Since the Bible was written during a span of perhaps 1500 years by about 40 authors utilizing different languages while living under the influence of various dominating cultures, it certainly holds a unique status. Even more amazing is that in spite of their lack of collaboration, those who penned the Old and New Testaments present many unified messages. One of these is that God is King. God’s kingdom is not something new.
For Americans, kingship is an unfamiliar reality. We have experienced presidents and congresses, but not kings.
Our minds tend to equate kingdom with a territory. However, in scripture kingdom is identified with the royal dominion and sovereign rule a king possesses over his subjects, his people. As such, within scripture someone’s kingdom can be taken away or bestowed (Daniel 2:37; 4:22,24,31,36; Luke 19:12,15).
When the idea of kingdom is applied to God, the term “kingdom of God” refers to God’s sovereign rule as king. Unlike human kings whose kingship is temporary, God reigns forever (Psalm 29:10; 93; Lamentations 5:19).
In a general sense God is always king over all peoples and nations (Psalm 47:2,7; 103:19; 145:1,10-13; Daniel 4:3). There is no place beyond the reach of God’s power and authority. However, the peoples of the earth might not acknowledge God as king. Nevertheless God “rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28).
Yet, there is also a more specific and restrictive sense regarding God’s kingdom. When Israel accepted God’s covenant with its accompanying law at mount Sinai, Israel became God’s kingdom (Exodus 19:5-6). Thus, God became King over Israel (Deuteronomy 33:2-5; Isaiah 43:15; 44:6; 6:1,5).
Although God was their king, when Israel clamored for a human king, God implemented a provision he had provided within the law to adopt a human whom he would choose to serve as his prince or son to govern his people by his will (Deuteronomy 17:14-20; 1 Samuel 8:4-7; 2 Samuel 7:12-17). As such the coronation of a king of Israel was equated with that individual becoming a son of God, God’s prince (Psalm 2:7; 1 Chronicles 17:13,14).
Echoing the language of Exodus 19:5-6 that had encapsulated God’s earlier initiative at mount Sinai, today when people accept God’s gracious offer through the New Covenant made possible by Christ’s blood, they likewise become God’s holy people, members of his kingdom (1 Peter 2:5,9). Jesus both made possible a new people for God and he rules over them as Lord. With his death he created the New Covenant with its promises. With his resurrection and ascension Christ was enthroned and declared to be the Son of God having all authority in heaven and on earth (Romans 1:4; Acts 2:30-35; 13:33; Matthew 28:18; 1 Peter 3:22; Ephesians 1:20-22).
Thus receiving Jesus entails becoming part of God’s people, hence members of the kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14; Revelation 1:5,6,9). To use a different metaphor, receiving Jesus causes a person to become part of the body of Christ, over which God has exalted Christ putting “all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things” (Ephesians 1:22).
In every possible sense as well as in their ultimate expression, Jesus is the Son of God (Hebrews 1:5-9). Having come from the Father, he is the Son of God. Furthermore, Jesus was entitled to the promised throne by his physical lineage from David and was coronated upon his resurrection as the Son of God with power (Romans 1:3-4).
In view of all that scripture teaches, we should not be surprised that several years earlier during John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ ministries when they had proclaimed that the kingdom of God was near, they were not announcing the arrival of a totally novel concept. Rather, they foretold that a new manifestation of God’s rule was about to break into history. People needed to prepare themselves to serve the Lord.
The question that confronts each of us is: Will I submit to God’s rule? Will I submit to Jesus Christ, to whom God has granted dominion? While the reality that God is king will remain unchanged, who rules our lives in our daily living?
The first article in this series was: Thy Kingdom Come – The Synoptic Gospels’ Perspective
The previous article in this series is: Releasing The Captives