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Thy Kingdom Come Now

Matthew 6:10

A Bibe Study by

Tony Grant

The Lord's Prayer summarizes some of the things that were most important to Jesus. He often spoke of God as father, and he often spoke of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom was an important concept to Jesus, so important that he urged us to constantly pray "thy kingdom come."

The verb come is the Greek word "eltheto" {3 pers sing aor 2 imper. of erchomai} which literally means "may it come." Before the New Testament, the word was used in pagan prayers for the god to come into the life of the believer and to transform that life. We see this in prayer of Odysseus in the Iliad: "Hear me, goddess, come graciously to help me"(Iliad 23.770). Thus, the word eltheto was always connected with the coming of God into a person's life now, and it is used in that same sense in the NT. In the NT, it refers to the coming of the Son of Man or to the coming of the Kingdom of God.

A great deal of doctrinal discussion has surrounded the term "kingdom of God." Even in the time of Jesus, his most ardent followers had real difficulty in comprehending the concept. Most of them thought that this term referred to an earthly empire that the messiah would establish. This was the common belief of the time. The people of Israel were weary with the burdens and angry at the abuse they bore as a subject people of Rome. They hoped for a messiah who would be a physical descendant of David and who would, by supernatural force, overthrow the oppressor, and re-establish a Davidic empire.

Even John the Baptist, despite his great spiritual insight, failed to fully grasp what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God. From the depths of his despair in Herod's dungeon, John sent disciples to discover whether Jesus was in fact the coming king. Again and again, John had thundered in the wilderness, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" [MT3:2]. And Jesus said the same. In MT4:17, Jesus began his public ministry by declaring, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Now we should note that Matthew uses the phrase the "Kingdom of Heaven" and Mark, Luke, and John use the phrase the "Kingdom of God." But these are only different terms for the same thing. Matthew is the most Jewish gospel, and the Jews had a reluctance to directly use the name of God, so they tended to use other terms, like "heaven," in referring to the things of God.

The theme of the ministry of John the Baptist and the theme of the ministry of Jesus was the coming kingdom. But Herod chopped off John's head, and Pilate crucified Jesus, so, if we were expecting a physical fulfillment of their preaching and teaching, we must say that it all came to nothing, and that is the way it must have appeared to the disciples. That is why when Jesus was crucified on Calvary, the disciples were so utterly baffled and beaten. It seemed to them that Jesus had failed. It was not until after the resurrection that they began to understand that in fact Jesus had won. He won a far greater empire on the cross than he ever could have won with swords and spears. He won an empire of the soul.

However, we should not look down upon the disciples for their initial failure to understand the nature of the empire of the messiah. Two thousand years later, many people still misunderstand. In spite of the fact that Jesus said that he had not come to establish a physical kingdom, they look for a kingdom that they can see with their physical eyes. In LK17:20, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God was coming. Jesus answered, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is not coming "with signs to be observed." That is it is not something that we can see. It is not something that we can point at and say, "Lo, here it is." Why not? Because it is inside us. Because it is a spiritual kingdom. It is a kingdom of the soul not of the body.

The kingdom that Jesus came to establish was not about taking up swords and spears to overthrow the Roman Empire. It was rather a kingdom that would be established in the hearts and lives of people, and that kingdom is not for some far away time and place. It is for now. When we pray, "Thy kingdom come," we are not praying that somewhere out there God's kingdom will be established. We are praying that God will establish his kingship in the hearts and lives of people now. More specifically, we are praying that God will establish his kingdom in my live now.

In the gospels, the Kingdom of God is Jesus himself. The gospels show us that Jesus said that he came to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He taught many parables about the Kingdom of God. In his deeds he presented the Kingdom of God. For example, his healing ministry was viewed as a sign of the Kingdom of God not only by those who saw them, but by Jesus himself. Jesus said in LK11:20, "But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Further, the Kingdom of God may be seen in the events of passion week--in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. As John Calvin rightly put it, "When Christ could be pointed out with the finger, the kingdom of God was opened"(Inst 1:455, 2.11.5).

