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Sunday, June 08, 2014

37 - Kingdom Prayer [B]

Matthew 6:9-13 by Robert Dean
Are we living in the kingdom of God now or are we still looking forward to it? Listen to this lesson to learn how the Bible describes the 1,000 year literal reign of Christ on this earth at His triumphal second coming. According to Scripture see that when the kingdom is here we will see God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. Understand that God's name will be hallowed by all people in the future kingdom. Conclude that believers today are to ask God to meet their daily needs and understand the very real danger of Satan enticing us to sin.
Series:Matthew (2013)
Duration:43 mins 8 secs

Kingdom Prayer
Matthew 6:9b-13
Matthew Lesson #037
June 8, 2014

In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus begins to give His disciples instruction on prayer. He contrasts the way they should pray with the way that many people who are operating on pagan belief assumptions pray. Some of those pagan religious assumptions had influenced even the Pharisees so that they were emphasizing prayer in a way that impressed those around them rather than impressing God in terms of communication with Him. 

Matthew 6:7 NASB "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words".

Jesus is not talking about prayer where we continue to pray for the same requests over a period of weeks, months, or even years. He is talking about people who think that just by reiterating the same prayer or the same phrase over and over again, that some somehow saying a rote prayer/statement, or even praying in some mystical prayer language (which was typical among the pagans), had an inherent spiritual value. He is contrasting the thinking about prayer that we have in the world with God's viewpoint on prayer.

Last time as we introduced this we just got into the opening part of the prayer. It is often referred to as the Lord's prayer, and if we exegete that term some people come up with the wrong conclusion and think that this is a prayer that Jesus prayed. It is not a prayer that Jesus prayed because there is a reference to sin, the sin of the one praying in prayer, so it couldn't be His prayer. But it is His prayer from the perspective that He is the one who taught it. But "the Lord's prayer" is a fine and accurate terminology for this prayer because He is the one who gave it.

It starts with an opening address: "Our Father".  Then there are three clauses following that in the past part of verse 9 through verse 10 that are addressed to God expressing the worship of God and the value of His kingdom. They are expressing the desire for the kingdom to come.

This is followed by three petitions for their own needs in vv. 11-13, which is then followed after Jesus concludes the prayer with an explanation about forgiveness. That tells us something about the prayer. That as Jesus concludes the prayer and then comments in two verses on the significance of forgiveness tells us that an important aspect of this prayer is related to the doctrine of forgiveness—not just forgiveness from God but personal forgiveness of others.

Matthew 6:9 NASB "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name."

Matt 6:10 "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven."

We saw last time that prayer is addressed to God as our Father. This was something that was unique and was not seen in the Old Testament. The aspect of God as our Father is emphasized thirteen times in the Sermon on the Mount. "Our Father" indicates a more personal relationship with God and that He is a Testament God who exercises His authority from heaven.

Then He says, "Hallowed be Your name."  Hallowed is the word HAGIAZO, which means to sanctify, set apart, or to revere. God's name refers to His essence or His character. God character is eternal; He is eternally Holy. Holy refers basically to two aspects of His character—His righteousness and His justice—and that God is eternally righteous and just and that this never increases or diminishes. What is being emphasized here, though, is the realization of God's creatures of His holiness. This is really important because when we look back into the Old Testament we see that both of these phrases—"Your name", and being "hallowed"—have an eschatological dimension, i.e. they look forward to the future and their association with the kingdom. This is important because it sets a framework for this prayer.

Remember that Jesus' message at the very beginning of His ministry was, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near". He said it to the Jewish people. This kingdom they understood from the Old Testament and this was a kingdom that God had promised. And we have these passages that talk about God's holy name.

Psalm 30:4 NASB "Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name."

Psalm 97:12 NASB "Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, And give thanks to His holy name."

Psalm 103:1 NASB "Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, {bless} His holy name."

Psalm 111:9 NASB "He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name."

This is who God is in His character. The concept of His name always refers to His essence or His character.

Ezekiel 36:23 NASB "I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight."

This particular verse is in the context of a prophecy related to the future coming of the kingdom for Israel. This is so important to understand in terms of what we are saying, for this verse reads: "And I will sanctify my great name…" God says He is the one who will bring that about. There is a future implication here that this will come about at a future time. "… which has been profaned among the nations". It has been profaned among the nations because the Israelites had succumbed to idolatry. They were no longer worshipping God as God had mandated them to in the Mosaic Law. They had profaned the name of God in their midst, they had blasphemed and brought disrespect to God's name among the nations. They did not value God. They had failed in their witness, their testimony toward God. But God said that in the future "the nations will know that I am the LORD when I am hallowed in you before their eyes." 

This tells us that part of the aspect of the arrival of the kingdom would be that the Jews would turn back to God, and in walking in obedience to Him this would sanctify in an experiential way the name of God—setting them apart. This fits within the context of Jesus' message.

