Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Kingdoms in Conflict

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God uses even the wrath of men to praise Him, the Scripture says. God will demonstrate His kingdom and rule. God will go to whatever lengths are necessary—in this world and in my life—to prove that, as Daniel says, heaven rules.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, October 9.

Each day you wake up you have a choice to make. Will you live for God’s kingdom or try to build your own kingdom? The Lord’s Prayer will orient you as you make this individual decision, but it will also help you sort out and pray for the big issues facing our world. Nancy’s continuing in a series called, The Lord’s Prayer, Part 2.

NancyWe’re talking in this part of the series on the Lord’s Prayer about a three-word petition. It’s the shortest petition in the Lord’s Prayer, one of the shortest petitions in all of God’s Word, but one of the most potent and powerful: “Thy kingdom come.” Your kingdom come.

We said in the last session that there are three aspects of God’s kingdom, as we’re talking about what is God’s kingdom. We explained two of those and want to look at the third today. But let’s just touch back on what the first two are.

We first talked about the universal reign of God. He is the King over all the earth. He is the King of those who recognize the King, and He’s the King of those who don’t recognize that He is the King. We looked at Psalm 47, and we saw that the Lord is the great King over all the earth (v. 2). He always has been. He is now. He always will be. And the people who think they’re in charge don’t realize, many times, who is in charge. So there is that universal, eternal reign of God.

Then we talked about the personal reign of God. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is here now.” He’s not talking about a visible kingdom—not a visible reign or rule, not overthrowing the Roman government as the disciples hoped that He would.

He’s talking about the reign of God in our hearts, in our individual lives, as we say, “Yes, Lord. Lord, may Your kingdom come in my heart.” And as we pray this prayer, I think the starting place is with those first two recognitions.

First of all, to say, “Lord, we worship You. You are the King of all the earth, of all the universe, of heaven and earth. You are the King, and I want You to reign and to rule in my heart.”

Every struggle I have in life ultimately comes down to, in one way or another, “Am I going to let God reign and rule in my life?” I mean, He is the King. But am I going to welcome His reign and His rule, His Kingship, His rulership in my life? So the personal reign of God—it’s a present-tense reign. He reigns in our hearts to the extent that we let Him do that.

Today I want to look at that third aspect of the kingdom of God. We’ll probably take two sessions on this because it’s such a vast theme in the Scripture—one that gives me great hope and encouragement in the midst of this very fallen, messed-up world. That’s the ultimate, visible rule and reign of God over all the world.

Now, we know that God is the King, but there is a sense in which His reign will be expressed more fully sometime in the future: God’s visible rule over all the world. Today He’s the King, but we can’t see that He’s the King because a lot of parts of the earth don’t accept and acknowledge His reign and His rule. But the day will come when all the world will see that He is the King.

Let me ask you to turn in your Bible, if you have it there, to Revelation chapter 11. And let me read for you a paragraph that illustrates, or talks about, this future reign of God. Revelation 11, beginning in verse 15.

Now, this is after a whole series of judgments on the earth that God sends with the goal of bringing people to repentance, giving people a chance to repent. But we see that many people will continue to persist in their rebellion and their resistance against God. Man wants to be his own god. He wants to have his own kingdom.

But the day will come that we read about in Revelation 11:15-17:

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."

And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.”

The day will come when the kingdom of this world, which is so dead set against God, will become the kingdom of God. What does that mean? The whole earth will be under the reign and rule of God. The kingdom of this world—with all its political divisions, its geographical divisions—it’s now under the reign of Satan. And it’s hostile to Christ.

Now, Satan has no power that God doesn’t allow him to have, that God doesn’t give to him to have, temporarily. But it is temporary. He is limited in his power. One day all those kingdoms of this world will be conquered by Christ and brought into complete submission to Him.

So there is this future sense of the Messianic reign and rule and kingdom of Christ that will be extended through all the earth. I don’t know about you, but that gives me a sense of faith and anticipation and longing because I can’t see that kingdom here and now. You can’t either.

You turn on the news, and you’ll see the very opposite of that. You’ll see the kingdoms of this world being set against Christ. But realize that the day is coming when they will all be under the rule of Christ.

So as we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we’re longing to see His sovereignty, His lordship, exercised in every place and part and particle of the universe. We long to see souls transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We long to see the day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The Heidelberg Confession is an important document of the Christian church that was written in the mid-1500s. It’s actually in the form of a catechism: questions and answers about the Christian faith with the purpose of instructing young people in basic doctrines of Christianity.

There’s a section in the Heidelberg Confession that talks about the Lord’s Prayer and what each phrase means. When it comes to the phrase “Thy kingdom come,” here’s how it explains the meaning of that request. We’re praying that God will “So rule us by Thy Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to Thee.” That’s the present reign and rule of Christ, the personal reign of Christ in our lives.

