…a continuation of Matthew 11:12
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
Hello again friends,
As we noted yesterday in our study of Matthew 11:12, this verse seems to show a great deal of violence associated with the kingdom of Heaven. However, this stands in stark contrast to the rest of Jesus’ teaching.
In my studies, I found an old rabbinic interpretation in the midrash dealing with Micah 2:12-13. (The midrash is an ancient commentary on portions of Hebrew Scripture attached to a Biblical text. You can research this using any search engine.)
Wait! I thought we were examining Matt. 11:12? No worries. This will all tie in shortly.
The Micah passage, which several Hebrew scholars have tied to Matthew 11:12, is as follows:
12: “ I will gather all of you, Jacob; I will collect the remnant of Israel.
I will put them all together like sheep in a fold, like a flock inside its pen.
It will be noisy and crowded with people.
13: “The breach-maker goes through before them. They break out.
Passing through the gate, they leave by it. Their king passes through before them, their Lord at their head.”
This is the picture of a shepherd putting his sheep in their fold for the night. Normally, this would be a makeshift rock fence built against the side of a hill. In the morning the shepherd would make an opening, or a breach in the pen by casting some of the stones away. A shepherd would then lead them through the opening, or ‘the gate’. Having been cramped up all night, the sheep would shove and push one another, eager to be free of their confined quarters, and begin to literally, ‘break through’, further breaching the little gate to reach the green pastures.
The breach-maker and the king of vs. 13 are normally seen as the same person. But in the rabbinic tradition, they are two different persons. The breach-maker is interpreted as being Elijah and ‘their king’ as the Messiah, the son of David.
If true, this helped me to begin to understand the words of Jesus; that He isn’t only tacitly alluding to Micah 2:13, but also a well-known rabbinic interpretation of it. He says, “The kingdom of Heaven is breaking out [not ‘suffering violence’], and every person within is breaking forth [literally, ‘those who are breaking out break out in it, or by means of it’, not ‘the violent take it by force’].” Compare Luke 16:16.
Two things are happening. The kingdom is breaking forth as water through a broken dam, and those within are breaking out, finding and enjoying their freedom.
In vs 12 of Matthew, as also in the midrash, Elijah, or John the Baptist, is the breach-maker. He breaches the rock fence and goes through first. He precedes the Christ and opens the way. He’s the Elijah of Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6. He goes before the Lord to prepare the way. Jesus follows John and is the Lord Himself who leads the sheep through the gate. Referring to John the Baptist, Jesus says specifically in the 14 verse of Matthew, “…this is Elias (Elijah), which was to come. This is rich imagery, my friends.
Jesus began calling His disciples during ‘the days of John the Baptist.’ Since then, the Kingdom of Heaven has been “breaking out!’
The Kingdom isn’t in the future. It has existed since the days of John the Baptist.
It’s breaking out and those of the Kingdom are breaking out.
Elijah had come to open the way and the Lord Himself was leading forth a noisy multitude.
In summation, we might simply render the text:
“The kingdom of Heaven is breaking out and the ones who are breaking out are seizing it.”
In closing, this particular interpretation made a great deal of sense to me and helped me to reconcile Matthew 11:12 with Luke 12:32 “… it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom to you.”
As to the violence we’re witnessing in these present days. I would contend that this is not from the Lord and should be condemned. Any movement that brings confusion, violence, destruction, and bloodshed is not from the Spirit of God, but is carnal and devilish and should never be associated with the Kingdom of God.
Thanks to all who labored through this with me.
Blessings all friends~😁