Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bible study on the kingdom of God

I recently attended a Bible study at Worldwide Church of God/Grace Communion International (WCG/GCI) in Christian Pen, Gregory Park, St. Catherine (in Jamaica), where I was privileged to be a part of a Bible study on the kingdom of God. Such a topic is of great importance to Christian believers as the message of Jesus is basically centred around this concept. In fact, in Matthew 6:33, God's kingdom is something that Jesus commands us to seek and make a priority above everything else. Further, after John's arrest, Jesus began his ministry preaching that the time has come for the fulfillment of prophecy regarding God's kingdom and that the God's kingdom would soon be present (Mark 1:14-15). Further, many of the parables of Jesus are also about this kingdom. As such, it is important for the followers of Christ Jesus to fully understand the concept of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, which is so essential to the gospel message or the good news. In this blog post, I share some of the thoughts shared as to what is the kingdom of God.

What is the kingdom of God?

When the question was raised at the Bible study, the facilitator of the Bible study, Mr. L. Joiles stated that the kingdom of God, synonymous with the kingdom of heaven, is a system of governance, where the word of God as king is law and governs all affairs on earth. Joiles took us back to Daniel 2:44, where there is a prophetic word uttered by an angel to Daniel as an interpretation to a dream. This revealed interpretation of the events in the dream established that there would be several kingdoms or global super powers to control world affairs and colonise the earth. However, in the book of Daniel, it is foretold that a global super power established by God himself would outlast all these global super powers or kingdoms. This eternal super power would be headed by God as king, but will also be governed by the consent of those God governs, as all his enemies will be put to death and all opposition to his rule silenced.

As Joiles presented this, I realised that the kingdom of God did not begin with Moses. While God established a theocracy with the Israelites with Moses by giving the law at Mount Sinai, this type of system of governance was confined to a particular group or nation of people, and not a global system. Yet, even this system was rejected  by the Israelite people, who later asked Samuel to give them a king like the other nations around them (1 Samuel 8:5).

Yet, even though God established a limited system of governance for the entire affairs of a nation, he foretold of the global king in Genesis 3:15. This king mentioned of in Genesis would be the offspring of human beings that will crush or bruise the serpent's (or the Devil's) head or authority over the earth and men. At the same time, the serpent would bruise the king's heel which could perhaps be interpreted as the messengers or followers or the carriers of the message (see Isaiah 52:7; Ephesians 6:15; Romans 10:15).

As I contemplate these things, I remember words from the founder of WCG, Herbert W. Amstrong, charging that the majority of Christianity today does not preach the gospel, because they omit the from their version of the gospel any reference to the kingdom of God. Yet to be fair, I've heard Christians discuss that the Holy Spirit living in us and empowering us to do the works and miracles of Christ is the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth. However, this raises the conundrum as to whether or not Jesus taught of a physical coming of the kingdom of God or just as spiritual manifestation of the kingdom. This to me is the next area that needs to be discussed. Unfortunately, I will be absent from the next WCG/GCI's Bible study to raise the question, but hopefully the Holy Spirit will provide further clarification for me on this matter. 

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