Hope of the Kingdom
Updated: May 18, 2020
We live in a wonderful and yet a fearful day. It is a wonderful day because of the accomplishments of our modern scientific and technological skills, which have provided us with a measure of comfort and prosperity undreamed of a century ago. Magnificent metal birds soar through the air, swallowing up thousands of miles in a few hours, giving access to any part of the world within 24 hours or less. The motorcar has freed human beings to explore for themselves scenes and sights, which to our great, great grandparents were contained only in story-books. Electrical power has brought a score of slaves to serve us in our homes. The digital age has resulted in instant communication and endless entertainment. Medical science has brought us into the biological age in which the discovery of DNA is resulting in all kind of unimaginable curers.
We live in a marvellous age and, yet happiness and security seem further removed than ever, for we face dangers and hazards of unparalleled dimensions. Our fathers and grandfathers have come through several wars in which the foundations of human liberty were threatened; yet the columns of our newspapers and the daily news reports are filled with war, terrorism, and the indifference of the world to genocide. Discoveries concerning the structure of matter have opened unimaginable vistas of blessing for humanities physical well-being; yet these very discoveries hold the potential, in the hands of evil people, of blasting society from the face of the earth. The blessings of biological discoveries bring with it the potential outcomes of the worse B grade Sci-Fi movie. The technology that made life so much easier is killing our planet with global warming. In a day like this, wonderful yet terrible and fearsome, men and women are asking questions: What does it all mean? Where are we going? What are the meaning and the goal of human history? Is it all about me?
Women and men are concerned today not only about the individual and the destiny of their soul but also about the meaning of history itself and the future of the planet. Does humankind have a future? Or do we jerk across the stage of time like wooden puppets, only to have the stage, the actors, and the theatre itself destroyed by fire, leaving just a pile of ashes and the smell of smoke?
In ancient times, poets and seers longed for an ideal society. Hesiod dreamed of a lost Golden Age in the distant past but saw no brightness in the present, constant care for the morrow, and no hope for the future. Plato pictured an ideal state organised on philosophical principles, but he realised that his plan was too idealistic to be achieved. Virgil sang of one who would deliver the world from its sufferings and by whom "the great line of the ages begins anew."
However, the Hebrew-Christian faith expresses its hope in terms of the Kingdom of God. This Biblical hope is not in the same category as the dreams of the Greek poets but is at the very heart of revealed religion. The Biblical idea of the Kingdom of God is deeply rooted in the Old Testament and is grounded in the confidence that there is one eternal, living God who has revealed Himself to humanity and who has a purpose for the human race, which He has chosen to accomplish through His people. The Biblical hope is, therefore, a religious hope; it is an essential element in the revealed will and the redemptive purposes of the living God. Thus the prophets announced a day when men and women would live together in peace. God shall then "judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2: 4). Not only shall the problems of human society be solved but the evils of humanities physical environment shall be no more. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them" (Isa.1:6). Peace, safety, security -- all this was promised in the outworking of the future kingdom.
Then came, Jesus of Nazareth with the announcement: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4: 17). This theme of the coming of the Kingdom of God was central in His mission. His teaching was designed to show people how they might enter the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5: 20; 7: 21). His mighty works were intended to prove that the Kingdom of God had come upon them (Matt. 12: 28). His parables illustrated to His disciples the truth about the Kingdom of God (Matt. 13: 11). And when He taught His followers to pray, at the heart of their petition were the words, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6: 10). On the eve of His death, He assured His disciples that He would yet share with them the happiness and the fellowship of the Kingdom (Luke 22: 22-30). And He promised that He would appear again on the earth in glory to bring the blessedness of the Kingdom to those for whom it was prepared (Matt. 25: 31, 34). Thus our hope is in the coming of the King and the consumation of His kingdom in the new heaven and the new earth.