The “kingdom of God” (or sometimes called the “kingdom of heaven”) is a pervasive concept in the Bible. When interpreting a dream, the prophet, Daniel, spoke about the coming kingdom of God.
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” – Daniel 2:44
So, what is the “kingdom of God,” anyway?
Consider what a kingdom involves. A kingdom needs a king; a people who he rules over; and a place where the rule is exercised and received. Summarized: a kingdom involves a person, people, and place.
As Christians, we understand the Trinitarian God as ruling from heaven, right now. But we also believe that the rule of heaven will one day pervade earth.
The ancient Jewish hope has never been for heaven at the expense of earth, but for heaven to transform the earth and earthly existence.
This is the meaning of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10
Jesus taught us to pray with a yearning for the rule of God to penetrate our world. We are praying for the way things are in heaven to influence the way things go on earth. A particularly striking parallel occurs in a doxology known as the Kaddish, the earliest form of which may well go back to the time of Jesus. Jews, understanding the Old Testament’s promises of hope, would pray:
“Magnified and sanctified be his great name in the world, which he created according to his will; and may he establish his kingdom in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of all the house of Israel, quickly and soon.”
In both the Kaddish and the Lord’s Prayer, the petitions to God have an eschatological flavor. Meaning, an aim at what God would do at the end of human history when He brings to fulfillment all that He has promised. Our certainty of this is bound up with our anticipation of Jesus’s “second coming.” When Jesus returns, He is not coming to evacuate earth, but to judge it. And before we see “judgment” in purely negative connotations, we really need to revisit Psalm 96, 97, and 98. (Fun fact: the famous song, “Joy to the World,” by the theologian Isaac Watts was written inspired by Psalm 96!) Reading those passages show us that the coming of God means the coming of His reign, which means the end of the tyranny of earth’s rulers. Let’s say it this way:
When heaven’s king comes to rule the earth, the earth will become heavenly. This is why we are excited about the return of King Jesus.
When Jesus’s kingship is pervasively recognized, justice will be fluent and grace will be in abundance. What a wonderful hope we have!
So, what does this mean for us? Does this mean we just wait for this to happen?
Absolutely not. Such good news puts us to work right now. This is not news that we tell by word alone, but by deed, too. How could we talk about the hope of God’s justice and the good news of it without taking action that provides an appetizer of what that might be like? Though we will do it imperfectly, our actions and the causes we involve ourselves with will be a direct reflection of what we believe. If we believe that Jesus is the soon-coming-King, then let’s live like that is true.
Let’s live as if He is king right now, today.
How would that compel us to live differently? We believe our Kingdom Builders initiatives are the answer. Kingdom Builders is not just an ancillary part of our ministry, it is who we are. It’s how we fuel and fund the local and global initiatives where meeting practical needs open the door for us to share the gospel with people from all walks of life.
We invite you to join us in this. Let’s advance the kingdom of God, together!