Let’s read Matthew 10:5-7, “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (NKJV). I capitalized the key words which provide the answer to your question, for the message at this time, concerning the “kingdom of heaven,” was only for the nation of Israel. It was NOT intended for other nations (Gentiles) or a mixed race (the Samaritans were part Jewish and part Gentile). It was to Israel that God had promised a King who would reign over this earth. He would be born through King David’s line as we see in 2nd Samuel 7:12-13, “When your (David’s) days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”

Before Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with the “Kingdom message,” He and John the Baptist had preached the very same thing. In Matthew 3:1-2 we read, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” Why was John preaching this message? Ah, because he was the special messenger who was raised up of God to prepare the people of Israel to receive their Messiah, the King of Israel. We see that in verse 3, “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight’.” If the people would heed John’s message by “repenting of their sins,” their hearts would be prepared to accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah.

Sadly, John’s message was rejected and he was put into prison by wicked king Herod. Shortly after John’s imprisonment we read in Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’.” These were the exact words that John had proclaimed to the nation of Israel. The kingdom was “at hand” because Jesus Christ WAS the Messiah and if they would repent and accept Him as their King He would establish the kingdom on earth that had been promised to David so long ago.

As we have seen, the Lord Jesus also gave ample testimony to Israel that the “kingdom of heaven is at hand,” for He also sent out His twelve disciples who echoed the words of John the Baptist and Jesus. They were even given the power to perform miracles to confirm their message, as we see in verse 8, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” How did the people respond? We know that they refused to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of David. Instead of accepting Him as their King, they conspired to kill Him and eventually delivered Him up to Pontius Pilate to be crucified. So, as in the case of John the Baptist, their message was rejected and thus we read these solemn words in John 1:11, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

We cannot end this meditation on such a depressing note. In Acts 2:23 we read, “Him (Jesus), being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.” This is an amazing verse that teaches us that even though men delivered Jesus up to be crucified, He was actually “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God!” Why did He do this? To provide salvation for lost and guilty man! Romans 8:32 declares, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.” We know from many other scriptures that this is referring to God “delivering Him up to the cross” so that Jesus could take the penalty that our sins deserved. He has now paid the price that God demanded (DEATH and JUDGMENT) and now God is declaring a new message to the whole word; the “good news” of salvation to all who will believe. The commission for this message is for all believers and it is stated in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Thus the “Kingdom message” has been put on hold and the precious news that JESUS SAVES is being proclaimed throughout the world to every creature. (274.6) (DO)