What It Means to Pray ‘Your Kingdom Come’

The Gospels clearly identify two kingdoms, but the division is not between sacred and secular.

The miracles of Jesus are presented as evidence of a battle between two kingdoms: one of God and the other of Satan. Jesus continued, “If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil” (Luke 11:20–22).

 

Jesus’s ministry, as foretold by John the Baptist, was concerned with the kingdom. The word kingdom appears 118 times in the Gospels, of which fifty-two use the expression “kingdom of God” and thirty-one refer to the “kingdom of heaven.”

The difference between the two expressions is normally seen as stylistic, with Matthew preferring “the kingdom of heaven” for his more Jewish audience, who would not utter the name of God. At its core, Jesus’s teaching about the kingdom is summed up in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10; Luke 11:2).

The prayer is that God’s kingdom will come to earth and that God’s will be done on earth as is the case in heaven. Earth is spoiled by sin, but the question is whether it is spoiled beyond restoration. Jesus’s prayer clearly implies that there is hope.

Hope for Renewal

Any view can be pushed too far and fall into error, and this is true for a one-kingdom cultural mandate view. We may be tempted to think that our commitment to the earth will result in its renewal. This is not what the Bible teaches.

Ultimate renewal will not be realized until the time of Jesus’s return to earth, and he will do it. But that does not mean that we should not advocate for how it will be then by how that future is anticipated now. This is what New Testament readers refer to as the “now/not yet” tension of the kingdom.

What will the kingdom be like? It will be a place of justice, healing, and reconciliation (and many other qualities).

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