E-book: My Journey to the Kingdom of God

The Bible is full of stories; stories about people and events.

But rather than being a random collection of stories, they serve

to tell succeeding generations about how God went about (or is

still going about) accomplishing His Will – the plans He had

sovereignly and independently pre-determined for His people

and the world – and revealing Himself to men.

Think of Abraham, who learned the God was Jehovah Jireh

as result of what God had told him to do: to offer up his only

begotten son, Isaac, on an altar of sacrifice (Gen 22:14).

Think of Moses who, subsequent to Israel’s victory over

the Amalekites, built an altar and called the name of it

Jehovah-Nissi: “The Lord is my Banner” (Ex 17:15).

Gideon too built an altar to God and called it Jehovah-

Shalom: “The Lord is my Peace”, because God assured him

that he would not die (Jud 6:24).

All these stories underscore the fact that God is known best

through experiences, not education. If God could be known by

education alone, He would have simply taught Abraham,

Moses, Gideon, and the rest, His names and what each of them

meant. For sure, our Bibles would be thinner than they are

today; but we would be poorer, spiritually. How would we be

inspired like we are now by the men of faith? How would we

be encouraged to run the race with endurance that is set before

us if there is no “great cloud of witnesses” to surround us?

(Heb 12:1) We must thank God for the Patriarchs of the faith

for they have indeed left us a lasting and precious legacy. It is

our turn to make a similar journey of faith so that we too may

leave a lasting and precious legacy to subsequent generations.

Sadly (and I am not judging here), many lack the patience

to know God in this manner. They have chosen the easier way:

education. In saying this, I am not blasting Christian academia.

There is a place for it, but it should not re-place divine

revelation. Paul was a very educated man, in the religious

sense, yet he was diligent in teaching the believers in the cities

that he visited. But at the same time, being keenly aware of the

limitation of the didactic method, prayed that God would give

to the faithful “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the

knowledge of him” (Eph 1:17). Through education, you can

easily know about God; but revelation will cause you to be

able to say, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have

believed, and I am convinced” (2 Tim 1:12).

I should clarify here that as you read my story about My

Wilderness Journey, you might recall a similar experience: a

time when God seemed far away, your prayers bouncing off

the ceiling above you, and you have lost your way. I want you

to know that what you experienced was not the Wilderness

Journey but the Dark Night of the Soul 1 .

In the Wilderness Journey, as it was for the Israelites, God

is clearly visible to you and His presence is unmistakable. He

has not left you; He is leading you. In the Dark Night of the

Soul, however, “an evil, unbelieving heart (has led) you to fall

away from the living God” (Heb 3:12). In short, you are

backsliding.

In Part I of this book, I will be sharing about my life between

the years 2008 and 2010, which I call My Wilderness Journey.

(It might sound cliché to you, but as you read on you will find

that it isn’t.) Before this, I had been a believer of Jesus Christ

for over twenty-five years; during which I had served as a

pastor and missionary, I had been well discipled by godly men,

and have discipled others as well. I knew God; or so I thought.

The Wilderness Journey humbled me by showing me how little

I knew of Him. (Humbling was one of God’s expressed

objectives for Israel’s wilderness journey according to

Deuteronomy 8:3.) I dare say that my knowledge and faith in

God grew more in those three years (of the Wilderness

Journey) than in the twenty-some years prior to it.

I am thankful that we are not the only ones who have

undergone this journey; I personally know of others who have

gone through it also. Their path and circumstances might differ

slightly but they always lead to the same destination: a deeper

knowledge of and greater trust in God.

Although this journey was embarked upon mainly by my

wife and I, my children – particularly the two elder ones –

were not untouched by it. God was, so to speak, killing two

birds with one stone, like He did with Abraham on Mount

Moriah.

Abraham had waited many years for the arrival of God’s

promised son – twenty-five, to be exact. Finally, Isaac was

born; and Abraham loved him dearly. Just when everything

seemed to be on track for Abraham to become “the father of

many nations”, as God had said, God Himself burst the

“bubble” by giving Abraham this command: “Take now your

son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land

of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the

mountains which I will tell you” (Gen 22:2).

Abraham obeyed God.

By then, Isaac was no longer a child; he was in his thirties.

Hence, it wouldn’t be difficult for him to physically overpower

his father (who was about 130 years old) and save himself

from certain death. But he didn’t. Through this event alone,

God tested and saw the faith and obedience of both Abraham

and Isaac. In the end, the Lord blessed both Abraham and

Isaac.

Likewise, as a result of our (my wife and I) Wilderness

Journey, in particular because of how we trusted in God, their

faith in God was built up. Praise the Lord.

There are two reasons why I have decided to put our

experiences in writing. The first is personal. What God has

allowed us to undergo is precious and the lessons learned

priceless. To forget them would be costly; God might make us

go through them again. It’s been a few years since we’ve

emerged from the journey and I felt it is time to recollect the

experiences and consolidate the lessons learned.

But these recollections are not just for my own benefit;

they are for you, my readers, as well. It is my hope and prayer

that as a result of reading my story you would hunger to know

God in a new and deeper way, and you would desire to embark

on the Wilderness Journey as well.

