The subject of the Kingdom of God is one that is very important to our faith as believers. This vast subject is misunderstood by many. If we fully discover and understand the abstract ideas of the concepts and principles of the Kingdom of God, that understanding will enact a change in every sphere of our life and give purpose to our existence.
Firstly, we need to define what the Kingdom of God is not, and then what it is!
“For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17).
We need to understand that the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink. It is not something that is superficial or of natural character, but the Kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The apostle Paul reveals to us that the Kingdom of God goes beyond the natural existence of man and it causes him to experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which are righteousness, peace and joy.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy, and it is found in the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is indwelling in us. In other words, the Kingdom of God is something that is spiritual dwelling within us. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is firstly a spiritual condition that resides within us.
“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21).
The word “Kingdom” comes from the Greek word “basileia”, and from the Hebrew word “malkuth”, which means royalty, rule, or a realm or authority and sovereignty exercised by the king. A kingdom is primary a realm over which a king exercises his authority; by this we must understand that the Kingdom of God is a realm that is overruled by God as the King. The Kingdom of God is that dimension in which the will, wish and desire of the King is the same as if it was His laws. (Matthew 7:21-23).
The second meaning of a kingdom is the people belonging to a given realm. A kingdom is a kingdom by virtue of the people that belong to that realm. By this we must recognize the remnant of people to whom the Kingdom of God is given. It is His people to whom He calls to His rule.
The four gospels used two phrases, ‘The Kingdom of God’ and ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’. The Kingdom of Heaven is commonly used in the gospel of Matthew, while The Kingdom of God is commonly used in the gospel of Luke. The Kingdom of God and The Kingdom of Heaven are two interrelated phrases that mean the same thing. To some degree, the Kingdom of Heaven speaks about a spiritual place that is governed by the principles of God and it speaks of His throne, while the Kingdom of God speaks more about the rule of God. When the word refers to the Kingdom of God, it always refers to His reign, His rule, His sovereignty, and to the realm in which it is exercised.
“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” (Psalm 103: 19).
“They shall speak of the glory of thy Kingdom and talk of thy power;” (Psalm 145:11).
“Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” (Psalm 145:13)
It is very important to understand that the realm of God’s rule is the heaven and the earth, and His rule is everlasting. (Daniel 2:37).
The Kingdom of God is His kingship, His rule, His authority. When this is realized, then we can go through the New Testament and find passage after passage where this meaning is evident, where the Kingdom of God speaks of the Kingdom as God’s rule and reign, and not an empire in the sky or people. Jesus said that we must “receive the kingdom of God as little children” (Mark.10:15). What is received is God’s rule. In order to enter the realm of the kingdom, one must submit himself in perfect trust to God’s rule here and now.
In the Old Testament the fruition and manifestation of God’s Kingdom was always an eschatological revelation that was spoken of in future tense; “Behold, the days are coming” or “it shall come to pass in those days”. In the New Testament we encounter a change. The tense is a definite and resounding present indicative: the Kingdom of God is here!
“….The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).
In Jesus Christ who is the Messiah, the old order was ended and a new order began. The central theme of the Old Testament is the ‘coming of the messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God’. The whole history of the Jews has been in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The New Testament was the establishment of God’s Kingdom that has begun. The New Testament proclaimed Jesus as the fulfilment of the Law and prophecies. Jesus Christ was and is the promised Messiah who has come to set up His Kingdom after the manner of God. With unshakable assurance, the New Testament declared that the hope of Israel has become present in the fact of Jesus. To the Jews, Jesus’ claim as a Messiah was an intolerable claim. The vision and understanding of the Kingdom of God that the Messiah will establish in His timing, was contrary to the goal that the Jews deeply desired to see in their days. They were looking for a political and nationalistic kingdom. This is the same confrontation we are having within the church circle of those who are trying to interpret present truth revelation of the Kingdom of God with past experience and knowledge, and as a result they are missing and limiting God.
The Jews were nurtured with an apocalyptic hope of a sudden intrusion of God’s Kingdom in the clouds of heaven, with the Messiah coming to establish the Kingdom of God and to challenge and overthrow the Roman Empire that was in rule by force. Roman legions marched through Jerusalem. Authority rested in the hands of a pagan Roman, Pilate. Idolatrous, immoral Rome ruled the world. Harold Antipas ruled in Galilee. The form Jesus took and His rejection of a political and nationalistic kingdom was a challenge to the Jews and His declaration that His kingship was not of this world, neither had He any intention of setting up a Kingdom after the pattern of the world system. They were looking for a new warrior spirit as King David had, one who would be a physical deliverer rising up against the Greek and Roman hierarchy.
If Herod knew that God’s Kingdom was not of this world, he wouldn’t have been threatened by the coming of Jesus and he would not have sought to kill Him. The Kingdom Jesus came to establish was not like the popular expectation of the people. His kingdom was not of this world. When Jesus talked about the “Kingdom of God”, He used a phrase the people knew well, but He gave it a new meaning. He told Nicodemus that God’s Kingdom was invisible to most people, and to understand it or experience it, a person must be renewed and restored by God’s Spirit (John 3:3-8). The Kingdom of God was a spiritual Kingdom, not a physical organization or a religious cult.
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36).
The Kingdom of God has to be viewed based on balanced understanding. It is future, but yet it is present. It is not of this world, yet it can be entered into now. There is a future fulfilment we cannot see with the natural eyes, but the Kingdom of God is everywhere.
Copyright © 2017 by Israel Onoriobe
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