Monday, September 19, 2016

The Good Ol' Days of "Christian America"

In a presidential election year, it is common for candidates to have slogans such as, "Make America Great Again!" Statements like this play on the tendency of many people to think that conditions in the past were better than what they are in present. I think this mindset is similar to the idea of "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence." In particular, many Christians bemoan the deteriorating morals of America, pointing at issues like abortion or non-traditional sexuality. "We need to bring back Christian America!" goes the cry; if only we can get back to our country's supposedly Christian foundation, all will be well. Near the end of his life, King Solomon made an observation that may offer some insight on this subject. "Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this." (Ecclesiastes 7:10). Why did Solomon think that it is unwise to dwell on the alleged superiority of the past? To possibly answer this question, it might be worthwhile to examine briefly the track record of "Christian America." (Most of my information comes from the exhaustive research of David Bercot for his book, In God We Don't Trust.)

Most Americans are familiar with the arrival of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, the Pilgrims were preceded in America by the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia (1607). The Jamestown settlement had a very rocky beginning, with the settlers suffering periods of starvation. The original purpose for the establishment of Jamestown was for profit, but after a few years, the colony was almost abandoned for being an economic failure. However, Jamestown was saved by growing a popular new product: tobacco. I don't think I need to go into detail about the harmful effects of tobacco, which are common knowledge in the present day. Back in the 17th century, on the other hand, could tobacco farmers claim ignorance of the negative aspects of their crop? Well, as early as 1604, King James of England wrote vehemently against the use of tobacco, even calling it a sin for damaging the health of the user as well as that of innocent bystanders. Tobacco quickly became the dominant industry of Virginia. You may recall from American History classes that the Virginia House of Burgesses was noted for being the first elected legislative assembly in the English colonies. However, your history textbook probably overlooked the fact that the first law passed by the House of Burgesses was aimed at regulating tobacco prices. If the tobacco industry wasn't bad enough already, the moral shortcomings of the enterprise were compounded in 1619 when the first black slaves were brought to Virginia in order to work on the tobacco plantations.

"Christian" America is off to a great start so far, but we haven't even talked about the Indians yet. The charter for Jamestown had claimed that evangelizing the Indians was one of the purposes of the colony, but later events clearly demonstrate that this was lip service. At first, the Powhatan tribe in Virginia was willing to coexist with the English settlers. Unfortunately, the colonists took advantage of the Indians' hospitality, with the English's increasing numbers steadily pushing the Indians off their land. By 1622, the Powhatan had had enough, and they attacked the English. In response, the English--the invaders of the Indians' territory--waged war on the Powhatan until the tribe was almost wiped out. So, on our list of accomplishments for the first English settlement in America, we have a burgeoning tobacco industry, the introduction of slavery, and the virtual annihilation of an Indian tribe.

 Alright, so Virginia's origins aren't exactly a shining example of Christ's teachings in action, but surely the devout Pilgrims had a more godly start in Massachusetts. As we discuss the Pilgrims, I want to clear up some common misconceptions about them. First of all, the Pilgrims did not come to America for religious freedom. While it is true that the Pilgrims were persecuted in England, the group had found freedom of worship in the Netherlands. They came to America for a better economic situation, and so that they could live with other Englishmen. Moreover, the Pilgrims had no intention of granting religious freedom to other groups in their settlement. Indeed, it was against the law for Quakers to live in Plymouth. They certainly didn't come to America to start a new nation or to be independent from England. The Pilgrims had meant to settle in already established Virginia but the Mayflower got blown off course and ended up in Massachusetts accidentally. If you look at the text of the famous Mayflower Compact, it is clear that the colonists (who weren't all Pilgrims, by the way) wanted to emphasize that they were still loyal subjects of King James.

We've all heard the stories about the first Thanksgiving, with the Pilgrims and the Indians sharing a feast. Like in Virginia, the local Wampanoag tribe initially had peaceful relations with the settlers. Unfortunately, also like in Virginia, more and more settlers kept coming and seizing Indian land. The Pilgrims definitely weren't interested in turning the other cheek, for their hired military officer Myles Standish launched a preemptive strike that killed many Indians, after he had invited them to a feast under false pretenses. When word of the massacre got back to the Pilgrims in the Netherlands, even their pastor thought they had gone too far. In his response, John Robinson wrote, "How happy a thing would it have been if you had converted some before you had killed any." Like a broken record, the Pilgrims' actions eventually led to open conflict with the Wampanoag, and superior English military might resulted in a disastrous outcome for the Indians.

The Pilgrims were the first religious group to come to Massachusetts from England, but they were followed a few years later by the Puritans. The Puritans had a lot in common with their Pilgrim neighbors. Both groups were staunch Calvinists, and they followed the typical Calvinist behavior of persecuting any other faiths that they didn't agree with. In particular, the Puritans couldn't stand the Quakers and actually hanged many of them until the English government told them to knock it off. Also, not to be outdone by the Pilgrim wars on the natives, the Puritans slaughtered the majority of the Indians in Massachusetts and neighboring Connecticut. Perhaps their Bibles were missing a few verses, such as Matthew 5:9. "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

As time went on, the Puritans, and the Congregationalists that came after them, devised a very clever (and yet despicable) way of filling their pockets. In the first step of the so-called Golden Triangle, molasses imported from the West Indies was distilled into rum. (No, the Puritans and Congregationalists had no problem with drinking alcohol.) This rum was taken to Africa where it was traded for slaves. From there, the slaves were shipped to the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. The conditions on slave ships during this step of the process (also referred to as the Middle Passage) were disgusting, and many of the slaves didn't survive the journey. Nevertheless, sale of the slaves to the sugar plantations was very profitable. Completing the Triangle, the ships returned to New England with great wealth and more molasses to perpetuate the cycle.

Should we give the Pilgrims and the Puritans a pass because of the times they lived in? "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8). We don't get to ignore the teachings of Jesus for the sake of expediency, or because society around us is doing it. An excellent example of upholding the principles of Christ amid darkness is the Quaker, William Penn. This interesting man founded the colony of Pennsylvania in 1682, establishing complete religious freedom not just for his fellow Quakers, but other persecuted faiths such as the Mennonites and the Amish. In fact, anyone who believed in God was welcome to settle in Pennsylvania, which was certainly much more generous than the colonies started by the Pilgrims or the Puritans. Penn also treated the Indians fairly, seeking permission to bring over settlers and actually paying for their land. Another contrast with all the other colonies is that Pennsylvania under the leadership of the peaceful Quakers had no militia, as well as a distinct lack of Indian revolts until long after Penn's death. It should come as no surprise that evangelism of the Indians bore more fruit in Pennsylvania than in the rest of the American colonies.

Penn referred to his colony as "a holy experiment." He had endeavored to establish a colony that was in harmony with the words of Jesus. This can certainly not be said for the settlements started by the Pilgrims and the Puritans, not to mention the colonies with more secular origins. Despite its promising beginning, the holy experiment in Pennsylvania ultimately failed. Why? I intend to examine the reasons in my next post. In short, the downfall of William Penn's vision was the result of the armed insurrection against a lawful government that we like to call the American Revolution.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Kingdom of God in Daniel

I mentioned at the end of my essay about the Kingdom of God that there were many things I didn't cover. Later on, I realized that I was remiss in not discussing the Kingdom message in the book of Daniel. I wrote the following to correct that oversight. If you were reading my original article, this section could be inserted directly before I begin my discussion of the New Testament.



Some of the most important references to the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament occur in the book of Daniel. The first passage I want to look at is in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel interpreted. The king of Babylon had seen a statue with a head of gold, arms and breast of silver, stomach and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of mixed iron and clay. The statue was destroyed by a stone cut without hands, and this stone grew into a mountain that covered the whole earth. Daniel then describes how the different metals refer to different earthly kingdoms (Daniel 2:31-43). There may be some parts of the statue that can be interpreted in different ways, but a common view is that the gold is Babylon, the silver is Persia, the brass is Greece, the iron is Rome, and the mixed iron and clay is the division of the Roman Empire, or possibly the union of the Empire with the institutional church. In every case, each kingdom is defeated and taken over by the succeeding kingdom. Now I will quote Daniel's explanation of the stone.

And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
(Daniel 2:44-45)

This is the Kingdom of God. Unlike the kingdoms of the world, which exist temporarily and at their demise are taken over by others, God's Kingdom will never be defeated, and consequently never "left to other people." Instead of a new government replacing it, the Kingdom of God eventually will be victorious over all the nations on the world--but not through the sword.

I would next like to examine the fourth chapter of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar's experience of losing his reason and living as a beast of the field, and then being restored as king of Babylon, prompted him to make some powerful declarations.

I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
(Daniel 4:2-3)

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up my eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned to me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation... Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
(Daniel 4:34, 37)

Unfortunately for King Belshazzar, he did not learn this important lesson as did his predecessor, and Babylon was left to the Medes and Persians. The next heathen ruler to be impressed with the supremacy of God's Kingdom was the Persian king Darius. After Daniel survived the lions' den, the king made this pronouncement.

I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
(Daniel 6:26)

Finally, we have Daniel's vision in chapter 7. It is not my intention to consider all the meanings this prophecy could have, but I would like to highlight the important place it gives the Kingdom.

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
(Daniel 7:13-14)

But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
(Daniel 7:18)

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
(Daniel 7:21-22)

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
(Daniel 7:27)

These passages describe how the Kingdom of God in its fullness will cover the earth. Until that time comes, the Kingdom is limited in its extent in this world, but it does have a present existence. I endeavor to demonstrate the validity of this statement in my original essay as I consider the ministry of Jesus.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Kingdom Concordance

A project I have been working on recently is a collection of any verses that refer to the Kingdom of God or the role of the Father or the Son as King. I have attempted to organize them by the specific reference in the verse, as well as dividing between the New and Old Testaments. My two primary goals are to emphasize the significance of the Kingdom of God by the sheer amount of times the Scriptures discuss it and to provide a sort of concordance for researching what the Scriptures say about it.

Kingdom of Heaven

(Mat 3:2)  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

(Mat 4:17)  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

(Mat 5:3)  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 5:10)  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 5:19)  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 5:20)  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 7:21)  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

(Mat 8:11)  And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 10:7)  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

(Mat 11:11)  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

(Mat 11:12)  And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

(Mat 13:11)  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

(Mat 13:24)  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

(Mat 13:31)  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

(Mat 13:33)  Another parable spake he unto 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.

(Mat 13:44)  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

(Mat 13:45)  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

(Mat 13:47)  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

(Mat 13:52)  Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

(Mat 16:19)  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

(Mat 18:1)  At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

(Mat 18:3)  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 18:4)  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 18:23)  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

(Mat 19:12)  For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

(Mat 19:14)  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 19:23)  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 20:1)  For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

(Mat 22:2)  The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

(Mat 23:13)  But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

(Mat 25:1)  Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

(Mat 25:14)  For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Kingdom of God

(Mat 6:33)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

(Mat 12:28)  But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

(Mat 19:24)  And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

(Mat 21:31)  Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

(Mat 21:43)  Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

(Mar 1:14)  Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

(Mar 1:15)  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

(Mar 4:11)  And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

(Mar 4:26)  And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;

(Mar 4:30)  And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?

(Mar 9:1)  And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

(Mar 9:47)  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

(Mar 10:14)  But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

(Mar 10:15)  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

(Mar 10:23)  And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

(Mar 10:24)  And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

(Mar 10:25)  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

(Mar 12:34)  And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

(Mar 14:25)  Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

(Mar 15:43)  Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

(Luk 4:43)  And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.

(Luk 6:20)  And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

(Luk 7:28)  For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

(Luk 8:1)  And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,

(Luk 8:10)  And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

(Luk 9:2)  And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

(Luk 9:11)  And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.

