1. What Kingdom is it we are to seek? (Matt. 6: 33)  The Kingdom of grace?  Nay, we are in it already, as disciples (Col. 1: 13).  As yet it is the kingdom in mystery only: it is concealed; for the King, on whose power depends its manifestation, is away.


We are to seek the future kingdom, the kingdom in manifestation, the kingdom of glory.  For that, Daniel, the witness of its futurity, is waiting (Dan. 12: 13).  Daniel was made witness of the kingdom of Israel overthrown. He, one of the royal family of Judah, is made a eunuch in the palace of the Gentile King, to whom God committed the overturning of the kingdom previously given to Israel.  To him it was granted to know, and to set forth to us, the course of Gentile empire, and its final overthrow by God’s manifested power put forth against it (Dan. 2.  7).


The call by John Baptist and by Jesus in God’s appointed time referred to these prophecies.  The kingdom of heaven hath drawn near!”  All expected thereupon the fulfilment of Daniel 2: 44: “Now is the God of heaven about to break in pieces all other kingdoms, setting up His own alone.”  Moreover, signs of power supernatural burst forth in the ministry of Jesus.  All eyes and ears were attent on the realization of the promises of the prophets.  But for these blessings Israel was not ready.  As they rejected the King of that kingdom, the kingdom itself withdrew.


But what mean the words: “Seek his righteousness?”


1. They do not mean imputed righteousness.  That was needed to present acceptance; and the hearers possessed imputed righteousness already, as disciples of Jesus.  Nor was the Saviour exhibiting Himself, in the Sermon on the Mount, as the righteousness of the believer.  But He was teaching those who would listen the principles which were to guide their conduct, if they would enter the millennial kingdom.  So in other passages of Matthew it has the same active sense.  Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”  Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  Obedience also is directly stated as the condition of entering it.  Who shall have part in it?  He that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven” (7: 21).  So Peter speaks of those who fear God, and “work righteousness” (Acts 10: 35).  So Paul.  Through faith the worthies of old “wrought righteousness” (Heb. 11: 33.  Also 2 Cor. 9: 9, 10; Phil. 3: 6).


New principles of far greater height and depth than the old ones of the Law are in the Sermon on the Mount disclosed by Jesus.  They were God’s words put into his mouth.  While they were “sayings of mine,” as he says, they were still “the will of his Father in heaven.”  Thus obedience to Jesus’ novel principles and precepts is the means and the way; and the kingdom of glory is the bright end set before us.  The precepts are so lofty and so difficult beyond those of the Law, because the way is now opened to a higher and more glorious department of the kingdom than was known to Israel of old.  These new precepts, this new spirit, are God’s education of the “saints of the heavenlies.”  The Law made naught perfect; but the Son of God does.  He calls disciples now to nothing short of the perfection of God our Father in heaven.



2. Let us confirm this by a view of Paul’s attitude in Philippians 3: 8-16.  The apostle rejects the righteousness he wrought himself while under law, and accepts with gratitude the righteousness wrought by Christ, presented by the Father, to be the clothing of each believer.  He calls it - “the righteousness which is from God upon faith(Greek: ver. 9.)  But though he accepted this as a gift, at the outset of his Christian career, there was yet something set before him as a prize.  He desired to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection, and to suffer with Christ now, even to the endurance of martyrdom – “if by any means I may attain,* unto the (select) resurrection from among the dead(Greek).  To obtain a part in the resurrection of the dead after the thousand years demands no faith at all.  The wicked will receive that.  It could, therefore, be no object of his desire.  But to obtain [by effort] a place in the first and blest resurrection, this he might well covet.  And tribulation is God’s appointed way thereto.  Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through many tribulations (plur.) enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14: 2.).


[* The word ‘attain’ means ‘to gain by effort’.]


What kingdom was that?  The Gospel?  Nay, the disciples were in that already.  The Church?  They were there also.  It can only mean, then, the future millennial kingdom of glory; which answers to the select resurrection from the dead in Philippians.  Paul continues: “Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect; but I follow after if that I may apprehend (lay hold of) that for which also I was apprehended (laid hold of) by Christ.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended” - though all others did believe it of him – “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching after those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high (or heavenly) calling of God in Christ Jesus.”


