“But seek first his [God’s] kingdom and his [God’s] righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” – Jesus of Nazareth in Matthew 6:33 RSV, per the Bible Gateway.
“All of these things” becoming yours covers an amazing array of topics! What did Jesus – believed by over two billion Christians worldwide to be the Messiah or the Christ – mean seeking first the Kingdom of God? What significance does Jesus’ words have for our epoch and all other times in human history?
Keep in mind that Jesus was a builder. A tektōn (τέκτων) which in Greek means an artisan or craftsman skilled with stone and wood. That is more than carpentering, but includes carpentry. Jesus should be of particular interest to people in the building profession, including the affordable manufactured home trade.
To understand what Jesus meant in the above, someone must flash back several centuries into the Jewish past – long before Jesus was born. In God’s original plan for humanity, too many believers – Christians and Jewish – have never been properly made aware of the notion that God very explicitly wanted said humanity and the people of Israel to avoid have a human king or ruler.
For clear evidence of that, ponder 1 Samuel 8.
To set the stage for what Jesus said about the kingdom of God as cited in Matthew 6:33, consider a snapshot of the history of God’s people. After the Exodus ‘out of Egypt’ – the land of slavery – Moses was given the Ten Commandments. That was a rule of law for the people of God. Notice that the Commandments did not have an expiration date. It was a perpetual ordinance, and Jesus himself confirmed the commandments. “Think not that I have come to abolish the law…” said Jesus, in Matthew 5:17.
Exodus 18:13-27 starts with, “Moses selected judges to help people settle disputes, and to learn to understand and live the commandments.” In the Good News translation, it reads like this: “Exodus 18:13 The next day Moses was settling disputes among the people, and he was kept busy from morning till night. 14 When Jethro saw everything that Moses had to do, he asked, “What is all this that you are doing for the people? Why are you doing this all alone, with people standing here from morning till night to consult you?”
15 Moses answered, “I must do this because the people come to me to learn God’s will. 16 When two people have a dispute, they come to me, and I decide which one of them is right, and I tell them God’s commands and laws.”
17 Then Jethro said, “You are not doing this right. 18 You will wear yourself out and these people as well. This is too much for you to do alone. 19 Now let me give you some good advice, and God will be with you. It is right for you to represent the people before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 You should teach them God’s commands and explain to them how they should live and what they should do. 21 But in addition, you should choose some capable men and appoint them as leaders of the people: leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They must be God-fearing men who can be trusted and who cannot be bribed. 22 Let them serve as judges for the people on a permanent basis. They can bring all the difficult cases to you, but they themselves can decide all the smaller disputes. That will make it easier for you, as they share your burden.
Now, history reflects that some of the judges were good and honorable. Other judges were not. That is no surprise, because human nature has never changed. Samuel the prophet was also a judge. As Biography.YourDictionary says, “The prophet Samuel (ca. 1056-1004 B.C.) was the last judge of Israel and the first of the prophets after Moses.”
With that foundation, consider what occurs in 1 Samuel chapter 8.
1 Samuel 8 (Revised Standard Version)
Israel Demands a King
8 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his first-born son was Jo′el, and the name of his second, Abi′jah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds which they have done to me,[a] from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, hearken to their voice; only, you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle[b] and your asses, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
Let’s stop there to add some context before proceeding.
Egypt was the place where ancient Israel went during a famine and, over time, the Jewish people became enslaved.
Egypt was a land of false gods, and several of those Egyptian leaders erected monuments and art to honor and glorify themselves. Just as the billionaires of our era are promoting their own glory, so it was with the wealthy and powerful in the land of ancient Egypt.
The book of Exodus – part of the Torah or Pentateuch of the Hebrew biblical books which are included in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures – described that dramatic period of extreme wealth and power vs. the impoverished and subjected classes in Egypt. Exodus tells the tale of how stubborn how a Pharaoh refused to release the Jewish people until after a series of miraculous interventions, Egypt’s ruler felt that he had no choice. The Jewish Passover recalls an apex of that struggle, when God’s angels struck down the first-born of Egypt, but ‘passed over’ the homes of the Israelites who had the doorways of their homes marked with lamb’s blood. Passover is also the “Feast of Unleavened Bread.” Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which means ‘the House of Bread.’
