Kingdom Through Crisis
…“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
We are always having to deal with conundrums and paradoxes when relating spiritual truth to present earthly conditions. This is certainly true on the highest level regarding the developing manifestation of the kingdom of God in the earth. We all want to see the kingdom here and now. It is our intense longing. Yet we also know that everything manifesting in the earth is just about the opposite of that. And the opposition is growing by the day. How do we make sense of this? Do we?
We have learned over the course of this ministry not to mistake what we see in the systems of this world for the kingdom of God, whether we are talking about governments, cultures or nations. When things get worse in these venues, it only confirms that these are not the substance of the kingdom.
And yet, doesn’t the kingdom have to show up somewhere?? Does it not have to prevail sometime?? How long must we be saddled with what we see around us now? Our hearts faint for the lack of kingdom truth and righteousness in demonstration anywhere. We can barely find it in the church—the very repository of true eternal kingdom life—never mind the systems of the world.
So everything just goes on and worsens. And so we could ask with the discouraged, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the [apostolic] fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have from the beginning.”
Except for a few historic blips of the Holy Spirit on the radar of history, nothing really does seem any different since the first apostles passed away—not in North America anyway. We are left to conclude that either there is no real kingdom power in demonstration anywhere [better known in the seminaries as “cessationism”], or we are forced to somehow try to make something out of the systems of the world as if they “are” or could somehow “become” the kingdom of God despite what they look like. Just keep “prophesying life” to them as the culture prophets have been doing for decades—which only demonstrates itself in further futility.
We’re caught in the middle of this. We’re tired of seeing all the “is not the kingdom” out there as well as seeing all that professes “it is the kingdom” when it isn’t. We’re still stuck with the question “Where IS it?”
It is admittedly tough dealing with this increasingly contrary evidence in the world against our kingdom. No matter which way we choose to believe about it, we seem to lose. And the devil of course is happy to encourage us in this mind of discouragement.
This is where Paul’s words in Acts 14:22 begin to take on a larger meaning, not to mention the Book of Revelation itself. Paul says we must “through many tribulations” enter the kingdom.
The evil we are seeing is in effect judgment on the world. This is made clear in Romans 1. Paul says that because men choose to refuse God, God “gives men over” to do that which is insane. The insanity we are seeing throughout human culture now is already the judgment of God on the world. All of this is before its destruction, which is what we more commonly think of as “the judgment.” Yes, the judgment is coming in the form of destruction. But in truth, the judgment is already here. The judgment of destruction is only a further judgment on that which has already come under judgment.
But we have also previously learned that judgment is not contrary to our salvation, but is actually our ticket to salvation. We saw this with the flood in the article “Salvation Through Judgment.” Peter tells us that Noah was saved “through” the flood, not “from” the flood. So it is with the evil that has come to judge the earth. And do we not speak of the evil as a flood?
Well, I think what we have to see is that salvation and the manifestation of the kingdom are of the same essence and their arrival is by the same means. In a manner of speaking, as Noah was saved through the judgment of the flood, so we are saved and the kingdom is to come into its glorious manifestation through the judgment of the “flood of evil” now upon us and soon to culminate in much greater destruction to come.
In other words, the concept of the “flood of evil” now upon us and the manifest kingdom are not contrary. They are not in opposition to one another in God’s mind as it is in ours. The evil flood and the ensuing destructions are not evidence that the kingdom of God is “further than ever” from coming into manifestation.
To the contrary, the massive evil is signal to the imminence of that manifestation. And therefore, we are not to be discouraged, but by a higher faith take greater heart and gain greater confidence in God’s control over what is going on, His intent to save us, and His intent to indeed shine forth in open brilliance upon the planet.
This same paradox is echoed throughout the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation is all about the Revelation of Jesus Christ—which of course is also thus about the manifestation of the kingdom and fulfillment of the Lord’s prayer. But look at the context! The majority of Revelation is about the rise of evil and the prevalence of destruction! “Wow, that doesn’t sound like the revelation of Jesus Christ to me!” Yet it is. And perhaps this is something we really need to come to grips with when reading Revelation.
The back to back episodes of the rise of the manchild to heaven and the dethronement of satan to the earth in Revelation 12 bring out this paradox more starkly than anything else. On the rise of the manchild, the heavens declare, “Now is come the power of our kingdom of our God.” Yet immediately following is the contrary declaration, “Woe to you inhabitants of the earth, for the devil has come down to you!” What? I thought the victory of the manchild should spell the corresponding reflection of the victory over evil in the earth! No. Just the opposite happens—for a season.
Honestly, looking at how bad things are getting, I sometimes have to ask myself, “I wonder if the manchild has already gotten translated and I didn’t hear anything about it!” Actually, I don’t really think that has happened. But I’ll tell you this, I don’t think it can get a lot worse before the Lord has to take that first harvest.
Again, then—the rise of the tide of evil in the earth is not the evidence that God’s kingdom is further away from manifestation than ever, even though it certainly is proof that what the culture prophets have been “prophesying” about the kingdoms of this world as if they were the kingdom of God is bogus. I think we need the evil to show itself for what it is just to help us keep our heads straight about this.
Nevertheless, the kingdom of God still truly is at hand. But we are going to have to get our thinking and expectation realigned. It’s hard to believe the kingdom is at hand when one is going through such oppression as is now being faced in the airwaves now.
To me, the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego poignantly illustrates this paradoxical truth of salvation through judgment and the manifestation of evil. The king of Babylon had tied them up, and bound them over to the fire of destruction. Yet it was the fire that instead of destroying them, destroyed only their bonds! And in the midst of that fire, the Son of God showed up and gave the king of Babylon a run for his money. That was the manifestation of the kingdom of God. And as we all know, the statue ultimately falls.
I’m of a mind right now that anything that I can hear from God that can give us some genuine encouragement without wishful thinking about the times through which we are passing is something I want to embrace just for my own family’s sake and I want to pass on to others. As hard as it is to hear, “Take heart, your redemption draws near.” It certainly doesn’t look like it.
But the kingdom of God comes only through tribulation. As Jesus Himself described, His revelation comes only through birth pangs of apocalyptic evil. Salvation comes only through the flood of evil and by passing through the fire. Yet the promise is sure: “When you pass through the fire you will not be burned, and when you pass through the waters you will not be drowned.” As He personally said to us, “Not one hair of your head shall be harmed.”
The present evil is its own guarantee of our salvation and the certainty of the breakthrough of God’s kingdom in victory over the earth. As Paul noted, the same token of the world’s destruction is the token of our salvation.
Does this help at all? I hope so. I’m convinced that there is still much more pressure through which we must pass before we realize the salvific nature of what we have passed through. With Noah, it turned out to be a brand new world. And so it is to be for us. We do not need to ask “Where is the promise of His coming?” The evil itself witnesses to the imminent fulfillment of that promise. It does not witness against it.
Let’s see if we can move beyond the threshold of our present perception on this into His marvelous light.
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created July 15, 2017