Your Kingdom Come
If you’re visiting, I want to give you a heads up. We’re in the middle of Revelation. It’s a very interesting section of Scripture. If you don’t have an outline, raise your hand. We’ll get you one. Go ahead and turn there. If you don’t have a Bible, you can grab a Bible from the seat back near you. There should be plenty of Bibles around and it’s page, if you use one of those, it’s page 1034. Page 1034.
We are committed here to walk through the Scriptures and hear what they say and try not to impose what we want them to say but truly hear what God says to us from his Word. Last week we looked at the first half of chapter 11. Today, Lord willing, we’ll look at the second half.
In order to prepare to plunge into that passage, I want us to start real small. Sometimes these passages can address big things, and so we’re going to move it down to the cellular level. Do you realize each of us is made up of 10 quadrillion cells, if you’ve counted them lately. That’s 10,000,000,000,000,000. Each of these cells has its own little “iPad” in it with genetic code so that it knows all of its responsibilities. Your cells right now are working feverishly for you — breathing, feeling, hopefully thinking, hopefully not daydreaming. But they’re doing all these things for us constantly. As Bill Bryson has written,
“They keep your hair growing, your ears waxed, your brain quietly purring. They manage every corner of your being. They will jump to your defense the instant you are threatened. They will unhesitatingly die for you. Billions of them do so daily.”
That’s kind of mind-blowing to think of the fact that the gospel is being modeled by your cells billions of times every day — these cells will die so you can live. You have about 50 to 70 billion cells that die every day. It’s called apoptosis. And the lifespan of most human cells is about a month. Some cells live longer. For example, brain cells, for the most part, you get all your brain cells at birth and then it’s downhill from there. Actually, your hippocampus produces some neurons, but generally speaking you have all you’re going to get. And we lose about 500 brain cells per hour. Just think, from breakfast to lunch you’re short two thousand brain cells, and some of us are already barely scraping by. And studies have shown, if you tend to watch Office reruns, you double that number. And country music, triple that. Sorry. Wow. I touched something over here. It’s a little sensitive. The good news is you can actually you can revitalize the brain cells that you have. But it is remarkable that for your own health billions of cells die daily and other cells perform the janitorial responsibilities to clean up the mess, remove the carnage, and recycle the parts — spare parts.
However, there are times when your cells get confused, and they begin to mutate and can evolve into cancerous cells. As a matter of fact, that’s happening all the time. All of us have cancer, it’s just our bodies have sophisticated systems in which to fight that. But periodically these disoriented cells are able to go rogue and turn on their neighbors and become malignant. And these rogue rebellious cells provide us really with a micro glimpse into the world we live in. On a very tiny level, we know that the world is not the way it’s supposed to be. And that prompts us to imagine a time … can you imagine a time when there are no rogue cells? When none of them get disoriented, or they’re little iPads break, and they start doing things they’re not supposed to do. Imagine a time when our bodies don’t age, wrinkle, break down, when all creation dances in perfect symmetry and movement to the rhythms of her Creator. When the strong never take advantage of the weak but rather protect them. When wrong is removed, and right is revered, and every weapon of oppression is shattered.
As you let your imagination go there, you’re moving into Revelation 11:15. Look at that verse. Revelation 11:15,
“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world [the fallen, broken kingdom of the world] has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’”
This is the time when every cancerous cell and every rogue ruler will be brought under the authority of our Lord and his Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. I mentioned last week that this verse, this section, is the chiastic center of the Book of Revelation. What do I mean a chiasm? Think the Greek letter chi which is an “x.” If you look at the left side of the “x” that’s the idea of a chiasm. You’ll notice in your notes a more full explanation. Here on the screen, a general explanation. One way to think of it is like a picture. If you look at a picture that has a fancy frame around it and then maybe many levels of matting leading to the picture in the middle. That’s a glimpse of a chiasm. You have all this framework that points us toward the picture that we must not miss. And the same with the Book of Revelation. All of this framework that parallels one another points us to the center, the picture, and that’s Revelation 11:15.
That “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever, Amen.”
And we’re talking about that on a micro cellular level all the way up to the kingdoms and the kings and queens above them. A chiasm brings our vision to the proper place. Where should we look? And the text we’re looking at today is the answer to that. This Christmas when you hear Handel’s Messiah, the “Hallelujah Chorus” and you get to that real quiet part “the kingdom of this world,” and then it explodes “has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign forever.” Your mind should go to Revelation and then to Revelation 11 and then to Revelation 11:15 because this is the text that that is based on. This kingdom was inaugurated when Christ came, guaranteed through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, consummated here at the seventh trumpet, which is describing the consummation of history.
