“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
There is no doubt we are living at the end of the age. Down through the centuries we have seen false Messiah’s, spiritual deception, apostasy, false prophets and teachers, wars, rumours of wars, nations rising against nations, such as ethnic conflicts within nations, and kingdom against kingdom as we have seen in two world wars unlike any other wars in previous history. We have seen famines, earthquakes in various places, pestilence and the persecution of faithful Bible believers and today this persecution is a global epidemic. These things have always been around and in the last days they will increase in frequency and intensity. These things are a conspicuous feature of our world today.
It is as things were in the days of Noah before the flood. People were deeply involved in the occult and spirit beings from the unseen spiritual realm were gaining access into the human race. Violence and sexual perversion was rampant across the face of the earth wherever man had established colonies and cities. Our Lord Jesus clearly said that all of these things were “the beginning of the birth pains” that would ultimately result in the Kingdom of God being birthed visibly on earth (Matthew 24:8).
When a woman goes into labour the contractions start to come and then stop and then start again indicating that the birth of the baby is coming. When the contractions start to increase in frequency and intensity you know that the baby’s birth is coming very soon. However, when they are coming one upon another you know the baby is about to be born. This is where we are today and the birth of God’s physical kingdom on this earth is near at hand. What makes this time in history different from all other centuries?
Well, Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948 after almost 2,000 years of exile. It was a modern miracle that God arranged according to what He had promised in His Word. “A nation was born in a day!” (Isaiah 66:8). This miraculous resurrection of the nation of Israel in 1948 was the game changer for the Jewish people, for wider Christendom and for the world at large and for Biblical Prophecy which is centred in Israel. Since 1948, for the most part, Israel and the Middle-east have been centre stage in world affairs. We know from the Word of God, the Bible, that in the last days the world will deteriorate socially, economically, ecologically, morally and spiritually and that the ‘birth pains’ the Lord Jesus mentions will be commonplace as we see today.
With COVID-19 sweeping the world and the economy of the world going into decline and many nations in turmoil internally, that people in society are now scared and fearful of what is going to happen in the future. Young people and teenagers and university students who were hoping for a prosperous and successful future are now faced with a bleak one where there is little hope of success. Parents with very young children are now fearful about what kind of world their little ones will have to encounter as they grow older and have to find their way in a world gone mad!
In light of these things as believers in our Lord Jesus what should our response be in this world? Why are we here? What is God’s purpose for us in this fallen world? How should we respond to the encroaching spiritual darkness spreading like gangrene across the surface of the earth? Are we here on earth to have it good in this world or to have the best jobs in town and to enjoy our lives down here on earth and acquire more material possessions?
Now God does want us to enjoy life but not in the way the world enjoys it. We should plan for the future but not count on it. We are to be busy and using our time wisely and improving our situation materially if we can but always keeping in mind the purpose for which we are here on earth. Our final home is not in this present age for we are looking forwards to a new heaven and earth in the age to come wherein dwells righteousness. The Day of the Lord, which will see a series of consecutive events on earth and in the heavens, will culminate in the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus (Matthew 24:29-31). Now God wants us to have a full and meaningful life and have all of our spiritual and temporal needs met and He is concerned about our welfare both in the spiritual and natural realm (Matthew 6:25:34).
Now in this passage of scripture, where the Lord Jesus is speaking about God taking care of our temporal needs as His children, He makes this statement about His Father in heaven, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles (pagan unbelievers) eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34).
As believers we are down here for the following reasons…
Firstly, we are here to reflectors of God’s light to a lost and spiritually dark world and seek to walk in His will for our lives.
We are told that if we give Him access to every part of us without reservation as a living sacrifice on the altar then we will indeed be offering up true spiritual worship to the Lord. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the renewing of the mind through reading God’s Word, we will be enabled to no longer be conformed to this world and its value system. Instead we will be spiritually transformed from within and in this prove God’s good, acceptable and perfect will for our life (Romans 12:1-2).
Seeking God’s kingdom and the things of the kingdom first and foremost above seeking our own way will not only strengthen us and our brothers and sisters in the Body of the Messiah, but also provide spiritual light to those who are unsaved dwelling in spiritual darkness. As we seek the spiritual first the natural and temporal will fall into line. God will not give us what we want but what we need to accomplish His will. Finding God’s will and doing it takes time, and at times will be difficult to do, but in the end it will prove to be the best and most satisfying thing we will ever experience.
God’s Word tells us in many places how to do God’s will and to say and do those things that please Him. God will not give us further guidance if we are not looking at what He has already said in his Word about doing His will.
