There is perhaps in all of Holy Scripture no theme more prominent and promising than the simple phrase, the “Kingdom of God” or as St. Matthew describes it, the “Kingdom of Heaven”. We begin the prayer of our Lord with the petition, “Thy kingdom come” and conclude this prayer of prayers with the doxology, “for thine is the kingdom …” Yet for all of our familiarity with the term, there is probably no concept in the entire Scriptures that is more majestic, more mysterious and yet at the same time often more meaningless than the “Kingdom of God”. The Holy Spirit chooses His words most carefully and nowhere is this choice more powerful or more critical than in the divine decision to describe the mission of God in human history and the purposes of God through His Church as the Kingdom of God.
The promise of this kingdom is already present in God’s promise to Abraham over 4,000 years ago “I will make of you a great nation … your descendants will be more than the stars in the sky … in you will all the nations of the earth be blessed.” This promise and purpose is repeated to and through Moses to the dazed Hebrew slaves in the Sinai wilderness, “Although the whole earth is mine, you shall be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. And to the Shepherd/King David God promises, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever”. Centuries later the ancient word is spoken anew to a broken kingdom of Israel by prophet after prophet echoing God’s eternal vision for both His missionary people and all nations, “Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you … nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your shining …”. (Isaiah 61:1)
It would even be predictable – if we were able to trace this Kingdom of God throughout the Old Testament – that the first announcement by the Spirit’s messenger, John the Baptist, would be, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near”! And the mystery and majesty of the kingdom both widens and deepens as Jesus, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, fresh from womb and wilderness proclaims, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near”! There is no other teaching symbol more often used by Jesus than “the Kingdom of God is like …” And threaded through the very last words of our Lord in His Passover/Last Supper with the disciples are these, “I will not eat this meal with you again until this Passover finds its full meaning in the Kingdom of God”.
First and last – like bookends to the promises and prophecies of our heavenly Father – the Kingdom of God moves inexorably toward eternal meaning and fulfillment. The last book of Holy Scripture, “Revelation” shouts with trumpet accompaniment, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever.” And a loud voice in heaven proclaims, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah …”
For four thousand years the vision and promise of the Kingdom of God have changed and challenged the people of God and in this our day our heavenly Father entrusts into our hands and hearts as His
Church His Call to be STEWARDS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
In these Fall weeks leading up to and through Reformation and Consecration Sunday, October 26 and All Saints Sunday, November 2 our services and sermons are designed to lead us to and through some of the meanings and mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Each Sunday and each week gathers around a Kingdom challenge and promise: REMEMBER – REPENT – RENEW – REVEAL – REJOICE – REFORM – RESURRECTION
As we begin our discussions of the Kingdom and deepen our stewardship in the Kingdom it is both helpful and necessary to process three fundamental truths again and again; 1. The Kingdom is wherever the King is … and the King is Jesus Christ. 2. The Church is not the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God towers over the church like the “One World Trade Center” towers over an IHOP. 3. Our Lord has given to His Church the treasure and the mission of proclaiming His presence, His power, and His peace in all our words, in all our worship and in all our work. We pray that these Fall studies, celebrations (LWML Sunday – Reformation Sunday – All Saints Sunday) and the investment of our life together in Christ’s Kingdom service as His Stewards of and in His Kingdom will serve to bless our mission life together at Zion.