Many Christians have been deceived into believing that they can somehow “convert” the kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdom of God. In the process they have put their energy and hopes into bringing about the Kingdom of God by working towards getting more influence with government in order to transform government. Some even believe that Jesus will return once we have transformed the world and created the millennial Kingdom.
This presupposes that the Kingdom of God is a better version of or improved earthly kingdom. But what does the Bible have to say about this?
The first mention of a subject in the Bible is often very significant for an understanding of that topic. The first mention of the word “kingdom” is in Genesis 10:10 when it says of Nimrod that “the beginning of his kingdom was Babel”. It was at Babel that the tower was built that was intended to reach to Heaven and that to this day remains the prime example of man’s pride, self-sufficiency and rebellion against God. Babel was the precursor and type of Babylon, the false world system and religion, which is the domain of the Antichrist (Revelation 17 & 18). It was at Babel that God brought division between the nations and broke their rebellious unity.
Furthermore it is remarkable and significant that the last time the word “kingdom” is mentioned is in Revelation 17:17 where it says that the world rulers will “be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast”. This will bring the world full-circle where they once again are united against God and once again establish Babel / Babylon.
The fact that the first and last mention of the word “kingdom” both relate to the false world system which is united in its rejection of God and that both speak of that which is man-made with an emphasis on man rather than God is not coincidental. By definition any kingdom built by man is anti-god and anti-Christ. The kingdoms of this world have never been, are not and never will be God’s Kingdom. They have different kings, different citizens, function by different principles and have different goals.
When Satan tempted Jesus he “showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:5-6). Jesus did not deny that this was in the Devil’s power to do and thus He acknowledges that the kingdoms of the world do indeed belong to the Devil. There are many theories as to how and when the Devil acquired them, but the fact remains that they are his to give. Several times Jesus refers to the Devil as “the ruler of this world” John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11), confirming Satan’s dominion here on earth.
Many Christians feel that things changed after the Cross and that the Kingdoms of the world are now under God’s control. But Paul (after the Cross) still refers to Satan as “the god of this world (age)” (2Corinthinas 4:4). John (also after the Cross) states emphatically that “the whole world lies under the sway (NIV – “control”) of the wicked one” (1John 5:19). Thus the Devil is clearly the one who is in control of the world, its systems and its governments. Romans 13 says that authorities are appointed by God and that they are God’s servants or ministers. This does not mean that they are godly, they clearly are not. Never-the-less God uses them to accomplish His purposes (Revelation 17:17).
At no stage do the kingdoms of the world morph into the Kingdom of God. There is not a single Scripture to support this popular misconception. The kingdoms of this world are so evil that they are completely destroyed (Daniel 2 and Revelation 18) and they will be replaced by God’s Kingdom. This will be a work of God and not of man or the church. “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). (See also Revelation 18 and 19).
Just like many Christians today, Jesus’ disciples also did not understand the difference between God’s Kingdom and political kingdoms. They too thought that Jesus would merge His followers with the world’s kingdoms and thus bring about His Kingdom. But in response to these ideas Jesus clearly said to them: “indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). In other words His Kingdom is spiritual and in the hearts of His people while the world’s kingdoms are political and have physical boundaries. (His Kingdom will ultimately become a physical kingdom, known as the Millennial Kingdom, but as said above, that will come about in a single cataclysmic event when He sets up His Kingdom.)
When Pilate questioned Jesus about His Kingdom, Jesus explicitly stated “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). It cannot be clearer than that. Jesus is indeed a King and He has a Kingdom, but it is not of this world. The god and ruler of this world and its kingdoms is Satan. These two kingdoms do not overlap, they do not merge and the one does not become the other. They are totally different in substance and have different kings.
These two kingdoms have different destinies. The kingdom of Satan will be destroyed. This means that its ruler, all its systems as well as its citizens will be destroyed. It has no future. No matter what man does to build his towers, hierarchies and empires into the heavens, they will be destroyed and brought to nothing, just like Nimrod’s Babel.
God’s Kingdom, on the other hand, is an eternal kingdom. “Of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33) and “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8). It will never be destroyed and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
When Moses was growing up in the courts of Egypt, Egypt seemed to be an indestructible world empire. There was no end to its power, wealth and influence. Egypt, and later Babylon, Greece and Rome, were true world kingdoms, more than any modern empire. Egypt’s knowledge, art, engineering and political power were dazzling in their brilliance to the extent that we, thousands of year later, still marvel at their glories.
When God began to speak to Moses about a greater Kingdom which could only be seen afar off, it is to be expected that Moses could have thought of God’s promises only in terms of an improved Egypt. God had, after all, used Egypt once before to save the world! Maybe we could excuse Moses if he thought of the Kingdom in terms of Canaan, but he looked beyond that to a “heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16).
When Moses finally had to make a choice he esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:26-27).
If Moses could see the invisible King beyond the glory of Pharaoh, and if he placed his vote with the Eternal, how is it then, that so many Christians keep placing their hope in the wrong kingdom? (To be Continued)