The Kingdom Of God Expands
This Bible reading from Acts 1 is a crucial summary of this brief window of time between Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension. In that short season, Jesus camps out on the Kingdom.
And the stark contrast is between the Kingdom of God (v3) v. our kingdom (v6), whether it is a national kingdom, as the first disciples mistakenly anticipated, or another of our own dreaming and making, as for many of us, today. Listen to the brazen ambition in their query:
“Lord, is it the time now for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” (TPT)
Back in the day, Israel had no king. God filled that role and so much more. But they hankered after social acceptance and ‘national’ legitimacy that a king brought. So, their desire to be like the nations was a rejection of God. And for hundreds of years they did have kings, and half a dozen books of the Bible trace that spotty history. But, more recently, for centuries they hadn’t had their own legitimate kings and they longed corporately for a restoration.
Anyway, three years of living with and following Jesus and the disciples STILL don’t get that He wasn’t all about restoring the kingdom to Israel. He isn’t about it today. He’s all about establishing a kingdom, yes, but not the kingdom of ____ (feel free to insert your name here). He’s all about establishing Himself as King.
A kingdom is a territory ruled by a sovereign; royal authority; sphere of influence (Webster's). Those of us who belong to Jesus are part of that territory, under that authority, within that sphere of influence. “It is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” It encompasses the spiritual realm, not the physical realm. The Holy Spirit acts as more than just a spiritual customs agent. The Holy Spirit arranges your new identity, living arrangements, and vocational responsibilities. The Kingdom is not a matter of talk but of power. It's not about talking for the sake of hearing ourselves speak. It's about backing up proclamation of the Gospel with demonstration of the Gospel! And it does not come with our careful observation, because it is within us.
And it seems from this emphasis during this significant period of the disciples’ experience that the expansion of the Kingdom is the crucial mission for them to invest the rest of their lives accomplishing.
Here is Acts 1:8 (The Passion Translation):
But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be My messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces —even to the remotest places on earth!
And there is a footnote to this verse in that version: “Or “You will seize power,” or “You will be seized with power.””
a. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will seize power.
b. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be seized with power.
What happens after we seize Holy Spirit power and are seized by Holy Spirit’s power? The Kingdom of God expands through Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.