Jesus taught us to pray that God's Kingdom would come. In the next petition of the Lord's prayer he taught us to pray that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is what it means for the Kingdom to come. God's will must be done by all people on earth. So when the Kingdom comes, all people will acknowledge the authority of God. They will live in obedience to his word, and apply it to every situation where they have authority in the world.
The Bible teaches something of what the Kingdom is like:
The Lord will be known throughout the earth. The proclamation of the gospel will be so extensive, that there will be no people or nation that have not heard the truth of God. Isaiah 11:9 says,
The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
This is a beautiful promise. God is declaring that the time will come when the whole earth will be filled with knowledge of him. What a wonderful change this will be. At the present time, much of the world is covered in darkness. The Lord will remove the veil that stops the nations from seeing the truth (Isaiah 25:7). There will be no part of the world where true knowledge of God is absent.
There will be multitudes of converts. At various places in the book of Revelation, John saw great multitudes before the throne of God. They were many more than he could count. This shows how effective the gospel will be in the Kingdom age. The Holy Spirit will be poured out with such power, that the majority of people on the earth, will receive the gospel and believe in Jesus. There is a promise in Psalm 22:27
All the end of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
Because the Lord has dominion over the earth, he will accomplish his purposes. He has decreed that a time will come when the majority of the people on the earth acknowledge Jesus as the Lord. One Lord, one faith, one baptism will be the norm throughout the earth.
The church will be perfected and victorious. God will use the time of distress prior to the calling of the Jews, to refine and perfect the church. Once it has been perfected, discipline will be exercised in the church so that it remains at a high level of sanctification. It will be empowered with the fullness of the Spirit's presence, and be characterised by unity and spiritual power. Such a church cannot help but be victorious. The book of Revelation describes the church as a beautiful bride. She will attain a degree of perfection and power that has not yet been seen.
All opposition to the gospel will be gone. This can be seen in the parable of the mustard seed. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It starts off small but grows so large that the birds of the air come and make their nests in it (Matt 13:31,32). The kingdom of God starts small in the same way. But it grows so great that it fills the whole earth. There will be still a few people who oppose God, but the influence of the Kingdom will be so great, that they will not be able to escape its influence. The worst of their evil designs will be restrained by the force of good. They will even receive some benefit from the peace and prosperity, that the Kingdom brings. This is why Jesus described the birds, which represent evil, as nesting in the tree which represents the Kingdom. The wheat and tares will continue to grow together but as time goes on, the tares will be almost choked out by the bumper harvest.
The nations will be submitted to the Lord. Christianity will become the controlling and transforming force, not only in the moral and spiritual life, but also in the entire social, economic and cultural life of the nations. This will take place all over the earth as the gospel is preached, and the church fulfils its teaching role. As the people of the world are converted, they will submit every area of their lives to the Word of God. All authority will be exercised under the authority of Christ, as all those in places of authority choose to become Christians.
The kingdom of God will extend its influence into all the world. At present Christianity only affects some family groups and local communities. In the Kingdom age that influence will extend into all the earth. There will be no part of the world where it is not felt. The majority of evil influences will be eliminated from the entire world. The church will exercise its full spiritual authority, and force Satan to acknowledge his defeat on the cross. It will be so strong in the Lord, that he will have almost no authority on earth at all. All over the world, religions and false philosophies will give way to the truth, and the earth will be restored, in large measure to the degree of righteousness in which it was created. The whole world will experience a time of righteousness and blessing such as has only been known among isolated groups and people up until now.
God will be worshipped throughout the whole of the world. In Psalm 102:21,22 we are told that all peoples and kingdoms will worship the Lord. As people see the glory of the Kingdom, they will praise and worship the King. This was the chief end for which man was created: to enjoy God, and glorify him for ever. When the Kingdom has come in its fullness, God will receive true worship from all parts of the earth.
Universal peace will be an important characteristic of the Kingdom. This is described in Micah 4:3;
He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.
When disputes arise between nations, their leaders will submit them to the Lord. In this way they will be quickly resolved. Nations will not need expensive armaments, so they will be able to use their resources for productive purposes. Wars are the inevitable consequence of envy, hatred, deception and mistrust. As love, trust and truth permeate the whole world, wars will disappear, and peace will become normal. Christ is the Prince of Peace, so as the nations submit to him, peace will prevail (c.f. Zech 9:9-10).
Universal prosperity will be a consequence of universal peace. As nations stop building war machines, and resources are used wisely, prosperity will flow. This is also described by Micah.
Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid (Mic 4:4).
Every person will have his own source of income. Grapes and figs are not basic necessities, so it would seem that people will have a degree of prosperity which goes far beyond subsistence levels. This wealth will not be used for materialistic consumption, but to advance the kingdom of God.
The Bible promises material prosperity as one of the consequences of obedience to God (Deut 28:1-14). The nation which obeys the Lord will be blessed materially. When the whole world obeys him, universal prosperity will be the inevitable result. As the nations submit to God, he will bless them in all that they do. Economic and scientific advance will lead to an incredible development of natural resources. Education and health care will progress to such a degree, that the curse of poverty will be removed.
