Tale of Two Kingdoms
The concept of kingdom is a recurring theme in the Bible and also very central to the teaching of Jesus. Jesus used the term ‘kingdom of God’ many times in his teachings. The book of Acts begins and ends with the theme – Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3; Acts 28:31). Why is the concept of kingdom so central?
The Bible speaks of Two Kingdoms. The first kingdom is seen at the dawn of human history. In Genesis chapter 1-3, we not only read the account of creation but also the account of kingdom. God wanted man to have rulership. God created the heavens and the earth and established His kingdom on the earth. He appointed Adam, the first man, to be the king. Genesis 1:28 says, God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”.
This kingdom did not last very long because man rebelled against God. One of the consequences of the rebellion is man forfeited dominion. Man thought by rebellion he would establish his dominion but he lost the dominion. Psalm 115:16 – “The earth is given to the children of men“. But what did man do? Job 9:24 says “The earth is given to the hand of the wicked.” God gave it to man and man gave it to the devil. Man became the traitor. Instead of trusting loving and obeying God, he rebelled and sold the earth to the devil. The devil is rightfully called the god of this world – 1 John 5:19; 2 Cor 4:4; the prince of his world – John 12:31;14:30;16:11.
Prior to the rebellion of man, a host of angels chose to rebel against God. When lucifer chose to rebel against God, he managed to mobilize one-third of the angels in heaven to rebel against God Rev 12:4. The principle of rebellion is self- exaltation (Isa. 14:12-14). Later, the poison of rebellion is injected in our first parents. Because of the rebellion, man not only lost his dominion, but also became a slave to Satan, Sin, and the Wrath of God.
When Jesus came to the earth and was tempted by the devil, the devil had the audacity to ask Jesus to fall down and worship. He says, “I will give all the kingdoms of the world for that is delivered unto me.” Luke 4:6. Understand the heartache of God. Now, the whole scripture focuses on this one goal – getting the kingdom back to God.
The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit Rom 14:17. Without righteousness (perfect obedience to God), no one will be able to enter into the kingdom of God (Matt 5:20, 48). Bible says there is none righteous, no not even one. (Rom 3:11) In any kingdom, there should be a king and also citizens who are willing to submit to the king. When the whole earth is in rebellion, where is the question of kingdom of God being established on earth?
What is the masterplan of God to establish his kingdom on earth? The Triune God decided in the eternity past and emerged with a plan. The strategy is this. For the kingdom to be established on the earth, two things should happen: Firstly, the righteousness of God should be established on the earth and secondly, sinners should be redeemed from their sins to enter His kingdom. Jesus became the second Adam who established righteousness, which the first Adamic race could not secure. Jesus perfectly, completely, and joyfully obeyed the Father and established righteousness on earth. “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. – Matt. 3:15. He obeyed to the point of death, the death of the cross. (Phil 2:5-11). Heb. 5:8 says, He learned obedience. Obedience is so foreign to his nature yet he submitted to the Father – John 4:34; John 5:30; John 6:38; John 8:29; John 12:49; Why did he take that extreme step of submission? It is to start the kingdom on earth.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus was preaching about this righteous kingdom of God. Mark 1:14. However, Jewish people thought Jesus was referring to an earthly political kingdom because the Jews were under oppression for very long and they were longing for God to intervene, deliver them, and make them world rulers – Acts 1:6. But what does Jesus mean when He spoke of the kingdom? The Lord’s prayer explains – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus is referring to a spiritual kingdom, where He came to do the will of God on Earth as it is in Heaven and thus fulfill all righteousness.
Secondly, He took upon himself our sin and died in our place to redeem us from our sins. At the cross, He pay the price for our sin so that we can be brought into the kingdom. The death of Jesus Christ is a vicarious death. God the Father planned and executed the death of His Son in order to punish sin and redeem us from our penalty. Rom 8:4; Acts 2:23; Isa. 53:4; Isa 53:10. When Jesus died and rose again, the requirement for our redemption and our justification is completed. Rom 4:25 – “He was given over because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification.”
One interesting observation is God created the first kingdom in 6 days and rested on the seventh day. Jesus rising on the first day of week is symbolical to the inauguration or the dawn of the new kingdom. The first kingdom was lost because of rebellion of man, the second kingdom is everlasting because of the righteousness of Christ. God is adding souls into his kingdom as He draws them through gospel proclamation. Going back to Acts, Acts 2:41 – “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”
So, when sinners responds to the gospel, repent and believe in Jesus, they will be redeemed from their sins (Eph. 1:7) and will be covered with God’s perfect righteous. They will be justified by grace through faith in Christ and will be brought into His kingdom. – Rom 3:24. What a sinner could never achieve by his good works, God bestows freely and brings them into His kingdom. Heb 2:10 – “for it was fitting for Him, for whom are all thing, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through suffering.” Jesus bought back the crown by His humble submission, what we lost by our rebellion.
When the Lord returns, He will put an end to the devil’s kingdom and cast all of them in hell. Then, He will establish a physical everlasting kingdom and we will rule with Him in His kingdom. Rev. 5:10 – ” for you were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men … you have made them to be a kingdom and priest to our God, and they will reign upon the earth.”
Are you doubly sure that you are part of this everlasting kingdom? If not, consider this as a loudest call for you to repent and trust in Jesus, who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You can never escape this King. Either you humbly come under His Lordship now and have peace with Him, or you will face His dreadful judgement soon. There is nothing more comforting than to know that you are part of this glorious Kingdom. If you are already part of this kingdom, praise God. Remember, the more we submit to our King in this world, the more we will see Him using our lives for the extension of His kingdom.