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Your Kingdom Come

Where is God's kingdom? On this episode of the Relentlessly Knocking podcast, we are exploring the meaning behind Jesus' model prayer for God's kingdom to come. From the historical context to the present reality, discover three intriguing possibilities that bring this ancient prayer to your life today. Did God's kingdom already come? Is there a future manifestation in store? Or are we living in God's kingdom now? Listen in and find out how God's kingdom isn't a dream or fantasy, but it's even closer to your own realm than you might think.




Do you like stories of royal fantasies and of times long ago? There’s just something captivating about thinking of a time of Kings and Queens, splendorous palaces, vast dominions, thrones and crowns. But coming back to reality, consider your own realm today. We live in a world far removed from those times of myth and legend. In fact, in our world today, there are only 4 countries that are considered an absolute monarchy. But wait a second, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the concept of kings and kingdoms has little importance for your life today. Consider this: When Jesus’ followers asked Him how to pray, He told them that they should pray for God’s coming kingdom. What does that mean? Where is God’s kingdom? And is this a prayer that we should still be praying today? In this lesson, we’ll be considering three intriguing possibilities for the meaning of this prayer. You might be surprised to find out that God’s kingdom isn’t a dream or fantasy, but it’s even closer to your own realm than you might think.

 

Hello everybody. This is the Relentlessly Knocking podcast. I’m Scott Ihle, and I’m the Executive Director of Logos Answers, and the missionary in residence at Woodstock church of Christ in Atlanta, GA. Jesus told His disciples that if they knock, the door would be opened for them. And on this podcast we are knocking relentlessly and unapologetically as we try to discover the truth about God the Creator, the Anointed Son of God, Jesus, and their Spirit-inspired Word as found in the Bible.

 

Jesus’ Inauguration (the King)

So, what do you imagine when you think of a king? Do you think of someone mighty and majestic? Or perhaps you imagine someone who is rich and powerful. Some people may have difficulty imagining a poor and humble teacher like Jesus as a king. But that’s exactly the first possibility we’ll consider. When Jesus told His followers in Luke chapter 11 to pray, “Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come,” maybe He was referring to Himself!

 

Jesus knew that His followers were anxious to see a new king and a new kingdom. Most of the world at the time was under the dominion of the mighty Roman Empire. But the Jewish people knew that God had promised through the prophets that a time was coming when God would send His anointed Son to the earth to set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed.

 

For the past 700 years of their history, the people of God were dominated by world powers. First, the Babylonians, then the Persians, next the Greeks, and now the Roman Empire. When the Jewish people were first taken away into Babylonian captivity, the King of Babylon at the time was Nebuchadnezzar. He had a dream. In this dream, given to him by God, Nebuchadnezzar saw four mighty kingdoms. The prophet Daniel, who was in the king’s service, interpreted the dream for him. In Daniel chapter 2, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar what would happen during the time of the fourth kingdom. He said, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever.” Fast forward to the time of Jesus. After generations of living under the domination of three world kingdoms, and now under a fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire, the Jewish people were anxiously waiting for God’s kingdom to come.

 

Not only that, but they were also expecting a powerful figure to come and judge God’s enemies before taking the throne of the kingdom. In another dream that Daniel himself had, he saw a vision of four terrifying beasts. The reader at the time would have naturally associated these four beasts with the four kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Except this time in Daniel’s dream, during the oppression of the fourth beast, Daniel sees the king.

 

This is what Daniel says in Daniel chapter 7, “I was watching in the night visions, And with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed.”

 

In this vision the Ancient of Days is God, the Father, who was before all things. The “son of man” is apparently some divine person. He’s coming in on the clouds. He’s receiving sovereignty from God. But He also looks like a man. Who could this be? Who was going to be the divine person who has the form of a man, he comes during the time of a fourth oppressive kingdom, and he receives an eternal kingdom that calls all nations?

 

That was the question many people had during the time of Jesus. They were eagerly waiting for this “son of man” to come and make himself known. So, when Jesus came on the scene, He was making some very interesting and bold claims. So bold, in fact, that either He was insane, or He was actually the “son of man” divine-king people were looking for.

 

For example, Jesus went about performing great miracles while teaching parables about what the kingdom of God is like. He told people that the kingdom of God is at hand. He said that some standing there would not taste death until they saw the kingdom of God come. And He frequently called Himself the Son of Man, which people should have taken as a reference to Daniel’s vision. When we piece all ֹof that together, we see that Jesus’ whole mission and ministry was about establishing His kingdom.

 

Now, Jesus wasn’t talking about establishing a kingdom headquartered on this earth. Jesus told the Roman governor Pilate at His trial in John chapter 18, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” What did Jesus mean that His kingdom was not of this world? Well, Pilate would go on to order Jesus to be crucified. However, after three days in the tomb, He was resurrected from the dead! He appeared to His followers over a period of forty days, and then He ascended back to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to rule in heaven. That means that Jesus’ kingdom is a heavenly kingdom. He ascended to the throne after He died and rose from the dead.

 

The Bible says in Ephesians chapter 1, “This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things.”

 

Jesus is now the King of kings and Lord of lords. His kingdom was established following His death, resurrection, and ascension to His throne in heaven. His subjects are His followers on earth who believe in Him and submit to Him. So, if the answer to Jesus’ model prayer, “May your kingdom come,” is Himself, and His kingdom has already come, why don’t we see it today? Why don’t we feel like we’re in God’s kingdom sometimes?

