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Properly Understanding the Kingdom
In Matthew 6:33, we are given a simple yet profound mission for our individual lives by the Lord Jesus Christ:
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be ministered unto you."
Christians should not be roaming aimlessly on planet Earth because Jesus has so plainly told us what we ought to be doing with our lives. Gary DeMar tells us why this is so important when he states,
When Jesus tells us to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33), He reminds us that every earthly endeavor should be considered kingdom-activity, whether family, church, business, or politics. We are God’s ambassadors, representing our King in His kingdom (2 Cor. 5:20).1
We are to seek first God's Kingdom and His Righteousness, and he will provide the rest. The problem comes when so many modern Christians are confused as to the nature and timing of the Kingdom. How are we to seek what we don't understand? When is this Kingdom!? Where is this Kingdom!? What is the Kingdom!?
In the coming weeks, I will attempt to give a big-picture survey of what the Bible really says about the Kingdom. I encourage you to leave your preconceived notions at the door and look at the Scripture with a fresh and open mind. It is my hope and prayer that we will truly understand the Kingdom of God, so that we can make seeking it the first and foremost goal of our daily lives. This week we will consider the timing of the Kingdom.
When is the Kingdom?
Modern day prophecy experts claim that the Kingdom is a future reality preceded by a 7-year tribulation and inaugurated by the physical and bodily return of Christ. Other's propose that there are actually different kingdoms of God. I propose that there is only one Kingdom of God and that it is here and now. Let's begin with the Old Testament to build my case.
In the book of Daniel, we are given a vivid picture of the timing, power, and scope of Christ’s Kingdom. Daniel 2 tells us about the dream King Nebuchadnezzar had of the great image made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay. Daniel interprets the image as representing four kingdoms that would rule on the earth: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Incidentally, this passage does not teach that there will be a second or “revived” Roman empire in the future.
The stone that crushes the image in verses 34-35 represents Christ’s Kingdom. In Daniel 2:44, Daniel states that in the days of the fourth kingdom (Rome), “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” Hundreds of years after Daniel made this remarkable prophecy, John the Baptist arrives on the scene, during the Roman empire, and calls people to, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2) Of course, Jesus also taught that His Kingdom was about to be inaugurated. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus also states, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In Matthew 12:28, Jesus states, "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then is the kingdom of God come upon you."
When Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father, he formally ascended to the throne of His Kingdom (Acts 2:33-36 and Heb. 1). Ever since that time, Jesus has been reigning over his Kingdom. First Corinthians 15:25 states, “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” Jesus, our victorious King, is in the process of conquering his enemies on the earth.
Notice what Jesus says about the expansion of his Kingdom in Matthew 13:31-33: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” The prophet Isaiah states, “of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom...”(Isaiah 9:7).
We have seen what the Bible clearly teaches us about the timing of the Kingdom. God's Kingdom is here and it is growing! Next week, we will consider the nature of the Kingdom.
1. The Kingdom Has Come, Gary DeMar. American Vision web site. April 11, 2007.