Recently, during Holy Week, I attended a one hour Bible study (5 mornings) under my church pastor and a half dozen members of the church. Naturally, we were discussing things like the Resurrection and the Kingdom of Heaven. One member asked if the Old Testament said anything about the Resurrection!
I mentioned Ezekiel’s valley of dried bones (I thought we all knew the song about the bones that are connected) and Job’s statement of faith which I misquoted as, “I know my redeemer liveth and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” It was set to music by Handel in his masterwork, “The Messiah.” There was some discussion about the Kingdom, but it was wishy washy and I must confess my views were so different that I was unable to summon the courage to confess them.
Christians have been taught by the church that the Kingdom is within our hearts. This is based on the infamous passage in Luke 17: 20 & 21, which in a mistranslation says, “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo here! or Lo there! For the Kingdom of God is within you.” This is better translated , “The King is among you.” Further there is much evidence in the Bible that the Kingdom is in the physical world, but hidden.
I personally believe that the Kingdom of Heaven has been taken by Christians over the years to mean, The Kingdom IN Heaven. So, in our funerals, we refer to the departed as having gone to a better place and start talking to the departed as though they were listening from Heaven. This in spite of the fact that Jesus tells us otherwise in John 3: 13, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” Also, Jesus tells Mary not to touch Him, immediately after His Resurrection in the garden, indicating that He had not yet ascended to the Father. This can only mean that during the three days and nights that He was dead, He was NOT in heaven!
So, where and what is the Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God? To offer a complete answer would require re-writing a large chunk of the Bible. You see, the Bible is all about Jesus, the Kingdom and God’s plan for the redemption of His creation, the earth and everything in it including man. God based His plan on His friend Abraham (not Jewish) from whom He built a special nation. Through Isaac’s sacrifice on the altar, all his progeny was blessed and we know through the promises to Abraham that they were to be a blessing to the whole world. Then, through Jacob, Isaac’s son, and Jacob’s twelve sons the nation was formed. The nation was constituted at Mount Sinai where the laws of the nation were given to Moses and Moses, Aaron and his two sons and seventy elders went up the mount and dined with the Lord, the marriage supper if you wish.
God’s plan was to teach all nations of His laws by being the perfect example, thereby enjoying the prosperity and happiness emanating from that perfection. He knew it would fail! Therefore, He provided His only son to redeem the nation BEFORE THE WORLD WAS!!! His plan will be executed when Jesus returns to EARTH to RULE with His REDEEMED PEOPLE. Isaiah states that they shall be known as administrators of God. This is the time we get to rule with Jesus here on earth as we have been praying for 2000 years! “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
So, the Kingdom will be revealed when the Lord Jesus returns to take up his reign. He assures us with these words from John 14: 1 – 4, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, ye may be also.”
II Esdras 7: 32 gives us further assurance with these words, “And the earth shall restore those that are asleep in her, and so shall the dust those that dwell in silence, and the SECRET PLACES shall deliver those souls that were committed unto them”. So, while our spirits do not enjoy playing harps or singing in the presence of the Lord God Almighty, they are nevertheless in the care of the Father in the “secret places.” Once again Jesus gives us the example; He said, on the cross, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” And, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”
I could add extensive descriptions of the Kingdom on earth, ruled by Jesus, but you can find them in the Bible in Isaiah and the Book of Revelation. We do know the animal kingdom will be at peace, with the lion eating straw like the calf and that a little child shall lead them. We know that new Jerusalem which Jesus has built, shall descend to the earth forming the new capital of the Kingdom and that no iniquity will be tolerated in the Kingdom.
Micah 4:1-2, “But in the last days, it shall come to pass, that the mountain (Kingdom) of the House of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains (nations) and it shall be exalted above the hills (nations) AND PEOPLE SHALL FLOW UNTO IT. And many nations shall come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the House of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” There! God’s plan fulfilled!
Finally, let me leave you with this thought. Luke 12:32, “Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” Hallelujah !!!