 

God’s final victory and peace

That leads us to the second possible meaning to Jesus’ model prayer, “May your kingdom come.” Maybe since Jesus’ kingdom has not been fully revealed to the world, maybe He had in mind some future manifestation of God’s kingdom. In other words, maybe He meant that His followers should be praying that His kingdom come in full glory in the future.

 

There are many people living today who wonder, “Where is God’s kingdom?” The skeptic would say they don’t see it. It’s been over 2,000 years since the time of Jesus. Yet, there’s still sickness. People are still sad. There is still suffering in the world. Even some Christians can get down. They doubt and forget about God’s kingdom.

 

The reason is because while Jesus did establish His kingdom, there is still a sense in which it has not been fully revealed and realized. In fact, He made it clear that, in some ways, the Christian life was going to get harder before it got better. For starters, in this present state of God’s kingdom, Jesus was not going to get rid of all the evil and suffering in the world immediately. He was going to give the world time to repent and patiently wait for more people to choose Him.

 

The Bible says in 2 Peter 3, “Above all, understand this: In the last days blatant scoffers will come, being propelled by their own evil urges and saying, ‘Where is his promised return? For ever since our ancestors died, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation…’ But by the [word of God] the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, by being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. “

 

The second fact to consider about our present status in God’s kingdom is that it’s a spiritual reality. We don’t see it now. The Bible says in Ephesians chapter 2, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!—and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

 

That means that from God’s heavenly perspective, the Christian is ruling with Jesus in heaven now. The Christian is physically on this earth. They have to deal with hunger and thirst, pain, death, and suffering, just like everyone else. Just like Jesus did. Christians also face the difficultly of a higher moral standard. They face daily challenges to their faith. They face persecutions all over the world. Yet, while their bodies are here on earth, their spirits are metaphorically in heaven, reigning with Jesus.

 

But still, there is a time promised in the future, when all Christians will reign with Christ in glory fully visible to all. There’s a sense in which the kingdom of God has not been revealed. Today, we only experience a preview of it. At the end of time, we will see it fully.

 

Jesus told His disciples about this time in Matthew chapter 25, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

 

So, Jesus is king currently. He does have a kingdom that was established long ago. We don’t see it fully now, but we are promised to see it one day at the end of time when Jesus the King returns to judge the world and to reward His followers.

 

God’s kingdom is now

The third possible meaning for Jesus’ model prayer, “May your kingdom come,” is that Jesus was generally referring to God’s rule over humanity at any time and any place. God’s kingdom is here whenever we make Him King of our life. God is King when we do what He wants us to do. In fact, in another account of Jesus’ model prayer in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus states it this way, “May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus’ kingdom was established long ago. True. It will be fully revealed to us at some point in the future. Also true. But, we can participate in His kingdom right now. Today. We do so when we make Jesus the Lord and King of our life, and we do God’s will.

 

One of the biggest challenges I see with both Christians and non-Christians alike is that they do not see the rule and reign of God now. For the non-Christian, they may have trouble seeing God’s kingdom through all the challenges of their life, or they just simply reject Him. For the Christian, on the other hand, they also have struggles. But sometimes their challenge is that they may take for granted that “they are going to heaven someday.” Sometimes, they are just looking forward to a reward and rarely concerned about their assigned work and responsibility today.

 

We all need God’s rule over our life. We need it now. It’s not just about what happened 2,000 years ago. It’s not just about some promise yet to be realized. Yes, of course those things are important. But all of it’s meaningless for us, if we do not see God’s rule and sovereignty over our lives today.

 

God has a law and a plan for His creation. The law is the teachings of Jesus and the Spirit of God, as revealed in the New Testament of the Bible. His plan is that every person everywhere respond to the good news about salvation in His Son, King Jesus, that they repent, and they make God the ruler of their lives. Along with the sacrificial, redemptive work of Jesus, our humble submission is the way that God changes the world and rules the world. The world is a better place when people follow God’s ways and not their own ways. Even though this is the ideal, and we don’t always see the world following God’s righteous ways, this should be our earnest desire and prayer.

 

That is why Jesus said, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come.’ We should be praying that God rule over our lives now. We should be praying that the world submits to the rule of God, so that peace and justice prevails in the world. People bring peace and justice to their lives when they submit to King Jesus as Lord with confession and faith. They repent of their sins and selfishness. They are baptized in water for the forgiveness of their sins. And during the daily course of their lives, they make one of their chief desires that God’s kingdom come through their humble submission, through their daily service to the king, and through their obedience to His rule.

 

So, we looked at three possible explanations for what Jesus had in mind for His model prayer, “May your kingdom come.” Did He mean the inauguration of His kingdom immediately following His death and resurrection? Did He mean the full unveiling of the kingdom on the final day? Or is it as one Bible scholar, Everett Ferguson put it, “Jesus’ main concern was with the nature of God’s rule and not with the question of present or future, or any timetable?” I tend to think it was more about the immediate nature of God’s rule in our lives today.

 

What do you think Jesus was referring to in His model prayer? I hope that we helped answer that question for you in this podcast. If you have any further questions about this lesson, or any lesson from the Bible, let us know, and we’ll do our best to address them. But until next time, I hope you are letting God’s kingdom come, in your life today.

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