From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.
Recently, I watched an online video showing a shocking kidnap attempt of a 13 year old girl from a local dollar store. When the girl’s mother realized what was happening, she jumped into action to save her daughter. As the mother and kidnapper engaged in a tug-of-war over the young girl, the kidnapper would not let go, but neither would the mother. She hang tightly to her daughter’s leg with a vicelike grip as the man in the video continued to drag the two women towards the exit. Eventually, the mother’s determination to save her daughter, along with her screams for help, paid off. She scared the man out of the store where he was soon arrested by an off-duty cop.
The writer of the gospel of Matthew says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.” The writer is talking about the transition from prophecy to the work of the Messiah which John preached. John was now saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” John’s message of humility and repentance angered the religious leaders of the day who thought of themselves as the most important asset to God. Despite their violent rejection of John’s message and the witness of the Scriptures, John responded with equal “violence”; that is with meekness, with courage and with determination, to the point of losing his head when Herodias’ daughter asked for John the Baptist’s head to be brought to her on a platter so she could give it to her mother. We know who won the battle here. Today the message of Jesus Christ continues to be preached around the world, because John the Baptist and the other disciples stood their ground in Jesus’ name. Satan lost, God won.
The kingdom of heaven continues to suffer violence from those who scoff at the idea of an Omnipotent God. It suffers violence from those who do not want to obey God but instead want to maintain their positions in this life. Perhaps you are experiencing such opposition even now in your place of work, from your family or even from your friends. It is easy to feel discouraged and give up. It is easy to want to throw in the towel. But friend, don’t do it! Like the woman in the dollar store, it is time to maintain a vicelike grip on the promises of God. Like the disciples before us it is time to take God at his word (Matthew 28:20; Isaiah 41:10). It is time to stand firm in Jesus’ name and to retrieve what the enemy has taken from you. Take back your position in Jesus (Romans 8:37); Take back your capability (Philippians 4:13); take back your possessions (Philippians 4:19); take back your peace (Isaiah 26:3); take back your inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s time to let the enemy know, you will put up a fight and you intend to win in accordance with the promises of God through his Son, Jesus Christ (Revelations 12:11).
The woman in the video store was determined to save her child, and she did. John the Baptist was determined to remain faithful to the Messiah and his determination paid off. How much more tenacious should we be; we, for whom Jesus died? Today ask God to show you areas of your life where you have relinquished ownership to the enemy, then ask God for the courage to fight and take back what is yours in him.
Faithful God, you are my rock and refuge, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, I will not fear though the earth be removed and the mountain be carried into the midst of the sea. Give me courage to follow you, no matter what comes my way. Lead me by your Holy Spirit into the green pastures that you have prepared for me. Through Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.