Want a quick overview of the story of the kingdom of God? Here it is: the plotline from Genesis to Matthew 6.
God designed earth to operate under heaven’s management. God designed people as his representatives, to care for the earth and its creatures on his behalf. Grasping power that should have been in God’s hands led to hostility against God and violent conflict with each other. It’s what’s wrong with the world as we know it: a beautiful world, where people do ugly things.
Our heavenly sovereign wanted to repatriate us under his governance, but he would never force himself on us. He allowed the nations to go their way. Then he chose a family to build a designer nation to showcase his rule, so the nations would see the blessing they were missing. Exodus tells the story of God rescuing this family from human rule to be the first nation ruled by God.
Continue reading “The kingdom story so far (Genesis – Matthew 6)”
We’ve finally reached the verse that launched this blog. So what did Jesus mean by “Seek the kingdom”? What is God’s kingdom? How do we seek it?
Open Matthew 6:33.
Because we don’t understand the ancient world of kingdoms, Matthew 6:33 is one of the most misapplied verses in the Bible. It’s very popular in journals, study guides, and spiritual formation books. These writers want to make the application as personal as they can for their individual reader. As they understand it, I enter the kingdom through personal faith, and I seek the kingdom through my devotional life and spiritual disciplines. The goal is to encourage me to personally seek God, so his kingdom comes into my heart and his righteousness comes into my life. Great personal goals, but it’s not the kingdom.
Here’s just one example of “kingdom” applied personally. This is what the Word Bible Commentary series says about the command to seek the kingdom (Matthew 6:33): Continue reading “What is seeking the kingdom?”
Check out the most popular posts in the first year of “Seeking the kingdom.”
Twelve months ago this blog was born to draw attention to what Jesus thought was the most important thing in the world: the restoration of God’s reign (kingdom of God). Continue reading “First birthday: the top dozen”
While asking us to be truthful, Jesus revealed how he understood the kingdom.
Open Matthew 5:33-37.
You know those “aha” moments where you finally catch on to what someone was talking about? Something they took for granted finally clicks into place for you. There’s one of those embedded in what Jesus said about avoiding oaths. Here’s a chance to see how he understood the kingdom. Continue reading “As true as our king (Matthew 5:33-37)”
Relax and enjoy the animation.
The Bible Project produces animated video summaries of Bible books and themes.
They’ve created a great little summary of The Gospel of the Kingdom (5 minutes). Watch on YouTube, or save a copy by right-clicking the Download button on this page (430 MB).
They also have some great introductions to books of the Bible, giving you the background and overview you need when you go to study a book. Check them out. My favourites are Genesis and Romans (2 videos each).
Is there a difference between “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven”? Or are they interchangeable?
What does Matthew mean when he talks about the kingdom of heaven? Modern readers may miss the Jewish story, and imagine he means going to heaven when we die. For example, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). So why is it so hard for rich people to get to heaven? Continue reading “Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of heaven?”
What kind of ruler could bring an end to war and injustice? He’d need to be a very different kind of ruler, and all humanity would need to submit to him.
As you read the Christmas story, do you see how rulers today still rely on evil and death as Herod the Great did? The spirit behind Herod reigned in the rulers who came before him: Antiochus Epiphanes IV, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh Neco, Sennacherib, …
When Fidel Castro died, some rulers like Canada’s Justin Trudeau sparked a social media storm for eulogizing him (#trudeaueulogies). Michael Bird chipped in with examples of how rulers still reign through the power of death: Continue reading “One ruler can bring humanity home”
The New Testament is not a stand-alone story. It’s the surprising plot twist that resolves the old kingdom struggle in a new way.
We’ve spend six months reading the first book of the Bible, showing the kingdom of God is the theme that binds the story together. We’ve seen why Jesus thought God-as-king was the central plot line. So I’ve been bursting to bring that understanding of the kingdom over from the OT into the New. Today we’re starting with Matthew’s account of the Gospel. Continue reading “Matthew’s main message”
We’re jumping to Matthew to prepare for a meaningful Christmas.
The whole narrative of Scripture is the story of God’s kingship, the kingdom of God. Earth belongs under heaven’s reign. That’s what the kingdom of God means. It’s the central theme of the Bible, and the central character is King Jesus—the ruler who restores the earth back under heaven’s reign.
In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating the birth of the king. Okay, that’s not how Christmas is usually viewed in our culture, but it is how Matthew described it. So instead of continuing with the story of Joseph in Genesis, we’re skipping over to the New Testament. The kingdom perspective will reshape how you think about Christmas. Continue reading “Christmas: birth of earth’s king”
Were the prophets who predicted Trump’s victory right?
Now that the American presidential election is over, I’m writing to beg my friends not to confuse your allegiance to Jesus with your allegiance to a political party or to your nation. I’m an Aussie. I’m neither pro-Trump nor pro-Clinton. I am pro-Jesus. I’m writing this because 4 out of 5 white Evangelicals voted for Trump, and some (not all) of you confused support for Trump and support for Jesus. I beg you to listen, because that’s really dangerous to your faith. Continue reading “Trump and the kingdom of God”
The core of the OT narrative is the story of God’s reign.
There’s a plotline that integrates all the little narratives of the Bible into a purposeful story. With all the twists and turns of a suspense thriller, the Bible’s narrative has a single focus: the unfolding story of the kingdom of God.
Over the last five months we’ve traced the meta-narrative of the kingdom through the first half of Genesis. In the previous two years, I’ve personally pursued that journey through the rest of Genesis and Exodus. The integrated picture of God’s kingship and kingdom is absolutely stunning. Want a taste? Continue reading “The kingdom in the Old Testament”
How do you understand the gospel? Having a personal Saviour, or being the kingdom of God?
If the kingdom is so central to the Biblical narrative, why do we miss it?
In the last few hundred years, we’ve developed a culture where the spiritual is separate from the natural, where faith is separate from science, where the church is separate from state. I grew up in this world. When I was a child, an elder of our church taught me not to worry about people’s physical needs. “Leave it to the Salvos and the do-gooders to feed their bodies now,” he said. “What really matters is to save their souls so they go to heaven when they die.”
Continue reading “Your God is too small”