In our day, many [regenerate believers] are utterly unbelieving about any future kingdom of miracle and of resurrection, to be set up by Jesus at His return.  And of those who retain that belief many are provoking God, and hardening their hearts against the testimony of His true-hearted ones.  They refuse to believe God’s threatenings against His people’s partial unbelief, and disobedience.  They get rid of any threat levelled by God against hardness of heart and disobedience, by the cry: ‘That’s Jewish!  It does not refer to us.  We are the members of Christ, the bride of Christ; we are above commands, and beyond responsibility!’  The Holy Spirit foresaw this; and has in Hebrew 3. 4. furnished the antidote thereto.  By the whole tenor of the appeal, its conditionality appears.  Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence” (Heb. 3: 6).  We became associates* of the Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Heb. 3: 14).  Here Paul (or the inspired believer, who wrote this epistle) places himself on the same level with those he warns.  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.  Exhort one another ... lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”  Let not, then, a view of your privileges harden you, oh believers!  Eternal life, through grace, you cannot lose: but your being associates of Christ in the millennial kingdom of His glory depends on your not giving up this hope, and not provoking the Lord.


[* A reference back to 1, 8, 9.  We are Jesus’ “fellows” of Psalm 45., under condition of persevering in right hopes and profession to the end.]


This is the force of the appeal in Hebrews 3: 15-19.  You will say: ‘Ah! that does not apply to us.  Israel of old was a people of the flesh.’  Yea, but it does!  Who were they, of whose provocations God so heavily complains?  Egyptians? Moabites? Men of Babylon?  Nay, but His own redeemed people: those led out of Egypt by faith in the Lamb’s blood.*  Who were they that troubled Him?  Israel, whose sins at length drew down the just punishment!  Against whom did Jehovah’s oath go forth, not to be recalled?  Against the disobedient ones** of the house of Jacob.  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”


[* Verse 16 should be read as a question, as critics generally are agreed, and as the two following verses show.


** So it should be translated.  The word is a different one from that for unbelief.]


Yes! it was the partial unbelief of believers!  Twice does Moses record their faith: at his first propounding to them their hope; and when the sea had overwhelmed their foes.  By faith they kept the Passover, by faith they passed through the Red Sea, where the men of unbelief were swallowed up (Heb. 11: 28, 29).  The same epistle bears witness, both of the foundation of faith, and of the superstructure of unbelief and disobedience.


Let us labour, then, to enter into that rest, lest any fall by the same example of disobedience.”  All believers enjoy, or may enjoy, present rest from their own works for justification, through the finished work of Christ. But all ought to be seeking by the obedience of faith for the future [millennial] rest, which the apostle has set before our eyes.  It is worthy our highest, our most sustained, efforts.  A thousand years of glory and bliss with Christ!  A thousand years to be blessed and holy, the priests of God and the Christ, reigning jointly with the Son!  For this Paul sought with his best vehemence, with his most assiduous endeavours.  Be not cast down by diffiulties; but be not presumptuously confident.  Where Paul could not speak confidently till toward the close of his career, how should you?  Loud is the call to circumspection.  Beholding the misconduct of Israel the Church of Christ’s provocations presented as in a glass, let us fear to prove our unbelief by our disobedience, as did they.  The flesh is in us still, the parent of all misdeeds, unless overcome by the [power from the Holy] Spirit God.  It is still the day of battle with our wily and strong foe, Satan; and only if we be clad in God’s armour, and strong in God’s strength, shall we come off the field victorious.


So then seek the kingdom of God!  Seek it first and foremost!  Win this, and all else lost is but a trifle.  Lose this, and all else won will not make amends.  Pursue after this as the prize of your calling.  Flee untruth and deceit: cleave to truth and uprightness.  Do good unto all, specially to those of the household of faith.  If Jesus thought so highly of this as to promise it to the apostles as His chief boon, surely you also should think of it as highly.  If He Himself was comforted upon His way of sorrow, by gleams from this glory, how much more should you be!  The more of the Spirit of God you have here; the more will you covet a place and glory there.