Session #046 Invite the Kingdom
Scripture Matthew 6:10
Summary “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matt 6:10 has become a very popular theme verse for seminars and conferences. Sounds good, but what does it really mean? For Christians raised in church sub-culture, many don’t understand kingdom implications. In this teaching, Henson presents the kingdom of God, shares the different views of the millennial kingdom, and challenges all kingdom representatives to be obedient to our kingdom assignments.
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name
Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one
For Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever.
Amen. Matthew 6:9–13
This teaching forms part of a series of prayers based on the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6, Jesus first addresses how not to pray, and then gives us a pattern to pray – The Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9 – 13. In the previous teaching, we learn about the Father in Heaven we are praying to. Today, we go into verse 10 to understand what we are asking for – what does it mean to ask for the kingdom to come?
The Kingdom in the Old Testament
Even in Genesis, God gave Adam the right to rule, but this right was handed over to the evil one due to sin. God then chose the Israelite lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be a blessing to the world as His representatives on earth as a kingdom of priests. However, even they rejected God in favour of a human king, which started off well with Saul, David, and Solomon, but soon devolved into a divided kingdom, kings who turned away from God and eventually culminating into a seventy-year exile. When that was completed, they were no longer a kingdom but a small province under foreign rule, and so the Israelites were expecting a restoration of the kingdom that they had lost, and in the Jewish liturgy there is a closing prayer that invites the Messiah to appear and bring God’s kingdom to earth, and all people to know Him. The prayer for a kingdom to come is not a new concept.
The Messiah Comes
When Jesus the Messiah appears, John the Baptist prepares the way, crying “Repent! The kingdom of God is near.” When John gets imprisoned and Jesus steps up, He declares the same phrase, to tell the people that He is the Messiah, bringing the kingdom that has been expected. The people flock to Him with great expectations, but a couple of years later He is crucified, dead, and buried, but is then resurrected and spends the next 40 days continuing to teach about the kingdom of God. On seeing His return, naturally, the people would have been excited and looking forward to the kingdom. “They asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He says to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:6b – 7). Jesus tells His followers not to be so concerned about the when, but to focus on their assignments, and the same message holds true for us today.
Confusion About the Kingdom
There is much confusion today – has the kingdom already come, or not yet come? If it has already come, why do we still pray for the kingdom to come? If it has not yet come, then why is it near? Does the kingdom of God equate to heaven, or equate to the church? Simply put, God’s realm extends beyond the heavens, and His kingdom would exist even without the church. In an era of democracy, many of us take the word ‘kingdom’ for granted and yet have no concept of what it means to live in a monarchy.
What A Kingdom Is and What It Needs
For a kingdom to be effective, three things must be in place. First, there must be a king. He is number one, with the authority and power to reign. Second, as the name suggests, this king must have a domain (Kingdom = King’s domain), a region or people group over whom he has authority. Third, this king needs to be given the right to reign, which is the active exercise of authority that results in making decisions, to make legal treaties and heroic triumphs.
The Invitation of the Messiah
Jesus declares Himself to be the Messiah who will bring the kingdom of God, and Matthew 1 and 2 position Jesus as the fulfilment of the Messianic prophecies, through his genealogy that traces back to being the son of Abraham, the son of David, and the son of God. The good news of the kingdom is that Jesus invites us to take Him in as our king and to give Him the right to reign. He invites all to participate in His kingdom not by coercion, not by merit, but by faith and according to grace. We do not enter His kingdom because we are forced to and not because we deserve it, but because He shares what it means to live in His kingdom and we believe what He says.
Jesus’ kingdom is also not about liberation from physical enemies but from personal sin and death. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) Jesus does not rule by force by the letter of the Law, but from the inside, with mercy, by the Spirit of the Lord. This kingdom is ruled not with immediate judgment but postponed judgment. We are given chance after chance to bear fruit, to be the kingdom people we are supposed to be. Jesus’ kingdom slogan would have been shalom – a guaranteed full restoration of the wellbeing of our lives when we let Him run our lives. This is consistent with the rabbinic understanding, that when anyone prays the shema – “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:4 – 5)” – when they love the Lord and desire and accept His rule and reign, they will receive upon the kingdom of heaven. This is why Jesus says to the Pharisees that the “kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), for it is within us that we choose to accept the kingdom, for God’s kingdom is not just on earth but also eternity. It is about accepting His ways in our lives as we await the Second Coming.
The Millennial Kingdom
As the in-between people living between the First and Second Coming, Jesus expects us to be ambassadors for the kingdom as we await His Second Coming. There is a lot of debate about when Jesus is coming and when the saints will be caught up to heaven, and our understanding will influence the way we live. This is a summary of four main views, distinguished by how they interpret the millennium and the tribulation mentioned in Revelation.
