I looked up the dictionary meaning of Kingdom and the Webster’s dictionary, it was defined as, “a politically organised community or major territorial unit having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen”. It is also defined as the “the eternal kingship of God” or “the realm in which God’s will is fulfilled”.
The Kingdom of God is one of the most misunderstood terms in the Bible. The first time it is mentioned in the new testament is in Matthew 3:1-2. and it occurs 33 times in the book. “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ and he preached the message of repentance. When Jesus began his public preaching, He began by saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17)
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, one of the requests in that model prayer which we still pray today is “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)
While giving the sermon on the mount, the first statement Jesus made was, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3) At the last supper, Jesus once again uses this phrase; “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14: 24-25)
Over the centuries, there have been a lot of misconceptions about the Kingdom of heaven. This phrase is used extensively in the book of Matthew while Mark and Luke often refer to the Kingdom of God. If we look at both references in the context within which they are used, we will understand that they are synonyms – different words used interchangeable to mean the same thing.
Let us review the areas of misunderstanding about the Kingdom of God/Heaven to help us understand what the phrase truly means and how relevant it is to us personally.
A Political Kingdom – The jews had long waited for a Messiah who they believed would liberate them from the rulership of the Romans. When Jesus came into the scene, they were quite captivated by his teachings. Some of the things he said and did had a seemingly political ideology behind it and that got a number of the jews excited. In Luke 22:35, Jesus was preparing the disciples for his departure. He had sent them out on missions and they had returned excited, seeing the demonstration of God’s power and provision for their needs. Jesus told them; “When I sent you out without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything? “Nothing”, they replied. Then He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloth and buy one”.
No sooner had Jesus said this, than the disciples mentioned, “See Lord, here are two swords!”. The Lord replied, “That’s enough!” Apparently, they didn’t fully understand what the Lord was trying to tell them in figurative terms so when the Lord saw that they took his word, especially about the swords, literally, He just told them, “That’s enough”. We later see the Lord rebuke Peter for using his sword against one of the High Priests’s servants.
In Mark 11:11, When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, this was seen by many as the public display of His political kingdom. When he entered the temple and began driving out all those who were buying and selling and overturning the tables of money changers (Mark 11: 15-18), this was seen as a direct challenge to the political and even religious establishments of the time.
The Future Kingdom – To many, the Kingdom of God is not here yet. This is based on a number of sayings, especially the parable of the virgins and other references like Matt. 13: 41,43 where Jesus told about the day when angels will “gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers..” Jesus also gives the parable of the Noble man in Luke 19:11-12.
What did Jesus really say about the Kingdom of God? “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is !’ or, ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you’ Luke 17: 20-21. Jesus is saying the the Kingdom of God is here and now.
The Confusion people have had over the ages has been the fact that they have often tried to limit the Kingdom of heaven to one aspect of it. From scripture we can see that the Kingdom of God is God’s sovereign reign and He alone chooses how to express His reign in different stages of redemptive history. That is why He is, ‘The same yesterday, the same today and the same forever’ (Heb 13:11)
Jesus expressly said that the Kingdom of God is within you – Which means God’s kingdom is here now and the benefits of it are available for anyone who is willing and ready to come into that Kingdom.
When we pray, “Your kingdom come, we are asking that God’s divine power, override the affairs of men even as He controls the affairs in heaven’
God’s kingdom is an unending continous kingdom. When we welcome Jesus into our lives, He grants us access into the Kingdom of God and we begin to enjoy the privileges and benefits of the citizenship of that kingdom now and for all eternity.