Thy Kingdom Come
Copyright © 1998, Dr. Peter Jones
Edited transcript from a lecture given at Grace Valley Christian Center Sunday morning (10 a.m.), May 10, 1998
My previous lectures have described what I have called the revival of paganism in Christian America. I've been attempting to plot the way in which the non-Christian option, which originates already in the Garden of Eden and is that line of conflict that divides the people of God from the people of this world, is in our day becoming a major expression of American religiosity. Those who want to emphasize God's kingdom are indeed in conflict with the kingdoms of this world. Jesus said that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. But we have here the conflict of two kingdoms.
I find it even interesting that even the teaching of Jesus on prayer has this line: "And when you pray, do not babble like the pagans, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words." Jesus is setting before us a way of praying that he understands is so radically different than pagan spirituality. As we look at this prayer, I want us to consider what it means to pray one line in this prayer-¯what does it mean to pray: "Thy kingdom come"? I want to look at this from three perspectives: from the cosmic, from the communal, and from the individual perspective.
The Example of Jean Moulin
Jean Moulin is about as typically French a name as John Mill in English. Jean Moulin indeed means John Mill. Jean Moulin was born in 1900 and was the youngest government official, a prefect (which is sort of like a governor) of a region in France at the time of the Second World War. When the Germans invaded France, he escaped with Charles de Gaulle to London to establish the free French government in exile. Showing great faith in his young colleague, Charles de Gaulle sent Jean Moulin back to France to his home area of Lyons. He was sent there to head up the National Council of Resistance; for by that time, of course, France had been overrun by the German army. He lived dangerously-¯by day an art dealer and accomplished artist, by night a freedom fighter, coordinating the blowing up of bridges and trains, constantly risking his cover by his radio contacts with London.
In 1943 someone in the Resistance Movement with a grudge against Moulin denounced him to Klaus Barbie, the Obersturmfuehrer, the leader of the Gestapo of central France, who had him arrested and placed in Montluc prison. Barbie was known as "the Butcher of Lyons." Before the Allies arrived he had put to death without trial seven hundred Frenchmen simply suspected of being in the Resistance. Klaus Barbie personally tortured Moulin, but Jean Moulin never wavered, never gave away any secrets of the Resistance Movement. Getting nothing out of him, Klaus Barbie had Jean Moulin shamelessly executed. Jean Moulin left behind his own words of why he risked his life: "to make war on Germany, the evil invader, and to restore France to the French." Moulin became one of France's great patriots.
A Prayer for Cosmic Victory
Moulin gave his life for France. What does it mean for us to give our lives for God's kingdom? First of all, when we pray this prayer we pray for cosmic victory. But you might immediately say to me, "Why bother praying such a prayer? Isn't God already King? Is he not already sovereignly in control of his creation?" In Psalms we meet time and again the phrase: "The Lord reigns. Let the earth rejoice, let the peoples tremble. The Lord is a great God, and a King above all gods." So this is not a prayer that God will become King; it is a prayer that God will redeem the heavens and the earth that he has made. For this kingdom that God has made has fallen into evil hands and been overrun, in a sense the way France was overrun during the Second World War. Redemption is the great project of the Lord to win back what is eventually and rightfully his so that he may transform it.
We get a vision of God's kingship in the kingship of Israel with David and Solomon, as God, through those kings, orders the people of Israel. Of course our Lord's kingship goes far beyond what we see in those Psalms of David. We get another picture in Daniel. Here is Daniel, surrounded by the great pagan kingdom of Babylon, symbolized by that statue the Nebuchadnezzar had erected-¯an enormous dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. Daniel sees the vision of a rock cut out, not by human hands, which strikes the statue and breaks it in pieces so that it becomes like chaff and is blown away. Meanwhile, the rock becomes a mountain which fills the whole earth. This is God's cosmic victory.
