JUST WHAT IS GOD’S KINGDOM?
The word “kingdom” usually brings to mind the idea of a territory (a domain) that is under the rule of a “king.” We tend to call up images of royal courts with some sort of hierarchy below the king, and of course an army that is outfitted with some form of weaponry that will maintain the sovereignty of the king and order within his realm.
The concept of a kingdom was well known to Israel, and eventually Israel itself wanted to be a kingdom and have a king like the nations that surrounded them. Up to that time they had been governed by judges who would deliver them from the attacks from these other nations. The prophet Samuel was the last of those judges, and we read an enlightening statement from Yahweh upon the occasion of elders’ request for Samuel to make a king for them. In 1 Sam. 8:7 He tells Samuel,
“Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”
They already were a kingdom, but not one like the other nations. Yahweh was their King, and His rule was mediated to the people through the judges until the time of, and through, the prophet Samuel. Their desire for a human king and a physical kingdom was a rejection of God as being their Sovereign.
So from the time of their first king, Saul, we read in the books of Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles and the Prophets about Israel’s history as a kingdom. During and following the periods of their exiles, they looked and hoped for God to raise up another king, like David, who would throw off the yokes of their oppressors and set up a kingdom in the land of Israel that would rule the world. This hope was placed in their expectation that God would raise up a Messiah (Anointed One) that would deliver them. In Dan. 2, we read an apocalyptic dream that king Nebuchadnezzar had, which was interpreted by Daniel, that prophetically described the coming kingdom which had been seen as “a stone cut out without hands [which] struck the statue” in the king’s dream (vs. 34). In vs. 35 we see that “the stone… became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”
Then, in vs. 44, Daniel explains that “in the days of these kings [represented by the multi-metal statue] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom [pictured as the stone, in the dream] which shall not be destroyed… but shall stand for the eons.” I suggest that it was this kingdom which John the baptizer proclaimed as having “approached [to be] now near at hand and is close enough to touch (= has arrived and is now accessible)!” (Mat. 3:2). Then, in Mat. 4:17, Jesus made a similar proclamation,
“You folks be progressively changing your thinking (change your frame of mind, mode of thought, perceptions and understanding and turn your focus to [Yahweh]), because the sovereign reign and activity of exercising the sovereignty of the heavens (or: kingdom from the sky and the atmosphere) has drawn near and now continues being at hand and is close enough to touch (= has arrived and is now accessible).”
However, because Jesus did not fit the popular, political or religious image of the expected Messiah, the Judean leadership rejected Him as being the Messiah, and Jesus was crucified. This seemed to confirm their decision: how could the promised Messiah be crucified? Of course His resurrection showed that they had been wrong, but then He went away and did not stay to set up a physical kingdom in ….Study the Entire Article Click Here