At first glance it seems to be such an abstract concept: the Kingdom of God; is this something in heaven or in earth? After researching through the scriptures with the many different examples and understandings, we can still be somewhat overwhelmed and confused. Let’s delve into this topic; You’re kingdom come, You’re will be done!
What Is the Kingdom of God?
Jesus came to show us the kingdom of God with His actions and describe it to us with His words. The disciples went about declaring the kingdom of God, and signs and wonders followed. How do we begin to understand this concept with so many examples?
The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. (Matthew 13:31–32)
This parable shows us that the beginnings of the gospel would be small but that it would greatly increase. Through perseverance, it will be perfected at last; growing grace will be strong and will bring much to pass. Grown Christians must covet being useful to others so they may be better for them.
The kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Matthew 13:33)
It works a universal change; it diffuses itself into all the powers and faculties of the soul and alters the property. It changes the soul through the word of faith, and repentance until holiness and love are created in it. It works silently yet strongly and irresistibly without noise, for so is the way of the Spirit.
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation … for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20–21)
God’s kingdom is not something we go looking for because it is Christ, and He is in us; it is an inner thing. The Pharisees looked good outwardly, but they were compared to a “whited sepulcher” full of dead men’s bones. The kingdom of God changes our hearts and lives; it comes when it turns those who were proud, vain, and carnal into humble, serious, and heavenly minded people.
For the Kingdom of God is … righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17)
It is a kingdom that stands in true subjection to God’s power and dominion. Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit are essentials of Christianity and the foundation of this superstructure, the kingdom of God. Sanctified by His Spirit, we live in peace and love with all men, which produces joy in God. We agree with these and pursue them with much zeal and excelling care. This is also the kingdom of God. When the kingdom is in us, what we do and say releases it into the world. The fruits that the gospel creates in us come out and declare Christ to our generation.
Jesus answered and said unto him. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
What is it to be born again? First, we must live a new life. To be born is to not patch up the old life but begin on a new foundation. We must have a new nature, new principles, and new affections; we must be born from above with a tendency toward heaven. It is to partake of the divine nature and bear the image of the heavenly. Without this happening, we are unable to see this kingdom. Unless we’re born again, we can’t even understand or see God and His kingdom. Until we take a leap of faith, we can’t even see the kingdom of God. All I can say is try it because you’ll like it. You’ll never know until you try.
The kingdom of God has always been the kingdom of faith. When God brought Israel to the Promised Land the first time, His desire was for its people to take it right then and there. God wanted to establish His kingdom of faith through Israel. God’s desire was and still is to establish His people on His righteousness and desires. Every time the people and later the kings departed from the Lord’s commands, their kingdoms were taken from them.
The Promised Land started living under God’s laws, and it received God’s protection, provision, and blessing. This is what God wants to do in our lives and in our nation. We are the Promised Land. God wants to live in and through us as we declare His power through His Son, Jesus Christ, and as we minister as kings of His kingdom.
The following describes the type of heart God is searching for to reside in and build His kingdom. It applies to individuals and corporately as His nation.
Temple of the Lord
The tabernacle of God is with men. (Revelation 21:3)
Let Israel make me a sanctuary that I might dwell among them; according to all that I show thee. (Exodus 25:8–9)
Right from the beginning, God wanted Israel to build Him a home so the Creator of all things might dwell among His people. He gave exacting details for the construction of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant. God was making it obvious to us all that there was nothing He would rather do than spend time with us. God was showing us that if He was going to take up residency somewhere, it must be built a certain way—His way.
Upon completion of God’s new house, something amazing happened.
The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:33–35)
They finished building God’s house according to His plan, and the Creator showed up and made Himself at home. It was the same thing with Solomon’s temple.
The cloud filled the house of the Lord, so the priests could not stand … for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. (1 Kings 8:11)
God has always wanted to hang out with His children, but just as with Adam and Eve, it’s not always easy doing what God wants us to do, and subsequently, it’s not always easy for our Father in heaven to feel comfortable living with us. One day, God was walking in the cool of the day with Adam and then everything suddenly changed. That’s what it’s like for our nation, which was established on God’s Word but now not so much.
Just like there were exacting details given for the construction of God’s other dwellings, so it is with us. This next verse gives us three attributes God is looking for that make Him comfortable so that He is able to stay.
God’s Abiding Presence
Thus sayeth the Lord, the heaven is My throne, and the earth is my footstool; Where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? … but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, of a contrite Spirit, and trembleth at My word. (Isaiah)
Though God is being forthright and blunt with these loaded questions, it still seems a little cloaked in mystery at first glance, but a closer look makes it plain. Humor me for a second and let’s look at the same scripture this way.
