What is the Kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God can be identified by the exercised dominion of the King who is God. When man was cast out of the Garden of Eden, the separation from God was physical and spiritual. Instead of exercising dominion over the earth, under the dominion of God, man succumbed to the temptation that he could rule the earth without God.
Being tempted of Satan, man imagined he could be a god, too. Not only did man lose his dominion over the earth in the fall, but Satan usurped the dominion God had given man. Man was enslaved to Satan, but Satan again lied to man, suggesting that man was in charge. Man believed the lie and began to rule the earth, exercising whatever power his flesh could muster, but with diverse corruptions. Man did the devil’s bidding and became an agent of rebellion against God.
The earth was occupied by enemies of God. The course of the world system proved disobedient to the mandates of God in the Garden. When God said, “Be fruitful and multiply,” man committed infanticide and practiced other forms of birth control to limit the number of people on the earth. When God said, “fill the earth,” man gravitated together and formed cities. Man, inspired by Satan, became an agent of destruction of the earth. Man proved that without God, he was not a reliable steward of the earth.
The kingdom of this world was also subject to man’s lust for power, position, and hoarding wealth. Cain killed his brother Abel in jealous envy, and so the history of the world became a story of endless tales of murder and war. Still unaware of Satan’s devices, man formulated grandiose schemes for improving himself and the debauched world he had created for himself. Prideful pursuits of discovery promised enlightenment that would elevate man above his own squalor. The names of people, places, and events have changed, but the story is sadly the same.
Even, today, man refuses to concede defeat in his enterprise. Slaves are not rulers. When confronted with the notion of slavery to sin and Satan, man balks in his pride of business, education, military prowess, raw resources, and governance. Man makes a colorful banner and flies it with baneful defiance of others, with their competing claims to god-like status. Satan laughs at man. It is true that man was made in the image of God; and although the image is marred, man is a reminder to Satan, of the King he desires to unseat. Further, Satan destroys his slaves through temptation to sin, resulting in death.
The state of man, in God’s assessment, is recorded in Genesis 6:5, “every inclination of his heart is only evil all the time.” Man is totally depraved, and proving his depravity, he believes the delusion that somehow he is good. He also concludes that his works are good. God, who created both Satan and man, remains sovereign, to dispose of rebels according to His will. He has chosen to have mercy on some people; while judging and punishing the majority of people and the whole company of fallen angels.
The kingdom of God appears differently at times in God’s story of creation, redemption, and re-creation. The kingdom of God is where the King rules and reigns in righteousness. The Garden of Eden was the kingdom of God on earth, in the days of Adam and Eve. When they sinned against God, He removed them from the peace, prosperity, and protection of His kingly care. The kingdom of God had become the kingdom of this world.
The god of this world, Satan, was man’s new king. He had his own kingdom agenda, and it always proved the antithesis to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of Satan, the domain of sin, was set against the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God was slowly forgotten in the fall of man. Satan labored to remove the memory of the Garden of Eden from man’s mind. He filled the mind of man with lust for anything other than the kingdom of God.
God retained a remnant of people who called on Him. In the days of Noah, the memory of God was held by eight persons on the earth. Later, in the days of Abraham, God began to reveal His plan to take back the earth from rebel angels and humans. From this man, Abraham, God would bring a promised offspring who would fulfill a covenant blessing for those like Abraham, who believed God and received His righteousness. The counter-rebellion began with a man of faith, a man of God. The kingdom of God was invading the kingdom of this world.
God began calling out from humanity, a people for Himself. The reconnaissance of deceived rebels was solely a work of the King, who began to spread the message of His plan to re-take what the enemy had stolen. As more rebels defected from the kingdom of this world into the kingdom of God, God graciously encouraged them with a greater knowledge of Himself as their new King. The King called the defectors, “Israel.” Time and again, He reassured them of His lovingkindness as their true and benevolent King. In fact, through Moses, Israel’s God and King, Yahweh, taught them of His goodness and holiness, by giving them a helpful Law to live by, during their sojourn upon the earth. Israel learned there were rules to live by in the kingdom of God.
When the prince of darkness realized his slaves were being set free, he assaulted Israel with furious revenge. “Death to Israel“ has been his battle cry to rally his rebellious nations, throughout history. Israel suffered repeatedly as the object of Satan’s wrath; and yet, Yahweh preserved His people. The invasion of the kingdom of God was slowly occupying a small swath of land on the earth, but more significantly, it occupied the hearts and minds of people illumined to see a new kingdom.
