The Kingdoms of God
We live in a time of increasing awareness of cultural diversity. All Americans have come from some other place originally and many have come relatively recently. Although God certainly appreciates diverse cultures and racial differences, it is easy to forget, in this celebration of world culture, the Biblical world view—God's view—of the world and its culture.
First, the modern focus on world culture is ancient and nothing new. Second, God is not impressed with our worldly and, in Gods view, superficial cultures. We should remember that some of the greatest celebrations of cultural diversity took place in the pre flood era, and later in cities like Sodom and Gomorrah. The focus on outward, trivial differences between cultures is one of the signs of a people who have lost the ability to see the deeper context upon which all the outward trappings of world culture exists. The whole of the Old and New Testament is God teaching, exhorting, and training men to understand that there are only two general types of culture in the world: the world's culture, which unconsciously accepts Satan's authority and is under his dominion, and God's culture which is overcoming the world by looking to God and His authority. We are constantly reminded in the scriptures that the way of the world leads to destruction and the way of God to everlasting life.
World culture is given many names in the Bible including, the kingdom of the world, the kingdoms(plural) of the world, and this present evil world. Nearly all of Jesus' parables are designed to teach us to discern the world's kingdom from God's Kingdom and to look deep inside ourselves to honestly evaluate our position and true condition. This is why Paul exhorts us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, least we be deceived by the world and even by our own heart.
The world's culture, focuses to exaggeration on the outward forms of culture, and a million other trivial pursuits, as a means of distracting us from the underlying, inner violent and destructive nature of all world culture; which is marked by its violent opposition to God's way—God's peaceful, loving order.
The Kingdom of God: That is Overcoming the World
The Kingdom of God, the way of life, the Kingdom of Heaven, are some of the descriptions given to that spiritual culture which is infused with God's eternal spirit and is overcoming the world's violent, deceptive, and destructive nature.
The Kingdom of God is a social order. It has government, law, and authority—just as worldly social orders have. God's kingdom reigns from the inside out—inside the hearts and minds of men. God's kingdom exists everywhere righteousness—the love of right doing—is being cultivated in men's hearts, and deep Godly wisdom in the minds.
Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is:
Like the seed of a tree which starts out small but grows to giant proportions. (Mt 13:31)
Like a pinch of yeast a woman puts in bread dough and leavens the whole lump. (Mt. 13:33) The Kingdom of God is on earth now, yet coming more in the future and one day filling the whole earth. ...is at hand,(Mt. 4:17 and Mark 1:15) Jesus says, and thy kingdom come...in the earth as it is in heaven.(Mt 6:10)
Jesus says, the Kingdom of God cannot be seen visibly the way the world's kingdoms can be seen, neither can someone say here or there is the Kingdom of God. For behold, Jesus says, "...the Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21) God's people have power over the world within Christ and through Christ's victory. (John 16:33) And those who are of God are following Christ's example and are overcoming evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
So the Kingdom of God is here now and yet, not yet. In the sense that it is coming through all those who are agreeing in obedience with God and entering His kingdom so that we can overcome the world's corruption with good. Yet the Kingdom of God is not complete. Most people in the world are not overcoming evil with good but rather are being overcome by the world and agreeing with the world and living for the world.
What is this kingdom of the world, which God says He hates, and that God's people are to be overcoming, establishing God's kingdom in its place?
The Kingdom of the World: The Overthrow of God's Inner Kingdom
The world kingdom is an ancient worldwide rebellion against God and His authority based upon what Satan said, first in his own heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my thrown above the stars of God...I will be like God. (Isaiah 14: 13-14)
This corruption of the social order spread to the human race when Eve and then Adam succumbed to Satan's temptation to disobey God when he accuses God of lying, saying to Eve: Ye shall not die: For God knows that the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as gods, knowing good from evil. (Gen. 3:4-5)
Satan's lie in the garden was an invitation to mankind to rise in rebellion with Satan against God's government; to seek to get our own needs met and that of the whole human race by taking it by force from others; to establish a social order based on deception and carried out by violence—violating and being violated as a way of life. Satan's lie was an invitation for individuals and whole societies to base their law and government on taking by force from others as a means of advancing themselves and their society.
Jesus describes the world's kingdom of corruption as thick chocking weeds which have been sown as seed into a good man's field by an evil enemy. (Mt 13:24)
The world kingdom is the cultivation of deep spiritual corruption, based on deception(violent acts, which according to the world are not violent, because it is done in the name of justice, education, children, the poor, the elderly, etc.), which renders those part of it incapable of recognizing their corrupt condition and usually unwilling to leave the corruption even if they could. God gave His law to man as a tool, a kind of mirror into the soul, a means of measuring our true condition and that of our whole society.
Wherever men set themselves up as gods, they make up and multiply their own laws in order to overthrow God's law and social order. They set up houses of legislation where they pass laws as fast as they can in order to blur the lines of real right and wrong and erase the memory of God and the true standard of law and justice.
