Welcome to the first in a series looking at the Kingdom of God (KoG). Through this series, I will be writing about how the KoG impacts our lives now as well as how we have something spectacular to look forward to in the future. To start this series, I want to look at how Jesus and the Bible talk about the KoG.
Why study the KoG? The answer lies in our identity – who we are. I am an American. I am proud of my citizenship in my country and take it very seriously. Part of my identity is that of an American. The same goes for the KoG. When we become Christ-followers, we enter a new Kingdom. We are citizens, children of the King. Jesus is that King. His kingdom is now our home – where we have our citizenship. We have our identity as citizens and with that identity comes rights and responsibilities. It is essential that we know that.
The Kingdom of God starts in Genesis 1-3. Humanity was created and designed for many things but these three specifically:
- Have fellowship with God
- Enjoy God’s creation
- Have purpose in that creation
Before humanity chose to sin, they enjoyed these three benefits of being God’s “very good” (Gen 1:31. This is the picture of humanity’s true state. But as we know, it didn’t stay that way. When humanity chose to sin – do that which God said not to and desire that which God has not allowed – the fellowship between God and His creation (including humanity as well as the natural world) was damaged and divided. For the rest of the Bible, God shows us how He is the only one to repair that relationship and He is the one who can restore humanity’s citizenship to His Kingdom.
Let’s go further to the Jewish Scriptures. These scripture passages build part of the context those that followed Jesus would have when hearing Him speak of the Kingdom of God. Psalm 95:6 states:
Your throne, God, is forever and ever;
the scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of justice.
This is what we learn from this passage:
- God’s Kingdom is eternal
- God’s Kingdom is a kingdom of justice
So, we start with a concept that the KoG is an eternal state of complete and perfect Justice. Daniel writes on this as well as a part of his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2:44:
In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to other people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end but will itself endure forever.
This idea of an eternal and just kingdom is vital to the first century Jew because they are under Roman occupation. Daniel’s readers would be reading the passage considering the destroyed temple. Jesus’s followers would have had this same perspective, but would have two elements that are different:
- Exile within their own land – Roman occupation
- The temple being rebuilt – still underway when Jesus was crucified
Keep in mind that the Temple is where God dwelled among His people. It was the meeting of Heaven and Earth in one place. Therefore, they were so upset with him when He predicted its destruction. It would symbolize the removal of any hope of an eternal KoG with eternal justice. But Jesus has something else in mind.
John the Baptist was the first to declare that the KoG had indeed arrived. (Mk 1:15). This would have been a tough thing for the 1st century Jew to understand. How could the KoG be here when we are under Roman occupation?
Jesus doubled down on the message and told us to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Mat 6:33). This is a place we should desire to be in. He also told His followers that His job was to preach the Gospel of the KoG (Luke 4:43 – I will look at what exactly the Gospel is in a future post). He even told His followers to do the same (Lk 9:2 / 9:60).
However, we cannot earn our citizenship into the KoG (Mat 19:24 / Mk 10:23), and we can be removed from the KoG (Mat 21:43). Far different than the idea of religious obligation to earn a spot in God’s dwelling place.
Like John, Jesus spoke about the KoG as if it was here in the present – in the now. This is especially evident when He used this term in His parables (Mk4:11 / Lk 8:10):
- Man scattering the seeds -those that flourish and those that don’t (Mk 4:26-29).
- Even a small amount (a mustard seed) is powerful (Mk 4:30).
- It is infused into all of life (leaven Lk 13:20-21).
- The KoG reproduces, and the citizens are responsible for their portion – the parable of the 10 minas (Lk 19:11-27)
And there are many more.
Furthermore, citizens in the Kingdom of God:
- Receive and are conduits for healing (Luke 10:9)
- Cast out demons (Luke 11:20)
- Is currently in our midst (Luke 17:21)
- Have faith like a child (Luke 18:17)
Here is the kicker to all of this, the KoG is open to everyone who wants to enter (Luke 16:16). However, this is an obvious qualification for entering the KoG:
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
“How can anyone be born when he is old? ” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born? ”
Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)
We simply cannot just stroll in, and say, “Here I am, make me a citizen!” No, there must be a transformational change in a person in which they have surrendered themselves – their spirits – to Jesus. Consider what Jesus said – the audacity of the statement, “unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He is saying that we have been born, for lack of a better word, defective. But in dying to the self, and then being resurrected with anew spirit occupied by the Holy Spirit, we have our credentials to children of the King – complete with all benefits, rights, and responsibilities.
Consider that. Where is your identity? Do you see yourself as a citizen of this amazing Kingdom?
Next, I will be looking at approaching the throne of the King.
 All Biblical references form the CSB