We pray this prayer, "Thy kingdom come," because there is presently cosmic conflict. We pray this prayer now a little like Jean Moulin in his radio contacts with London, because right now we find ourselves in a context of holy war. The kingdom in Scripture is always associated with this notion of holy war, of cleansing the land of the idol worship of the occult nations, and of ridding the universe of the demonic forces. When we pray this prayer, it is a fundamentally a revolutionary prayer, and therefore it's not surprising that the Bible Club is determined to not be appropriate in the public school. We are indeed God's Resistance Movement. We pray this prayer in enemy-occupied territory.
Now, that might be difficult for Americans to comprehend, that America could be enemy-occupied territory. We also live in a time when we're being told that the very notion of conflict itself doesn't exist, and that we should be eliminating all notions of conflict in order that we might realize a politically correct utopia where all the differences are eliminated and we all come together in a common worship. I've tried to plot in my lectures how that paganistic view of the kingdom, where there is no conflict, is fundamentally opposed to the truth. But it's true that this new spirituality of peace and tolerance for everything, which seems so broad, really is only broad for the pagan. There's no place for Christians. There's no place for theists in a pagan world.
We can see how far the pagans have come in their attack upon the culture. Hillary Clinton is in spiritual contact with Eleanor Roosevelt, thanks to a New Age guru by the name of Jean Houston. Cybill Shepherd now belongs to a Wiccan group. Greg Norman uses Zen Buddhism to sink his putts. Phil Jackson, coach of the Bulls and a true child of the sixties, teaches Hindu meditation to Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippin and Dennis Rodman.
Indeed, we even see this paganism attacking the church. Here's one example-¯ a new version of the Lord's prayer: "Oh Bertha, father/mother of the cosmos, focus your light within us" - (notice, the light's within us) - "and make it useful. Create your reign of unity now." Jesus warns us to not pray like the pagans. He warns us that by working ourselves up into mystical states we will not turn the mind of God to do our bidding. This whole project for an earthly kingdom-¯and surely that's the only focus these people have-¯will surely collapse. Paul tells us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and yet their whole focus is upon this earth. This revolution will fail because it is not founded upon the laws of the God who created the heavens and the earth. More and more it is becoming, and already is, a culture of death. But it will also fail because it's not radical enough.
We believe in a kingdom and in the power of the King through the Spirit of God that is able even to make dead bones live. Our faith in God is based upon the miracle of the resurrection. Jesus said to his disciples in Mark 9:1, when they saw Jesus being transfigured: "Some of you will not taste of death until you see the kingdom of God come in power." Do you know what they saw? They saw an empty tomb. They saw unleashed on the dead body of Jesus the kingdom power of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. They saw he who created matter now transforming the creation into a new heavens and a new earth. In the person and in the body of Jesus we have seen the kingdom come in power.
What does that mean for you? It means you're on the right side. The kingdom has already come. When we pray, "Thy kingdom come," we're not sort of hoping against hope that maybe one day something will happen. This is a prayer of confidence that what we know has already happened will ultimately come in its fullness. We're not quivering with fear that maybe we made a mistake and so hopefully God will come and show us a few little miracles here and there to convince us that we're OK. We base our prayer of faith and confidence upon his already-completed work of bringing the kingdom in power in the resurrection of Jesus. That's why the early church prayed "Maranatha"-¯"Come, Lord Jesus!" They knew this Jesus in the flesh, they saw the miracle of the new creation as God resurrected Jesus from the dead, and so they prayed with insistence that that kingdom that had already come in power would come in its fullness.
I have spoken about somewhat discouraging things, it would seem, as I've tried to describe the rising of pagan power. But we need to call their bluff. They don't know what power is. They don't know what radical energy spiritual power has. The church is that body that the Lord has anointed to bring the message of God's kingdom to the world. He calls upon us to pray "Thy kingdom come" because we know that cosmic victory is assured. That kingdom will indeed come, and we pray that it will come and that God will be all in all. This kind of praying should fill us with infectious optimism concerning the future. We have nothing to fear.
