Today our topic is the Kingdom is in hand. Now I know that for the most part many people have become more familiar with the phrase the kingdom is “at hand,” but our subject today is the kingdom is “in hand.” And there is a difference, a vast difference, between those two statements.
But let’s go ahead and begin with our introduction. First and foremost, the kingdom is one of the most controversial topics among us. Most religious denominations and organizations who are in the business of teaching the word of God as well as individuals do not believe that the kingdom is a reality today. In fact, they are speaking of, as I said before, the kingdom is in hand. The kingdom is a phenomenon of ongoing prophecy. In other words, it has not come into being, it is not a present reality, and therefore, everyone remains in expectation of the kingdom. Not only is there this constant expectation of the kingdom, but we also find that sometimes the non-presence of the kingdom is defined by looking at things which are in the world. For example, people will look at the world, and they will say, “See? Look at all of the sin around us. Look at all of the immorality around us. Look at all of the violence around us, the corruption, the rebellion, and all of the unrighteousness,” and therefore their reasoning is since we see all these things going on around us, how can anyone say that the kingdom is present, that the kingdom is in hand, that we in fact have the kingdom today. They conclude by looking at all of these things in the world that the kingdom cannot be a possibility; it cannot be a reality; it certainly cannot be present in this world. Now their view is simply that the kingdom cannot exist on earth because of sin, because of this unrighteousness that they see, because of all of the violence and cruelty that we experience in the world, even because of things such as pain and suffering. All of these things negate the idea that the kingdom could be present as a reality on earth today.
Well, I find it very interesting, for those who would assume such to be true, that let’s just take it on the grounds of this future paradigm, a futurist paradigm, and consider that when we look at the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, and see where, in the twentieth chapter, we have what is commonly referred to as the great white throne judgment. And with the great white throne judgment, we see that God has judged, that death and Hades has been cast into the lake of fire, that Satan is cast into the lake of fire. And following that scene, what we have next is the coming of the new heavens and earth, the passing away of the old heaven and earth, which by the way many people misunderstand. And we will have occasion to address that in future studies. But the Scripture tells us that the new heaven and earth arrived in chapter twenty-one. And chapter twenty-one is such a pivotal chapter about the renewal and about the in-breaking of the kingdom. Let’s just read a couple of passages here for a moment. In verse one, it says, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, also there was no more sea.” Now that is stated in Revelation twenty and verse eleven where the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was no place found for them. They could not stand before the face of him who sat on the throne. And then in verse two it says, “Then, I, John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Now, ladies and gentlemen, please take note of the fact that the Scriptures say that this New Jerusalem, this holy city, comes down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for a husband. Now that turns the rapture on its head for those who are are dispensationalists because they are expecting to be jettisoned up, and yet here’s the Bible saying that the new heavens and new earth come down on earth to be with men. But in addition, he says, “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them and they shall be His people. God himself will be with them and be their God.” So here is the statement that talks about dwelling with the people of God and dwelling with God.
Now let’s go further down in Revelation chapter twenty-one, and let’s notice, or actually in chapter twenty-two, where the text tells us that now we have the tree of life which bears all manner of fruit every single month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. My first question is, why would there be a need for the healing of the nations after the great judgment has come, after the old heaven and earth is passed away, and the new heaven and earth has arrived? Why is there yet a need for the healing of the nations? But notice, it says, “And there shall be no more curse but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it and his servants shall serve Him.” So this is the kingdom that is present at this point. Let us make that very, very clear. The kingdom is now present where we have this access to the tree of life, and this water of life which actually proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb. So if you can picture this kingdom, much like you would picture a kingdom in medieval times that had this moat of water around it and the trees beautifying its approach as you look at it, but there’s this river or stream running out from it which is called the water of life. And this is kind of the picture that we have in Revelation twenty-two. But the water of life proceeds from the throne of God, and the tree of life is likewise near and at the throne of God. By the throne, we refer to the kingdom of God. Now they shall reign (verse five) it says for ever and ever, and so there can be no question that we’re talking about the kingdom.
Now let’s notice the text that we’ll get into a little bit more later on, but in verse six, it says, “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true, and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.’ ” Now these things the Bible says would shortly take place. He said that in the very first verse of the Bible, “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him to how His servants things which must shortly come to pass, and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John who bore witness of the things which he saw. Therefore, blessed is he who reads and those who keep the words of this prophecy, for the time has drawn near.” The time was at hand, so at the time John wrote this way, way, way back, in the first century, he said the time was at hand for these things to come to pass, not just simply to begin, because he repeated that statement again in the end of the book, as we’re reading now in the very last chapter, to reiterate that the time for these things to come to pass was shortly. That means they were imminent. That means they were very, very near. Now, we are now in the time of the throne of God where there’s access to the river of life. There is access to the water of life or the tree of life, excuse me.
