Part I: The Heavenly Kingdom on Earth

Your Kingdom Come…

When Jesus’ disciples asked Him how to pray, what did Jesus say?

“In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
(Matt. 6:9-10)

Have you ever wondered what this means? Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, what are we asking for? We are asking our Father to bring His heavenly kingdom to earth. Then we will have heaven on earth! Then everything that is done here on earth will be His will, just as everything now done in heaven is His will. That means no more crime, no more violence, no more cruelty, no more selfishness, no more hatred, no more terror, no more suffering, and so on and on.

Today the daily news is dominated by trouble. Fear of war, terror, disease and violence plague every country and nation. But the promises of God are bright and growing brighter because they are getting nearer and nearer to the time when they will be fulfilled. The Bible tells us Jesus is coming to set up the heavenly Kingdom, and right here on earth.

How can we be sure? Just look at the Lord’s prayer again and think about it: These are Jesus’ own words. This is Jesus’ own promise, a promise repeated all through the Bible. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

That Kingdom is coming!

The Kingdom on Earth

Where will Jesus’ Kingdom be? Jesus said in His prayer that heaven would come to earth. He also said in His Sermon on the Mount that the meek will “inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Six times in Psalm 37, David said the righteous would inherit the earth (Psalm 37:9, 11, 22, 27, 29, 34). Jesus in the book of Revelation says of Christ and the saints, “They shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10). Jesus will reign from “sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:8).

Dozens of times in Scripture the people of God are promised the earth for their inheritance.

Why “The Heavenly Kingdom on Earth”?

The central topic of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is the Kingdom of God. We are calling it The Heavenly Kingdom on Earth because that is how the Bible presents

it: a kingdom, located on earth, planned and authorized from heaven. It is called by both terms, Kingdom of Heaven, and Kingdom of God, occasionally the heavenly Kingdom. But always the location of the Kingdom is on earth. The Kingdom of God will be a worldwide sovereignty backed by the authority and sponsorship of the God of Heaven. Our Lord said in the prayer He taught His disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

The heavenly Kingdom on earth is the great why of history. Why did God create the earth and people it? There is only one answer in Scripture: “He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited” (Isa. 45:18).

How can we learn about that Kingdom and the plan of God? Our only source of information is God’s written Word, the Bible. God has given us

Why the “Kingdom of Heaven”?

When God’s will is done on earth as it is now done in heaven, heavenly conditions will exist right here on earth. We will literally have heaven on earth! Earth is going to become part of heaven. We don’t have to go anywhere; heaven will come to us. This earth is going to be annexed to heaven. Just as a city grows until it takes in the suburbs, so God’s kingdom of heaven is growing to take in the earth!

The Kingdom is said to be the Kingdom of heaven because Jesus is coming with authority from heaven. Jesus’ kingdom will be the Kingdom of God-God is the ultimate authority behind it. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

His Word so that we can know the great why behind history, so we can know where all is headed, and what the outcome will be.

What Shall We Preach?

Jesus Preached the Kingdom

When Jesus came preaching and teaching, His subject was the Kingdom of God. His first recorded words are: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).

We read in the gospel of Matthew that “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23). Again, “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 9:35).

The gospel of Mark recorded the same, that “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is

Only God Knows the Future

All through the Old Testament, God’s prophets told about the coming Kingdom. God revealed this knowledge to His prophets, and they told it to their people, or wrote it down, and it has been preserved for us in the Bible. Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel all foretold different aspects of the coming Kingdom. These are writings we can depend on. They will come to pass just as surely as God lives. This is the promise of God Himself: “But truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Num. 14:21).

fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).

Luke said it again: “He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God” (Luke 8:1). Again, “When the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing” (Luke 9:11).

The coming Kingdom was on Jesus’ mind—else why was it the subject of His preaching wherever He went? All future life centers around it, and all future blessedness depends on being a part of it.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount focused on those who would be blessed in the Kingdom. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.…Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, 10).

He speaks especially of the standard of righteousness that is the entrance requirement: “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

The Kingdom:
The Theme of the Lord’s Prayer

When our Lord taught His disciples to pray, He gave them—and us—a deep insight into the Father’s plan. And He put it in simple words to remind us each time we pray that this is the plan of God and we can be part of it! of why we are here and where we are going. And each person who would repeat that prayer through the succeeding centuries could be inspired with Jesus’ most revealing description of the Kingdom.

In spite of our Lord’s design, this prayer has probably been repeated thousands of times by people who had no idea of its inspiring message: “After this manner pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” Here is the core of Jesus’ teaching. Does He mean that we go to heaven when we die? or that He comes to take the “good people” away? That is not what He says. God’s will, He says, is going to be done right here on earth just as it is now being done in heaven.

Here is the ultimate reality God has planned. We do not have to go anywhere. Heaven will come to us. Earth is going to be taken in by heaven. Earth will become a heavenly place. Just as a city expands to take in its suburbs, so heaven is going to take in the earth.

All history is moving in one direction, toward the establishing of this Heavenly Kingdom here on earth. Jesus will be the King, Jerusalem will be the capitol, and the whole world will become the eternal Kingdom of Christ, the Heavenly Kingdom on Earth.

Do we wonder why Jesus said that seeking the Kingdom should be first on our minds, everything else second? “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Can we wait until Jesus comes and simply ask for admittance at the door, so to speak? Listen to Jesus’ warning: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). We must do the will of the Father-and that doing means a drastic change in the way we live every day.

