What God’s Kingdom Can Mean to You
JESUS CHRIST taught his followers to pray: “Let your kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:10) How often those words have been addressed to God by those professing to be Jesus’ followers!
However, Jesus did more than teach his disciples to pray for the Kingdom of God. He made the Kingdom a principal subject of his preaching work. In fact, the Encyclopædia Britannica says that God’s Kingdom “is generally considered to be the central theme of Jesus’ teaching.”
When Christ’s followers pray for the Kingdom, for what are they actually praying? What can God’s Kingdom mean to them and to you? And how did Jesus view it?
Jesus’ View of the Kingdom
Jesus often called himself “the Son of man.” (Matthew 10:23; 11:19; 16:28; 20:18, 28) This reminds us of the prophet Daniel’s reference to “a son of man.” Concerning a future heavenly event, Daniel said: “I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.”—Daniel 7:13, 14.
Speaking about the time when he would receive this rulership, Jesus told his apostles: “When the Son of man sits down upon his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also yourselves sit upon twelve thrones.” Jesus also said: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, . . . all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. . . . These [unrighteous ones] will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”—Matthew 19:28; 25:31, 32, 46.
These prophetic references to thrones and all the national groups indicate that the Kingdom is a government in which Jesus and some of his followers would be rulers over mankind. That government would have the power to cut off the unrighteous in death. Under Kingdom rule, however, those righteously disposed would receive God’s gift of eternal life.
Clearly, then, the Kingdom of God is a divinely instituted heavenly government. The Kingdom is not the church, and the Scriptures do not allow for a secular view of it. Furthermore, a God-given government could not be something merely within a person’s heart. Since God’s Kingdom is a government, it does not become something in our heart when we embrace Christianity. But why do some think that the Kingdom is a condition involving the heart?
The Kingdom Within Us?
Some feel that the Kingdom is in our heart because of the way Luke 17:21 has been rendered by certain Bible translators. According to the New International Version, Jesus there said: “The kingdom of God is within you.”
In this regard The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible states: “Although frequently cited as an example of Jesus’ ‘mysticism’ or ‘inwardness,’ this interpretation rests chiefly upon the old translation, ‘within you,’ . . . understood in the unfortunate modern sense of ‘you’ as singular; the ‘you’ . . . is plural (Jesus is addressing the Pharisees—vs. 20) . . . The theory that the kingdom of God is an inner state of mind, or of personal salvation, runs counter to the context of this verse, and also to the whole N[ew] T[estament] presentation of the idea.”
A footnote to Luke 17:21 in the New International Version shows that Jesus’ words could be rendered: “The kingdom of God is among you.” Other Bible translations read: “The kingdom of God is among you” or “is in the midst of you.” (The New English Bible; The Jerusalem Bible; Revised Standard Version) According to the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Jesus said: “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” Jesus did not mean that the Kingdom was in the hearts of the proud Pharisees whom he was addressing. Rather, as the long-awaited Messiah and King-Designate, Jesus was in their very midst. But some time would pass before God’s Kingdom would come.
When It Would Come
Certain followers of Jesus Christ have been chosen as his corulers in the heavenly Messianic Kingdom. Like Jesus, they die in faithfulness to God and are resurrected to spirit life in heaven. (1 Peter 3:18) Comparatively few in number, they will be 144,000 kings and priests bought from among mankind. (Revelation 14:1-4; 20:6) Jesus’ corulers include his faithful apostles.—Luke 12:32.
Speaking to his followers on one occasion, Jesus promised: “There are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28) Interestingly, the next verse indicates that Jesus’ promise was fulfilled just a few days later. He then took three of his disciples up into a mountain where he was transfigured before them, and they thus had a vision of him in Kingdom glory. (Matthew 17:1-9) But the Kingdom was not established at that time. When would that take place?
One of Jesus’ illustrations indicates that he would not immediately be installed as Messianic King. At Luke 19:11-15, we read: “He spoke . . . an illustration, because he was near Jerusalem and they were imagining that the kingdom of God was going to display itself instantly. Therefore he said: ‘A certain man of noble birth traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power for himself and to return. Calling ten slaves of his he gave them ten minas and told them, “Do business till I come.” . . . Eventually when he got back after having secured the kingly power, he commanded to be called to him these slaves to whom he had given the silver money, in order to ascertain what they had gained by business activity.’”
In those days it could take some time for a man to travel from Israel to Rome, wait in that city until he secured kingly power, and return to his homeland as king. Jesus was the “man of noble birth.” He would receive power as King from his Father in heaven but would not immediately be installed as Messianic King. His followers would do business by carrying on the work of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom for a considerable time before he would return as King.
How the Kingdom Comes
What are lovers of God requesting when they pray for his Kingdom to come? They are actually asking that the heavenly Kingdom take decisive action by destroying man-made governmental systems that have failed to live up to their promise of bringing about true peace and prosperity. Pointing to this development, the prophet Daniel wrote: “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.” (Daniel 2:44) When would this happen?
Jesus foretold that this would take place within the generation of those who would witness an extraordinary upheaval in human affairs. Concerning his “presence,” Jesus gave a composite “sign” involving such developments as unparalleled warfare, earthquakes, famines, pestilences—yes, and the worldwide preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom.—Matthew, chapters 24, 25; Mark, chapter 13; Luke, chapter 21.
Jesus’ prophecy involves events taking place right now—in our 20th century. Hence, it will not be long before God’s Kingdom brings grand blessings to mankind. You can be among those to enjoy the benefits of Kingdom rule. But just what can God’s Kingdom mean to you and your loved ones?
Blessings of Kingdom Rule
Happiness will prevail earth wide. Under “a new heaven”—the heavenly Kingdom—will be “a new earth,” a global society of obedient Kingdom subjects. “God himself will be with them,” wrote the apostle John. “And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” There will be no reason for anything but happiness then, for “neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:1-4.
Death will be no more. This terrible cause of grief will no longer rob us of friends and loved ones. “As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) What joy will exist when funerals are supplanted by resurrections of those in God’s memory!—John 5:28, 29.
Vibrant health will replace illness and infirmity. No longer will hospital beds be filled with those troubled by physical and mental illnesses. The Master Physician, Jesus Christ, will apply the value of his ransom sacrifice “for the curing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1, 2; Matthew 20:28; 1 John 2:1, 2) The cures he performed while on the earth were but a sample of what he will do by means of the Kingdom.—Compare Isaiah 33:24; Matthew 14:14.
Food supplies will be abundant. As the psalmist said, “there will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.” (Psalm 72:16) To this, Isaiah’s prophecy adds: “Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain, a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of wine kept on the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.” (Isaiah 25:6) Surely, famine will not stalk earth’s inhabitants under Kingdom rule.
The entire earth will become a paradise. Thus will be fulfilled this promise of Jesus to a contrite evildoer: “You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) You too can enjoy life eternal on this earth, an earth cleansed of wickedness and transformed into a pleasurable, parklike globe.—John 17:3.
These marvelous prospects are set before all obedient mankind. Jehovah’s inspired Word, the Bible, gives these blessed assurances. And all of this is what God’s Kingdom can mean to you.
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Do you believe what Jesus said about God’s Kingdom?