'Thy Kingdom Come'

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'Thy Kingdom Come'

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Before and after Christ’s death, His disciples expected the Kingdom to come during their lifetimes. Only the passage of time convinced them otherwise. He even gave them a parable to try to dissuade them from their expectations. “Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately” (Luke 19:11 Luke 19:11And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

Every generation of Christ’s true followers has experienced the same expectations the apostles did. At least some in each generation thought that the Kingdom would come in their lifetimes. Certainly if you had lived in 14th century Europe when one third of the population died of the black death, you could have been forgiven for thinking that Christ would have returned to this earth at that time. There is nothing wrong with holding on to this hope. The last generation of Christians who live to see Christ’s return will finally be right!

Previews of coming attractions

A longtime ingredient of going to the movies or cinema has been the showing of several brief previews of feature films to be shown at a later date. The transfiguration of Jesus Christ was, in a sense, a short preview of what is coming to this globe—the glorious Kingdom of God. Peter, James and John were the only disciples privileged to witness and to experience this unique preview.

These three didn’t grasp the perils ahead of them in their ministry. James, the brother of John, would be martyred early and Peter would follow in his steps some 30 years later, after enduring many difficult trials of his faith. John would live to see the Church greatly shaken, as many brethren were taken in by forerunners of the insidious doctrines of Gnosticism and at least one prominent leader took over a congregation—putting out the true members. Some of these troubles continue even in our day.

They would need special encouragement to endure these and other trials to the end of their lives. So Jesus Christ was transfigured before them in a dramatic representation of His second coming and the Kingdom He will bring at that time. Christ warns us all that “whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38 Mark 8:38Whoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
American King James Version×
).

But immediately after speaking of His second coming, Christ stated: “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.’ Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them” (Mark 9:1-2 Mark 9:1-2 [1] And he said to them, Truly I say to you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. [2] And after six days Jesus takes with him Peter, and James, and John, and leads them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
American King James Version×
).

The original Greek word for transfigured is metamorphousthai. It occurs only four times in the New Testament and in the vernacular simply means, “assumed a different form.” This Greek term implies change. We are familiar with the similar English word metamorphosis and know what that means.

Describing the transfiguration

Continue Mark’s account: “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (verse 3). Some among our readers may remember the old detergent ads on TV promising our clothes would be “whiter than white” if we would only use a particular product. The transfiguration really was whiter than white—purer than the driven snow, “as white as the light,” as Matthew’s parallel account adds.

Matthew’s Gospel also reveals something else exceedingly important about the transfiguration. “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2 Matthew 17:2And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
American King James Version×
). John would later see Christ in a vision and describe His facial appearance “like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:16 Revelation 1:16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength.
American King James Version×
).

Other biblical passages tell us that this is the ultimate potential of every true Christian—those who have God’s Holy Spirit within them (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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). The prophet Daniel confirms that “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament. And those who turn many to righteousness [keeping God’s commandments, Psalms 119:172 Psalms 119:172My tongue shall speak of your word: for all your commandments are righteousness.
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] like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3 Daniel 12:3And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
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; compare 1 Corinthians 15:41-43 1 Corinthians 15:41-43 [41] There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. [42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: [43] It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
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).

Jesus Christ adds: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:43 Matthew 13:43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
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). It takes spiritual insight to truly grasp the real meaning of these passages. Humanly, this knowledge is beyond our five senses. The world simply cannot understand these things and it does not believe what the Bible says about them. Only those who have the Holy Spirit can truly comprehend spiritual matters.

Moses and Elijah

The next verse in Mark’s account introduces two great Hebrew prophets into the story. “And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:4 Mark 9:4And there appeared to them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
American King James Version×
). It is very important to read all three synoptic Gospel accounts of the transfiguration. Luke reveals two more vital bits of knowledge about Moses and Elijah.

“And behold two men talked with Him [Jesus], who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31 Luke 9:30-31 [30] And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: [31] Who appeared in glory, and spoke of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
American King James Version×
). Even though the vision was of the far future, these beings spoke about the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. The conversation underscores the eternal significance of Christ’s death!

Both Moses and Elijah appeared “in glory” just like Jesus did. It showed what they will look like in the Kingdom of God. Remember what was said about Jesus as a man, even though He was God in the flesh. “The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39 John 7:39(But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
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). Later just before His crucifixion He asked God the Father, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5 John 17:5And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
American King James Version×
). (To understand the significance of this passage, please request our free booklet Who Is God?)