And notice the loud voices in heaven. This is different from the seventh seal. When the seventh seal was broken, there was what for about a half an hour? Silence. We talked about how important silence is. And there is a reverence in being quiet before the Lord. Some of us are wired to where we worship God more fully in quiet reverence. But what’s interesting here, not seventh seal but now the seventh trumpet, there is no quiet. That reverence isn’t just in quiet. There are times where the most reverent thing you can do is explode in loud praise. And that is what is happening here. Why? Because the kingdom of the world — and notice, it’s singular.
If you’ve been to Westminster Abbey in London, this … The first Westminster Abbey was built in 960. That’s old! This current building, most of it, was built in 1065. We’re talking almost a thousand years old. And as N.T. Wright has pointed out, over the high altar you will notice, I think we can get close enough to where you can actually read it. “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” They, the King James, went with the plural there. The best Greek manuscripts we have are singular. However, the point is still clear. And it’s sobering to imagine that for a thousand years kings and queens have been crowned right in this building right below that statement:
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms [the kingdom] of our Christ.”
There are … If you’ve been there it’s kind of a creepy place to walk around because there are 3300 people buried in the church. Everywhere you go, there are plaques of kings and queens and poets and prime ministers and some people you may know. David Livingstone, the great African missionary, heart was buried in Africa, body in Westminster Abbey. William Wilberforce, crushed slavery in the British Empire, buried there. Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, many, many more all buried underneath this sign that the world’s kingdoms are going to end and will be consumed by the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
Why is the singular a big deal? Because the reason it’s kingdom of this world is because it has ultimately one ruler. John 12:31, “the ruler of this world.” 2 Corinthians 4:4, “the god of this world.” 1 John 5:9 … That’s little “g” god. 1 John 5:9, “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” This is why Jesus, when he stood before Pilot and was being condemned to die and Pilot wondered why if he is who he claims to be why doesn’t he fight? Jesus just said, “Well, my kingdom is not of this world.” If my kingdom were of this world, you would know it. He’s talking about, there is a transient kingdom that is of this world ruled by Satan. The god of (little “g”) of this world. This kingdom has become, verse 15. Notice all the past tense verbs. Verse 17, “You have taken your great power, you have begun to reign.” The Greek here has a way of speaking that is so sure of the future, that it is spoken as if already done. It’s called the prophetic perfect or proleptic prophecy. It’s a way of speaking. It’s past tense, but it’s speaking of a future event as if it has already happened.
Notice the three responses to this loud announcement. Number 1, there is worship. Verse 16,
“And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty.’”
And that word “almighty” is the word “pantokrator.” And the Roman officials would try to take that and apply that to themselves. Imagine the first readers, hearers, of this letter would have known exactly what God was saying here. There is only one Almighty. There is only one pantokrator. There is only one who is the sovereign Lord of history. Human rulers come, they go. They come in office. They go out of office. He is described as the One verse 17, “who is and who was” and we are ready, as he’s done earlier in the Book of Revelation, for him to say “and who is to come.” But there, as I said last week, there is no more “is to come” because the “is to come” has come. Time is consummated here. “For you have” (verse 17) “taken your great power and begun to reign.” Now God has always exercised control over world events, but here he is subjugating all opposition and reclaiming his rightful rule. The sting operation is over. The wrong will be dealt with. The right will be exalted.
To help us feel what it would feel to experience this, imagine yourself in an airplane. A terrorist takes over the airplane, kicks down the door, knocks out the pilot. The plane is all over the place, and people are already texting family members. You’re sweating. You know your time is coming to an end. But then you hear over the announcement … a person announce, “Well, the terrorist has been taken down and is in cuffs. The pilot is back in control.” The plane levels off; you’re going to be okay. Now, that illustration is heretical theology because God is not overpowered or taken against his will. But the part I want you to understand is, what would that feel like when you hear that announcement — that the terrorist has been removed, that the pilot is back in control? That’s the image here. That’s why there are loud voices. People would be cheering. People would be crying out. People would be praying who normally don’t pray. Because, as it says here, you have taken your great power and you’ve begun to reign. You are applying all that strength, God, that we know you have. And we’ve cried out for years, “How long, O Lord, how long?” That answer has come. He is manifesting his power against wrong.
There is number 1, worship. Number 2, judgment. There is judgment. Verse 18, “The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged.” Now this is a quotation, a reference, back to Psalm 2. Let me read a part of that.
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.” [Skip down to verse 7] “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Now therefore [Listen to the warning he’s giving) O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
We all — no matter how high, how low, how big, how small — we all will either hide from Jesus or in Jesus. There is only one safe place, and that is hiding in Jesus. Blessed are those who take refuge in him. If we are delusional enough to think, whether you’re running a company or a country or a family or yourself, if you’re delusional enough to think that you are in charge of your own destiny, you will have an awakening coming. And what this warning is, is, “No, you didn’t create yourself. You were created, and you will give account.” Run to him who loves you, who made you, who gave himself for you, who saved you, who will forgive you. Run to him now while you can. Don’t wait until the end when it’s too late.
