Up until this point, much of the story has centered on the role that we, as Christians, play in living out the Kingdom of God on Earth. From the wild of sinful rebellion, God calls people into the orderly, good realm of His Kingdom.
While humans clearly are to play a role in living as citizens of this Heavenly Kingdom while on Earth, there is something that Christians must never forget; it is a fact that has been forgotten in the past and is potentially close to being forgotten in the present.
We do not usher in the final realization of the Kingdom of God. The job is still in His hands, and the completion will only be rendered at the Second Coming of Christ.
I say that it has been forgotten in the past because, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a growing belief that the world was improving to the point that God’s final reign was being implemented in the “here and now” (or in our ancestors’ case, the “then and there”).
Even some of humanity’s most brilliant thinkers and theologians were swept up by what’s been called the myth of progress––that the world was slowly but surely becoming a better place. Then World War I happened. Then, only 20 years later, World War II happened. Some of the most brutal wars ever fought in world history, accompanied by some of the grandest travesties against God and humanity, took place in the 20th century.
These devastating realities smacked across the face those religious and secular thinkers who fell for the myth of progress.
During this “Out of the Wild” series, I have attempted to connect each of the parts along the way with the unfolding story of Israel in the Old Testament with the New Testament descriptions for how the story continues. In the Old, the portrait of a realized Kingdom comes through King David’s journey to the throne in the Samuel and Chronicles narratives.
While David’s reign would be far from the final rule of God’s Kingdom, his reign would be viewed as the zenith of the Israelite monarchy. He was the “man after God’s own heart,” and his would be the fleshly line from which God’s promised King would come to establish His Kingdom forever.
That King, Jesus, would have two arrivals––a first to seek and save the lost and a second to deal the final blow to the kingdom of darkness. We currently live in the tension of what’s been called the “already, not yet” aspect of God’s Kingdom. Through the cross and the resurrection, the salvation victory for God’s people has been won. Yet, there still needs to be a final victory where evil is dealt with once and for all.
There still remains a need for God’s Kingdom to be consummated. In a sense, the cross was the payment and the Holy Spirit sealed the promise, almost like an engagement ring. Then, once the final battle is won, there will be the eternal life with God, which is inaugurated and celebrated during the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.
The wild of pain, death, and evil will be overthrown. Only love, life, and goodness will remain in God’s Kingdom of Heaven.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.