The Old Testament ends on a note of hope: the return of the prophet Elijah, who would restore the status of Israel as the holy nation of God. But for 400 years after that, there is no sign from God.
Then the silence was broken by the voice of the prophet John the Baptist: the promised harbinger of the Messiah. He made the amazing announcement-“Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
So we have the first reference to the Kingdom of God arriving on earth in the form of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. The time had arrived for a New Covenant; the redeeming rule of God was to spread into the world. This is the story of Jesus in the New Testament. The focus of this story is the Kingdom of God.
Most scholars agree that the central message brought by Jesus is the ‘Kingdom of God.’ There is sufficient Biblical evidence for this fact.
For example, Gospel of Mark begins an account of Jesus and his mission saying that Jesus has arrived in Galilee announcing that the Kingdom of God was at hand and called for all to repent and have faith in Gospel.
There is a similar tone in the summary of the Ministry of Jesus by Mathew that Jesus was travelling all through Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing all the people. Luke also adds o the theme by quoting Jesus as saying that He was sent for the purpose of preaching the Kingdom of God.
What Is The Kingdom Of God?
The word Kingdom in Hebrew is Malkut, and its Greek version is Basileia. The meaning of both is reign or rule. Both terms have a dynamic meaning and refer to bringing to bear the power of God.
The prayer given by Jesus invoking God’s will (Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as in heaven) implies that we are desiring the exercise of God’s authority on earth.
When John the Baptist announced the arrival of the Kingdom of God, what he meant was that the rule of God was about to burst into the world in the form of Jesus, the Messiah. By announcing the Kingdom of God, Jesus meant that through him, God was implementing his authority and power against the evil in the world.
The Kingdom of God had both arrived as well as expected to come. In Jesus, God had broken into the world by defeating sin and death. When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about the coming of the Kingdom of God, he said that there would be no signs since the Kingdom of God was already in their midst.
By this, he meant that there would be no signs and wonders in the coming of the Kingdom, and it was already in their midst. Without a doubt, Jesus was referring to himself. God’s Kingdom was embodied in Jesus and his every word and deed.
Jesus delivered, healed and resurrected and his miracles were potent proofs of the Kingdom of God. The rule of God was exemplified in Jesus. He was autobasileia- the embodiment of the Kingdom.
At the same time, there is a reference to future manifestation of the Kingdom. The apocalyptic accounts in the synoptic gospels are certain proofs of the second coming of Jesus and final setting up of the rule of God in the world.
For instance, in Mathew, there is an account that Jesus will return in his glory and separate people to his right and left according to his judgment. There are similar accounts in John and in the book of his Revelations.
The Kingdom will come in a spiritual, hidden form. The nature of the kingdom of God is explained by Jesus in his parables:
In the parable of the four soils (Mathew 13): The word of God would be preached and would produce fruits according to the condition of the hearts of the listener. The Kingdom of God will not get rid of evil but like the seed will produce different fruits like different types of soils.
In the parable of the wheat and tares (Mathew 13): The kingdom of God co-exists with evil in the current world and the two will be separated on the Day of Judgment.
Parables of the mustard seed and leaven (Mathew 13): Like the mustard seed, the Kingdom of God has entered the world in a humble, imperceptible form, but it will grow into a tree and cover the whole earth. The Kingdom of God is also hidden like leaven in the dough. It will be hidden but effective. Both these parables teach the inestimable value of the Kingdom of God and that it is the greatest good of humanity.
Apart from the parables, the Kingdom of God is simply the cross. On the cross, Christ, the manifestation of God vanquished death and defeated Satan. The Kingdom of God is both in the present and the future.
Jesus also refers to the Kingdom of God as that obtained by humility. We are all children of God, and if we want to be part of the Kingdom, we need to have the humility, like that of little children. Jesus says that unless one is converted and becomes like a child, you will not be allowed into the Kingdom of God. The greatest in the kingdom of God is one who humbles himself like a child.
According to Paul, the Kingdom of God is not drinking and eating but joy, peace, and righteousness manifest in the Holy Spirit. Seek the kingdom of God first and everything else will be given to you, says the New Testament.
The role of Jesus in the Kingdom of God is as follows: He inaugurated the kingdom. He is the embodiment of the kingdom. He gives the purpose of the kingdom. He declares the coming of the kingdom. He demonstrates the kingdom. He puts the kingdom into action. Jesus transforms the kingdom, and Jesus will return to the kingdom.