God’s Kingdom—How Real to You?
ACCORDING to the journal Modern Churchman, theologians say that they have now rediscovered the Kingdom of God as the main theme of the “New Testament.” Does this news strike you as less than earthshaking? It probably seems that way to many who consider that the Kingdom of God has to do with going to heaven when they die. It is bad enough having to worry about our down-to-earth problems. The Kingdom of God is in heaven, they reason. Time enough later to worry about that!
This view of God’s Kingdom is only partly right. It is true that God’s Kingdom has to do with heaven, because that is where God is. But it affects our earth. In fact, God’s Kingdom is a government just as real as the one that rules your country today. The Bible says: “He [God’s appointed King] will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Psalm 72:8) But is this Kingdom real?
How Real a Hope?
Jesus Christ gave the Kingdom of God wide publicity. He went through the land of Palestine proclaiming: “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matthew 4:17) How could he say that? Because he himself was to be the King of that Kingdom. His presence there showed its nearness.
For Jesus to say he would be King of God’s Kingdom was quite a claim! Was it a mistaken one? No, for at least two reasons: First, what Jesus taught was based on the Bible as it existed then. And, secondly, he performed miracles that were possible only by power from God, showing that God backed up what he was saying.
How could Jesus be King of God’s Kingdom when history tells us that he died on a torture stake? As you may know, the Bible reports that he was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven, to await the establishment of God’s Kingdom. (Acts 2:32-35) Did that really happen?
Yes, and it was not done in secret. There were witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. On one occasion after his public execution, upwards of 500 saw him alive. (1 Corinthians 15:6) Some of these witnesses wrote books that still exist. The books that the apostles Matthew, John and Peter wrote are now a part of the Bible.
The conduct of Jesus’ followers, too, shows that they can be believed when they say they saw the resurrected Jesus. Right after Jesus’ death they were dejected, wanting to go back to their previous occupations. But soon thereafter they were buoyant, optimistic, ready to carry the good news of the Kingdom to all nations in the face of hardships and persecution. What could have caused such a change? Only the fact that they had seen the resurrected Jesus and thus knew that what he had been telling them about God’s Kingdom was true.
How Real Today?
However, the Kingdom of God involves more than merely accepting the fact that Jesus is still alive. In the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to say: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, Authorized Version) Are the terrible things happening on earth today God’s will? Evidently not. Hence, God’s Kingdom still has things to do.
A major step toward having God’s will done on earth was the casting of Satan out of heaven, which is preliminary to his destruction. The result? “Woe for the earth” for a short while. (Revelation 12:7-12) This “woe” involves an intense time of trouble for mankind: world wars, famines affecting millions, uncontrolled epidemics, widespread fear of the future, and so forth. Read for yourself how Jesus described it in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. After describing it, he said: “When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—Luke 21:31.
What Jesus warned about is happening now. This fact proves the reality of God’s Kingdom. It also proves that Satan has already been cast out of heaven and soon the Kingdom will cause God’s will to be done completely on earth.
However, a Kingdom is not much without subjects. Does God’s Kingdom have subjects? Yes. In more than 200 lands, over 2,000,000 Christians are its subjects. While obeying the laws of the land in which they live, they carefully study and obey the commands of God’s appointed King, Christ Jesus. And they energetically tell their neighbors about this Kingdom, inviting them to become its subjects too. The existence of this international group of subjects makes certain that God’s Kingdom is real.
This Kingdom is active. It has taught its subjects to live clean, moral lives, to be honest and to have good living habits. It has also molded them into an international brotherhood where love of neighbor really exists. But its most dramatic activities still lie in the future when it will act decisively against Satan and all other wickedness on earth.
The end result of all its activity is described in a heartwarming promise: “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Would you like to be subject to a government that will bring such benefits? You can be. In fact, God is inviting you to do so. Why not take the time to read the Bible to find out how to go about it? The publishers of this magazine will be delighted to give you any help you need.