The Kingdom of God
In all God’s doings there is a purpose. Everything is planned and happens as planned. So whatever the kingdom of God is, it must have been the perfect subject for the apostles and the Lord himself to talk about. What then is the kingdom of God? Different people will give different answers, but to ascertain the true meaning of this term, we must look at it from its origins.
We find the kingdom of God used in contrast to the kingdom of men in the book of Daniel. The kingdom of men consists of the aggregate of human governments, the rule of man by man. Good news of God’s kingdom was preached to Abraham through promises concerning eternal life on earth. God is frequently described as the “King of Israel” (Isaiah 44:6). The Israelites became God’s kingdom after the covenant on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:5-6). As God was their King, they were ruled by judges like Samson and Gideon. The judges were not kings but divinely guided administrators. The last judge to guide Israel was Samuel. The Israelites pressed him to appoint a king for them like the neighboring nations had (1 Samuel 8:7). So Israel rejected God as their King. God gave them various kings such as Saul, David and Solomon who ruled on God’s throne.
Israel failed to live up to the Sinai covenant and slid into apostasy. God then rejected them and eventually the kingdom split into two: ten tribes (Israel) and two tribes (Judah). The last king of the ten-tribe Israel was Hoshea. The last king of the two-tribe Judah was Zedekiah. Due to apostasy, God exiled both Israel and Judah and announced the termination of this type of kingly relationship (Ezekiel 21:25-27).
Prophets lamented over the rejection of Israel and Judah (Hosea 10:3). God had given Israel laws that touched on all aspects of life e.g. religious, social and agricultural. When Israel had been the kingdom of God previously, the duty of the priests had been to teach the knowledge of God (Malachi 2:5-7).
The priests were placed in various towns for this purpose. In the future the saints will take over the priests’ function in God’s future kingdom (Revelation 5:10). At present this is not possible (Luke 11-27).
Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come”. It is not yet come. If it were, then the kingdoms of men would not be in existence. When it comes, every aspect of human life will be affected: social, economic, moral and religious. They will come under a new directing power. In chapter two of the book of Daniel, we find the history of the world condensed in prophetic form. The dream prophesied what will happen in the latter days (v 28); ‘the latter days’ refers to the closing period of human affairs.
Having prophetically outlined the world’s history to our days Daniel prophesied, “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).
Now what does the setting up of a kingdom mean? What does a kingdom constitute? A king, a people, territory, laws, aristocracy. It is a new order of things which shall have a God-appointed king, a God-constituted aristocracy, God-selected people, a God-chosen land and God-given laws. God chose the Jews to be a special people unto Himself (Deuteronomy 7:6) but the subject inhabitants of the earth of the future will come from “all peoples, nations and languages”. They will be to that kingdom as Kenyans are to Kenya.
God promised Abraham the land of Palestine. The Israelites occupied it temporarily under Moses on condition that they obeyed the Law. The land of Palestine is the natural centre of the earth. It has witnessed God’s operations in the past and the sending forth of the gospel.
When is this Kingdom to be established? At the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (Amos 9:11; Isaiah 9:11; 2:2-4). At first, after Christ’s return, the human arrangements of things political will be broken up.
There will be the resurrection of the responsible at his coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-26; Revelation 20:4).
Those found worthy will be given immortality to help Christ govern the world for 1000 years. Having received God’s nature, they will be unable to die. They shall be kings and priests and shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:10).
During the millennium, the 1000 years period, mortal people will hear the gospel and be responsible to God. During this period, their life span will be much longer than now (Isaiah 65:20).
The land will have increased fertility.
The 1000 year period will be transitional. At the end, those who died during that time will be raised to appear before the judgment seat of Christ (Revelation 20:11-15; John 5:26-29; 7:22). The wicked will be destroyed and the righteous rewarded with eternal life. Afterwards, Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father, marking the end of these things. What follows after God is all in all, we are NOT told. All we know is that we shall have attained eternal life, God’s nature and we live to please and glorify God.
Brothers and sisters wherever you are, whatever you are doing, the times are significant. The issues are so vital that we owe it to ourselves, our families and our ecclesias to earnestly seek and pray for God’s kingdom. May God bless all the readers.
Bro Gordon Ochieng (Madiany, Kenya)