Now, let’s oversimplify. History reveals that having human rulers often leads to slavery, serfdom, or a type of feudalistic society where there are overlords and the balance of the people have few rights. In the 20th century, facist, socialist, and communist systems established a kind of proletariat status. Left-leaning Wikipedia says: “The proletariat are the social class of wage-earners, those members of a society whose only possession of significant economic value is their labour power.”
That pattern of subjugation of the powerful and rich in a society of the rest of the people has happened time and again. The Jewish people or Israelites slipped in and out of slavery several times.
So, with those points in mind and before returning to 1 Samuel 8, God tells the prophet about the kinds of abuses that will occur in a what amounts to a secular government.
The Jews – or we in our time – must ponder what leads to those abuses by the powerful who control government. Ignoring the Divine Will is at the heart of every one of those listed woes above or that follow. Any authentic “abuse” is always a violation of a Divine law, or it is not an abuse at all.
So, Samuel is warning the Jewish people that bad things will happen if they take a human ruler.
Now, let’s finish 1 Samuel 8.
Israel’s Request for a King Granted
19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No! but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken to their voice, and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.” ##
Part of the richness of Scripture is that it reflects the realities of human nature. There are tales of good men who did evil things. There are tales of people who struggle to do what is good. There are examples of people employing a kind of group think, following the crowd instead of God’s merciful, just, and wise law and will. Those people decided to ignore the prophet Samuel – and to “be like all the nations.” The descendants of those who had escaped the slavery of Egypt were not opting to do things like the other nations.
That warning from Samuel directed by God against having human rulers has repeated time and again in Jewish but also all of human history.
Fast-forward well beyond the time of Jesus Christ.
In America, the founding fathers fought a revolutionary war against England and their king in order to make “we the people” free from a king’s rule. After years of bitter conflict, the colonists were successful in their rebellion America. But what would replace that English king? The founders included people who were well0-versed in history and who were routinely Christian in their beliefs. The 13 original states had not one, but two constitutions. The first constitution – called the Articles of Confederation – were considered so weak that they were replaced by our current U.S. constitution, which included its ten-point “Bill of Rights.”
The U.S. constitutional system avoids having a king. The American constitution divided power intentionally. That was supposed to protect the people against an overreach of abuses of power by their own government. Because in human history, it was outside powers – or internal powers – that often upset society and the day-to-day efforts of people to find and live a good life.
No doubt, there are numerous ways that many in our nation are better off today than on July 4, 1776. But upon close examination, several of the concerns raised in the Declaration of Independence are ‘back’ with a vengeance. That’s not a slam on our constitution or the founders. In many respects, the U.S. Constitution, if understood and followed, is the best and most enduring in the modern world. Rather, the troubles of today should be a realty check. It should be call for all to go back and carefully revisit what God wanted for humanity, and what the founders wanted too. The lessons of the warnings in 1 Samuel chapter 8 matter as much now as when they were first spoken. Limiting human rulers by turning to God and His Law for society is essential for more peace and justice.
As a relevant segue. Regardless of who one voted for in 2020, what is apparent is that Joseph “Joe” Biden is promoting numerous notions that are at odds with the interests of the American people, and are at odds with the Commandments and God’s law. As MHProNews reported, some Catholic Christians – including a priest – have called out Joe Biden as the most anti-Catholic president in American history. Something similar could be said about the balance of other more traditional non-Catholic Christian churches.
It is not only tradition-minded Catholics, but evangelical Christian leaders and media that are denouncing the numerous ways that the Biden-Harris regime is imposing on America – ideas that the founding fathers would have rejected. As our first President, George Washington said, the American system of government is predicated on a moral people. When moral and religious principles are cancelled, then social destabilization follows. Or as founding father Ben Franklin said, the founders gave America a Republic “if you can keep it.”
