The word “kingdom” comes from two words: king and dominion, or domain. We know that a king is a ruler of a country, or a territory. Per vocabulary.com, dominion is the power to rule; control of a country, region, etc. It can also refer to the land that a ruler or government controls.
In the beginning…..
Genesis 1: 27-28
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
When God created mankind, he gave us dominion over the earth and every living creature. That was God’s perfect plan from the beginning. What happened?
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Genesis, chapter 3 tells us Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say…”
How much trouble do we get into when we question what God has said! It is not wrong to question for the purpose of understanding. But if the purpose of our questions is to decide whether to obey or not – or whether God is right or not – or whether His Word is outdated or not – we are asking for trouble.
Back to Genesis! We know what happened. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were kicked out of the garden. If they were going to decide what was right and wrong for themselves, they could no longer have access to the Tree of Life that was also in the garden. But that is not all! Adam was told that the earth would now produce thorns and thistles and he’d have to work hard to grow food. He would no longer have dominion of the earth; it would fight him every step of the way. Not only that, without the Tree of Life they would die! No one had done that yet. Did they even understand what that meant? On the surface it looks like this part did not come true because Adam and Eve lived a very long time – over 900 years!
But God is not a liar; they did die. You see, man is a three-fold being. We are a spirit, given us when God breathed his life into Adam. We have a soul – mind, will and emotions. And we live in a body. The spirit is what died. Adam and Eve could no longer live in fellowship with God. God is Spirit, and He is Life. A dead spirit cannot be in relationship with him. Everyone since Adam has inherited a dead spirit. So now what? Was mankind doomed?
No! From the beginning of creation, God knew what would happen, and He “counted the cost.” He loved us that much and was willing to pay the price to buy back His children. Jesus chose to die for us before we were even born. When we choose to follow Jesus, our dead spirits are “born again” and there is a holy exchange. Jesus takes all of our sin and gives us His righteousness – and His right-standing with Father God. Although that would definitely be enough, there is more!
Remember, God had created the earth and given dominion to Adam and Eve. God gave away His dominion of earth. This doesn’t mean that God was diminished in any way, or that He was not sovereign or almighty; it just meant that His plan for the earth was for Adam and Eve to rule over earth. But…Adam and Eve listened to “the crafty serpent”, Satan, and lost dominion. So, who then had dominion over the earth? Satan! He now had authority to cause death, destruction and perversion on the earth. And he certainly has! Scripture says that all of creation groans, waiting for redemption. Adam and Eve did more than just eat a piece of fruit. They sold their birthright – their inheritance – to the devil for an “apple”!
While here on earth, Jesus talked over and over again about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. He told His disciples that “the kingdom of God is near” or “the kingdom of God is at hand.” What does this mean?
The Jewish people thought this meant that they would be able to kick Rome out of Israel and have their nation back. But that is not what happened. Because of their preconceived ideas of what God was going to do, and how, and when, they missed what God was doing right under their noses. They didn’t understand so Jesus told many parables trying to explain what the Kingdom of Heaven was like.
Matt 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matt 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
In Matthew 13, Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like:
- a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
- a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree
- yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.
- treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
- a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
- a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.
Jesus told us to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” If we are asking for God’s kingdom to come, for His will to be done, we are letting go of our priorities, and choosing God’s. We are asking Him to change our hearts to want what He wants. One of the translations says “thy kingdom come IN earth as it is in heaven.” We were made from the dust of the earth. The first place God’s kingdom must come is IN us. Jesus said in Luke 17 (KJV) “the kingdom of God is within you.”
Is there strife in heaven? No. Is there sickness in heaven? No. Is there unforgiveness in heaven? Again, no! Those are easy answers. If it’s not in heaven, His will is that it not be “on earth” either.
What about our “more complicated” lives? What about those situations where you really don’t know what to pray… or what we really want to pray is not “what Jesus would do.”
