The concept of the Kingdom of God is a thoroughly Biblical one.
In the familiar words of Matthew 6:10, in what we all know as the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus speaks these words: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
To me it is highly significant that these two phrases, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” are linked together, as in Jewish thinking—and Jesus of course was a very Jewish man—faith that does not issue in faithful living is not real, Biblical faith. In fact the Hebrew word for faith—emunah—goes much further than an academic belief that certain facts are true. It also means faithfulness. The letter of James was written to Jews to encourage them to continue growing in their new Christian faith, and in it James emphasizes that good actions will naturally flow from those who are filled with the Spirit. In James 2:17 we read that in fact “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” And so true “Kingdom of God” people are those who have come to that place where their heart is to do the will of God (not with “gritted teeth!”).
They may fail, as indeed we all do, and as the Biblical patriarchs and prophets did, but their hearts are knitted by faith to the heart of God their King. Think of David, who failed in significant ways—his fall included adultery, lying and murder. But God declared, as Paul proclaimed in Acts 13:22 in his bold message in the synagogue in Antioch, “‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’” David was a man after God’s heart because among other things he knew how to repent. We all know Psalm 51, David’s heartfelt prayer of repentance to God. As the saying goes, ‘You can’t use an egg unless it is broken.’
As New Testament Christians, we believe that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that our hearts can be so changed that our inmost desire is to do the will of God.
What does all this mean?
It means this. As people of faith, our hearts are so knitted by the Spirit of God to the heart of God our Father that we desire to do His will, and more than that we are empowered to live transformed lives in this godless world. That is Kingdom of God living! It is practical, demonstrated, lived out in the power of the Holy Spirit, emunah faith—God Himself ruling and reigning in our hearts.
Now how does all this relate to standing with Israel and the Jewish people?
Well, God has called Israel into being in a unique way and as a unique people, whom we as Christians are called to bless. The words of Genesis 12:1-3 are familiar to us all:
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”
…we are true Kingdom people by reaching out to Jewish people
God blesses those who bless Israel, a people and a land whom God called into being for a unique purpose. Occupying a tiny sliver of land that was a major geographical crossroads of traders and armies, His chosen covenant people would be a living testimony to those passing through the land to the character and faithfulness of the one true God.
In many amazing ways “all the families of the earth” have been and continue to be blessed by Israel and the Jewish people through their innovative and entrepreneurial gifts and talents. As of 2017, Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 892 individuals, of whom 201 or 22.5% were Jews—amazing indeed! In the areas of medicine, technology, agriculture, science, and so much more, Israel is a blessing to the nations. This tiny Jewish state is often the first to respond to natural disasters around the world, and even treats wounded terrorists who have attacked them and survived. But the Jewish people are a chosen people not because they are any better than anyone else, though clearly they occupy the moral high ground especially in their troubled region the Middle East. The Jewish people are chosen simply because God has uniquely called them.
Israel was called to be “a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6), chosen to be a central part of God’s redemptive purpose in bringing a lost, broken and messed-up world back to Himself. We might reflect on the fact that as Christian believers we too are chosen not because of anything good in us, but that we might live as “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
That is why God chose a particular people, and a particular location (the Land of Israel) for His chosen people – and as Christians we believe that Jesus is coming back to that Land, to Jerusalem:
“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west” (Zechariah 14:4).
Friends, Israel isn’t going anywhere!
As Kingdom people whose hearts are knitted to God’s own heart, we are called to bless Israel and the Jewish people by demonstrating practical love for those whom Jesus called His “brothers”, as we see in the parable of the sheep and goats:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”
When these Jewish followers of Jesus heard the One they acknowledged as the Messiah speak about His “brethren”, it would be quite natural for them to think that He was referring to needy Jewish people. In the Bible it was common for Jews to be referred to by their fellow Jews as “brothers.” And so we must love Jesus’ brothers, the Jewish people, in practical ways that reflect the compassionate heart of God. Matthew 25:31-46 does of course give to Christians a clear call to show practical compassion to others in need in our world. But there is an inescapable and sobering reference to the judgment that the nations (or more accurately people groups) of the world will face based on how they respond to needy Jewish people, the natural brothers of our Jewish Messiah.
We show that we are true Kingdom people by reaching out to Jewish people with hearts and hands of compassion, as emunah people. In so doing we “inherit the kingdom prepared for [us] from the foundation of the world.” We are authentic Kingdom of God people! Given the appalling history of Christian anti-Semitism, our calling now is to love Jewish people unconditionally, and in so doing to show them a different face to Christianity than that which has sadly been their experience for some two millennia. God has in recent times worked miraculously in hearts. We cannot do anything about the past, but there is much that we can do now and in the future.
Many Jewish people, including leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu, openly acknowledge that evangelical Christians are Israel’s best friends, because they believe God’s Word, recognize that Israel is still loved and called by God, and in a wide variety of ways demonstrate practical and unconditional love towards Israel and the Jewish people. So let us be true Kingdom Christians who—filled with emunah faith—delight in doing God’s will on earth!