“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12, NKJV).
The Ellicott’s Bible commentary described the violent in Matthew 11:12 as men (or women) of eager, impetuous zeal, who grasp the kingdom of heaven—i.e., its peace, pardon, and blessedness—with as much eagerness as men would snatch and carry off as their own the spoil of a conquered city. In the Bible days, there were always spoils of war to be gained after a city conquers another city. Our text suggests that those who will inherit peace, pardon and heaven’s blessings in this dispensation must be believers with candor, zeal, eagerness and Holy Ghost determination. The word “violence,” in the introductory text, is translated in the Greek language as biazo, which means to use and apply force. Below are some key areas of Kingdom practice where we need to apply force and violence viz:
Violence in Prayer and Faith: The Bible says the persistent and heartfelt prayer of a righteous man has tremendous power that is dynamic in its workings (James 5:16, AMP). It is like dynamite that blasts rocks and mountains into pieces. A violent faith is like the one Jacob demonstrated i.e. it is resolute and will not give up even in the face of great physical pain (Genesis 32: 24-32). A violent faith was also manifested by the Syrophoenician woman who was skillful in pleading her case before a compassionate God (Matthew 15:21-28). A violent faith is what the leper had and believed that God is willing to bless (Matthew 8:1-3). Thus, a violent faith is one that knows that faith is activated by loving God genuinely and also loving mankind (Galatians 5:6).
Violence in Giving: In 1 Kings 3:3-5, the Bible states how Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on the altar in Gibeon and that same night God appeared to him in the dream with an open check of blessing. Solomon gave “violently” and this triggered divine reaction. Sometime ago, a young bachelor, who was about to marry, approached me and offered to me his only prized possession (i.e. refrigerator) as a seed. He said he was praying to God to bless him with a car and God asked him to sow his fridge which was all he essentially had. The result was that someone blessed him with an unsolicited car. The Bible says those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy (Psalm 126:5, NLT).
Violence in Praise: In Revelation chapter 4, Apostle John saw a revelation of the praise and worship going on in heaven by celestial beings. And he described that the praise was focused on God; it was continuous, unending, and dramatic. The heavenly beings prostrated and laid down their golden crowns in worship to God. It is God’s will that our personal and corporate worship on earth will reflect this (Matthew 6:9-10). Paul and Silas praised God “violently” in prison and in pain, and suddenly there was a divine response that caused an earthquake and their bonds broken.
Violence in Evangelism: Jesus talking about evangelism said, “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:36). The woman of Samaria after encountering Jesus’ saving grace went and told her city about Jesus, and many came to seek Him as a result. Phillip brought Nathaniel to Jesus. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, brought him (i.e. Peter) to Jesus (John 1:35-50). The recurring cliché in these scenarios was come and see the Messiah. And this remains the crux of evangelism, introducing mankind to the Savior.
Violence in Holy Living: Jesus, in warning against temptation, said that if any part of our body causes us to sin, we should cut it off (Matthew 18:8-9). He was underscoring how violent and intolerant to sin we should be. He died to take away our sins and to empower us against sinful practices. We are to develop zero tolerance for sin and compromise. We are to deny the flesh daily, renew our minds with the Word of God, and activate our spirit man through fervent prayers. In this permissive, sinful world, we are to be symbol of purity and holiness.
CONCLUSION: As we become zealous and eager practitioners of the aforementioned points, there will be no limits to our rising in 2017. Receive fresh grace and determination to be a doer of the word in Jesus’ name.