The Indestructible Kingdom
In the prophet Daniel's interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, he disclosed the plan of God for the setting up of a kingdom which was to be unlike all those that had gone before. Though Nebuchadnezzar was a great king (2:37) and his Babylonian empire a mighty military, political and economic force, yet it would eventually succumb to those internal and external forces which bring down all kingdoms as time passes by. History declares that it happened in the case of Sumer and Assyria before him, and to the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, and even the colossal Roman empire. Since time immemorial no nation has continued as a political entity for much beyond a few hundred years. Babylonia was no exception.
It is rather depressing to think, for I am a proud American, that my own marvelous nation cannot go on forever. But it is a fact, hard fact though it may be. That is the way of the world: nations rise and fall. None has proven immortal, all have perished and been buried with the dusts of time.
Yet Daniel declared that God had a plan for a permanent kingdom: "And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Dan. 2:44). This one was to be different. In fact, later in the book Daniel suggested that this is one thing that is distinctive about what God is capable of doing, as opposed to man's puny abilities: ". . . his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation " (4:3). When Nebuchadnezzar later came to recognize this fundamental truth of the divine nature, he was restored to his former place as king of Babylon (4:34). Certainly the idea is repeated throughout the Bible (see: Psa. 145:13; Jer. 10:10; Ezek. 37:25; Mic. 4:7).
When we turn to the New Testament, we are confronted with the realization of the great passage in Daniel 7, which says of the Son of Man when he is brought before the Ancient of Days, that "there was given unto him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (vv. 13-14). The echo of this is heard in the angel's announcement of the birth of Jesus: "He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk. 1:33).
As Jesus came preaching, he spoke frequently of the coming kingdom, using parables and plain language to describe its characteristics. The term "kingdom" was very often upon his lips, for it was at the center of his teaching of the people. In Matthew 16:18, 19 he plainly connected his kingdom with the church: ". . . upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Yet, the church was not to be as worldly kingdoms are organized or operated: "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight . . . but now is my kingdom not from hence" (Jn. 18:36).
None of those aspects of earthly kingdoms which make them eventually crumble into ruin is found in the kingdom which Christ came to build. He gave it no earthly head, but serves as its heavenly head (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1: 22-23); it had no worldly headquarters, but only heaven as its center of authority and power (Col. 2:9-10); it possessed no political, military, or economic ambitions, fielded no armies, held no land areas, and sought no ideological advantage. Its aims were all spiritual, and had the ultimate good of every soul as its ultimate end. This is the nature of the kingdom of Christ. It is the purpose of his church.
Truly such a kingdom has the capacity to stand for ever. It reaches out to the hearts of men and holds them with bands of love. It inspires loyalty, dedication and faithfulness in good men everywhere -- and shall for all time. When its back was bent beneath the weight of Imperial persecution, God declared through John that it could not be broken; great voices in heaven declared that "the kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 11:15), and that Jesus was still "King of kings and Lord of lords" (19:16).
How do I stand in relation to this grand plan of the Almighty? No power can withstand it, and none can ever destroy it. For nearly two thousand years it has stood up to every tyrant and movement which calculated to do it harm. Still it stands, its numbers ever increasing, its influence never dying. Are you a part of this glorious kingdom? Please know, dear reader, that someday when all earth's glories have faded and passed into oblivion, God's majesty will not have dimmed nor his kingdom disappeared. As Martin Luther wrote in his famous hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God:
And tho' this world with evil filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 23, pp. 705, 727