But let’s go down now to verse fourteen. And by the way he’s repeated that statement in verse ten, “And he said to me ‘Do not seal the words of this book or the words of the prophecy of this book for the time is at hand.’ “As a matter of fact, that time was so near that the Lord said, “He who is unjust tell him, or let him be unjust still. He who is filthy let him be filthy still. He who is righteous let him be righteous still. He who is holy let him be holy still, and behold I am coming quickly and my reward is with me to give everyone according to his work.” That’s a quotation from Isaiah chapter forty and verse ten and chapter sixty-two and eleven which is found in the New Testament in Matthew chapter sixteen verses twenty-seven and twenty-eight and its parallel chapters in the synoptic gospels which are Mark eight, thirty-eight and Mark nine, one and Luke nine, twenty-six and twenty-seven. Now all of those passages state, “For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his holy angels and then he will reward each according to his works. Assuredly I say to you there are some standing here who will not die till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom. Now Jesus wrote that or Jesus stated that during the time of his personal ministry. It was written in the first century and Jesus said at the time that the statement was uttered that there were some standing in His presence who would not die till they saw the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. So Jesus was not teaching nor in the expectation of a kingdom that would take thousands of years to arrive anymore than he was under the impression that it would take thousands of years for the people who were standing in His presence to die. And, ladies and gentleman, there’s not a soul living today who can point us to one of those disciples who was present with Jesus when he made that statement that is yet alive today. And that means that He came in his kingdom before they died or it means they are yet alive and Jesus would have to be a liar! Who can believe that? But that’s exactly the implication of teaching that He has not come and that the kingdom has not yet arrived.
So looking in Revelation, but let’s assume that this is all future. Let’s assume that such is the case and that you’re still waiting on it as we’re looking in Revelation twenty-two. Let’s see what happens after everything is fulfilled. So the Scripture says in Revelation twenty-two and verse fourteen, “Blessed are those who do his commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city.” So here is the access to the tree of life. Now, by this time, according to most people’s end times views, there should be no outside. There should be no more sinners. There should be no more corruption, no more immorality, no more violence, no more rebellion or unrighteousness, no more sin. But is that what the Scripture says? We have the tree of life, the water of life, the throne of God. The new heavens and new earth has arrived. And yet the Scripture says in verse fifteen, but outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. From whence did they come? The Scripture says they are outside the gate. Now, ladies and gentlemen, most people are under the impression that this is a scene in heaven, but we saw, from chapter twenty-one, that the holy city came down out of heaven to be with man. And the Scripture says behold the tabernacle of God is with man. Now, from that perspective, He said blessed are those who do his commandments that they may enter or have the right to the tree of life and may enter into the, or through the gates into the city. So there are people outside who were coming inside. From whence did they come? You see, if we see this for what it actually says, that they are yet on earth coming into the heavenly city which is come down out of heaven, then it makes sense. But even as we view that, there is an outside where there are sorcerers, the dogs, sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. They’re still doing these things, ladies and gentlemen, even after the new heavens and the new earth arrive.
So what is my point? My point is, the presence of these things on the outside are no argument against the fact that it has come. Because even if you took a futurist point of view to say that these things are yet future, you must yet deal with the fact that they are found outside the heavenly Jerusalem, outside that city that came down out of heaven from God. And so we should not be denying the presence of the kingdom simply because sin exists on the outside. Isn’t that what Jesus said when he spoke of the kingdom in Luke chapter eighteen and verse thirty-six? Pilate asked Jesus if he were a king, and Jesus agreed by saying to Pilate you say it. You would have no power unless it were given to you from above. And Jesus told him that. “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” So Jesus was letting Pilate know I am a king, but I’m not the kind of king that poses a threat to your jurisdiction, Pilate. I’m not the kind of king that poses a threat to the throne of Caesar. My kingdom is not of this world. I don’t take up military warfare and drop all kinds of chemical bombs and nuclear bombs and other weapons of destruction. That’s not the business that Jesus was in. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. And so, Jesus’ kingdom is about something totally different. As the Scripture says, the kingdom is not in eating and drinking but in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. So Jesus’ kingdom was in the world, but it’s not of the world. And therefore the world which is on the outside will behave as it will. But the kingdom exists, no matter what view you take, after the judgment has occurred, and there were still the unrighteous, the violent, etcetera, on the outside, so that’s no argument against the presence of the kingdom. So their view that the kingdom cannot exist because of sin or that the earth must be completely renewed or renovated is just simply unfounded.
