“Thy Kingdom Come”!
1. What would God’s kingdom mean to you, if soon it brought the conditions pictured here?
FEW WORDS of prayer have been repeated more often than the above. Perhaps you the reader have uttered that prayer. And surely we need God’s kingdom! How grand it would be to live under the conditions pictured on these pages! And that is the hope that God’s kingdom holds out for us: Peace and harmony in all the earth. The races of mankind united in bonds of genuine love. Everyone delighting to do productive work and enjoying the fruits of his labors. The air filled with the music of creation and with the song and laughter of happy humans. A healthy global society of mankind in which no one grows old or gets sick. The enjoyment of peace with the animals, the fragrance of flowers, the beauty of colorful landscapes and ever-changing seasons. Yes, all of this, and much more, is promised for our earth after God’s kingdom comes, as we shall see.
2, 3. What changes in recent years emphasize the need for God’s kingdom?
2 However, things are far different now. For we are passing through times that the Bible describes as “hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) You know how these critical times have touched your own life. Many who will read these pages have lost loved ones in the wars and other violence of this century. Yet the nations are engaged in the most feverish armaments race of all time. And they already have on hand far more than enough weapons to bring about the annihilation of all humankind.
3 Other problems, very close to home, also concern us. With the upsurge of muggings, murder and rape, many of us find it dangerous even to walk the streets. And do we not hear of more divorces, broken families and delinquency than formerly? In this age of permissive sex and drug addiction, many persons are apprehensive about sending their children to the public schools. If you live in some neighborhood or country where such problems have not yet surfaced, you should be thankful indeed!
4, 5. (a) What other problems touch our lives? (b) What world trends show that it is urgent for ‘God’s kingdom to come’?
4 How much does it cost to put food on your table these days? And how much does it cost to run your automobile? As food and fuel prices soar, the shaky world situation casts ominous shadows into the future. Where is our world headed? An item in U.S. News & World Report of August 4, 1980, underlined the seriousness of the crisis. It said: “Unless major new steps are taken, the world 20 years from now will be a filthy, unstable planet with billions of poor people scrambling for scarce, high-priced resources. That warning emerged on July 24 from a presidential commission completing a three-year study.” Among other things, this study revealed that by the year 2000 the world’s population will reach 6.3 billion, that—inflation aside—food prices will double, that deserts will expand and forests disappear, and that at least half the world’s oil will be depleted. That is, if the present system should survive that long!
5 What have individual nations, or even the United Nations, been able to do about this crisis? Very little, as yet. It all shows how urgently we need God’s kingdom!
WHAT IS THAT KINGDOM?
6. Why would we be due for disappointment if God’s kingdom were only in the hearts of people?
6 Is it simply a condition centered within the hearts of believers? In other words, when enough people are converted to Christianity, will God’s kingdom be here? Some persons have reasoned that way, pointing to Luke 17:21 in the King James Version, or Authorized Version, of the Bible (in English), which says: “The kingdom of God is within you.” But if their conclusion is correct, the kingdom of God is getting ever farther away. Why? Because the proportion of professed Christians to others in the world today is less than 25 percent, and is diminishing. Also, there are hundreds of millions of church members who seldom go inside a church.
7, 8. How does an examination of the Scriptures help us to arrive at the true meaning of Luke 17:21?
7 Think, too, about this: To whom was Jesus talking when he said, “The kingdom of God is within you”? It was to the hypocritical Pharisees that Jesus applied God’s words by the prophet Isaiah: “Their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:1, 8, AV; Isaiah 29:13) How could the Kingdom enter into those hard hearts? What, then, is the meaning of Jesus’ words? There is a clue in editions of the King James Version that have marginal readings. There the alternative reading given is: “The kingdom of God is among you.” And this is the way that many other translations of the Bible, such as the Catholic Jerusalem Bible and The New English Bible, also read.
8 So, then, Jesus was here speaking of himself, the King-designate, as being among them. He was actually there in their midst, as a real person. And this should bring home to us, too, that the Kingdom is a real kingdom, an actual government, even as its King is an actual person.
THE REALITY TODAY
9, 10. What is a real kingdom, and how can it benefit its subjects?
9 Today, few kingdoms remain on this earth. They are real governments, including Norway, the United Kingdom, Jordan and Nepal, to name some of them. In these there is a king (or a queen), together with associated rulers who serve as a parliament, diet or other governmental body. Under this comparatively small ruling group, the masses of the people go about their daily lives. They are the subjects of the kingdom.
10 Where the king and his corulers are deeply concerned about the people’s welfare, a kingdom can provide many benefits. It was that way in the ancient kingdom of Solomon, when the people “were many, like the grains of sand that are by the sea for multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing.”—1 Kings 4:20; 10:1-9. *
11. In what ways is the kingdom of God similar to kingdoms on earth?
11 Does the fact that the kingdom of God rules from heaven make it any less real? Why, no! In the first place, it has a king who is very much alive and active. He is God’s own appointee, the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the Bible says: “On him nations will rest their hope.” (Romans 15:12) Like governments on earth, the heavenly kingdom has a composite ruling body. The Bible shows this to be made up of a limited number of associate kings, who have proved their integrity to God as men and women upon this earth. To these, Jesus says: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32; Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:4) The kingdom has heavenly authority. From its vantage point in the heavens, the Kingdom government can project its commands—by means far more powerful than radio or laser beams—to any place on earth.
12, 13. God’s kingdom has what kind of (a) laws, (b) educational arrangement, (c) health program?