In the course of writing, my heart was constantly filled with

praise and thanksgiving to God. It has been “good medicine”

to my body, as Proverbs 17:22 says. We should do more of it:

telling one another of the wonderful things God has done, that

is.

The second reason for re-telling my story is to help you

(and other Christians as well) see that the Old Testament

narratives are more than just good stories to tell children in

Sunday school; they hold spiritual lessons as well as very

practical ones too, even though we are separated by thousands

of years. Regrettably, too many of these stories have either

been allegorized or spiritualized to the point that their original

intent and meaning have being obscured, and their power

diluted. One of the cardinal principles in Bible Interpretation

is: Interpret Scripture literally. About this principle, J. I.

Packer writes:

The Medieval exegetes, following Origen, regarded the

‘literal’ sense of Scripture as unimportant and unedifying.

They attributed to each biblical statement three further

senses, or levels of meaning. Medieval exegesis was thus

exclusively mystical, not historical at all; biblical facts

were made simply a jumping-off ground for theological

fancies, and thus spiritualized away. Against this the

Reformers protested, insisting that the literal, or intended,

sense of Scripture was the sole guide to God’s meaning.

Fanciful spiritualizing, so far from yielding God’s meaning,

actually obscured it. The literal sense is itself the spiritual

sense, coming from God and leading to Him. 2

My Wilderness Journey may have lasted for only three years,

but it is merely a part of a larger work that God was doing in

my life, beginning effectively from 1995.

You will read from my story that I was commissioned as a

missionary in 1995. During the commissioning service at

church, two brothers-in- Christ received “words” from the Lord

about me. One of them heard God say that He was going to

“put the spirit of Joshua” on me. Another brother simply told

me to read the book of Joshua. Since then I have been reading

the book of Joshua, but only since two years ago (in 2011) did

I begin to use the name “Joshua”.

Joshua, as you know, was the man appointed by God to

lead the children of Israel across the Jordan River and into the

Promised Land. In His own sovereignty, God has chosen me to

lead His people (Christians) into a spiritual “Promised Land”.

That was to be my calling, my destiny. But I had a problem: I

didn’t know what exactly is that Promised Land. Was it a real

place, or was it a spiritual realm? Where is it located, and how

do we get there? For the next seven years, I sought the Lord

for the answers to these questions, and more. I hate to spoil it

for you, but I am going to tell you that the Promised Land is

the Kingdom of God.

The Lord has taught me many things in the course of the seven

years. I have laid them out, as simply and as clearly as I could,

in Part II and III of this book. You are probably wondering:

“There are already many books written and published on this

subject; what makes this one different from the rest?”

From what I know (because I have not read every book out

there on this subject), most of them explain and describe the

kingdom of God from the perspective of the New Testament

only. I will show you, in this book, that the concept of the

kingdom of God is a biblical concept; meaning, it can be found

both in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old, the kingdom

of God is presented to us in the form of “pictures” – the

Passover lamb that was killed and eaten, and its blood painted

on the doorposts and lintels of the Hebrew homes is a picture

of Christ our Redeemer. In the New, it is presented to us

through metaphors such as “a man who sowed good seed in his

field” (Matt 13:24-30), “a grain of mustard seed that a man

took and sowed in his field” (Matt 13:31-32), “leaven that a

woman took and hid in three measures of flour” (Matt 13:33),

“treasure hidden in a field” (Matt 13:44), “a merchant in

search of fine pearls” (Matt 13:45-46), and “a net that was

thrown into the sea” (Matt 13:47-50). Furthermore, I will show

you that the biblical concept of the kingdom of God is the

basis of the gospel that Jesus preached during His ministry on

earth.

Matthew tells us that Jesus went about everywhere preaching.

What did He preach? Matthew says it was the “gospel of the

kingdom” (Matt 4:23). Although I had read this countless

times (as you’ve had too, I’m sure), it has never occurred to

me that Jesus could not have preached the same gospel we are

preaching today (I will call it the gospel of salvation) simply

because at that time He had not been crucified, and neither had

He risen from the dead (two events which form the bedrock of

the Christian faith. If Christ had not risen, our faith would be

futile, and “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor

15:19)). And to preach this gospel of the kingdom, Jesus had

to have taken it out of the Old Testament, particularly the

Torah, since the New had not yet been written.

There will be those who would argue that Jesus preached a

“different” gospel because He was preaching to “the lost sheep

of the house of Israel” – the Jewish people. Being brought up

in the Hebrew Scripture, a gospel that was based on the Torah

would be more familiar sounding to them, and thus make them

more receptive to it. And for the Gentiles, God used a different

gospel; one that centered on Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth,

and the Life” (John 14:6).

This was of course not the case. Acts 28 clearly reveals that

Paul proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the

Lord Jesus Christ “with all boldness and without hindrance”

(verse 31). He did not use one message for one group, and a

different message for another group. The preaching of Christ

crucified was itself “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to

the Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:23). If Paul were still alive today, there

will be no doubt in my mind that he would preach the same

way he did back then. I only hope that he would not call us

“accursed” after hearing the gospel that we are preaching today

(Gal 1:9).

The gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of Christ – we

need both of them for they are two parts of a whole. If only

one part is preached, only a partial gospel has been preached.

Unfortunately, the gospel that was presented to me, which I

received, was a partial gospel. It is time for the church to

rediscover and preach again the gospel of the kingdom. This

was what, I believe, Jesus was doing when He went

everywhere preaching the gospel of the kingdom. And besides

preaching it Himself, He also taught His disciples to do the

same and to continue doing it. As a matter of fact, Jesus

predicts that this gospel of the kingdom will be “proclaimed

(or preached) throughout the whole world as a testimony to all

nations”. And when that happens, “the end will come” (Matt

24:14).

Part II of this book is about the pictures of the kingdom of

God in the Old Testament. There are two, basically: the

Garden in Eden and the land of Canaan. From the Garden in

Eden, you will learn that the kingdom of God is (1) a better

place, (2) the most holy place, (3) a rich place, and (4) a place

of rest. Canaan, described as “a land flowing with milk and

honey”, also depicts the kingdom of God as a place of

abundance and rest. But more than all this, the kingdom of

God is a place where God rules and reigns.

In this sense, the Young’s Literal Translation has rightly

replaced “the kingdom of God” with “the reign of God” in

many places in the Bible. It is correct since God is the One

who rules and reigns in this kingdom. With this understanding,

we know what we mean when we pray “Thy kingdom come”:

we are praying and looking for the day when “the kingdoms of

this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his

Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15).

The kingdom of God, as represented by the Garden in Eden

and the land of Canaan, is the destination for God’s people.

This implies that they had a different starting point: Adam was

created outside the Garden, and the children of Israel were in

bondage to slavery in Egypt. Likewise, we were in the

kingdom of darkness before God found us; and were delivered

out of it and translated into the kingdom of His Son (Col 1:13).

Unfortunately, this verse has given Christians a wrong

impression: that we are translated into the kingdom of God

immediately after we were delivered from the kingdom of

darkness. Going by the Exodus story, which I have come to see

as representing the Christian journey, there is a lapse of time

between redemption (Passover), deliverance and baptism

(crossing the Red Sea), and entering the kingdom of God

(entering the Promised Land). Furthermore, didn’t Jesus say

that He is “the Way” and that no one comes to the Father but

by Him? (John 14:6) If Christ is the way, then He cannot also

be the destination. Hence, coming to Christ is not the end of

the journey; it is only the beginning. The way that Christ says

He represents is the Way of Discipleship: it is hard and few

find it (Matt 7:14). It is a path of breaking, molding, and

making spiritual children into spiritual sons.

In Part III, I will be examining the metaphors Jesus used to

describe the kingdom of God. Most of them are found in the

thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel narrative. But the study

of God’s kingdom would not be complete without looking at

the Coming Kingdom of Christ.

Most of what I will be sharing in the subsequent pages were

not learned through study but received through revelation. This

is a bold claim, I know. But I would not have made it if it were

not so. The truth is, the understanding of the kingdom of God

cannot be received by any other way except by revelation.

In Matthew 13, Jesus told a parable about a sower who

“went out to sow”. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the

path; some fell on rocky ground; other seeds fell among the

thorns; and still others landed on good soil. Before we rush

into expounding on the parable, let’s remind ourselves why

Jesus spoke in parables.

In His own words, Jesus spoke in parables because “this

people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can

barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should

see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand

with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” What’s

more, Jesus spoke in parables so that Isaiah’s prophecy, that

says, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will

indeed see but never perceive,” might be fulfilled.

But only to His handpicked disciples did Jesus reveal “the

secrets of the kingdom of God” – with this sober reminder:

“Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people

longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what

you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:17).

Now, we are ready to consider the meaning of the parable.

The sower, as revealed by Jesus, was God Himself. He has

gone out to sow the “word of the kingdom” into the hearts of

men (and still is doing so). When those who hear it and do not

understand it, “the evil one comes and snatches away what has

been sown in his heart.” These are those who have no

revelation whatsoever. Their hearts are as hard and

(spiritually) dull as the pathway on which the seed fell. Even if

God were to shout into their ears, they would probably not get

it.

Then there are those who received the word of the kingdom

and rejoiced because they understood it. Their joy was

however short-lived. When tribulation and persecution arose,

some fell away. The word in the rest of them was choked by

“the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches”.

Only a few who heard the word and understood it went on

to be fruitful; “in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and

in another thirty.” These who have received the initial

revelation of the kingdom automatically become perfect

candidates for more revelation because, as Jesus said, “to the

one who has, more will be given, and he will have an

abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has

will be taken away”.

After I had received the initial “seed” (the word of the

kingdom), I continued asking for greater revelation and

understanding. The more I asked, the more I received. The

more I sought, the more I found. And the more I knocked more

was opened to me. Even as you read this book, I pray for the

spirit of wisdom and revelation to enlighten the eyes of your

heart. This is the only way you will fully grasp what the

kingdom of God is.

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