The Word of God is rife with references to the kingdom of God (otherwise known as the “kingdom of heaven”), yet do Christians understand what they’re reading? Contrary to the notion that Christ will come back and set up an earthly kingdom for 1,000 years, the Bible seems to point out that the kingdom of God is an internal state of being.
The kingdom of God, in which the saints live and reign with Christ, refers to the local new Testament church on this earth. This kingdom was prophesied in Daniel and Jeremiah:
What prophecies point to the kingdom of God?
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
“Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
“Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, says the Lord:
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
When was the kingdom of God inaugurated?
So the kingdom of heaven / kingdom of God, as prophesied in Daniel, was inaugurated in New Testament times at the beginning of the ministries of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist.
Jesus said, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it.”
“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.”
They had been baptized. We then read in
“Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
“For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and you, when you had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.”
The kingdom of God is a present reality.
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
“But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.'”
“Per Jesus, ‘And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father has appointed unto me; That you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'”
“Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:”
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”
What is the nature of the kingdom of God?
We understand the kingdom of God as an internal event; not a physical, earthly kingdom.
“Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: ‘May your peace abound! It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. How great are His signs and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion is from generation to generation.'”
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’
“Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?’
“Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.'”
(Remember His words to Pilate; it is a kingdom not of this earth.)
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here.'”
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Here Paul speaks of the kingdom of God being in terms of the regenerative heart in a Christian.
Per Paul, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:”
I Corinthians 15:50
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.”
How long will this millennial reign last?
“The Lord said unto my Lord, ‘Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.'”
“Thou made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:”
I Corinthians 15:25
“For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.”
Additional references to the kingdom of God
I Corinthians 6:9-10
“Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
“Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“For this you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
I Thessalonians 2:12
“That you would walk worthy of God, who has called you unto his kingdom and glory.”
II Thessalonians 1:5
“Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer:”
Dunson, Ben. Jun 13, 2015. The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament: The Prophetic Hope. Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/kingdom-god-old-testament-prophetic-hope/