• “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17)
Teachings

Your Kingdom Come…

editor - 9 May 2011

By Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer.. When the Lord Jesus taught His disciples the beautiful prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer, He began: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10; see also verse 11-14).

What did He mean by praying for the “kingdom to come”? Are we praying for a spiritual kingdom in people’s hearts? That certainly is part of it. Paul said, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). By being born again, a person receives the Holy Spirit—“Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13b). And thus, the Church is one form of the Kingdom of God, a community of people who through faith in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit serve Christ in the world. By words and deeds, they help to establish signs of the Kingdom that is to come, just as He Himself did during His lifetime. He referred to His own miracles as “signs of the Kingdom” for they were bright spots in the darkness, examples and indicators pointing to the Kingdom yet to come. The sick were healed, the dead raised, the hungry fed, the blind received their eyesight, and the deaf their hearing…and, yes, sins were forgiven.

Is Jesus the promised messianic king?

When John the Baptist, who had been imprisoned by Herod, began to doubt whether Jesus was really the Messiah Israel was expecting, he sent his disciples to Jesus with the following question: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:2b; see also verses 3-6). The answer that Jesus sent back is a direct quotation from Isaiah (see Isa. 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1-2). If you look up Isaiah 35, you will see that the quotation slips over into the prophetic vision of a renewed creation.

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow” (Isaiah 35:5-7).

But immediately before saying this, Isaiah had said: “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you” (Isa. 35:4b). What John was really asking was: “Are You the King, the Messiah, who will bring judgment to the godless and then establish the Kingdom of peace?” Jesus did not deny it.

Three Phases of the Kingdom

What is the Kingdom of God? Where is the Kingdom of God? And how is the Kingdom of God? Basically, wherever God (through Jesus) is in authority, the Kingdom is present. So when Jesus was in person on earth, the first phase of the Kingdom was present. When Jesus went to Heaven, He told His disciples that through the Holy Spirit in them, He would show the same signs of the Kingdom as He had showed them on earth through them. So the second phase of the Kingdom is the phase of the Church, the invisible Kingdom in the hearts of men. And the third phase of the Kingdom will begin when Jesus returns to earth and establishes His Kingdom worldwide.

The Kingdom is present in Jesus

Jesus answered a question about when the Kingdom of God would come by saying, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation [its date cannot be calculated using some formula], nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20b-21). “Within you” can also be translated as “among you.” Both translations are correct, for both meanings are true. Wherever Jesus is, the Kingdom is; and the signs of the Kingdom will be present. Consider all the miracles that occurred during His lifetime. The Kingdom was really present, because He was there in person. This Scripture also means that when Jesus is in you by His Holy Spirit, the Kingdom is also present in you. Hence, He says that signs and miracles will also accompany believers (see Mark 16:17-18), to such an extent that they will do even greater things than He has done! (see John 14:12).

The year of the Lord’s favour

Although the Kingdom of God came very near with Christ’s first coming to Israel—the first phase of the Kingdom—that was not yet the time for it to fill the earth. It is worth taking a close look at the incident in the synagogue when He read from Isaiah 61 and announced His ministry. Luke reports it as follows:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. …[Then He announced], “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:18-21).

But when you look at this passage in Isaiah 61, it includes a few more words that Jesus did not read: “[to proclaim] the day of vengeance of our God!” Jesus knew that we had not yet reached that stage. The judgment day, the day of vengeance, that will precede the coming of the Kingdom on earth, was still in the future. Before it came, there was to be the year of the Lord’s favor. That favorable year in which the Gospel can be proclaimed worldwide has already lasted for nearly two thousand years. People everywhere can come to the Lord, have their sins forgiven, and be permitted to experience one form of the Kingdom—Jesus in their heart. There is to be a long period of grace before the Day of the Lord comes. These elements were woven together in the Old Testament prophecies, and the strands were unravelled by the Lord Jesus.

First the presence of Jesus Himself; then the spreading of the Gospel worldwide; then the judgment and the final Kingdom. First the hidden form of the Kingdom in the hearts of the people; then the Kingdom in its outward, visible worldwide form. And that visible Kingdom will be inseparably bound to Israel.

The era of the Holy Spirit

After the Lord Jesus had completed His work on the cross and given His precious blood for the sins (plural) of the world; after He had broken the power of sin (singular), defeating the devil and his powers of darkness; after His triumphant resurrection, and immediately before His ascension, His disciples excitedly asked: “Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” All He said was: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8). These were His last words before the enveloping cloud of God’s (shekhinah) glory took Him away (see Luke 9:34-35).

He spoke of the same things in His discourse on the Mount of Olives regarding final events and the end of this age: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). The hidden form of the Kingdom in the hearts of people, in the Church of Jesus Christ, must come first.

The Kingdom Is Life

It is worth noting that the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom is not the preaching of a revolution. Yet when Pilate then asked Him if He really was a king, Jesus confirmed it.

