“Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”—Peter, speaking of the risen Messiah (Acts 3:21)
As Jesus neared Jerusalem, the crowds thought the Kingdom of God was about to “appear at once,”1, so He righted their expectations through the parable of “a man of noble birth [who] went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.”2 Though “his subjects hated him,”3 the man was made king as planned and returned home until a future time when his rule would become complete—his faithful subjects rewarded and all kingdom-resistance purged from his presence. The nobleman had become king, and his complete reign ultimately came.
Martin Luther explained the coming of God’s Kingdom occurs in two ways: here in time and forever as it is unveiled in eternity. Though no human mind can possibly conceive what God has prepared for those who love him,4 what we do know about the coming Kingdom ignites our spirits in hope and unites our hearts in awe. At that time, the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of God,5 and His rule will be complete. Satan who deceives us and accuses us will be “thrown down.”6 Though the vision exceeds the confines of our imagination, we will see a new heaven and a new earth where God dwells with us, and the way things are in this world will be no longer.7 “Nothing impure will ever enter”8 this Kingdom, neither sin, nor an evil one to tempt us to sin, nor the guilt and shame that follow. Yet perhaps the most stirring picture is that of a people overflowing with joy and unbridled in praise—“a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb … crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”9
This is where we are going; this is what awaits us. It is the perfect present photo of a future family pose. This written promise lives and leaps off its pages, filling us and inspiring us now to align every part of our being with the truth of what most assuredly will be. Then as citizens of the peaceful Kingdom of God living as exiles in the hostile kingdom of this world, there is purpose for us here and opportunity that exists only for the short time we remain. So we pray …
“Our Father in heaven, your Kingdom comes; nothing will stop it. Then may it come to us and flow through us, that we may live forever among the countless made righteous in Christ. We look to the day when we gather as one in your presence; let this vision guide us now. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
1 Luke 19:11
2 Luke 19:12
3 Luke 19:14
4 1 Corinthians 2:9
5 Revelation 11:15
6 Revelation 12:9, 10
7 Revelation 21:1-4
8 Revelation 21:27
9 Revelation 7:9, 10 ESV