Friday, February 20, 2009

"On Earth As It Is In Heaven"

I have always assumed that "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," meant that we were asking for immediate and perfect compliance to God's will. But today I am struck by the juxtaposition of these two passages:

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.”—Revelation 12:7

"And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” —Matthew 11:12 (NLT)

War in heaven? The kingdom forcefully advancing under attack? It seems indeed that to voice this request is to enlist oneself in a revolution that struggles to succeed from the utter depths of creation to its very pinnacle.

Revelation 12 is more than prophetic, it is an apocalyptic summary of history. The war in heaven is fought in heaven and on earth, for the Evil One has been cast down and prowls about like a wounded lion seeking victims to deceive and devour.

God's will will be done, but not without effort. His people must engage in resistance against the Prince of this World and the world's system. Compliance with the spirit of our age is delusion. Denial of the raging battle is possible only for those sedated by the manipulation of the Enemy's occupying forces. "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done" is therefore our battle cry.

What do we know of this Kingdom? Here are some key things Jesus had to say about it:
  • Seek it first, with its righteousness/justice. Those who make great sacrifices for it will be rewarded in this life and the next – Mt 6:33; Lk 18:29-30
  • Its time is fulfilled and it is at hand – Mk 1:15
  • It is meant for the needy, oppressed, and persecuted – Mt 5:3-10; Lk 6:20-23
  • Some of his contemporaries would live to see it come with power – Mk 9:1
  • It contains mysteries revealed in his parables – Mk 4:11
  • It begins with God’s Word being received like a seed in suitable soil and goes on to bear abundant fruit – Mk 4:3-34
  • It would be taken away from Israel’s chief priests and Pharisees and given to a people who will produce its fruit – Mt 21:44
  • To enter it is to enter “Life” and worthy of drastic measures in severing ourselves from sin – Mk 9:43-48
  • Sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes will enter ahead of Israel’s chief priests and elders – Mt 21:23, 31-32
  • Entry is impossible, especially for the rich, without God’s help – Mt 19:23-26
  • It belongs to children and those willing to receive it “like children” – Mk 10:14-15
  • The least in the Kingdom of God will be greater than John the Baptist – Lk 7:28 (cf Lk 9:48)
  • Fitness for it involves resolve, commitment, and endurance – Lk 9:62
  • The Patriarchs and prophets will dine there with people from all over the world. Yet many of the most religious people will be “thrown out” – Lk 13:28-30
  • It was already in their midst – Lk 17:20-21
  • Its breaking into history would be recognized by cataclysmic events – Lk 21:31
  • Seeing it and entering it requires spiritual rebirth – Jn 3:3,5
The Apostolic witness of the New Testament also has these points to add:
  • Expect to go through many tribulations and hardships when entering it – Ac 14:22
  • It is not about rules like what to eat or drink but is about serving Christ in matters of justice, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – Ro 14:17-18
  • It does not consist in words but in power – 1Co 4:20
  • Can’t be inherited by those who practice unrighteousness – 1Co 6:9-10; Ga 5:21
  • Can’t be inherited by earthly flesh but requires “new bodies” – 1Co 15:50-51 ff
Are we really ready for this kind of gospel?

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