Friday, March 8, 2013

Thy Kingdom Come

In a Day when the foundations of society are crumbling, a day of gathering storm and deepening gloom, a day of unprecedented peril in which thoughtful men speak of the collapse of civilization and the possible annihilation of cities and nations; even of mankind, the sovereignty of God is an unfailing encouragement that light the path of the just and affords assurance to all the faithful, who take great comfort in the words of James in the historic council of the assembly at Jerusalem: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the ages” (Acts 15:18).

God, who has “declared the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done,” has said, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isaiah 46:10). He who “works all things after the counsel of His own will” is at work in the world in these momentous times, moving inexorably toward fulfillment of an eternal purpose that antedates creation and gives meaning to human history. History, by divine appointment, is teleological, and the sweep of human events, whatever the sound and the fury, moves toward the appointed end: Thy Kingdom Come.”

Nothing in the course of events can alter the appointed outcome. The unfolding of the days and years, whatever their number, ultimately will issue in all that was foretold by the prophets of old, by our lord and by his apostles. The witness of history past, confirming “the prophetic word made more sure (1 Peter 1:19), attests that human events ever move toward the inevitable denouement on which creation itself is predicated: the coming of “the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the ages” [disruption of the ages].

There is, of course, a sense in which the Kingdom of God is eternally present rather than prospective, co-existent with Him who “before the mountains were brought forth or ever He had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting is God” (Psalm 90:2). But the Kingdom of God, as proclaimed and anticipated by both Jesus and the apostles and prophets of old, is yet future and awaits its manifestation at the end of this age, to appear in a moment of spectacular divine intervention at the coming of God’s anointed one, the Messiah, in power and judgment… but appearing also as the consummation of a long process, as implied in our lord’s parables.

Why a long process? Why not, instead, instant Kingdom? Could not God, in the act of a moment, have created the everlasting Kingdom He purposed from before the foundation of the ages? Are not all things possible for God?

All things indeed are possible for God, but only within the limitations of consistency with His own nature and being.  All His actions are consistent with the nature of His being, a fact which is essential to His integrity and which does not in any way impinge on His sovereignty. God cannot lie, for example, nor can He change, nor can He deny Himself. We may reverently assume that, for the kind of Kingdom He intends, God is following the only possible course, the process of human history.

The process comprehends all that God has done, beginning even before His mighty acts of creation when He “laid the foundations of the earth and the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:4, 7). It comprehends the creation of angels before earth itself and the origin of sin in the transgression of angels against the will of their Creator. It comprehends the creation of man in the image and likeness of God and the entrance of sin into human experience in the disobedience of man to the word and will of His Creator.

The process comprehends the moral self-discoveries and the redemptive revelation and encounters experienced by the patriarchs of old and all the faithful of their generations. It comprehends the experiences of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and a nation descended from them, and the judges and kings and prophets who appeared among them.

The process comprehends the redemptive mission of Jesus, unfolded in his special creation in the womb of his mother Mary, life, ministry, death as a sacrificial sin-offering, resurrection, ascension to the right hand of his God and his Father, and ultimate return in righteous judgement. It comprehends the labour of the apostles and the witness of the assembly to eh Messiah and his saving good news [gospel] message about the coming Kingdom of God in all generations until the coming of the King and the Kingdom of God, which he will rule over as God‘s Vice-Regent.

The process whereby God is bringing about the Kingdom which He purposed before the ages began comprehends “all nations of men… on the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26) and involves every man and woman. Human history in its totality is the milieu in which the age upon age lasting Kingdom is to be wrought… and in which the election determined by God from before creation; an election wholly identified with the Kingdom; is realized.

“Thy Kingdom Come”; the Kingdom which was the concern of Jesus all the days of his life, and was the burden of his preaching, the subject of splendid promises and solemn warnings, and the central theme of all his teaching from the beginning of his ministry to the time of his ascension (Acts 1:2), and that message will be proclaimed and published by all those who are faithful in him until the end of this age.