What Did Jesus Mean When He Prayed, "Thy Kingdom Come"?

by Toli Bohonik, e-mail: toli@prostar.com

The most famous prayer in all of scripture is probably the "Lord's Prayer" in the sixth chapter of the book of Matthew. It is a prayer that we memorized as children, and many of us can still recite it by heart. With it the Messiah teaches us how to pray. Jesus begins by giving praise and honor to the Father. He says, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name" (Matt 6:9). Jesus then goes on, "Thy kingdom come" (v.10).

Have you ever wondered why the very first request the Messiah makes of the Father is to send the Kingdom of God to this earth? Have you ever asked what time frame Jesus Christ was referring to? When did He want the Father to send the Kingdom? Also, why did He tell us, His disciples, that we should pray for God's kingdom to come? Jesus knew what He was asking for—but do you?

Why Pray for the Kingdom of God?

It was near the beginning of His ministry when Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray. Many have assumed that He was telling them to pray for something that would not come for at least another 2,000 years. Two thousand years is a great expanse of time, far beyond the ability of most of us to comprehend. It would seem unnecessary, almost futile, to pray for something so far into the future. Did Jesus expect us to pray for something He knew we would never see in our lifetimes? Are we being asked to pray an unanswerable prayer?

Oh, yes, there would be one final generation at the end of the age that would watch the Kingdom of God come to this earth, but that generation would involve such a small fraction of the people of God, especially when you consider all the Christians who have ever lived prior to that time.

Millions of Christians have prayed the Lord's prayer and have asked the Father to send His kingdom. Certainly those who prayed for God's Kingdom to come when Jesus began His ministry in 30 AD did not cause it to come any sooner. They died in the faith, fortunate to have personally known the Messiah. But did the Father in some way answer their prayers? Were they in some way given access to the Kingdom of God?

Christians prayed for the Kingdom to come during the persecutions that fell on the true Church of God in the middle ages. They undoubtedly felt compelled to do so, since those were certainly very, very difficult times. They had read the Lord's prayer just as we have. What answer did the Father send to them? Did He in some way send them the Kingdom?

In quiet moments, when life was good, Christians, in their thankfulness for the Lord's kindness, have prayed for the Kingdom of God to come. They prayed as Jesus had instructed. Did the Father answer any of these prayers?

Yes, He did!

The Father, in a very real way, answered all sincere prayers asking for His heavenly kingdom to come to this earth! The Father answered by giving Christians access to His Kingdom now, in this lifetime. The Father's Kingdom, is, in a very real way, available to us now! It is ours for the asking and for the taking. We, in the Assembly of God, have direct access to the Kingdom of God! The World does not have any such access. That is why Jesus told us to pray "Thy kingdom come."

A Kingdom is "The Realm of a King"

Before we discuss how the kingdom of God is available to us now, we need to understand what a kingdom is. A kingdom can simply be defined as "the realm of a king, or sovereign." A kingdom must have a king—that is the main requirement. In our modern world we use the term "nation" instead of kingdom. But a "nation" and a "kingdom" are essentially the same. Today's nations are generally ruled by one individual. The ruler can be elected, or appointed, or he may be an hereditary ruler. Regardless as to how a ruler gets where he is, in a Biblical sense a ruler is considered as king over a kingdom.

The Father is Sovereign! He is the ruler of the Kingdom of God. The Father has ruled His Kingdom for all eternity. All things in the universe are subject to Him. Jesus the Messiah is subject to Him, all the angels are subject to Him and so are all Christians. In Eccl 8:2-5 we read about how kings rule, and the Father is the greatest of all kings. In verses 3-4 we read that the king "...does whatever pleases him. Where the word of a king is, there is power and who may say to him what are you doing?" The Father's power as King is absolute, He does what He pleases!

The Kingdom of God includes all that the Father has created and all that the Father has eternally ruled. We read that "...His kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation." (Dan 4:3). His Kingdom is without beginning and without an end. Also see Psalms 145:13, where we read "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations."

It is important to realize that the Kingdom of God is not the Church, nor is the Church to become the Kingdom of God. The Church will become an integral part of that Kingdom at the resurrection when we will inherit and enter it. We read in Dan 7:18 that the saints "...of the Most High shall receive the Kingdom, and posses the kingdom for ever and ever." The Kingdom of God is something we shall receive at the resurrection—we shall possess it! But the Church is not now the Kingdom of God.

It would be incredibly presumptuous to say that the Church is the Kingdom of God! The Church is new. It did not exist until there were men and women to become the church. Compared to the Kingdom of God, the church is ever so small in size. It is, in this age, limited and finite. It first came into existence anciently within the nation of Israel and continues its existence under the New Covenant. The Church is incredibly precious to the Father, but the Church is not the Kingdom of God.

