GOD'S KINGDOM: PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE
by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
For those of us who follow Christ, the life we are living now is as close to hell as we will ever get. For those who do not believe, the life they are living is as close to heaven as they will ever get.
Your job, position, status, bills and sicknesses will all come to an end. The stack of dirty dishes in your sink, the mountain of laundry in your hamper, the inbox of paperwork, the unanswered emails and texts, your social media presence, and car trouble will all be gone forever one day.
In fact, everything you have come to know such as your life, family unit, neighborhood, community, and county will all come to an end. And when all this happens, whenever these things go away, a kingdom, THE kingdom, will come down. Of course I am referring to the kingdom of God. God's kingdom will replace all nations and every culture on earth. If you are a child of God, God's kingdom will be your eternal home. Right now you take up residence in a specific city and/or country, but your true citizenship is in that kingdom. That kingdom has an almighty, all powerful king and His name is Jesus. In Matthew 6:10 our King says to His Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.”
Today we live in, what one author calls, “the time between the times.”* What is meant by this is that in one sense the kingdom of God has already begun. It started with the defeat of Satan at the cross, the glorious and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit coming in power to the church in a way never experienced before, and the spreading of the gospel message among the diverse nations of the earth. Yet in another sense the kingdom of God has not fully started, because unlike Jesus we have not yet been resurrected or transformed into our eternal and glorified bodies with the curse completely lifted and Satan and his demons finally being thrown in to hell, the eternal lake of fire.
When we sift though everything and get down to the nitty gritty of all of life, history, and culture it becomes rather simple. People live, as one author put it “culture up or kingdom down.”** He goes on to explain:
“Those who live culture up tend to see their cultural morality, politics,
and spirituality as superior and normative. Such people then judge other
people and other cultures by their culture. People from the other cultures
do the same in return. The results are aptly called culture clashes, and they
lead to culture wars. Culture wars are what happens when two visions
collide and cultural, political, moral, spiritual, and sometimes even real war
is waged with the winning culture ruling over the other. This state continues,
of course, until the next subculture or counterculture rises to dethrone the
It sort of reminds me of mixed martial arts or boxing. You have people battling each other to see who will rule the octagon, or ring. Eventually the strongest, fastest, best trained fighter will stand with his arms raised as the title belt gets placed around his waist. He pumps his fists in the air proclaiming his victory and often times boasts of his accomplishment. Meanwhile, you have many others who are training with a vengeance because they want to take this champion down. They train even harder, they go a step further, they push themselves to the limit, they do anything they can to make themselves able to conquer the champion. Then it's fight time and they do all they can to wear the champion down until finally they win the fight and become the new victor. But then the process starts all over again.
All of human history is like a version of
the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) where people fight to get their way but by the use of any means possible. They will threaten or bully, take legal action, attack verbally and publicly, and make shady deals behind closed doors.
If you pay even the least bit of attention to what is going on culturally in your country it is very easy to become discouraged. Different sides will fight to get their “champion” in place, and if they are successful, it's just a matter of time before someone else steps up and becomes the new “champion,” and the pinnacle of all the battling appears to get us nowhere.
Praise God there is another option. Scripture informs us that history has an explicit destination and it is moving toward our Lord Jesus Christ who is going to return to earth and be our King, or “Champion” if you will, forever.
There is something very interesting and intriguing about a piece of furniture that gets a great deal of attention from John in his New Testament letter, Revelation. John sees a throne in his prophecy and this throne appears roughly forty-five times in Revelation, which is about two-thirds of all references of a throne throughout the entire New Testament. In a time when people reclined on the floor, a pile of hay, or something of that nature, any sort of a chair was a status symbol, in fact “this is how thrones came to be associated with rulers and royalty.”**** It is the throne of Jesus Christ that is the center of the kingdom and the center of human history. No person, society, nation, culture, republican, democrat, spirituality, ideology, gender identity, or morality will sit upon that throne or reign from that seat of sovereign, authoritative, divine royalty. We see in Revelation that truth, justice and authority spread from that throne across the entire kingdom, which is literally all of creation. All glory, honor, worship and praise found or expressed in creation radiate to that throne and the One King who sits upon it.
Because Jesus is our King, our allegiance has to be to Him. Because the kingdom is our eternal home, our lifestyles need to reflect the kingdom and not the culture that surrounds us. And since who we are in the kingdom is the authentic us, how we view ourselves and conduct ourselves need to be in light of who we will be when God has completed His work and reveals to us the perfect version of ourselves. Where we reside today is not where we will reside forever. Who we are today is not who we will be forever. So instead of living in light of where we came from or who we were, kingdom living is about living in light of where we are headed and who we will be.
As Christ-followers we live a life of faith. We trust that the same God who started a good work in us will bring it to completion in the end – totally, fully and eternally transforming us from our present state of limited glory to a new state of full glory. Knowing the end helps a lot in our living during the middle. We know the end, and Jesus Christ is victorious.
Towards the end of the Bible, we find an invitation in Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”
The King and His Kingdom are coming, and the Holy Spirit invites you to a completely life changing, soul quenching, mind renewing, eternity altering, “kingdom-down” relationship with the Spirit-filled Jesus that will last forever and ever.*****
*Driscoll, Mark. Spirit-Filled Jesus, p.219
*****Article adapted from Ibid., pp.219-223