The Coming of the Kingdom of God

Luke 17: 20-21

DIG: In answering the Pharisees’ question, what does Yeshua say about the kingdom of God, as to when, how, or where it is? Does Messiah view the Kingdom as an inward, spiritual reality “within” people? Or an outward, social manifestation “among” them? Is this Kingdom present in everyone? How does it dwell among some but not in others?

REFLECT: In what ways is the kingdom of God within you today? How is it a present reality? Are there times when the present reality of the Kingdom is more difficult to feel? What should we be basing our belief about the Kingdom on? Titus calls the return of our Lord the blessed hope, which is the appearing of the Shechinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah (Titus 2:13 CJB). How does the reality of that affect your life in any way?

The Pharisees in Perea, near the village where Jesus cleansed the ten lepers (see Id - Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy), were chagrined by the Lord’s commendation of the grateful Samaritan and His indirect but effective thrust at the ingratitude of the other nine Jews. With a contemptuous sneer, they approached Him with a question of when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus replied: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20-21). The Pharisees expected a physical Kingdom whose beginning could be dated. Christ, however, replies first by noting that He brings a spiritual Kingdom, a spiritual rulership consisting of a new kind of relationship among believers. But to His talmidim, He expands on the subject of the Kingdom and points to the far eschatological time when He will indeed return and rule (see Jp – The Earth Will Mourn When They See the Son of Man Coming on the Clouds). Clearly the phrase must be translated in your midst, or among you. The implication is that the kingdom of God is coming in the person of Yeshua the Messiah. The King has arrived; thus, the kingdom is present.

But Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees at this point. There is no way that Jesus thought that the Kingdom was within them. In fact, He thought just the opposite. He said: Woe to you, teachers of the Torah and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness (Matt 23:27-28).

But in addition to a far eschatological time, Jesus claimed that the kingdom of God was being revealed during His lifetime on earth. As Isaiah had prophesied: Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy (Isaiah 35:5-6a). After being accused of being demon possessed (see Ek – It is only by Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons, that This Fellow Drives out Demons), He responded by saying: If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (Matthew 12:28). The clear emphasis’ on the ministry in His preaching and in His Isaiah 35 miracles was that the kingdom of God was breaking into this world.

So is the kingdom of God spiritual and figurative, or physical and literal? Is the kingdom of God present? Or is the kingdom of Heaven future? The answer to all of these questions is yes. There is a sense that the kingdom of God is here already, and there is a sense that it is not yet here. There are two stages of the Kingdom. It was inaugurated in Jesus’ person and ministry, yet the kingdom of God will be consummated when Messiah returns in glory (see my commentary on Revelation Ew – He is Dressed in a Robe Dipped in Blood, And His Name is the Word of God). Then Christ, as King, will rule throughout all eternity (Luke 1:31-33). Therefore, as a result, we now live in the between time.

 

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