The Great Feast of the Kingdom (1)
The Great Feast of the Kingdom of God (1)
Hebrews 12:28 - Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
What is the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is Revolutionary, it is the Ruling of God, and it is Redemptive. Jesus did not come to cause political revolt and upheaval as the Jews of the time expected, but rather he came to turn the world on its head. He came to bring peace and to show that the humble will be exalted and the proud cast down. He became sin so that sinners might live. It all sounds so backwards, but that is the very love of God displayed. And praise God that the cross put death to death and brought about resurrection.
The Kingdom was Revolutionary in the minds of first century hearers. There were many would-be Messiah’s before and after Christ Jesus (Acts 5:34-39). These preached a “kingdom of God” revolution. When such a “messiah” died, no one kept following him. Often a brother or relative of the leader would take the reigns. This happened repeatedly. In about 130 AD the final one of these “messiahs” (Simon bar Kokhba) seized power and had coins minted that denoted “year one” of the kingdom of God, “year two,” and “year three.” I have seen these coins displayed in the New York Metropolitan Art Museum. This means for us that our sense of the “kingdom” as a smooth-jazz of spirituality is wrong. This was not what they heard when a Galilean carpenter declared, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
The Kingdom is the Ruling of the God of Israel as king. What did they hear? They heard a message that God would be reigning as king and no other king or Caesar or Herod would usurp the rule of the Lord. God would forgive Israel and the Exile would be over. God would return in HIs glory to Israel. In this light hear the familiar words, given this context. Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” God was to rule and the Jews would have no other king than the Lord God, YHWH. This was the central understanding of the “kingdom of God.”
The Kingdom is Redemptive through the work of Jesus. “The rule of God” was to happen through the human agency of the “Christ” or “Messiah.” All of this is deeply set in the Old Testament. Consider the Davidic covenant and the Messianic promises: 1 Chr 28:5-6 - “He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.” Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom.” Daniel provided a time-frame for this: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44). But, Christ’s teaching and actions made for a redemptive, rather than a military or political kingdom. The cross is central in order to put death to death and bring resurrection. “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25-26).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more