I’d really love to dive straight into some New Testament examples of how to read the Bible from a kingdom perspective, but we can’t start there. We acquire the perspective from the Jewish Scriptures, and then apply it to the Gospel stories.
In our posts so far, we’ve suggested that:
- Jesus understood the kingdom as the core.
- Jesus did not define the kingdom, because it was the story he and his hearers lived in.
- We don’t get this kingdom perspective, because we live in such a different culture.
- The Jewish writings from the period leading up to Jesus can help us see as they saw (i.e. the second temple literature helps us acquire their worldview).
I’m not going to walk you through the fourth one! It took a few years of part-time study of the second temple literature before the lights went on and I began to see the kingdom as they saw it, but I won’t try to take you on that journey. Let’s jump straight to the results.
Once you get it, this whole perspective is really obvious. The kingdom of God is the whole story—everything that’s happened on God’s reign.
If you were asked to write about the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, you would research the period when she reigned. What was happening in the realm when she became queen? What changes did she make? Who were her supporters? Who were her enemies? What did she achieve during her reign? What issues were still unresolved at the end of her reign? The story of her kingdom is everything that happened under her reign.
The story of the kingdom of God is everything that has happened under his reign. Ever since he formed the earth as his realm, he has been our sovereign. Unlike human kings who cease reigning when the die, God reigns for ever and ever. They whole thing—everything that happens on his watch—is the story of his kingdom.
And it’s the most amazing narrative! The journey from creation to new creation—the whole story involving a rebellion against his authority, and how he never gave up on us, and how he sets things right, and how he is ultimately acknowledged as Lord of all—the whole thing is the kingdom of God! That entire trajectory was the centre of everything for Jesus, including his crucial role in bringing the rebellious realm back under his Father’s government.
Are you interested in reading the Bible from this perspective? We begin with Genesis on Friday. If you would like to be notified when new posts arrive, enter your email address and click “Follow.”
What others are saying
Michael W. Goheen, Reading the Bible as One Story, 2005:
Jesus announced good news: ‘The kingdom of God is breaking into history.’ This is not the kind of announcement that could be relegated to the religion page of a newspaper. This is world news—front page stuff! This is headline news on CNN. It was an announcement that God’s healing power was invading history in Jesus and by the Spirit to restore the whole creation to again live under the gracious rule of God. His proclamation of good news stood as the climactic moment of a story of God’s redemptive work told in the Old Testament that stretched back to God’s promise to Adam and Eve. Jesus announced that the power of God to renew the entire creation was now present in Jesus by the Spirit. This liberating power was demonstrated in Jesus’ life and deeds, and explained by his words. At the cross he battled the power of evil and gained the decisive victory. In his resurrection he entered as the firstborn into the resurrection life of the new creation. Before his ascension he commissioned his followers to continue his mission of making the gospel known until he returned. He now reigns in power at the right hand of God over all creation and by His Spirit is making known his restoring and comprehensive rule through His people as they embody and proclaim the good news. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Creator, Redeemer, and Lord. But until then the church has been taken up into the Spirit’s work of making the good news of the kingdom known.