Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Stability of Heaven on Earth

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Jesus ends His sermon with these words. They bear a striking similarity to statements made by rabbis in ancient Jewish commentaries. These quotes, for instance, which are cited in Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary:
Rabbi Eleasar said, “The man whose knowledge exceeds his works, to whom is he like? He is like a tree which had many branches, and only a few roots; and, when the stormy winds came, it was plucked up and eradicated. But he whose good works are greater than his knowledge, to what is he like? He is like a tree which had few branches, and many roots; so that all the winds of heaven could not move it from its place.” (Pirke Aboth)

Elisha, the son of Abuja, said, “The man who studies much in the law, and maintains good works, is like to a man who built a house, laying stones at the foundation, and building brick upon them; and, though many waters come against it, they cannot move it from its place. But the man who studies much in the law, and does not maintain good works, is like to a man who, in building his house, put brick at the foundation, and laid stones upon them, so that even gentle waters shall overthrow that house.” (Aboth Rab. Nath)
These rabbis spoke in generic terms; they were good as far as they went, but they did no carry their own weight. However, Jesus spoke with a specificity and sense of authority about His own words, “these sayings of Mine.” It was so pronounced that the people were amazed. There was no dithering or babbling to His words. They just carried great power.
And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29)
The difference, then, between foolishness and wisdom, between shifting sand and a solid foundation, is as simple as the difference between hearing and doing whatever Jesus says. The kingdom of Heaven on Earth is His kingdom, and He is its rightful authority.

It is only as we hear and do what Jesus says that we will find stability. The difference may not be apparent at first. A house built on sand may look very much like a house built on rock — until the storms come and the floodwaters rise. The pressures of life reveal the stability of the foundation.

A life built on hypocrisy, pride, an unexamined heart, stinginess, a critical spirit, worry and fear, and trusting in anything other than God will buckle and fall. But a life established on the foundation of a pure and honest heart, undivided, free of vengeance, full of love and forgiveness, tuned to the heart of the Father and His priorities, and full of faith — all that Jesus taught — will be able to weather any storm. For the kingdom of Heaven on Earth is a kingdom of stability and strength.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.