Think about it. Our nation is both a republic and a representative democracy. And that makes a huge difference in our ability to understand the importance of Jesus's declaration that the Kingdom of God has arrived! A republic is ruled by representatives of the citizen body. Modern republics are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with the people. As a representative democracy, we have a Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives. And, as a nation, we have adopted Abraham Lincoln's quotation from his Gettysburg Address: "we must ensure that government of the people, by the people, [and] for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Can you see that the focus is on "the people" as the arbiter of government? Yet, Jesus clearly said that we should desire to seek and enter the Kingdom of God. And where does the sovereignty and government derive from in a kingdom? Not from the citizens -- but from the King! But most Westerners, and specifically the citizens of the United States, have never lived in a kingdom nor under a king, so we have little idea of what that looks like or how a kingdom is ruled. In fact, our national DNA is founded on rebellion against a kingdom and king! We even wrote a Declaration of Independence from that king, declaring that Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness were inherent rights, endowed by our Creator. And then in that same paragraph, we set the tone for generations of Americans to miss the knowledge that the Bible has tried to impart to us ... there is a Kingdom that we are to enter that will secure all those rights, privileges, benefits, liberty, security, abundance, health, and welfare that we seek as citizens today. But it is a kingdom of heavenly origin, not earthly, and the Ruler of this Kingdom in Heaven determined to establish a colony of His Kingdom here on earth, ruled by men made in His image, serving as Vice-Regents [assistants with power to act when their superior is absent].
To further understand how this "kingdom concept" pertains to the Bible and helps us to comprehend our purpose on this earth, we need to agree that the foundation and qualification of kingship is rightful ownership of land. In a kingdom, the land is the personal property of the king, and it is this ownership right that designates him as Lord [Master]. In a kingdom, all the land within the kingdom belongs to the king. Psalm 24:1-2 tells us, The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are His. He built it on the deep waters beneath the earth and laid its foundations in the ocean depths.
True, Psalm 115:16 says, The heavens belong to our God; they are his alone, but He has given us the earth and put us in charge. Now, to us Greek-minded Americans, we must be reminded that this verse is not saying God gave us ownership of the land called earth. At any time, He could take it back; that would be His exclusive right. When God "gave" us the earth, He did not relinquish His ownership. We possess the earth as a trust, or stewardship. He gave us dominion [authority, jurisdiction, right to govern in His stead] over the earth in order to extend the government of Heaven to this earthly realm. He gave us rulership, but not ownership. It is a privilege to rule this earth, and we must not take it for granted; we will be held accountable to the King for how we manage His kingdom here on planet earth.
I'm sure some of you can see how the Enemy has perverted that concept in our modern era. We have segments of our population who sound the alarm that we are not good stewards of our planet and demand that the health of the planet be our top priority. There are also church denominations who preach a "green gospel" about caring for the planet. I agree that we are to be good stewards of the earth and environmental issues should not be ignored. But I'm left wondering if these people understand that the earth is not their land; that it actually belongs to [and is owned by] the King of Heaven?
But back to my original premise -- there is a struggle for us in the Western world and America to truly understand the Gospel of the Kingdom; the Good News that Jesus came to reinstitute the government of Heaven on earth through the rulership of Saved men. The Cross and faith in the risen Christ is the doorway [entry] back into the Kingdom of God on earth that was first established in Genesis and which was relinquished in the Garden of Eden. Jesus went to the Cross to restore the Kingdom of God on earth and to restore our rightful role as ambassadors of Heaven's kingdom. In essence, He came to earth to declare that He was King; that a King had come, a Kingdom had arrived, and this Kingdom was available to anyone who wanted to enter.
At this point, it is very important that we understand our identity within this Kingdom. In John 1:12, the Bible says, But those who embraced Him and believed in His name were given authority to become the children of God! In other words, Jesus came so that we could receive the full rights of sons and daughters of the King. Even though the earthly kingdoms we have known throughout history do not meet the righteousness of the Heavenly Kingdom, they still represent the kingdom model. Therefore, a son of a king will be a king. That is why Jesus is called "King of kings". We are destined to be kings; to rule and reign as sons and daughters of the King!
Just as a king is never voted into power, nor can be voted out of power, our authority comes from our birthright as sons and daughters of the King. And just as a king's word is law, we should be the determiners of the laws of our land, according to our King's decrees and statutes. An earthly king who was after God's own heart wrote, The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous (Psalm 19:9).
When a king is present, his authority resides in his very presence -- not in a document or a place. Because our King Jesus is always present with us, His authority is present -- the same authority He has conferred upon us. We need to start walking in that authority because we are Kingdom citizens [having entered the Kingdom through our salvation experience] and sons and daughters of the King. We represent His glory, His righteousness, His justice, and His compassion; reflecting His Nature and Character.
We are not to confuse our citizenship in the Kingdom with our American citizenship. I found it interesting that the five top traits of being an American are listed as Independence, Opportunity, Innovation, Diversity, and Generosity. But in the Kingdom of God, it is His traits that matter because in a kingdom concept, citizens are to be obedient followers, not self-governing and independent. America is known as the Land of Opportunity, where the wealth of self-made men is revered. But in a kingdom, the king owns everything in his kingdom, and a righteous and benevolent king amasses his wealth for the welfare of his citizens. That is why Jesus tells us not to worry about what we are going to eat, or drink, or wear; because our Heavenly Father knows what we need. But we are to seek His kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to us. At the same time, the Bible tells us that we have a Father who has a Kingdom in Heaven, and wants to give us good gifts. Our welfare is the responsibility of our King and He will take care of us.
Then there is Innovation, which is highly prized in our American DNA. It is said that we lead the world in creativity and originality. But our Father's Kingdom is perfect; there is no need for us to alter or transform His original design; His Kingdom is the model. Again, in America we take pride in our Diversity; it has made us the melting pot of the world. But in a kingdom, the king is the ultimate and only source of authority. Our King is sovereign and His sovereignty is absolute; there is no room for diversification or multiple standards. Finally, there is the subject of Generosity. One of the rights we have as Kingdom citizens, and heirs of the Kingdom, is that we belong to the King of Heaven, who is a righteous and benevolent Lord who graciously allows us to use and fully appropriate and distribute His riches and resources and all good things -- as long as we remember who owns them. If we begin to give to others from a frame of mind that we own it and it is ours to give, then we make ourselves a lord. In the Kingdom of God on earth there can be only one Lord.
I know this is only a cursory examination of why we Americans have trouble understanding the Good News that the Kingdom of God has come and is now operating in the earth. But I wanted to give you something to think about, and a concept that might be new to you. In summary, let me ask you a few questions ... Can you renew your mind to accept and apply the understanding that we are not to be independent-minded followers of Christ, but rather citizens in a Kingdom governed by a benevolent, righteous, and just King who is Lord of our lives? Has Religion redefined your original role and purpose in the Kingdom? Are you willing to see yourself from God's perspective and step into your Kingdom assignment? The answers to these questions can change your identity and transform your life. Spend some time with the Father and hear what He has to say on the subject. Blessings!
I am indebted to the late Dr. Myles Munroe and his teachings on the Kingdom of God. I have grown in my understanding and spiritual insight, thanks to his faithful preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom!
Matthew 25:34 Then the King will turn to those on His right and say, 'You have a special place in My Father’s heart. Come and experience the full inheritance of the kingdom realm that has been destined for you from before the foundation of the world!'