Jesus promised His little flock that it would be “your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32). Looking ahead He foresaw the time when “Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets” would be gathered “in the kingdom of God…They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:28-29).

After Jesus ate the Last Supper with His disciples, He said that He would not eat of it again “Until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16). It was a rite to be perpetuated until the coming of His Kingdom.

When Jesus was before Pilate, He affirmed that He was indeed a King. But He also clarified the meaning of His statement by saying: “My kingdom is not of this world [the present cosmos, present arrangement]. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). His Kingdom was yet future.

“Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… ” When Jesus talked to Nicodemus about being born again, He linked its meaning to the Kingdom of God. “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5).

Even after His resurrection, Jesus was still preaching the Kingdom. We read in Acts 1:3 that He also presented Himself alive to His disciples “by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

Jesus’ Parables Teach About the Kingdom

Teaching about the Kingdom was the purpose behind the parables. The parables are invaluable to us because they tell us so much about what the Kingdom will be like, who will be there, and what we must do to be part of it.

Why did Jesus talk to the multitude in parables? Because we get more from a picture than from mere words. Word pictures communicate where simple words get lost. That is why Jesus said to His disciples, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables” (Luke 8:10).

The coming Kingdom was the topic of many of Jesus’ parables. For example,

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field” (Matt. 13:24).

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field” (Matt. 13:31).

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Matt. 13:33).

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matt. 13:44).

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls” (Matt. 13:45).

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind” (Matt. 13:47).

“Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (Matt. 13:52).

“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard” (Matt. 20:1).

“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son” (Matt. 22:2).

“The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom” (Matt. 25:1).

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them” (Matt. 25:14).

“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground” (Mark 4:26).

“The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”

Jesus’ Disciples Preached the Kingdom

Jesus sent His disciples out to “preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:2). When a would-be disciple hesitated to follow, Jesus said “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60).

When the disciples started preaching, we read that Philip “preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12).

Paul Preached the Kingdom

After Paul and Barnabas were preaching and Paul had been stoned and dragged out of the city for dead, the next day before leaving town they strengthened “the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:19-22).

In Acts 19, Paul was at Ephesus, and again we read that his subject was the Kingdom of God. “He went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). When he was leaving Ephesus and was reflecting on the work that he had done among them, he commented that he had gone among them “preaching the kingdom of God” (Acts 20:25). At the close of the Book of the Acts, Paul was a prisoner, confined to a rented house. He was not free to go, but people came to him to learn, and his message was still the same. We read that many “came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28:23). This went on for a period of “two whole years” during which he “received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31).

If we look at Paul’s Epistles, we find that the Kingdom of God is the focal point: to enter it, inherit it, receive it, be counted worthy of it, suffer for it, be preserved for it. “Do you not know

 The kingdom of God was the focal
point of all the Apostle Paul’s preaching
that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). At the end of his discourse about the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he tells how our mortal bodies must be changed before we can “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50).

In his letter to the Galatians Paul mentions every kind of evil, and says “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). He writes the same message to the Ephesians, that “no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:5). In his letter to the Colossians, he commends his “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” (Col. 4:11). In his letter to the Thessalonians, he appeals to them to “walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12), and in his second letter he pleads that they may be “counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer” (2 Thess. 1:5).

In his letters to Timothy, he speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ, “who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom (2 Tim. 4:1). And at the close of his letter he appeals that the Lord will “deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18).

James Preached the Kingdom

In the book of James, the author again focuses on those who will inherit the Kingdom. “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5).

The Kingdom in:
Peter, Hebrews and Revelation

The Apostle Peter also makes the Kingdom the goal of all Christian living and service. Believers must keep diligently adding to their store of virtue, adding faith, courage, knowledge, endurance, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness. Why? “For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-11).

The author of Hebrews tells about the Second Advent of Jesus and the authority He will claim, comparing it with the giving of the law on Sinai. Spectacular as that event was, it is nothing beside the future time when the voice of God will “shake not only the earth but also heaven” (political powers of earth). Then he comments: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:26, 28 NIV).

Much of the book of Revelation is focused on the events that will bring in the Heavenly Kingdom, when Jesus and His co-rulers set up their new government with headquarters at Jerusalem, and all the nations of earth hand their sovereignty over to Him. And the Bible closes, looking forward to the arrival of the King: “Even so come, Lord Jesus.”

Introduced in the creation allegory in Genesis, the Kingdom of God is the focus of Bible prophecy. The Kingdom of Israel was a miniature replica of it. David used it as the theme of many of his psalms. Isaiah’s prophecies reveal countless facts about its people, its territory, and its government. The prophet Daniel, interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2) and his own dream (Daniel 7) tells us where the Kingdom fits into the picture of history. After the rise and fall of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, it will be the fifth and final world Kingdom.

The Kingdom was the theme of Jesus’ ministry and the main teaching of His Apostles. And finally, in the message which Jesus sent back to earth after He had gone to heaven, He told us even more of how the Kingdom will come into being.

This Kingdom is not a vision, it is not a dream. It will be a real, tangible, political entity on earth, extending from sea to sea, over every continent, affecting every person in every country on earth. And this Kingdom will “stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).

When God has arranged that such a large part of His Book should focus on the plan for this Kingdom, shall we occupy ourselves with our mundane interests and pay no attention? Or shall we take the opportunity God is holding out, to be part of that coming Kingdom, and find out what we must do to be there!

Study and compare, and you will be amazed at what the Bible tells about the future of our world: the heavenly Kingdom on earth!