What is the kingdom of Heaven? is a question each believer should seek to understand. The topics of the kingdom, the kingdom of Heaven, and the kingdom of God are found from Genesis to Revelation. Understanding the kingdom of Heaven is vital to understanding the Christian faith.
Both terms "kingdom of Heaven" and "kingdom of God" are used interchangeably in the Bible. Matthew in the Book of Matthew used almost exclusively "Kingdom of Heaven" because his audience was Jewish and avoided writing out the name of God in full.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a kingdom as a politically organized community or major territorial unit having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen; the realm in which God's will is fulfilled.
A kingdom has a king. During Jesus' time, the only type of rulership that existed was one of a king who ruled over his kingdom. Jesus used illustrations to help the people understand and remember His teachings. The people Jesus taught understood the term kingdom.
The primary function of a king was to rule over his country or territory. The ruler at the time of Jesus' earthly ministry was Caesar, who ruled over Israel. The people did whatever the king ordered. They certainly couldn't vote the king out of office.
It was Jesus' practice to illustrate His teaching with parables about farming and shepherding; He would use the kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of God to explain the things of God. The people understood farming, tending to sheep, and the rulership under a king. Using parables was Jesus' favorite method of teaching.
When the people pictured the term "kingdom of God" or kingdom of heaven," they saw a kingdom governed by a king. In a kingdom, the people did exactly what the king decreed. The people—willingly or not so willingly—always did exactly what the King decreed.
Whether Jesus was teaching about the physical kingdom of a king or the spiritual kingdom, the people understood the word kingdom meant the king's reign or God's reign. Where the king reigns, the subject gives allegiance to the king.
The Physical Kingdom:
Jesus will come again to establish a physical kingdom in the earth. This second coming will be a kingdom where Christ will be king. The Bible has much to say about the physical kingdom that Christ will establish and rule when He returns.
The reign of God on the new earth will be characterized by righteousness, perfect justice, peace, love, joy, and prosperity. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
This time has yet to come, and as believers, we have no control over when this will happen.
The Spiritual Kingdom:
The spiritual kingdom comes by accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. When a person surrenders to God and submits totally to Him, they make God king in their lives. This person seeks "first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." He studies God's Word to understand what pleases the king.
What is the kingdom of Heaven? can best be answered by studying what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of Heaven.
For example, when the Pharisees asked Jesus, "When will the kingdom of God come?" Jesus answered, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation;nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed,the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21).
Two steps are required for entering the kingdom of Heaven. First, a person must believe that Christ is God's Son and believe in Him. Second, the believer must seek the kingdom of God. Both are choices the individual makes.
What is the kingdom of Heaven?" It is a spiritual realm over which God reigns as king. A person who lets God reign as king in their life is part of the kingdom of God. This person desires to do the will of God.
Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." The King wants His kingdom to seek Him first and foremost.
The central theme of Jesus' message during His earthly ministry was about the kingdom of God. God created all creatures on the earth and desired to fellowship with His prize creation. God handed rulership of the earth over to mankind.
Where in the Bible is the first time the concept of the kingdom is found? Genesis 1: 28, "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'" God created the earth and gave it to Adam and Eve to rule it and to have dominion over every living creature.
Where in the Bible does it first say that God will reign? Exodus 15:18. "The Lord shall reign forever and ever."
God—through His act of creation—desired to share rulership with His creation. He is a God who loves to share. Sharing is an essential point to take away from reading Genesis. God is the creator of this beautiful earth that He designed and created. His unique creatures were installed as the co-rulers of the earth.
The question, what is the kingdom of Heaven? can be answered that it is both a spiritual kingdom for today and a physical kingdom that Jesus will establish when He comes the second time.
Make Jesus Christ king of your life.