Secondly, we are to be engaged in preaching the gospel of the kingdom.
When the opportunities present themselves, we are to give a reason for the hope that dwells within us (Matthew 24:14) (1 Peter 3:15). We are not all evangelists of course but we can all witness one on one and the blessed Holy Spirit is present to empower us to do this (Acts 1:8).
Thirdly, we are to be involved in regular discipleship through being committed to a regular Bible study group.
The first century believers made Spirit-filled Spirit-led fellowship a daily priority. They knew that Jerusalem was to be sacked and the temple destroyed as the Lord Jesus had told them, and their hope was not in this world or in any religious system (Acts 2:42-47). Denominational structures and differing doctrines were never in the will of God. In the early Church we are told “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
For the early Body of the Messiah (the faithful Church) “they devoted themselves to the apostles doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Devotional books are helpful but there is nothing more satisfying like opening the Bible and with the help of the Holy Spirit and drawing out of the text the deep spiritual truth it contains. As it is written “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm:119:105). We already have apostolic doctrine in the New Testament!
Fourthly, we are to be seeking to edify and strengthen the members of our local assembly when we come into the worship services.
We are instructed to be filled with the Spirit using the gifts of the Spirit God has given us according to His will and the grace we need to exercise them Biblically (Ephesians 5:15-20) (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) (Romans 12:3-8). They are given to edify the believers when they come together to worship or when they are needed in the daily activities of the local assemblies. They are given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). Today within the wider Body of the Messiah we need the spiritual gifts more than at any other time in history. Without the spiritual gifts being released and exercised Biblically through the Holy Spirit, believers are like soldiers enlisted into the army fighting a battle without the weapons and armour they need to defeat their adversaries.
Fifthly, the sooner the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed in the whole world, as a testimony to all nations, the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
We are to be looking forward to, and anticipating the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus to earth. This will do two things. Firstly, Our anticipation of the Day of the Lord will hasten the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus. In eternity that day is fixed (Acts 17:31). However, down here it is variable. So the quicker the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed in every nation the sooner the Lord Jesus will come back. Secondly, the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus the Messiah will be a motive for living a life separated to the Lord while being in this world but not of this world. The new heaven and earth to come will be our focus! (2 Peter 3:10-14) (John 15:19) (Colossians 3:2) (1 John 2:15-17).
As believers it is not wrong to plan ahead or to enjoy the things God provides in his loving providence. He loves us and wants the very best for us, and to do the very best thing with us and through us, and in seeking first His kingdom and the work it entails we will find Him at certain times to be a very generous and loving father to us (Romans 8:31-32). Most of us will not be rich or live in mansions or live in the lap of luxury, neither will we have ease and comfort throughout our sojourn down here, which is transitory and temporal, but we will have what we need and sometimes through the Lord’s generosity more than we need.
Not all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus are called to be missionaries, preachers, or full-time workers but we are all to seek God’s kingdom first in all of our endeavours, whether in the spiritual or temporal realm of existence and be a witness for the Lord Jesus through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit is available for every believer (Acts 2:39).
His power is available for the mother who stays at home to bring up her very young children in the nurture and reverence for the Lord. His power is available for the teenager at school who is studying hard for a career keeping in mind that God’s will is always best. His power is available to the student on the university campus who has to interact with unsaved and often be confronted by pagan lecturers. His power is available for those who work among the marginalised and disadvantaged that society rejects. Especially His power is available to, and indeed rests upon, those brothers and sisters being persecuted for their loyalty to the Lord Jesus and because of their faith in Him (Luke 21:12-19) (1 Peter 4:12-19).
We are told in scripture that “whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men, because you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord the Messiah you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24). For young people, teenagers and university students by all means plan ahead and plan your career but give God permission to change the direction. After all, in yielding ourselves moment by moment to the control of the Holy Spirit will prove in the end to become for us righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit no matter what happens in the future be for us. As it is written; “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For whoever serves the Messiah in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (Romans 14:17-18)
Yielding unreservedly to the Lord Jesus is hard work and takes time and patient endurance and will see many successes and failures, joys and disappointments in life, but in seeking the kingdom of God first and to be led by the Holy Spirit moment by moment of every day will prove for us to be good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2). Let the world slide into the Abyss, let wicked and unprincipled men do their evil work, let Satan and his cohorts from hell wreak havoc in the world, but in all of these things we have the absolute confidence and certain hope that in the end we win! As we see the Day of the Lord rapidly approaching let us press on to do what our Lord Jesus commanded us to do knowing that He will provide everything that pertains to life and Godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us out of spiritual darkness and into His marvellous light! “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)