The word Kingdom is used over 100 times in the Gospel accounts. In the Model Prayer we are taught to pray ‘Let your Kingdom Come.’ Jesus message after the death of John the Baptist became a message the all should ‘repent for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ Jesus spoke of the last days and said in prophecy that ‘this good news of the Kingdom would be preached in all nations.’
Fascinatingly the Bible doesn’t contain one single complete account which sets out in plain language what the Kingdom is.
Various organizations have come up with lots of different explanations as to what Jesus meant.
What does the Bible say in the various comments about Jesus and the Kingdom?
At the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry on the point of Jesus ascension to heaven the Bible account reveals a compelling truth.
The disciples had been with Jesus and heard his various discussions about the Kingdom. Some had listened to Jesus explaining amazing things about his role in God’s purpose following his resurrection. This was the most well informed group that you could possibly imagine with Jesus as he is about to ascend into the clouds.
Acts 1:6-8. ‘So when they had assembled, they asked him: “Lord, are you restoring the Kingdom to Israel at this time?” 7 He said to them: “It does not belong to you to know the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction. 8 But you will receive power when the holy spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth’
What did the disciples believe the Kingdom was? They asked him “Lord, are you restoring the Kingdom to Israel at this time?”
That’s right. They were still thinking of the Jewish Kingdom.
If Jesus had sat them down and explained what the Kingdom was in detail it is hardly likely that they would have asked this question.
Jesus reply is also fascinating. Acts 1:7 He said to them: “It does not belong to you to know the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.”
Byingtons Translations says “It does not belong to you to know the times and dates….”
So Jesus was not sharing the information. Instead they were told to focus on the preaching work.
For Years They Preached The Kingdom Simply Trusting In The Christ
So for years the disciples had been with Jesus and preached about the ‘Kingdom of the Heavens’ without truly understanding its nature. Just that the Christ would be its King and that he was a remarkable character. What they saw and heard in relation to him left them in no doubt that the Kingdom would be marvellous but the overall nature of what it all meant was left unclear.
There were certain things that the disciples did know. They recorded these in the gospel accounts. These references combined with the promises found in the Hebrew part of the scriptures paint a picture of God’s Kingdom.
The most telling prophecy regarding Jesus is found in Isaiah 9:6
Isaiah 9:6 ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government [Kingdom] shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’
This prophecy is applied to Jesus and referred to at Jesus birth when angels declared his arrival in Bethlehem to the shepherds in the field.
The kingdom government would be his. Therefore we know that the Kingdom is a government or way of governing. This manner of governing is always compared in scripture to the manner of governing of the Kings in Israel. Like King David, Like Solomon and so forth. Authority rested in the throne and in those officials that the king authorized to fulfill duties. Therefore a king held the authority.
In Luke 19 and reading from verse 11 we get insight into what the Kingdom really is.
Luke 19:11-14. ‘And as they heard these things, he added and spoke in illustration to them, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was immediately to appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called ten servants of his, and gave them ten pounds, and said unto them, Trade ye herewith till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent an ambassador after him, saying, We will not that this man reign over us.’
Jesus used this wording a few times to try to help the disciples to understand what was about to happen. Jesus was the nobleman who would travel far off at his death and resurrection to heaven. He would return in his Kingdom or with Kingdom Power.
In the meantime he would leave his disciples [servants / followers] with the preaching work and the message of the gospels. The general response to the preaching work however would be rejection. The message regarding the Christ would be divisive.
Christs Return in Kingdom Power
In Matthew 25 Jesus told the same story and then made the connection to his return in Kingdom power.
Matthew 25:31,32. When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him…
So what is the Kingdom? It is Christs rulership over the earth. A kingdom or government.
Later, when the apostles and gospel writers wrote down various accounts they recalled details that Jesus had mentioned to them about the kingdom. It was in fact quite a list of things that he had shared with them. So while he didn’t actually sit down and spell out exactly what the kingdom was he did provide enough information for them to recognize that it was Christ return in kingdom, power, and that at that time they, as resurrected individuals who had worked closely with Christ would likely work along with him, just as in history there had been those that had worked along with Jewish kings.