When we pray for God's kingdom to come into our lives now, it is the same as praying for Jesus to come into our lives now. To pray "thy kingdom come" is to pray that Jesus will become the absolute sovereign of our lives.

Now it is true that today we come from a different culture, and so we have some difficulty with grasping the idea of a kingdom. We no longer have kingdoms and real kings and queens. When we think of a monarch, we might think of the queen of Great Britain, but Queen Elizabeth is no more than a figurehead. She is not the real ruler of Great Britain. When the Bible talks about kings and kingdoms, it is talking about real rulers. In ancient times, the king was the absolute ruler of his kingdom. There was no appeal to his judgment. He was the supreme power and final authority.

Also, the monarch, be it king or queen, was always the monarch. He might be deposed or dethroned or even exiled, but even living in exile, he was still the king. For example, when Parliament rose up and overthrew king Charles and executed him, his son and heir fled to France, and lived there for many years in exile, but he was recognized as the king all the time that he was in exile before he was ever restored to his throne. It is the same with our heavenly king. When we devote ourselves to sin, we exile our king from his throne in our lives, but he is still the king. He is the only rightful king of our lives.

So when we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come," what we mean is, "God our Father, you are the ruler of heaven and earth. Come therefore and establish your sovereignty in the hearts of people. Come and establish your sovereignty in my heart."

That is what we pray in the Lord's Prayer, but often we are not paying much attention to what we are praying.. We pray it but do not mean it, because we have put another king on the throne that rightfully belongs to God. We have deposed our rightful king and crowned ourselves king. We sometimes say with disdain that the Jews were unwilling to accept the rulership of Jesus, and so they shouted at his crucifixion, "We have no king but Caesar." Yet this is what people have always said about Jesus. "We are not going to have him as king of our lives. Crucify him--because I want to be king myself."

When all is said and done, most of us from our earliest childhood, believe that we are the kings and queens of our own castles. We speak proudly of determining our own destiny. We arrange our own affairs. We govern our own lives. We are specialists in selfish, self-centered living. We think that all of life revolves around me, I , and mine.

So if I sincerely, earnestly, and genuinely implore God to establish his kingdom in my life, I am praying for another kingdom to end. I am praying for MY kingdom to perish. I am saying that I am willing to relinquish the rule of my own life, to give up governing my own affairs, to abstain from making my own decisions in order to allow God, by his indwelling spirit, to decide for me what I shall do. That is what we pray when we really pray, "Thy Kingdom come."

The Temple of God

In ICR3:16, the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthian Christians, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells in you?" The Apostle said the same thing in IICR6:16, "We are the temple of the living God." These verses are the Apostle Paul's commentary upon the phrase "thy kingdom come." The coming of the kingdom is the coming of the spirit of the living God into our heart. The kingdom comes when the spirit of God makes us his holy habitation. The Holy Spirit permeates and invades our lives. The Holy Spirit establishes his authority in our minds and wills. The Apostle Paul pictures a human being as a temple, an abode, a residence of God. This is what we can be. This is what we are intended to be. If we give ourselves totally to the indwelling Holy Spirit, we become a place where God is. We become a part of the spiritual kingdom of God where his will is always done.

Most of us who have invited Jesus to come into our lives by his Holy Spirit are not sufficiently aware of who it is that has established residence within us. This one is royalty. This one is the king of kings. This is the lord of lords. This is the prince of peace. The gracious spirit of God, who indwells our being, is none other than the risen and living Christ. When we become aware of that, THAT revolutionizes our whole life. When we become aware of God's presence in our souls, that changes our entire outlook, that alters all our attitudes, that redirects all our activities. It is no longer just me in my body or me in my soul. It is God in me.

PS84:10, "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." The Psalmist said that we should see ourselves now in an entirely new light. We see our lives as the residence of a divine king. We are no longer kings in our own castles nor bosses of our own houses. We are but the doormen, and we have the responsibility of the doorman. The doorman's responsibility is to see that the temple is not desecrated, damaged, nor defiled.