United Resistance in the Community
Secondly, we need to pray this from a communal perspective. We pray it for cosmic victory, but we pray it also that the kingdom might come in a kind of revolutionary community already here on earth. The German occupying forces got up one morning in Lyons to discover that on the major civic buildings of Lyons were written in high letters the word "MUR." Now, the word "mur" in French means wall. Think about that for a minute. You come out and you see on the walls of the civic buildings the word "wall." This was one more attempt by the French to fool the Germans, because actually what "MUR" meant was "Mouvements Unis de Resistance" - the United Resistance Movement.
Charles de Gaulle had sent Jean Moulin to France to unite all the different resistance movements. Now, if you know anything about the French, that's a major achievement. There were the socialist and the communist resistance movements, there were the centrists, there were the rightists and there were the royalists. They all had their own individual resistance movements, and they spent quite a bit of the time shooting at each other. One of the great contributions of Moulin was to bring those people together and establish a Resistance Movement that ultimately made it possible for the Allies to come in and liberate that region.
Sometimes I look around and I get the impression that that's a little bit like the Christian movement. We're firing on each other, we're squabbling, and we don't often realize that we have this massive alien force which has occupied our land. I know that we need to be wise, and we ought to be aware of all the problems that are involved in churches who are more or less faithful to the gospel; nevertheless, do we not need to link arms with those who share this common faith with us in one way or another?
Role of the Church
The Lord has placed in our hands, as the church, the present state of the kingdom. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." Perhaps you've thought to yourself, "What's the relationship between the church and the kingdom?" Well, in the next verse or so Jesus says, "I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." So the church is the entrance into the kingdom. It is Peter confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Messiah that is the rock upon which the church is built, and that is the entrance into the kingdom.
The church in this present time is the reflection of the reality of the kingdom, because in the church are those who have bowed the knee to the King. You are the King's subjects in this world now because you know the reality of the kingdom, you have bowed the knee to the King, and you have received the Spirit of power upon you so that you may live in God's kingdom. "The one who raised Jesus from the dead," says Paul, "now lives in us." So we pray for God's kingdom to come in our church reality.
The prayer "Thy kingdom come" is an evangelistic prayer. "Thy kingdom come" means that the church must be about its business of being the entrance into the kingdom by preaching faithfully the rock-¯the apostolic confession of who is Jesus. Is our church an evangelistic church? Are we praying this prayer in order that God will lead us to bring the message of the kingdom to those who are outside? I believe that that's part of what Jesus meant when he called upon us to pray "Thy kingdom come."
It is also a prayer for a revolutionary church community. This is not an individual struggle. We do have to go to the dentist alone, I realize, but we're in this as a group of God's people. Praise God for Christian people who understand what it means to be a group of God's people functioning together like a well-oiled army in God's kingdom. The church is the present expression of the kingdom. We pray for God's cosmic victory. We pray that the kingdom might be realized and clearly worked out in our churches and in our church life.
But finally it does come down to the individuals. Unbelievers have a choice of not praying the Lord's prayer, but believers have no choice. We have to pray this prayer: "Thy kingdom come." It's the Lord's prayer for his people. But we can only pray it because someone has already prayed it for us. The kingdom came because one man fought the devil and was victorious.
It's very interesting when you look at Scripture in a slightly larger context than the immediate text. In Matthew 4 we find the account of Jesus in the wilderness, where he faces the great conflict with the evil one as the second Adam. He is not in the wonderful Garden of Eden with all the ease and delights of God's creation, but in the wilderness, having not eaten for forty days. He prays as the true Israelite, for Deuteronomy 6 tells how Israel was in the desert being tested of God to know what was in their hearts. God led Israel through the desert to test them, and unfortunately Israel failed. That's true about us too, isn't it? God tests us, and how much do we fail!
