KINGDOM OF GOD — what is it?
Christ preached the Gospel about the kingdom of God as people can see in Scripture but there are still many ideas about what that really means!
People who read the Bible know what the kingdom of God is, don’t they? Ask the average person on the street what that is and you will soon see how few really understand.
“That is the final “place in heaven” where those who are saved go” — “It is reserved for those who have given their heart to the Lord” — “Well, the church is the kingdom on earth at this time for all Christians alive, isn’t it”? “The kingdom of God was all about what Christ was doing—coming and dying for humanity—freeing us from the burden of the law” — “I read somewhere that the gospel was about Christ and his crucifixion for the forgiveness of our sins”----and there are so many more ideas!
For the masses of even what is called “Christianity” around the world, these may be some of their thoughts and answers but very few realize what the Bible really reveals about the word “kingdom” or “kingdoms”! Therefore, even in the minds of some who should by now know “what it is” and they may even “Preach the Gospel” but are still not that sure, sometimes getting the kingdom of God mixed up with a time frame. WHY?
The truth of Scripture escapes the majority because they read over and do not grasp truth, or they read into it what their preconceived notions are—being void of the Holy Spirit and fueled by what someone else has told them, never realizing what they think it is saying is just not the real message at all. Satan also subtly influences the mind with error in the unsuspecting whenever possible, even those in the COG realm. However, there is such an abundance of evidence, everyone who reads the Bible should see some of it! God has to open the mind for any real understanding and He will not force people to learn, that is a matter of the free will we each were given—truth is something we must choose to want and love. (2Thess.2:10-12) This article is written in the hope of giving you something to start with on this subject.
The Old Testament (OT) Scriptures have many passages dealing with the word kingdom, several dealing with the kingdoms of men here on this earth. Some of those passages are about the physical here and now and others relate something about the kingdom of God to come and prophecy of Jesus Christ’s involvement in that time ahead. Christ’s very Gospel message in the NT was all about the future kingdom to come and we will review some of that later on, but let us notice a few OT passages first about kingdoms, as well as some that point to Christ and what He reveals about the kingdom of God. We can note that when Hezekiah of the OT is threatened, he prays to God for deliverance and we find this recorded in; II Kings 19:19 "Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone." (NKJ—throughout unless otherwise noted.) God was only working with Israel and those who would acknowledge Him by following His instructions or those nations and people around them for His own purpose to be fulfilled.
We can learn from this and other passages like it that God has allowed mankind to basically go their own way and form their own kingdoms and various ways of governing, because His way of Government and Laws were rejected in the Garden of Eden. God clearly created man to have dominion or rule and immediately began to instruct man. Man was not created in some kind of “neutral state”; there were only two trees that pertained to the way they could go and it is clear which one God preferred them to choose. (Deut.30:19) Adam had to choose from one or the other—there was NO middle or neutral ground for man to be in. God was reproducing Himself through man, which was planned before creation. (Gen.1:26-28) God was already dealing personally with Adam before Eve was even created and he responded positively. (See Gen.2) Let us notice a couple of these passages given to the kingdom of Israel, before getting to a review of the Scriptures revealing the kingdom of God.
Kingdoms of men
When looking into the Bible, as humanity begins to populate after the flood we find it mentions kingdoms of men. Gen.10:8-12 talks about places that were founded by Nimrod and calls it his kingdom.
In Abrahams journeying, he came into the territory ruled over by Abimelech, which he referred to as his kingdom. (Gen.20:9) Various other kingdoms are mentioned, some of which Israel was guided to conquer, (Num.32:33) and all of these kingdoms of men had their own gods and ways. Israel itself was also called a kingdom, but they were to be different. (Exo.19:6) Notice this from Exo.23:24 "You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.” Moving on to these verses; V.32 "You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 "They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."