Then we pray, “Preserve and increase Thy church. Destroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against Thee, and every conspiracy against Thy holy Word.” And then we pray for the ultimate, future reign and rule of Christ. It goes on to say, “Do all this until the fullness of Thy kingdom comes, wherein Thou shalt be all in all.”

You see that span—the scope of the kingdom of God, here and now in our lives, but ultimately in all the world.

Now, the problem is that we do not yet have the visible reign and rule of Christ in the earth. There’s still a lot of opposition to Him. Between now and then, there will always be this sense of kingdoms in conflict. The kingdom of man, the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of this world, set against the kingdom of God. And that is a conflict.

So much of what is going on in this world we tend to evaluate and analyze from the standpoint of how the commentators see it, how we see it with our natural eyes. But we need to see things with spiritual eyes.

Let me give you two illustrations, one from the Old Testament and one from the New. In the Old Testament, let me ask you to turn to the book of Daniel, chapter 2. As you read the book of Daniel, you’ll see the word king and the word kingdom repeated over 220 references in the book of Daniel to the word king or kingdom. I’d say that makes it an important word. That makes it a theme of the book of Daniel.

In the book of Daniel, you see the conflict between the earthly king and kingdoms and the kingdom or the kingship of God. Now, the context here is that Nebuchadnezzar is this powerful king of Babylon, where Daniel and his Jewish friends are living in exile.

Nebuchadnezzar has a dream. He can’t remember what it is. And Daniel, who is a man who has the wisdom and the Spirit of God in him, is brought in to tell him the dream and to interpret its meaning. We pick up at verse 31 in Daniel chapter 2. Daniel is telling the king, “Here’s what the dream was.”

You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. [This is a powerful, strong image. This is a figure.]

The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.

Now, we won’t read it, but in verses 36 and following, Daniel explains the meaning of this dream to Nebuchadnezzar, as God has revealed the meaning to him. Daniel explains that the different parts of this statue: the head, the chest, the arms, the legs, the feet—all these different parts of the statue represent different kingdoms.

The kingdoms are powerful kingdoms—some more, some less, but they’re all powerful kingdoms. These kingdoms follow one after the other. And the point that Daniel is making, and that God is making to Nebuchadnezzar, is that earthly kingdoms come and go. They do not last. They rise and fall. Kings are born, and kings die.

Now, look at verses 34-35, as they go on telling what happened in this dream.

As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand. [This is something supernatural. This is in contrast to this image that is very earthly.] And it struck the image [the statue] on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors.

This statue was decimated, pulverized, incinerated, blown up. This statue that was so powerful—here comes a stone that’s cut out by no human hand. It’s a supernatural stone, and it strikes the image, and the image breaks in pieces. These pieces are like just chaff which blows away.

And the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

What are we seeing here? We’re seeing in this dream—which is a dream God gave to Nebuchadnezzar to show Nebuchadnezzar God’s ways—that no earthly kingdom is invincible. All of them, no matter how powerful they are, no matter how mighty, no matter how frightening in their appearance, as this statue was—all of them will be overthrown sooner or later. Every one.

Think about the powerful kingdoms of earth today. Ultimately, all earthly kingdoms will be overthrown. And in the end, God’s kingdom will prevail and triumph over all other kingdoms. Look down at verse 44, where Daniel explains that part of the dream about the stone to Nebuchadnezzar.

Verses 44-45 of Daniel chapter 2:

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces [that is, the kingdom of God shall break in pieces] all these [earthly] kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it [the kingdom of God] shall stand forever.

Just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God [Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar], has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.

Keep in mind, Daniel is speaking to the most powerful man on the face of the earth in that day. And he’s acknowledging, “You are powerful. You’re the head of this powerful image. You’re this powerful king. But, Nebuchadnezzar, you are not as powerful as God. All earthly kingdoms and powers will fail and fall, and God’s kingdom will come and reign and rule over all.”

As you read through the book of Daniel, the name that is, I think, most frequently or almost most frequently used for God is the name “Most High God.” It’s used thirteen times in the book of Daniel. He is the Most High God. He is the Supreme King and Sovereign of the universe.

Chapter 5, verse 21, of Daniel says, “The Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.” Earthly kings did not get there by their own political clout, their own efforts, their own campaigning. Ultimately, they’re there because God has put them in authority.

I’ll be quick to say that when you get Nebuchadnezzars and Saddam Husseins and some of the wicked rulers of this earth, like Adolf Hitler, you have to scratch your head and say, “Why in the world would God put into power, or allow to be put into power, a king of this type?” I’m not going to address that question here, except to say that we know from Scripture that God sets over the kingdoms of earth those who ultimately will be instruments to fulfill His purposes.

