What constitutes a Kingdom?
To belong to the Animal Kingdom, you have to be an animal. Likewise, only plants can be a member of the Plant Kingdom. But who gets to classify? Scientists are unable to classify the 800 species of Euglena into one kingdom, so happily, they live in a Domain called Eukaryote, crossing kingdom boundaries as they please.
What distinguishes ‘World-Kingdoms’ from the ‘Kingdom-of-God’? Scripture tells the story of the Kingdom-of-God. Starting with its purpose and motivation in Genesis, laying down its constitution in Exodus, and describing its failings in Judges and Kings, The Prophets express its distinguishing culture.
Jesus, expands on the differences between the two kingdoms in his parables, showing how to change citizenship from one to the other.
If I say H2O, I expect you might reply, Water?
In doing so you will have translated from scientific language into English.
From early days, (presuming you speak English), when you saw water, you were taught to conceptualize the substance with the word. We might say, the physical world carries into the mental and spiritual realm, by a word. Even if you cannot see water in the immediate physical location, it lives on in the spiritual and mental imagination via a word.1 Water has a reality in both the physical and the spiritual realm.
Representing words by written signs or symbols, began around three-thousand-three-hundred BC. Writing started simultaneously, but independently, in three places at one time. There is plenty of evidence of gods, authorities, domains, and kingdoms, occupying the minds of people before then, but without documentation, we can only guess at the character and nature of these gods. We can better understand what Hebrew people thought from the expression of words they used. These, ‘captured pictures’, help us understand today, what the society gossip and cultural teaching of that time was. This is important if we want to contrast the consensus of world opinion, with the revelation given to the writer of Genesis when he documented the foundational Hebrew revelation. It helps to separate Hebrew from existing Babylonian, Egyptian and Sumerian religions. But, the onus is on us to go back, as closely as we can, to the understandings and mental concepts of their day. It is foolish to think they could write with our culture and time in mind.
Hebrew Words and their DNA
We can notice here that scientific language has a big advantage over English. Whereas English only associates a word with a subject or object, Scientific language contains all the constituent parts of the component. The ‘DNA’ of water has two hydrogen molecules united with one oxygen molecule to make the substance (H2O). I could write a scientific sentence as CO2 H2O, which translated into English would equal ‘Fizzy Water’, (or carbon dioxide and water in the right quantities). Ancient Hebrew language, which precedes scientific language by a long chalk, is the only other language in the world to work like scientific language. It also contained DNA within its words.
For example Using the diagram page :
Water in Hebrew is, מים (Ma’im). The first letter, in its earliest Semantic pictograph, is waves (water). This pictograph conceptualized: liquid, sea, ‘mighty and massive’ (from the size of the sea), and chaos from the stormy nature of the sea.
The second letter developed from the early Semitic pictograph, (a strong arm and hand), adds to the meaning of the word. This carried the concept ‘power’, ‘command’, and ‘to toil against adversity’, a concept gained from the experience of combating or exploiting the waves.
The third letter started life as a fish. This picture has the concepts: seed, life, fish and ‘reward’ or ‘Harvest’.
One word, Ma’im, carries within it the story of Genesis-one. The DNA of this one word (Ma’im), carries within its concept: ‘Chaos tamed, by a command of power, brought order and seeded life to produce a harvest’. But it does not stop there because the same concept remains true into the New-Testament, when Jesus says:
"I assure you, everyone must be born again. Anyone who is not born again cannot be in God's kingdom." Nicodemus said, "How can a man who is already old be born again? Can he go back into his mother's womb and be born a second time?" Jesus answered, "Believe me when I say that everyone must be born from water and the Spirit. Anyone who is not born from water and the Spirit cannot enter God's kingdom. The only life people get from their human parents is physical. But the new life that the Spirit gives a person is spiritual.
No wonder Jesus was surprised! How could a recognized master-teacher of Israel not understand the foundational teaching that the physical baby was born of water and the spiritual life is born of the spirit of God, who hovered over those waters. We will explore later the concept of a physical realm remaining chaotic unless the spiritual brings it to order. But in preface, the Scriptures were written to the audience of their day, not to our day. By that I mean it is unreasonable to assume the writer could appeal to twenty-first century concepts in the minds of modern humans, because they had not been formed then. No, the onus is on us to understand the norms and conversations of their day in order to extract the principles they set down. Equally, the writers compiled scripture over one-thousand-five-hundred years, so we have a moving target of concepts to keep up with.