So when we think in terms of how this prayer relates to us, in some ways it doesn't because this is a prayer that is oriented to that message at that time. But, question: has the kingdom yet come? No, it has not. So the application for us is, even though we are not Jews under the Old Testament Mosaic Law and we are church age believers in the age of grace, nevertheless we, too, look forward to the coming of the kingdom. So this applies to us in that we, too, need to see that God's name is sanctified or hallowed or revered in our Christian life in light of the future coming of the kingdom.

In Matthew 6:10 this is brought out in the next two expressions of the desire of the one who is praying. Remember the last part of verse 9 says, "Hallowed be your name". It is a request that God's name will be revered or sanctified. The way that it is structured in the Greek in terms of the grammar is identical to the next two requests that appear. Unfortunately the verse break between the two requests breaks between the second and the third of three requests, so we lose that by looking at it in the English. The verb is indicated by the expression of a desire. In English we have to separate out the verb in order for it to make sense. In English it is the idea of "may something be done". So in the first expression it is, "may your name be hallowed", the second "may your kingdom come", and then "may your will be done". All three of these, set apart in this kind of a parallel, tell us that they are all focusing on the same ultimate fulfillment.

"May your name be hallowed" – we've seen that this will take place when God establishes His kingdom on the earth and the Israelites are in full obedience to Him and reverencing His name. This is further expanded and reinforced in the next expression, which is, "May your kingdom come". The kingdom is not some spiritual kingdom. There are many people who believe that, and that somehow there was a kingdom that began when Jesus first came to earth. Some believe He inaugurated the kingdom but it is not fully here yet. This is known by theologians as the already-not-yet view of the kingdom. But what the Bible teaches is that the Old Testament predicted a specific kind of kingdom. It was a literal geophysical political kingdom that would have its center at Jerusalem as the capitol of that kingdom, and the ruler of that kingdom would be both the resurrected David (identified as the prince is Ezekiel) and also the greater son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, who would also be ruling over the entire world at that time. He would return to the earth and establish His kingdom.

When Jesus came at His first coming He offered the kingdom to Israel. They understood this from the prophecies of the Old Testament. The Messiah would come and establish His kingdom. Unfortunately, in rabbinic theology they focused on the glory of the rulership of the Messiah to the exclusion of the passages that emphasized His suffering. They failed to note that he might suffer before He is glorified. So they missed who Jesus was when He came. They were expecting a political Messiah who would overthrow the rule and reign of Rome and establish His kingdom, not realizing that before that would happen He would suffer and die for the sins of the world.

Jesus is coming at the initial stage of His ministry and is offering the kingdom. So the prayer that He is teaching His disciples at this point in time in history is to pray for this kingdom to come, to pray to the subordination of the Jewish people to the authority of God in the sanctification and reverence of His name; to pray that the kingdom would come and that God's will would be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven—heaven referring here to the third heaven, the location of the throne of God, the sovereign domain of God. This is not fulfilled yet, and this tells us that there is something wrong.

So there is the prayer for the kingdom to come, and this fits with the pattern from the Old Testament. Isaiah 35:4 NASB "Say to those with anxious heart, 'Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come {with} vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you'."   

This takes place when God comes executing His justice. The word "vengeance" often comes across in English as a word for some sort of personal retribution. But that is not the nuance of the word in the Hebrew or Greek. It has the idea of the execution of God's justice when it is applied to Him. God will come to bring about and establish justice upon the earth. This takes place when Jesus Christ returns at the Second coming, destroys the Antichrist and the false prophet by sending them to the lake of fire, destroys Satan and his angels and they are confined to the abyss for 1000 years for a final rebellion. Jesus Christ comes to bring justice upon the earth. This is the "recompense of God". "He will save you" isn't really talking about spiritual salvation. Most of the time in the Old Testament—probably around 99% of the time—the word save refers to physical deliverance from some sort of traumatic situation. It is not referring to eternal deliverance. There are other words such as "redemption" that refer to eternal deliverance. But here it is talking about the end times when Jesus returns Israel is about to be destroyed by the armies of the Antichrist and they will be physically delivered. Those who survive will go into the eternal kingdom.

Isaiah 40:9 NASB "Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news [the gospel]; Lift {it} up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, 'Here is your God!' [10] Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him And His recompense before Him." 

"His arm" is a metaphor the Lord Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 14:5 NASB "You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, {and} all the holy ones with Him!"

This occurs just at the time of the Second Coming of Jesus when He delivers Jerusalem and the Jews who are trapped there, and He splits the Mount of Olives. Those Jews who have survived in Jerusalem will be able to evacuate the city by this new escape route that has opened up.

So the prayer, "Thy kingdom come" refers to the coming of God to rescue Israel and to establish His kingdom. Believers at this time clearly understood this.

For example, Mark 15:43 NASB "Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus."

"Waiting for the kingdom of God" is a euphemism for saying that he was a believer. He had accepted the message of Jesus as the Messiah.

