The Kingdom of God and Jesus – Kingdom of Heaven
The Anathema variant Kingdom of Heaven is usually interpreted as a Jewish circumlocution Of the divine name. The expression, Kingdom of God, has been mentioned in the Gospels more than ninety nine times (Towed: 98), thus highlighting its theological importance. It has also generated massive scholarship but “consensus as to the exact nature of the Kingdom is more difficult to find” (Provided 2010, cited in Towed 2013: 103). Cook (1992:16) claims that it was the hope of every Jew that the Messiah would come one day. Jews were a people invaded and subjugated.
However hey held on to the hope that when the Messiah came, he would deliver them and give them freedom from the oppressive Roman rule. The Messiah would rule in the power of God, like David. He would be God’s king. He would usher in the same Advice military success and prosperity. Everything would be all right. The Jews’ scatological expectation was based on Dan 7:13-14 which alluded to God’s everlasting Kingdom. Clinton (1984:6) explicates eschatology as the name given to a belief in God’s final intervention in human affairs and history.
Therefore, when Jesus started preaching about the Kingdom of God, is Jewish hearers must have thought of the time when God’s rule would be restored in Israel. They may have considered Jesus to be the political and religious leader who would imminently forcefully overthrow the Roman authority. But Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God and not the Kingdom of Israel. Even though Jesus mentioned the Kingdom of God many times in his teachings, this writer is of the view that Jesus must have been referring to two aspects of God’s Kingdom.
First, Jesus needed to prepare, in much the same way as John the Baptist did, the way for his followers to enter the Kingdom. After the preparatory work was completed, then the Kingdom of God would arrive and be established, having been “mediated solely by God’s supernatural intervention” (Weiss 1971: 82). So, how was this preparatory work done? This was done by preaching, and performing transformational divine actions. In Mark 1:14-15, Jesus said “…. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news. On the testimony of this verse, it seems to this writer that Jesus is calling people to repentance in preparation for the imminent arrival of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is shown here not to have arrived but is in the proximate future. For a person to have God’s rulers over their life, they must first of all repent and believe the good news. Repentance involves renunciation of sin and a commitment to a life of obedience to God. Repentance is necessary because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Room 3:23).
Jesus encapsulates the nature of this good news in Luke 4: 18-21 as follows: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has Sent me to proclaim release to the captives and covers of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. ‘ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. ‘ The ministry of Jesus therefore commences with the quote above from Isaiah 61 : 1-2.
The above message resonates with the biblical Jubilee year mentioned in Level 25:8-13. The Jubilee would occur every fifty years, during which time laves and prisoners would be freed, land would be restored, debts would be forgiven and God’s mercies would be particularly manifested amongst His people. While this is indeed good news, it would also upset the social order. The good news also required a person to be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God. Jesus explained to Incidents that this was a spiritual rebirth, accompanied by baptism (John 3:1-8).
The Christian life should also have its focus on “seeking first the Kingdom of God… ” (Matt 6:25-34). In the ministry of Jesus, the sick were healed; the lepers cleansed, the demon assessed set free, the blind saw, and sins were forgiven. Jesus had compassion on the outcasts and challenged injustices done by religious leaders and prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him. The cause of all this activity was God working through Jesus, the effect of which was the powerful initiation of divine sovereignty. This was mighty preparatory work of God that would end in the transformation of a new creation (Basely-Murray 1986: 124).
It is also clear from Jesus’ numerous teachings that in God’s preparatory work for the coming Kingdom, God would do things differently room the expectations of the world. Three examples below illustrate this point. In the parable of the Lost Son told in Luke 15:11-32, the wayward and recently bankrupt son returns home to his fathers house. Contrary to his older brother’s expectations, he is warmly welcome home and treated to a big celebratory party. The faithful and hard working older brother is left very disappointed and hurt.
Similarly in the parable of Vineyard Workers (Matt 20:1-16), we see apparent unfair treatment meted out to vineyard workers who toiled the whole day. They were not only paid the same wages as those ho worked for one hour, but they were the last ones to be paid. Here must argue that God is clearly demonstrating his sovereignty in excreting forgivers, mercy and love toward those who would enter His Kingdom. Lastly, in the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matt 5:1-11, Jesus teaches laws that embody a set of values and he also calls his followers to live in ways which thoroughly contradicts the qualities that the world admires (Cook 1992: 63-64).
He calls them blessed for being poor, in mourning, and meek etc. These are upside-down values that are against established social order. Having dealt with the Jesus’ preparatory work for the future Kingdom, let us now consider what the arrival of God’s Kingdom entail. The arrival of God’s Kingdom will take place when Jesus returns to earth to establish the Kingdom. According to Acts 1:6-7 and Mark 13:32, the Father has reserved the time and the hour to his own authority, not even the angels know it (Weiss, 1971: 84). Again, scripture attests to the coming of God’s Kingdom in the future and not as a present event.
Rev 1 1 5 states that The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever. ” Believers are also required to pray for God’s kingdom as in Luke 1 1 where it says -“Your kingdom come.. ” It is an important prayer pattern, beseeching God to quicken the day that will end all man’s misguided wars, violence, pain and suffering. In Luke 29:30, Jesus tells his apostles that “and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Also Matt 7:21 says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the mining of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. ” When he returns, Jesus will usher in a new era. History will come to an end and the preparatory work of the Kingdom which Jesus started in the hearts of all believers, will be perfected. This will be the ultimate rule and reign of God over the world when Jesus returns to redeem the earth and restore mankind. Satan will finally be defeated, and believers will live eternally, and all God’s promises will be fulfilled. Some Of these promises are those found in the Beatitudes.
Hunger and thirst of the pious for true seditiousness will find its satisfaction. In God’s kingdom, believers will see God face to face and be manifested as his children. Those who showed mercy during their life time will receive mercy at the Judgment (Schweitzer and Unsharpened 1 968: 81 -82). The sinful chapter that started with Dam’s fall will come to an end and God’s reign will begin. God’s Kingdom people will include the “poor, the blind, the lame, the Samaritan, the Gentile, the tax- collector and the sinner “(Prior 1999: 90), all now made perfect. It will be a Kingdom embracing many nations (Basely-Murray 1 986: 122).
Jesus often spoke of the Kingdom of God, but always in terms of the presence of God’s coming Kingdom. Futurity was fundamental to his message (Vandenberg 1977: 54). It is incontestable that Jesus preached the Kingdom and got a Church. This is what he came to establish before his death. The Church is made up of all saved believers. These belong to the coming Kingdom. On Jesus’ second coming as God’s Messiah, the Church of God will be translated into the Kingdom of God. This writer believes that Jesus’ priority of the scatological future determined his preparatory salvation work.