Matthew 6:10 Let your Kingdom come: Let your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.
The phrase The Kingdom of God is characteristic of the whole New Testament. No phrase is used oftener in prayer and in preaching and in Christian literature. It is, therefore, of primary importance that we should be clear as to what it means.
It is evident that the Kingdom of God was central to the message of Jesus. The first emergence of Jesus on the scene of history was when he came into Galilee preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God ( Mark 1:14 ). Jesus himself described the preaching of the kingdom as an obligation laid upon him: “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose” ( Luke 4:43 ; Mark 1:38 ). Luke’s description of Jesus’ activity is that he went through every city and village preaching and showing the good news of the Kingdom of God ( Luke 8:1 ). Clearly the meaning of the Kingdom of God is something which we are bound to try to understand.
When we do try to understand the meaning of this phrase we meet with certain puzzling facts. We find that Jesus spoke of the Kingdom in three different ways. He spoke of the Kingdom as existing in the past. He said that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets were in the Kingdom ( Luke 13:28 ; Matthew 8:11 ). Clearly therefore the Kingdom goes far back into history. He spoke of the Kingdom as present. “The Kingdom of God,” he said, “is in the midst of you” ( Luke 17:21 ). The Kingdom of God is therefore a present reality here and now. He spoke of the Kingdom of God as future, for he taught men to pray for the coming of the Kingdom in this his own prayer. How then can the Kingdom be past, present and future all at the one time? How can the Kingdom be at one and the same time something which existed, which exists, and for whose coming it is our duty to pray?
We find the key in this double petition of the Lord’s Prayer. One of the commonest characteristics of Hebrew style is what is technically known as parallelism. The Hebrew tended to say everything twice. He said it in one way, and then he said it in another way which repeated or amplified or explained the first way. Almost any verse of the Psalms will show this parallelism in action. Almost every verse of the Psalms divides in two in the middle; and the second half repeats or amplifies or explains the first half.
Let us take some examples and the thing will become clear:
“God is our refuge and strength–a very present help in trouble ( Psalms 46:1 ).
“The Lord of Hosts is with us–the God of Jacob is our refuge ( Psalms 46:7 ).
“The Lord is my shepherd–I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures–He leads me beside still waters” ( Psalms 23:1-2 ).
Let us apply this principle to these two petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Let us set them down side by side:
“Thy Kingdom come–Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
Let us assume that the second petition explains, and amplifies, and defines the first. We then have the perfect definition of the Kingdom of God–The Kingdom of God is a society, upon earth where Gods will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven. Here we have the explanation of how the Kingdom can be past, present and future all at the one time. Any man who at any time in history perfectly did God’s will was within the Kingdom; any man who perfectly does God’s will is within the Kingdom; but since the world is very far from being a place where God’s will is perfectly and universally done, the consummation of the Kingdom is still in the future and is still something for which we must pray.
To be in the Kingdom is to obey the will of God. Immediately we see that the Kingdom is not something which primarily has to do with nations and peoples and countries. It is something which has to do with each one of us. The Kingdom is in fact the most personal thing in the world. The Kingdom demands the submission of my will, my heart, my life. It is only when each one of us makes his personal decision and submission that the Kingdom comes.
The Chinese Christian prayed the well-known prayer, “Lord, revive thy Church, beginning with me,” and we might well paraphrase that and say, “Lord, bring in thy Kingdom, beginning with me.” To pray for the Kingdom of Heaven is to pray that we may submit our wills entirely to the will of God.