I was struck by an idea presented in a recent church service: The Kingdom of Heaven is more than meets the eye: The Kingdom of Heaven has come near you, it is here, it is within you, and the Kingdom of Heaven is coming. We tend to think the Kingdom of Heaven as something in the future that we’re all waiting for, and that’s partly true, but it also carries other profound dimensions.
The phrases Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God refer to the same thing. Jesus used both phrases one right after the other in Matthew 19:23-24, explaining to His disciples how difficult it was for people to enter the Kingdom of God/Heaven.
The End is Near
When Jesus sent out the disciples ahead of Him to the places He would soon visit, he told them, “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Luke 10:8-9)
Jesus had been teaching His disciples about the kingdom of Heaven and now the disciples were preparing the people to hear about it, as well.
You and I are those people and God has sent out his disciples to reach us. Will we welcome his servants? Or, will we reject them and have it said against us,
Say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. –Luke 10:10-11
The End is Here
The Kingdom of Heaven is here, that is, Jesus ushers in the Kingdom, as he tells the pharisees, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20-21)
God became man. God was in your midst. God had already begun building the Kingdom of Heaven with His disciples and followers.
When Jesus ascended to Heaven after the crucifixion, He warned His disciples, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Act 1:4-5)
This Holy Spirit is with you today, if you repent of your sins and follow Christ. Just as Jesus was on earth, and actually present with the disciples, the Holy Spirit is with us, and He works in us to bring forth the Kingdom of Heaven.
The End is Within
I came across a very cool connection to this line of thought while researching this post and it comes from the Lord’s Prayer,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Implied in this is that God’s Kingdom is, of course, where His will would be done (just like it is in heaven), and where is a will done? In your heart.
[The] mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. –Colossians 1:26-27
The Holy Spirit, one of and one with the Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, this Holy Spirit, Christ in you, fills the heart of you if you repent and follow Jesus. By His Power, the Kingdom of Heaven is worked out from within us. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.
The End is Coming
As alluded to earlier, the Kingdom of Heaven is wherever the King reigns, and wherever the King reigns is wherever His will is done. Jesus, on speaking of the destruction of the temple, with His disciples, said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:13)
Jesus continuing to tell his disciples of the Kingdom of Heaven, made a number of comparisons: Bridesmaids waiting for the Bridegroom, servants receiving money to make a profit with while their master is away, and a comparison between sheep (believers; who do the King’s Will) and goats (non-believers; who do not do the King’s will) (Matthew 25). All of these parables described people waiting on a coming, which Jesus uses to point to the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Finally, He says, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:27) We wait upon that day: The Kingdom is coming. One day, the end will be here.
The End is Here
If you have yet to believe, the end is near for you: Jesus has come to show us the Kingdom of Heaven. Servants of God are all about you reminding you of the Kingdom of Heaven, just like those towns to whom Jesus sent the disciples and told them to say, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon. –Isaiah 55:6-6
For those who believe already, the end is here. You have the Holy Spirit, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ You are the disciples sent, and being continually sent, to those towns, but for you the Kingdom of Heaven (where God’s Will is done) is carried about in your body, because you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You bring and express the Kingdom of Heaven here and now insomuch as the Holy Spirit lives through you.
You are the Kingdom of Heaven in word and deed and you are a forerunner of the Kingdom of Heaven, in presence and form, when Christ returns.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:1-3
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. –John 3:16