God was very specific about those who were to worship Him, that they would live by His Laws and do things His way. They were not to come up with their own ways as the world around them does, nor were they to lean to their own understanding. Prov.3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Scripture clearly reveals that those who look to God and strive to obey Him will have a much better understanding than those who do not. (Ps 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever”.) So God was not working with the majority in the world then nor is He today, but only those few whom He has predestined to call out and work through for His purpose in this age, which are those who specifically have committed to accept the call and obey Him. Many are called but few are chosen (Matt.22:14) and only the faithful will be changed to Spirit. (Rev.17:14) God predestined this from the beginning.(See Rom.8:28-30 & 2Thess.2:13-14) These are reconciled through Christ for the purpose of character development and living a life of becoming converted, from the sins they see in themselves to being more like Christ with the help of the Spirit of God working in them. So with that as background, let us get to;
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
When examining the kingdoms of men and specifically the kingdom of Israel, we find that what is called the kingdom of Israel in the OT actually started with Abraham. Abraham was descended from Shem and the blessings that were promised him passed on to Isaac (Son of promise) and then Jacob and His sons. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Gen.32:28) which was then passed on to the two sons of Joseph in Egypt, as the birthright holders to receive the blessings of greatness. (Gen.48) As these twelve tribes (families) of Israel developed into a nation they are referred to as a kingdom. When referring to an individual’s kingdom in the OT, the meaning is generally the same and this is given in Strong’s concordance; “#4467 mamlakah (mam-law-kaw'); from 4427; dominion, i.e. (abstractly) the estate (rule) or (concretely) the country (realm): KJV-- kingdom, king's, reign, royal.”
From this we can determine then that a kingdom must have a number of components, but is a family grown large even as the Bible relates it. However, Strong’s has left out some of this because the definition only deals with the word kingdom, leaving the obvious unaccounted for. They, in the physical human realm, are of course (1) a king from the ruling dynasty or one having “dominion” and (2) rules over an area, territory, country or realm, (such as the land given to Israel) as seen by the definition. But two more components are essential; So a human king is the head of the ruling family (1) and has a territory (2) has to also have (3) other people or subjects in His kingdom to rule, lead or care for and (4) a set of Laws or rules and guidelines (Government) for those in his kingdom to live by. This governmental “law of the land” comes down to the people (subjects #3)from the ruling or leading king or royal family.(# 1)
God’s Family is the “KINGDOM” of God, just as Israel’s children became the kingdom of Israel; but God’s Kingdom will have His Government and use it to rule or lead by, instead of all the variations man has come up with. Isa 9:6-7 “For unto us a Child is born, (Christ as a flesh and blood human) unto us a Son is given; (In sacrifice for our sins) and the government (Strong’s meaning—#4951, misrah or “empire”) will be upon His shoulder. (It would be His responsibility to use the government in His rule over the earth) And His name (at various points in time) will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government (misrah-“empire”) and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
Christ will return and the kingdom of God, with its new KING and His Government will then be “established” here on this earth, along with the resurrected royal Family! Notice in Dan 2:44 "And in the days of these kings (human & near future) the God of heaven (Father & Christ-Family) will set up a kingdom (Kingly dominion of God beings) which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom (of God) shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, (of men) and it shall stand forever.” (From that time forward, as previously seen in Isaiah, above.) God created Adam and Eve to start the human family and they could have been the first humans in the Spirit Family of God, had they taken the tree of life, because mankind was created for the very purpose of becoming God beings—to literally and eventually be changed into members of the God Family. Adam, by submitting to Eve & the devil failed, so God had predetermined that if Adam sinned, Christ would come as a second “Adam” (1Cor.15) and qualify for that ruler-ship position and to depose Satan at the end of this age. Christ would become the first-born son of God from the human realm, paving the way for others to follow. (Rom.8:29) The COG, as first fruits would be developed as members of one body from those called out (The COG—Matt.16:18, 1Cor.12:12-14 & Eph.5:24-32) who would be given the Spirit of God upon responding and repentance, baptism and striving to live righteous lives. These could be changed into Spirit beings by resurrection just as Christ was, becoming what amounts to a second and Spiritual Eve, collectively. These saints, as the first fruits would collectively be the “Bride” of Christ spoken of in the NT. Christ’s very Gospel message was all about this kingdom of God or coming Family of God; that was to come into Spirit life at the return of Christ by resurrection or Change. It is only those who believed Him and His message, willingly gave up this world and their own physical desires (which is still going on today) to become God’s Children. These few would be in the first resurrection as the Bride of Christ and are considered first fruits of the Kingdom Family of God! Do not let yourself be deceived by those who present only part of the picture or a distorted view of the truth on Godly governance and character development for the kingdom, to lose your crown by following their lukewarm and compromising ways!
