1 February 2022
This eternal plan of God unfolds right from the beginning of the Bible – the kingdom of God is God’s plan to reunite heaven and earth, to usher in to individual lives, and human society as a whole, the rule and direction of the living God as a reality for everyday life and experience.
But as we look at the current situation in the world and as we face the various increasing claims and counterclaims about the activity and reality of God in our world and in our future, we may wonder whether God’s plan is still unfolding. We will not unravel claims about the future and the kingdom of God unless we immerse ourselves in the full richness of the Bible’s thinking, and its response to bothe controversy and untruth. God has carefully planned and prepared the unfolding of His kingdom – the kingdom is dynamic,each stage of its reality has been unveiled at God’s chosen moments in salvation-history. Yet while the teaching on the kingdom has been fully revealed by God in the Bible, its reality unfolds still, and is moving gradually and unquenchably towards its climax – the second coming of the Lord Jesus and the fact that God is coming to rule.
The kingdom of God has arrived – in Jesus – but the climax and the best is yet to come. In the meantime, believers (kingdom people) must learn to live lives fit for a King’s rule. Privileges and responsibilities belong together. Radical discipleship, signs and wonders, social responsibility, personal spirituality – all are subservient to the grand design. The Lord of history, who is the Lord of glory, wants a people for Himself, to be agents of His blessing to the whole earth. This is the purpose of the unfolding kingdom – by it, the future of the whole world is assured, and God’s master plan will finally come to completion. In that day, it will be said in triumph: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and HIs Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever’ (Rev. 11:15).
God’s desire to have a guiding role in human affairs is a challenge to man and to the way he lives his life. Man would rather be in control of his own life – the sovereignty of God is a direct challenge to the unregenerate moral outlook of man – his lifestyle, concerns and priorities. It is simply a question of who rules? It is part of our fallen condition to be resistant to the purposes and directions of God, for fallen humanity instinctively aims to go it alone. The God who reigns has great plans for us, for the church and for the world, but unless we submit to the reign of the sovereign God and the lordship of Christ, they would not materialise.
The Bible is a historical book – yet it is relevant today. The historical nature of the Bible lies not only in real events which took place at a specific time and space, but also in the fact that God often taught His people about Himself and HIs concerns for them in the light of those historical situations. As the people lived through an event with God, so their Lord would teach them about Himself in relation to that specific happening. This is just one facet of the rich educative process of revelation which the Lord uses throughout the BIble to teach His people about His nature, ways and will. The events however would often be painful moments in the history of God’s people. The Bible’s great affirmations about God’s power and goodness are often made against such a background of pain and suffering. We must not miss this truth today – what is happening in the world today is still part of God’s unfolding of His eternal master plan – we can only discern it clearly if we receive His revelation through the ministry of His Spirit.
As we look at the state of immorality, the rebellion, the anarchy among many today, let us not ignore what was written by Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasible, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,…(2 Tim. 3:1-4). Does this not describe in detail the state of many today, even among those who claim to be believers?
Ponder over what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24: “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:4-14)
Jesus was responding to His disciples who enquired, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age”. Notice what the Lord Jesus said in His reply to His disciples regarding events before His second coming and before the end of times. It is as if Jesus is describing the events happening today – the persecution and martyrdom of many believers, the falling away of many from the faith, the lack of love and care among many, even among so-called believers, the false teachings, the false prophets, even false Christs, the hate against His followers, the physical upheavals in the world, the famines, the earthquakes, the wars and acrimony between nations….and so on. The Lord told His disciples not to be alarmed – these must take place; even sufferings, persecutions, hate and deaths should not alarm God’s people – we are to remain faithful, steadfast, unafraid – we are to stick to the narrow way and not be led astray – we are to endure, persevere to the end and to proclaim the truth and the gospel relentlessly.
History speaks today; what is happening today will be history tomorrow. God is in control; He does reign, in spite of the present picture of turmoil and uncertainty. We see how God delivered Israel in many trying and threatening events in her history – the God who is in control of the lives of His people will reveal Himself to all men everywhere as the God who reigns. Even unbelievers, including kings and nations, have to bow down ultimately to our God the Almighty. God spoke through His prophets to calamitous situations in Israels’ history; with HIs overall control of history, the Lord declares that the distress of His people is nearing its end – this same God is coming to our world to make an end of evil. HIstory will one day come to an end and God will be there, in control. When the kingdom comes in all its power and glory, it will be the beginning of something altogether new!