This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Lagos, Nigeria, in support of a United Youth Corps project. The group of volunteers I was with wanted desperately to experience Lagos, so we decided to head outside of the walls of our hotel one morning and trek around the city. As we walked among the sights and the sounds of Africa’s most populated city, we ran across this young family living underneath a flyover (overpass). The mother was disabled and bound to a wheelchair, the father sitting on the concrete at her side, and standing a short distance from the mother was a beautiful young girl, all of 16 months. Her clothes were dirty from living on the streets, and she was gnawing on a black plastic garbage bag—not unlike the numerous black plastic bags that were floating around like tumbleweeds under the flyover.
Can you imagine an end to sickness, disease, mental illness and the issues that spring from them? Can you imagine a world without sin—without spiritual sickness? That is the Kingdom that is promised.
In our time in Lagos, we saw people who had much and people who had little. We interacted with many generous folks—one man and his family invited me and one of my traveling partners to partake in their breakfast of yam as we walked—and with many who hoped we’d give them something. We saw children and young people with joyful attitudes, and were welcomed warmly by so many others.
Now, I understand that every country is home to families who are less well-off. The United States is not immune. I see homelessness and poverty in my own hometown of Salem, Oregon, all the time.
But I think I needed to be shocked out of my complacency a bit to truly see it. And while Christ Himself told His disciples in Mark 14:7 Mark 14:7For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you will you may do them good: but me you have not always.
American King James Version×;that the poor will always be with us, this felt different somehow. That little girl under the flyover in Lagos struck me to my core.
I had to wonder to myself: What did her future hold? Where would she be in five, 10 or 15 years?
I came to recognize in that moment how absolutely crucial the Kingdom of God truly is. Not just for Nigeria, not just for Africa, but for the entire world . Academically, I understood it before, but now I felt it viscerally. Money can’t ultimately fix the problem, a different politician can’t fix the problem—the only true, lasting, long-term solution to the problems and difficulties of this world is the return of Jesus Christ.
The beginning of the Kingdom of God—starting with the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ—is a time of incredible restoration and healing. At Christ’s return, the kingdoms of this world become the Father’s, and He grants the authority to rule to His Son, ending governmental corruption and tyranny forever (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×). Satan, the adversary, will be bound for 1,000 years, removing his influence on the people of Earth (Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
American King James Version×). The desert and the parched lands will be healed (Isaiah 35:1-2 Isaiah 35:1-2 1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
American King James Version×). Prosperity and abundance will be the norm (Amos 9:13-15 Amos 9:13-15 13 Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that sows seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them on their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, said the LORD your God.
American King James Version×).
The book of Isaiah records the beauty of this coming Kingdom of God in Isaiah 65:17-23 Isaiah 65:17-23 17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
18 But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20 There shall be no more there an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
American King James Version×:
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.”
It’s not just large scale healing of the land, of governments and principalities that will take place. God will heal the people of this world physically, mentally and spiritually. They will live good long lives free of illness and filled with prosperity. They will get to enjoy the blessings of seeing their children grow up and have children of their own. God promises this opportunity in His Kingdom.
The blind will receive sight, the deaf will receive their hearing, and the lame man will leap like a deer (Isaiah 35:5-7 Isaiah 35:5-7 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
American King James Version×).
Considering the condition of the world around us today, can you imagine an end to sickness, disease, mental illness and the issues that spring from them? Can you imagine a world without sin—without spiritual sickness? That is the Kingdom that is promised.
God is going to take the world as we know it and fix the problems that exist due to Satan’s influence. Never again will children die of malnutrition and poverty; never again will diseases destroy whole generations of people; never again will materialism and greed affect the poor; never again will people suffer from mental illness, abuse, or any of the myriad of issues that face people worldwide because of living contrary to God’s way.
The gospel message of Jesus Christ, discussed in Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×, consists of the knowledge of this coming Kingdom: “ The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” The purpose of Christ’s first coming was to preach the good news of this coming Kingdom and to give his life for the forgiveness of our sins. In doing so, He gave us the opportunity to repent and be a part of that Kingdom. At Christ’s second coming, the healing of this incredibly sick world begins.
That is the good news of Jesus Christ.
To the man I saw wheeling himself around the streets of Lagos on a skateboard because his legs were gnarled and withered from polio. That Kingdom is coming.
To the man on the street corner in Salem, Oregon, with the sign, clearly suffering from mental illness. That Kingdom is coming.
To that beautiful little girl under the flyover in Lagos. That Kingdom is coming.
To all of the people around the world who are sick, who are hurting and struggling. That Kingdom is coming.
Repent and believe the gospel.