When Will God’s Kingdom Come?
“LORD, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” (Acts 1:6) The apostles were eager to know when Jesus would establish his Kingdom. Today, some 2,000 years later, people are still eager to know: When will God’s Kingdom come?
Since Jesus made the Kingdom the theme of his preaching, you might expect that he discussed this question. And indeed he did! He spoke extensively about a marked period of time that he called his “presence.” (Matthew 24:37) That presence is closely tied to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. What is this presence? Let us consider four truths the Bible reveals about the presence of Christ.
1. Christ’s presence would begin a long time after his death. Jesus gave an illustration in which he likened himself to a man who “traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power,” or to “secure a kingdom.” (Luke 19:12; footnote) How was that prophetic illustration fulfilled? Well, Jesus died and was resurrected; then he traveled to the “distant land,” that is, heaven. As Jesus foretold in a similar illustration, his return in kingly power would come only “after a long time.”—Matthew 25:19.
Some years after Jesus ascended to heaven, the apostle Paul wrote: “This man [Jesus] offered one sacrifice for sins perpetually and sat down at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.” (Hebrews 10:12, 13) So a lengthy period of waiting followed Jesus’ arrival in heaven. The wait finally ended when Jehovah God made his Son the King of the long-promised Messianic Kingdom. That was when Christ’s presence began. Would humans on earth see this momentous event?
2. The presence is invisible to human eyes. Remember, Jesus discussed the sign of his presence. (Matthew 24:3) If his presence were visible to human eyes, would a sign be needed? To illustrate: Imagine that you are traveling to see the ocean. You may see road signs directing you along the way, but once you are at the shore, standing at the water’s edge with the vast expanse of water stretching out to the horizon, would you expect to see a sign with a big arrow pointing ahead, emblazoned with the word “Ocean”? Of course not! Why have a sign to point out what you can easily identify with your eyes?
Jesus described the sign of his presence, not to point out something that humans could see with their eyes, but to help them discern something that would occur in heaven. Thus, Jesus said: “The kingdom of God is not coming with striking observableness.” (Luke 17:20) How, then, would the sign show those on earth that Christ’s presence had begun?
3. Jesus’ presence would be marked by a time of profound troubles here on earth. Jesus said that his presence as King in heaven would be marked on earth by wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, and lawlessness. (Matthew 24:7-12; Luke 21:10, 11) What would cause all this misery? The Bible explains that Satan, “the ruler of this world,” is full of rage because he knows that his time is very short now that Christ’s presence as King has begun. (John 12:31; Revelation 12:9, 12) Such visible evidence of Satan’s rage and of Christ’s presence has been abundant in our time. Especially since 1914, a year that historians acknowledge was a turning point, has this evidence appeared on an unprecedented and global scale.
All of that may sound like bad news, but it is not. It means that the Messianic Kingdom is ruling now in heaven. Very soon, that government will exercise its rule right here over all the earth. How, though, would people know about that Kingdom in order to accept its rule and become its subjects?
4. Jesus’ presence is marked by a global preaching work. Jesus said that his presence would be like “the days of Noah.”* (Matthew 24:37-39) Noah was more than an ark builder; he was also “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) Noah warned people that a judgment from God was on its way. Jesus said that his followers on earth would be doing something similar during his presence. He prophesied: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14.
As we saw in the preceding article, God’s Kingdom will destroy all the governments of this world. The preaching work alerts people that this heavenly government is about to act, giving all an opportunity to escape the coming destruction and become subjects of that Kingdom. The key question, then, is, How will you respond?
Will God’s Kingdom Mean Good News for You?
The message that Jesus preached was one of incomparable hope. After the rebellion in Eden thousands of years ago, Jehovah God purposed to form a government that would set matters right, returning faithful humans to the condition that God had in mind for them from the start—life eternal in a paradise here on earth. What could be more thrilling than the knowledge that this long-promised government is ruling right now in heaven? It is not some remote, abstract concept but a living reality!
Now, God’s appointed King is ruling in the midst of his enemies. (Psalm 110:2) In this corrupt world alienated from God, the Messiah is fulfilling his Father’s desire to search out all who want to come to know God as he really is and to worship him “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) The hope of living forever under the rule of God’s Kingdom is available to people of all races, ages, and social backgrounds. (Acts 10:34, 35) We urge you to take hold of the marvelous opportunity before you. Learn about God’s Kingdom now, so that you can enjoy living under its righteous rule forever!—1 John 2:17.
Jesus’ statement helps to correct the wrong idea conveyed in the way some Bible versions mistranslate the word “presence.” Some translations render it “coming,” “advent,” or “return,” all of which imply a momentary event in time. Notice, though, that Jesus did not liken his presence to the Flood of Noah’s day, an event in time, but to “the days of Noah,” a climactic period of time. Like that ancient era, Christ’s presence would be a period of time during which people would be too caught up in the day-to-day affairs of life to take note of a warning being given.
[Pictures on page 8, 9]
The bad news we hear every day proves that good things are coming soon
Antiaircraft gun: U.S. Army photo