FOR well nigh four hundred years God had kept silent,
as far as any message to His people Israel was concerned, till one day one
who declared himself to be a voice imploring, is heard in the wilderness,
calling to Israel to get ready for the coming of the Lord.
From John the Baptist's message to repent and believe the evangel, because
the long looked-for kingdom was NOW NEAR, it is very evident that up until
that time no entrance into this kingdom had been possible. Isaiah had
closed the door when he uttered the words found in chapter six of his
As we open that chapter, we find the prophet calling to the heavens to
hear, and the earth to give ear to what Jehovah had to say concerning
Judah and Jerusalem. "Nation of sin," "People heavy with depravity," "Seed
of evil doers," "Sons of corrupters," "They forsake Jehovah, spurn the
Holy one of Israel."
From the above description of the condition of heart the people were in,
is it any wonder that we find them at last in exile according to Ezekiel
Coming back to chapter six of Isaiah, we find the prophet telling that he
hears the voice of Jehovah saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go to
this nation?" Jehovah has something to say to this people, and Isaiah
volunteers to go with the message, which we find in verses nine and ten:
And He is saying, "Go and say to this people:
Hear ye to hear, Yet you may not understand.
And see ye to see, And you may not know,
For stoutened is the heart of this people,
And with their ears, heavily they hear,
And with their eyes they squint.
Lest at some time they should see with their eyes,
And with their ears they should be hearing,
And with their heart may be understanding,
And should be turning about, and I shall be healing them."
From the above statements it is very evident that Judah, along with the
ten tribes, were far away in heart from God, so much so that Jehovah sends
the prophet with a message that will close their eyes, and stop their
ears, until such time as He sees fit to offer them repentance and change
A fitting picture of Israel's condition is seen in the parable of
Matt.21:33-40. God had planted a vineyard and leased it to Israel,
expecting to harvest the fruit in due season.
He had sent His servants, the prophets, to them, whom they stoned and
killed, and now Isaiah with his message of chapter 6, verses 9,10 takes
away for the time being, any expectation of Israel becoming the priestly
kingdom for which she had been chosen. In other words, Isaiah closes the
door through which the nation would have become God's administrators on
About one hundred and fifty years after Isaiah's day, we find Judah in
exile in Babylon (the ten tribes having been carried away to Assyria
earlier), and while there, God tells them through Daniel when to expect
that glorious time to which all the prophets pointed. Daniel almost set
the day when God would unlock the door which Isaiah had closed, and Israel
would once more be invited through the open door of repentance, into the
Surely Israel has learned the lesson that God longs for heart-obedience,
and not mere lip service, which their prophets have been denouncing those
many years since Isaiah's day. That long period of suffering during the
days of the Maccabees, should have brought them to their knees before God,
and prepared them for the one who was about to make His appearance in
their midst, as foretold by the last prophet of the Old Testament,
The next voice we hear is that of John the Baptist, who came in the spirit
and power of Elijah.
And now that long looked for moment has come, the arrival of the promised
Messiah is imminent, and His forerunner is sent ahead of Him to open the
long closed door into the kingdom. When the King comes on the scene He
finds the door unlocked and, like His forerunner, He calls upon Israel to
repent and believe the evangel, because the era was fulfilled and the
kingdom was NEAR.
These are the circumstances we find as we open our so-called New
Testament. That Jesus was God's Anointed is demonstrated by the signs and
powerful deeds that were present during His ministry as He heralded the
kingdom to Israel. These things belonged to that impending eon
As we read on in the account of our Lord's ministry, we find Him selecting
twelve to be with Him in this heralding of the kingdom. These twelve are
sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel only. They are given the
credentials which equip them for the task for which they had been chosen
In Matthew, chapters five, six and seven, we find our Lord laying down,
what might be called the kingdom constitution.
To the unbiased mind there can be no difficulty in seeing that the grace
as later preached by Paul is conspicuous here by its absence. A place in
the kingdom depended on how the hearers obeyed the instructions in the
so-called "sermon on the mount."
Failure to put them into practice was likened to the acts of a man who
built a house on a foundation of sand, which would not stand when the
testing time came. A place in the kingdom will depend largely on conduct,
or works. It was this message that brought our Lord into conflict with the
religious leaders of that day.
The scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses' seat. They were the law enforcers,
though they themselves gave more heed to their own traditions than to
But now the one of whom Moses wrote is here, and in His fundamentals He
goes deeper than the precepts which Moses got at Sinai.
In the sermon on the mount He touches the very motives that are behind the
acts, the thought and the look, that first grips the soul or senses.
This was too much for these self-righteous leaders, and they hated Him
because He exposed their outward show.
The heralding of the open door into the kingdom by our Lord begins in
Matt.4:17: "Henceforth begins Jesus to be heralding and saying, "Repent!
for near is the kingdom of the heavens," and ends in chapter 16:20, where
He cautions the disciples that they may be saying to no one that He is the
Christ. In verse 21, we find again the words, "Henceforth begins Jesus,"
but now He tells of His suffering and death at the hands of the leaders in
Israel, the elders, chief priests and scribes.
They were ever on His trail, and the crisis is reached in chapter 12 of
Matthew, verse 14, where we have the Pharisees holding a consultation
against Him so that they should be destroying Him. The leaders who ought
to have been the first in the nation to welcome the open door, were the
very ones who refused to enter themselves and sought to hinder those who
would, with the result that the door is again closed, and He begins to
speak in parables to them in order that Isa. 6 might be fulfilled in them
once again, as of yore.
Instead of acknowledging our Lord as God's Anointed, because of the signs
which He did in their midst, they said He was doing them by the power of
Beezeboul, the chief of the demons. That which was a foretaste of the
kingdom to them, they accredited to Satan. They failed to see the open
door, which, though wide enough to let all enter, was a cramped gate and
narrow way for those who desired to enjoy life in that kingdom.
That cramped gate and narrow way, as described by our Lord, in the sermon
on the mount, was more than the leaders bargained for, and as He is about
to quote Isaiah six, and close the door once more, He denounces them as a
progeny of vipers, which recalls what Isaiah had to say in chapter 1:4.
They were worse than ever.
Israel was still calloused in heart. Now that the kingdom door has been
closed again by our Lord, quoting Isaiah six, it is no longer heralded as
NEAR, but, by the language of the secret parables, is moved into the
From now on He tells of His sufferings and death at the hand of the
leaders of the nation, His resurrection and coming again, all of which
could have taken place during the lifetime of that generation.
As we follow on in the accounts of our Lord's life, we find Israel
committing the greatest sin of their history, the murder of their Messiah.
Now we know that, for the present, the kingdom door is closed. A dead
Messiah! What will God do now? Is this the end of that nation?
If the tomb can hold its Victim, all future hope of the kingdom is gone,
and this seems to have been the conclusion the disciples had come to, as
we listen to that conversation which took place between our Lord and the
two on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-17). The cross had blasted their
hopes, their expectation was now a thing of the past, the kingdom, will it