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Thy Kingdom Come . . . . By Ed Wood

Matthew {6:9-13} After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (The speaker here is Jesus.)

It is probably safe to say that all Christians, and perhaps a large number of non-Christians as well, recognize the words above which have since become known universally known as the “Lord’s Prayer.” In this article we’ll focus specifically on the ones which concern God’s coming kingdom. Strangely enough, Christians don’t entirely agree on when it will come, or how it will come, or even what it is! Let’s see if we can sort out some of these mysteries.

Let’s see first if there is an equivalence between the “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven. In the following passage, Jesus relates how one must enter the former and some of those who will be there:

Luke {13:24-30} Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you [yourselves] thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and [from] the west, and from the north, and [from] the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

Concerning the manner of entering the kingdom of heaven we have Jesus saying:

Matthew {7:21-23; 8:11} Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity . . . And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

With these passages, it appears that the kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven are clearly one and the same. Let’s see now if we can determine whether this kingdom already exists or is something yet to come. From the Old Testament we have:

Genesis {28:10-12} And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and [put] them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Ezekiel {1:1} Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth [month,] in the fifth [day] of the month, as I [was] among the captives by the river of Chebar, [that] the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

Daniel {7:9} I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire.

Luke {2:13} And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  (This is a verse from the account of the appearance of the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds who were tending their flocks in the night.)

This evidence clearly shows this magnificent kingdom is already in existence “someplace” in a realm quite distinct from our own. However, from what we see below, it also appears to be closer than we might think:

Matthew {3:1-2} In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew {4:17} From that time* Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. *The time after John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod..

Matthew {10:5-7} These twelve* Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into [any] city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. *The twelve apostles

Matthew {12:27} And if I * by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast [them] out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. *Jesus

 “The kingdom of heaven is at hand . . . the kingdom of heaven is come unto you.” From what Jesus said and did above, something of God’s kingdom is already here, ushered in by the Lord himself. Yet one must remember that the Bible has to be taken in its entire context, not just by selected passages. What then, are we to make of this?

Revelation {21:1-5} And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

Clearly the kind of world we are living in now is nothing if not a direct opposite of what God’s kingdom is like. The explanation for this seeming contradiction might be resolved in the verses below:

Matthew {13:31-32} Another parable put he* forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.. *Jesus.

With this passage, we introduce the added element of time. Just like the grain of mustard seed in the parable above, I believe that though Jesus initiated the coming of the kingdom of God during his First Advent, it will only arrive upon Earth in its full maturity after the conclusion of the Millennium with all the characteristics described in the Revelation account.

In the three years of his public ministry, Jesus gave other tantalizing “previews” of this kingdom by his words and deeds. Some appear in the Beatitudes (Matthew chapters 5-7) and show us quite profoundly just how different the standards of this kingdom are compared to those upon which the world has operated ever since Adam and Eve lost Eden. Jesus also healed the incurable, somehow multiplied a few fish and loaves of bread to feed thousands, calmed a raging storm in the Sea of Galilee, and brought the dead back to life just by his word. These actions demonstrated that he had truly initiated the kingdom of God on Earth.

Two Conflicting Kingdom Views

There are two primary differences of thought about the nature of this kingdom in the present world. One says the full benefits of the kingdom are already available while the other maintains that while began with the arrival of Jesus, we do not have access to all of them yet. So, which one is right? The answer is obvious enough, found just by looking at the world around us.

We certainly do not see the paradise described in Revelation, but a sin-damaged planet that’s getting worse by the hour. Even so, it is not totally divorced from God’s Presence or influence. Perhaps the best way to look at it is how things were during Jesus’ ministry. To be sure, the world was far from an idyllic place while he walked among us that first time, but as we have seen he did introduce aspects of the kingdom of heaven into our world. Yes, it’s true that there were miraculous events recorded in the Bible prior to Jesus’ life, but with the arrival of God in human form, the veil was drawn back more than ever before. His teachings, miracles, and, most of all, his resurrection and ascension were unmistakable revelations of a coming age will be totally different from the one we and our ancestors have experienced since the Fall.