God's law says: Do Not Steal. The entire plan of the world system for social order, built by those in rebellion against God, is founded upon and carried out by stealing. Every officeholder, every judge, every police officer has his office, expenses, salary, and retirement paid for in direct violation of God's law. Wherever we see those in authority violating God's law and enslaving the people in the name of law and government, in order to profit themselves and fatten their offices, we know that Satan's authority is established above the authority of God.
Just as God's kingdom can be described as the culture of life and thus love of God and others; the world's kingdom is a culture of violent self-promotion without regard for other people or for God; even bold envious grasping for what is not rightly ours, deceptively labeled and wrapped in charitable and righteous sounding causes, which leads to the death and destruction of self and others.
In the kingdom of heaven the rule of love presides: consider others as yourself; do unto others as yourself. No person or group of people have the legal right to violate another. Every person is equal under the law and no person can gain advantage over another through the law.
But in the kingdom of the world pride presides: you are worthy to get yours first; you are better than they and it would be an injustice for you to not get your way before them. Evil pride takes many forms often centered around our own self image: pride of beauty and physique, intelligence, education and knowledge, ethnic culture and ethnic view, nation, race, morality, religion and religious tradition.
This ignorant self-promotion leads not to raising oneself in the end, but rather to the spiritual and physical degradation of oneself and of the whole society, especially the more innocent of spiritual understanding. This corruption of the society comes in several stages.
The drying up of the fruits of love and true charity mark the initial stages of corruption of the social order. Abundant sin, the fruit of pride: theft, robbery, adultery, fornication, murder, etc., is the measure of the secondary stages of the overthrow of God's Kingdom and the establishment of the world's violent kingdom in its place. The prideful proclamations of false leaders of every kind—religious, philosophical, and political—who following Satan's example, accomplish the greater overthrow of God's authority by setting themselves and their own view of right and wrong above God. They say in effect: Has God really said? That is a lie. The wide acceptance of the populace of these foolish men's opinions as fact, is the later stages of the overthrow of God's inner culture, allowing the world's culture of sin and death to spread deep and wide across heart and mind.
With God's culture of righteousness in the hearts and wisdom in the minds of the people overthrown, the people are rendered incapable of governing themselves: unwilling to do what is right, and unable to comprehend how to do it. The whole society spins increasingly out of control.
The Rise of the World's Outer Visible Kingdoms:
Is the physical measure of the overthrow of God's inner kingdom
The spread of spiritual corruption creates a vacuum of government waiting to be filled. As the quality of love and other good character dies out of the people they feel increasingly threatened by the greedy, selfish actions of others. As the people reject God's inner government and His authority, God gives nations over to the world's way of governing, which in a word can be described as politics. In God's view politics is a form of rebellion against Him, a universal slave culture, more evil than ordinary chattel slavery: your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for a king(Ist Samuel 8:1-22 and 12:16-2).
Politics is the government of sin; the government of violent rebellion against God. Politics is the attempt by men to govern themselves based upon the world's rebellion against God. Politics functions by setting up the laws of men in place of and above the law of God, though often outwardly pretending to obey God's law.
All political systems serve as giant slave plantations or prison systems to hold those in relative slavery who cannot govern themselves. The kingdoms of the world—the political systems or nations—serve a similar function in God's greater kingdom that the prisons in our own society serve in the greater social order. Even though prisons function under the society's authority they operate in complete violation of the laws of the greater society. Those in prison live in near complete slavery and those who rule over them rule without respect of those they govern. In a similar way, God gives people in rebellion against Him over to be ruled by worldly men and by worldly means.
If we understand this, we can understand why the scripture says that all authority comes from God, why Jesus says to render unto Caesar what it Caesar's and to God what is God's, and why in 1st Samuel Chapter 8 and 12, God says what great wickedness it is for people to seek to replace God's government, on the inside of man, with a political system which attempts to bring order, the world's way, from the outside. God says that those who put their trust in politicians and political parties are in rebellion against Him and that people who do it are not primarily rejecting God's prophets and teachers but rather are rejecting God Himself from ruling them from their hearts.
This is why we read in Psalms chapter 2: Why do the heathen rage, and why do the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers take council together, against the Lord and against His anointed saying, let us be free of their controls, and let us cast off their authority.
And why it is written that Satan takes Jesus up to a high place to tempt Him and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world, offering Him rulership over the whole earth through politics, if only Jesus will bow to Satan's authority and agree to rule the world from the outside, Satan's way. But Jesus replies: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him alone shalt thou serve. (MT. 4: 8-10 and Luke 4:5-8)
This is why we read in John 6:15, when the crowds who had seen Jesus' miracles wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him king over them, Jesus hid Himself from them. Why? Is this not exactly what Jesus came to earth for? To rule? Then why did Jesus not say, finally some true believers who want to make me king? The people were cheering and shouting Jesus' name and were willing to fight to make Him king over the land, and what did Jesus do in response? The scriptures record that He went out from them to another place. Why? Because, the scriptures record, that He knew their hearts, that they were not true.