Jesus the Victor
But there was one man, the great divine warrior, who went into the wilderness and stood before the devil and was tested three times. One of the incredible things about this temptation is that the devil used Scripture. The devil is a Gnostic. The devil knew the Bible. He didn't know it well enough, but he didn't want to, and so he quotes Scripture out of context. Now, you know, when the devil tempted Adam and Eve, Eve could have said to the devil, "God has said..." The temptation of the devil to Eve was: "Look inside yourself. Find some wisdom there, and you will be as God." It was an occult temptation. Eve fell for it; Adam followed. Jesus stood before the devil. If anybody could have gone with him, the way Shirley MacLaine suggests we do it, to bring out great wisdom and knowledge, it would have been Jesus. But what did he do? He cited Bible verses. He cited the Scripture against the devil. Jesus did what Eve should have done: "God has said..."
You know, if it's good enough for Jesus it's going to be good enough for you. When you are faced with temptation, cite Scripture. Tie yourself to the word of God. Because Jesus did that, he came out of the wilderness. At that point he's probably the great unsung hero. He probably looked awful. He wasn't one of your flashy speakers in a nice suit. He'd been without food for forty days, and was covered in sand and muck. But I bet, as he came out of the wilderness, the trees of the field clapped their hands, because Jesus had won a great victory. And what was the first thing out of his mouth? "The times are fulfilled; the kingdom of God has drawn near."
Our praying "Thy kingdom come" depends upon Jesus having prayed that prayer already for us, and having gone to the end for us. That struggle with the devil took him all the way to the cross. It was at the moment of his death and then his resurrection that the kingdom came in power. It's very interesting to see how the kingdom comes. It's not by might, but it's by his Spirit. That rock not made with hands must first become the stone rejected of the builders. This rock becoming the cosmic mountain first becomes the hill of Golgotha, where Satan is defeated, Satan's head and power are crushed, and the strong man is bound. Then the kingdom comes.
The Coming of the Kingdom
In May 1945 the free French and the Allies liberated Paris and Lyons, the Gallic kingdom came, and Jean Moulin's vision of a liberated homeland became a reality. In 1963 his remains were transferred to the Pantheon, an official building in Paris where all the great heroes of French history are honored, from Victor Hugo to Napoleon and many others. At that ceremony, where they brought his ashes, Andre Malraux, a literary figure and friend of Charles de Gaulle, gave a speech using these moving words. I've translated them from the French. They lose a little bit in translation, but you can feel the power. He said, "Youth of France, draw near to this disfigured face of Moulin's final days. Touch the lips that refused any word of betrayal. For on that day of courage the face of Moulin was the face of France."
In 1980 Klaus Barbie, his torturer and executioner, was apprehended in Lima, Peru, where he'd managed to escape and was working under a false name of Becker. He was brought back to France in 1983, and in one of the great ironic reversals of history, he was placed in the Montluc prison in Lyons. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and he died a broken man in the prison house of his shame.
Friends, one day the kingdom will come in power, and the books will be opened and justice will be served. If you are not part of the kingdom now, if you have never really heard the invitation to enter the kingdom of God, I seriously encourage you to do so. Oh, you might say, "Well, I'm not guilty of crimes against humanity." But you are guilty of the most fundamental of crimes against divinity. You have sinned against Almighty God, and his justice has to punish. Just as on a human level we rejoice when finally justice is done, so on a cosmic level justice will be done when the kingdom comes.
But those of you who have thrown yourself on Christ and claimed his righteousness and his justice have nothing to fear. Indeed, and a little bit like Jean Moulin, you have nothing to fear for anything, including these difficult times. Just as on the cross the face of Jesus was the face of the kingdom, could it be said of you one day-¯as you hold fast to the gospel, as you are a witness to the kingdom-¯that in some humble way your face was the face of the kingdom? The Apostle Peter encourages us with this exhortation: to make our calling and election sure. The Lord is great and gracious. If you do these things you will never fail, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be all glory forever and ever. Amen.
Copyright © 1998, Dr. Peter Jones
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