The Father answered this prayer when He raised Christ from the dead. After His resurrection Jesus told His disciples: “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26 Luke 24:26Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
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.) True Christians also have this glorious destiny as the apostle Paul explained: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21 Philippians 3:20-21 [20] For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
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; compare 1 Corinthians 15:44-49 1 Corinthians 15:44-49 [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. [45] And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. [46] However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. [47] The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. [48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. [49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
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). This will occur at the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The significance of the tabernacles

Pick up the story again in Mark’s account: “Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah’—because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid” (Mark 9:5 Mark 9:5And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
American King James Version×
).

Fear was the natural, understandable reaction of the righteous patriarchs, prophets and apostles when they got very close to the glorious realm of God. It is a dimension completely foreign to our normal experience as human beings. It took Ezekiel a good while to recover from his first encounter with God’s glory.

Peter did not realize what he was saying (Luke 9:33 Luke 9:33And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
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), but God may have guided his seemingly unconnected suggestion. A tabernacle is a dwelling place and one of God’s commanded festivals is the Feast of Tabernacles. The ultimate meaning of this Christian observance involves the continual presence of transformed men and women in the Kingdom of God. They will be with Jesus Christ as He rules on earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
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; 20:4-6) followed by the Great White Throne Judgment period. Then on beyond, they will spend eternity dwelling with the Father and the Son. The New Jerusalem, the City of God, will come down to the earth from heaven (Revelation 3:12 Revelation 3:12Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write on him my new name.
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; 21:2).

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men [mankind, gender inclusive], and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God [the Father] Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3 Revelation 21:3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
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). This city will need no temple because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb [Christ] are its temple” (verse 22).

A voice from heaven

Continue with Mark: “And a cloud came and overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’” (verse 7). The Father was confirming the deity of Christ and His ministry to the chief disciples.

The apostle Peter never forgot this incredible experience. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we [Peter, James and John] made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son…’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed” (2 Peter 1:16-19 2 Peter 1:16-19 [16] For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [17] For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [18] And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. [19] We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
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).

None of the transfiguration accounts say that the Father actually spoke these words Himself. They all refer to “a voice.” Christ had clearly stated: “And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form” (John 5:37 John 5:37And the Father himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
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). We can only surmise that it was an angelic voice speaking directly on behalf of the Father, repeating His words verbatim.

We conclude the story itself with Matthew’s account. “Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them saying, ‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead’ ” (Matthew 17:9 Matthew 17:9And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
American King James Version×
). Note that it was a vision, that is, not real. Some mistakenly point to these accounts to prove that Moses and Elijah were in heaven. They overlook Christ’s explanation, that what the disciples saw was only a vision.

Although this was only a prophetic vision of the coming Kingdom of God (not yet the full reality), it was still a very real experience. Peter, James and John walked through all the circumstances and actually heard a voice from heaven. They both saw and heard something from another dimension.

Partakers of the divine nature

We human beings have to bridge the gap between our humanity and the Kingdom of God. Becoming converted by receiving the Holy Spirit is the only way to accomplish this—the only method to possessing everlasting life in the Kingdom. The apostle Peter told His listeners (and us today) to repent and be baptized and then they would receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-39 Acts 2:37-39 [37] Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do? [38] Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [39] For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
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).

When that actually occurs, Jesus’ encouraging words in John 5:24 John 5:24Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.
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can be fulfilled. “Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him [the Father] who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

Possessing the Holy Spirit is our assurance of eternal life in a spirit body to come. For, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50 1 Corinthians 15:50Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
American King James Version×
). Our fleshly bodies must be transformed. (To understand more fully, please request our two free booklets The Road to Eternal Life and Transforming Your Life.)

Clearly a transformation takes place when we are truly converted during this human life. Peter also said: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19 Acts 3:19Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
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). Again, when that happens and we are duly baptized (Mark 16:16 Mark 16:16He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.
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), we have a very strong assurance of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The apostle John wrote: “And this is the testimony: that God has given us [Christians] eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11-12 1 John 5:11-12 [11] And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [12] He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
American King James Version×
).

It’s something like when a woman conceives and becomes pregnant. Given normal circumstances and a reasonably healthy pregnancy, a baby is going to be born. Sometimes, things go wrong and the baby tragically dies before birth. That can happen spiritually too. The apostle Paul said that he disciplined his body lest after having preached to others, he should become a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27 1 Corinthians 9:27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
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). But that didn’t happen to him and it won’t happen to us if we are truly converted and follow the biblical rules. God the Father and our High Priest Jesus Christ are always there to help us over the rough spots!

Gradually we grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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) and become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
). A healthy spiritual diet of prayer and Bible study is essential! WNP

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