End of verse 18, when everything that destroys the earth will be destroyed. This is really important because I think a lot of us think that judgment is God getting upset that too many people are having too much fun. He’s just going to ruin it all, take them out. That’s not it at all. God’s judgment is his righteous response to everything destructive — to everything that destroys love, joy, health, peace, wholeness, holiness, innocence, environmental flourishing — all of that. He will destroy what destroys. And as we know, if we’re sane, we know we are part of that. The problem isn’t just out there in some government or some official. The problem starts with each of us and our brokenness. And that’s why he warns us to come to him.
Third, rewarding. There is worship, there is judgment, and then there is rewarding. In the second part of verse 18 you’ll notice,
“for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great.”
Some people believe this is referring to four different groups of people — servants, prophets, saints, those who fear your name. Others, two people, which is more likely that the servants are the prophets and the saints or those who fear your name, both small and great. Regardless, the point here is we see the generous heart of God to richly reward his children for no other reason than he is a generous Father who loves to give good things. Verse 19,
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.”
The Bible makes clear in the book of Hebrews that the earthly tabernacle, the temple, the ark of the covenant, were only pictures or symbols or shadowy versions of the heavenly. And this is the ultimate fulfillment of the heavenly because they all point to God being present with his people. Notice the word “opened,” that God’s temple in heaven was “opened.” Implying, there is an open relationship between God and his people. He dwells with them. They do well with him. The spectacular fireworks of lightning, rumblings, thunder, earthquake, hail all represent creation shuttering as God’s glory comes near.
To see this fulfilled in the end, look at Revelation 21:3.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’”
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God [the pantokrator] the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day — and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
No cancer cells, no rogue rulers, sinless. How should we think about this today, this loud announcement? I want to apply this to us in a way I don’t think I’ve ever done, through a word study. You excited? Really? A word study? I quickly flew by it, but this word in verse 18 at the end, “destroying,” is fascinating to me. It appears twice there. It’s the same verb, destroying the ones who destroy. It’s diaphtheiro. It means to ruin, destroy, consume, or waste. The verb appears a total of six times in the New Testament. And what I’d like to do is move backwards from the Revelation appearance here all the way back to the first one.
The first two times it appears, Revelation 11:18, what is being destroyed are the destroyers. Everything bad, everything that hurts, that goes rogue, that breaks down, that causes pain, loneliness, fear — all of that, destroyed. The third time this word appears is in Revelation 8:9, going backwards. And here the second trumpet heralds this destruction of a third of ships. Ships are destroyed. The fourth is 1 Timothy 6:5 where our minds are destroyed, our minds. Let me give you some context. 1 Timothy 6:3-6,
“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound [and that word “sound” is where we get our word hygiene from — the healthy words, health-giving] words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness [if anyone teaches anything different] he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions and constant friction among people who are [there is our word, diaphtheiro] who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Depraved in mind and deprived of truth. Here he’s talking about minds that are ruined, corrupted, destroyed by what? By a way of thinking that can try to use the words of Christ, the health-giving words of Christ, as a means of building their own kingdoms, of getting what they want, as a means of gain. He says, “You’ve flipped everything.” That is a contaminated, perverted mind, a destroyed mind. In other words, our minds were not made for that. These minds are depraved and deprived of truth.
Interesting contrast to that is found in Jesus’ temptation. Do you remember when Satan came to Jesus in the wilderness and offered him the kingdoms of the world? Very similar phrase as we see in Revelation 11. Matthew 4:8-10, I’ll show it to you.
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”‘”
And when you read that, you could think, “Well, of course Jesus rejected that temptation because Jesus knows he’s going to get all the kingdoms in the end.” How is that different from us? A depraved mind has to take shortcuts to try to get what we think we need because we’re forgetting that he’s giving us everything. We’re going to inherit it all, which just frees us from this temptation to try to manipulate, grab, cling to, hold onto, a kind of depraved mind.
The fifth occurrence is in 2 Corinthians 4:16, and it’s referring to the destruction of our outer self, our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:16,
“So we do not lose heart. [Why don’t we lose heart? Our bodies are falling apart, our brain cells are disappearing while we speak] Though our outer self is wasting away, [That’s our word, diaphtheiro, being destroyed.] our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Now this is not an argument against health clubs, or working out, or eating kale. We should take care of ourselves. But the point is, if you think you’re going to find security in the kingdom of health, you are going to lose heart. You will lose heart. Paul says, we don’t lose heart because that’s not where we put our hope, our confidence. We put our confidence in an eternal weight of glory. And therefore, there is an inner renewal, day by day. And we are so blessed to have so many examples of this in our church. People in their 70s and 80s and 90s who keep getting younger, being renewed day by day in their view of life and what really matters.
