The Kingdom of God
The return of Jesus to the earth marks a great change. It is the point at which the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of God, the curse of sin is removed and eternal life with God becomes possible. The coming of the Kingdom of God is a teaching which appears with great frequency in the Bible. The phrase “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” (an alternative title for the same thing) appears 83 times in the Gospels as a summary of the teaching of Jesus. For example:
"Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” (Mark 1:14,15)
The Kingdom of God is so central to the message of Jesus that it is used as a summary of that message.
The same thing appears in the book of Acts:
"He [Paul] lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance." (Acts 28:30,31)
The summary of the teaching of the Apostle over a period of two years is “the Kingdom of God” and “the Lord Jesus Christ”.
The clearest short statement which covers the idea of the Kingdom of God appears in the prophecy of Daniel:
"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,"
This describes the Kingdom of God as a rule which brings an end to the kingdoms of men and replaces them with direct rule by God. This requires that the Kingdom of God does not exist in its fullness until the return of Jesus, when the kingdoms of man are overthrown. There is a picture of this time in the second Psalm:
"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 'Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.'” (Psalm 2:13)
This is the point at which the Kingdom of God begins to replace the kingdoms of men. The rulers of the world don’t like this and seek to resist God, but their efforts are useless.
"He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 'As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.'” (Psalm 2:4-6)
In spite of the rage of the nations, God sets a king in Jerusalem (this is the location of Zion). This king is going to rule the world. The identity of the King is given in the next verses:
"I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession." (Psalm 2:7,8)
The person who is to rule the Kingdom on God’s behalf is the Son of God. Of course there is already a clue to the identity of the new ruler in verse two, where the ruler is described as God’s anointed. This translates the Hebrew word “Messiah” which could be translated into Greek as “Christos” - “Christ”. The psalm identifies Jesus as the ruler of the Kingdom of God.
There are many pictures of the Kingdom of God in Scripture, each of which paints a picture of a world at peace, a world where death is rare and is being abolished entirely, a place without stress, illness or violence, a place where there is sufficient for everyone. These passages include Psalm 72, Isaiah 11:1-9; Isaiah 35; Isaiah 65:17-25; Joel 3:17-21; Micah 4:1-5.
Of course, human beings have often sought to produce such a rule by purely human means, but have always failed. The reason for their failure is human nature; such attempts often begin well in great idealistic fervour, but they then go wrong and end in bloodshed and oppression. Human beings naturally act in their own selfish interests; the ones who are the most ambitious for themselves, and the most ruthless in seizing power and hanging onto it, are the ones who tend to reach the top. The result is never good.
The difference with the Kingdom of God is that it is not governed by human nature. The person in control is God, who is just, merciful and has the interests of mankind in his heart.
The Kingdom of God is our hope for the future.