Depending on what denomination or church movement/stream you belong to, you might have heard various teaching of when the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Within evangelical streams, it has been a common understanding that Kingdom is something that will come when Jesus comes back and establish his Kingdom.
That started to change from the 80-ies by John Wimber and the Vineyard movement, by the teaching Kingdom is here but not yet.
But I think this should link directly how we understand Jesus word to Peter in Matthew 16:18-29
”And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven*, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
*Matthew was writing to Jews reason why he do not say Gods name but instead use Kingdom of Heaven but all scholars agree it to be Kingdom of God used in the other gospels.
Is this authority and keys to heaven for now or in the future?
Many in the pentecost/charismatic movements have heard and been taught Jesus to come back for his Kingdom, first after times of tribulations in end of times. That is not always the case in other movements or denominations.
Well, how should we today understand “When” is the Kingdom?
First time Kingdom is used by Jesus is in Mark 1:14-15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Is at hand is used 14 times in NT and always to indicate something immediately happening.
e.g Like a compere presenting a new artist: here he is, be ready.
If we look in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 and the “parable of the weeds” it will help us to understand how Jesus saw the Kingdom coming and when.
Kingdom of God was a known concept for the Jews, they all lived with the question when would the kingdom come. Reason why Jesus asked, who say people I am?
Pharisees thought if the people became clean enough with the help of religious rules, then the Kingdom would come.
Zealots thought if they could with violence defeat the Romans then the King would come walking the streets to Jerusalem.
”He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘ Matthew 13:24-30 ESV
And then Jesus explains the parable to the disciples.
”He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:37-42 ESV
Jesus had to sit down and explain the Kingdom. Yes it will come, but in a different way. It will be a process. The old and the new will live together. Good and evil, blessing and curse, healing and sickness, joy and suffering. Wheat and weeds at the same time.
When Jesus claims he is “Son of man” he was referring back to Dan 7:13-14
”I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
- Jesus is sowing seed.
- Those that repent are the good seeds of the Kingdom.
- Weeds are the evil ones, the ones walking in the flesh, walking in rebellion.
- The enemy is the devil.
- The Harvest is the end of age.
- The angels will gather out of what? Yes from the Kingdom that is already there, not to come.
Jesus does not say destroy the harvest, just grow the wheat, and be aware of the weeds are growing at the same time.
But If the Kingdom is here, why do we see all these bad stuff happening?
Jesus simply stated the enemy did this. Not part of the Kingdom, sin did this.
The Weeds in this parable, was a special weed that got black when it was ready but green as everything else when growing. Very common at that time in Israel.
So Jesus said you need to wait to see the difference as when fully grown. Then you will see the difference.
So Jesus is saying, Kingdom is here now, but it is a process, and it will take time, and only when fully grown the day of judgement comes.
Gods new creation is today, now, the day of salvation is today, now. Gods Kingdom is today, now and it is advancing.