The Kingdom of God

What is the Kingdom of God? There are certainly many opinions about what the Kingdom of God is, and is not. Many regard the Kingdom of God as an ephemeral sentiment, an idealized notion about the way God would like the world to be. When all is said and done, the world will actually be as God wants it to be. 

Perhaps you noticed, on the home page, my statement: "Part of the gospel, the good news Jesus brought, is that each of us can be part of this creation process - if we are willing." So, what is the other part? It is the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God:

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23)

And it came to pass afterward, that he [Jesus] went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve [were] with him (Luke 8:1)

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Jesus, in Matthew 24:14)

As we saw on the page about eternal life, Jesus will return. What happens after that? Rather than deal in opinions, here are a few of the many scriptures about the return of Christ and His establishment of the kingdom of God on Earth:

Verses about Jesus' return:

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. (Revelation 1:7)

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.  (Isaiah 40:5)

...and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30, 31; note how this verse includes the second coming, the trumpet sounding and the gathering of the faithful, just as we saw on the page about eternal life.)

Verses about the Kingdom:

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44)

And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. (Zechariah 14:9)

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, 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. (Daniel 7:14)

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem [referring to Armageddon] shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. (Zechariah 14:16,17)

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD  (Jeremiah 31:34)

But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. (Micah 4:4)

Verses about the faithful inheriting the kingdom:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Jesus, in Luke 12:32)

And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Jesus to his disciples, in Luke 22:29, 30)

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Spoken by Jesus as He described how He would reward the faithful upon His return. Note that this is part of a plan - God's plan - which has been in place from the beginning of the world! Matthew 25:34)

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:27)

 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world [to be] rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5. Again, inheriting the kingdom is part of God's plan for those that love Him.)

Revelation 5:9,10 speaks of Jesus from the elect's point of view, saying: "thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

There are over 110 references to the kingdom in the four accounts of Jesus' life, in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There are many more references in the other books of the Bible. The Kingdom of God (usually referred to as the "kingdom of heaven" in the book of Matthew) was a central theme in Jesus' preaching. Jesus used many parables to teach about the kingdom, many of them illustrating what should be done in order to inherit it.

Jesus never said we would go to heaven, and never instructed us to seek to get to heaven. Jesus directed us as follows: "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). The very first request in the "Lord's prayer" is for the Kingdom of God to come:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven... (Matthew 6:9,10)

As we saw on the page about eternal life, the just will be resurrected to eternal life at Jesus' return. They will rise up "in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" as He returns (2 Thessalonians 4:17). They will remain with Him as He arrives at the Mount of Olives:  "...and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee" (Zechariah 14:4,5)

Unfortunately some have been confused by Jesus' statement, "the Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). Clearly the verses above show the Kingdom of God will arrive on Earth in dramatic, visible, physical power. So how is it possible for the Kingdom to be "within you"? Where God rules, there His Kingdom is. If He rules within you, then His Kingdom is indeed within you. And when Christ returns and rules the world, His Kingdom will indeed be established on Earth.

It is the will of God for the faithful to inherit the Kingdom of God; it has been God's plan "from the foundation of the world." We have seen that the resurrected faithful "shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" (Rev. 20:6). Many true Christians today understand that their life of overcoming, and of learning to love and to serve, is partly in preparation for their service with Christ during the thousand years. With Christ they will be the kings and priests that will lead and guide mankind, teaching men to "beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks" (Isaiah 2:4). It is a far more useful and meaningful future than "going to heaven" for some kind of perpetual vacation.

What happens after the first thousand years of the Kingdom of God on Earth? How does the kingdom become "an everlasting kingdom"? And why is God waiting to establish His Kingdom? Why not do it now? We will find answers as we learn more about God's plan.