THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

LUKE 17.20-37.

                       

Once, having  been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus replied...”

The Old Testament presented the future of the world in terms of God’s kingdom when He would intervene in history and set up on the earth an universal reign of righteousness, peace and prosperity, depicted in many passages like Isaiah 11.1-9

 

The king who is to come:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit

 

His capacities:

.The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him - the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and pf the fear of the Lord - and he will delight in the fear of the Lord

 

His just administration and power:

He will not judge by what  He sees with his eyes,. Or decide by what he hears with the ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.  He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness  will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

 

His transformation of nature:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion  and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them, the cow will feed with the bears, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the      young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

 

 

 

WHEN AND HOW WOULD THIS HAPPEN ?

Jesus’ words in this section recall another Old Testament passage which shows that this coming of the kingdom would be:

 

1.  IT IS A SPECTACULAR EVENT.

 

Three times Jesus refers to “the Son of Man”, most notably in verse30 when he speaks of “the revelation (apokalupsis) of the Son of Man”. This title is used in Daniel 7.13-14, when, at the end of a vision in which the successive empires of antiquity, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, each likened to a beast more savage and frightful than the one before it, are dramatically replaced by God’s kingdom ,  inaugurated by “the Son of Man”:

 

“In my vision  at night I looked and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples,nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed....the four beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will posess it for ever - yes, for ever and ever.. V27...the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the most high. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom,  and all rulers will worship and obey Him.”

This verse is quoted in the longer discourses - as in ch.21v.27, also echoed in Rev.1.7.

The disciples and those who understood our Lord’s claim to be the Messiah expected that He would usher in the kingdom thus,but He foretells His immediate future sufferings.

V.25.But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

 

 

“WHEN ?” they ask. He answers that it will happen when leasr expected, it will be:

 

2.  IT IS A SUDDEN EVENT

 

    taking the world by surprise -

People speak as though God’s kingdom will come gradually,

“Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them”

      - like a lightening flash

For the Son of M an will be in his day like the lightening which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.”

Two illustrations from OT history are given -

  1. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
  2. It was the same in the days of Lot. people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur reigned down from heaven  and destroyed them all.

When this event takes place, there will be no time to prepare for it. it will take an entire world by surprise.

on that day, no-one who is on the roof of his house with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no-one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife ! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

but there are warnings, of which these words are the first. Both Noah and Lot knew what would happen.

·         The thunder storm is preceded by the gathering storm clouds, the threatening atmosphere...

….in his later discourse  Jesus speaks of the signs that will precede His advent.

·         The gathering war-clouds throughout the world and particularly over Jerusalem

·         World famine

·         The increasing persecution of disciples,

·         The proliferation of sects.

·         The world-wide preaching of the Gospel

 

What however is the purpose of this event ?

 

3.  IT IS A SEVERE EVENT

 

“where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather”

A dead body rots , decomposes, there are birds of prey ,in the East, feeding on the rotting flesh, remove a source of pollution and corruption.

The exanples given of the times of Noah and Lot are examples of a corrupt world and cities overtaken by the judgment of God. So our world is corrupt, and indeed sees the same behaviour that corrupted these societies. God’s judgments are not indiscriminate, for

 

4.  IT IS A SEPARATING EVENT

 

I tell you, in that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left,. Two women will be grinding grain  together, one will be taken and the other left.”

 

“Taken” is the Greek word “paralambano,” to call/take alongside, as when as person calls for a friend to take him out:

 

a.       It is used in the command of the angel to Joseph (Matt.2.13 )”take the child and his mother  and escape to Egypt”. So they escaped the rage of Herod.

b.      It is used in the account of the transfiguration ”Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them”

c.       Jesus uses it in Jn.14.3, “and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

 

So, Christ will take His own to himself, before he pours out his wrath on a corrupt world. At the outset of the 2nd world war,  children were evacuated from the danger zone of London , a target for Hitler’s bombers, to the relative safety of the countryside.  Just so, He will evacuate his own, Noah was removed from the corrupt society of that time to the safety of the ark. Lot was taken out of Sodom before its destruction.

 

How may we be among those who are ‘taken”?

The word is also used in John 1.12,”he came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”

He will take to himself  those who have taken him into their lives.

 

It is to this He refers when in the Luke passage he says,the kingdom of God is within/among you.”

Although the kingdom in its full final form, was still to come, it  was present because Jesus was present, and where He is at work, the kingdom is there. So let us seek Him, to know his working in our lives, to do his will, and we will experience the kingdom here and now, and be ready when it, or rather he, bursts in upon us.

This was the last sermon preached by Rev Brian Russell-Jones before he went to be with the Lord Jesus on 30 November 2000.