In my life, when I have one of those “sticky” situations come up, I often meditate on it. Now, lest you think me super-spiritual, let me tell you what kind of “meditating” I do. I chew on it. I imagine conversations, scenarios, solutions, consequences, and so on. I figure out exactly what will need to be done and said. Then I tell God how to fix the situation! In the past I have actually told God, “Lord, here’s the situation. Now if you cannot figure it out, just follow my step-by-step plan and it will work!” Remembering this makes me laugh, but back then I was serious… way too serious! Now, lots of years later, I am not quite that blatant, but I still tend to “meditate” too much. God doesn’t need my help figuring out what to do. He is not up in heaven wringing His hands over the situation, pacing the “streets of gold” wondering how He is going to handle the problem!
We can pray His kingdom, His will into that problem. “Father Knows Best” is more than an old TV show. He really does!
Do you know someone whose life is a shambles? Is your life in turmoil? Do you need guidance? Do you need provision, or help? We can call the Kingdom of God. “Thy kingdom come!” … into lives…. into situations. This is saying, “God, I don’t know what is best right here. And the enemy is really working in this situation. But God, I want Your will here. You defeated Satan. He won’t win! I don’t know how You are going to work this out, but it is in Your hands! I give you permission. You are Lord… you are right… you know exactly what is needed here… you see the big picture. I take my hands off. Your kingdom come. Your will be done… which is much better than my will any day of the week. And Lord, if I’m supposed to do something, please let me know… guide me.“
We could study the kingdom and never understand all there is to know. But I want to highlight two other scriptures before we leave this section.
Luke 16:16 says,
“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.”
I believe this means that John the Baptist was the end of an era – the last prophet of the Old Testament. Jesus started a new era, the restoration of the kingdom of God on earth. But, it doesn’t just happen. You cannot get there by accident. Imagine trying to cross a river with a strong current. You cannot just float across to the other side because the current will carry you downstream, and eventually over the falls. It takes effort and determination to get to the other side. The same is true of the kingdom of heaven. We must be intentional. We must INTEND to follow Jesus. We must INTEND… CHOOSE… and ACT according to kingdom principles. It won’t just happen, no matter how much God wants it. He gives us a choice.
Matthew 16:19 says
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
The kingdom of heaven is where God lives and reigns. He is love. He is life. There is no anger, jealously, unforgiveness, fear, negativity, sickness, deception, and so on in His kingdom. We have to learn a whole new way of talking. We must learn to speak truth. We must learn to forgive, and so on. As we seek God’s kingdom, we will learn truths that open up “doors” of understanding, “keys” on how to pray, and so on. One of these keys is forgiveness. We’ll talk more on that later. Another key is speaking truth. What God has said is true, whether we see it, or understand it, or even like it. Speak more about God’s goodness, faithfulness and promises than about the problems.
Father, I pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” first in me. Please change me from the inside out. Change my likes and desires and attitudes. Just like children resemble their earthly parents, let others see You in me. Let them hear You, and Your love come out of my mouth. I can’t make that happen by myself. Holy Spirit, you live in me. Please clean me from the inside out. Fill me with your Light. Fill me with Your Joy and Peace. Make me so full of You and Your Living Water that I splash Your Kingdom onto all those around me.
God, you are the Master Gardener. Please soften the “hard paths” in my life. Remove the weeds and thorns. Please make my heart fertile soil so your Word can produce fruit in my life.
And Father, for those I love, who need You and Your loving touch… Thy Kingdom come into their lives, too. Let what is not of You make them so uncomfortable that they can’t wait to let it go. Orchestrate circumstances and acquaintances to lead them to You. For those that already know You, help them to know you more… to draw closer… to hear Your voice. Thank you that You love all of them with an everlasting love… so much greater than just my love.
And for our country, Thy Kingdom come! Teach us to praise You for our blessings…not taking them for granted, and not taking the credit ourselves. Raise up godly leaders. Show us how to be responsible citizens as we obey You first.