Now that my soul and spirit have been awakened to the truth of the Kingdom of God as Jesus's priority, I am beginning to engage the Bible through a Kingdom lens. When I came to Hebrews 11 during my morning Bible study (which is one of my favorite chapters, by the way) I was astounded to find that these familiar verses refer to Old Testament individuals who modeled God's concept of man's dominion on earth on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let's take a look at what I'm talking about
Chapter 11 in Hebrews has become known throughout Christian circles as "the Hall of Faith". The Bible begins the chapter by defining faith, and then giving us a list of people who modeled faith for us. To begin, let's look at what we've come to know as the familiar explanation of faith: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Now, let's take a look at Hebrews 11:1 in the Amplified version, and through a Kingdom lens. It reads like this: Now faith is
the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely
guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of
their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by
the physical senses].
Let's consider this verse through the mandate given to mankind in Genesis 1:26. We are not only made in the image of God, Himself, but have been given authority and power over the earth and everything in it. At that time, the Garden of Eden represented the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. There was no sickness, no death, no worry; all the needs of Adam and Eve were met, and they were in divine relationship with God. They had the title deed to the earth, promised to them by God. Dominion -- which is supremacy, authority, power, and sovereignty -- was theirs. But their rebellion resulted in that dominion passing to the devil.
But, here we have the writer of Hebrews declaring that even after the fall of man, faith abounded. First and foremost, the members of the Hall of Faith exhibited obedience produced by trust and confidence in God as the Creator and ruler of all things. We must believe He is who He says He is. That is the foundation of faith. And the Bible tells us in verse 6 that it is impossible to please God without it. And since God's purpose for man was to have authority over His creation of earth, then faith is the foundation of recognizing and establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.
So, let me now show you where I saw Kingdom in Hebrews, Chapter 11. Let's begin in verse 8, where we read that by faith, Abraham obeyed God's call to leave his familiar territory [in order] to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. The Passion Translation reads like this: So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith. He lived by faith as an immigrant in his promised land as though it belonged to someone else. He journeyed through the land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob who
were persuaded that they were also co-heirs of the same promise.
The truth is, Abraham was living as an immigrant in a foreign land! His ancestors, Adam and Eve, had given his inheritance (dominion over the earth) away when they listened to the serpent! The truth was that the land (the earth) had been promised to mankind from the beginning. Now God has determined He will use Abraham, the father of the Israelites, to begin taking back dominion of the earth in His name. That is why when the Lord appears to Abram in Genesis 12:7, He tells him, "To your offspring, I will give this land". God wanted to give the earth back to man! And here is an interesting fact: it was 1948 years from Adam to Abraham. The modern nation of Israel was founded in 1948. We can never doubt the sovereignty of God!
But let's move on. Hebrews 11:13 reads, These heroes all died
still clinging to their faith, not even receiving all that had been
promised them. But they saw beyond the horizon the fulfillment of their
promises and gladly embraced it from afar. They all lived their lives on
earth as those who belonged to another realm. The Old Testament patriarchs never realized "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven". They lived their lives in a territory owned and controlled by the one who retained dominion over it, the devil.
Abraham and his descendants in the Old Testament didn't receive the promise (restored dominion of the earth to mankind) but could see it coming as God went before them conquering lands and other kingdoms. They knew they were still strangers and sojourners in earth.
But now, I'd like to show you another couple of verses in Hebrews 11 that had me looking through the Kingdom lens. Take a look at verses 32-33: And what more could I say to convince you?
For there is not enough time to tell you of the faith of Gideon, Barak,
Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through
faith’s power they conquered kingdoms and established true justice [righteousness].
Their faith fastened onto their promises and pulled them into reality!
I'm immediately reminded of Jesus declaring in Matthew 6:33, Seek first, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you! What did these men have in common? I decided to take a look at the references my Bible gave me for each name and this is what I found: Gideon took back dominion from the kingdom of darkness by tearing down the altars of Baal and destroying the groves. First, I'd like to ask how many of you know what "a grove" is? It's important to know, because God told the Israelites, as they entered their promised land, to destroy the altars to false gods, break their images, and cut down their groves. A grove was a cultic object (usually a wooden sacred pole) set up near an altar to Baal that represented the presence of the Canaanite goddess Asherah. Gideon obeyed the Lord and took back dominion from the Midianites. Then he built an altar to the Lord and called it Jehovah-Shalom, "The Lord is peace". When you look at this story through the Kingdom lens, you can see the elements of the Kingdom: taking back dominion and declaring that peace is established because "the Kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).