The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (I have made heaven and earth so that my people would have an earthly and heavenly home to dwell in and find rest). Where is the home that you build for me? And where is the place of my rest? To this man (woman) will I look, to him that is poor, contrite, and trembles at my Word.
It suddenly becomes clear that God desires us to build Him a home to dwell in and that home is in our hearts (or nation).
Now before I even get started, we need to understand God’s grace. We don’t have to be perfect because we aren’t and never will be. But we need to hold these values in the highest regard and give it our best shot; God will do the rest. Let’s discuss these one at a time so we can gain clear understanding.
God’s desire is to bless the world through His people, so financially poor is not what He was talking about. Because of its wealth, the following church thought it needed nothing, but the Lord told its members that they were poor and blind to it.
Because thou sayeth, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor. (Revelation 3:17)
Replace the word poor with the word needy. People can be extremely wealthy but be very needy. We know that money can’t buy happiness; those of us that struggle financially still think that a seemingly endless bank account would surely bring all the happiness we’d need. I know I sure do, but would it?
Jesus came to earth for people in need. In Matthew 19:16–21, Jesus opened the Bible on the day He began His public ministry and quoted Isaiah 61 : “I’ve come to heal the broken hearted, bring deliverance to captives, sight to the blind, set at liberty the bruised.” Jesus came to meet needs, and He became needy for us. In Matthew 8:20, He basically told the first disciples that He was homeless; foxes had holes, birds had nests, but He had nowhere to lay His head. Jesus became poor and needy for us; He made Himself of no reputation. This is how we approach God; He delights in this because it’s what He did for us. We must remain needy before Him.
Remember when He was talking to the needy publicans and sinners? The Pharisee asked how he could do such a thing.
But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. (Matthew 9 )
You know Jesus said it with extreme sarcasm because the Pharisees needed Him more than anyone but were blind to it. Understanding our need for God is something God needs to see in us to feel comfortable in this home.
A Contrite Heart
Our hearts must be truly contrite for our sin, penitent for it, and in pain to get pardoned. When Peter denied the Lord, He went out and wept bitterly. That’s being contrite. When Job blamed God, He abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes. That’s being contrite. When the publican repented, he smote his breast saying, “Be merciful!” That’s being contrite. When our hearts truly break because of our negative actions, God comes close to us. He comes riding in on His white horse like the hero He is and fights for us.
The Lord is nigh to them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
We see two different ways of approaching Jesus through the two thieves crucified with Him: one said, “Save yourself and us,” while the other said, “We have sinned, Jesus. Remember me.”
For thou (God) desireth not sacrifice; else would I give it … The sacrifices of God are a broken Spirit, a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51:16–17)
All God wants to do is help; He will forever be our loving Father desperately hoping we return to Him, our wellspring of life.
In Awe of God’s Majesty—“Trembles at my word”
We should tremble at God’s Word in habitual awe of His majesty and purity and dread His justice and wrath. We should hold His Word in high regard because it is God and deserves our reverence.
In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. (John 1:1)
And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)
This is the awe of Jesus and the words He spoke; they are God, they are alive, and they have power. But not everyone is moved by the ominous dominion and authority of God’s Word; some take it lightly. Jesus told Pilate that He came to bear witness to the truth. Pilate replied, “What is truth?” Truth was what Pilate said it was. When the apostle Paul was finished speaking to Felix, he said, “You almost persuaded me.”
I have been close to God over the past thirty-three years, and I have been distant; my careless disregard and disobedience to His Word causes that special closeness to disappear at times. Now, I tremble at His Word for fear of losing that special closeness. My biggest fear is to live not realizing that the Spirit of God has left me as happened with Samson.
Samson awoke out of his sleep’ and said, I will go out as at other times in the before … and knew not that the Lord was departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes. (Judges 16:20–21)
The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This is how we as humans prepare our hearts for God to dwell in.
1. We understand in our hearts that we will always remain needy before God because He is our life spring, the air we breathe. We have nothing without Him, and everything we have is from Him.
2. We understand that our hearts will forever be broken and crushed with even the thought of being disobedient to God’s Word, direction, and desires that—let’s face it—will happen almost daily.
3. Our hearts will continually be in awe of God’s majesty and purity, and we will dread His justice and wrath and tremble at His Word. We will revere His thundering voice because that’s who He is, the I Am that I Am.
