Chapter 5

   Before we go into this study, I feel I must here interject an event that happened to me while I was in Bible college; an event that changed my entire way of looking at this passage.   Back when I was in Bible college, I was sitting in the dinning room of the college.  I had just come out of my Matthew class and was sitting at a table and enjoying a cup of coffee.  One of the professors, a man for whom I have great respect, came in and saw me.  He got his own cup of coffee and sat down at my table and across from me.  He saw my Matthew text book (which, by the way, was the great commentary, Matthew, Thy Kingdom Come, by John Walvoord), which was lying there on the table.
        This professor spoke to me, “Brother Anthony, I see you must be going to your class in Matthew.”  I replied that on the contrary, I wasn’t going to the class; rather, I had just come from that class.  He then said, “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your studies?”  I told him no, that I didn’t mind at all.  At that time, I was not just a nineteen or twenty year old, as were most of my fellow students; on the contrary, I was a mature man of thirty five years old, and a military veteran of twelve years in the Air Force, and a veteran of the Vietnam War as well, so I was much older than most of the students there.  In fact, I was near to the age of some of the professors.  Knowing this man, I thought that he might give me some insight on the subject.  I knew that he was noted for teaching by challenging our minds to think; by asking us questions.  He then asked me what part of the book we were then studying.  I replied that we had just finished studying the Beatitudes. 
            He then asked me, “Brother Anthony, what do you think the Beatitudes were for?”  I replied that we had been taught in class that they were the Rules for the Kingdom; or for the Church.  Jesus was giving out the rules of living for His coming Kingdom. “I see,” he said.  After a few seconds hesitation he continued, “If they were the rules for the Kingdom, then why did Jesus, in His sample prayer, tell the people to pray for the Kingdom to come(6:10)?  That question “”shot me down.”   I could not answer it.  I knew he had me there.
            This professor, this man of God, who had bee preaching and teaching the Bible for about forty years, continued on with his questioning of me. This was a questioning that I later learned was to teach me my first lesson in Dispensationalism and being a literalist in my hermeneutics (Bible interpretation).  He said, “Also, Brother Anthony, if these were the rules for the Kingdom, then it would mean that the King would already be here and reigning.  I nodded my head to show that I agreed with him.  He then continued:  "In that case, with Jesus Christ reigning here, would that not mean that things on earth would already be as they are in heaven?”  Again, I knew he had me.  I could only reply that I could see that what he said was true.  He then said, “Then why did He tell them to pray for His will to be done, as in heaven, so in earth?”
           I was dumbfounded.  I knew not what to say.  All I could do was to ask this good man where he was going with his questions.  He said that he was trying to show me the importance of putting a Bible passage in its proper time or dispensational setting.  This is a lesson I have never forgotten. The good doctor continued on with his questioning.  “Brother Anthony, since these are not rules for the Kingdom, and since the Lord Jesus is really offering Himself as their King, would you not say that this is a time immediately preceding the setting up of the Kingdom?” 
         “Of course!  That must be it,” I thought, and I told him so.  Then he continued with his questioning, “Of course we know that these Jews refused to recognize Him as their King.  They even said, ‘We will not have this man to rule over us.’  We know that Bible prophecy is usually never immediately fulfilled, or may even fulfilled once and then again.  But, do you think there will ever be another time immediately preceding the setting up of the Kingdom?”         

        I replied that he must mean the time of the Great Tribulation.  That would be the time immediately preceding the setting up of the Millennial Kingdom.  The good doctor then said, “I see that I have opened your eyes.  In light of this new enlightenment, what would you now do with this Sermon on the Mount, and in particular, what would you do with these Beatitudes?”