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Teachings

The Signs of the Times (42): Kingdom

editor - 7 April 2019

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ Matthew 6:9-10

When Jesus teaches His disciples the ‘Lord’s prayer’, it begins with: Your kingdom come. What does He mean by this? Is this about a spiritual kingdom that lives in the hearts of man? This is part of it no doubt.

Paul says: ‘For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.’ Romans 14:17-18

A person receives the Holy Spirit by being born again. So the church is one way in which the Kingdom of God takes shape: a community of people who – through faith in Christ and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – serves Christ in the world and establishes signs of the Kingdom that is to come. Just as He did Himself during His life in Israel.

The miracles He performed He calls ‘signs of the Kingdom’; examples pointing to the Kingdom that will come in the future. Pockets of light in a surrounding darkness. The sick are healed, the dead are raised, the hungry are fed, the blind see and the deaf hear, yes, even sins are forgiven and demons cast out. The powers of nature and the laws of nature are under His control.

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 favour…” Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. (…)  He began saying to them, “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 they 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 that can come, there first must be the year of the Lord’s favour. That favourable 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. And the same sings of the Kingdom that happened in Israel are seen accompanying the preaching of this Gospel of the Kingdom among the nations all over the world.

So after the signs of the Kingdom visible in Israel when He as the King was on earth, first there is the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom all over the world. After that there will be the judgement upon the ungodly nations, and after that the Kingdom of Peace and righteousness all over the earth. First there is the hidden form of the Kingdom in the hearts of man, accompanied by the ‘signs of the Kingdom’. And then there will be the Kingdom in its tangible, visible, global form. But this Kingdom will be intrinsically linked to Israel.

When the Lord Jesus has finished the work on the cross, when the sins of this world are atoned for, when the power of sin has been broken, when the devil and the powers of darkness are defeated, when He has risen from the dead triumphantly, His disciples eagerly ask Him: Lord, are you at this time gong to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ Acts 1:6

And Jesus doesn’t tell them: “that is a dumb question” and He doesn’t say: “do you still not understand that it’s not about an earthly kingdom with a prominent place for Israel, but that this is all about a heavenly, a spiritual kingdom?” No, He just says: ‘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 1:7-8

Those are His last words because after this, the cloud – the Glory of God, the Shekinah – takes Him away.

By the way: preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom is not proclaiming the revolution. If Jesus had meant a Kingdom reachable by force, and by violence and by revolutionaries and armies, He would have never said have said to Pontius Pilate: ‘My Kingdom is not of this world.’ John 18:36. It will not be established with the means of power of this world.

The expression ‘the Kingdom of heaven’ or ‘the Kingdom of God’ does not mean ‘heaven’. It means the Kingdom on earth given by the heavens. The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom on earth given by God. That is what we are praying about for 2000 years in the Lord’s Prayer: Your will be done on earth– as it is in heaven.

 

The Signs of the Times
Many people are afraid of the future. Will the turmoil in the world lead to World War III? Or is there still hope? What do the ancient prophecies of the Bible teach us? Are we at the beginning of the end of this world? Or are we approaching a new beginning? Could Israel be a sign of hope? In this new series Rev. Willem Glashouwer looks at 52 of the many signs of the times that are mentioned in the Bible. The English edition of ‘The Signs of the Times’ is available in our webshop. Order today!

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