By Force

“The kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12). These are odd words for the Prince of Peace to say. The King James say, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Could it be that the one who taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves is encouraging violence?

Jesus was certainly not a violent man. He didn’t ball his fists at the Pharisees. He didn’t raise a sword to the arresting mob. He didn’t argue His case with the kangaroo court. He voluntarily carried what should have been our cross and gave His life for our sins. Lamb of God is an apt description for such a man.

Yet, He said the kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing. Jesus didn’t come here to play around. His work here is serious business. He came here to “bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners”(Isaiah 61:1-2). Sounds like a fight to me. The kingdom of darkness is not about to just let it’s prisoners go free.

As for forceful men, they know what the kingdom of heaven is about–people unbound, unhindered, unencumbered to be everything their creator God intended them to be. Those men aren’t going to play around either. They will lay hold of the kingdom of heaven by force if necessary because such freedom is worth it.

God wrote about great warriors of old who fought lions with their bare hands, giants with rocks or hundreds of men with just a spear. These were warriors of great renown who won great victories, but there are greater men fighting greater battles and winning greater victories today. The men of renown fought lions and giants and Philistines; we fight “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We can’t even see our enemies!

Men, we are in the fight for the ages. We can’t play around. There are still prisoners to set free–maybe even some of us. We are to proclaim God’s Word–that word of freedom–to the captives, so we can all be everything our creator God intended us to be.

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