Some people believe the church is the kingdom of God, others that it is the ethical rule of God set up in ones heart. Some that it will come gradually by growth and development, whilst other’s believe it is waiting for us up in heaven. But what did Jesus and the apostles teach, and what does the bible say about the kingdom of God?
Those familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s writings may remember his ‘six honest serving men’:
“I keep six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew,
Their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who,”
In this study we will utilize these ‘six serving men’ to find out what the scriptures say about the kingdom of God.
WHAT is the kingdom of God?
The first thing to recognise is that after almost six weeks of teaching about the kingdom of God by Jesus (between his resurrection and his ascension to heaven), the kingdom of God was very real to the apostles and they fully expected it’s arrival – Jesus did not correct them in this but only commented on the timescale involved:
Acts 1:3-6 NRSV
After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The second thing to notice is that it is God himself (Yahweh) who gives kingdoms and rulership where He wills:
Daniel 2:37 WEB
You, O king, are king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory;
We see from the interpretation and explanation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the second chapter of Daniel, that it concerns a succession of world governments or kingdoms:
Daniel 2:38-39 WEB
and wherever the children of men dwell, the animals of the field and the birds of the sky has he given into your hand, and has made you to rule over them all: you are the head of gold.
2:39 After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you; and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
Eventually the final world ruling system is brought down and replaced by a kingdom set up by God himself, which will never be destroyed – the kingdom of God:
Daniel 2:44 WEB
In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty of it be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
Is this interpretation from Yahweh God, and is it certain and sure to happen?
Daniel 2:45 WEB
Because you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall happen hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation of it sure.
Sometime later Daniel has a dream and visions, and again is given the meaning of it:
Daniel 7:2 WEB
Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the sky broke forth on the great sea.
Daniel 7:16 WEB
I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
This is also concerning these world ruling governments:
Daniel 7:17 WEB
These great animals, which are four, are four kings, who shall arise out of the earth.
Did it depict one like ‘the son of man’ (Jesus Messiah – this was his favourite term to refer to himself) receiving authority and a commission from Yahweh to rule as king of the kingdom of God over all the earth:
Daniel 7:13-14 WEB
I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
7:14 There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Did John the Baptist look forward to the coming of this kingdom and preach concerning it?
Matthew 3:1-3 NRSV
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,
2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ “
Is this also what Jesus himself preached about?
Matthew 4:17 NRSV
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
When questioned did Jesus tell Pilate that he was to become a king, but not of this present age/world, implying that it will be in the age/world to come later?
John 18:36 NRSV
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
Did Jesus also tell his disciples that he would rule in the new world or new age (referring to himself as the son of man)?
Matthew 19:27-28 NRSV
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Does Paul also speak about this ‘world to come’?
Hebrews 2:5 NRSV
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels.
Does Isaiah prophecy of this reign of Yahweh through His Messiah Jesus?
Isaiah 52:7 WEB
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!
Does the book of Revelation refer to the time when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God and of His Christ (Messiah)?
Revelation 11:15 NRSV
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
Does Jesus say that he has been given power from the Father to rule over the nations?
Revelation 2:26-27 NRSV
To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations;
27 to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered—
28 even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star.
So we can now see that the kingdom of God is nothing less than the new world government of God (Yahweh, our Father) ruling over all the nations and peoples of the earth under the kingship of Jesus his Messiah.
In order to understand what makes this is necessary let’s use our next ‘serving man’ WHY.
WHY is the kingdom of God coming?
In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve effectively rejected God’s rule over them through unbelief and disobedience, instigated by Satan. They, and all mankind thereafter unwittingly came under the rule of Satan.
Is this confirmed in Ephesians, referring to Satan as ‘the prince of the power of the air’ (an unseen spirit being influencing all mankind without our knowing it)?
Ephesians 2:1-3 NRSV
You were dead through the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.
Does Paul in the book of Romans say we are either slaves of sin (Satan) or of righteousness (God & Christ)?
Romans 6:16-19 NRSV
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted,
18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
What does Jesus say about it?
John 8: 34 NRSV
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.
Does Jesus identify who (generally) mankind’s current ‘father’ is, and that he influences them to carry out his desires?
John 8:44 NRSV
You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Satan claimed to be able to give Christ all the kingdoms of the world, which he could not do unless he owned them – Christ did not deny this. In fact Satan holds the whole world in bondage, though few realise it.
Matthew 4:8-9 NRSV
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor;
9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
Is the whole creation awaiting the kingdom of God and the children of God?
Romans 8:18-23 NRSV
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;
20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope
21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;
23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
Moses, sent by Yahweh to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt freeing them from bondage to Pharaoh, was a type of Christ being sent by the Father to free mankind from Satan’s bondage (you may like to look at Acts 7:35-37 and John 8:31-38).
This will happen dramatically and universally with the inauguration of the kingdom of God.
This has resulted in horrendous sufferings for all mankind – wars, famines, diseases, pestilences, death, to name but a few – and these will increase dramatically as the return of Christ approaches:
Matthew 24:6-8 NRSV
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places:
8 all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
People are lied to and led astray, and wickedness will increase:
Matthew 24:11-12 NRSV
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.
It will get so bad that all of mankind is in danger of be wiped out unless God intervenes to put an end to it:
Matthew 24:22 NRSV
And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
But thankfully Yahweh God is merciful:
Ephesians 2:4 NRSV
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us
Our God sends His Messiah son Jesus to put an end to Satan’s rule and man’s disobedience, and to usher in a new world government run according to Yahweh’s laws and love nature, to save mankind and to release us from Satan’s bondage and deception:
Matthew 19:28 NRSV
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Revelation 20:1-3 NRSV
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,
3 and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.
The wicked will be subdued, and righteousness and peace will abound:
Isaiah 11:1-10 WEB
There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit.
11:2 The Spirit of Yahweh shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh.
11:3 His delight shall be in the fear of Yahweh; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears;
11:4 but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he kill the wicked.
11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
11:6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
11:7 The cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
11:8 The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea.
11:10 It shall happen in that day, that the root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the peoples, to him shall the nations seek; and his resting-place shall be glorious.
All will learn to worship the one true God, Yahweh:
Zechariah 14:16 WEB
It will happen that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tents.
Micah 4:1-4 WEB
But in the latter days, It will happen that the mountain of Yahweh’s temple will be established on the top of the mountains, And it will be exalted above the hills; And peoples will stream to it.
4:2 Many nations will go and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, And to the house of the God of Jacob; And he will teach us of his ways, And we will walk in his paths.” For out of Zion will go forth the law, And the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem;
4:3 And he will judge between many peoples, And will decide concerning strong nations afar off. They will beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, Neither will they learn war any more.
4:4 But they will sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; And no one will make them afraid: For the mouth of Yahweh of Hosts has spoken.
There will be universal peace, prosperity and blessings:
Isaiah 2:4 WEB
He will judge between the nations, And will decide concerning many peoples; And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more.
All this will fulfil the promises Yahweh made to Abraham – keeping His word perfectly:
Genesis 22:15-18 WEB
The angel of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time out of the sky,
22:16 and said, “I have sworn by myself, says Yahweh, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son,
22:17 that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore. Your seed will possess the gate of his enemies.
22:18 In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Galatians 3:16-18 NRSV
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ.
17 My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.
18 For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.
So we start to see WHY it is necessary for Christ (Messiah) to return and introduce the government of Yahweh in the kingdom of God.
In the next study we will continue to use the ‘six serving men’ to examine the kingdom of God by looking at WHEN it will happen and HOW it will be brought about. The third study in the series will consider WHERE these things will take place and WHO will be involved.