Kingdom Thinking

earthly kingdom crownI have been thinking about the kingdom lately. I suppose that all of the tension among worldly kingdoms has me thinking about God’s kingdom of peace and security. From what I read a lot of believers are confusing the earthly kingdoms with the kingdom of Christ. That’s a big mistake and leads to some pretty horrible errors.

People are not alone in thinking that we – Americans – are special before God. America is blessed enormously, but America is not the chosen nation.

Jesus’ own apostles were confused too. After three years of preaching throughout Galilee, Judea, and Samaria they still thought Jesus was going to restore Israel to its former prominence. Read Acts 1:6-11. Our Lord was heading up the mountain to return to his prior home, and they were thinking about nationalism. A few weeks before the Jews rejoiced to see Jesus return to Jerusalem. They proclaimed him “King Jesus” and glorified his coming (Mark 11:9; John 12: 13).

Roger Dickson, in his Bible notes, refers to the nationalistic Jews who thought their redeemer would restore the splendor of the pre-Babylonian nation as a jewel among the nations. They were wrong then, and we are wrong now if we think the kingdom is a mere earthly government.

“Jesus answered: ‘My kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36)

God’s new kingdom had been preached by John the Baptist who declared it was near (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15). Jesus picked up the theme and preached the same good news (Matthew 4:17; Luke 4:43). The kingdom was coming. It just did not look like the royal procession they imagined.

The kingdom of heaven was to overlay all earthly rule, dominion, and kingdoms. It would not replace earthly kingdoms nor would it be centered upon the earth. It was a divine assembly of the righteous out of every tribe and tongue upon the earth (Revelation 5:9; 14:6; c.f. Acts 2:5-11). All nations would come into the kingdom (Isaiah 2:2). Paul says earthly rule will continue and must be respected by Christians (Romans 13:1 ff).

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. “

(Colossians 1:13)

According to the Holy Spirit, through Paul, the kingdom is no longer at hand but exists today. Citizens of that divine kingdom have been transferred by God’s power from denizens of Satan’s world to residents of the Kingdom of God. We have found the city with foundations (Hebrews 11:10; 13-16). Now, through steadfastness and with all glory to God, we are moving toward that beautiful habitation!

“…strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)

Our time on this earth is brief. James says it is “like a vapor that vanishes” (James 4:14). We are just visitors, travelers who have no permanence here but look to return home. Because we are just visiting, we do not become encumbered with this world’s affairs. And, this is important, we have no interest moving here. We want and expect to go home one day. As the song says, “this world is not my home.” When we understand the kingdom of Christ and our place in it we will focus all of our efforts on revealing its glory to this world. We do what we can here and now to improve the world in which we live because we are the Lord’s salt (Matthew 5:13). But our goal is the kingdom of God.

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