"Thy Kingdom Come" (Part 1 of 3)
Author: Dwight A. Pryor (of blessed memory)
- from the fourth lecture in the audio seminar Praying Biblically
We are studying what it means to pray biblically. We have discussed patterns of biblical prayer. Then we began an in-depth study of The Disciple’s Prayer, traditionally called The Lord’s Prayer. In many ways, and according to many scholars, this prayer is kind of a condensed version of the best of Jewish prayer. It touches briefly on all the major themes that we see in biblical and Jewish prayer.
There are three overwhelming themes that permeate Jewish prayer:
1. The concept of God as our Father. He is uniquely the Father of Israel, the Creator of mankind. He bore them on eagle’s wings, carried them like a father carries his son, brought them to Sinai, and there revealed his will for them—to rule and reign over them. (In Exodus we read that he does rule and reign for ever and ever.)
2. The sanctification of God’s name: “hallowed be Thy name.” When you pray that with intention, with focus, it means that you are confessing that God is holy, that his name is holy, but you are also pledging yourself to conduct yourselves in such a way as to honor his holiness. You are God’s ambassadors, you are the guardians of God’s reputation, and as you conduct yourself in this world his name is shown to be holy to the nations. Or it is shown to be profane by your conduct. So we confess and we conduct ourselves in accordance with God’s holiness.
3. In some ways the apex of The Lord’s Prayer is: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That is the subject of this study.
It is absolutely imperative to understand the term “kingdom” correctly if you are going to not only understand Jesus’ ministry, but you are going to fulfill the purposes of your entrance into that kingdom. The Hebrew word for kingdom is malchut. Jesus’ terminology was actually the phrase “malchut shamayim” (the kingdom of heaven). It is a phrase not found in the Bible, but it was very well-known among the Pharisees. Jesus took this term and used it in a very distinctive way to describe various truths about himself and about God. The heart of Jesus’ ministry was teaching, proclaiming, and demonstrating the kingdom of God—the kingdom of heaven. The term “malchut shamayim” is just the Hebrew way of saying the same thing that is said in Greek as: “the kingdom of God”. There is no difference between these two, the one is just Hebraic terminology and the other is Greek terminology, but they mean exactly the same thing. Jesus, from the beginning to the end of his ministry, went about proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Jesus’ favorite term for himself is the term “Son of Man.” He often refers to himself as the Son of Man: “…as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the coming of the Son of Man…you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father…foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.“ “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite way to refer to himself, but it did not in most cases refer to his lowly human state, rather it is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14. So every time Jesus referred to himself by this designation, he is hinting at the fact that he is the one that Daniel saw in his vision. He is the supernatural being who has come with authority, glory, and power to establish a dominion, to rule and reign in the lives of people in a way that shall never come to an end. He is Immanuel. Isaiah described him in Chapter 9:7 as the one upon whose shoulders the government rests, and of the increase of his ruling and his reigning there shall be no end.
He is the King come for his people—to deliver them. The concept of kingdom is inseparable from the concept of redemption. In Exodus 15 is the first reference in all of Jesus’ Bible (the Old Testament) to the concept of the kingdom of God. It says: “the Lord reigns, he rules, he sovereignly orchestrates the affairs of men, for ever and ever”. The Lord, in other words, is king. The word “reigns,” is the same word as king. “The Lord is king for ever and ever” would be another way of translating this statement. When does Israel say this? When they have seen God supernaturally intervene in their lives to bring redemption, to bring salvation from Egypt. So kingship is inseparable from redemption.
Notice Luke 11:20—Jesus is going about redeeming, delivering people, even delivering them from demons. In verse 14, we see Jesus is driving out a demon and somebody in the crowd says that Jesus does this by the power of Beelzebub. Jesus then gives his teaching that a house divided among itself cannot stand. Then notice verses 19-20 where Jesus states that his redemptive activity, his power to deliver, to set free, is the demonstration that the kingdom of God is here. It has come in a new, powerful, and definitive way. That is why he came out of the desert at the beginning of his ministry and he announced that: “the kingdom is here—I am here as the king, and in the power of God, supernaturally I am ruling and reigning, both in the supernatural and in the natural. I am casting out demons by the finger of God.”
That is very instructive language, because it is the same terminology that is used at Sinai. The tablets of stone were inscribed by the finger of God—the power of God. It is a figure of speech. It is the same terminology that is used in Egypt when the magicians of Pharaoh cast down their staff which becomes a serpent and then it is swallowed by the serpent (Aaron’s staff) of God. And even the magicians recognized that the God of Israel is a powerful God, and they say: “this was done by the finger of God.” This is same the language Jesus uses. He says: “I am casting out these demons by the finger of God, by God’s sovereign authority and power, and because you see this happening, you shall indeed know that the kingdom is here, it has come upon you.”