Northwest of Eden # 12 – A HEAVENLY KINGDOM (Gospels, Acts, IDB. Qualben)

 Rome, under Pompey, had begun to spread its wings and became power hungry.  Small states like Judah invited the Romans to protect them from their enemies, the Egyptians and the Syrians.  The Romans did send Syria home and conquered Egypt.  The Jews were granted their religious liberties and the High Priest had an ear with the Emperor.  That is why the Governor had to satisfy the religious elite and crucify Jesus the Christ.  When the political uprisings continued, Rome dissolved Judah and scattered the Jews all over her empire.  The orthodox Jews kept their national identity and their Torah.  Seventy years before Rome dissolved the Jewish hope of another Davidic monarchy, Jesus of Nazareth appeared proclaiming a new kind of “Kingdom.”  It was Heavenly, Godly and in the Heart.  Jesus, in person, was the way back to God, via the truth and a new life.  To enter, one had to believe that God the Father had sent Jesus and one had to repent or make a one hundred eighty degree turn from a sinful life or an unfair system.  Jesus predicted that individual transgressions and the traditions of the fathers had replaced God’s Law and would lead to the downfall of the Jewish state.  Jesus had come to offer peace through preaching of the Word, but the Jewish leaders chose Caesar and the sword.  Ironically, their High Priest predicted that one had to die for their nation so they would not die.  This concept would become one of the main doctrines of the followers of Jesus; only, it would be applied to the human soul and not to the body.  Jesus, however, healed both body and soul. A sick and sinful body was no credit to a heavenly kingdom.  His instructions, to His followers, were that they begin offering the kingdom to Jews first and then to the world.    
The globalization of the “God as a Heavenly and Loving Father” had begun.  The Jews, however, were the first to oppose and persecute the Jesus’ reform of their religion.  They carried their hostility into captivity and gained Gentile support by depicting Christians as enemies of all gods and all religions.  They turned Jesus into a contender that wanted Caesar’s throne.  They turned the Last Supper of Jesus into a blood sacrifice.  This resulted in three violent Roman persecutions and an endless literary pagan assault against the members of the Heavenly Kingdom.  They even found an imposter for Christ by the name of Apollonius of Tyana.  Christians were motivated by the return of Jesus, the Christ, and did not enter into a dialogue with the Jews or the heathen.  They had no need to do so for their non-violent message of a Kingdom where every one was equal and welcomed free of charge was more than sufficient evidence.  In addition, these followers of Jesus proved themselves to be faithful and reliable, as well as productive servants of their pagan masters.  It was unavoidable that the distinct difference between Christianity and Judaism became apparent.  Judaism was too exclusive while Christians warmed their way into the life and culture they had come to live in.  Gradually, Christians began to use the written word to defend their Lord and His messianic purpose of a moral and not a political kingdom.  The leaders of the Republic of Rome grudgingly realized the benefits of such a religion and they too began to endorse it.  Christians helped their acceptance when they too were willing to serve in the army.  They assisted the Emperor Constantine in 313 A.D. to turn the cross into a sword.  That sword would dominate religion and politics into the twenty-first century.  By the time of Constantine, Christianity had spread in different forms beyond the Roman Empire without the sword.  A Christian sword would begin to reign for more than a thousand years.  At last, Jesus prediction became real, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
During the first three hundred years, the members of the heavenly kingdom learned how to live in a hostile world and slowly became one with it.  The Gentiles began to turn to a religion that was not as demanding or costly as their many gods, idols and shrines.  Christians had no structures or places that bowed to statutes and human gods at a price.  The Christian God was fatherly and kind.  He preferred justice to costly sacrifices.  He offered forgiveness in place of punishment.  He did not become angry when man made mistakes or when things went wrong.  Above all things, one could carry both God and Jesus in ones’ heart.  The most important thing was that the “spirit or soul” was secured by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave.  It was the most and simple religion the world had ever been offered free of charge.  It was tailor made for the common man.  This religion spread over the Greco-Roman world in spite of the persecutions and devastating literary opposition.  Unfortunately, the common man was not in charge of the interpretations regarding the Heavenly Kingdom.  Learned and spirited persons from the Greek and Roman schools of learning put new meaning on the words and deeds ofJesus the Founder and His disciples.  This process would continue and divide the members of the Godly Kingdom into the twenty first century and cause much bloodshed.  
Rome became the track on which Christianity could spread all over its huge empire.  The Messiah required a huge road to travel on and Rome provided the territory, the laws and the protection that Jesus’ followers needed.  During this Roman period a number of things happened.  The Jews, to maintain their identity in the world, selected the writings that we know as the Old Testament.  For the Hebrew language to become legible a group of scholars, the Masoretes pointed the text and these dots became vowels.  YHWH became Yahweh.  The orthodox faithful produced a Hebrew text and the Hellenized Jews, the Greek Septuagenta.  These two works aided Christians in compiling the reports of Jesus’ eyewitness into a Canon consisting of the Apostles Creed, the New Testament and the Apostolic Office.  The Epistle of James and the Letter to the Hebrews were not recognized until after the Protestant Reformation.  The simple Jesus became a complicated subject of study.  The Hellenistic Judaizers separated the Spirit Christ from the human Jesus.  The Latins held on to Jesus’ humanity and divinity.  The Holy Ghost came from God and not from Jesus. This controversy divided Christianity into two separate camps, the Greek and the Latin Churches.  Before that split, the Greeks and Latins had made Constantinople as their glorious seat of the Kingdom on Earth.  It unraveled when the Roman emperors began to assert themselves as the top Ecclesiasts.  The Latin Popes took charge over the human soul and thereby also began to dominate the emperors.  The man in the Apostolic Office assumed complete command over the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  As the Vicar of Christ, the Popes became intolerant to other beliefs, nor did they walk in the humble path of Jesus, and they became branded as Antichrists.  Their hostility to religious reform kept their eyes off the rise of Islam that would become a far greater threat to Christianity.