The Kingdom is At Hand
“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” … Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you” Matthew 4:17; Luke 17: 20-21, NKJV (EMPHASIS ADDED).
Immediately following His 40 days of fasting in the wilderness and enduring the temptations of Satan, the Lord Jesus came preaching the imminent advent of the Kingdom of Heaven. He knew His mission and began His ministry without delay. There was no time to waste because His time was limited and there was much work to do. There were not any rapid means of travel, no Internet, phones, radio, television, or social media. The Lord went throughout Israel from town to town preaching, teaching, and demonstrating the Kingdom of God by signs, wonders, and miracles. (See Matthew 15:24) The Lord used parables in His public teachings and then later explained them to His disciples. He revealed to the disciples that His method of teaching was the fulfillment of a prophecy given by Isaiah. (See Isaiah 6:9-10.)
“And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given … Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, … But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” Matthew 13:10-11,13-14A,16-17, NKJV
By using parables, Jesus told stories involving common things and activities in first-century Israel and compared them to the spiritual truths He wanted to convey. The Gospels are filled with these comparisons. For example, in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, He sought to awaken the people to the nature of the Kingdom. Since agriculture was the mainstay of Jewish life at this time, the Parable of the Sower and the Seed used the normal things of agricultural life to explain the higher principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a progression in this chapter that starts with the planting of the seed of the Word of the Kingdom in the hearts of men to reap a harvest (Matthew 13:1-23), the intrusion of the enemy’s planting of the tares among the “good seed” planted by God as the enemy also desires a harvest (Matthew 13:24-30), and then to the leaven of the Kingdom that transforms the three pecks of flour into leavened bread (the bread of supernatural life) (See Matthew 13:33).
Even as the evil one planted tares with the intent to reap a harvest for the kingdom of darkness, the Lord Jesus warned the disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees. “‘How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:11-12, NKJV).
Jesus did not come like the scribes who continually argued the points of the Scriptures, offering their own opinions without any real authority. In fact, the people were astonished at His teachings, “for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29, NKJV).
The Kingdom is Like
“He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened” Matthew 13:33, NASB
One of the daily chores of a Jewish household in Jesus’ day was to make the daily amount of bread needed for meals. Today, bread continues to be a mealtime staple in most households around the world. However, in our experience, bread is usually purchased from the store and not made in the home so we have lost some of the meaning of this comparison. But the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven is still like the process of the leaven working in the three pecks of flour until the entire lump is leavened. Therefore, it would enhance our understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is within us, to study the way leaven or baker’s yeast works to change the nature of the flour and water into a loaf of bread.
The Natural Process
Yeast (a leavening agent) is a substance consisting of living organisms which when mixed with a sugar source and warm water causes fermentation which transforms a dense mass of dough (flour mixture) into a well-risen loaf of bread. Today, the most used form of baker’s yeast is active dry yeast which is easy to use and is fast acting. The dormant or sleeping yeast is activated or awakened by adding warm water; the sugar is added to feed the yeast. Fermentation begins as the awakened yeast feeds on the sugar; they emit carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol) as a byproduct of digesting the sugar. The leaven will eventually permeate the entire dough mixture as it quickly uses up the sugar source and begins to feed on the flour mixture. The fermentation process also strengthens and develops gluten in the dough and adds to the distinctive and amazing flavors in bread. Kneading (pressing and folding the dough in a squeezing manner with the hands) further develops the gluten in the dough which gives it a smooth and stretchy texture. The elastic and strong gluten network which has developed within the dough traps the small bubbles of carbon dioxide thereby causing the dough to expand or rise.
The process of making yeast-leavened bread involves a series of alternating work and rest periods. Work periods occur when the dough is manipulated by the baker as in mixing (the initial step of combining the ingredients together), kneading, and folding, as well as dividing, and shaping. Work periods are typically followed by rest periods, these occur when the dough is allowed to sit undisturbed in a warm and draft-free environment. The final dough-rising step before baking is called “proofing” where the shaped dough is finally placed in the baking pan and left to rise again. The continued rising activity of the leaven causes the lump of dough to conform to the shape of the pan giving it the familiar look of a loaf of bread. The “proofed” lump of dough has completed all the stages required by the recipe and is ready to be baked; thereby yielding the final product that was the baker’s original goal.
The Spiritual Process
Although similar to the natural process of the leavening of a lump of dough, the process of the development of the Kingdom of Heaven within the believer operates on a higher level. The baker is the Holy Spirit Who is tasked with guiding and teaching the believer how to live in unity with the Lord (See John 16:5-15). The three pecks of flour represent the believer’s triune being: spirit, soul, and body (See 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). The spiritual yeast or leaven is the seed of the Kingdom of Heaven that is implanted in the three distinctive parts of the believer’s triune being at the new birth. This seed, like the inactive yeast, must be activated or awakened.
