By now it is common consensus that no one theme adequately captures the message of the Scriptures.
It is not my intention to dispute that hypothesis here, for almost any center chosen tends to domesticate one theme or another. I maintain that there are a number of different ways to put together the story line and theology of the Scriptures that are legitimate. We should not insist, therefore, that one theme captures the whole.
Indeed, the word ‘center’ is ambiguous. Are we talking about the central theme of the story or the ultimate reason for the story?
Here my focus is on one of the major themes in the narrative. I have argued elsewhere that the ultimate reason and purpose for the story is the glory of God, and hence I will not focus on the reason for the story. Here the intent is to focus on the story line as it unfolds. The theme pursued must be flexible enough to comprehend several different interlocking themes in Scripture so that it summarizes the fundamental message of the Bible. I intend to argue that the ‘kingdom of God,’ if that term is defined with sufficient flexibility, fits well as a central theme of the entire Bible.
Let me hasten to say that such a thesis does not rely upon a word study approach, for it is quite obvious that the kingdom of God cannot be a central theme if we count up how many times the word ‘king,’ ‘kingdom,’ or ‘rule’ and ‘reign’ appear, for in many books of the Bible they do not appear at all. Instead, the contention here is that the phrase ‘kingdom of God’ thematically captures, from a biblical theology standpoint, the message of Scripture. Now I would immediately add that God brings in the kingdom for the glory and praise of his name.
Perhaps it will help if I sketch in what I mean by ‘the kingdom of God.’
First of all, the kingdom of god designates the rule of God.
In one sense, God is always the King of kings and the Lord of lords, reigning over everything that happens. But in another sense, God’s rule has been flouted since the fall of humankind, and the Scriptures tell the story of the kingdom regained. The objection to seeing the kingdom as central is that it does not seem to fit with the Writings of the Hebrew Bible—for example, the book of Proverbs. I would argue that Proverbs (and the other books from the Writings in the OT) fits with such a notion, even though the term ‘kingdom’ is virtually absent in Proverbs. I will demonstrate that the Wisdom literature features the supremacy of God in everyday life, showing that he rules over the particulars of our existence. We will see that Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes teach that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. To fear the Lord is to live under his lordship.