In literature, theme is defined as the main subject discussed and described in a book. More poetically, some authors describe theme as the heart or soul of a story. Understanding an author’s theme not only helps us understand a character’s internal journey through the external plot, but also helps us connect with the story and learn about ourselves. Undoubtedly, the bible presents many themes; in this four-week series we consider Christ and the Presence, Kingdom, Priesthood, and People of God. If there is one overarching theme that incorporates all others many theologians suggest it is Kingdom.
Typically, when we think of the word kingdom we think of a realm or territory ruled by a king. The biblical sense of kingdom is centered in the rule and reign of God rather than a realm or people. Even secular definitions recognize this; consider the Encyclopedia Britannica’s definition: [kingdom] “refers primarily not to a geographical area or realm nor to the people inhabiting the realm but, rather, to the activity of the king himself, his exercise of sovereign power. The idea might better be conveyed in English by an expression such as kingship, rule, or sovereignty.” How the bible works through this theme of kingdom from front to back can be helpfully summarized as follows:
1) Kingdom Revealed
Genesis 1-2, the account of creation
2) Kingdom Forfeited
Genesis 3-11, the Fall and its effects
3) Kingdom Foretold
Genesis 12 – Malachi
4) Kingdom Reclaimed
5) Kingdom Fulfilled
Return of Christ
The bible tells us that God is restoring the world to his original design through Jesus Christ. The world is in a state of brokenness because of mankind’s rejection of God and His plan. By Genesis 12 we have God’s covenantal promise to Abram that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed. The prophets foretold of a coming messianic rule, and Jesus is later presented as the messianic servant king of God’s Kingdom. His life and ministry point to the sense of God’s kingdom being his rule and reign, rather than realm and people. John the Baptist emerges from the wilderness to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 3:2)” Jesus said, “If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:20)” Though this kingdom is “not of this world (Jn 18:36)”, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus.
Where does that leave us? Though the Kingdom of God is his rightful rule and reign there are implications to the kingdom, and of primary importance is the King’s people. As Graeme Goldsworthy first summarized, we are God’s people living in God’s place under God’s rule. And as his people, we are not mere passive observers, but called to pray: “Lord, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Our calling is to make God’s invisible kingdom visible. We do that by living transformed lives in such a way that we bear witness to Christ’s kingly rule in our families, vocations, relationships, hobbies etc.