Next, let's look at Barak. He appears in Judges, Chapter 4, and he, too, helped defeat the Canaanite kingdom. Samson defeated the kingdom of the Philistines, and his name means "sunlight; supported by Divine Sovereignty". The next in line is Jephthah, who is written about in Judges 11-12. He defeated the kingdom of the Ammonites, and he kept a vow he made to God that if he was victorious, he would offer the first person who greeted him [when he returned to his home] as a burnt offering unto the Lord. Sadly, that vow cost him his beloved daughter, his only child. But he is listed in the Hall of Faith because he not only took back dominion from the kingdom of darkness but he was a righteous man.
Next, we come to David, and I have to admit that I wondered which of David's exploits would be mentioned with these men who are recorded as taking back territory from Satan. But the reference was to a single verse in 1 Samuel 16:17, So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” This was an episode where the Holy Spirit had departed from King Saul and an evil spirit from the Lord was tormenting him. David played his harp for the King and Saul was "refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him" (1 Samuel 16:23). This is a picture of healing and deliverance from evil, which will be a standard and measure of the Kingdom of God coming to earth. Jesus modeled that as a consequence of the Kingdom having arrived.
The last name mentioned is that of Samuel, a prophet who called upon the Lord to subdue the Philistines. And he built an altar to God, calling it "the Stone of Help" because God delivered them out of the hands of the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
As I read these testimonies of these men of faith, they all had something in common. They obeyed the Lord in taking back what He had promised to the seed of Abraham... that they would live in a territory and enjoy peace. Their righteousness was conveyed by their obedience. The battle was between what God had created earth to be (His transplanted Kingdom from heaven) and the kingdoms of man, influenced by the god of this world, Satan. These men were, in effect, strangers in a strange land. And as Hebrews 11:13 says, they didn't get to see the fulfillment of God's promise to restore His original plan of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, but they embraced the promise that the Kingdom would one day be fulfilled, and they walked in righteousness towards it. They got a glimpse of the Kingdom, but Israel's continued rebelliousness against God could never establish it.
God attempted to get His chosen people to step into their role in His original plan for man. They were designed to take back rulership of the earth and to occupy it, and they met with sporadic success whenever the power of the Lord came down to rest upon them. But because of their rebellious nature, they never saw the fulfillment of the Kingdom.
But just like them, we New Testament believers are still sojourning in a foreign land while waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom to be restored to earth. We are spirits from heaven, living in fleshly suits. But we have the benefit of the continuous presence of the Holy Spirit IN US. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) and we are raised up with Jesus and seated with Him in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). The difference is that God, Himself, came back as His Son, and declared that the Kingdom had arrived! And He began to model what taking back dominion looks like. We New Testament believers have been given the keys to participate in the final and incontrovertible establishment of God's Kingdom on earth. And it's found in Matthew 24:14: Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world, and as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come!
We can look at all the eschatology signs we want, but until we make the Gospel of the Kingdom our priority, this Age will not end. He will not return to judge the wicked and establish the Millennial Kingdom on earth until we fulfill that assignment. He showed us what the Kingdom looks like and how to live as a Kingdom citizen. Read the Bible -- He teaches us everything we need to know in the four Gospels.
But the purpose of this post is to show you that the Kingdom of God is not just a theme in the New Testament. It was always in view and was God's objective from Genesis One all the way to Revelation 22. We just haven't heard Jesus's message very well. And that's the reason that I'm writing my new book. The Body of Christ must understand what the Kingdom of God is all about and what our purpose is here on earth. The earth was created as an extension of Heaven. We were created to rule the earth for our God in Heaven. It is His Kingdom. Jesus came to reclaim it, and we are to share that Good News with all the world. That was His priority and it should be ours.
Psalm 24:1 God claims the world as His. Everything and everyone belongs to Him!
Matthew 6:10 Manifest Your Kingdom realm, and cause Your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth, just as it is fulfilled in heaven.
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