Essential Teachings 6: Kingdom of God on Earth by Steve Weston  

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The previous article on resurrection concluded with a quotation from the Apostle Paul about those resurrected individuals belonging to Christ “at his coming” (1 Cor 15:23). Paul is using language which is used elsewhere in the New Testament, including by the Lord Jesus himself, to describe his return to the earth at some unspecified time in the future. Here is just a sample of those other occasions:

 Mat 24:27  For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 

1Th 3:13  so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. 

Jas 5:7  Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.

2Pe 1:16  For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

1Jn 2:28  And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 

What is particularly impressive about that sequence of passages is that it covers all the writers of the New Testament, with the exception of Mark and Luke. So, for the sake of completeness, here is what those 2 writers have to say on the same subject:

Mar 13:26  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 

Luk 21:27  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory

The universal message of the New Testament writers, therefore, is that there will be a “coming” of the Lord Jesus, and that it will be a dramatic event. Luke has this to say in the other of his writings, concerning the moment in time when the resurrected Jesus ascended into heaven:

Act 1:10  And while (the disciples) were gazing into heaven as (Jesus) went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 


Here is an unambiguous statement that Jesus will return from heaven to earth in the same physical fashion as he went from earth to heaven 2000 years ago.


But this immediately begs 2 important questions: 1. When, and 2. Why?


Let’s approach the 2nd one first. When God first created the world, the statement in Genesis ch1 is that everything was “very good” – which is not the same as ‘perfect’. But it did not remain ‘very good’ – Adam and Eve disobeyed a commandment given them to test their inclinations, so sin became part of the human environment, with its consequences of pain, sorrow, hard labour and ultimately death.


But that was never the world envisaged by God. And so He set in motion a plan to defeat sin and death, a plan which would centre in the Lord Jesus overcoming sin and therefore conquering death (see earlier article on Jesus).


Consider this striking sequence of Bible passages from across the Old Testament:


Numbers 14:21  But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, 

Isaiah 11:9  They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 

Habakkuk 2:14  For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 


The common denominator of language is not difficult to spot, even though the authors are separated by almost 1000 years. All 3 writers are presenting a common message; it is God’s intention to fill this earth with His glory – which is manifestly not the case now. But now see how the Apostle Paul picks up that golden thread and takes it into the person of Jesus Christ:


2 Corinthians 4:6  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


Here is a powerful example of Old and New Testaments  of the Bible presenting a consistent message – God has always intended for the catastrophic effects of sin and death to be reversed, and His Son Jesus is at the very centre of that purpose being put into effect. 


This clear statement of divine intent enables us to make sense of another prominent Bible thread – that of the kingdom of God. For any kingdom to exist it needs 4 fundamental elements to be in place – a monarch, a territory, a constitution, and a people.


Let’s start with the first requirement – a monarch. Consider this, evidently climactic statement, taken from the book of Revelation:


Rev 11:15  Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 


This triumphal declaration chimes perfectly with some words that were addressed by an angel to Mary the mother of Jesus prior to his birth:

Luk 1:31  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

So, there it is – Jesus was always destined to be a king, sitting on a throne originally occupied by an ancestor. That throne existed literally, in the city of Jerusalem which is strategically located in the centre of our planet. Jesus has never yet sat on a throne here on earth. But he will when he returns here. We noted earlier that Jesus will return physically in the same way as he ascended to heaven. The spot from which he ascended is the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem!

But what of the matter of the kingdom’s territory? In the Old Testament prophecy of Daniel, the Babylonian king had a dream about the future which is interpreted by Daniel to relate to a series of middle eastern empires which would all occupy the land of Israel. In the dream this representation of human dominion in the form of a huge statue would be crushed by a stone that then grew to fill the whole earth (read Daniel ch 2 to get all the details of this fascinating account). And here’s the climax:

Dan 2:44  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.

God’s kingdom, ruled over by Jesus will occupy the whole earth; it is the whole earth that currently groans under the burden of human sin and weakness; it is the whole earth that will be filled with God’s glory. The prophet Isaiah, more than any other Bible author, gives us lovely pen-pictures of what our world will be like when Jesus is back, and reigning as God’s king, in God’s kingdom. Here’s just one example:

Isa 2:2  It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 

He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

This description bears no relation to life on earth now. Professional armies are staffed by people who learn the art of war, and how to destroy other people. Our newspapers and TV news bulletins are full of images of destruction resulting from war, whether civil or international.

This particular Bible passage also addresses another of the key elements of a kingdom – its constitution. We are being promised that the king in Jerusalem will be proclaiming and teaching the ways of peace. Men and women will learn how to live in harmony with their neighbours, with the tendency to violence and selfishness gradually eradicated from human nature by enlightened education. For a succinct description of the laws of the kingdom, just read what are often referred to as the Beatitudes in Matthew ch 5: 1-10, and their wider setting of the Sermon on the Mount (chs 5-7).

There are still 2 issues raised earlier in this article which are outstanding. Firstly there is the question of WHEN will this happen – when will the kingdom of God be set up; when will Jesus return to the earth? Jesus himself admitted that he didn’t know:

Mat 24:36  “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 

But he did provide some clear pointers – signs of the times, as they might be called

1.       Look at this prophetic description of a godless world:


2Ti 3:1  But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 

having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.


It comes across as a very accurate description of our 21st Century world, don’t you agree?

2.       The Bible has a great deal to say about the politics of the Middle East, particularly around Israel (the subject of a later article, God willing). It presents a picture of Israel (a modern nation that has existed for less than 80 years!) being threatened by a power to their north, but with allies to their south. It is not difficult to see the current geo-politics of the Middle East creating precisely that scenario.

 And the other outstanding issue? The identity of the people of God’s kingdom - “at his coming those who belong to Christ” - will be the subject of the next article in this series.

A list of archived articles can be found here


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