Part 9 in the series.
By: Tom Casey
We have been examining Biblical stewardship in light of the presence of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus came, He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God, but it was not the apocalypse – the complete revelation of the Kingdom and its rule over the earth. It was the coming of the Kingdom of God, but it was the prophetic presence that could not be observed and encountered with our physical senses. It could only be encountered by the hearts of men.
At the same time that Jesus was proclaiming the presence of the Kingdom of God – the reign of God in the hearts of men, He was also instructing His disciples concerning His 2nd Coming; when He would completely establish His Kingdom upon the earth (Matthew 24:3; Acts 1:6). We must ask the question, “Is Jesus saying that His Kingdom came the first time to rule in the hearts of men but now His Kingdom is leaving and will return again at some future time to establish its complete reign over all the earth?” The answer is “no”. Jesus physically left the earth, in Acts 1, but His spiritual presence and the rule of the Kingdom of God is present on the earth. In this present age, He would not rule on a throne in Jerusalem but on a throne established in the hearts of men.
It is not an apocalyptic rule where His physical presence is on the earth, face to face with mankind, dispensing of all evil and ruling all of creation. It is a prophetic rule because He is present on the earth in the hearts of His people through His Spirit, producing godly Kingdom behavior in the midst of a world dominated by the domain of darkness. As His Kingdom representatives, His Kingdom resources are available to His people in order to accomplish their objective in this age – proclaiming the reign of God to all people of all nations, as a witness. He reveals Himself and communicates to His people prophetically, and He directs and administrates His Kingdom resources and activities through His people. We have the Bible, the written word of God. But, without the prophetic activity of the Holy Spirit revealing and applying these Kingdom realities to our hearts; producing godly behavior that reflects the nature and character of God, impacting the world around us, the Bible is just another book with black letters on white pages and our lives bear little difference to the lives of those around us (John 5:38-40).
This differs from the prophetic nature of the activities of God under the Old Covenant because at that time, God’s Kingdom was not on the earth because He did not rule the hearts of His people. God’s prophetic presence, communications, activities and influence were almost completely limited to the external behavior and activities of His people. As a result, the nature and character of God had limited influence on the world around them because it had a limited influence in the hearts and lives of His people.
Jesus used parables to teach about the prophetic nature of the Kingdom of God in this age (Matthew 13). The Kingdom of God is actively present on the earth, in the midst of the domain of darkness. Jesus has defeated the powers of darkness and all things have been put in subjection under His feet; but we do not yet see all things subjected to Him in this age (Hebrews 2:7-8). In this age we relate to and understand the Kingdom of God in an incomplete or partial manner because of the prophetic nature of our communication and relationship with the Kingdom. But, when the complete Kingdom is revealed at the end of the age, this current, prophetic, and incomplete knowledge and communication will be replaced by the full manifestation for we will see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:8-13; Daniel 9:24).
In this age, God’s people progress from one degree of Kingdom glory to another as they allow the prophetic activity of the Spirit to empower them, train them, and guide them in the understanding and practical application of Kingdom realities in their lives. The orientation of their lives must change from being lead by and acting upon information received from their physical senses, to being lead by and acting upon information received from the prophetic activity of the Holy Spirit, which is outside of their physical senses. This is a time-consuming process but it is a necessary process because we are told that those who are being lead by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God (Romans 8:13-15).
We will continue to investigate our responsibilities as children and representatives of the Kingdom of God in my next post.