We are going to dive into what the Bible means by Kingdom. These blog posts are meant to supplement the recite material as children grow older. We want to give parents resources to have deep and meaningful conversations with their kids about the most critical biblical topics.
THIS QUARTER’S TOPICS (1ST AND 2ND SAMUEL):
Define Justice, Righteousness, Mercy, and Grace
What is Kingdom?
Structure of the Temple
Plot in Narrative
God as King
Major Character: David
Kingdom… Isn’t that what England Does?
Kind of. Kingdoms conjure up ideas about princesses and castles. In one sense, they stir nostalgic feelings for the old days of chivalrous knights and noble… nobles. In another sense, Kingdoms carry ideas of corruption and totalitarian rule. So what images should we bring to the text? What did Biblical authors mean by the term kingdom? How should it be understood in our context?
First, Kingdoms have changed over time. Primarily when most people think about the term kingdom, we think about an area of land defined as a nation that has a king. Kingdom, for us, primarily carries a political and national character. This is one aspect of kingdoms that the Biblical authors would have been familiar with, but a spot of land does not a Kingdom make.
Kingdoms were primarily the dominion of Kings. We don’t often use the term dominion, but this is how we should approach the Bible when thinking about the term kingdom. The green level Lamplighters material says,
Kingdom is a way of living in relationship to the king and his subjects Lamplighters Material Y2Q1, Page 3, Green Material
Kingdoms have changed, but the idea of king has not. Though Western monarchies have stripped their kings of most of their authority, true Kings wield all the power. This is actually useful in thinking about a kingdom. A kingdom is where a king has authority. So if a King issues an edict or law, and 40 cities obey, then the King’s kingdom extends over those 40 kingdoms. If 5 cities that people thought were a part of the Kingdom can simply decide not to obey the king, then they technically aren’t under his dominion.
This is a useful idea, because it helps realign our mind around an important concept to Jesus, which is the Kingdom of Heaven.
How would you define kingdom? How is this different from a Biblical definition of Kingdom? How is it the same?
What determines the ‘goodness’ of a kingdom?
Kingdom language pervades Jesus’ language about heaven. God is the King in Heaven.
What kind of decisions would you expect from God as king?
In one sense we are subjects of God’s kingdom, but in another sense, we are sons and daughters of the king. What does this mean for how we live?
The Kingdom of Heaven
The Kingdom of Heaven was the most important topic to Jesus. He talks about the Kingdom of Heaven more than any other topic. If we have lost sight of this fact it means that we have become overly familiar with the texts, or perhaps don’t read the Gospels in their entirety. Even the way that the Gospel writers have organized their works is based on this central theme.
If we apply our definition of Kingdom to the Kingdom of Heaven, or as it is sometimes called, the Kingdom of God, then we understand Kingdom of Heaven to mean
The place where God’s will is done Lamplighters Material Y2Q1, Page 3, Yellow Material
Which is very different from how we often think of “Heaven” or the Kingdom of Heaven. When you read the Gospel accounts with this context, though, Jesus’ teachings take on a very relevant and sensible meaning. No longer is Jesus a teacher that is promising heaven to his disciples someday, but rather a subversive political figure who is letting people know that his “father” is a king, who is bringing a kingdom to Earth. Jesus invites people to be a part of the Kingdom by submitting to the king, today.
To Jesus, heaven is not a place where we can go someday, but a present reality that we can be a part of right now! To Jesus, in fact, Heaven is primarily the present reality of his Father’s dominion which is invading Earth.
To speak about the kingdom of Heaven, properly, though, we have to speak about another kingdom.
What are some of the implications of the Kingdom of Heaven being a present reality in addition to being a future promise?
What does it mean for a kingdom to invade another kingdom? What are the consequences for the kingdom that is being invaded?
If the Kingdom of Heaven is the place where God’s will is done, what does that mean for when we are obedient to God?
What kinds of actions, attitudes, and behaviors enlarge God’s Kingdom?
The Kingdom of Earth
The Bible is a story set in between two realms; Heaven and Earth. The very first chapter starts with a detailed discussion of these. It is not Heaven and hell, but Heaven and Earth. This following video would be excellent to watch and discuss with your kids. There is also a workbook that you could use to do an in-depth study tracing this theme through the whole Bible (here).
Tragedy on Earth
Unfortunately, Earth has become a place filled with death and destruction. This is precisely because of the following facts. The Kingdom of Earth is:
1. Human space which was separated from God. 2. The place where people choose to disobey God. 3. Jesus and his followers work for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Lamplighters Material Y2Q1, Page 3, Red Material
When many people discover these concepts, that God has his own space which is free from corruption and sin, they become indignant. Why can’t God just let us live there? The problem that we discover is that Earth is not a punishment, but a mercy. God patiently put people in the Kingdom of Earth in hopes that they will voluntarily join his Kingdom.
Some of this may sound strange. Much of our culture, especially our “Christian” culture speaks of heaven only as a place where the departed reside. Maybe one of the best ways to show what Jesus desires for Earth is to just carefully read the prayer he gave for his followers. Pay special attention to how Jesus speaks about Heaven and how he wants us to pray about our situation on Earth:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:9b-13
Is Jesus primarily concerned with “going to heaven when we die?”
What is Jesus concerned with in the prayer model he gave his followers?