When the Lord taught us how to pray, the first request He told us to make was for the establishment of the kingdom: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:9,10).
The kingdom He had in mind here is not the present spiritual one, which He said “is [already] within you” (Luke 17:21). The one He enjoined us to speed up in prayer is the physical, earthly kingdom of which the prophet wrote, “In the days of these kings [the political leaders of the “latter days”] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom” (Daniel 2:44). It was the same one the Lord had in mind when He said to His disciples, “And I appoint unto you a kingdom , as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Luke 22:29-30). These words of the Lord actually drive home the distinction I am trying to make between the two kingdoms, for as the apostle wrote, “The [present spiritual] kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”(Romans 14:17).
Despite the high premium that the Lord placed on this coming physical kingdom, it is unsettling to see how present-day believers are careless about it. We have become so occupied with the demands of the present time – some of them quite legitimate – that we are falling into the very trap the Lord warned us of: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting [that is, overindulgence], and drunkenness, and cares of this [present] life” (Luke 21:34). But it was actually the assurance and hope of the coming physical kingdom that gave our Lord greater courage and reason to endure the pain of His death. We are told, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). That’s how it should be with us, too! The assurance that we would, by and by, reign with Him in His kingdom should encourage and strengthen us in the face of present troubles and uncertainties. It should give us that critical something that we have been repeatedly told is an integral requirement for real accomplishment: FOCUS. And in this particular case of our faith, the promised rewards are indescribable! The apostle wrote, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Again, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Wow! The great 19th Century preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers,” takes it up with characteristic style: “Courage, you that prayerfully work and toil for Christ with success of the very smallest kind, it shall not be so always; better times are before you. Your eyes cannot see the blissful future: borrow the telescope of faith; wipe the misty breath of your doubts from the glass; look through it and behold THE COMING GLORY”! [Emphases added.]
Now, there is the appealing teaching that is gaining ground and influencing the thoughts and actions of many Christians. I am speaking of the so-called “Kingdom Now” doctrine. Now, I must admit that there are different shades to it, and some actually advocate some deep Biblical truths. But the worrisome version is that which teaches that Christians should venture into, influence and eventually take control of all facets of the present world, and thereby establish the promised kingdom. Quite impressive, but an error all the same, and a very dangerous one at that. That’s what’s called “jumping the gun.” And as we know from our sports races from which we get the expression, the consequence could be fatal (see also Hebrews 12:1; I Corinthians 9:24-27).
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a place, even a duty, for Christians to influence and improve their environment, and indeed some will do great exploits in their respective fields in the present time. But it should primarily be for the purpose of advancing and fulfilling the purpose of the present spiritual kingdom, the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). We’ll do well to remember that there was a time when the people saw the exploits and potentials of our Lord – yes, the Master Himself! – and were going make Him king. What did He do? He went AWOL! (See John 6:14,15.) It was a trap. Right at the end of that former ministry, He was singing the same tune: “My kingdom is not of this [present] world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight” (John 18:36).
Try as we may, we would never convert or win the present world system. That’s one mission on which the powers of Heaven will not back us up. Those who may appear to do so might actually be the ones who have fallen victim to the shenanigans of the appearing “fancy fake” (the impersonator of the coming King) and are wallowing in the predicted apostasy, the “falling away” that is to precede the promised kingdom. Yes, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [of the Lord’s return to set up the kingdom] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3; read the whole chapter and note verse 8).
The best we could do is take as much of the present world system – humanly and materially, as the Lord would give grace – and use the same to increase and do service in the present spiritual kingdom of our Lord. That’s the way we are to invest in and prepare for the establishment of the promised kingdom in due time. Indeed, one thing that I believe should confirm the dispensation of this kingdom to us is the fact that the personal, bodily presence of the Lord is imperative. This is evident from the “Golden Promise” of the kingdom.
Did I say something about investing in the coming kingdom? Yes! As I will write about next week, that’s the greatest investment you could buy! (See my article Pound Wise, which has been published since this article was first written). So keep the faith, and remain posted.
God bless you always.
In the King’s Service,
David Olagoke Olawoyin.