Think of God for a second as someone looking to purchase a new home. When He sees a heart cultivating these three aspects, He says, “That’s perfect! Just the one I’ve been looking for!” It’s not that we have become perfect because we’re not and never will be. But our hearts will be perfect toward Him. God is desperately searching night and day, year in and year out for this kind of heart so He can show Himself strong on its behalf.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and from throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
God is searching even now and peering into the hearts and souls of men, women, and nations. Nothing is hidden from Him. He sees our motivation and intent, our every feeling and thought. Will we prepare our hearts and allow God to stay? Will we build according to His plan? Will we start renovating our lives so our loving Father in heaven and His beautiful Son and Spirit feel comfortable living with us?
This choice is up to all us. We should choose God’s great and abiding presence!
What Jesus did for us cost Him everything. He was the greatest King wielding power and authority unlike any other, but He laid down His life for us. Can we even imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to be scourged beyond recognition and crucified to death naked and yet faultless in front of His mother and His friends? How brutal was that?
Jesus literally went to and through hell for us to purchase eternity for us with His blood. He is our kingly example to follow as men of God, disciples of the Lord.
Understanding the kingship of Christ brings illumination to our lordship, that is, the way we should rule and reign. Christ is King who rules everything. Jesus suffered much by obeying and following God as King. That released the power of God through His life. It is the same for us.
In the following scripture, the apostle Paul referred to the poor state of the apostles as they ministered to the needs of others.
Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as Kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God hath set forth us the Apostles last … for we are made a spectacle unto the World, and to Angel’s, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; Being defamed, we intreat; we are made as the filth of the World, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day … But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know … the power. (1 Corinthians 4:8–20)
The kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
The apostles may have suffered much so that God’s people could be blessed, but they experienced the power of God. Paul was filled with the power of God. We are kings in Jesus’s stead, and we build our kingdom with our words and actions.
1. We declare things to be true; we follow God’s laws and we live by them.
2. We care for and build up His kingdom’s citizenship.
3. We subdue its enemies and defend its borders.
The kingdom of heaven is a way of acting and believing. It’s time to take authority and walk in the power of God’s righteousness. We need to insist on the course that we believe God is calling us to despite what we see around us. We are not to ask if it is okay for we are kings. Trust me—it’s okay. Our spiritual enemies are declaring that it’s okay to manipulate our children’s minds, manipulate our media, and viciously attack our president; will we sit by and let that happen, or will we take authority as kings and demand change? Are we men or mice? We need to take dominion as God’s people and refuse to let the enemy gain one more inch. If we honor God corporately as a nation, God will honor us.
Okay, here’s my bright idea—just a thought—to encourage God’s abiding presence to manifest His glory through us as a nation.
1. I would set aside a small room in the White House or somewhere in our nation’s capital to be used every morning between ten and noon Monday through Friday.
2. I would select two individuals from our nation to represent us.
3. From ten until eleven, I would have one of the people play worship music; I’d call that time Washington Worship.
4. From eleven to noon, I would have the other person pray for the needs of the nation and call that DC Devotions.
5. I would allow one station to broadcast the event—no need for videos.
6. There would be no one else allowed in the room while the event is going on with the exception of the president, who would be there only to sit, rest, and enjoy in his sanctuary and receive prayers when it’s over if he liked.
7. I would appoint two MPs outside the door to guard against disruptions, knocking, opening doors, or loud voices. They would escort the two ministers to and from the room like rock stars who are representing our nation before the throne of God.
8. Neither minister would be allowed to speak directly to the camera; it would be as if we were eavesdropping on these two servants of the Lord. We are not shamelessly attempting to reach a constituency but rather attempting to invoke the hand of God with a minstrel and a priest.
9. At eleven, I would have the music stop, the two individuals stand facing the flag with their hands over their hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
This would allow the citizens of our country to worship and agree in prayer as a nation and bring some sense of unity and dependence on God. It would allow teachers to have their pupils join the rest of the nation (all who would like to) in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance further deepening our national unity. We would be honoring God as a nation while doing what He loves the most—crying out to Him. We need God in our country, and this is one way to do that. This would have nothing to do with talent or charisma; our ministers would have to be selfless with no hype or pretense. They would be ministering, not putting on a show, and I know just the two people I would select for this.
I believe that if we did this, the same power that birthed our nation and caused a bunch of farmers to defeat one of the greatest military forces of the day would visit us again. Our heritage is truly a David-and-Goliath story by the hand of almighty God. Why throw this away? We are the light of the world, and we should let our light shine. We are unstoppable. We are one nation under God.
With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)