But He is more than merely a king; He is also the way, the truth, and the life. He is the way to God. He is the truth against all lies (and against the father of lies, the devil). He is the life—eternal life. He does not merely propagate a theology, a philosophy, or a theory; He is what he preaches! He Himself, in person, is it!

The first thing Jesus had to do was to conquer the death principle that had ruled all of creation since the fall, when God had stated: “Cursed is the ground because of you…” (Gen. 3:17b). Sin led to both humans and the rest of creation experiencing death. Paul reminds us:

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:20-22).

Creation is not in a process of evolving upwards; it is in a downward spiral toward death and extinction. A principle of death rules creation, as a result of the sin of man. We can hardly imagine what creation would have been like had we obeyed God. Even today, if people would listen to God’s Word, the Bible, which contains His directions for life, earth would be a much better place, despite sin. The magnificent natural world is suffering because of us. And still, we are polluting the earth, robbing it of its natural resources, leaving nothing for our children and grandchildren. May the Kingdom and the renewal of all things come soon!

Prelude to Deliverance

The turning point in history has passed. Christ has died, and what is more, He has risen from the dead! The bridgehead of the victory is secured. From this point on, everything will be different. First, He will establish His Kingdom in the hearts and minds of the people of His Church, through the Holy Spirit. After that, when He comes in glory for all to see, His Kingdom will be openly and visibly established. Israel has everything to do with this. The return of the Jewish people, as we have seen it take place before our very eyes during the past few decades, has everything to do with this. It is the beginning, the prelude, to worldwide deliverance. Israel is on the way to her rest. The law will go out from Jerusalem (see Isa. 2:2-4), and people will learn war no more (see Micah 4:3). Peace will cover the whole earth. Then the Kingdom will have come, because the King of that Kingdom has come, the Messiah of Israel, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords—Jesus Christ (see Rev. 19:11-16).

Antichrist

Will the history of this world simply flow on into this Kingdom? Will the return of Christ round off and complete the peace process that mankind is trying to set up (and which is occupying so much of the time and minds of the people who are preaching a new world order)? Will it be the capstone on a human structure? No. That capstone will be the antichrist, the christ-in-the-place-of-Christ. The Greek word anti means “in the place of,” but it can also mean “against.” He will be against Christ, against God, against the Christians and the Jews, against the Bible. Beautiful theories and slogans will be touted, using words like freedom, justice, reconciliation, tolerance, unity of all religions, peace, wealth, bread, and fun for all. Promises will be made; the state will guarantee prosperity, fortune, and happiness for all. There will be free medicine and medical care for everyone. There will be no boundaries or limits. Science will guarantee our future and will overcome all our problems.

Imitation Kingdoms

Those who stay true to Christ and the Word of God will pay with their lives (see Rev. 6:11). The woman, the whore, will be drunk with the blood of the saints (see Rev. 17:6). “But he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13). Time and again, history has shown what happens when people try to establish the kingdom on their own. “Liberty, equality, fraternity” was the slogan of the French Revolution; but streams of blood flowed, and the revolution devoured her own children. The communist revolution advocated by Karl Marx was supposed to lead inevitably to a utopian classless society. The upshot was tens of millions of casualties in Russia and China, and a totally impoverished and disintegrating society. Hitler intended to build a Third Reich, a kingdom of peace—yet never has Europe, and ultimately the whole world, gone through such a dark night. Many people lost their lives, while the main thrust of hate was directed toward the Jews and the Christians, the people of the Book.

God’s worldwide judgements

The truth is—the Kingdom, the Kingdom of peace, will come only when Christ returns. That happy event will be preceded by God’s worldwide catastrophic and apocalyptic judgments, which the great visionary John describes in the Book of Revelation. When the demonic powers seem to have almost full control and seem to be ruling the entire world, then He will come and make all things new. He will bring to fulfillment all the promises made to His people Israel, as well as all the promises he has made to His Church.

Christianity is collapsing in the Western world, but Israel is coming home. The Gospel is still being preached to the ends of the earth, and rich blessings are following. But persecution is setting in as well. And although every Christian will and must do his utmost for God, it will not bring the final Kingdom. The most that can happen is that signs of that Kingdom will be seen.

It is possible that there is even a relationship between the fact that synagogues are being closed all over the world because the Jews are returning to Israel and the fact that Christianity is declining. This is particularly so in Europe, where we have murdered and literally wiped out whole Jewish communities and their synagogues. Maybe there is and always has been a spiritual relationship between the synagogue and the Church that we as Christians have never seen or realized. The synagogue did not (and could not, because of Christian theology) see that spiritual relationship, and the Church undoubtedly has not seen it.

Jesus is coming

One thing is certain—the Church is not going to bring in the Kingdom. And another thing is certain as well—God will bring in the Kingdom! Christ will bring the Kingdom, and perhaps very soon! The return of the Jews to their own land of Israel in our day tells us that Jesus is coming. Who knows how soon that will be. Maranatha!

Adapted from the book ‘Why Israel?’ Chapter 11.

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer
Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer
President of Christians for Israel International

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