The new kingdom of God and the rules by which the citizens lived, seem to produce better health, more wealth, and stronger relationships. The nations began to inquire of Israel, “Who is your God?” The history of Israel is a roller coaster ride of obedience and disobedience, faithfulness and apostasy. “Maybe a visible king would help us,” thought Israel. Although God was their King, the regent would surely benefit the people of Israel. When even the newly formed office of king seemed to falter, Yahweh intervened and appointed a king after God’s own heart. Yahweh chose David to be king, but he failed to overthrow the kingdom of this world, in favor of the kingdom of God.
God continued to communicate with His people through the office of the prophet. Yahweh would give messages to men of God, who preached and wrote the Word of God entrusted to them. The message of the prophets was to abstain from the practices of the kingdom of darkness. The people of Israel would be like the stars of the sky, little lights in the darkness. The prophets also gave Israel hope that the seed of Abraham, the perfect Law keeper, and righteous King would soon be coming to defeat the kingdom of this world. For more than a thousand years, prophets heralded the coming King. The King of the kingdom of God, the Messiah, would put the enemy and his minions underfoot.
False messiahs were inspired by the devil, to mock the prophets and their message. Even Israel lost faith in the Word of God and killed their own prophets. Israel seemed as sinful and lost as all the nations roundabout. The promised plan of God is “yes” and “amen.” Despite the unfaithfulness of His kingdom subjects, Yahweh would be faithful to His eternal purpose and predetermined plan.
At the fullness of time, meaning God’s perfectly appointed time, the King of the kingdom of God entered the kingdom of this world. Israel imagined this to be a festive and public event. Instead, the King came quietly. Who is the King of the kingdom of God? His name and His function in coming were conjoined. Yahweh, the God and King of Israel, has come into the kingdom of this world, in order to save His people from their sins. Yahweh is God and Savior, which means His name and function, together, identifies Him as, “Jesus Messiah” or “Jesus Christ.” Jesus means “Yahweh saves.”
The King of kings set aside His eternal and heavenly glory, to be born in a stable and laid in a feed trough. His appearance was not glorious. In fact, with the exception of a few supernatural signs, He arrived almost undetected. Satan was tipped off that something was brewing, so Jesus was whisked away into further obscurity. There, he remained for almost thirty years until His public appearing to Israel.
The ministry of Jesus Christ was the revelation of God, first to the Jews. Jesus repeatedly told the Jewish people, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” Wherever the King is present, one can be sure the kingdom is present. Three years of revelation, brought teaching and miracles, as Jesus progressively exposed His identity and purpose. An early follower of Jesus, by the name of Nathanael, captured this when Jesus revealed Himself to this devout Jew in Galilee, “Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel (John 1:49).’” Jesus grew in popularity through miracles; but when He made claims exposing His identity as God enfleshed, the Jews were divided over Him. Should the people believe the miracle man or kill Him for blasphemy? They opted to kill the King of Israel, the conqueror of the kingdom of this world. The story is a tragedy. The slaves murdered their Liberator!
But God, whose plan can never be thwarted, took the evil plot and revealed His plan of salvation, for His people, which included the death of their King, in payment for their sins. In the most extravagant display of love, the King laid down His life for His people. The tragedy is more than a sappy love story ending, however. After the King was buried, He demonstrated His successful mission by rising from the dead. The enemies of Israel: Satan; sin; death; and hell were defeated by the death, burial, and resurrection of King Jesus. He is the victorious Victor! The King of the kingdom of God dealt a deathblow to the king of this world.
Following His victory in battle, He returned home to triumphant coronation and enthronement, on the throne of God. Although the war is over, the good news has not yet reached all people. Satan has been imprisoned, awaiting trial and eternal punishment. The rebels remain unaware and unwilling to lay down their arms against Almighty God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
God the Father and God the Son have sent the Holy Spirit into Israel, both Jew and Gentile, to proclaim the victory of King Jesus. The kingdom of God is spreading in the Spirit, with righteousness, peace, and joy in the hearts of Christians. The kingdom of God is at hand wherever believers in Jesus are found in the world. Little Christs, everywhere in the kingdom of this world, will shine their lights in the darkness, until every last little light has been lit with the Gospel life…and then the King comes again.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is the final ruin of this world under God’s judgment. Then the kingdom of this world will have fully become the kingdom of God, as a new creation, a new heavens and a new earth. And He shall reign forever and ever! And His people will reign with Him! And His kingdom will have no end!
If you remain in the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of this world, you will be judged at the coming of the King of glory. Repent of your sins and rebellious enmity against King Jesus, today, and enter the kingdom of God prepared for His people from before the foundation of the world.
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
November 21, 2020