Sixth, final occurrence (going backwards), so it would be the first one, is in Luke 12:33. This is the one I want us to focus on. It’s talking about our treasure, our treasure. In Luke 12:31 Jesus said to seek first his kingdom. And then in verse 32 he said to his disciples,
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. [so therefore you can] Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth [diaphtheiro, there it is] destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Yesterday I was speaking at a conference where there were testimonies throughout the day. I want to share just a couple pieces of two or three to illustrate what Jesus is saying. First there was a woman who testified of what it was like to grow up in a home with an alcoholic, abusive dad, and a really, really weak mom. Her dad would just humiliate her mom, and her mom never did anything about it. She, as a girl, grew up not wanting to be a girl, wanting to be like her brothers, wanting to be strong. Eventually when she became a woman, she embraced a butch appearance — athletic, strong, outward “I will take you down.” Lived for 15 years in a lesbian relationship where she was strong. And then Jesus opened her eyes to who she really is in him and what it means to be vulnerable but not a victim — two different things. An amazing story of transformation.
Second, actually one of the other speakers was talking about just feeling like a total failure at one point in his life. Very unsuccessful, felt like he hadn’t accomplished anything, when he was offered a national sales position that sent him all across the country every week. The airport knew him. Everywhere he went people knew him. He was making a lot of money. He was accomplishing a lot. Finally, he felt significance. But then he looked around and he noticed that his marriage had disappeared, he had no relationship with his kids anymore. He was slipping into depression. And yet he battled, “How can I give up this sales position? Because that’s what makes me significant!” By God’s grace he did, and his marriage was transformed. His relationship with his kids was transformed. He is serving Jesus. Amazing story.
Third example, at the end of the conference a young man came up to me and told me his story. He just recently has come to Christ and is leaving a lifestyle of homosexuality. He’s following Jesus. And he is just battling the fear of, “What am I going to do? I don’t know anybody. All my friends … What about the future?” All this anxiety.
I want you to … maybe you identify with one of those stories in different ways. But latch onto one of those, and then read the words of Christ in light of that. Luke 12:32, let’s put it back up. Jesus to you, “Fear not, little flock.” You see, he’s acknowledging, “Yes, you are vulnerable.” You’re not just a flock. A flock is vulnerable. A little flock is more vulnerable. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your [I love that. He doesn’t just say my Father’s] your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He’s not just, “Oh yeah, that guy, he’s messed up so much we’ll let him in, barely.” No. He delights, he finds good pleasure in giving you the kingdom. The rule and reign that we’ve heard described in Revelation 11 that seems so big and so beyond us, Jesus brings it right down and says, “Listen, this changes the way you make decisions every day.” It shapes how you think about things. When we feel fear, fear is the billboard that tells us we’re putting our confidence in our own puny little kingdoms. Fear is the canary in the mine that there is toxic gas in this here chamber. It’s going to blow up if I try to guard my own kingdom.
The answer to that is not Jesus saying, “Stop doing that, you jerk.” It’s, “God has something much better for you.” Your Father delights to give you the kingdom. And this allows us to be vulnerable without being a victim, because we’re not. We have a strong Father. We are not going to be manipulated. It provides us security in our Father’s generosity. We can have things without them having us. That’s why he goes on to say you can sell, give, provide. It’s not that you can’t own anything. Jesus clarifies that elsewhere. But it doesn’t own you because that’s not where your kingdom is. And you see, it frees us to love people and meet needs in a way that if we are bound by the fear of what people think about us, and I’ve got to be a success, and I’ve got to achieve this, and I’ve got to cling and hold on to … No. And each time as I heard those stories yesterday, and many more, and as I look at you and see those stories in your lives, each one of those is a micro glimpse of a preview of his kingdom coming.
Every time we pray “your kingdom come,” what we are praying toward is Revelation 11:15. Bring it home. Bring it about. Bring it here. And he does it in our lives anticipating this coming promise. Let’s pray.
Father, thank you that you meet us right where we are with our hurts, our fears, having grown up in a broken family, becoming broken ourselves, being pulled between success and providing for, and yet being available and loving well, longing to have others walk this road with us. All these fears, all this insecurity, and you say, “Fear not, little flock, for your Father finds good pleasure in giving, and giving, and giving.” I pray this morning specifically for some of us who think that your kingdom coming is a bad thing, a fearful thing, or something maybe inconsequential. Father, give us a vision like we see here in Revelation 11:15, when “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And then show us how we live that every day in the office, in our homes, in our marriages, in our singleness, in our friendships, in our fears, in our joys. If any one doesn’t know you, may this be the day they call out to you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and to be saved. We thank you in Jesus name, amen.