Date of Origin
300 – 400 AD
St. Augustine, Martin Luther
The millennium is not a literal one thousand years, but a period that started when Jesus ascended. Jesus is ruling with His saints from heaven, and the millennium is symbolic and coexists with tribulation with no stated time frame. An analogy is when the Allied Forces took Normandy Beach – they knew that the victory on Normandy would eventually lead to the final victory, but they do not know when and they will need to continue fighting. Similarly, the cross has brought the kingdom here, but not yet in its fullness.
300 – 400 AD
Origen, Jonathan Edwards
This position holds that Jesus will return after the millennium, and believe in the power of the gospel to transform lives. It believes that as the gospel is preached, its power will inculturate society and transform the world to be ready to receive Jesus as the pure and spotless bride, and only then He will come. People who hold to this interpretation believe that the Great Tribulation has already happened in the first century, and to them, all Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled (preterism). Related teaching is dominion theology – the idea that if we can get the gospel in all areas of society, then Jesus will come.
John Nelson Darby, C. I. Scofield, Tim LaHaye
This position believes that God dispenses judgment to the church and Israel differently and that Christ will return before the millennium starts. They believe that the church is instrumental to the salvation of Israel, and the salvation of modern Israel is integral for the rest of the world. Within this view, the tribulation is a literal period of 42 months, but with differing opinions of whether the rapture will occur before, in the middle or after the tribulation.
Earliest known view
Early church fathers like Irenaeus and Polycarp, Charles Spurgeon, Wayne Grudem
Although this position agrees with dispensational premillennialism that Christ comes before the millennium, the main difference is the view of the Rapture and Christ’s return – for dispensational premillennialism, they are two separate events, but in historical premillennialism, they are one and the same. The restoration of the Jews is still important, but the existence of a physical Israel is not critical. As for the tribulation, if we look at it as a literal 42 months, the tribulation is a short period, but if it is symbolic, then the tribulation has been ongoing since 70 AD when the temple was ransacked and since then we have been facing tribulations of different intensities.
Why Do Millennialisms Matter?
The way we view the kingdom will affect how we pray for the kingdom to come. We may hold on to different elements emphasized by the different views, such as amillennialism’s present reality of a millennial kingdom and the victory of Jesus, the postmillennial view of the power of the gospel to transform, the urgency of dispensational premillennialism to act before the rapture comes, and the idea of persevering through ongoing tribulations as held by historical premillennialism. All these views are scriptural, and where we get our teaching will also affect our position. Our understanding of the end times, or eschatology, is important. If we don’t care what the end times are like, we will not think about how we live our lives as Christians because our kingdom view just becomes “we go to heaven when we die”.
At the end of the day, God is not going to quiz us on what millennial view we held, but whether we did what He asked us to do. It is not about figuring out when the rapture is coming or even if there is one. Rather, when Christ returns, will we be counted as obedient and worthy of reigning with Him? We need to understand the kingdom and understand the times. We are seeing things happen right now. Are we on our assignment? Is God reigning and ruling in the realm of our life?
Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven
As kingdom representatives, we are here to execute God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. This kingdom is a good, righteous, and everlasting kingdom that will extend across time and space. But when we pray Your kingdom come, are we ready for our kingdom to go? There is no coexistence between the two kingdoms. We are saying that we are willing to serve God, no matter what, laying aside our will and acknowledging that we have been bought at a price and are no longer our own. In a kingdom, what the king says, goes, and we desire to do the King’s will.
What is God’s will? His will is not about who to marry, what job to do, but for us to be sanctified to holiness even as we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. God calls us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). In short, we need alignment. Alignment starts with submission – Your kingdom come, my kingdom goes. Those who respond to His kingdom rule and reign will be aligned to God’s agenda and assignment. If we want to be executing God’s will, it starts with us praying that His kingdom come, for we do not understand righteousness. As we let our will go and seek first God’s kingdom, He reveals to us the good works that will transform lives. We do not have to look too far – the kingdom assignments are the righteous works of the saints. When God comes with his armies once more, we are clothed in white with our righteous works, being decorated by the assignments. If we want to be on assignment, will we be aligned? If we are to align, will we submit?
God’s realm is both the heavens and the earth. There’s no problem in heaven for God is there, and at the moment God is letting His enemies play around on the earth, but time is short. The saints are praying “Your kingdom come, Your will be done”. Have we received the good news of the kingdom, to look forward to God’s shalom reign on this earth?
If we want to invite the kingdom, let us start with the personal realm. Let us first pray for God’s will to be done in my life, then extend it for His will to be done in our families, our marriages, our churches, our workplaces, our countries, and ask for our Areas of Operation. “Oh King, where are You sending us to? Who am I supposed to impact?” It is all about being ambassadors for the kingdom. It is not about waiting to go to heaven or to wait for the rapture. In God’s mercy, He gives us time to be awakened, aligned, and assigned. As we invite the kingdom, God invites us to participate. As we invite the kingdom, God invites us to partner with Him, and as we are aligned, God shows us our assignment. And when we move on assignment, God shows us our misalignment so that we can correct the course and continue to move on assignment.