That is what a priest does. IPT2:9 describes believers as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation." As a "royal priesthood" our responsibility is to take care of the temple.

If indeed the Kingdom of God is within me, then I shall make it my business to see that nothing enters me to harm or offend my sovereign. I will think about what I eat and drink. I will not be a glutton or a drunkard. I will not permit narcotics, drugs, or other harmful materials to enter my body unnecessarily. I will not pollute the temple of the most high God. The same applies to my mind and emotions. I will monitor what I read and the TV shows I watch, lest my soul be distorted by what I see. Likewise, I will carefully scrutinize the conversations I listen to, the music, I hear, the programs I tune to on the radio. I will do this to see that nothing dirty intrudes on the Kingdom of God in my mind and emotions and will. In my innermost mind, in my soul, I will see to it that no suggestions, attitudes, or human philosophies contrary to the teachings of Jesus will enter in. The Kingdom of God is within me. It follows therefore that I must keep out any traitors to that kingdom. I must not tolerate anything that might undermine my allegiance to my God.

Those are some practical considerations, but some very important considerations for the earnest Christian to consider. It is of no use whatsoever to pray "Thy kingdom come" unless we fully intend to cooperate with the establishment of that kingdom in our lives. It is hypocritical and insincere to pray this prayer unless we intend fully to do our part in seeing that the Kingdom of God within us is kept inviolate and undefiled.

What is the Kingdom of God like?

When the kingdom comes, when it is established, what is it like? RM14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." In other words, when I accept the Kingdom of God in my life now, then that kingdom consists of an inner state of righteousness, peace, and joy. The kingdom spoke of in RM14:17 is again no outward, external empire. It is a kingdom in my soul. It is an inner condition of mind and spirit in which God's will becomes my will.

The righteousness that RM14:17 mentions is that state of rightness that embraces attitudes, conduct, and relationships with God, others, and myself. If God’s kingdom is in us, we will always seek what is right and good and true. In the same way, the peace that we enjoy in god's kingdom is the only kind of peace that counts. It is that deep delightful serenity of soul that comes of having God's presence.

Finally, the joy that is a hallmark of God's kingdom is not a state of happiness dependent on changing circumstances or on what is happening around us. It is rather a peaceful spirit, which grows in us when we enjoy the presence of God in our lives. When we become aware that the king is in residence, we have complete assurance and quiet joy and freedom from fear.

The difference between a defeated, dismal Christian and a victorious, vibrant Christian lies in and whether or not God is fully in control of that life. If God has taken up sovereignty in our soul, establishing a bit of the Kingdom of God in our heart, then we know the presence of God and that presence transforms our entire being. It becomes our delight to do God's bidding. It is our honor to be God's subject.

Taylor Smith was a bishop in the church of England. With regard to his citizenship in the Kingdom of God, he said, "As soon as I awake each morning I rise from the bed at once, I dress promptly. I wash myself, shave, and comb my hair. Then fully attired, wide awake and properly groomed I go quietly to my study. There before God almighty, and Christ my king, I humbly present myself as a loyal subject to my sovereign, ready and eager to be of service to him for the day." That is what it means to be a soldier and citizen of the kingdom of God. It means that it becomes our joy and our privilege to serve God with every aspect of our lives.

Conclusion

If this then is what it means to have God's kingdom in our lives, then our conclusion is obvious. We should seek this kingdom and all its benefits now. We should seek it above and before everything else. We should long for it, strive for it, and be satisfied with nothing less. David Brainerd wrote in his diary on April 15, 1742, ""My desires apparently centered in God; and I found a sensible attraction of soul after him sundry times today. I know that I long for God, and a conformity to his will, in inward purity and holiness, ten thousand times more than for anything here below." We also should long for the kingdom "ten thousand times more than for anything" else. Amen.

 

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