Secondly they were praying, "Thy will be done".  This is an interesting word here in the Greek. It is not the word POIEO, which is the word that is normally translated to do or to make something; it is the word GINOMAI. GINOMAI describes something happening or coming into existence.

In Matthew 6:11 we see the beginning of three petitions.     

Matthew 6:11 NASB "Give us this day our daily bread." This is an expression of dependence upon God's provision. Bread often refers to the entire spectrum of physical sustenance and nourishment, not simply literal bread or that which is restricted to food. It is everything that is required for daily sustenance, everything necessary to survive. This is a contrast from the future focus of the previous three requests which are focusing on the kingdom. Now there is a shift, which is, well we are praying for the kingdom to come and during that time all of our needs will be provided, everything will be met; but now we need to pray for you to supply our present needs.

This is a reminder of the fact that God is the one who supplies all of our needs. We may work for our food but ultimately it is God who provides the market for our skills, and it is through God's provision that we have what we have no matter what our physical, material provisions may be.

Proverbs 30:8 NASB "Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion".

There is an allusion here in these passages that goes back to Exodus, which talks about God's provision of manna.

Next is the prayer for forgiveness. Matthew 6:12 NASB "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."

The word "forgive" here is APHIEMI, an aorist active imperative; "as we have forgiven our debtors" describes something we do, and that is an aorist active indicative. The word "forgive" itself is an economic word; it is a word that means to cancel a debt. This economic metaphor was used in the ancient world to describe sin and forgiveness. Sin was viewed by the rabbis as a debt against God, or a debt against others. Forgiveness was the cancelation of that debt. 

We saw this when we studied the passage in Romans 13:8, which begins, "Owe no one anything".

Sometimes you find pastors and Bible teachers who think this is expressing a financial principle. It is not expressing a financial principle at all, it uses the verb form of the same word used for debt in Matthew 6:12, OPHEILO. Matthew 6:12 uses the noun form for debtor obligation, OPHEILEMA.

This has been traced out by such scholars as D.A. Carson in his commentary on Matthew. Focusing briefly on parts of his quote:

Aramaic, which was the every-day language of the Jews at that time, used the word hoba to express the concept of debt. It was often used in the rabbinical literature, in the Targums, to refer to sin or transgression. There is therefore no reason to take debts here in Matthew as anything other than sins, here conceived as something owed God, whether sins of commission or omission.  

Both the verb and the noun form were used at that time, even outside of biblical or Jewish literature, to refer to sin as a debt.

What this tells us is that the Romans passage is really talking about sin against your brother. In the passage in Matthew when it is saying, "forgive us our debts", it is talking about forgiving our sins—"as we forgive others" indicates there is a forgiveness of others for sin enacted toward us. This is further seen in Matthew 6:14, 15 where Jesus at the end of the prayer explains this forgiveness a little more and says, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions…" He is shifting from debts to transgressions/trespasses in just a couple of verses, showing that what He meant by debts was trespasses. The terms are used synonymously there. This indicates that just as God forgives us we are to forgive others.

It is important to understand that forgiveness in Scripture is not something that is given apart from a recognition of the infraction on the part of the one who has sinned. There always has to be a recognition of sin, otherwise—especially in personal situations where there is conflict—all you do is bury something. You never solve a problem and it just exacerbates and rots like a cancer over the years. There has to be a dealing with the sin problem. Then forgiveness is freely given but it is not freely given by ignoring the problem.       

Then our Lord concludes by saying:

Matthew 6:13 NASB "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil…" The word "temptation" here is the word PEIRASMOS and it has two different meanings. On is temptation in the sense of enticement to sin, and the other is a test in terms of an external opportunity to evaluate our use of God's Word. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where He would be tested. The Holy Spirit didn't tempt Jesus. He did not entice Him to sin, it was the evil one, Satan, who is called the tempter in Matthew 4:1, who was enticing Jesus to sin. So the prayer of verse 13 is that God would not lead us into temptation, but this is in the sense of the enticement to sin.

James 1:13 NASB "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone."   

God is not going to seek your failure by trying to get you to sin, that is the role of Satan and the cosmic system. 

James 1:14 NASB "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust."

It is that which comes out of your own sin nature that lures you toward sin.

1 Corinthians 10:13 is using the same word in a slightly different sense—in terms of that objective opportunity that may present itself. NASB  "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

There is no external environment that provides a test that you encounter and has overtaken you but such that is common to man. This verse is not talking about internal temptation, it is talking about external testing.

Jesus says to pray to God: "Do not lead us into temptation (where we will fail), but deliver us from the evil one". The Greek phrase here is, APO TOU PONEROU, and everywhere else that this is used in the Gospels it refers to Satan and not to evil as an abstract principle. Satan, we know, is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) and so he is the one who is working to seek our destruction through negative temptation.

Then the conclusion: "… [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]"

Jesus says that we sign off, like in this prayer, by focusing on the fact that it is God who is in control. It is He who will determine when His kingdom comes; He has the power and the authority to establish that, and when it comes it will be an eternal kingdom.