Heaven on Earth

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Fall Of Israel And Judah—The Assyrian Invasion of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) by R. Alan Streett

November 15, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth Instead of heeding the prophetic warnings, the rulers choose to persecute and kill the prophets.  Therefore, true to his word, God sends judgment by using Assyria to attack the recalcitrant northern kingdom.  Assyria conquers Israel in 722 BC, takes the spoils of battle, and scatters the people abroad. Yet God does not leave Israel without hope.  As early as 750 BC, Amos envisions a day when God will restore Israel. I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; in order that they may possess…all the nations who are called by my name…The mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.  I will [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Divided Kingdom by R. Alan Streett

November 8, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth Rehoboam follows his father Solomon to the throne.  His poor leadership skills and oppressive policies lead the nation to the verge of civil war.  Ten tribes in the north break away and make Jeroboam their king.  Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south remain loyal to Rehoboam. Because Israel has forsaken its covenant pledge to God, (Exodus 19:6-8), by rejecting his rule and embracing idol worship, he allows the northern and southern portions of the kingdom to separate from each other, (1 Kings 11:31-35).  The north will take the name Israel, and the south will go by the name Judah.  Except for sporadic instances in the south, both kingdoms choose to serve their interest rather than God’s.  The [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Monarchy—King Solomon by R. Alan Streett

November 1, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth Solomon, (962–922 BC), follows his father, David, to the throne and rules brilliantly and wisely at first, (1 Kings 1-11).  The pledge that God made to the patriarchs and to Moses, Joshua, and David seems to be coming to pass, (Genesis 15:18; 1 Kings 4:21-34; 8:56).  Israel is the envy of the surrounding nations, and Solomon completes his father’s visionary project of building a temple – a permanent house for the ark of the covenant.  God’s abiding presence between the wings of the cherubim and among his people is a sure sign of his covenant blessings. Unfortunately, Solomon’s Godly traits begin to wane.  In the course of time, according to the Biblical narrative, Solomon becomes the most powerful leader [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Monarchy—King David by R. Alan Streett

October 25, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth The crown passes to David, (1000–962 BC), God’s choice to be ruler over Israel, (1 Samuel 16:12-13), who establishes Jerusalem as his new capital city and moves the ark of the covenant there.  Jerusalem becomes the city of God, where God’s presence dwells among his people.  Despite moral lapses, David is a model king.  He seeks to do God’s will for the nation. Because of David’s faithfulness, God establishes a covenant with him in which he promises to build a Davidic dynasty through his son Solomon, (2 Samuel 7:8-17).  God vows, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Monarchy—King Saul by R. Alan Streett

October 18, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth God grants Israel’s request and tells Samuel to anoint Saul to be ruler over his people, (1 Samuel 9:16-17).  The monarchy begins with Saul, (1020–1000 BC), who is an impressive figure by all physical standards.  But his moral lapses and paranoia undermine his divine mission and will ultimately lead to his demise, (1 Samuel 13:14).  He flaunts his power, embraces multiple wives and their gods, and unwisely leads Israel into war.  When God refuses to answer Saul’s prayers, Saul seeks advice from a witch.  Samuel pronounces God’s judgment on Saul: “Rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Where, Oh Where, Is My King? by R. Alan Streett

October 11, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth A long series of military rulers, or judges, leads Israel on a roller-coaster ride of moral ups and downs, typified by the words, “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes,” (Judges 21:15).  The judges are accountable to God for assuring justice throughout the land, but they mostly fail in this task, leading to chaos.  After being settled in the land for 400 years, the people finally call on the prophet Samuel to anoint a king to rule of them, (1 Samuel 8:5). But instead of choosing a king who meets God’s qualifications, (Deuteronomy 17:14-20), they want one of a different sort.  The leaders explain to Samuel, “We are determined to have a king over us, [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Settling In The Promised Land by R. Alan Streett

October 4, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth With the death of Moses, the responsibility of leading God’s people into Canaan and establishing Israel as a nation falls to young Joshua.  The task is never an easy one.  Throughout his tenure as leader, Joshua struggles to keep the nation faithful to God.  Despite some good years, Israel is always dangerously close to forsaking its call and becoming like the surrounding nations. In his farewell speech, Joshua exhorts the people to keep the law and warns them not to follow the ways of the heathen nations and not to intermarry with their children, lest they fall into a snare.  If that happens, Joshua says, “The Lord, your God, will not continue to drive out these nations before you; but they shall be a snare [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Wayward Trek Across The Wilderness by R. Alan Streett

