Is God’s Kingdom Advancing or Retreating?

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the bad things that you hear on the news that are taking place?  The media knows this will gain people’s attention and that bad news sells.  We all probably know that there is a bias towards doom and despondency.  Rather than reporting on the good that generates hope, it’s subtle and over time it can wear you down.

It’s hardly surprising therefore, that many people have a fatalistic outlook on life and believe that things are only going to get worse.  It’s easy to hear about the bad things that are happening in the world.  Hearing the good news isn’t so easy as this isn’t usually reported.

Pessimistic Christians
Sadly, Christians are not immune from this impending sense of hopelessness.  Yes, they know that Jesus is coming back to put everything back in order.  But until He does, some believe they just have to accept that things are going to get worse beforehand.  Scriptures such as Isaiah 60:2 and 2 Timothy 3 are used to justify their pessimistic outlook. ‘Darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples’. ‘Difficult and perilous times will come’ where ungodliness will abound.  Therefore, we must ensure we don’t join the apostasy of those who will ‘fall away’.  Instead we must endure firm until the end as part of the faithful remnant.

Reverse Remnant
While the idea of a faithful remnant is present in the Old Testament, the concept is reversed in the kingdom of God.  Here, the smallest seed grows into the biggest tree; the little leaven works through the whole loaf (Matthew 13:31-33); and the rock cut without hands expands into a mountain that fills the whole Earth (Daniel 2:35).  A small, faithful minority is therefore foreign to the growth of God’s kingdom.

A Waiting Game?
Some teach that we have to wait until Christ returns in the future to establish His kingdom.  Only at that time will He instantly triumph over all the works of darkness.  In the meantime, rescue those we can but otherwise we must wait for Jesus’ appearing.  Or, for the Church to be ‘raptured’ away!  As far as the world is concerned, according to this theology, it has to get worse before ‘the Great Tribulation’.

The Ever-Increasing Kingdom
However, is this really what the Bible teaches?  Actually, the gospels record that Jesus announced the coming of His kingdom when He came to Earth some two thousand years ago (Matthew 4:17)!  He also made clear that having set up His kingdom, it would continually grow like a seed or like yeast which gradually fills and permeates the whole dough.

Such a kingdom had been prophesied in the Old Testament – this was the rock cut without human agency; a kingdom that would endure forever, bringing all other earthly kingdoms to an end; and would continue to increase without end, until the Earth was filled with the knowledge of the Lord (Daniel 2:44-45; Isaiah 9:7; 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Numbers 14:21).

What is Really Happening?
The truth is that God’s kingdom has been steadily progressing and advancing over time.  It is not going into retreat and neither should His people, the Church!  As the primary way the kingdom grows is through God’s representatives on Earth, it is vitally important we understand the truth and do our part in contributing to the advance and expansion of God’s kingdom on Earth.  In this way we answer Jesus’ prayer that ‘His kingdom come on Earth, as it is in Heaven’ (Matthew 6:10).

In my following posts, I will report on some good news that is happening around the world, and consider whether the world is going from bad to worse, or is actually moving in a positive direction.