What Is the Kingdom of God?
ASK men and women in the street this question and you will get a great variety of answers.
Some will say the kingdom of God is “in your hearts.” Others insist it is a spiritual realm reached only after one dies. Many persons will even scoff at the question, claiming that the whole idea of a kingdom of God is unreal, impractical, that man, in effect, is in complete charge of his own destiny.
But what would your answer be?
You may say, “Well, what difference does it make anyway? I’ll leave that to the theologians to argue about. What concerns me is that today I’m almost afraid to send my children to school or let my wife walk down the street alone. I’m concerned about the shakiness of the economy, the problem of pollution, and a dozen other things. But ‘the kingdom of God’—well, after these immediate problems are straightened out, then I’ll think about that.”
But really, for those very reasons you should want to know about God’s kingdom. Yes, the very fact that you are concerned about the crime and violence in the schools and on the streets, the shaky economy, the threat of spreading wars, the dangers of pollution, should make truthful information about the kingdom of God of great interest to you. Why?
Because—when a person clears his mind of political propaganda, cleans out preconceived notions and prejudices, and honestly faces up to what man has been doing or failing to do with life on earth, not just in recent years but for decades, even centuries—it can be appreciated that the kingdom of God is the only realistic and practical solution to mankind’s problems.
This is because God’s kingdom is, not just a feeling in people’s hearts, not something that only benefits persons after death, but a government. And it is a government with power and purpose, especially fitted to correct the bad conditions that right now rob human life of so much of its joy.
GOD’S KINGDOM—REALLY A GOVERNMENT?
Does it sound strange to speak of the kingdom of God as a government? Perhaps so, yet that is what the Bible teaches. The very word “kingdom” means a government ruled by a king. The Bible speaks of the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece and other ancient kingdoms. What were they? Governments ruled by kings. The second chapter of the prophecy of Daniel 2 deals with such national kingdoms and their rule and strength and then says:
“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Dan. 2:37-44.
So God’s kingdom is also a government and one with power far superior to any or all governments that men have produced. According to the prophecy, it is going to do away with all such governments and permanently replace them.
Jesus’ disciples understood that the kingdom he taught them about was a government. (Acts 1:6) In fact, prior to Jesus’ birth the prophetic promise was: “This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33) That David’s kingdom was a government is a fact of history. The kingdom of Christ Jesus, who descended from David, is also a government, though far greater than David’s. This is because it is a heavenly government.—Acts 2:29-36.
A HEAVENLY GOVERNMENT BOTH REAL AND PRACTICAL
More than thirty times the “kingdom of God” is referred to in a parallel phrase as the “kingdom of the heavens.” (Luke 8:1; Matt. 10:7) Does that mean that to enjoy its benefits you must go to heaven? No, for Christ Jesus said that persons should pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:10) True, the Bible does teach that some persons are selected to reign with Christ Jesus in his heavenly government. But what does Revelation 5:10 say about their rule? It states that they are made to be “a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”
However, some may say that to talk about the earth’s being ruled by a government based in heaven, and therefore invisible to men, is not being “practical,” not being “realistic.” Still, today most people live some distance, and often hundreds of miles, from the executive offices of the government that rules them. The majority have never personally met the chief executive. Still they must admit that their government has force and effect in their daily lives.
No less so with God’s kingdom. Its seat of authority in the courts of heaven in no way impairs its efficiency of administration. Really, in a time when men have received messages broadcast from the moon’s surface, should space be viewed as a barrier to communication by God’s kingdom? Today pragmatic political rulers of the world’s great powers are willing to spend huge sums of money on space efforts. Why? Because they see definite advantages in being able to survey the earth’s surface from greater heights than their capitol buildings. Their interest in “space platforms” or even “moon stations” is certainly not “purely scientific.” Back in 1958 when he was a senator of the United States Congress, Lyndon B. Johnson said:
“There is something more important than any ultimate weapon. That is the ultimate position—the position of total control over earth lies somewhere out in space. This is the future, the distant future, though not so distant as we may have thought. Whoever gains that ultimate position gains control, total control, over the earth, for purposes of tyranny or for the service of freedom.”—New York Times of January 8, 1958.
The Bible shows that, despite recent space successes, no political government will ever gain that “ultimate position.” It is already taken by God’s kingdom in the hands of Christ Jesus. And that government is even now using such ultimate position for the benefit of persons who truly love what is right. Its promise is that, not the tyrannical, the proud, the violent, or the greedy, but “the mild-tempered ones . . . will inherit the earth.”—Matt. 5:5.
What would you say is the greatest problem that governments today must cope with? You may think of war, crime, corruption, pollution, economic instability or other similar problems. But what causes these things? Do they just happen—or is there something that leads to them, motivates them? The answer may sound simple, yet no one can honestly deny that selfishness is the basic cause, a lack of respect, consideration, yes, love for one’s neighbor.
While many will acknowledge that this is so, they may say: “True, but what can be done about it? How could laws requiring men to love their neighbor ever be enforced? To do that a government would have to be able to read men’s hearts.”
Exactly. And that is why the kingdom of God is the only practical government that can solve earth’s problems. Its king, Christ Jesus, showed that he could read men’s hearts when on earth, and his analyses consistently proved right. Take the time to read what he said and did as recorded in the Bible and you will see that he really “knew what was in man.” (John 2:25) You may, in fact, find yourself searching your own heart as a result of what you read.
More than this, though, God’s kingdom government is solemnly committed to cleansing this earth of all persons who prefer to live in selfishness, and it has the power to do this. (2 Thess. 1:6-8) It takes this action because, as Jesus’ disciples stated: “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) Yes, the kingdom by Christ Jesus gives highest importance to love of God and love of neighbor. That is why it alone holds the key to the elimination of earth’s problems.
Do you sincerely want to see an earth free from riots, strikes, poverty, oppression, crime and violence? Then begin now to learn about God’s righteous government. Why not write the publishers of this magazine for more information. They will be happy to see that you receive help in learning what your Bible says about the kingdom of God, the real solution to mankind’s problems.
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God’s kingdom will forever rid the earth of crime, drug addiction, pollution and every form of corruption