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
Christ gave these instructions of what to pray for concerning the kingdom of God in Matt 6:10; (Praying to God the Father) “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This will of God is not what is being done on earth at this time, under the rule of Satan but it will be soon after Christ returns! That time is coming and it is sure! (Dan.2:45—last part) Christ’s whole message was about the soon to be born Family of God (Collective bride for Christ) and the time coming when they would be established as such on earth as His co-rulers. --- “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel (good news) of the kingdom of God,” (Mark 1:14—here the definition from Strong’s is slightly different than in the OT. #932 basileia (bas-il-i'-ah); from 935; properly, royalty, i.e. (abstractly) rule, or (concretely) a realm (literally or figuratively): KJV-- kingdom, + reign.)
The most important job given the COG, from Christ was to accept this truth, become converted and continue to preach the Gospel for others to hear. (Mark 8:35) Even the greatest emotional desires of the flesh had to be set aside for the servants of God in this age. Luke 9:60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." True disciples believe the word of God, especially the Gospel, in order to be saved. Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” However, Christ said the kingdom was His Fathers; Matt 26:29 "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." (Clearly indicating the Father as the supreme head of the royal Family, therefore Godly Government is from the top down, even in the human family. 1Cor.11:3) Those who cannot learn to adhere to this or will not; will not be able to function in the kingdom Family.
So Christ said the “kingdom of heaven is at hand” because even though He was in the human flesh, he had come from being God (John1:1) and would go back to the kingdom Family at His resurrection, having been begotten of the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit and conquered Satan completely. The God Family from the human realm was beginning with the faithful of the OT, but Christ had to come and pay the penalty for all sin first. Many others were to follow Him (Rom.8:29) and the very purpose of man was to become God’s children, were created in His image and for this purpose. (Gen 1:26-28) Peter was inspired to write; "God the Father--has begotten us again” (1 Pet 1:3) which was by giving the Holy Spirit to guide us into an understanding of His truth, which helps us to see our potential and promise of being born into His Family!
The kingdom of God that Christ preached was coming—WILL COME— the new members of the Family taking their place under Christ to rule with Him. Christ’s Gospel was about this very thing and includes the peaceful time on earth that will be brought about after Satan is bound and the whole atmosphere of earth is lifted from an evil influence to a God centered way of giving and loving one another. The kingdom Family of God on earth was “at hand” with Christ among them to lead the way and millions more will begin being born into the God Family through Christ and His Bride, as the Father sees them develop to that point of Spirit growth. This same type of top down governing structure was established in the COG by Christ through the apostles, as seen in 1Cor.12:28 and Eph.4:11. The writings of the prophets of the OT and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then writings of the apostles reveal to us what the KINGDOM OF GOD IS! It is the “Good News” of the coming Family of God who will rule on earth and even judge angels in the future, (1Cor.6:1-5) and should still zealously be preached today. Not that many today are holding fast to this zeal for God and His work of getting out the Gospel by any means available, along with showing the brotherly love that reveals they are Christ’s disciples. This will have to be repented of. (Rev.3:19)
The Kingdom of God is the Family of God and will expand as humans submit and learn to live by the Government of the God Family during the 1000 year reign of Christ & His bride or wife! Those who find reasons and make excuses not to yield to do things God’s way, love one another and work together to overcome will not be a part of that coming kingdom!
(The editor for TCOGMSO)