At this point, I think we can agree that the kingdom of God, though initiated nearly 2000 years ago has yet to arrive in its completeness. The next logical question we should address is how that’s going to happen. Again, there are two basic and opposite views.

How the Kingdom of God Will Arrive:  Two More Conflicting Views

The first is called “dominionism” and its adherents claim that the church will slowly transform this world into the kingdom. Once that’s done, Jesus will return to rule and that will be that. Think of it as culminating into a universal Christian theocracy, if you will.

Dominionism, whether overtly expressed or not, has influenced much of the modern church today. For example, from the Book of Common Prayer used by the Episcopal Church we have in this prayer for peace:

O Almighty God, kindle, we beseech thee, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with thy wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity thy dominion may increase till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCP page 207).

The petition in the prayer is for God to guide those who lead the nations with the “wisdom” to “in tranquility” turn our troubled planet into a utopia Of course, anyone who is familiar with Bible prophecy is keenly aware that the Last Days will be characterized by anything but tranquility. All human government falls far short of God’s standards, even the best of them. In his God’s eyes they all look “beastly” (Daniel, chapter 7). The worst “beast government” of all will be controlled by the worst beast of all, the Antichrist (Daniel, chapter 7; Revelation, chapter 13).

Here’s a thought: If Christians are to ultimately take over the world, what does the condition of Twenty-first Century Earth say about the kind of job they’ve been doing for the last 2000 years? Shouldn’t things be a whole lot better by now if Christians are supposed to be moving humanity toward utopia through their own efforts?

A final proof of the error of the dominionist viewpoint is that the Bible tells us unambiguously that believers (or saints) will most certainly not prevail by their own methods to establish the kingdom of God on Earth:

Daniel {7:21} I beheld, and the same horn* made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. *The Antichrist.

Revelation {13:6-7} And he* opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. *The beast, referring to the Antichrist.

The rule of the Antichrist, aided and abetted by a second beast known as the false prophet (Revelation 13:11-18), will only end by the return of Jesus, not by anything even the saints of that day can do:

Revelation {19:19-20} And I saw the beast*, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet** that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. *The Antichrist ** The second beast.

Interestingly, this idea of a world take-over by some type of human government is not a new idea, nor is it limited to dominionism. It has parallels to the Islamic belief that it a Muslim theocracy will one day rule the world under the “mahdi.” It can also be found in Hitler’s assertion that his Third Reich would rule the planet for a thousand years and Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s claim that Communism would one day “bury us” (the capitalist countries comprising the free world) in a speech he gave in the 1960’s.

I think what we see here is Satan’s tendency to repeat one of his strategies with only the details and faces being changed. It seems safe to conclude therefore that Dominionism is nothing but a rehashing of an old tactic that has failed every time throughout history because it is nothing more than a lie. The devil is merely exploiting once again the classic human inability to learn much from history.

The alternative to this, for lack of a specific name, we can call “Anti-dominionism” and define it as the course of history being totally under God’s control with the ultimate result of “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). It is only into this new reality, free from the sin that poisoned our universe in the dim past, that God’s Kingdom will finally at long last arrive and only at his direction and timing, not ours!

Concluding Thoughts

Does this mean that we as believers are to just sit back placidly and wait for it to happen? I think not because Jesus said:

Luke {12:35-37} Let your loins be girded about, and [your] lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed [are] those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

Matthew {28:19-20} Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world.

We are to be watching continuously for his return and to be getting out his message while we watch because it is only by the truth that we can stand against the evil that is growing exponentially in our End-Times World. By doing so we will add to the count of citizens who will enter that promised kingdom of God and live forever where:

Revelation {21:4} God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

From all indications, the time is short, maybe even shorter than we can imagine. So, we would be wise to remember Paul’s words as he quoted Isaiah (Isaiah 49:8):

2 Corinthians 6:2} For he* saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation. *God

It’s time to get busy, don’t you think?


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