God is Involved in the "Kingdom of Men"

We understand nations and kingdoms from an earthly perspective. The kingdoms of this world are to a great extent patterned after the kingdom of God. The book of Daniel deals in an unique way with the subject of kingdoms.

There is a great deal of discussion about the kingdom of men (singular) and the Kingdom of God in the book of Daniel. The "kingdom of men" is comprised of the various kingdoms of this world. There are also detailed prophecies about these various kingdoms and the eventual establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth.

The kingdoms of this world have been setup on this earth as a type of the Kingdom of God, but they are not God's Kingdom. God maintains a high level of involvement, even in the kingdom of men. The Father "...the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men." (Dan 4:17). Nebuchadnezzer was corrected personally by God. Nebuchadnezzer learned that it is God who sets up kings and removes kings. He also learned that the Father holds the rulers of the kingdom of men responsible for what they do.

Patterned After Things in Heaven

There are many things on this earth that are patterned directly after the Kingdom of God. We take most of them for granted. Take for example a sword, where did a sword come from? A sword was a part of God's Kingdom long before mankind used it here on this earth. The first mention of a sword is in Gen 3:24, where we read about cherubims and a flaming sword that guarded the way to the garden of Eden. Man did not invent the sword. It had a place of some kind in God's heavenly kingdom. It was obviously a weapon, but what was a sword used for in the Kingdom of God? We can speculate, but we really don't know.

Most of the creation about us is patterned after things in God's heavenly kingdom. Certainly the relatively few things that we recognize are only the tip of the iceberg. There are probably more on this earth than we can imagine. We read of armies in heaven and angels riding horses. Think about it, there are spirit beings who look like horses and other spirit beings who ride them (Rev 19:14). We read about chariots flying through the heavens. "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands; The Lord is among them..." (Ps 68:17). The chariots are spirit and the angels that ride them are spirit. The chariots apparently have wheels. Why are there chariots in heaven? And why are there wheels in heaven? We don't know, but they are part of God's heavenly kingdom.

Satan's Kingdom Exists Within the Kingdom of God

In John 18:36 Jesus plainly said that God's kingdom is not of this world. Satan rules over the kingdoms of this earth. Satan took Jesus into a high mountain and showed Him the glory of all the kingdoms of this earth, and offered to give them to Him (Matt 4:8-9). They were his to give! Satan does influence those kingdoms. When we look at the nations about us, and the rulers of this earth we must realize that we are seeing much of Satan's handiwork.

Satan was wise, rich, and beautiful (Ezekiel 28:11-19). He was on the holy mountain of God and he walked among the fiery stones present there. He became lifted up with pride, and filled with violence! His wisdom became corrupted, and he decided to take over the rulership of the Kingdom of God. Satan rebelled against the Father. His rebellion is chronicled in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 14:12-17). Satan the dragon and his angels were cast down to this earth (Rev 12:9). Jesus watched Satan fall from heaven as lightening falls from a stormy sky (Luke 10:18)! They became the spiritual rulers of this present evil world. Christ acknowledged the rulership positions maintained by Satan and His devils, Satan is referred to as the god of this world (II Cor 4:4) who blinds the minds of all the people on this earth!

We share the earth with Satan and the fallen angels. The inhabitants of the kingdoms of this earth, are under Satan's influence and rulership. There is a very real spirit "...that now works in the children of disobedience," the vast majority of mankind (Eph 2:2). All Christians must fight against this very powerful evil force. We can build the character of Jesus Christ (Gal 2:20) by resisting the sin, the corruption and the depravity so characteristic of Satan's governance (Deut 13:2-3).

We are expected to reach out and strive to build a loving relationship with our Father through His Son Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said "the violent" take the kingdom of God by force (Matt 11:12). When we reject Satan's way of life and Satan's authority over us, we break out of Satan's Kingdom. Upon repentance and baptism, our citizenship is transferred from this earth to God's heavenly Kingdom, and we become literal citizens of an eternal heavenly kingdom!

We Now Have Access to the Kingdom of God

The Father calls us out of Satan's world. He creates a veritable window to freedom for us. The Assembly of God is offered a way of escape from the corruption that Satan has built into this society and is given direct access to the Kingdom of God. Jesus, as our elder brother and the captain of our salvation, leads us into that Kingdom. It is only through Jesus Christ that we escape the evil rule of Satan.

