The second sentence in the Lord’s Prayer is, “Your kingdom come.” In the last post, we looked at what it meant to ask that His kingdom come spiritually in our lives. This is an important investigation. After all, Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom of God, and it’s clear that that coming was initiated when He was on the earth (Mark 1:14–15). The kingdom of God exists in the tension of the “now and not yet.” It’s already here. Jesus brought it when He came. But it’s also not here in its fullness.
When we pray for God’s kingdom to come spiritually, we are praying that He will be King and we will be His servants. That implies a deep humility, a poverty of spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus taught in the Beatitudes. He also said, “Unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We need Him desperately. Like little children, we are powerless without Him.
However, we know that there is a literal kingdom to come (the kingdom that is not yet), as well, and that we are told in the Lord’s Prayer to pray that it will come. This is the believers’ hope: “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). Can you imagine that? A house that was built without hands, like the rest of His marvelous creation. I want to look forward to the coming of His kingdom in reality. Like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, I want to seek a better country: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16). I want to live in that city. I want to look forward to the time when He will reign. However, because I am so much in this world, I tend to lose sight of things eternal. I must ask the Lord to change my heart when it wanders. Don’t the details—few though they may be—concerning this coming future kingdom sound wonderful? “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).
I look forward to that. I pray that it will come, that Jesus will return.
However, there are some clear indications about what will happen before Jesus returns.
Concerning Israel and the Jews, Jesus said, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:24–28).
So one thing that must happen is that the time of the Gentiles must be fulfilled.
Here’s another: “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:1–4).
So we see that another event that must transpire before the Lord comes is that the man of lawlessness will be revealed.
However, something must happen before that man of lawlessness is revealed, and Paul wrote about it in the verses which follow those we just read. “And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:6–8).
It’s not entirely clear what or who is restraining this man of lawlessness; however, in order for him to be revealed, it will continue until he is “out of the way.”
This man of lawlessness will be characterized by, “…the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Therefore, it shouldn’t be a stretch to adduce that this man of lawlessness is the one written about in the Book of Revelation: “Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name” (Revelation 13:11–17).
So, let me sum this up. There are lots of theories about what will happen at the end of days. I’m not an expert in eschatology, but it seems clear that at least the events listed above must happen before Jesus returns and the kingdom of God is established in reality. This is why I ended the last post that praying “your kingdom come” is frightening. The worker of false signs and wonders will make everyone take a mark without which people will not be able to buy or sell. People will not be able to purchase food, clothing, shelter, power, water, or sanitation. In the verses that follow the passage above,, the Lord is addressing Christians: “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). Therefore, there will still be believers on the earth. Christian brothers and sisters who do not take the mark may very well die of starvation—men, women, and children. Whether you think you will be here for this terrible time or not, it’s clear that there will be Christians on earth when this happens. They may not be “you,” but they will be your Christian brothers and sisters. Therefore, when we pray for God’s kingdom to come in reality, we’re praying—agreeing with God—that all these horrible things will happen to fellow believers. Nevertheless, this is what God wants and what the Church should desire. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come’” (Revelation 22:17). In addition, at the end of the book, after all was said and done, after Jesus said, “Surely I am coming soon,” after all the appalling things John had seen, he wrote, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
So, in agreement with God’s will and purpose, I pray these things when I pray for God’s kingdom to come:
Lord, please cause the time of the Gentiles to be fulfilled.
Please cause the man of lawlessness to be revealed.
Please cause the one who restrains to restrain no longer.
And then I pray, “Lord, please be merciful.”
May the Lord bless you and give you grace and peace.