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Matthew 6:10a "Jesus' Example of Prayer, Part 2: May Your Kingdom Come"

Another third person aorist imperative (ἐλθέτω) introduces a request. Jesus teaches His disciples to pray that the Father’s kingdom might come immediately after praying that the Father’s name might be sanctified. As with the first request, this prayer is highly eschatological and looks to the fulfillment of the New Covenant.

The Kingdom is a major theme in the New Testament, particularly in the gospels. Of the 162 uses of βασιλεία (kingdom) in the New Testament, 126 of them are found in the gospels. This lopsided distribution of this major theme indicates that the kingdom was a major part of Jesus’ first advent and yet this same kingdom received less attention by the apostles when instructing the churches. With so many ignorant and subjective statements being made about the Father’s kingdom, it is best to follow the trail of revelation laid out in Scripture. As we do so, we can summarize the Bible’s teaching of God’s kingdom into four general statements.

The Kingdom is the foundational context for creation – When God created man, He did so with a purpose in mind. The reason man was created in the image of God reveals that man’s purpose was to be a representative for God as he ruled and subdued God’s creation on God’s behalf (Gen. 1:26-28). While it is true that the term kingdom is absent from the text of creation, it is difficult to understand the role of ruling (רדה/ἄρχω) and subduing (כבשׁ/κατακυριεύω) outside the function of a king. In short, God placed man (Adam) as the sole king of the world to care for God’s creation and thus to implement God’s will. While Adam was a king, he was not a sovereign monarch but a vassal king who submits to God. This relationship was torn asunder when Adam allied himself with God’s enemy, Satan and thus rebelled against his master and plunging the whole terrestrial kingdom in rebellion. God’s vassal king mutinied and led all creation with him to live in subjection to the enemy, Satan.

This is the context of the curse (Gen. 3:14, 16a, 17-19) and the promise (Gen. 3:15, 16b). The serpent is marked as an enemy of God for all eternity while there is a promised seed to come from the woman who will end his reign of rebellion. Many recognize Gen. 3:15 as the first gospel in the sense that there is a promise of a curse reverser. While true, this promise primarily anticipates a coming king who will bring creation out of Satan’s grasp and place it back into the control of God. This promised seed was preserved through Noah (Gen. 6-9), promised to come through Abraham (Gen. 12, 15, 17), and specified to be one of the sons of Israel in Judah’s line (Gen. 49:10).

Through Israel, Yhwh provided a picture of His coming kingdom – As the promise of the coming Seed King passed from Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) to Isaac (Gen. 26:1-5) to Jacob (Gen. 35:11-12), God inaugurated another covenant with Jacob’s descendants; the nation of Israel (Ex. 19:6 ff.). Unlike the unilateral covenant that God made with Abraham, this covenant instituted a conditional relationship between the people of Israel as Yhwh’s kingdom and Yhwh as Israel’s king (Ex. 19:5-6). Similarly to God’s initial kingdom under Adam, this kingdom was to display God’s glory to the watching world that both Israel and the nations will know that He is Yhwh (Ex 8:22; 9:29; 10:2; 11:7; Lev. 23:43; Deut. 29:6; Josh. 4:24). If Israel would submit to Yhwh as Adam failed to do, then Yhwh would pour out the blessings of Eden upon them (Deut. 28:1-14). This nation was to be a picture of God’s kingdom being re-established upon the earth.

Such a kingdom requires a king, something that God anticipated (Deut. 17) and later provided when He took David from the sheepfold and made him king over all Israel (2 Sam. 5:1-5). As Israel’s chosen king, God established His covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:12-16). This covenant does not resemble the conditions made with Israel but with the unilateral covenant made with Abraham. The covenant made with David continues the promise of the Seed King made after Adam’s rebellion. The King who will bring the rebellious planet earth back under the banner of Yhwh’s kingdom will come from David’s own line. The first seed of David to rule as king was his son Solomon, a king whose wisdom, fame, and fortune exceeded all who were before him and have never been matched since (1 Kings 10:23-29). The vast and unfathomable greatness of Solomon’s kingdom was but a taste of things to come, for even this king was steeped in rebellion (1 Kings 11:1-8). While Solomon was a seed of David and king of Israel he was not the seed of David and king of Israel.

It is important to note that at this point the Bible has tied the promised Seed King who will take back planet earth from Satan’s domain with an Israelite king from David’s dynasty. In this way the fate of Israel is linked with the fate of the world. Thus, the fact that Israel slumped into the status of a failed state as a result of continuous rebellion against Yhwh is worthy of lamentation (2 Kings 24:1-4; 25:8-12). And yet, there remains hope. While the promises made to the people of Israel on Sinai were couched in conditional language, the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob about the nation of Israel and the Seed King to come carried no such conditions. Because God is a God of His word, then development of God’s kingdom plan is not yet over.

Through Israel, Yhwh will bring His Kingdom – God has forgotten none of His promise. The promise of the ultimate Seed King (Gen. 3:15), the blessing upon Abraham’s seed (Gen. 12:1-3), and the promise for David’s coming Seed King (2 Sam. 7:12-16) are still in play even though the nation of Israel has succumbed to cursing of their conditional covenant. Even this is a reason for hope, for only after the cursing can there be a time of repentance, restoration, and regeneration (Lev. 26:40-46; Deut. 30:1-10). This time of restoration anticipates a king who provides blessing in and from himself as he reigns over a global kingdom (Ps. 72). This kingdom, which was promised to David, is expressly described as belonging to Yhwh Himself (Obad. 21). In fact, there are hints that the king is both Davidic and divine (Hos. 3:5). This global kingdom will be so much more than a moral kingdom where justice is accurate, and sin is mitigated; it will be a new Eden were once again everything is good (Ezek. 36:33-37; Zech. 14:9-11). The restoration of Israel is so tightly connected to the coming kingdom of the promised Seed King that the two events can hardly be independently discussed. The coming Seed King is Israel’s king. Therefore, His kingdom, which will wrest the globe from Satan’s clutches and deliver it back to the Father, necessitates an Israelite kingdom.

