Sermon: Thy Kingdom Come
Scripture: Matthew 6:10
In this week’s lessons, we learn what the kingdom of God is and how it manifests itself on earth.
Theme: God’s Kingdom
The second petition of the Lord’s Prayer is related to the first one, for it is a request that the kingdom of God might come. What is God’s kingdom? This question is not so easily answered as one might think. For the views of Bible teachers and commentators have often differed greatly. Moreover, the Bible presents so many aspects of God’s kingdom and presents them in so many lights that any short answer is inevitably an incomplete and often misleading one.
Some time ago in one of the question and answer periods connected with a series of talks I was giving, I was asked whether the kingdom of God mentioned in the Bible was past, present, or future. The questioner had in mind the debate on that subject that has been going on in scholarly circles for some years, involving such names as T. W. Manson and C. H. Dodd of England, Rudolf Bultmann and Martin Dibelius of Germany, and Albert Schweitzer. I replied with a summary of that debate, and then with the statement that the biblical viewpoint could not be expressed adequately even in those three terms. In one sense the kingdom is certainly past, for God has always ruled over men and history. But at the same time it is also present and future. Thus, God rules today, and will continue to rule. And the Lord Jesus Christ declared to the men of His day that “the kingdom of God is among you [meaning Himself]” (Luke 17:21), while also instructing His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” In other words, the more one looks at the statements in the Bible about the kingdom the more one feels that it transcends any of these temporal concepts.
Perhaps the most important thing to be said about the kingdom of God is that it is God’s kingdom. This means that it is exalted far above the kingdoms of men and is infinitely superior to them.
We look into the pages of history and we see the kingdoms of this world rising and falling across the centuries. Historians tell us that the world has known twenty-one great civilizations, but all of them have endured only for a time and then have passed unceremoniously away. Once Egypt was a mighty world power, but today it is weak, and is unable to contend even with the tiny state of Israel. Babylon was mighty, but today it is gone, its territory divided. Syria, once strong, has become an archeological curiosity. Greece and Rome have fallen. Moreover, we know that even the United States of America and the Soviet Union, although now at the pinnacle of world power, will not be able to escape that inexorable law of God for history: “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Pride can also bring each of them down.
What was the first request in the Lord’s Prayer? How do you think it is related to the one we are looking at today?
What may be the most important thing about the kingdom? Explain what this means.
Reflection: Contrast the kingdom of God with earthly kingdoms of men. What is the nature of each kingdom? How does each one function? What characterizes each kingdom? What are their goals, and what are their eternal destinies?
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Philip Ryken’s message, “Kingdom Come.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)