The water or Living Water is the activating power of the Holy Spirit that awakens the seed of the Kingdom (See John 4:9-14; 7:37-39). The source of warmth, which is a vital ingredient, is the Fire of God. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29, NKJV). The token of His passionate love-fire is the Blood of Christ. (See Hebrews 12:22-24, AMP.)
The sugar or honey is the Word of God upon which the seed of the Kingdom feeds causing growth, producing visible changes and adding flavors: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8a). (See Psalms 19:7-10; 119:102-103; Ezekiel 3:2-3; Revelation 10:8-10.) The spiritual mixing, kneading and folding are the spiritual work processes which develop and strengthen the believer as described by Paul. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:11-13, NKJV).
The final step of proofing comes as the believer waits on the Lord in faith, believing for the promises he has been given: “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3-4, NKJV). When the proofing stage is complete, the leavened lump of dough that has been conformed to the shape of the pan is ready to bake; the heat of the oven transforms the dough into a loaf of bread. The believer is made in the image and likeness of God. It is his destiny to be conformed into the image of the Son. (See Romans 8:28-30.) “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35, NKJV).
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NKJV, (EMPHASIS ADDED)
The Kingdom of God is to saturate the believer — spirit, soul, and body. It is a triune salvation, culminating in the development of the Kingdom within. This process is progressive, working its way from spirit, to soul, and then to the physical body. Nothing was left unaccounted for in the Lord God’s plan of redemption. The Kingdom of Heaven is to be manifested in and through every part of our triune being.
*John G. Lake spoke about the triune nature of salvation in a sermon delivered at London, England in 1918. Here is an excerpt from that sermon.
“The real Christian is a separated man. He is separated forever unto God in all the departments of his life, and so his body and his soul and his spirit are forever committed to God. … The impression I wish to leave is this: that an hundredfold consecration to God takes the individual forever out of the hands of all but God. This absolute consecration to God, this triune salvation, is the real secret of the successful Christian life.”
—John G. Lake: His Life, His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith
However, there is another kingdom — the kingdom of darkness — that the Lord cautioned His disciples about. It also wants to permeate the triune nature of men. The Lord’s warning about the “leaven of the Pharisees” is as valid today as it was the first time He spoke it to His disciples. “…He said to them, ‘Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town’” (Luke 12:1-3, MSG).
As we journey on the road to a higher place in Him, the Kingdom of Heaven progressively leavens the whole of our triune being. The Word of God, the power of His Holy Spirit, and the heat of His love-fire (the token of which is the Blood of Christ) all work together to awaken the Kingdom seed to begin the transformation into the image of Christ, Himself. This transformation begins with the rebirth of our spirit-man as the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us at the new birth. The soul (mind, will, and emotions) is renewed as we feast on the Word of God and allow it to transform our minds: activating the Mind of Christ. The prayer instructions of the Lord Jesus confirm that we are to pray for the Kingdom and the will of God to be demonstrated on earth as it is in Heaven: even in our bodies which are earthen vessels (See 2 Corinthians 4:7). The physical body is the object of the final stage of this leavening process whereby every cell is restored as we call on the Kingdom of God to come and His will be done in our spirits, souls, and bodies as it is in Heaven, bringing glory to the Father through the Son by the power of the Spirit and the Blood (See Matthew 6:9-13).
Therefore, we must be willing to allow the leavening process of the Kingdom of Heaven to advance throughout our triune being by cooperating with the Holy Spirit. Since we have an adversary who desires to steal our seed, kill our fruit and destroy our harvest, we must yield ourselves and not resist the kneading process: the gentle but firm and effective work of the Holy Spirit (See John 10:10). We must cherish the times of resting and waiting on Him as patience produces great faith and confidence in His plan for our lives.
Let us be comforted by the words of Our Lord.
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” Luke 12:32, NKJV.
*John G. Lake, “John G. Lake: His Life, His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith.” (Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1994). Page 9.
The following information Resources were used for the descriptions of how yeast works in the baking of bread:
FineCooking.com, “Yeast Role in Bread Baking”. Taunton Home and Garden Network. 24 June 2014.
LivingStrong.com, “LIVESTRONG.COM/Parenting/Children/Child Development/How to Explain to Children How Yeast Works in Baking”. 24 June 2014.
Wikipedia, “The Free Encyclopedia: ‘Proofing (baking technique)’”. Wikimedia
~ Mary B. Dovie
“In God We Trust”
|Mary B. Dovie is an ordained minister of the Gospel under the covering of Joy Christian Church and Gideon Christian Fellowship in New Orleans, Louisiana. She operates under a prophetic and teaching anointing. Mary is married to her high school sweetheart, Paul; they live in Theodore, Alabama. Their family includes son Anthony, who serves in the US Army, as well as their son Matthew, his wife, Jennifer, and daughters, Amelia and Stella.|