The people wanted a ruler over them alright, only they wanted it Satan's way, a way of violence based upon deception, forced upon the people from the outside, through politics. But Jesus came to teach men another way of governing; to remind us of the way God intended it to be from the beginning: real government, God's only true authority, is a governing of the inside, a government of the heart; without which there can be no truly just or free society, only the relative justice of a violent, slave culture for deceived and wicked men and women.
And if we understand these things we can understand why it is recorded in Matthew chapter 7, and similarly in parable form in Luke Chapter 14, Jesus says: Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my father. Many will come to me in that day and I will say to them: depart from me you workers of iniquity. And they will protest: But Lord, Lord we had fellowship with you and we did all these wonderful works in your name; and I will say to them: Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.
Why? Are these not devoted followers of Jesus? Why is He rejecting them? Because they are not real. Their faith and trust is still in the world's outward violent way, rather than believing in God's peaceful order. They served God from the outside, but they never served Him on the inside. They are like all the religious people of the world, whether they call themselves Christians, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or Hindus, or Atheist: they are doing it on the outside, the world's way, but they never answer God's call to repent of the way of the world. A way of talking Godliness and putting on a show, the way of the outer man, the hypocrite, but they never open the door for God to come in and make them real—really alive—setting up God's Kingdom, God's non political, non violent government, and accepting God as their true authority and Jesus as their true king.
And if you can understand this you can understand what all that talk in early America was about: freedom, free society, limited government etc. Limiting what government? The world's government; the government of politics, the government of sin. Why limit it? So that true government, true religion, the real government of the heart could grow and flourish and reign supreme over the land.
So then, what is a free society? It is not what the world teaches: Oh! Democracy. That is what freedom is all about. Right? Electing politicians to represent the people and tell us what to do, and govern us from the outside, the way of the world. Yea, right? No, wrong.
God's idea of a free society is exactly the opposite of that. It is limiting, restraining, overcoming the way the world governs, through politics: forcing people to pay, forcing people to comply, forcing people to join: forced school systems, and forced retirement plans, and forced healthcare systems: a forced, violent way of life—the only way the world understands, the same way the world does everything—by violence—by forcing its own violent slave culture upon people from the outside after it has first overthrown God's government of heart and mind; of freedom, peace, and love from within.
Knowing this, we can then understand where Nazi Germanys and Communist Russias come from. The same place all modern and ancient nations arise. Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Rome, China, etc., God says that He hates them all. Why? Because all the worldly kingdoms are built upon the death of the inner man. They rise only by feeding upon the spiritual death of a people.
Then we should ask ourselves why these Ideas of God, of freedom, free societies, and the Kingdom of God are so strange to modern man and to modern Americans. Americans once understood these things better than many of the people of the world--likely, better than most people of history. So what happened to us?
The same thing that has happened to every nation in history. We live in a society in the final stages of social corruption, like so many recorded in the scriptures. We live in a nation where the world system, which is in rebellion against God, is demanding all authority, all power to rule as it pleases through politics.
Why has the world system so completely taken over our society? Because we are a spiritually dead and dying people. The corruption is everywhere. Even the best of us are largely a people confessing Jesus with our lips, and living for Jesus, on the outside, but we have never been truly changed, never born again, within.
And even those among us who have spiritual life, live a life mostly of weakness and compromise. We are not growing up to be the man and woman of faith God wants us to be. We remain like twisted, retarded children. Endlessly caught in the foolishness of worldly distractions: the football games, baseball games, basketball games, golf games, game shows, talk shows, pornography, politics, etc.
Oh! I'm a liberal; No! I'm a conservative. I'm a Democrat; I'm a Republican. I'm voting for this guy; No, I'm voting for that guy. We're setting up a new program; we're passing a new law. We're helping people; we're making society better. No! You are not, not that way, because that is the world's way. To believe that politics is making the world a better place is to believe a lie and to make God out to be a liar.
Nothing good has ever, can ever, or will ever occur except that it come out of God's social order from within, based on faith and trust in God and His authority. And this is what the world and all the world's leaders have no comprehension of whatsoever.
If you and I can understand these things, we can understand why early Christians often called themselves the people of "The Way." And why even Jesus' disciples had difficulty understanding Him because He was speaking of a way that the world and all its followers cannot comprehend.
Until we understand these things, that all free people understand, concerning the Kingdom of God and recall where God's seat of authority resides; how real government works to set men completely free—free of the world's endless violent acts through political programs and plans and genuinely turn to God instead, with a broken and contrite heart, nothing good can happen, nothing real can change; not in our own lives and not in our families, not in our community and not in our nation.