In articles past, I mentioned that Yeshua’s most used self-reference is the “Son of Man.”
This phrase had multiple levels, and these levels allowed Yeshua to say several things at the same time. In Psalms 8:4, the phrase “son of man” is paralleled with “man,” and in Daniel 7:13, the “son of man” is equated with the Ancient of Days. Both the Ancient of Days and the “Son of Man” are seated on heavenly thrones. While “Son of Man” was Yeshua’s favorite self-reference, His primary topic for teaching or His ministry focus was the “kingdom of G-d” or the equivalent “kingdom of heaven.”
In many circles, the “kingdom of G-d” and the “kingdom of heaven” are viewed as two separate ideas, but really they are one and the same kingdom. In Hebraic thinking, the word “heaven” could be used as a circumlocution or evasive synonym for G-d. Two examples from each side of the Bible will demonstrate the point.
In Daniel 4:26, the word “heaven” is used instead of G-d in the phrase “until you acknowledge that Heaven rules.” In the narrative of the prodigal sons, the younger son says that he will go back to his father and say “I have sinned against heaven,” and here heaven is being used as an evasive synonym for G-d. I note also that in Matthew 13 (vs. 11, 24, 31)Yeshua, too, uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven,” which could also be read “kingdom of G-d.”
For Yeshua, the big picture of His work on this earth could be summed up in the word “kingdom.” When moderns hear the word “kingdom,” we think of a place, but for Yeshua the “kingdom” was about the rule and reign of G-d in the lives of humanity. Yeshua spoke often about the “kingdom,” and the following are a sampling.
▪ In Matthew 6:10, Yeshua taught His disciples to pray that the “kingdom” would come.
▪ In Matthew 6:33, Yeshua asked us to “seek first the kingdom,” and as stated earlier in Matthew 13, He told numerous parables regarding the “kingdom.”
▪ Yeshua’s inaugural message was “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (near)” (see Matthew 3:2 and 4:17). This language is paralleled with the language of Mark, where we read “the kingdom of G-d is near, repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15).
The “good news,” or what is often called the “gospel,” is that G-d is on the throne and in control of the universe. Isaiah 52:7 asserts that the “good news” is “our G-d reigns.” Right at the epicenter of the Psalms are several Psalms that proclaim that the Lord reigns (see Psalm 93:1; 95:3; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1). The “good news” of the four gospels (which are really one story), is that Yeshua the Messiah has now come in residence to inaugurate His kingdom rule on this earth. This earthly rule of G-d was indicated in the prophets and the Psalms, along with Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Scripture). In Numbers 24:17 we are told that a “star” will come out of Jacob and a “scepter” will come out of Israel, and this is classic Hebraic parallelism. The idea of a scepter is that a king would one day rule and this ruler would come from the loins of the nation of Israel. Yeshua came to inaugurate the kingdom, we as His people infiltrate the kingdom, and He will one day return to consummate the kingdom.
I opened by talking about Yeshua’s self-designation as the “Son of Man,” so let’s return to that idea again. In Daniel 7:13, we read, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like the son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Amazingly, the same promise that was given to the physical Davidic line of earthly kings has now been morphed into this divine “Son of Man.”
But wait, this is where it gets really interesting!
In Matthew 26, Yeshua is being interrogated by the high priest as to His identity. Matthew 26:64 reads: “Yeshua replied, ‘but I say to all of you, in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” In this most daring of claims, Yeshua says that He is the ONE of Daniel 7 as the “Mighty One” is the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man will, like Yeshua, be riding the clouds.
Brent Emery can be reached at email@example.com.