The idea or concept of the Kingdom of God in the Bible originates in the heart of God. God has no beginning and has no end. He has always been: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. From the creation of the angels, who were the first subjects of His Kingdom, to the creation of heaven, earth and man, and ultimately the coming of the new heaven and earth, God's Kingdom is one of the scarlet threads that run as a theme of the whole of history.
The word "kingdom" comes from the Hebrew 'basileia', a noun, denoting "sovereignty, royal power, dominion; the territory or people over whom a king rules. Thus the Kingdom of God is the sphere of God's rule and sphere in which, at any given time, His rule is acknowledged."
According to Conner in his classic work 'Christian Doctrine', there are five stages of Biblical thought and development:
1. The universal sovereignty of God. God is creator of all and sovereign to all. He is sovereign over creation and particularly mankind. There is only one true God and He is sovereign over the entire universe. He reigns supremely over all nations and all individuals and each is subject to Him and His judgment. There is nothing or no one that is exempt from His sovereign rule.
2. The theocratic Kingdom of Israel. God selected Abraham, entered into a covenant relationship with he and his descendants and promised to give them a land as well as make them a great nation which in turn would be a blessing to the whole world. God chose and had a purpose for the people of Israel to be His chosen, peculiar people.
3. The spiritual Kingdom founded by Jesus. God promised David that a descendant of his would reign on the throne forever. He fulfilled this promise in the person of Jesus Christ even though He was not recognized by his chosen people Israel. Jesus, in establishing His spiritual Kingdom, gave relevance and fulfillment to the theocracy of the Old Testament. Jesus came to earth as the "Savior-King". He initiated the Kingdom of God on earth ushering in a reign of peace and righteousness not understood by the world. In His Kingdom, He saves men from sin and reconciles them to God as well as to one another.
4. His Kingdom as a progressive power in the world. The Kingdom has come in power with Jesus. However, as the mustard seed must develop so must the Kingdom of God in this world. This is accomplished primarily through the preaching and demonstration of the good news of the Kingdom.
5. The eternal Kingdom of God. The final stage of the Kingdom is the eternal Kingdom. It is to be finally established at the second coming of the King, Jesus Christ. It will consummate all of history and usher in God's planned rule since the beginning of time.
So, our journey this coming year, walking through the Bible and looking at the theme of God's Kingdom, will hopefully be a discovery of the foundational story of God's Word: His Kingdom coming and His will being done.