BY HEIDI DEAN
I first sung in Handel's Messiah as a high school student, when a local college invited our community to join its production. Handel’s arias and choruses brought goosebumps, heard live from within the choir. But the piece that brings the entire audience to its feet is, of course, the Hallelujah chorus. The text comes straight from Revelation 11:15:
“The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of
our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever!”
It’s an announcement that thrills the soul—this world as the kingdom of God! We’re so wearily accustomed to a planet under the reign of sin and death that we can hardly imagine a world under the peaceful reign of God. Yet this is the grand story of all Scripture: to see Christ ruling and reigning over this world, with its plants and animals, cultures and kingdoms—to see all that He created finally freed from corruption and experiencing full glory. And we, the people of God’s kingdom, will be the ones to inherit and enjoy this world, in sweet fellowship with our Savior.
This grand vision is no unexpected surprise at the close of Scripture; it is the goal throughout. God’s kingdom, described as "God's people in God's place under God's rule" (Graeme Goldsworthy), is the storyline of His Word. It summarizes the biblical story better than even “Redemption,” because God’s kingdom depicts the opening and closing chapters of the Bible, before there was Fall and after Redemption is complete.
God’s kingdom is also the focus of Jesus’ teaching, whether in the parables, the Lord’s Prayer, or His announcement of the gospel. He announced His mission on earth saying, “The kingdom of God has come near: Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) The good news, or gospel, was good news of a kingdom. And He taught his disciples to pray, first and foremost, that God’s kingdom would come and His will be done here on earth, the way it is already being done in heaven.
The tragedy of Scripture’s story is anti-kingdom: God's people bringing curse upon God’s place as they rebel against God's rule. The downfall began in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve chose self-rule over God-rule. They rejected God’s command and aligned themselves with the serpent, and so committed treason against the Great King. Every sphere of life felt the reverberations of that act. Brokenness and corruption entered every realm—human, animal, and physical— when God’s rightful place at the center of it all was called into question.
Throughout Scripture, God’s people continued to bring curse upon God’s place—to the point of eviction. Isaiah wrote, "The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth..." (Isaiah 24:5-6). We see humanity evicted from the garden. Evicted from the temple. Evicted from the land of Canaan itself.
This is the only world we’ve ever known—a world of brokenness and curse, distanced from its Creator and Life-Giver. Can it be true that this world will really “become the kingdom of our Lord”?
To read more about God's story of Kingdom, purchase your copy of BECOMING: Story!