(Luk 9:27)  But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

(Luk 9:60)  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

(Luk 9:62)  And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

(Luk 10:9)  And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

(Luk 10:11)  Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

(Luk 11:20)  But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

(Luk 12:31)  But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

(Luk 13:18)  Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?

(Luk 13:20)  And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?

(Luk 13:28)  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

(Luk 13:29)  And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

(Luk 14:15)  And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

(Luk 16:16)  The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

(Luk 17:20)  And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

(Luk 17:21)  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

(Luk 18:16)  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

(Luk 18:17)  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

(Luk 18:24)  And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

(Luk 18:25)  For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

(Luk 18:29)  And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,

(Luk 19:11)  And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

(Luk 21:31)  So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

(Luk 22:16)  For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

(Luk 22:18)  For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

(Luk 23:51)  (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

(Joh 3:3)  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.

(Joh 3:5)  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

(Act 1:3)  To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

(Act 8:12)  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

(Act 14:22)  Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

(Act 19:8)  And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

(Act 20:25)  And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

(Act 28:23)  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

(Act 28:31)  Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

(Rom 14:17)  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

(1Co 4:20)  For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

(1Co 6:9)  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

(1Co 6:10)  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

(1Co 15:50)  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

(Gal 5:21)  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

(Eph 5:5)  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

(Col 4:11)  And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.

(2Th 1:5)  Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

Other Kingdom Verses
New Testament

(Mat 4:23)  And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

(Mat 6:10)  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

(Mat 6:13)  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

(Mat 8:12)  But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Mat 9:35)  And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

(Mat 13:19)  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

(Mat 13:38)  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

(Mat 13:41)  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

(Mat 13:43)  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

(Mat 16:28)  Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

(Mat 20:21)  And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

(Mat 24:14)  And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

(Mat 25:34)  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

(Mat 26:29)  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

(Mar 11:10)  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

(Luk 1:33)  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

(Luk 11:2)  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

(Luk 12:32)  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

(Luk 19:12)  He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

(Luk 19:15)  And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

(Luk 22:29)  And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;

(Luk 22:30)  That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

(Luk 23:42)  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

(Joh 18:36)  Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

(Act 1:6)  When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

(1Co 15:24)  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

(Col 1:13)  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

(1Th 2:12)  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

(2Ti 4:1)  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

(2Ti 4:18)  And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(Heb 1:8)  But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

(Heb 12:28)  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

(Jas 2:5)  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

(2Pe 1:11)  For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

(Rev 1:9)  I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

(Rev 12:10)  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Old Testament

(Exo 19:6)  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

(Num 24:7)  He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.

(2Sa 5:12)  And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake.

(2Sa 7:12)  And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.

(2Sa 7:13)  He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

(2Sa 7:16)  And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

(1Ki 9:5)  Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.

(1Ch 14:2)  And David perceived that the LORD had confirmed him king over Israel, for his kingdom was lifted up on high, because of his people Israel.

(1Ch 17:11)  And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.

(1Ch 17:14)  But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.

(1Ch 22:10)  He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.

(1Ch 28:5)  And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.

(1Ch 28:7)  Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day.

(1Ch 29:11)  Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.

(2Ch 7:18)  Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.

(2Ch 13:5)  Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?

(2Ch 13:8)  And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.

(Psa 22:28)  For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations.

(Psa 45:6)  Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

(Psa 103:19)  The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

(Psa 145:11)  They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;

(Psa 145:12)  To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

(Psa 145:13)  Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

(Isa 9:7)  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

(Dan 2:44)  And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

(Dan 4:3)  How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

(Dan 4:34)  And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:

(Dan 6:26)  I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

(Dan 7:14)  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

(Dan 7:18)  But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

(Dan 7:22)  Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

(Dan 7:27)  And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

(Oba 1:21)  And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.