Also when we consider the teaching of the kingdom, we must consider the subject of the Lord’s prayer or what is commonly called the Lord’s prayer which is in all actuality the disciples prayer. In other words, this is what Jesus taught his disciples to pray. In Luke chapter eleven, in the example that we see of the prayer in Luke eleven, they approached him and said to him, “Lord teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” And you will note that the things that he taught them to do or say in prayer were the very things that are said in Matthew chapter six where we see the prayer mentioned. And so it’s very, very important to understand that. This is what the disciples were taught to prayer, to pray. So we should say it is the disciples’ prayer or the prayer that the Lord taught his disciples to pray in Luke chapter eleven one and following. Now in this prayer in verse two of Luke eleven,and you find the same in Matthew chapter six, so he said to them, “When you pray, say our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom Come.” So he taught them to pray, Your Kingdom Come. But, ladies and gentleman, they were living during the time of Jesus’ ministry. And during the time of Jesus’ ministry, the kingdom had not yet arrived. But, we will see that Jesus announced it as near to come, just as we were speaking before in the Book of Revelation, so near that he said there were some standing in his presence who would not die till they saw the kingdom of God come with power.
So let’s look at some basic concepts about the kingdom. We were talking about the kingdom being at hand. This is very, very important for us to consider because the Bible says, “In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ ” And again in Matthew four verse seventeen, the Scripture speaking this time in reference to the Lord, He also taught that the kingdom was at hand, (Matthew four and verse seventeen). So both Jesus and John said that the kingdom was at hand. Then, as we look in Mark one, fourteen and fifteen, we have some very interesting statements that are made regarding this at-hand kingdom.
Now remember our lesson is the kingdom is in hand, and we’re certainly not going to complete the lesson today, but this is going to be some ongoing studies that may take a few messages to cover all the things that we want to say in this particular theme. But notice, in Mark chapter one verses fourteen and fifteen, the Bible says, “Now after John was put in prison Jesus came to Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. And saying that time is fulfilled.” Now, ladies and gentlemen, if you don’t grasp any other statement relative to the time of the coming of the kingdom, be sure and make a note of this one. And then go and take out your Strong’s Concordance or go to BibleHub.com and look up the word. The text says the time is fulfilled, and the word “time” is from a word in the Greek which is kairos, and it means the appointed time. This is a reference back to Daniel’s prophecy where Daniel said that the kingdom would come at the appointed time. He talked about the appointed time several times in his prophecy. This is that time that Daniel spoke about. And Jesus is now on the scene saying to the people, “The time is fulfilled.” That’s used in the perfect tense which means that this time had already come and stood as existing or having existing results. In other words, it already broken into the present and was remaining. It was existing in the present. They were in the fulfilled time. Now that’s contrary to what most people believe and most people are teaching today. They are teaching that we are waiting for the fulfilled time. But Jesus said, way back in the first century during the time of his public ministry even before he died, that this appointed time, (and there can only be one appointed time) that this appointed time had come and stood present as an existing result. And because the present time had come, He said the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel. So they were to repent and believe in the gospel because the kingdom was at hand.
Now I want to, in these last few minutes, point out that the time had to arrive first before the kingdom could come. In other words, the appointed time had to be present because the kingdom had to come within the appointed time. It’s just like you say, “Well, I’ve got to go to the doctor at ten a.m. because I have an appointment” or to the dentist. Well, the time, and let’s say it’s Saturday, and your appointment is next Friday. Well, you’re not going to go on Saturday. You’re not going to go on Monday. You’re not going to go on Wednesday. If your appointment is on Thursday of that week, then you’re going to go at ten a.m. on Thursday. You’re going to wait until the time comes before you leave the house heading to the appointment. And that’s exactly what Jesus is saying here. He’s saying the time had come, and now it’s time for the kingdom to come.
But in addition to that let’s go to Galatians chapter four. That time had to come in order for Jesus to come on earth. Here’s what the Bible says: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” Now we know the Bible taught that God was going to send Jesus Christ. He had been teaching it for four thousand years, all the way back from Genesis. As a matter of fact, it had been purposed before the foundation of the world. Isaiah fifty-three prophesied He would come. Psalm twenty-two prophesied he would come, and many other passages all through the Prophets, all through the law of Moses, as well as all the Prophets who had spoken foretold that Jesus was coming. And they talked about him coming being born of a virgin. “Behold the Lord shall give you a sign, a virgin shall conceive. They shall call His name Emmanuel which being interpreted is God with us.” So the Prophets had spoken, but God wasn’t going to send Jesus before the appointed time. So the time had to come first, and then Jesus would come. But what time? The fullness of time! Ladies and gentlemen, do you not see it? The Scripture says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, then God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law.” Not before, but when it had come. So if Jesus came to the earth in the first century, that was the fullness of time that the Bible had spoken about. And there were two things that were supposed to happen in the fullness of the time. Number one, the kingdom would come, and number two, the Lord would come in his kingdom. And we cannot deny that the time had come because that’s what Jesus announced. The time had come, and this is why we’re speaking of a lesson or speaking in this lesson on the kingdom is now in hand because the time was in hand way back in the first century.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s all the time that we have for this broadcast. and I’m looking forward to continuing these studies with you in the upcoming broadcasts.