“Can you explain Matthew 11:12, especially ‘the violent take it by force’?”
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
The “violence” that the Lord said the kingdom had suffered since John’s day was the violent resistance that the unbelieving leaders in Israel waged against the proclamation of the kingdom gospel. These violent rulers made several attempts on the Lord’s life as He preached the kingdom of heaven (Luke 4:29; John 5:18; John 7:1,19,25; 8:37,40; 10:31). As the Lord went on to explain, these violent attempts on His life were attempts to take possession of the kingdom by force.
The Lord illustrated all this with the parable of the “householder” who represented God (Matt. 21:33), “which planted a vineyard” that represented Israel in the Old Testament (Matt. 21:33 cf. Isa. 5:1,2,7). God “hedged” or “fenced” Israel (Matt. 21:33 cf. Isa. 5:2) with an invisible wall of protection from her enemies, but also “digged a winepress” (Isa. 5:2 cf. Matt. 21:33), which indicated He expected to reap a harvest of grapes from his vineyard to press into wine in return for His efforts. But the “servants” that God sent Israel to gather these fruits, the Old Testament prophets, were violently persecuted (Matt. 21:35,36). Last of all, He sent them His Son (Heb. 1:1,2), but when Israel’s leaders “saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill Him; and let us seize on His inheritance” (Matt. 21:38), His inheritance being Israel (Isa. 19:25).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.