Slogans have been used by politicians and would-be leaders for centuries. For Biden-Harris, one slogan is “Build Back Better.” But when examined, many of the programs that are being announced or enacted are rewarding certain groups that helped get Biden into office.
One does not need a crystal ball to see where this is going. What is necessary is an eye on history and Divine revelation! Did the presidency of Barack Obama and VP Joe Biden result in some utopia? No. Promises were made, but what occurred was something often quite at odds with those promises. When closely examined, some of those promises involved violations of Divine law. When that occurs, troubles follow.
So, with that backdrop, when Jesus said: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all other things will be given you as well.” That is a message for our times and all times.
The Christian Holy Thursday – when the Last Supper occurred and was followed by the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, that is also during the time of the Jewish Feast of Passover. The Passover that is described in Exodus includes using the blood of a lamb to cover the doorways so that the angel of death would not strike down the Jewish firstborn, just the firstborn of the cruel Egyptian taskmasters. Jesus, said John – “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 RSV). Every sin is a type of enslavement to the devil who uses his wiles to ensnare souls in an effort to lead them into eternal hellfire. But before hell in the next life, a rejection of God’s ways in this life have routinely resulted in hell on earth. Let’s look at some recent historic examples.
Nazis, Marxists, Socialists, Communists, and Fascists
In the 20th century, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, is more commonly called the National Socialists or Nazi party. Wikipedia is arguably wrong to call the Nazis right-wing, it is socialist or left-wing. The Nazis were also fascists. Fascists are a close collaboration between big government and big business. It is a form of oligarchy with monopolistic elements.
Bolsheviks – pro-Communists or Marxist Socialists – came to power in Russia with the help of capitalists, that is just a matter of history. Nazis came to power in Germany with the help of big corporate interests too. This has often been dressed up as pro-worker. Again, NAZI is a contraction that means: “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” Despite all of the promises that the Nazis made, how did facism work out for those workers who became soldiers and went off to die in World War II to spread Adolf Hitler’s views of the world? Hitler was not Christian. He hated Jews and other groups too. As the left-leaning Washington Post said in 2019, Adolf “Hitler hated Judaism. But he loathed Christianity, too. Hitler’s mother was a devout Catholic. His father considered religion a scam.”
Karl Marx, the ‘father’ of socialist-communist thought, infamously said that “Religion is the opium of the people” is one of the most frequently paraphrased statements of German sociologist and economic theorist Karl Marx,” per Wikipedia. That same source says that: “Vladimir Lenin To refute the political legitimacy of religion, Lenin adapted the atheism of Marx and Engels to the Russian Empire.” Among Chinese Communist leaders, Mao Zedong “ruthlessly repressed [religion in China] for thirty years starting in 1949,” per Kenyon.edu.
These various leftist groups brought the world in the 20th century tens of millions of deaths of their own people and that of other nations through internal repression and external war. Some estimates put the total lost to Nazi, Soviet or Russian communism, and Mao’s reign alone at well over 100 million.
Failure to follow the Divine will routinely results in grave injustice, death, and destruction. Yet, facism, socialism, and communism often come to power in part through a series of false promises of something better.
From thoughtful voices that spans the left and right in the U.S., there are numerous warnings about where America is and where it is headed. In fairness, some have been warning about these issues for years. But the slippery slope has now brought us to this point in time where America is in the hands of autocrats that are backed by billionaires and corporate oligarchs with the media and tech power to back them up.
This is far worse than what 1 Samuel 8 described. The taxes are higher. The loss of our privacy, other rights and other opportunities that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution are dangerously eroded. The assault on the Second Amendment is only another sign of a power-grab, because the Second Amendment has little to do with hunting, rather, the Second Amendment has much to do with a check against government power going overboard. Indeed, each of the first ten amendments in the bill of rights are supposed to be mutually supportive to protect “we the people” against government overreach.
Overreach in our era is coming in part through literal bribes of cash from the federal government in the form of checks paid to the people. But far more is going into the hands of corporate interests, even though that is being masked in various ways. Money flows to a federal, state, or local agency or nonprofit. But who benefits from those funds? Aren’t they routinely accessed by the very special interests that put Biden-Harris into office in the first place?
