All kingdoms have three things in common: a ruler, a realm and a reign. In the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), Queen Elizabeth is the ruler. These and other states that consider her queen, are her realm. Her reign spans more than 60 years.
Psalm 47:7 says: “God is the King of all the earth.” In the Kingdom of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), God is the ruler. Psalm 24:1 says: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” God’s realm is the entire world. Psalm 145:13 says: “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.” God’s reign is everlasting.
Despite the simple clarity these verses provide, different Christian groups, past and present, have identified the Kingdom of God either with the nation of Israel, or with the Church, or with heaven.
What the Kingdom is Not
The Kingdom of God is not Israel. In the history of God’s gracious redeeming work in the world, the people and nation of Israel have played a significant role in the Kingdom of God. They are an important part of God’s purpose. They have a role in the reign of God; but Israel, past, present or future, is not the Kingdom of God.
The Church is not the Kingdom of God. Like Israel, the Church has a significant role in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said of His followers: “You are the salt of the earth.” As one perceptive writer noted, we are the salt, not the whole meal; we are the leaven, not the whole loaf. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” The light exists not for the light’s sake, but for the world it is intended to light. The Church is part of the plan, but God’s plans for the world are much bigger.
Heaven, understood as blissful existence with God after death, is not the Kingdom of God. God’s plans are not simply for the eternal well-being of believers. In Mark 1:15, Jesus said: “The time has come … The kingdom of God has come near.” Here “near” does not mean “coming soon.” Rather, for those “with eyes to see and ears to hear,” as Jesus taught, the Kingdom of God is here, now. Certainly the Kingdom of God has a past and a future, but Jesus’ emphasis was on the present reality of the Kingdom.
What the Kingdom Is
The Kingdom of God is God’s present reign over the real world; a reign that we can remember from the past, anticipate in the future, but we can only experience in the present. This real world is not primarily spiritual, nor is it primarily material. It is both, inseparably intertwined. The Kingdom is God’s reign over the one spiritual/material world that is the real world … “from everlasting to everlasting” as Psalm 103 so beautifully describes eternality.
The Kingdom of God is revealed when the purpose of God intersects this real world. In Luke 6:20, Jesus said: “Blessed are you poor for yours is the Kingdom of God.” Any understanding of the Kingdom of God that neglects the poor (not simply the “poor in spirit”) misses one of the central elements of the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.
FH’s vision is “God called and we responded until physical and spiritual hungers ended worldwide.” This vision flows directly from the “gospel of the Kingdom” that Jesus proclaimed (Matthew 24:14) and we would love to have you join us in seeking, by God’s grace, to fulfill it. Will you?