Now, I know I just got into a big can of worms there. “That’s a huge mystery,” ultimately, is where we have to land, and we have to say that there’s much that we cannot understand. But we do understand that even the Nebuchadnezzars of this earth have no power apart from God and that ultimately the Nebuchadnezzars will not prevail. It’s God, the Most High God who will prevail.

God’s kingdom cannot be overthrown, and everything and everyone that opposes His kingdom will be overthrown. God uses even the wrath of men to praise Him, the Scripture says (Ps. 76:10). God will demonstrate His kingdom and rule. God will go to whatever lengths are necessary—in this world and in my life—to prove that, as Daniel says, heaven rules.

Heaven rules. I love that two-word phrase. That’s our hope. It’s our confidence. It’s what ought to make us think twice about going against God’s authority. The fact is, heaven rules. Nebuchadnezzar learned that the hard way. He says in verse 37 of chapter 4, “Those who walk in pride he [God] is able to humble.” God’s kingdom will reign and rule.

Now, Satan is always seeking to establish his kingdom and his rule and to destroy the kingdom of God. He wants to get people to oppose the kingdom of God and to reject God’s reign and rule. And Satan uses human instruments like Nebuchadnezzar in this world to oppose God’s kingdom—although ultimately God is the One who is in charge, even while Satan is seeking to assert his kingdom.

I said there were two illustrations, one in the Old and one in the New. Let me give you a New Testament illustration here of this conflict of kingdoms in Matthew chapter 2. You remember the familiar story where the wise men came to Herod saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (v. 2).

Matthew 2, now starting in verse 3: “When Herod the king heard this—” Herod is the king. He hears there’s a king who’s been born. When Herod the king heard about this king of the Jews, “he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

“They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet.’” And here’s the reading from the Old Testament prophet: “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Skipping down to verse 16: “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious.” Why was he furious? Because his kingdom was being threatened. Herod’s right to reign and rule was being threatened. You see this conflict of kingdoms—the kingdom of man versus the kingdom of God. Ultimately, it’s the kingdom of Satan trying to destroy the kingdom of God. Herod was being used by Satan to try and dismantle, undermine, God’s kingdom.

So Herod became furious. “And he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”

So Herod is asserting his right to rule. He’s defending the Roman Empire. He knew there could not be two kings; one had to go. And so he says the Christ is going to go. And he tries to kill the Christ.

Of course, God cannot be killed. His kingdom cannot be overthrown. His kingdom will prevail. And history shows that Caesars and kings and rulers and dictators and philosophers and educators and politicians and entertainers and people in all different walks of life have claimed to be sovereign. They have tried to build their own kingdoms and tried to destroy the kingdom of God—tried to stamp out the church of Jesus Christ. But it will never, ever happen because Christ is King.

And you know, in past centuries of the church—and even today in some parts of the world—people have gone to their deaths for saying, “Jesus is Lord. Christ is King. His kingdom is the ultimate kingdom. We bow to no one and nothing, to no king but Christ.”

The key verse in the book of Daniel is repeated in one way or another five different times. And here’s what it says: “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation” (4:3).

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. There is that conflict of kingdoms—the kingdom of man and the kingdom of Satan, trying to destroy the kingdom of God. But ultimately, His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. That stone will come and will crush and destroy all the kingdoms of earth, and His kingdom will endure from generation to generation.

So what? Well, the “so what?” right now is: Whose kingdom are you building? Whose kingdom are you defending? Whose kingdom are you seeking?

Your kingdom? You want to have it your way? In the little—seemingly little—details of life, are you praying—and meaning it—“Thy kingdom come”? Or do you want your own reign and rule? Do you want to have it your way, or do you want to have it God’s way?

And the “so what?” is that we have hope. When it seems like the kingdoms of this world are prevailing against God and His rule, we realize it’s just a matter of time. Just a matter of time.

Nebuchadnezzar won’t live forever. Hitler won’t live forever. Saddam Hussein won’t live forever. They won’t reign and rule forever. That ungodly husband or boss or leader that makes your life difficult will not reign and rule forever. Neither will we reign and rule. Ultimately, God is the One who will overcome all earthly kingdoms.

So we pray, “Lord, here and now in my life and forever and throughout all the earth, Thy kingdom come, amen.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing kingdoms in conflict. It’s so comforting to know God’s kingdom will be established for eternity, no matter what problems plague our globe today.

Her message is part of a series called, The Lord’s Prayer, Part 2. I think a lot of women are going to be praying with more passion and effectiveness after listening.

You can keep up with this series by visiting our website and reading the daily transcripts. We hear from women who do that every day. You can also learn more about our podcast. Download Nancy’s messages straight to your computer. Again, visit ReviveOurHearts.com for more details.

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When you donate at least $20, ask for Valley of Vision. Our number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

How do you fight evil? Band together with other believers? Organize petitions? Create a big enough voting bloc? Nancy Leigh DeMoss will present a much different approach tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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