That biblical and historic snapshot should now harken us back to what Jesus taught and its meaning for the 20th century, our era, and all times.
During World War II, the papacy and Catholics helped protected large numbers of Jews from extermination by the Nazis. While that history is being obscured, strong evidence for that claim is the point that nearing the end of the war, the chief rabbi of Rome converted to Catholic Christianity. Israel Zolli, also known as Eugenio Maria Zolli, was the “Chief Rabbi in Rome, Italy (1940–1945),” says Wikipedia, which noted that Zolli how his “converting from Judaism to Catholicism in February 1945…”
The Tablet says “Right after World War II, the chief rabbi of Rome scandalized fellow Jews by becoming a Christian.” Quoting Zolli in Time Magazine: “Do you think I love the Jews less because I have become a Catholic? … No, I shall never stop loving the Jews. I did not compare the Jewish religion to Catholicism and abandon one for the other. This is the greatest tragedy of my life. I slowly, almost imperceptibly became a Christian and could no longer be a Jew.”
The Tablet continues: “In honor of Pope Pius XII, he took the first name Eugenio. He and his wife, who was several years younger, had two adult daughters. Miriam, the younger daughter, would join the Church a year later.
Neither his rabbinical colleagues, nor his congregants, had any idea that Zolli was planning to convert to Catholicism. Nine months before his baptism, in June 1944, Zolli had officiated at a Sabbath ceremony held at Rome’s central synagogue, the Tempio Maggiore, to commemorate the war dead and celebrate the liberation of Rome from German occupation. Several thousand people attended this ceremony, including many of Rome’s surviving Jews. In his remarks, Zolli offered a message of hope and rejuvenation: “Everywhere Abel’s blood comes from the earth, blood of innocent Abel slain by Cain. Nevertheless, we shall rebuild the ruins and reconstruct upon the ruins.” The rabbi’s words that day moved many to tears. Nine months later, news of the rabbi’s apostasy would again move many members of the congregation to tears, but these would be tears of sorrow.
Following their rabbi’s apostasy, the congregants of Tempio Maggiore gathered to sit shiva, ritually mourn, for Zolli. More people attended this meeting than had attended the earlier service commemorating the liberation of Rome from the Nazis.”
Further into that same Tablet article, “Zolli’s decision to convert to Catholicism, however, was not sudden. It was the culmination of a process that had begun decades earlier. In 1917, when he was 36 years old, Zolli had the first in a series of mystical visions of Jesus. Thus began his fascination with Jesus, but it did not lead him to contemplate leaving Judaism. It would be another 28 years before he would consider converting to Catholicism. It was his misfortune to convert right after the near-destruction of European Jewry, at a time when his personal journey would seem most calculated to affront his fellow Jews.”
Before proceeding, let’s note that this Masthead author has friends, family, and colleagues who are of several different Christian denominations. We also include in our circle Jews – observant and more secular ones – Muslims of various types, and several of other religious backgrounds. There are also agnostic and atheist thinkers in our circle and family too. On my father’s side, and there is speculation that there is Jewish blood in our family. If so, it is not ancient, but recent bloodlines.
To all, God gave free will. We cannot force any creed down someone’s throat. That said, there are Eternal Truths, and God wanted us to know those and live them!
In Zolli’s case, he and his family’s conversion to Catholic Christianity was costly in terms of relationships and his vocation too. There are numerous – some Scripture scholars say hundreds – of Jewish scriptural references for what to expect in the Messiah that are confirmed in the person of Jesus Christ. As the once wild Augustine, who later in life became a bishop of the church said, “The Old is in the New Revealed, the New is in the Old Concealed.” That saying of Augustine’s is tied up with the meaning of the Old Testament or Covenant, which for Jewish believers is their Hebrew Scriptures.
With Islam too, there are those who see the obvious ties between Christianity and what the Quran says about Jesus, or for that matter, Jesus’ mother Mary or “Maryam” or “Miriam.” Like Catholics, Orthodox, and many other Christians, Muslims see Jesus’ mother Maryam as a perpetual virgin who had a miraculous conception and birth.
