Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realize
we cannot eat money.
Cree Indian Expression
The kingdom of God is one of the major topics or pictures found in the bible, we have uncompleted pictures or shadows of the kingdom in the Old Testament, and a clear and fulfilling picture in the New Testament, so it is a very important topic for anyone concerned about the bible and its study that he should search what does it mean?, and why Jesus Christ came declaring that the kingdom of God is near? (see Mathew 4:17), and what it had to do with the Christian life today?, all of this questions the author tried to answer in his book” The story of a kingdom” which in many ways is a great research on this important topic, and he followed the stream of the kingdom, its definition advances and declines in the Old Testament and fulfillment in the person of Jesus who is the fulfillment of the king and the kingdom of God in the New Testament.
Although the kingdom of God is a major topic in the bible but it is not the only story of the bible (as the author supposed) it is one face of the story of the bible but the bible is the book about God and Jesus his son and God is not only our king he is also our father and redeemer same is true to Jesus he is not only our king but also our high priest and our savior, this fact must be clear as we move through the book.
The Old Testament
The Old Testament starts with God on the scene as our creator and the creator of heaven and earth, the one that reign over all the creatures and created things, as we try to understand what is the meaning of the kingdom we shall first understand what is the meaning of a king in the bible, according to Easton bible dictionary “king: is in Scripture very generally used to denote one invested with authority, whether extensive or limited” and by understanding this definition we can easily say plainly that God is the king who exercise complete authority over his creation, and as we read in (Genesis 1:26) about the creation of man on the image and likeness of God to dominion over other creature we understand that man is the head of the creation and was created to reign over the creation of God under his rule, and this is the first kingdom of God for God choose Adam and his wife the first humans to live in his presence (the garden of Eden) with a loving relationship with God their king but they should always remember that God is their King so they have to obey his rule.
Adam and his wife enjoyed living in the kingdom of God obeying his rule and enjoying his blessing until Satan tempted them and they disobeyed God and believed his enemy Satan, trying to be like God ruling the kingdom on their own ” ye shall be as God” (Genesis 3:5), so they believed Satan and followed his words instead of God.
The results were horrible they were banished from the presence of God and the first kingdom was ruined , they deserve everlasting death as a penalty of their disobedience , and here there is an important thing that we should learn from the first kingdom of God that disobeying God is a sin to God and because of this sin the first kingdom of God was ruined, the loving relationship between man and God was broken and death reigns over the human race, our God is a holy king he cannot accept sin and disobeying him is a very serious matter to him.
Although the picture was so dark and man was out of the kingdom but God didn’t gave up, he made a promise that a savior and king will come from man’s descendants that will conquer Satan and will reestablish the kingdom of God forever (see Genesis 3:15), and this savoir and king was Jesus Christ as we will see later, another thing here we can realize about our God that he is a warrior king and he don’t give up his plans and he is faithful to his promises, and that he is a gracious and a good king he didn’t forsake man forever but he promised to save him.
As we move forward through the first portion of the book we find that the picture of the kingdom of God appeared again to the scene in the form of Israel as the people chosen by God to be his own people living in a place of his presence or the promised land (Canaan) under God’s rule (the law) and blessing, this picture of the second kingdom is different from the first one in many ways for example the people here increased in number and in their sins, as God in the second kingdom lived with the people in a holy tent then after they build the temple he lived with them in the holy temple they couldn’t enjoy the loving relationship that Adam enjoyed in the first kingdom of God.
Even it was not easy to make it possible again for God to live with his people in that tent or temple for as we learned that man had disobeyed God and sinned against him and how this was a very serious issue to God .but actually it is not the only problem of sin, for sin grew and reigned as the time passes, and as we mentioned that the people of Israel increased in there sins, and they need away to forgive their sins, to restore the relationship with God again and because of this the law that was given to Israel included a sacrifice and priest system as an act of grace from God’s part and through this system the people of God (Israel) could enjoy the forgiveness of their sins every year. and we can learn from this how sin is a great problem not just because it had to be forgiven and not only because it ruined the kingdom of God but also spoil the heart’s of men and rule over them.
Israel had to obey the law and be a different kingdom from all the kingdoms around it, for it’s the kingdom of God but during the time of judges which was the first three centuries that Israel entered to the promise land (Canaan) they failed to obey God and to reestablish the kingdom till king David who is the man after God’s own heart rule them under God’s rule and reestablish the kingdom of God again. And we can see in the time of the king David and his son king Solomon a clear picture of the second kingdom of God (The people of Israel living in Canaan with God worshiping him in his temple ,obeying his law and enjoying his blessings), and here we can learn a principle from the picture of the second kingdom, that without obedience to the king (God) there’s no blessing but defeat (as in the time of judges), but with obedience there are always multiple blessings (the times of Solomon).
The second kingdom seem to be successful but this success didn’t last much time for neither king David nor king Solomon were perfect. They were sinful like all other men
They disobeyed God and this means as explained before a serious issue to God. Sin ruin the heart’s of men, and as the first kingdom was ruined the second one was torn in to two parts , the northern kingdom and the southern one and this occurred after the death of king Solomon.
Unfortunately the people of both kingdoms sinned against God and disobeyed his law more and more every day till God removed them from his presence (the promised land) and delivered them to their enemies, to exile.