September 27, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth Barely into the journey of freedom, Israel forsakes her covenant with God and is tempted to return to the ways of Egypt.  The journey to Canaan, which should have taken less than a month, turns into a 40-year trek across the wilderness and is characterized by disobedience and death.  Only a few people of the original Exodus crowd reach the promised land.  The others die in the desert. The book of Deuteronomy tells of God’s dealings with the second generation of Israelites as they prepare to enter Canaan.  Chapter 28 contains blessings and curses.  It opens with Moses admonishing the people, “If you will only obey the Lord your God, by diligently observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: God’s Provisions To Help Israel Keep Its Pledge by R. Alan Streett

September 20, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth When Moses presents God’s covenant requirements to the people, they respond, “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do,” (Exodus 19:8).  In answering the call to be God’s special people, Israel affirms that holiness will be its trademark, (Leviticus 26:1-13; also see Leviticus 11:44).  If Israel is faithful to the covenant, God will be its defender and provider.  As a result, the wayward nations will witness Israel’s blessings, flock into its borders, and serve its God. Passover To assist Israel in its mission, God makes three provisions.  First, he instructs his people to eat an annual Passover meal, commemorating the meal they ate on the night of their escape from Egypt, which anticipated and [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Birth Of A Nation by R. Alan Streett

September 13, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth The Exodus is the pivotal point in Israel’s history, marking its birth as a free people.  It paves the way for the Mosaic covenant, which forms the Hebrew people into a new society.  At Mount Sinai God enters into a covenant with Israel and gives Moses this instruction: Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples.  Indeed, the whole Earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.  These are the words that you shall speak to the [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Exodus by R. Alan Streett

September 6, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth When Moses confronts Pharaoh for the first time, the tyrant defiantly responds, “Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go?  I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go,” (Exodus 5:2).  He soon discovers the answer to his own question.  God sends ten plagues, proving himself to be far more powerful than Egypt’s maniacal monarch or its gods.  In the Exodus story, God’s people escape from Egypt and are formed into an independent nation under God’s rule.  Israel will become God’s Kingdom. To protect the Hebrews from the tenth plague and to prepare them for their liberation, God instructs each family to kill a lamb, smear its blood on the doorpost of their house, and prepare and [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Kingdom In The Old Testament Era by R. Alan Streett

August 30, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet. (Genesis 49:10) Abraham and Sarah indeed conceive in their old age and have the son of promise.  From Isaac comes Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel.  He, in turn, has 12 sons, who become heads of 12 tribes.  God reconfirms with Isaac and Jacob the covenant he made with Abraham. Joseph: From Pit to Prince Joseph, one of Jacob’s 12 sons, enrages his brothers by telling them of a dream in which they bow before him.  In a jealous reaction, they bind him, throw him into a pit, and then sell him to slave traders, who in turn carry him off to Egypt.  Over the years, through many twists and turns, Joseph rises to a position of [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: God’s Royal Contract With Abraham by R. Alan Streett

August 16, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth In Genesis 15 and 17 God reestablishes his covenant with Abram and reiterates his promises, explaining them in greater detail.  For instance, God gives the geographical dimensions of the promised land, which Abram’s offspring will inherit. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites,” (Genesis 15:18-21). Two chapters later, God charges Abram, “Walk before me, and be blameless,” (17:1).  He then changes Abram’s name to Abraham [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Calling Of Abram by R. Alan Streett

August 9, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth With the world in a state of rebellion against its rightful king, God’s utopian plan for humankind seems to have failed once again.  The mandate for humans to rule Earth on God’s behalf and according to his will has yet to be carried out successfully.  Undaunted by these human failures, God chooses one solitary man, Abram, to do his bidding.  To this descendant of Terah of the ancient line of Godly Seth, now living in Ur of the Chaldeans, God communicates a command and a promise. Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: The Great Deluge And A New Beginning by R. Alan Streett

August 2, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth As the decades pass into centuries, chaos and ungodliness gain the upper hand until evil fills the world.  God’s kingdom plan for humans to rule as his vice-regents seems to be a dismal failure.  God decides to take action. The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the Earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.  And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the Earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the Earth the human beings I have created – people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”  But Noah found favor in the sight of the [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Life Outside The Garden by R. Alan Streett

