In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar is given a dream of a giant statue. It has a head of gold, a chest of silver, a core of bronze, and feet of iron mixed with clay. Daniel interprets this dream as four great empires which were coming to rule over the earth.
Gold — The Babylonians
Silver — The Persians
Bronze — Alexander and the Greeks
Iron and Clay — The Romans
All of this happened exactly as Daniel prophesied. The last event, however is the most interesting (Daniel 2:34-44).
“While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth…. 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. “
The Great Empires are destroyed by the Kingdom of God. Now this is very interesting for several reasons. First, Jesus was born during the reign of the first great emperor of Rome — Augustus. This was a fact that was not lost on the ancient interpreters such Eusebius. Eusebius, however, thought that this mean the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of God were divinely established together. The prophecy, suggests otherwise. The Kingdom came to destroy the Empire. (Does this sound like Star Wars?) Let’s look at what we learn about this destruction
- The other four are ALL broken into pieces. The Kingdom will crush all of the empires and and bring them to an end.
- There is no trace left of the other empires. The wind sweeps them away.
- The Kingdom of God becomes a huge mountain and fills the whole earth.
- The Kingdom will never be destroyed or replaced. It will endure forever.
This is what the Kingdom is and has been doing throughout it’s history. If you stand here at this end of history and look backwards you can only say that the Kingdom of God has been a success. Look at the numerical estimates of the Kingdom’s advance in history. It started with only 120 people in the upper room. It expanded rapidly in the book of acts into the tens of thousands of people (Acts 4:4). It has continued to expand so that now the ratio of Christians to unbelievers is 6 to 1. Only 40 years ago it was 20 to 1. Christianity is an explosive religion, it continues to explode in our time.
The character of church is advancing. Think of Church 100 years ago. You would be in a very formal setting listening to a preacher with robes, singing a formal sounding hymn, etc. Now these things are not bad, but fast forward to what the contemporary church looks like. It is much more alive and real. We as a people are drawing closer to God. The rule of God is advancing among within the church.
But that’s not the whole story, the presence of Christianity in history has changed the world in very significant ways. The actual way of life has changed. For example the end of slavery. This is a Christian idea and Christians made it happen. The list and ways is much too long for this post. The point though is that are larger and larger part of the planet is acknowledging God, and that this has brought God’s ways into human life in some measure. Is this how you think of the Kingdom of God?
The church began with an incarnation – the incarnation of God in the person of Christ. He died, ascended into heaven. He is governs the church from above, and is called the “head.” We are the “body.” Now what is a body except an incarnation of a person. The physical presence of a spirit. That is what the church is. We are the incarnation. Jesus’ incarnation brought the Kingdom of God to earth through his incarnation. Our incarnation extends this to everyone who believes and acts on His Word.
The Kingdom of God is not a passive entity. It does not sit somewhere on a map. It is an active entity. It is always pushing forward, just like the prophecy of Daniel declared. As it does so, it robs the Kingdom of this world of its citizens. According to Zephaniah 2:11 we are literally “starving” the gods of the Earth. Robbing the devil of his worshippers.
Jesus said it was like leaven in dough. When the yeast, which is a fungus, gets into a piece of dough, it grows very rapidly and changes the dough. The presence or incarnation of yeast in the dough is an aggressive and transformational element. That’s exactly what the Kingdom of God is. When God’s Kingdom is truly incarnating through you and the church around you it is aggressive and transformational. Think about Jesus. His mere presence on the earth was such a severe threat to the Kingdoms of this world so they had to kill him. And from a purely worldly perspective they were right. Jesus’ followers took over the Roman Empire less than 300 years after he died. Pilate may have killed Jesus, but Jesus took him off his throne.
In other words, the incarnation is a confrontation. When you are like Christ, you are an offense to the world, you are going head to head with it. You are a threat to its systems, it’s power, it’s method of operation. Look at Jesus life and ministry from that lens. The turning of the tables, and shouting at the pharisees, were not some out of character tangent. They were the mission. He came to obselete their system — and he succeeded.
Wherever the power of Satan is in operation, you are there to despoil it. Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world.” We take that to mean “I am not setting up any Kingdom on this world.” But that is incorrect. Jesus Kingdom is alien to this world, just like Jesus was. The presence of one true believer is in itself the establishment of another Kingdom here on earth. The The world cannot tolerate you because you are not of the world. What is literally happening is described in Revelation 21:2 “And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” The City of God is coming down from above through the growth and presence of God’s people here on the earth.
We’re not taking over Kingdoms any more than Jesus accepted rule of the world from Satan, or set himself up as caesar. We have not come to rule the Kingdom that is here. We’ve come to replace it with the rule of another King. That is a confrontational statement. We don’t blissfully ignore the systems or governments of this world, and if we’re doing our job right, they won’t ignore us either. Every place where Satan has a toe hold, we’re going to blow it up. You want slaves? Sorry, you can’t have them. We’re making that illegal.You cannot operate your demonic Kingdom here. You want colored water fountains? You can’t have that either. Killing unborn babies? Nope.
The dominance of Christian principles in society and law should not be confused with coercive Christianity. Jesus did not coerce or encourage his disciples to do so. The incarnation of the Kingdom of the God should also not be confused with the takeover of the Kingdom of this world. As long as there are unbelievers on this earth — there always will be — the government of this world will remain in place. No amount of Christian influence can change that and it was not Jesus goal. His goal was the bringing in of his own Kingdom to eventually obselete the one where you now live.