This prosperity in the Kingdom will be very different from prosperity in the modern world, which is dominated by selfishness, materialism and hedonism. Material goods will become much less important and life will be much more simple. There will be a great deal of sharing. Wealth will be both more abundant, and more evenly distributed. However, the main focus will be on serving the Lord and understanding creation (a true knowledge economy).
Material blessings are part of the promise of the covenant. As the covenant is accepted throughout the earth, the covenant blessing will extend to all people. This time of blessing, is spoken of in Psalm 67:6,7.
Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.
God will bless the people of the whole earth and the earth will yield a tremendous harvest of prosperity. The prophet Isaiah spoke of the same thing.
They will build houses and dwell in them, they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. They will not toil in vain.. for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants after them. Is 65:21-23.
This is another promise of material blessing on the earth. Each person's labour will be productive, and each one will enjoy the fruits of their labour. These are just two of numerous biblical promises of a time of material blessing upon the earth (e.g. Ps 72:16.17).
The coming of the Kingdom will bring fullness of health for most people. Sickness came into the world through the curse of sin (Deut 28). As sin is driven out of the world, sickness will be driven out with it. When the Kingdom of God achieves its fullness, there will be a tremendous reduction in the incidence of sickness. Jesus pointed to this time during his ministry on earth. His healing ministry was a manifestation of the Kingdom. When he died on the cross he made a much greater manifestation of healing possible. Isaiah 65:20 speaks of the time when this becomes a reality.
Never again will there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
he who dies at one hundred
will be thought a mere youth;
he who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
This is a promise that a time will come when no one will die as the result of sickness. (People still die at the end of their lives, so this must be referring to life on this earth.) Everyone will live out their full lives and doctors will be unemployed (for more on healing).
As part of this blessing the earth will be restored from the curse of sin. Paul spoke of this time in the letter to Romans 8:19-21.
The kingdom of God will endure forever. The Bible declares that God's throne will endure forever (Psalm 145:13). The Kingdom will not end, even when Christ returns. At that point Jesus will hand his Kingdom over to his father so that God might be all in all (1 Cor 15:28). He will rule for ever and ever.
The kingdom of God will not be a sinless state. Sinless perfection belongs only to the heavenly life. As long as there are some people in the world who have not received the gospel, there will be some sin in the world. And those who have become Christians will still have to work out their sanctification. This will always take time and as long as the world exists temptations will remain. Sin will not be entirely limited in the Kingdom, but it will be reduced to a minimum by the strong Christian influence on the earth. This will be so strong that even those who oppose Christ in their hearts, will be forced to go along with it. They will have to accommodate themselves to Christianity to survive in the world (just like many Christians now accommodate to the world to survive). The discipline and presence of the Spirit in the church will be so strong, that those who become Christians will grow quickly.
The vast majority of people will have willingly chosen to become Christians. The rest will have come under some Christian influence. This is vastly different from the Kingdom described by many of those who say it comes after the return of Christ. They believe that the nations will continue to be enemies of Christ at heart. It will only be his rod-of-iron rule that prevents evil from manifesting itself. Christ will be obeyed, but not willingly. The hearts of men will not be converted, they will just be submitting to a greater power. They will submit to Christ because they have no choice, but will remain rebellious. They will make a show of obedience, but hate him in their hearts. This is not an attractive view of the Kingdom. It makes Christ's victory a rather shallow one. Jesus does not want forced obedience, he wants men to love him and serve him in love.
One of the great passages in the Old Testament describing the glory of the Kingdom is Micah 4:1-5. It begins by saying that the mountain of the Lord will be established as chief among the mountains. The mountains represent the nations. Micah is saying that the kingdom of God will become greater than the nations. The nations will come into the Kingdom and say of the Lord,
He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths; The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (v 2)
Zion here represents the church. Micah is saying that the church will teach the nations the ways of the Lord, and how to obey his law. This will take place as the people of the nations are converted and choose to live in obedience to him.
This decision to obey Christ will mean a change in the civil government. When the authority of Christ is rejected, the civil government usually becomes the dominant authority in society. As the gospel reaches into the whole of the world, the governments of the nations will come under the authority of Christ. The church will not take the place of civil governments because they are instituted by God. But as those with political authority are converted and acknowledge Jesus as the Lord, they will begin to establish the law of God, as the law of their land. (The church may have a role in teaching how this can be done). The powers will no longer rule in their own interests, or in the interests of the majority, they will become true servants of God. They will rule according to his word, and for his glory. In Revelation 21:24 the kings of the earth are described at a time when they rule in obedience to God.
At present Christ rules only some aspects of human life even among Christians. When the Kingdom has come, he will rule every aspect of life. Christian standards will prevail in education, economics, politics, and social and cultural life, as well as in the way that individuals live. Christ will be the Lord of all.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustrationthe creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
The fall has had a terrible effect upon the earth. It has experienced decay and death as a result of the curse on Adam's sin. But as the influence of sin is eliminated from the earth, the curse of sin on the earth will be reduced. The earth will gradually be restored to something of the blessing which existed before the Fall. Creation itself will come into a glorious freedom, as Satan's influence is removed by the advance of the gospel.
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