“Your kingdom[*] come….” (Matt. 6:10) Jesus instructed his apostles, and therefore his followers, including us, to pray for God’s kingdom to come. That is a curious instruction, as many Jews at the time believed that the Messiah would overthrow the Roman occupation of Judea and return the land to Jewish rule. They were bitterly disappointed when that did not happen.
Did the disciples not pray hard enough? Did God fail to answer the prayer Jesus instructed them to pray? What does that mean for us today? We need to look back at the First Century for the answer
The Zealots were the sociopolitical faction of the Jews in the First Century. They wanted to overthrow Roman rule and put the Jews in control of their own land. They hoped Jesus was the Messiah who would accomplish that goal.
While the first century Zealots may have hoped that the Messiah would set up an earthly kingdom, God had something completely different in mind. Jesus foretold the destruction of the Temple (“not one stone will be left upon another” (Mk. 13:2)) to let us know He had a different plan.
The kingdom had already come!
The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst. (Luke 17:21)
Jesus, the light of world, introduced the kingdom of God to men, but the Pharisees and most of world did not recognize or receive Him. They did not realize the kingdom of God was in their midst!
When Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate and was questioned, he answered,
My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm. (John 18:36)
Clearly, the kingdom Jesus spoke and instructed us to pray about is not an earthly, worldly kingdom. Jesus said it was in the disciples’ midst (and, therefore, in our midst), but He also said it was to come.
For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. (Luke 17: 24-25)
The Old Testament foreshadows the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God, but the establishment of God’s Kingdom, viewed through the lens of Christ, is like two mountains in the distance: 1) the first peak is the kingdom in our midst introduced by Jesus who lived and died for ours sins and was resurrected to provide us entry into God’s Kingdom, both presently available to us as we accept what He has done and believe, by faith, as we submit ourselves to His salvation and authority over our lives, and ultimately in being raised with Christ to live eternally with God; 2) the second peak is the establishment of Christ’s rule on earth in the Millennium.
When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are praying both for the establishment of God’s rule and His bounty in us and in our midst, and for His eventual second appearing at the end of the age when the risen Christ will establish a new heaven and a new earth to take his rightful place and reign supreme.
What a glorious thing that God has allowed us entry into His Kingdom now, in our present lives, where He reigns in our hearts. What a wonderful God He is that He rules with peace and love. What great promises He has given us that, when Christ appears in glory, we will also be with Him! (Col. 3:4)
Lord, Your kingdom come!
[*] 932/basileia comes from 935/basileus (“king”) and properly means “kingdom; the realm in which a king sovereignly rules”. Basileia is constantly used in the New Testament in connection with the rule of Christ in the hearts of believers with a view toward a universal rule on the physical earth in the Millennium (G. Archer). The kingdom (basileia) is “now but not yet” – “here but still future” as Christ, the King, now rules in the hearts of believers living in faith. Faith (4102/pistis), the in-birthed persuasion of God, and “the kingdom” are closely associated in the New Testament. The Kingdom of God is already present and supreme in the hearts of believers (those who live in submission to Christ) who experience the Kingdom through faith (the inworking of God’s persuasion). Basileia is commonly used in the phrase, “the kingdom of God (heaven)”, meaning “the kingdom that relates to God (the heavens)” – a spiritual, rather than a physical reality. The kingdom refers to the rule of God, first in us, and in the future universally. It refers to God’s dynamic reign (kingly rule) that extends from the heaven(s) to the earth. The “kingdom of the heavens” occurs half as much as the “kingdom of God” and stresses the manifestation of the kingdom of God in and through His followers – magnifying the Lord who extends the privilege of His rule to people who receive Him.
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