MATTHEW 11:12: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.”
GENESIS 32:26-28: “And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
OBSERVATION: The Kingdom of God is not entered into passively. We cannot simply stand by hoping that the Lord will bless us. We are engaged in a battle in this life. We are wrestling with both God and man. Those who enter into the blessings of the Kingdom of God are those who persevere until they prevail.
This is not negating the role of Grace in the life of the Christian. In fact, we could not even enter into the Kingdom of God apart from Grace through Faith. It is the gift of God, lest any man should boast. However, once in the Kingdom of God we must respond to God’s Grace that is working within us. We have an enemy within and without. God is also allowing our faith to be tested and tried. We are called to action. Like Jacob, we must learn to wrestle with God and with man – and prevail.
This is what Jesus taught when he called us to ask, seek, and knock. The tense of the Greek verb is present active. It is an ongoing call. We don’t simply ask once, seek only where it is familiar, knock only on the doors that are open. Rather, we must ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking – until we find! Hebrews 11:6 tells us that this is “active faith”! “Active Faith”, the faith that responds to the inward working of God’s Grace in our lives, is diligent, persistent, and tenacious. It believes that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, and like Jacob, will not let go until they receive the blessing!
To enter into the Kingdom of God and all of its’ blessings and provisions is a violent journey. The word violent in Matthew 11:12 connotes the requirement of force. It is not violence in the wrong sense of the term. God never calls us to exercise any violence that would hurt another. We are not warring against flesh and blood. Rather, it connotes the necessary force and effort required to enter into the presence and promises of God that are naturally opposed by sin, flesh (our old sinful nature), and our adversary (the devil). Paul puts it this way – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:10)
Lord, help me to fully respond to Your Grace that is working within me. Help me to put on the whole armor of God and having done all to stand against all the attacks of sin, flesh, and the devil. Give me the strength and courage to persevere both with You (in faith) and with man (those who oppose your truth). May I not let go until I enter into Your will and blessings for my life in this New Year! In Jesus Name!