We do have to be very careful to avoid wishful thinking when reading various accounts in the Bible. Various scriptures have been applied to the kingdom, despite there being no evidence in the text that it can be applied in that way. What we do know for certain is that Christ is going to return in kingdom power. When he returns in kingdom power, he will return with the angels and at that time he will give mankind the opportunity to make a choice. It will be a choice similar to that which was presented in the garden of Eden. Does mankind want to have the life of an animal living for a few short years and then dying or does mankind want to return to the life that was originally planned by God and enjoy all the blessings from God, including the prospect of living forever in whatever place that hope turns out to be. It is evident from Jesus teachings that there is a place in heaven for those who want to enjoy life along with God and Christ in the future. But exactly how this will work and exactly how this will play out can only be surmised, and therefore it is best to avoid conjecture.
The Faithful Apostles Were Promised Places
In the resurrection we know from Jesus words to his disciples that the apostles will share in working closely with Christ and continue the relationship that they had with him when he was on earth. On the night that Jesus was about to be handed over and die. He said to his disciples that he was making a covenant with them, just as God had made a covenant with him, for a kingdom. [Luke 22:28-30 But you are the ones who have stayed by me in my temptations, 29 and I invest you, as my Father did me, with kingship, so as to have you eat and drink at my table in my Reign; and you shall sit on thrones..] He said that he was going on his way and that he was preparing a place for them. So Christ was promising that they would share in his kingdom or kingdom government to restore perfect conditions to the earth, and to put in place the remainder of God’s purpose for mankind, which evidently is more glorious than many people imagine.
When the apostle Paul later spoke about Christ’s death and resurrection, he made the point that Christ ascended to heaven and there had to wait until God’s appointed time. Only at God’s appointed time would Christ be appointed as king of the kingdom. [ Hebrews 10:12,13. But this man offered one sacrifice for sins for all time and sat down at the right hand of God, from then on waiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.] At that point he would return in kingdom, power and all his angels with him. As the angel said to the disciples at his ascension, Christ will return in the same manner that he left. When he ascended to heaven, he was caught up into the clouds and disappeared. At his return we can anticipate something glorious as a heavenly sight so that mankind is left in no doubt as to Christ’s return.
So God’s Kingdom is Christs Reign. He will return in Kingdom Power. Resurrected disciple of Christ such as the faithful among the Apostles will reign with Christ. In Daniel chapter 2 verse 44 the Bible describes the setting up of this Kingdom. ‘And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.’
When Christ returns in Kingdom power then all mankind will have an opportunity to choose His God backed sovereignty and authority. But it spells the end for all nations that exist at that time. Mankind must become one family again, just as originally ordained.
Amazing changes are coming. Jesus demonstrated his love when on earth. He was showing what his future Kingdom would do for mankind. This makes us logically ask the question. What will it be like? Revelations 21:3-5 tells us ‘And I heard a loud voice out of the throne say “Lo, God’s abode is with men and he will abide with them, and they shall be his peoples and he will be God with them 4 and will wipe away every tear out of their eyes, and death will no longer exist, nor will mourning nor outcry nor pain any longer exist, because former things are gone”; and he who sat on the throne said “Lo, I am making everything new”; and it said “Write, because these words are true and trustworthy’
Frequently the Bible speaks of marvelous condition returning to the earth. And Jesus’ example leaves us in no doubt as to what the Kingdom will be like. Jesus was approachable and kind. He healed the sick. He calmed the seas. He was a refreshing influence. Yes the earth will be transformed into a marvelous home. No more war, violence, racism, hated, sickness. And with God’s purpose restored and Satan removed the life prospects and future ongoing prospects for life will be incredible. Even in the short term following Christs return many will experience a glorious resurrection with the additional prospect of life in the heavens in view.
Pointing forward to God’s Kingdom and Christs return Revelation 20 tells us. ‘And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and the world below gave up the dead that were in them’
Jesus spoke of the future Paradise. When Christ rules then this world will see amazing conditions far beyond anything that we can imagine.
God’s Kingdom is the hope for all mankind. It will permanently fix all the ills that prevail on the earth today.