12 What about laws? Yes, God’s kingdom operates by laws—the very best of laws, made by God to benefit the people. You can read about them in the Bible. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Mark 12:28-31) Does the Kingdom have an educational system? Certainly it does! Right now its educational program is reaching out to aid sincere persons of all nations and peoples and languages, to prepare them for life eternal under the Kingdom’s righteous administration. In whatever country of earth you may live, you personally can avail yourself of this course of instruction.—Matthew 24:14; Revelation 7:9, 10; Isaiah 54:13.
13 Does the Kingdom have a health program? It has the most practical of all health programs—that based on the ransom sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. This program will rid humans of their ailments and physical weaknesses, so that they may attain to everlasting life in the fullness of good health. (Isaiah 25:8; John 10:10) While he was on earth, Jesus performed many miracles, illustrating that he would have the authority and power to cure the sick, restore sight to the blind, heal the lame, and even bring dead persons back to life. (Luke 7:20-23) While this Kingdom program lies yet in the future, those who are learning about it today are learning also to lead clean, moral lives and are being restored right now to radiant spiritual health. Their hope is a real one.—Isaiah 65:14; Romans 10:11.
14. While on earth, what did Jesus feature in his teaching?
14 When Jesus was a man on earth, he taught many things about the kingdom of God and, in fact, provided a preview of life under its rulership. (Luke 4:43; Matthew 12:22-28) He taught his disciples about God, so that they could draw close to God in the relationship of sons to a loving father. He provided them with sound guidance for coping successfully with the situations we encounter in life.—John 1:18; 14:6.
THE SOURCE OF TRUE HAPPINESS
15. Why were the people of Jesus’ day like us today in needing comfort?
15 The prayer for ‘God’s kingdom to come’ is part of the Sermon on the Mount, which Jesus gave on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. His listeners were his chosen disciples, along with crowds of other people. These had been “skinned and thrown about” by selfish men. (Matthew 9:36) What Jesus said brought comfort to his hearers, and his words can be just as comforting to us today.
16. Who are the ones that find true happiness, and how?
16 Jesus started his sermon by pointing to the source of true happiness. Was this to be found in material wealth, in entertainment, in seeking thrills and excitement? No, for Jesus placed the emphasis on spiritual things. He showed that persons who are “conscious of their spiritual need” and who are “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” would find lasting happiness in connection with God’s kingdom. (Matthew 5:3, 6; Luke 8:1, 4-15) Are you cultivating such spiritual interests?
17, 18. (a) What must we do to be approved by God? (b) How does Jesus’ assurance at Matthew 6:26-33 appeal to you?
17 In the course of his sermon, Jesus made it plain that, to be approved by God, we must learn to be imitators of our heavenly Father. We should reflect his qualities and conduct ourselves according to his standards. (Matthew 5:43-48; Ephesians 5:1, 2) To please him our worship cannot be some mere formalism that we go through once or twice a week. It must be a living, active worship, that is reflected in our daily lives and in our loving concern for fellow humans.
18 However, if we place spiritual values first in our lives, will this not lead to our suffering want in today’s greedy, self-seeking society? Not at all! If we ‘seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness,’ then all other necessary things of life will be added to us. Jesus explains this beautifully at Matthew 6:26-33, which you should read.
19, 20. (a) Why is it important to know how God views our worship? (b) How may we be helped to give God’s kingdom prominence in our lives? (c) Why will it be profitable to review “the Lord’s Prayer”?
19 How, then, are we to ‘seek first the kingdom’? Does it mean that if we ‘go to the church of our choice’ we will surely receive God’s blessing? Or do we need to seek out the kind of worship that God chooses for us? Note what Jesus said about this: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.” He made clear that some who claimed ‘to have prophesied in his name and to have done powerful works in his name’ would actually be “workers of lawlessness” from God’s standpoint. (Matthew 7:21-23; see also 7:13, 14.) How can we know for sure how God views our worship? Only by getting well acquainted with what is contained in his Word, the Bible.
20 An examination of the Bible will help us to give God’s kingdom the prominence it deserves in our lives, and in a way that fits our individual circumstances. It will assist us to take a fresh view of life, and to appreciate what the most important things are. So let us consider next that part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount known as “the Lord’s Prayer.” (Matthew 6:9-13) A review of this Model Prayer will help us to get a true perspective on what God requires of us if we are to find true happiness. And it will show us that the thrilling theme of the Bible is the sanctifying of God’s name by his kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ.
^ par. 10 Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures quoted in part or in full in this book are quoted from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, published by the producers of this book.
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DOES MANKIND NEED GOD’S KINGDOM?
“If a one-megaton nuclear device were exploded over New York City, it would probably kill 2.25 million people immediately, seriously injure an additional 3.6 million, . . . a group of physicians and nuclear physicists agreed yesterday. . . . Their belief is that the world will experience such a war before the century is over and that it would make the continued existence of humans impossible.”—New York “Times,” September 27, 1980
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THE REALITY OF GOD’S KINGDOM
KING: Jesus, with authority to rule for 1,000 years.
HEAVENLY CORULERS: Chosen by God from faithful humans.
ITS REALM: Our earth with global paradise to be restored.
LOYAL SUBJECTS: Billions, to include resurrected dead.
LAWS: Based on God’s righteousness, kingly law of love.
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM: Aiding persons of all races to enjoy a happy life now, and preparing them for everlasting life in the earthly paradise.
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