Sitting Down In The Kingdom Of God 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. Luke 13: 28-30, Authorised Version In this text Jesus addresses the Pharisees, who constantly opposed Him and His teachings. Smug in their customary office as arbiters of the Law, they guarded their role jealously and resented this parvenu from Galilee who threatened to unseat them. They evidently were not paying sufficient attention to the signs of the times, not seeing that their days were numbered. Assailing their assurance that they were heavenʼs favourites Jesus reveals to them that the patriarchs and prophets of old – the Ancient Worthies – whom the Pharisees professed to honour but whom they privately disdained, would be the leaders in the future earthly kingdom of God. And there would be much ʻweeping and gnashing of teethʼ when the Pharisees recognised (ʻye shall seeʼ) they themselves were ʻthrust outʼ. From East, West, North And South The ʻAndʼ which begins v. 29 elaborates on Jesusʼ prophecy. For not only would the Ancients displace the Pharisees, but a yet- higher class, the Little Flock, to be gathered from all points of the compass would also take their seat in heaven, as overall rulers of the future kingdom. See 1  Pet. 2:   5,  9; Rev. 1:  4-6. Although the Very Elect is now complete, earthʼs affairs still proceed, and the earthly kingdom is not yet set up, which suggests that new groups of Christians have been under development in the ensuing decades. A Wider Application Extending the latitude of this interpretation, those who sit down in the kingdom may also include the present-day consecrated and unconsecrated Christians of various faiths, those who take a firm and often public stand for truth and righteousness. We refer to them as the quasi-elect, because although they do not belong to the principal Elect groups of the Gospel Age, they nonetheless display the essential characteristics of sincere and zealous believers – faith in Christ as Saviour and King – and they exhibit an unselfish desire to live godly lives in these ungodly times. Such believers bravely and zealously rebuke the world for its perversions and ungodliness and, for instance, promote true family values in a Christian context. They employ a wide variety of modern techniques and media to affirm the basic Gospel message and to exhort their fellow-Christians to resist the pressure to compromise their faith, and to be prepared to suffer persecution. This group comprises people from all walks of life, including professionals from many fields, secular and religious. They come from all the figurative points of the compass: a range of Christian sects, denominations and evangelical backgrounds. The figurative Pharisees, who exist in all churches, sects and fellowships, disdain such Christians as immature, old-fashioned and naive. Convinced of their own superiority in religious knowledge and theological understanding, such Pharisees, dwindling in authority and failing to read the signs of the times, will be startled to discover that they have been displaced in God’s estimation by these upstarts. ___________ May 2017
Sitting Down In The Kingdom Of God 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. Luke 13: 28-30, Authorised Version In this text Jesus addresses the Pharisees, who constantly opposed Him and His teachings. Smug in their customary office as arbiters of the Law, they guarded their role jealously and resented this parvenu from Galilee who threatened to unseat them. They evidently were not paying sufficient attention to the signs of the times, not seeing that their days were numbered. Assailing their assurance that they were heavenʼs favourites Jesus reveals to them that the patriarchs and prophets of old – the Ancient Worthies – whom the Pharisees professed to honour but whom they privately disdained, would be the leaders in the future earthly kingdom of God. And there would be much ʻweeping and gnashing of teethʼ when the Pharisees recognised (ʻye shall seeʼ) they themselves were ʻthrust outʼ. From East, West, North And South The ʻAndʼ which begins v. 29 elaborates on Jesusʼ prophecy. For not only would the Ancients displace the Pharisees, but a yet-higher class, the Little Flock, to be gathered from all points of the compass would also take their seat in heaven, as overall rulers of the future kingdom. See 1  Pet. 2:   5,  9; Rev. 1:  4-6. Although the Very Elect is now complete, earthʼs affairs still proceed, and the earthly kingdom is not yet set up, which suggests that new groups of Christians have been under development in the ensuing decades. A Wider Application Extending the latitude of this interpretation, those who sit down in the kingdom may also include the present-day consecrated and unconsecrated Christians of various faiths, those who take a firm and often public stand for truth and righteousness. We refer to them as the quasi-elect, because although they do not belong to the principal Elect groups of the Gospel Age, they nonetheless display the essential characteristics of sincere and zealous believers – faith in Christ as Saviour and King – and they exhibit an unselfish desire to live godly lives in these ungodly times. Such believers bravely and zealously rebuke the world for its perversions and ungodliness and, for instance, promote true family values in a Christian context. They employ a wide variety of modern techniques and media to affirm the basic Gospel message and to exhort their fellow-Christians to resist the pressure to compromise their faith, and to be prepared to suffer persecution. This group comprises people from all walks of life, including professionals from many fields, secular and religious. They come from all the figurative points of the compass: a range of Christian sects, denominations and evangelical backgrounds. The figurative Pharisees, who exist in all churches, sects and fellowships, disdain such Christians as immature, old- fashioned and naive. Convinced of their own superiority in religious knowledge and theological understanding, such Pharisees, dwindling in authority and failing to read the signs of the times, will be startled to discover that they have been displaced in God’s estimation by these upstarts. ___________ May 2017