John 3:9-12 — Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
Nicodemus should have had a basic understanding of the Kingdom from his study of Scripture. (see below)
we (verse 11) — Jesus and John the Baptist and the Old Testament prophets, all of whom had spoken to Israel about the future.
earthly things — coming physical kingdom on earth
heavenly things — Israel's ultimate destiny in eternity
that which we know/that which we have seen — The witness of Jesus and the prophets was based on fact — they'd seen evidence of God's truth.
received not — In verse 9, Nicodemus revealed his ignorance. Here we have the reason for it — he didn't "receive" it.
It is exceedingly striking to observe that in the brief record of this interview we find the Lord employing seven times the very expression used by Nicodemus himself. We tabulate them thus:
- Nicodemus declared, "We know," (vs. 2). — Christ said, "That which we know we speak, (vs. 11).
- Nicodemus said, "Thou art a teacher," (vs. 2). — Christ said, "Art thou a teacher?" (vs. 10).
- Nicodemus said, "Except God be with him," (vs. 2). — Christ said, "Except a man be," (vs. 3).
- Nicodemus asked, "How can a man be born?" (vs. 4). — Christ answered, "Except a man be born," (vs. 5).
- Nicodemus asked, "Can he enter?" (vs. 4). — Christ answered, "He cannot enter, " (vs. 5).
- Nicodemus asked, "How can?" (vs. 9). — Christ asked, "How shall?" (Vs. 12).
- Nicodemus asked, "How can these things be?" (vs. 9). — Christ asked, "knowest not these things?" (Vs. 10).
… Christ met this man on his own ground, and made his own language the channel of approach to his heart. — Exposition of the Gospel of John, Volume 1, by Arthur W. Pink, page 123.
Old Testament passages referring to the (still future) Kingdom promised to Israel:
Ezekiel 20:38 — And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
Zechariah 13:8-9 — And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.
Jeremiah 31:33 — But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Ezekiel 36:23-34 — And I will sanctify My great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.