The Coming Kingdom
The Coming Kingdom
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Isaiah 40-66 set forth the prophetic announcement of Israel's final restoration that will occur at the end of the age when the Messiah will establish his millennial kingdom. In 40:3, he announces that the event will be proceeded by the coming herald to prepare the way. Often in the ancient world, before royalty would travel on the roads, the road would be repaired before they arrived. However, John, the Baptist’s message calls the people to rebuild the road of holiness and righteous living in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. John’s message is both a call to repentance and the announcement of the arrival of the kingdom of heaven.
Throughout the gospel of Matthew, the proclamation of the kingdom of God is a central theme woven throughout the message of John the Baptist and the preaching of Christ. The Kingdom of God points to both a present and future kingdom, a spiritual and physical kingdom. The Kingdom refers to the establishment of God's sovereign reign on the earth. When Christ came, he inaugurated the spiritual kingdom in which the rule of God is established in the hearts of his followers and the community of his people. The physical aspect of the kingdom looks forward to the return of Christ when he establishes his physical presence as the king of the universe here on earth. Daniel and John prophesy this final arrival of the kingdom in the book of Revelations. It will be fulfilled when Christ establishes his millennial kingdom as prophesied in Revelation 19-20.
The Kingdom of God refers to the visible manifestation of God’s sovereign rule over the universe and all aspects of our life. We often define salvation as God's redemptive work to save us from the punishment and power of sin. However, while thinking of salvation from the perspective of “what we are saved from,” we often overlook “what we are saved to.” Paul states that we are saved from the dominion of darkness and brought to the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). Before salvation, we are controlled by sin and reside in the kingdom of Satan. Through Christ's redemptive work, we are freed from that and placed in Christ’s kingdom, where we are to allow Christ to rule over our life. We are to entirely and daily surrender to him. Instead of following the dictates and morality of our world, we are to embrace the commands and character of Christ as revealed in his word.
The question remains: "How do we align ourselves with God’s kingdom?” If Christ's purpose in our salvation is to bring us under his sovereign rule, what must we do for that to happen? John the Baptist provides us with the answer in his preaching. We need to repent (vs. 2) and live in a way consistent with this repentance (vs. 8). Repentance refers to the changing of one’s mind or attitude as well as changing one’s actions. John calls his listeners (and us) to change our way of life to change our conduct, activities, and attitudes so that they conform to Christ. In the words of Paul, it is to “no longer be conformed to this world and be transformed by the renewing of the mind.” It is to change how we live and think. Instead of listing to the world, we are to turn to the pages of scripture and completely surrender our lives to Christ. We must ask ourselves not “Do I believe in God and Christ” but “Have I surrendered and aligned by thoughts, actions, and will to the person and commands of Christ?” Am I allowing Christ to rule every facet of my life? If we are to participate in his kingdom, this is where we must start.