21st November 2022

The kingdom and the King

Part five of a series of studies on the Lord’s Prayer
“ ‘…your kingdom come…’ ”  Matthew 6:10 (NIV)

“Give us a king to lead us” was the demand the Israelites made to Samuel. They were ruled for about 400 years by a succession of priests and judges, beginning with Moses, and ending with Samuel. But the people looked around them, and they wanted a king like other nations. God allowed this move from a theocracy to a monarchy, but it came with a warning that any king would be a financial and a social burden. The people would serve in his armies, work on his land, pay him taxes and be his slaves. (1 Samuel 8:6,10-18).

A few of the ensuing kings of Israel were described as doing ‘what was right in the eyes of the Lord’ but even they were not without real problems. The kingdom became divided, and Samuel’s warnings were fulfilled. Even David, whom God described as being ‘after my own heart’, was mired in endless warfare in his kingdom, and involved in deadly deception and intrigue.

This is in contrast to the kind of king that Jesus is described as being, and the kind of kingdom he will rule over. His kingdom is characterised by ‘justice and righteousness’ (Isaiah 9:7).

From the beginning of his human life, Jesus was recognised as a king by gentiles – the wise men or ‘Magi from the east’ (Matthew 2:1). They asked people in Jerusalem, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (v.2). And at the end of this short human life, he was again recognised as king by a gentile. It was probably meant to be ironic when Pilate authorised the sign which read: ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’ (John 19:19). From Pilate’s point of view, his death meant there was no way he would challenge Caesar and lay claim to his kingdom. John 19:15 records the priests shouting, “We have no king but Caesar”.

‘Kingdom of God’ or ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ has over 160 mentions in New Testament scripture. A number of these are in parables told by Jesus and found in the 13th chapter of Matthew. From these stories we learn that the kingdom is something worth sacrificing material wealth for, something we should be prepared to work for, something that is hidden, something to rejoice over, something that will expand and grow…something that we could lose if we neglect it. The Pharisees were told by Christ that, not only were they denying themselves the kingdom of God, but also leading others away from it. (Matthew 23:13)

Christ’s ministry was totally focused on, immersed in, the kingdom of God. It was literally his life’s work and, in the same way, the prayer is focused on the kingdom. Without the resurrection, the concept of the kingdom would be meaningless. The resurrection demonstrates God’s power over death and His absolute defeat of evil. The resurrection places Jesus in heaven, at the right hand of God, preparing for that time when he comes into his kingdom. And in the meantime, those who have accepted Christ as their Saviour and coming King, are living a life that is ruled by that kingdom.

God gave the Israelites a king when they asked for it, and they experienced years of imperfect rule in a kingdom that was often invaded and where the subjects were taken into captivity. But he also then provided a perfect king in the resurrected Jesus Christ. He is the second Adam, the perfect High Priest and King returning to His temple and to establish the fullness of his kingdom here on earth. And He tells us to pray for that time.

In Jesus’ name, we pray for your promised, perfect kingdom, according to your perfect will. Amen.

Study by Maggie Mitchell


About the writer:
Maggie Mitchell attends the Northampton congregation of Grace Communion International and is Chair of the Pastoral Council

Local congregation:
GCI Northampton
Ecton Village Hall
78A High Street

Local congregational contact:
Maggie Mitchell
Email:  maggie.mitchell@btinternet.com

Word of Life contact: