The Kingdom of God and the Water of Life

THE COVER PICTURE shows the Turbine Water Fountain in the centre of the English city of Coventry. It is a tribute to the city’s heritage: Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine, was born in Coventry in 1907. He first put forward his ideas for a jet engine in 1928 whilst a student. The fountain features the shape of the turbine blades of a jet engine.

We are now familiar with the idea of travelling long distances in a relatively short period of time by jet powered aircraft. This invention has shrunk our world, giving rise to the phrase “the global village.”

News travels very fast across the world now, aided by satellites and the internet. Sadly today, much of the news we hear is bad news, often involving death and destruction.

Good News

In contrast, in the First Century ad, people began to hear some really good news. The prophet John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus Christ, began to tell people to repent (confess their sins and turn their lives towards God) and to expect the arrival of the Messiah (the Lord Jesus Christ).

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

who will prepare your way,

the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight.’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:1–4).

John’s teaching upset the religious authorities of the day and they had him arrested, but soon afterwards Jesus and his disciples began to share in the work of spreading the good news. (That is the Gospel—“Gospel” means “good news”.) This good news concerned God’s plan of salvation. Jesus taught the good news of the Kingdom of God. In fact, the Kingdom of God is mentioned over 60 times in the New Testament.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).

So, what was this Kingdom that Jesus taught everywhere he went? In fact, Jesus gave people a ‘taster’ of what the Kingdom of God would be like. He healed the sick, fed the hungry and even raised people from the dead. Most importantly he forgave people their sins. This Kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom. The faithful man Abram, who lived just under 1800 years before Jesus, was promised a place in this everlasting Kingdom. In order to take his place in the Kingdom he must be raised from the dead and given everlasting life.

The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northwards and southwards and eastwards and westwards, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring for ever” (Genesis 13:14–15).

A Worldwide Kingdom

Something else we know about the Kingdom of God is that when Jesus returns to the earth the political domain of the kingdom of men will be utterly destroyed. This is described for us by the prophet Daniel, who lived approximately 500 years before Jesus Christ was born. Daniel lived in the time of the Babylonians. The reigning monarch, King Nebuchadnezzar, had a dream which God enabled Daniel to interpret. It was a dream of the image of a man. Different parts of his body, made from different metals, represented the Babylonian empire and those which would follow. At the end of the dream, the ‘man’ is utterly destroyed by a rock cut out of the mountain without hands. This rock represents Jesus and the Kingdom of God which will replace the kingdom of men. We can be sure of this interpretation because it is recorded for us in the book of Daniel.

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure (Daniel 2:44-45).

Elsewhere this good news is described as being vital for life. In just the same way that a person cannot survive very long without water, so they cannot survive spiritually without the word of God—the Bible. In our cover photograph we see a fountain of water. This fountain can fail if there are problems with the water supply. The life-giving water that God provides for those who choose to follow His Son will never run out for any reason because God is in control. If we drink natural water we are refreshed. In hot countries a reliable water supply is of great value. God’s word is likened to the water of life, and is available to those who read the Bible and listen to its message. The effect of this word will be eternal if we are prepared to read in faith and to act upon its instructions. Jesus spoke these words to a woman he met who was about to draw water from Jacob’s well in Sychar in Samaria:Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” (John 4:13–15).

The Water of Life

In the First Century ad there were no jet engines or satellites and no internet. Communicating news required messengers making long journeys, often on foot. This is how the good news of the Kingdom of God was first spread. The messengers who carried the Gospel would probably have taken water for their long journey, but they were also carrying the water of life—God’s word.

For many centuries people have received the good news, repented and been baptised. They would then take of the water of life daily, by reading God’s word as they travelled in a new direction towards God’s coming Kingdom. This great hope for the future has sustained many faithful followers of Jesus Christ as they live their lives waiting for the day when Jesus will return to the earth to set up the Kingdom of God.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

So the good news for you today is that God’s word continues to draw people out from the world in order to prepare them for eternal life in His Kingdom.

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).

David & Sue Honey

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