The Kingdom was not fulfilled in the 1st century – If we are to take the Bible seriously at all, then we must admit that there has yet to be anything remotely like what the prophets anticipated regarding the coming Seed King or His kingdom. What the New Testament has made abundantly clear is that Jesus is the Seed King who is the Last Adam (Lk. 3:23-38), Abraham’s seed (Matt. 1:1, 2 ) and David’s heir (Matt. 1:1, 6; Lk. 1:32). With the coming of the Seed King one would naturally anticipate the kingdom to quickly follow, which the disciples did (Acts 1:6). The installment of the kingdom would begin with a military campaign conducted by the Messianic King (Ps. 2), much like Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, whereby all the armies of Satan’s dark domain would be shattered, scattered, and left as carrion (Ps. 63:9-10). It has been 2000 years since Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension and no such victory has been accomplished. The enemies of the King have yet to be made a footstool for His feet (Psalm 110).

In addition to this is the fact that as king of the world, King Jesus is supposed to be Israel’s king as well. And yet Israel rejected her king in favor of a Roman Caesar (Jn. 19:13-15) and have yet to look back upon Jesus and weep for their rebellion (Zech. 12:10). With Israel remaining an un-submissive and unrepentant people, it is difficult to imagine a present kingdom in any meaningful manner.

To this we should add the obvious fact that the disciples were instructed by the resurrected Lord for 40 days after His resurrection specifically regarding the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). After such instruction they still expected a physical kingdom on earth with Israel at its center (Acts 1:6). Rather than rebuke them for their slowness to understand or correct them for their ignorance, Jesus simply reminded them that they don’t get to know the time of this event but should focus on their task: to proclaim to the world that the king is coming to claim what is rightfully His (Acts 1:7-8). If the age of the church is to proclaim the coming King and His kingdom, then it is unrealistic to anticipate the kingdom as having already arrived with the church still in play. If the kingdom has already been established, then what is the church supposed to proclaim?

Finally, it would be wise to see what God’s word says regarding the actual timing of this kingdom. While nearly all who claim the name of Christ shy away from the book of Revelation, it is here that the apostle John records several helpful statements regarding the kingdom. In response to Jesus taking the book from the Father as the only one worthy to open it, the heavenly court praises Him as the One who has purchased the saints with His blood. These saints will reign upon the earth (Rev. 5:1-10). The point is that they are not currently reigning, nor is Jesus presently and physically upon the earth. The kingdom is still an anticipated event in Revelation chapter 5, not a realized event. In chapter 11, after the ministry, murder, and resurrection of the two witnesses, an angel proclaims that the kingdom of the world has become that of our Lord and of His Christ “and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). While we might debate whether this means that the kingdom is about to come or that it has now begun, it is clear that neither is the case at our present time. This statement is made after the completion of the witnesses’ mission so unless we can pinpoint in history these two witnesses, the kingdom is not a present nor a past reality and remains an anticipated event.

With all of this in mind, we should ask the question: what is it that Jesus wants His disciples to pray for? What are we asking God to accomplish? The coming kingdom of God assumes and/or necessitates at least five things. (1) The kingdom requires the restoration of Israel as a nation to her promised land and vindicated of her enemies (Obad. 15-21). (2) The kingdom requires Israel repents of her rebellion and submit to King Jesus who is in fact Yhwh in human flesh and thus rightly called David’s heir (Is. 52:13-53:12; Zech. 12:10; Hos. 3:5). (3) The kingdom assumes that the entire world, including Israel, will worship Yhwh in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:16-21). (4) The kingdom assumes the end of Satan’s reign of terror and domain of darkness (Rev. 20:7-10). (5) The establishment of the Father’s kingdom brings about the literal end of the world and the beginning of a new and good one (Rev. 21:1-22:5).

To believe in a literal Eden, Adam, and fall (Gen. 1-3) demands that one believes in a literal, physical, and future kingdom where God’s righteous vassal king takes back creation (Ps. 2; Rev. 19:11-21), rules over it in perfect righteousness (Dan. 7:13-14; Rev. 20:1-15) and then returns it to the Father (1 Cor. 15:20-28; Rev. 22:1-5). To spiritualize the end demands that we do the same with the beginning. It is curious how many professing Christians demand a literal and physical reading of Gen. 1-11 and yet attempt to explain away the nature of the kingdom as either a spiritual realm only or a moral rule brought about by man. If one prays for a coming kingdom that differs from the kingdom Jesus is speaking about, then one is praying for a kingdom that is not the kingdom of God. Theology matters.

The trend among professing Christians these days seems to prefer application to meaning. No one bothers so much with authorial intention so much as we want to be told what to do, as if we truly believe that righteousness is obtained by works alone. The application of this text is not to be invented. Jesus literally says “pray thusly…” In other words, to pray for a different kind of kingdom is to disobey the King of kings.


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