In this post I am continuing a series on the Lord’s Prayer. What follows are my teaching notes on the text in Matthew. I hope the blog’s readers will find it helpful.
Introduction: Illustration: Many centuries ago, and many years after God had led the Israelites into the promised land, there came a time when they decided they wanted a king like all the other nations had (1 Sam. 8:5). We are told in Scripture about the responses of both Samuel and God to this request:
NKJ 1 Samuel 8:6-8 “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ So Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day — with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods — so they are doing to you also.’”
Perhaps even more sad than the fact that they had asked for another king in the first place is the fact that – even after Samuel went back to them and told them everything God had said – they still knowingly and willfully rejected the Lord as their King!
But a Christian is not such a person, is he!? Absolutely not! Among other things, a Christian is a person who has acknowledged God as His rightful King and submitted to Him as Sovereign Lord. This is why Jesus teaches His followers to pray for His Kingdom to come. But the question that arises in my mind is, What are we asking for when we pray:
NKJ Matthew 6:10a “Your kingdom come….”
What does Jesus mean when He says that we should pray that God’s kingdom would come? Obviously Jesus does not take the time to answer this question when He gives the prayer as a model for us. So it would seem best to examine other passages in which Jesus and the Apostles taught about the Kingdom in order to answer it. After all, we do want to pray this prayer with understanding, don’t we?
Now, as we have seen in previous messages, the Kingdom has both a present and a future aspect. It is present now and manifested through the Church and the preaching of the Gospel, but it has not yet come in its fullness. This awaits the return of Christ and ultimately the New Heavens and the New Earth. However, it does not seem that Jesus restricts this petition to only one of these two aspects of the Kingdom. So, keeping both the present and future aspects in mind, we will examine a number of passages this morning to see if we can’t get a better idea about just what we are praying for when we pray, “Your kingdom come.”
We will examine 1) a number of Biblical passages that describe the Kingdom as not yet come, and then 2) a number of passages that describe the Kingdom as having already come.
I. The Kingdom Not Yet Come
Let’s consider a number of passages which speak of the Kingdom as future:
NKJ Matthew 13:41-43 “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Application: So, when we are praying “Your kingdom come,” we are praying for Jesus to come in judgment, to manifest His just rule and to bring believers into the Kingdom of their Father.
NKJ Matthew 25:31-34 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….’”
Application: So, we are praying that God’s plan from before the foundation of the world will be accomplished, and we are aligning our hearts with His eternal purpose!
NKJ Acts 14:21-22 “And when they [Paul and Barnabas] had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’”
Application: We are praying with the understanding that the coming of His Kingdom may bring with it many sufferings. And we are putting His Kingdom before our own comfort.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ 55 ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’”
Application: So, when we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are praying for our new resurrection bodies and for the last enemy – death – to be conquered.
NKJ 2 Timothy 4:18 “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
Application: We are praying with confidence that the Lord will preserve us for His Kingdom for His own glory.
NKJ Revelation 5:9-10 “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.’”
Or, as the ESV and NASB read, “have made a kingdom and priests to our God.”
Application: So, we are praying that people from every people group all over the world will come to know Christ as their Savior and Lord.
NKJ Revelation 12:7-10 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’”
Application: We are praying for the ultimate defeat of Satan and his minions.
II. The Kingdom Already Come
Let’s consider a number of passages which speak of the Kingdom as present:
NKJ Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
Application: So, when we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are praying for repentance, not only for ourselves but for all who hear the Gospel. For it is only through repentance and faith that we experience His Kingdom as already come.
NKJ Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Application: When we sincerely pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are praying from and for a deep sense of humility and utter dependence upon God, not only in ourselves but in all who hear the Gospel.
NKJ Matthew 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Application: We are expressing in prayer a commitment to the Kingdom that comes first in our hearts and lives. This is no doubt why Jesus tells us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come before we pray for our daily bread! His Kingdom is more important than our lives!
NKJ Matthew 12:28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Application: We are praying that the power of the Kingdom will be manifested through spiritual victory over Satan and his demonic legions now!
NKJ Luke 9:62 “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
Application: Again, when we pray “Your kingdom come” with understanding and sincerity, we are expressing our commitment to the Kingdom – a commitment that demands perseverance (and trusts God for it, as we earlier saw in Paul’s example in 2 Timothy 4:18).
NKJ Luke 17:20-21 “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.’” (My translation.)
Application: We are praying with the understanding that many will not see His Kingdom because they are constantly looking for the wrong thing and refuse to believe. But we are praying that His Kingdom will come despite such opposition and that many will be enabled to see His Kingdom is even now in their midst.
NKJ Romans 14:17 “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Application: So, we are praying for righteousness and peace and joy to be experienced and seen in the Church through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.
NKJ Colossians 1:13 “[God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love….”
Application: When we pray “Your kingdom come,” we should be recognizing that it is only by God’s power and grace that we have come into His Kingdom, and that many others throughout the world will also experience this power and grace through faith in Christ.
Conclusion: I hope seen in Scripture that to be a Christian is to be a part of God’s Kingdom now. It is to having a consuming desire that His Kingdom would advance in this world through the preaching of the Gospel and the salvation of others. And it is to be filled with a longing for the ultimate coming of His Kingdom in the future return of Christ and in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Wrap-around: But is this really true of us as it should be? What is it that we pray for most often? What is it that we communicate through our lives most clearly to others? Can others see through our lives who our King really is? Or would they think that we – like the ancient Israelites who rejected God as their King – want a king like the rest of the world has? That the master we desire is no different from the idols of personal peace and affluence that they themselves worship? Do we say that we want God as our King but live as though we wish He were not? Let us pray that such is not now the case and that it never will be the case! Let us pray passionately, “Your kingdom come!”