Again and again the same thing happened and sin reigned over the hearts of men resulting in the ruin of kingdom of God, and we can be sure that no human is good they all sinned and failed to obey God and its obvious that neither king David nor king Solomon was the promised savior and king that God promised will come and reestablish his kingdom for ever.
The prophets of God that he sent to Israel realized that pervious fact and they have said and wrote many prophecies in the bible about the promised savior and king see( Ezekiel 36:24-28;( Jeremiah 31:31-34 ),and this prophecies included that this savior will save his people from their sins by forgiven their sins forever and also by giving his people new hearts that have the ability to obey the law of God.
After about 70 years a remnant of the people of God returned to the promise land but they had to wait for the promised savior and king to come to reestablish the kingdom of God.
Jesus and Life
Finally the promised savior and king had arrived after the fail of all the generations of the human race, and we learn from here that men are naturally sinful, and they can’t obey God and as the bible says “They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not, so much as one” (Romans 3:12) we cannot save our self and we cannot establish the kingdom of God we need a savior to save us from our sins and change our hearts to make it capable of obeying God , also we need a perfect king to defeat Satan and reestablish the kingdom of God and this savior and king was Jesus Christ” the name Jesus signifies savior . It is the Greek form of Jehoshua (Joshua). The name Christ signifies anointed. Jesus was both priest and king”.
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the saving and kingship promises and pictures in the old testament, he is the last or perfect Adam (man) that obeyed God perfectly and so succeeded in what Adam and all his descendants failed in, he is the perfect image of God, and on the other hand he is the true son of God or true Israel that succeeded to be the perfect people of God , and fulfilled the true kingdom of God.
Jesus came to save his people from their sins and that couldn’t happen unless he dies on the cross and pay the debt of their sins to God, so he obeyed God’s will (see Mathew 26:39) and died on the cross on the behalf of his new people and by that he saved them from the everlasting death that Adam inherited them, on the cross God’s justice was maintained and Satan was defeated he lost his authority of reigning over humans with sin and death, and from this we can learn that Jesus saved us and established the new kingdom of God through his obedience to God as the bible says about him” who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;8and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.9Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:6-9).
From the previous verses about Jesus we learn that obedience to God is a basic principle of establishing and living in the kingdom of God we cannot be members of the kingdom of God without following the steps of Jesus’ obedience to God.
Jesus did not only died but he was raised from death on the third day and his resurrection was a prove that he conquered death which is the authority of Satan over men, and also proved that he is the Son of God and his chosen king, he appeared to his disciples, then after forty days he was raised to heaven and enthroned as God’s exalted king and every authority in heaven and in earth had been given from God the father to him (see Mathew 28:18), so he sent the Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the Godhead to the hearts of his followers to change their hearts from sinful hearts to hearts that obeys the law of God so we can learn here that after the rising of Jesus to heaven we are not left alone the Holy Sprit in the heart of every believer means that God lives in him, we are now as the church of God are the temples that God lives in and we enjoy the loving relationship and the blessings of God or what Adam had lost in the first kingdom of God and this all were given to us through the death, resurrection and exaltation of the last Adam( Jesus), the kingdom of God moved to be in the Church or the true believers who believes in Jesus, we as the church of Jesus and his true believers should realize from all what is declared about Jesus in the bible, that he is the only solution and hope for men for we cannot say that Jesus was one among the Great men or prophets that came to find a way for his people to worship God, for Jesus is in his kingdom dimension the only king chosen by God to rule the world from heaven and in his son hood dimension he is the one and only perfect son of God , he is the only way to restore the relationship between men and God and away from him people will be always lost from the kingdom of God and will face everlasting death.
As believers we had been given all this grace and authority through our believe in Jesus he took our death and disobedience and gave us forgiveness of sin and his perfect life and while living this gracious life in the kingdom of our father, we have two responsibilities to consider, the first is the personal responsibility that we had mentioned before we cannot live our lives on our own any more, it is the life of our lord Jesus and we should live it as he wished us to live, not as we want to live and the second responsibility is the responsibility towards the community around us , we know how sin is a serious matter to God and we know that Jesus is the only King and savior for men therefore we should tell the people around us about Jesus so that they might be saved from their sins and the authority of Satan here on earth and from everlasting death and hell in the second coming of our Lord Jesus who will judge the whole earth one day.
Of course when we are living in the kingdom of God as he intended us to live and taking the two responsibilities that we mentioned above we shouldn’t expect acceptance from the world around us, sometimes the non believers will admire what we do and how we live, but other times they will oppose us and reject us and even persecute us, that is a normal thing that Jesus had predicted about we are not called to live a life of happiness on earth (see John 16:33), but it is far better to live in the kingdom of God as he intended than disobeying him and live as non believers cause the true life in him and from him and with him but away from him nothing but everlasting death.
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Berkhof L., New Testament Introduction, www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/newtestment.htm (1915).
Boyd O. J. and Machen G.J., A Brief Bible History Philadelphia: The Westminster Press,1922.
Calvin J., Calvin: Commentaries, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom.htm (1958).
Easton M. G., Eastons Bible Dictionary USA: AGES Software, 1996,1997.
Henry M., Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhcc.htm.
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