(Mic 4:8)  And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

King
New Testament


(Mat 2:2)  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

(Mat 5:35)  Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

(Mat 21:5)  Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

(Mat 25:34)  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

(Mat 25:40)  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

(Mat 27:11)  And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

(Mat 27:29)  And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

(Mat 27:37)  And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

(Mat 27:42)  He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

(Mar 15:2)  And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.

(Mar 15:9)  But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

(Mar 15:12)  And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?

(Mar 15:18)  And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!

(Mar 15:32)  Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

(Luk 19:38)  Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

(Luk 23:2)  And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.

(Luk 23:3)  And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.

(Luk 23:37)  And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.

(Luk 23:38)  And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

(Joh 1:49)  Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

(Joh 12:13)  Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

(Joh 12:15)  Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.

(Joh 18:33)  Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

(Joh 18:37)  Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

(Joh 18:39)  But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

(Joh 19:3)  And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.

(Joh 19:14)  And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

(Joh 19:15)  But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

(Joh 19:19)  And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

(Joh 19:21)  Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

(Act 17:7)  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

(1Ti 1:17)  Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(1Ti 6:15)  Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

(Rev 15:3)  And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

(Rev 17:14)  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

(Rev 19:16)  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.


Old Testament


(Num 23:21)  He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.

(1Sa 12:12)  And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.

(Psa 2:6)  Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

(Psa 5:2)  Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

(Psa 10:16)  The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.

(Psa 20:9)  Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.

(Psa 24:7)  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

(Psa 24:8)  Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

(Psa 24:9)  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

(Psa 24:10)  Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

(Psa 29:10)  The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

(Psa 44:4)  Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.

(Psa 45:11)  So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.

(Psa 47:2)  For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

(Psa 47:6)  Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

(Psa 47:7)  For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

(Psa 48:2)  Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

(Psa 68:24)  They have seen thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.

(Psa 74:12)  For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

(Psa 84:3)  Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

(Psa 89:18)  For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.

(Psa 95:3)  For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

(Psa 98:6)  With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

(Psa 145:1)  David's Psalm of praise. I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.

(Psa 149:2)  Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

(Isa 6:5)  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

(Isa 33:22)  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

(Isa 41:21)  Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.

(Isa 43:15)  I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.

(Isa 44:6)  Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

(Jer 10:7)  Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

(Jer 10:10)  But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

(Jer 23:5)  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

(Jer 30:9)  But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.

(Jer 46:18)  As I live, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.

(Jer 48:15)  Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

(Jer 51:57)  And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

(Dan 4:37)  Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

(Hos 3:5)  Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

(Zep 3:15)  The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

(Zec 9:9)  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

(Zec 14:9)  And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

(Zec 14:16)  And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

(Zec 14:17)  And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.

(Mal 1:14)  But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.



Friday, October 4, 2013

The Kingdom of God

If I were to ask you what was the most fundamental theme of the Bible from beginning to end, what would you say? In all likelihood, your answer would consist of God's plan of salvation or something similar. To be sure, this plan is very important, with the first mention of it occurring in Genesis 3:15. However, there is another idea, even more foundational in the revelation of God, that stretches all the way back to the first chapter of Genesis.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
(Genesis 1:28)

In the first recorded words God spoke to Adam and Eve, He gave them authority to rule the earth and all it contained. This is the first manifestation of the Kingdom of God, in which the Lord chooses people to express His rule by their submission to His Kingship. In my perspective, this is the key aspect that permeates all the Scriptures. (Given the scope of what I'm going to discuss, this article will be somewhat longer than average. Please bear with me.) After the Fall, only a very small minority have been willing to have God as their King. Rejection of God's rule became so systemic that He had to purge the whole world with water and start over with one faithful family.

Sadly but predictably, Noah's descendants also rejected the Lord's dominion, and He compelled them to fill the earth when they wouldn't do it willingly. However, with the call of Abraham, God commenced the sequence of events that would lead to the creation of the nation of Israel as a visible expression of the Kingdom of God on earth. Shortly before delivering the Law to Moses, the Lord told him:

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
(Exodus 19:5-6)

Under the Law, the role of the priesthood was to mediate God's covenant to Israel. Also, we see here that Israel itself is to be a kingdom of priests, expressing God's rule to the other nations of the world. God would bless the children of Israel when they obeyed His commands, and by reaping these blessings Israel would in turn display the glory of having the God of Heaven as their King. Moses pointed this out in his messages to the children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land.

Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
(Deuteronomy 4:6-7)

And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.
(Deuteronomy 26:18-19)

Consequently, the Israelites were supposed to keep themselves pure from any intermingling with the surrounding kingdoms, but they were unable to maintain this purity with much consistency. They even wanted to worship these other nations' idols! Additionally, there was another significant way Israel wanted to be like the heathen nations.

Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
(Judges 8:22-23)

Despite some other shortcomings, Gideon understood the importance of having no King but the Lord. However, Abimelech, the son of his concubine, did not heed Gideon's words. After Abimelech slew all of Gideon's sons except Jotham and was consequently made king, Jotham shared an insightful parable (Judges 9:7-15) with the new ruler and his followers. The olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine all refuse to be king of the trees because it would require them to give up the bearing of fruit. However, the bramble is willing to accept the offer. What is the "fruit" of the bramble? Thorns. There are obvious similarities with the imagery of good fruit and thorns in the teachings of Jesus (e.g., Matthew 7:16-20). Eventually, Abimelech and his supporters turned on each other. After this debacle, the Israelites temporarily dropped the issue of having an earthly king, but they returned to their idea in time of Samuel.

And [the elders of Israel] said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
(1 Samuel 8:5-9)

Just like the rest of humanity, the people God had chose to be His Kingdom of priests had rejected His Kingship. Nevertheless, by telling Samuel to warn them, God gave Israel one more chance to reconsider.

And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
(1 Samuel 8:18-20)

As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for--you may get it. Israel became just like all the nations in having one of their own as king, instead of God. Some of the kings of Israel, and later Judah, had a genuine heart to serve the Lord, but eventually both of the divided kingdoms descended into widespread idolatry. That we also may be like all the nations. When Israel's rejection of the Lord's dominion was complete, God wiped it out as a physical nation.

I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.
(Hosea 13:10-11)

Israel briefly reestablished independence as a nation during the Maccabean period between the Old and New Testaments, but it had been thoroughly subjugated by Rome by the time of Jesus. However, some of the messengers sent to Israel by the Lord had left prophecies of another King yet to come who would be a superior expression of God's rule.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
(Zechariah 9:9)

As I indicated earlier, God had offered Israel the chance to show the world what it means to have the Lord as their King. For the most part, Israel failed. Despite this, God's declaration of His Kingdom not only continued but grew more pronounced in the New Testament, in fulfillment of the prophets' words. Preparing the way for his Lord, John the Baptist declared:

Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
(Matthew 3:2)

Jesus confirmed this with the opening statement of His ministry.

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
(Matthew 4:17)


This is why Jesus had come--to preach the Kingdom of God, which He succinctly defined in the Lord's Prayer: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." He spoke more about the Kingdom than any other subject in His teachings. Most of His parables described what the Kingdom was like. This was to be a spiritual Kingdom, not a physical one, and Jesus was to be the only King. Now, Jesus was not an earthly king, forcing people to obey Him. He refused such a position when offered (John 6:15). Jesus offered the Kingdom of God to any who would receive it, but He used no compulsion. His Kingdom is manifest now in the willingly obedient hearts of those who acknowlege Him as King (Colossians 1:13). The Kingdom is a present reality, not some future time period. The following verses, although comprising a sizeable list, are only a fraction of references to the Kingdom of God in the Gospels.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
(Matthew 4:23)

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
(Matthew 6:33)

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
(Matthew 7:21)

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
(Matthew 9:35)

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
(Matthew 10:7)

But Jesus said,
Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 19:14)

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
(Matthew 24:14)

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
(Mark 1:14-15)

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
(Mark 10:15)

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him,
Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
(Mark 12:34)

I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
(Luke 4:43)

And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve
were with him,
(Luke 8:1)

