God’s plan, from the beginning of time to the end, has been to create a place on earth where he reigns and his people follow him. Let’s start at the beginning and work through each of the steps along the way.
First, the Garden of Eden was a place that God made and where he could be found, a perfect garden where he placed Adam to care for it. In Genesis 2, it says:
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.Genesis 2:8-9
So from the beginning, we see that God creates a place that he gives to man. In this place, God gives them the rule to not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but aside from this, the man’s job is to take care of the garden and live in God’s presence, going on to multiply and spread across the face of the earth. Great!
Of course, this doesn’t work out, and instead man rebels against God, doing what he was commanded not to do, and as punishment is then sent into exile outside of the Garden of Eden, outside of God’s presence.
Nation of Israel
Later, we see that God chooses the nation of Israel as his people. God tells them that he will be their God and they will be his people. However, again, God’s people do not trust him and instead rebel against him in several ways, even asking for their own kings like the other nations around them. God allows this to happen but yet, nothing changes. Kings come and kings go, but the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, continue to rebel against him. As a result, the people are once again sent into exile:
So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured.
He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.
On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem.2 Kings 25:1-10
The Jews are now in exile which God has allowed, and even brought about, for their wickedness and evil, forgetting God and his commandments.
For a few hundred years, God continues to call the Israelites and speak to them through his prophets until the prophet of Malachi when the prophets cease and God remains silent for about 400 years, even while the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans come to conquer the Israelites’ land.
Jesus the King
Then one day, John the Baptist appears in the wilderness preaching a message of repentance, calling the people to turn from their sins, to consecrate themselves, and to prepare for the Lord to come! What an incredible turnaround. The Lord is coming? The Israelites believe that the Messiah is here to liberate and release them from their oppressors, and Jesus even speaks of a new Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
But this Kingdom is not a political kingdom. Jesus isn’t here to overthrow the Roman oppressors. He begins to describe the Kingdom of God in a very different way than what the Israelites are expecting. For example:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:3-11
Jesus speaks of a different kind of kingdom where the poor in spirit come into the Kingdom. Those who are persecuted because of righteousness come into the Kingdom. Those that are meek will be the ones who will receive the inheritance of the earth.
So what type of Kingdom is this? The announcement of the existence of this Kingdom seems to be Jesus’s primary message, and yet he isn’t – and doesn’t – establishing, or reestablishing the nation of Israel. The Jewish people remain under Roman rule for a long time after Jesus returns to heaven, and even under other nations afterward.
Jesus came to announce and establish the Kingdom of God, ending Satan’s hold on both the Jewish people as well as the Gentiles, the non-Jews. By returning from the dead, Jesus shows that he has defeated death and we can do the same through faith in him.
But that is not the end. Jesus said that he would return. In Matthew 24, Jesus says:
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.Matthew 24:30-31
So Jesus has established, once and for all time, the Kingdom of God here on the earth. But it has yet to be fully fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is also yet to come as Jesus returns to gather his people and bring judgment upon the earth. When he does this, Jesus will not only gather his people, but he will create a new heaven and a new earth and God will again reign as the king over his people. Those that follow him will be part of his Kingdom forever.
From our perspective, we are living at a very interesting time. The Kingdom of God has been established, and yet it has not been fulfilled and come onto the earth completely. At this point, as the Church, we are waiting for the Kingdom to come, waiting for the King to return.
If you want to learn more, make sure and check out this video about the Kingdom of God:
As we did our study, we walked through a series of additional scriptures and questions. Here is the study that we did: