The Kingdom of God has a fastness and slowness to it. A fastness in that, it takes a quick and resolute decision to accept it so that, ‘The kingdom of God is near you’ (Luke 10:9). But the complete manifestation of it takes time so that, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation’ (17:v20). Those who ‘thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once’ (19:v11) come into a space of doubt, impatience, and faintheartedness. They tend to be lax and undecided in their spiritual journey. What ends up happening is that they become shaken because ‘a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways’ (James 1:8). Their faith wavers and eventually dismantles because, ‘If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all’ (Isaiah 7:9). Even when people do not stand in their faith and remain in unbelief, ‘Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near’ (Luke 10:11). So, to the Believing, the Kingdom of God is near you because ‘the kingdom of God is within you’ (17:v21), and to all, even to the unbelieving, the Kingdom of God is near. For the Kingdom of God is not dependent on popular opinion or majority vote, it simply was, is, and forever will be – whether we accept it or not.
The coming of the Kingdom of God is not based upon our preference or prediction, it simply has to be made manifest ‘on earth, as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10). In fact, ‘the kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it’ (11:v12). The way the Kingdom of God advances is not by human force as we know, but rather ‘like a mustard seed’ (Luke 13:18), or yeast that ‘worked all through the dough’ (v21) – undetected, yet active. ‘Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how’ (Mark 4:27). Once someone accepts the ‘Word of God’ (Revelation 19:13) because ‘the word is near you’ (Romans 8:10), the Kingdom of God starts building within them. While the Kingdom of God is an invisible and internal force, it is also a ‘visible’ (Matthew 24:27) and external force, because it is coming to the world in full display. That is why Jesus says, ‘When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’ (Luke 21:28). Jesus was not talking about mere speculations or predictions, but actual events that will serve as preludes to the coming of His Kingdom. These events include the implementation of the underway Beast system, loss of Truth, widespread persecution of Believers, global conflicts, natural disasters, pestilence, and more. ‘All these are the beginning of birth pains’ (Matthew 24:8), until the Kingdom of God fully manifests.
In order to detect the coming of God’s Kingdom, there lies a caveat: ‘Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth’ (Luke 21:34). A watchfulness is needed not just to maintain the nearness to God’s Kingdom in our individual life, but also to detect its coming upon the whole earth. Thus, ‘Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man’ (v36). God even tells Daniel, ‘None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand’ (Daniel 12:10). A great divide will ensue at the coming of the Kingdom of God – those worthy to stand before the Son of Man, and those who are not. ‘All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left’ (Matthew 25:32-33).
‘Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all’ (Luke 17:26-27). Jesus compares the coming of His kingdom to the days of Noah where life was business as usual. Wickedness became the order of the day- with the bad being called good, and the good being called bad. Since ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God’ (Genesis 6:10), he was able to foresee the coming disaster and prepare well for it. Jesus also compares the coming of His Kingdom as ‘in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all’ (Luke 17:28-29). Before God destroyed Sodom, Abraham pleaded with Him for the City because his nephew, Lot, lived there. And so God tells Him, ‘For the sake of ten (righteous people), I will not destroy it’ (Genesis 18:32). It was only after Lot and his family were taken out that there was basis to destroy Sodom, which had only remained with wicked people.
Similarly, in the coming of God’s Kingdom, ‘we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them (the dead in Christ) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Those who will be left behind will be destroyed. ‘A third of mankind was killed by the plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur that came out of their mouths’ (Revelation 9:18). ‘The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood- idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts’ (v20-21). Those who refuse to repent even after seeing the devastation of the third await a punishment not known. John is told, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down’ (10:v4). However, ‘There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets’ (v6-7). Although the nature of their destruction is unknown, Jesus, who ‘with justice he judges and makes war’ (19:v11), ‘is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants’ (Isaiah 24:1).
This then begs the same question someone asked Jesus, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’ (Luke 13:23). Jesus responds to this by revealing that admission to the Kingdom of God is not about the who, but the when they enter it. So, He replies, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from’ (v24-25). For the kingdom of God is time-bound, and only those who ‘seek (it) first‘ (Matthew 6:33) above all things, and accept Jesus as Lord will enter it. The right time to accept and remain in Christ is: ‘as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’ (Hebrews 3:13). The longer one takes to decide whether to follow Jesus, the less they will feel like they need Him, because sin uses that opportunity to harden and deceive them. That is why Joshua urged the people, ‘But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15). So, the kingdom of God needs one to decide quickly because when it comes, Jesus ‘will see that they get justice, and quickly’ (Luke 18:8). For the Kingdom of God will appear suddenly! ‘In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet’ (1 Corinthians 15:52).
‘Remember him – before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it’ ~ Ecclesiastes 12:6-7
‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever’ ~ Revelation 10:15