In Matt 4:17 Jesus said "...repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." It was made available to the Assembly of God, and the Assembly of God is to preach that it is at hand now (Matt10:7). We have access to it now, today, in this fleshly life! In Matt 5:3 Jesus said "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Again it is ours now!

In Matt 6:33 Jesus tells us to seek this Kingdom first and foremost—to seek access to it now. It is through Jesus and His presence in the Church that the Kingdom has come to us. Jesus said "but if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the Kingdom of God has come upon you" (Lk 11:20). It has literally come upon us in the Assembly of God! Jesus meant what He said!

We are citizens of that divine kingdom. We are "...no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Eph 2:19). Once we are converted we become citizens of the kingdom of God. Satan no longer holds sway over us, he is no longer our master. We become sons and daughters of the Sovereign Who rules the universe, and we belong to the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. We have become a part of the Kingdom of His divine son. The Father has personally "...delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the son of His love" (Col 1:13).

The Father gives us the Holy Spirit. We are working with the Spirit of God to have the same attitudes and attributes of mind that the Father, the Messiah and the angels have in God's heavenly Kingdom. We become like Him. We dramatically escape this world. The rest of the world continues to be cut off from the Father and His Heavenly kingdom. Satan continues to rule and influence all of it! The wars continue around us, the hate continues the vanity continues the greed and the selfishness continue unabashed.

In the Lord's prayer, Jesus Christ said that we should pray for the Kingdom of God to come. He was saying that we can be converted and have the Father's Kingdom abide with us through His presence leading us and the comfort of the Holy Spirit abiding in us! Without that spirit we are not his subjects—we are "none of his" (Rom 8:9).

Our Names Are Written in Heaven

The "violent take the Kingdom of God by force" (Matt 11:12). The Greek for violent is biases and means "a forceful or violent man". We are to forcefully come out of Satan's world and take the kingdom of God by force. When we do this, we, the Assembly of the firstborn, have our names written in heaven (Heb 12:23).

The Father's magnificent throne is in heaven, and we read about it in the fourth chapter of the book of Revelation. The apostle John saw it in vision, and attempted to describe it for us. It is wondrous beyond words. The throne of God is surrounded by a sea of crystal, with an enormous emerald rainbow surrounding it. There are millions of angels singing praises to the Father. In the midst of the throne and around the throne there are four living creatures, one looks like a lion, another a calf, another a man, and the last, a flying eagle. There are twenty-four elders, very special angelic beings, who discuss matters of governance with the Father. All of these spirit beings praise and honor Him.

What a wondrous place for our names to be written—for our citizenship to be recorded! God shares this picture of His throne with us so that we will grasp where our citizenship now resides. The Church is given access to this very real Kingdom!

We Will Inherit the Kingdom of God

We are now citizens of God's Kingdom, but we have not entered it nor inherited it. It is important to realize that being citizens of the Kingdom with access to the Kingdom is different than entering the Kingdom of God. They are two very different things. To understand this, imagine a son that lives in his father's house: he has access to much of it, but it is not his house until he inherits it. The situation might be even better illustrated by an ambassador: he lives in a foreign country (the world), though he still has limited access to the country of his citizenship (the Kingdom of God). And, our Master said that he would go to his Kingdom and "prepare a place" for us (John 14:2-3).

We are yet to enter and inherit the Kingdom. Both are still ahead of us and will occur at the resurrection.

When Jesus Christ returns, those who died in the faith will be resurrected, and at that time they will inherit the Kingdom (Matt 25:31-36). Jesus will say "...Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (verse 34).

The Kingdom of God is something we will enter as spirit beings when we are born at the resurrection. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God ( I Cor 15:50 ). And we most certainly are flesh and blood. So we must wait to enter the kingdom of God.

Entering the Kingdom of God at the time of the resurrection is something that the Churches of God have always preached. That is our hope—birth into spirit life in the Kingdom of God. Yet now, in this life, we do have direct access to the kingdom of God through the death and life of Jesus Christ. We are reconciled to God by Jesus' death and saved by His life (Rom 5:8-10).

Their Prayers Were Answered

For the past two thousand years Christians have followed Jesus Christ's command to pray for God's Kingdom to come. When they did, the Father answered. He gave them direct access to the Kingdom. They broke free of Satan's evil kingdom and were given citizenship in God's heavenly kingdom. Jesus Christ now abides with each and every Christian—we are saved by His life. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). He is fulfilling that promise. In the world Christians do have troubles, but through the Messiah they overcome the world and Satan's influence (John 16:33).

When you pray, "thy Kingdom come" realize that it is one of the most important prayers that you can pray. That prayer guarantees you access to God's Kingdom and all of it's very special benefits!

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