But without further digression, the point is this. There are numerous ties between the Passover events, the high holy days of Christianity. There are ties between many beliefs in Judaism, Islam, and classic Christianity.
God’s word does not return to him void, says Isaiah 55:11. Speaking through the prophet, God says:
“so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and prosper in the thing for which I sent it...” Isaiah 55:11 RSV
The time of fulfillment or accomplishment comes for each person individually and for all time at some point in time. Jesus encouraged his followers to live his teaching, it was not a call to be passive. Those teachings – properly understood – complete many Jewish beliefs, which is why Rabbi Zolli and others have at times converted.
But conversions by whomever or whenever are individual choices. Those choices are part of the authentic struggle between a willingness to submit to the will of God vs. the desire by humans to live by their own beliefs. Each soul in humanity has that option to do whatever it chooses. But there are consequences – real world outcomes – that occur as a result of choices good and bad.
The founders wanted to limit government and its power in the U.S. They would likely be dismayed if they were alive now and saw what is occurring in Washington, D.C. and beyond. The constitutional limitations they established were not what Samuel the prophet said. But it was closer to the notion advocated by Samuel – no human king – than perhaps any government seen today.
Jesus came to save souls from slavery to the devil and sin. But Jesus’ teachings – as in the case of all Scripture properly understood and applied – would also create a more just society.
By seeking to understand the laws of God, the “kingdom of God and his righteousness,” all other things are given to us. That is not a promise of paradise on earth, which Jesus never made. After all, he was betrayed by one of the 12 – Judas Iscariot – for 30 pieces of silver. Then, on Good Friday, Jesus was tried in what could be described as a show-trial and crucified. He was crucified even though Pilate thought him innocent of the specific charge brought against Jesus.
The world and our nation has bright and dark spots. Why a is there a significant degree of darkness? The case can easily be made because people today – as in Samuel’s or Jesus’ time – are seeking to go their own way, rather than seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteous.
Regardless of which party is in power, or whom in business or politics happens to be making a given promise, if that claim goes contrary to God’s expressed will, it is ultimately doomed to lead to trouble.
It is only through the lens of history enlightened by the lens of faith that we can understand our own life, or our own times. As C.S. Lewis put it, Jesus is either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. Since Lewis said that, some have added the L of Legend. Jesus is either Lord, Legend, Liar, or Lunatic. For those open to the truth, Jesus is a historic figure, so he is not a legend or myth. Jesus made himself co-equal with God, whom he called “Abba” which is more personal than Father, more like Papa or Daddy. If that claim of Jesus is false, then Jesus is a liar or lunatic. Jesus is said to have died on Good Friday, to have been buried, and then to have risen on Easter Sunday. That is what this annual time of remembrance is about. That tomb he was buried in was guarded by Roman soldiers. For a Roman guard, the penalty for falling asleep on duty was death. The notion that someone stole the body of Jesus while the guards slept is absurd. Even if the guards fell asleep – unlikely, as it is a death sentence – how would you sleep through the movement of a stone you are next to? Each of the other claims that some make to try to get around the Resurrection of Christ’s story can also easily be debunked. But only for those open to believe.
In seeking God’s kingdom, Jesus who lived as a builder before he began his ministry as Messiah gave us ample lessons in living. It is in seeking God’s kingdom, his teachings and will at all times that we find the path to a truly just society. While a perfect society will not occur in a human sense on earth, living the commandments will make for a more just society than we currently see. Perhaps more important, living rightly, seeking forgiveness as needed, and accepting the path of salvation as Jesus taught it is the sure path to heaven.
In that sense, always seeking the Kingdom of God first can lead us to have “all things” that are good in heaven, forever.
Because when we “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV). “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ — the things God has prepared for those who love him…” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV).
That is the “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It is called the “Gospel” or “Good News” because we are meant to share it.
That’s a wrap on this installment of the runaway number one source for authentic “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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