If you were raised in a Eurocentric culture like I was, the idea of kingdoms brings to mind grey castles with moats of water around them, crossed by drawbridges; there might be some crocodiles in the moat or something, even though Crocodiles can’t live in Europe because it’s too cold. Camelot! Y’know, kings and queens and rich tapestry banners, trumpets to announce their entrances, captured princesses, princes vying for the throne. Knights and stuff.
Maybe your aesthetic differs slightly, but at the end of the day the center of the kingdom is the throne the monarch sits on; and that throne is in the castle; and so the castle becomes the center of the kingdom. And so, when someone tells a person raised in Western culture about the Kingdom of God, we naturally are looking for a castle, a seat of power, and boy is there a castle in the Bible.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel… Revelation 21:10-12
It goes on to talk about the city’s features and size, being 1,500 miles wide, long and tall. So, a very big castle. The gates never soot, of course, because there’s no longer any enemies to guard against. But, oddly… this place is not referred to as the Kingdom of God, nor coming from the Kingdom of God. It’s the Great City, but it is not the kingdom.
So what is?
Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man tossed into his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened.” – Matthew 13:33
Over and over and over, Jesus tries to describe the Kingdom of Heaven, The Kingdom of God. He keeps looking for allegories in our everyday lives. Things that start small and then grow or change everything. Things that people sell everything they have to procure. Good things where bad sneaks in and is eventually dealt with in the end. No one seemed eager to ask Jesus about this Kingdom, but He just couldn’t shut up about it. Why was He so pressed, I wonder?
But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. – Matthew 12:28
That’s…a lot, right? There’s no castle here. There’re no trumpets, no knights, no princesses; but, Jesus seems to posit that the Kingdom of God is…there. In Palestine 2000 years ago. Like he’s carrying it with him or something. Eventually, the religious rules of the day keyed into it. Now, this was all part of the whole plan to show him as rebelling against the Roman government, instead of just them. If they could get him to say he was planning to set up a kingdom against Ceasar, they could have the Romans take him out.
“When asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:20-21
Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God as a present thing, as something that was happening in the immediate present, not far off. How is that possible, there was no castle, there was no throne.
“That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.” – Ephesians 3:17
Except of course there is a throne. You are a throne, my friend, as soon as you make Christ the Lord of your life. He does not set up camp in your home, or your job or your government. He sets up a kingdom in YOU. Everywhere you go then, you carry The Kingdom and its precepts with you. You are the castle, not the knight or squire. This is perhaps literally the oldest trick in the book, as when Satan claimed dominion over the Earth in the book of Job, God pointed to Job as a seat of God’s power. A throne, and a very sturdy one at that.
Thrones do not fight. They do not defend themselves, they do not attack. They are protected, sometimes moved, often decorated, overlaid with all manner of costly things but they are still fragile wood underneath. Elsewhere in scripture, we are referred to as temples, which function for a deity very similar to how a throne does for a king, doesn’t it?
So when the question is asked, where is the Kingdom of God?
What will be YOUR answer?