July 26, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth Cain and Abel follow in their parents’ footsteps.  Cain subdues the land (he’s a farmer), and Abel takes dominion over the animals (he’s a shepherd).  Although they live east of Eden without access to the Tree of Life, God does not abandon them.  Rather, he continues to speak with them.  He desires to have a relationship with humans.  The brothers can still respond to the Voice, (Genesis 4).  But they and all future generations after them will come to realize that God is not the only one speaking to them.  Other voices now seek to influence them and move them away from serving God and fulfilling his mandate to rule the world under his auspices. When Cain murders Abel in a jealous rage, God curses the [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Exile And Promise by R. Alan Streett

July 12, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth For Adam and Eve, the consequences of heeding the serpent’s voice are immediate.  First, they become self-conscious and experience shame because of their nakedness.  Second, they become fearful of God and hide from him, (Genesis 3:7-10). But before God addresses the man and woman, he speaks to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel,” (v. 15).  Two opposing categories of people will emerge – those designated as Eve’s offspring, who will follow God’s voice, and those identified as the serpent’s offspring, who will obey the voice of their diabolical master.  Interestingly, thousands of years [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: A Serpentine Plot by R. Alan Streett

June 28, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth Next, God issues a warning: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” (Genesis 2:15-17).  God sets limitations on what is best for Adam and Eve.  And Adam and Eve are not immortal beings.  They need to eat or they will die. Shortly, after God pronounces that all he has made is good, a slithering creature leads a serpentine rebellion against God’s kingdom plans. Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?”  The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: In The Beginning Was The Kingdom (Part One) by R. Alan Streett

June 21, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth Fill the Earth and subdue it; and have dominion over every living thing that moves upon the Earth. (Genesis 1:28) We first learn of the Kingdom of God in Genesis, the book of beginnings.  There we discover the foundation for all theology, including kingdom theology. The foundation is the most important part of any building.  Without a firm and level foundation, a building will be off-kilter and weak, and it won’t stand the test of time.  I live in north Texas, where the soil is known as black gumbo.  It shifts, expands, and contracts depending on ground moisture.  For years, builders constructed houses on highly reliable pier-and-beam foundations that were raised above ground level.  In more recent times, they [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Discovering The Kingdom (Part Three) by R. Alan Streett

June 13, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth The Early Church and the Kingdom Our journey continues as we step out of the four gospels and into the Book of Acts.  In this exciting book, which spans the period between A.D. 30 and A. D. 64, Luke describes the early believers, apostles and lay people alike, spreading the kingdom message to the ends of the Roman Empire.  He mentions that after Jesus was crucified and resurrected but before he ascended to Heaven, he spent 40 days with his apostles, “speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God,” (Acts 1:3).  Stop and think about that for a moment.  Jesus could have spoken about anything, but he chose to speak about one thing only – the kingdom.  Thus, he ended his Earthly ministry the same way [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Discovering The Kingdom (Part Two) by R. Alan Streett

June 6, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth John the Baptist and the Kingdom According to the four gospel writers, Jesus’s public ministry began with the appearance of John the Baptist, who called the Jews to turn away from their self-centered ways and toward the God of their forefathers.  John’s message was simple and direct: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). I have long been able to quote this verse from memory, but I had not pondered its meaning until just a few years ago.  Have you ever considered what this verse meant to John’s first-century audience? First, John called on his audience to do something – “Repent!”  They were to obey this command then and there without delay.  The message was relevant for [...]

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Discovering The Kingdom (Part One) by R. Alan Streett

May 22, 2018

From: Heaven on Earth Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! (Matthew 3:2) The concept of the Kingdom of God is elusive.  From the beginning of Christianity, the greatest minds have been baffled by it.  Theologians have equated it variously with Heaven, the church, Israel, Christendom, democracy, socialism, communism, an ethical ideal, an inward spiritual experience, Christ’s millennial reign, and the eternal state.  No wonder there is so much confusion! In more recent times, New Testament scholars have taken a renewed interest in the Kingdom of God.  Their inquiries have advanced our knowledge of the subject, but we have many more avenues to explore and questions to ask and answer. For more than a decade, learning about the [...]