear throughout the New Testament, including even Matthew. Several of Matthew's kingdom of heaven parables appear elsewhere as kingdom of God parables. These overlapping parable references and the lack of kingdom of heaven references outside of Matthew tend to favor the view that they are the same.

The earliest references to the kingdoms appear Matthew[1] where John the Baptist and Jesus preach the gospel of the kingdom , calling people to repent and stating that it is at hand - close, near, or approaching but not yet here. Interestingly, the only time the Bible clearly proclaims the kingdom of God has arrived (present tense) is more than halfway through the seven-year tribulation in Revelation 12:10:

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

The coming kingdom of God was preached throughout the New Testament by John the Baptist, Jesus, and their disciples[2]. It importance continues to this day as Christians preach it throughout the world.

Twelve separate parables provide the primary insights into the kingdom's mysteries:

  • Fig tree and kingdom at hand (Luke 21:29-32)
  • Harvest of wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30 (Matthew 13:36-43))
  • Net full of good and bad fish (Matthew 13:47-50)
  • Treasure in the field (Matthew 13:44)
  • Pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46)
  • Mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:26-32, Luke 13:18-19)
  • Leaven in the loaves (Matthew 13:33, Luke 13:20-21)
  • King and unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35)
  • Man and the day laborers (Matthew 20:1-16)
  • King, the marriage feast, and the guests (Matthew 22:2-14, Luke 14:15-24)
  • The ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
  • The nobleman and the three servants (Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-27)

Three additional parables support the first twelve but do not contain key phrases marking them as kingdom parables:

  • The judgment of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46)
  • Householder bringing out treasures (Matthew 13:52)
  • The sower and the seed (Matthew 13:3-8 (Matthew 3:11-23), Mark 4:3-8 (Mark 4:11-20), Luke 8:5-8 (Luke 8:10-18))

These parables cover a wide range of topics including Jesus' marriage, the coming judgments, the last days' harvest of the good and wicked, the effects of sin, and the value and power of the kingdom. Particularly crucial to understanding end-time prophecy are the parables of the fig tree, the harvest, the net full of fish, the marriage feast, the ten virgins, the nobleman's three servants, and the judgment of the sheep and goats. As the prophetic timeline unfolds, each contributes valuable insights. For now, it is sufficient to understand that the kingdom of God parables hold many key end-time secrets.

[1] Matthew 3:1-2 and Matthew 4:17 (see also Matthew 10:7, and Mark 1:14-15)

[2] Matthew 3:1-2, 4:17, 10:7, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:43, 8:1, 9:2, 9:11, 9:60-62, 10:9-11, Acts 1:3