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
(Luke 8:10)


And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
(Luke 9:2)

And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
(Luke 9:11)

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
(Luke 9:62)

And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
(Luke 10:9)

But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
(Luke 11:20)

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
(Luke 12:32)

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
(Luke 16:16)

 

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
(Luke 17:20-21)

And he said unto them,
Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
(Luke 18:29-30)


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)

 

My goal here with all these verses is to demonstrate how important is the subject of God's Kingdom. Jesus would not have emphasized it so much (to the tune of about a hundred references in the Gospel accounts) if it were not vital for us to grasp its significance. He was still discussing it with the apostles after His resurrection (Acts 1:3). The Kingdom of God is the Gospel. The word grace only appears in four verses in all of the Gospels, and Jesus never used the term in any of His teachings. Jesus talked about the Kingdom far more than even His death for our sins. I'm not saying these doctrines are not essential, but I'm trying to show how the Kingdom is the central message. God's rule had to come to earth in bodily form in the Lord Jesus, and His death on the cross was the culmination of His submission to His Father's will. Jesus could have gotten Himself crucified by leading a glorious military revolution to free Judea from foreign rule like the Maccabees did. That's not what He did. He got crucified for insisting that He was King!

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. (John 18:33-37)

Just like in the Old Testament, the majority of the Jews had rejected God's Kingship over them. As the embodient of that Kingship, Jesus had to die.

And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
(John 19:14-15)

When we repent and put our faith in Christ, we are saved from our sins, but more than that, we acknowledge that Jesus is our King. Then can we truly say the Kingdom of God is within us. Jesus suffered many trials, including death, to offer the Kingdom to us. If we are serious about extending this offer of the Kingdom of God to the nations of the world, we must be prepared to face persecution as well (2 Timothy 3:12). This is no "health and wealth" gospel.

There are two parables in particular about the Kingdom that I want to look at. They are both in Matthew 13, and Jesus has fully explained what both of them mean. The first is the parable of the sower. What is the seed that was sown?


When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandethit not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
(Matthew 13:19)

The sower's seed is the word of the Kingdom of God. The second parable concerns the wheat and the tares. Once again I ask, what is the seed that was sown?


 

The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 
(Matthew 13:38)

Children of the Kingdom! Is the message of God's Kingdom getting a hold of you? Israel having rejected the role, the Kingdom of priests and the holy nation are now the followers of Christ (1 Peter 2:9). 

What the nation of Israel failed to show the rest of the world about the glory of our God, it is our responsibility, as the holy nation, to demonstrate, thus enlarging the Kingdom of God on earth. You will also notice what category those who are not children of the Kingdom fall into.

For the sake of thoroughness, I will mention that the theory of dispensationalism teaches that everything I quoted above about the Kingdom does not apply to followers of Jesus. As I understand the theory, the gospel of the Kingdom of God was meant for the Jews, and when they rejected it, God replaced it with the "gospel of grace" which was preached to the Gentiles by the apostles, especially Paul. Another explanation I've heard is that the Kingdom teachings of Jesus were just an extension of the Law. Supposedly, by setting an "impossible" standard, Jesus would drive us to accept God's grace. In response to this, let's go to the book of Acts to see just what gospel the apostles were teaching.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
(Acts 8:12)

Confirming the souls of the disciples,
and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
(Acts 14:22)

And he [Paul] went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
(Acts 19:8)

And now, behold, I [Paul] know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
(Acts 20:25)

And when they had appointed him [Paul] a day, there came many to him into
his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
(Acts 28:23)

 

And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
(Acts 28:30-31)

Those final verses are the concluding words of the Acts of the Apostles. The Kingdom of God is also discussed in the epistles and Revelation. I know I have already listed a lot of Scripture, so I'll just give these references if you wish to check them: Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 4:20, 6:9-10, 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; James 2:5; Revelation 1:9, 12:10. As with the Gospels, this list is not exhaustive. If God intended for a different gospel to supplant the gospel of the Kingdom, then the Holy Spirit must have neglected to inform the apostles. Of course, Paul said:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 1:8-9)

He said it twice just to make sure we don't miss it. Now, lest I give the wrong impression, I do not believe we earn our salvation by our works. Our salvation would be impossible without God's grace. But does God save us just so we don't go to hell? Where we go when we die is not all there is to Christianity. Those of us who serve Jesus as King have been redeemed so that we may be vessels meet for the Master's use in expressing His rule to the nations.

