God’s Kingdom Now

God’s Kingdom Now

Mark 1:14 records the Lord as saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Lawrence commenting on this passage says, “The kingdom of God here is therefore not a place (a realm), but a reign, in which the blessings of God in salvation are poured out on his people. It is quite literally the life of heaven breaking into this life on earth.”[1] And this “life of heaven breaking into this life on earth” is God becoming a man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth – The Savior, The Anointed One, The Christ, and The King. The presence of the King equals the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven and this presence will continue to be realized on earth now through the lives of all followers of Him.

One might recall in Luke’s gospel account that Jesus early in His ministry while in His hometown of Nazareth goes into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and reads from the scroll of Isaiah quoting 61:1-2 saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). Then after a pause for absorption and probably emphasis, the Lord also says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21). Jesus is proclaiming without a doubt that He is in fact the one who God spoke of through Isaiah. Jesus declared that this coming of God would be “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” What’s interesting is that Jesus leaves out the next part in that passage from Isaiah, which says, “and the day of vengeance of our God” (61:2b). This is a reference to God’s day of judgment the “Day of the Lord.” We see now looking back that this one verse’s complete application comes in two waves or better yet two comings. The first coming of Messiah would be to bring the good news of salvation and the second coming of Messiah will be for final judgment of sin.

Blessing and judgment

As Williams astutely points out, “Kingdom Blessing Precedes Kingdom Judgment.”[2] Then he goes on to explain, “The coming of the kingdom will not transpire all at once. The day of judgment is yet to come. First comes ‘the year of the Lord’s favor.’ A season of grace will precede the judgment. [At this time] Jesus has come not to judge the world but to save it” (emphasis mine).[3] God in His mercy and grace reveals Himself incredibly in the incarnation and continues to warn humanity of the coming final judgment.

Bell while referencing Isaiah adds,

Yahweh’s holiness is connected also to His saving acts (30:15; 43:3). A whole book could be written on just this one theme, especially since the salvation theme includes information about the agent or the means of salvation, the Messiah. The theme is there at both the book’s beginning (1:18–19, 26–27) and its ending (66:8, 10, 12, 22–23), being particularly strong in the second half of the book (ch. 40–66). The key verse is 1:27 (“Zion shall be redeemed with judgment [by justice], and her converts [ones repenting] with righteousness”). Salvation has a close connection with the judgment theme.[4]

Again it’s important to point out that we are being saved from the judgment of God.

One thing I am really amazed by is that Jesus’ name means “God saves.” God is our Savior; He is the one who rescues us not only from His righteous judgment, but also from ourselves. We are sinful and cannot help ourselves, even if we wanted to. God in His infinite mercy towards sinful man broke into human history and became the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all who would put their trust in Him alone.

[1] Michael Lawrence. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 195.

[2] Williams, Far as the Curse is Found, 244.

[3] Ibid., 245.

[4] Bell, The Theological Messages of the Old Testament Books, 294.

The above is an excerpt from a larger article that I have written on “Theological Themes in Isaiah.”

J.D.N.

Glory to God Alone!

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