“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28)
“Such is the power of truth that even the slightest whisper of it can handily drown out the most boisterous of lies, which may explain why in many instances God only needs to whisper.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
How “near” for Jesus was the reign of God which he said was “at hand”? Is it imminent (like a train whose “Arrival” is now flashing on the board, with the instruction to step behind the yellow line) or has it already been achieved?
Well, the answer must be both. Both at the same time. God is coming and God has come. We live between the first and second advents, and that question about the”nearness” of the reign of God can only be answered simultaneously in terms of a”not yet” and “but already” dialectic.
Fulfiment has already come: its presence is effective in the victory over demonic forces. That’s what Jesus said in Luke 11:20: “If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Similarly, the whole broad sweep of salvation in all its forms (body, soul and spirit transformation) is the sign of Messiah’s arrival. The reign of God is being ushered in in fulfiment of the messianic prophecies of salvation (Isaiah 19:18; 61:1 etc): “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear and the dead are rraised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matt 11:5) All this is “Kingdom Come”!
So Jesus is the Kingdom come. Where he is, there the kingdom is. And hence, in his own person is the challenge to decision. “Now is the acceptable time…” There are many passages which combine this present and future reality together. Take a look at Mark 8:38; Matt 19:28; Luke 12:31. We decide now, and God judges later. The reign of God is a futute which confronts us as present. Jesus’ teaching of the reign of God is at once an expectation of the future and a proclamation of the present.
And that -precisely that – is the unshakeable kingdom to which the writer to the Hebrews refers. And when we receive Christ, we not only enter the kingdom, but we receive it as a gift! We enter into the territory where God rules and where his authority is unassailable, unshakeable.
It is a place of power, integrity and purposefulness. It is characterised by a love so powerful that it sweeps all hatred aside. It is a light so bright that it dispels all darkness. It is a truth so stark and real that “even the slightest whisper of it can handily drown out the most boisterous of lies, which may explain why in many instances God only needs to whisper.”
So “let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
It’s the only reasonable response.