The Kingdom of God

OUR FATHER in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9–10).

This is the opening of the Lord’s Prayer. Every day and in many languages it is repeated. But what do the words “Your kingdom come” really mean?

When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God, he added, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father [that is his ancestor] David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32–33).

When the wise men came seeking the baby Jesus they asked “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2).

When Jesus stood on trial, Pilate the governor asked, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born…” (John 18:37).

The ‘crime’ that Jesus had committed was displayed over his head as he hung dying on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews” (John 19:19).

After three days God raised Jesus back to life and the hopes of the disciples revived. They asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). He replied, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (v. 7). He did not deny that the Kingdom of Israel would be restored; but he declined to discuss when.

The Kingdom

Let’s return to Gabriel’s promise to Mary concerning David’s throne. David was agreat king of Israel who lived about 1000 years before the birth of Jesus. Mary was a descendant of David (Luke 3:23, 31). After the death of David the people of Israel repeatedly rebelled against God and ignored His laws. So God gave them into the hands of their enemies, saying to the last king to rule in Jerusalem, “Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel… thus says the Lord God: ‘Remove the turban, and take off the crown… Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, until he comes whose right it is, and I will give it to him’” (Ezekiel 21:26–27).

There has never been another Jewish king in Jerusalem from that day to this! But who is ‘he whose right it is’? Of course, it is Jesus himself.

What will the Kingdom of God be like? Let’s listen to God’s prophets:

Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations… They shall beat their swords into plowshares… Nation shall not lift up sword against nation… (Isaiah 2:3–4).

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding… with righteousness he shall judge the poor… The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat… the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:2–9).

Give the king Your judgments, O God… He will judge Your people with righteousness… In his days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace… He shall have dominion also from sea to sea… His name shall endure forever… All nations shall call him blessed (Psalm 72).

The Kingdom of God, therefore will be a real kingdom on earth. Jesus himself will be the King. Righteous laws will be observed through all the world so that the nations will learn how God wants people to live. They will go to Jerusalem to learn of God’s ways. War, hatred and evil will be eliminated and the whole world will reflect God’s love. The earth will yield food in abundance.

Some people talk about a kingdom beyond the sky but the Bible says nothing about such a kingdom.

For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it… Who formed it to be inhabited… (Isaiah 45:18).

Many people fear that mankind will destroy the world. No! God created the world and filled it with life. Ultimately He will fill the world with His Kingdom and Jesus himself will be the king.

The King

What qualities will be essential for a world ruler?

  • Absolute authority to insist that his righteous laws be obeyed.
  • The will to care for the poor and disadvantaged people with justice.
  • Perfect knowledge of people to know all their intentions and the power to solve all problems.
  • Immortality so that ‘good’ may continue for ever.

Only one man has these qualifications. Jesus first of all mastered his own nature and always obeyed God. Always he showed wisdom. Always ‘self’ was overruled. Always Jesus did as God wished. Jesus alone has the right to be the world ruler with absolute authority.

But when will it happen? When will God send His son to take his throne and establish God’s Kingdom? We do not know, and even Jesus himself did not know (Mark 13:32). But there are reasons to believe that that great event is close at hand.

The Citizens

Often Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God as if it was already in existence. Of course Jesus the King lived among people and he showed us how God wants us to live. He has the power to heal those who are ill, to feed those who are hungry. Jesus gave us a ‘glimpse’ of what the Kingdom of God will be like.

If we want to be citizens in the Kingdom of God we must try to live like citizens of God’s Kingdom now. We must be baptised, and busy ourselves doing the Lord’s work while we wait patiently for Jesus to come.

David M Budden