The kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven is one of the things widely talked about because it’s talked about so much in the Bible. It’s the topic of sermons and books, Sunday school sessions, it’s what we’re taught to pray for by Jesus himself.
Having been in the local Church all my life, I have heard many people talk on the topic. But it is also one of the topics I had never fully understood.
I love how in Matthew 13 Jesus tells 7 different parables which are all about the Kingdom. Jesus is so desperate for us to get it, to understand the Kingdom, that He explains it in 7 different ways so that we might understand. I think my favourite is the hidden treasure:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
He talks in such terms that makes you wonder. Selling everything he had for this treasure is a big deal! He knew the price of it. You wouldn’t sell everything on a gamble, hoping that when you take it to Antiques Roadshow they might give you a decent price for it. He knew the price of it, He knew the worth and was willing to give everything for that.
Are we living life as passionately as that man?
Are we seeing the great value of the Kingdom of God that we would sell everything. That the Kingdom of God would be the only thing we own but that it would be absolutely 100% worth it?
Ready to abandon everything in the pursuit of it?
There was a point last year when I was listening to a talk on the Kingdom of God and it absolutely blew my mind and transformed my thinking.
I think I always found myself a little confused when it came to the Kingdom because the Bible talks about the Kingdom in lots of different ways.
The Kingdom of God covering the Earth – telling us to pray “Your kingdom come” Luke 11:2, “The kingdom is at hand” Matt 10:7
The great worth of the kingdom – the parables of the treasure and the pearl of great price Matt 13
It involves us – We are to seek it “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” Matt 6:33. We carry the secret “To you it have been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven”Matt 13:11. We hold the keys “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind of earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” Matt 16:19. There is a growing of the Kingdom “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how” Mark 26-27.
The Kingdom has not yet fully come – “For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes” Luke 22:18. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins Matt 25.
I think I’ve known that the Kingdom of God is His rule and reign. But the question that I had never asked or never really understood the answer to is what does the Kingdom look like? How do we actually know when the Kingdom has come? If we have secret and we have the keys – Jesus is instructing us that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven… that’s a pretty big deal!
Luke 17:21 says: “nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” ESV
The KJV puts it this way: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
It’s in our midst, God has put His kingdom within us! But what does that look like?
“In order to seek first the Kingdom of God, we need to know what it is we’re seeking!”
The following is none of my research but entirely another’s as this talk was given on TSM. But I wanted to share it with you because it’s been one of the most profound revelations for me and completely affects how we live our lives. Jesus talked so much on the Kingdom because this is how God displays Himself. This is how His rule and reign is brought into the world. So as we are living our lives these aspects should be leaking out of us. We know God has come into our midst by the presence of these characteristics. The book of Isaiah is the best for describing the Kingdom and has 7 main themes:
1. Deliverance or Salvation (mentioned 17 times)Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
2. Righteousness and Justice (mentioned 16 times)Isaiah 31:1 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
3. Peace (mentioned 14 times)Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
4. Joy (mentioned 12 times)Isaiah 9:3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
5. God’s presence as spirit or light (mentioned 9 times)Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
6. Healing (mentioned 7 times)Isaiah 35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like the deer and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
7. Comfort (mentioned 6 times)Isaiah 51:3 For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and maker her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
I love how recently there has been a greater number of healings happening in the midst of meetings, without anyone even praying for it at the front. I’ve been in meetings where the speaker at the front has said someone has just got healed, and sure enough multiple people then test it out and have stood up and done what they couldn’t do before. I have also heard recently of people standing in the middle of a meeting and in the middle of the preach asking how to be saved. There are times in worship where joy ripples through the crowd and the whole room ends up in fits of laughter. And then there are also times when someone can be radically set free from oppression in a seemingly random moment. It’s all the outworking of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is in us, it’s in our midst! It should be normal for us to see these outworkings of the Kingdom – the sign that the King has come in our midst.
But the question is also this.. if the Kingdom is in us as therefore where we go the Kingdom goes – we can see this wherever we are. Whether we are in the Church building or not. We can see these things in the streets. We can see them in our workplaces.