Obviously, there are many practical applications to be made for living the life of the Kingdom. I think it was an accurate appraisal when one brother said that the Sermon on the Mount is the Constitution of the Kingdom of God. The words of Jesus should always be our starting point. Many of my other posts attempt to address these applications in a Scriptural manner. There are a few very important applications I would like to examine before I close. They have to do with the matter of allegiance. Who is our sovereign? If Jesus is our King, then obviously He is. Can we have more than one king? To put it another way, can Jesus and the federal government both be our sovereign? Both Jesus and the governing authorities want the absolute loyalty of their subjects. Jesus said that no man can serve two masters. Therefore, in my view, if we give our allegiance to Caesar, then Jesus is not really our King.

Before the cry of anarchy is heard, I'll let you know that I believe the governing authorities are given their power by God to keep order in society, and that followers of Jesus should obey their laws (Romans 13)--conditionally. We obey Casear not because he is our king, but because our King tells us to. At some point, it is inevitable that some of the laws of the earthly kingdom we inhabit will conflict with the laws of the Kingdom of God. In such cases, who we obey shows who our king is. Peter and John told the Jewish authorities that they had to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

For example, Jesus taught that subjects of His Kingdom are to return good for evil and love their enemies (Matthew 5:44). Let's say that the nation we live in decides to settle its differences with another nation by killing as many of its citizens as possible. Naturally, Caesar cannot effectively wage war without a strong military. So, the governing authorities start rolling out the propaganda to convince folks to join the armed forces in order to defend our great country. If that doesn't produce enough recruits, conscription is always an option. If a draft card shows up in your mailbox, do you submit to Caesar's command to join the military, or do you submit to Christ's command to be as harmless as doves? Without doubt, you could find many people who profess Christianity, and very loudly at that, to tell you that fighting for your country is not only acceptable but a Christian duty. If you refuse, you could be called a coward, an ingrate, a traitor, or many other such epithets. Nowadays, the U.S. military usually recognizes conscientious objectors, but in times past followers of Jesus have been thrown in prison, had all their possessions confiscated, or even been subjected to such harsh treatment that it lead to their death for not participating in America's wars. But if Jesus is our King, all that doesn't matter. He is the Prince of Peace, not war. In fact, the early Christians (before Constantine) believed that it was their commitment to their King's teachings on peace that was responsible for the two-century period of peace now referred to as the Pax Romana.

The next step that seems clear to me is that followers of Jesus should abstain from becoming part of the governing authorities (Mark 10:42-45), just as our King did. We are not called to enforce order or righteousness for those outside the Kingdom. We are to invite people to join the Kingdom and help them to follow Jesus, while God deals with those outside (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). I would even venture to say that the selection of who is to wield earthly power in the nation where we physically reside should be of no concern to citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). No authority on earth can supersede the authority of our King.

I realize I have gone on for a long time, and I still feel like there are so many things I haven't covered. I pray that the Lord can use my feeble attempts to convey what I believe is the message of the Kingdom of God. I would like to acknowledge that I was inspired to write this treatment of the development of the Kingdom in large part by some excellent studies on this subject given by a brother named John D. Martin from Shippensburg Christian Fellowship. I appreciate his definition of the Kingdom as "what the whole world would look like if everyone obeyed the King." I am also grateful for the insights I received from a work by Peter Walpot, who was an early Hutterite servant of the Word. Any oversights or errors of course are mine. I welcome any comments or corrections from the Scriptures, from which I leave you with one final passage.

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

(Matthew 13:41-43)