Malkhut Shamayim (Kingdom of Heaven)

From the Jerusalem Perspective Online (article by Robert Lindsey):

An important key to understanding Jesus’ use of “Kingdom of God” is how the sages used it. With the sages it was a spiritual term meaning the rule of God over a person who keeps or begins to keep the written and oral commandments. This is illustrated by a statement of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korhah: “Why is ‘Hear, O Israel’ [Deut. 6:4-9] recited before ‘If, then, you obey the commandments’ [Deut. 11:13-21] in the daily prayers? To indicate that one should accept first the Kingdom of Heaven, and only afterwards the yoke of the commandments” (Mishnah, Berachot 2:2).

The sages felt that when a person confessed, “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone,” indicating his or her intention to keep the Torah, that person came under God’s rule and authority, and thus came into the kingdom of God. Having accepted God’s authority over him or her, the person was able to begin keeping the commandments.

The key piece here is that the Western Christian theological tradition, since Augustine, broke this subtle dialectic.  There is first surrender to God and then the doing, and there is no argument, from Jesus or the Rabbinic tradition, that the doing can not happen.  It is much simpler than arguments about prevenient and irresistible grace.

The first piece as always is surrender.  This teaches that Rabbinic Judaism (of which Jesus was no doubt strongly connected) was not, is not a religion of Law and Slavery (contra Martin Luther).

Published in: on January 9, 2008 at 10:38 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yes, in Islam as well, the first pillar of which is “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Messenger” which is verbal testifying, only after establishing that the other pillars of prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage, come into play.

  2. Thanks for pointing out that out e. Totally true.



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