TILL KINGDOM COME
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
AUGUST 8, 2015
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the Kingdom of God has come with power.” (Mk. 9:1, RSV)
I heard this title and knew that God had something in it for me and maybe for you as well. The expression is a figure of speech I heard many times as a child, though it isn’t used today much. I Googled the meaning and got the following examples, “Do I have to keep assembling these units till kingdom come? I’ll hate her guts till kingdom come.” It obviously was meant to convey a very long time, probably because Christians back in my youth (as well as some still today), did not believe that the Kingdom of God is here now, but instead, have projected it out to some far off future time, probably after our death.
There’s an account in Daniel which indicates to me that the Kingdom has always been here. The main character of this story in question is Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the one who besieged and finally ransacked and burned the holy City of Jerusalem in 586 B. C., hauling off the temple treasures in the process. Included in an earlier group who were deported first were Daniel (renamed Belteshazzar), Hananiah (renamed Shadrach), Mishael (renamed Meshach), and Azariah (renamed Abednego) (Dan. 1:6-7).
Most of you know the story of how Daniel came to be put in authority by Nebuchadnezzar because he not only could interpret the monarch’s dream, but actually was able to first tell him the dream itself and then the interpretation, thereby saving the lives of all the holy men, the magicians and enchanters of the whole kingdom, including Daniel and his three friends. The dream was about a huge statue with a head of gold (Babylonian Empire), chest and arms of silver (Medo-Persian), belly and thighs of bronze (Greek), and legs of iron with feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay (Roman). In the king’s dream, the statue was smashed to pieces by a stone hewn, not by human hands. This stone that destroyed the statue “became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:31-35) What a great description of the Kingdom of God!
Daniel prophesied to the king, “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” (Vs. 44, NIV) Nebuchadnezzar was exceedingly impressed, declaring, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” (Vs. 47)
It sounded like a sincere confession of faith, the kind some of us have made in our lives, but alas, it was all talk. Soon after this proclamation, the monarch made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, which he set up on a plain in the province of Babylon. He then commanded his minions to announce that as soon as the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, they were to fall down and worship the image, which the study note says was of his god Nabu, from which the name Nebuchadnezzar was taken. Anyone who did not worship this image would immediately be thrown into a fiery furnace which the despot had built for this purpose. (Dan. 3:4-6)
I’m sure you remember the story that the king’s astrologers came forward and told him that the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, had refused to fall down and worship the statue. Furious, the king ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter, and confronted the three men, giving them another chance to comply with his decree. Of course, they refused, and the king had them bound and thrown into the blazing inferno.
You will also remember the thrilling moment when the king looked into the flames and saw 4 men walking, one of whom he described as “a son of the gods.” (Vs. 25) The king called them out of the furnace and made a proclamation that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was God! (Vs. 26-30)
Yet in spite of the proclamation that Nebuchadnezzar made to his people: “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:4), the monarch himself did not get the message and had to be given another, longer, more severe trip through the cactus patch. That entailed his dream of a mighty tree which was visible to the ends of the earth, and whose height reached the sky. In his dream, a messenger from heaven came down and commanded that the tree be cut down and its branches stripped off, yet the root was to remain in the ground. The messenger prophesied that the king would be given the mind of an animal and he would live like the animals among the plants of the earth, and this deplorable state would last “till seven times pass by for him.” (Dan. 4:10-16). The purpose of this trial was that Nebuchanezzar would learn that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.” (Dan. 4:17).
As it was spoken by the messenger from heaven, so it was done unto the king. After his sanity was restored, his ordeal finally made clear what was being shown to him. He declared, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:37, NIV)
Maybe Nebuchadnezzar was a slow learner, or maybe he was like I’ve been at times, forgetful of what God has shown me because I looked at my circumstances rather than at the promises of God. The Babylonian monarch looked at his seemingly unlimited power, heard all the flattery of his minions, and believed his press releases, i.e., that he was the almighty one. That wasn’t my problem or yours. Our circumstances are not regal, or mighty, and in fact, sometimes they are low and humiliating. But the fact remains that when we look only at what we can see with own eyes, we behold only the gory and totally miss the glory that is His kingdom which has come, is coming, and will continue to come until He reigns in all and through all existentially, in the here and now. Rev. 11:15, never ceases to thrill and excite me, for John the beloved gave us an eternal picture of what was and is, and is to come: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever’.”
What is our response to this? God shows us our individual response, but as the body of Christ, I believe that our united response is to bear witness to God’s authority and power in our lives. John’s statement in Rev. 12:10-11, has always gripped my imagination: “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” God’s power and authority over the world, the flesh, and the devil are here now. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, and we serve Him even as He flows through us. Realizing that He alone wields the power as He guides the steps of His children, allows us to enter into rest and cease from our struggles. We no longer have to wait “Till kingdom come,” for it is here, in the power and might and authority of our Father.
Father, how we praise you that You exercise Your authority and power in our lives and that You continually and progressively save us from ourselves, for as many times as we fall down, You pick us up out of the miry clay and set our feet on Mount Zion. Make us, Your City set on a hill, shine brightly to reflect Your glory to all we encounter. We join our voices with all those who have gone before us and those who are to come, declaring, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Amen.