Having asked ‘What is the Kingdom of God?‘ let’s now explore four aspects of God’s kingdom that set it apart from all other ‘kingdoms’ – human institutions of all kinds.
1. The kingdom of God lasts forever
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your rule is for all generations. (Psalm 145:13)
This characteristic alone makes the kingdom of God unique – it lasts forever and therefore never comes to an end. Unlike every human kingdom the kingdom of God can never decline or pass away. This is vitally important and should affect our understanding of world history and the impermanent nature of human institutions. For example, the Roman Empire lasted several hundred years and ruled much of the known world. The Soviet Union dominated much of Eastern Europe. The British Empire stretched across vast areas of the earth. They lasted a long time; now they are gone. The Nazi Third Reich was meant to last a thousand years; it lasted twelve.
This also applies to financial organisations, kings, presidents and prime ministers; they rise and fall, they come and go. Why? Because they are human, and all have an inbuilt impermanence. The kingdom of God stands in stark contrast; it will outlast every human kingdom, because it’s the kingdom of God. God is everlasting and infinite (unlimited); therefore his kingdom is everlasting and infinite. God will last forever; so will his kingdom!
2. The kingdom of God increases forever
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:7)
The kingdom of God not only lasts forever; it also increases forever. The kingdom doesn’t outlast everything else by the skin of its teeth, like a boxer who’s fought twelve rounds and scrapes to victory on points while battered and bruised, out on his feet. Or like an army that secures victory but is severely depleted with the eventual outcome uncertain to the end. The kingdom is not the last man standing.
It lasts forever in increasing measures and dimensions because it’s the kingdom of the infinite, unlimited God. This also means that the kingdom will continue to increase even in the coming age. It’s not confined to this time before Jesus comes again; it will continue to exist and continue to increase even in the age to come. The coming of Jesus in glory as the King of the kingdom won’t mean the end of the kingdom; it will herald the beginning of a major increase of the kingdom. The very DNA of the kingdom is for it to grow and grow!…
3. The kingdom of God is unshakeable
Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. (Hebrews 12:28)
This aspect of the kingdom should fill us with immense confidence and give us a sense of complete security. The kingdom can’t be shaken: it doesn’t wobble or crumple under pressure or threat. It never worries about its future; its foundations never crack or fall apart. The kingdom of God has all the power and authority of God running through it. God is unshakeable, his throne is secure; he can never be deposed. He rules. Now it’s true that the kingdom can be threatened by its enemies; it can be attacked, it can be rebelled against and its authority refused. But it can’t be shaken. This is evident in a graphic way in Isaiah 14 where we see Lucifer’s attempt to overthrow God and his kingdom by stealing God’s throne for himself. There was no pitched battle or long struggle for power. There was no doubt about the outcome. God immediately cast Lucifer out and he became the devil. No matter what earthly kingdoms or powers do to try and extinguish or destroy God’s kingdom, they are doomed to failure.
4. We are always receiving the kingdom of God
Since we are receiving a kingdom… (Hebrews 12:28)
This same verse reveals something about the kingdom in how it works towards us and in us. It explains something of the ever-increasing nature of the kingdom. Admittedly, this aspect can lead to confusion if we don’t understand its nature and how it works. The Word of God talks about the kingdom now and the kingdom yet to come; it is ‘now’ and ‘not yet’.
When we’re born again we enter the kingdom of God (John 3:1-5); it has come to us in all its fulness and is now actively at work in us through the Holy Spirit. (Always remember the kingdom of God is not a ‘thing’; it’s the rule – the life of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ – of God the Father). This is the ‘now’ element of the kingdom – we are in it now, it has really come to us. However, there is also the ‘not yet’ element of the kingdom – the future element in which the last enemy to be defeated is death and Jesus will hand the kingdom over to the Father (1Corinthians 15:20-28). The return of Jesus will herald in the age to come! In the meantime we also are receiving the kingdom: the word ‘receive’ used in Hebrews 12:28 means to take something to yourself by showing strong personal initiative, to take something aggressively to yourself. It describes how we practically apply the kingdom to ourselves; we continue to receive it actively – ‘aggressively’. We positively, continuously embrace the kingdom of God with all that we are. It’s a constant attitude; we receive the ever-increasing kingdom all the time. And as we receive it we grow, we mature, we grow up in our faith. We become the means by which God increases his kingdom (even though he’s not confined to us). Jesus put it like this:
From the days of John the Baptist the kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing and the forceful have been seizing it by force. (Matthew 11:12)
This doesn’t mean we grasp it for our own ends or become physically violent – not at all. It just means that our attitude is positive and we actively embrace the rule and power of God, and enjoy living it in increasing dimensions. This is how the kingdom comes…