Bob’s comment last night that God will bring the kingdom whenever he “damn well feels like it” brought to mind another “damn quote” – one I particularly like by Virginia Owens:
Let us get this one thing straight. God can do anything he damn well pleases, including damn well. And if it pleases him to damn, then it is done, ipso facto, well.
I’m not just trying to be cute or edgy with the quote. I feel like I needed to circle back and clarify something I brought up in my message on Jan 7th. I talked about the establishment of the Kingdom of God in Genesis 1&2 – God created and ruled. It was an absolute, but benevolent monarchy. What God said went, no discussion, no debate…
Then you get to chapter 3 and man rebels against the King and a new kingdom is established on earth – the kingdom of evil or of Satan. The Bible is quite clear on this – Satan is the ruler of this world (John 12:31), the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), and we are told in 1 John that the whole world lies under his control (1 John 5:9). All this is true, HOWEVER, we must not believe that Satan is in control in the same way that God is in control!
Satan has authority, but it is derivative. He only has authority because he has been granted authority. A few examples come to mind. Take Job for instance. Satan had authority to take all his property, his family, and even eventually his health. Stunningly though, this was an authority he had to ask for, and was given by God.
Satan roams around seeking to steal, destroy, kill and maim; however, his purposes are always subservient to God’s. Again, for example look at Joseph’s life. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and suffered severely as a result. His brothers clearly sinned, yet, at the end of the book of Genesis we are told that God meant it for good. What Satan does, he does with evil intent, but in the end it serves God’s good purposes (which has to be real frustrating to Satan). A more profound example is the crucifixion of Jesus. Satan sought to kill Jesus, and did. On the other hand, in so doing, he was serving God’s purposes and ultimately sealed his defeat and destruction.
The need to clarify this came to mind last night when Bob was preaching and asked “why hasn’t the kingdom come?” It would be a wrong answer, and you would fail my class, if you said that Jesus was still struggling to overcome Satan and his kingdom. Not the right answer at all. Jesus could, and will, bring Satan’s kingdom to an abrupt end with a word. God can still do anything he wants – Satan’s power (and he is powerful) couldn’t stand against God’s. Satan’s kingdom and all his devices can’t thwart even one detail of God’s plan. God could overthrow Satan and his kingdom at any moment. It would only take a thought and the endgeschichte (the end of history) would come. He’s not impotent to bring his kingdom and defeat all his enemies now.
The answer to “why not yet” isn’t to be found in any lack within God (a lack of power, a lack of resolve, or a lack of anything else), but instead in God’s overflow of mercy and patience. He is delaying his coming so that as many as possible will respond to the offer of pardon and enter his kingdom. He is delaying his coming to damn because he isn’t wanting that any should perish but that all might repent and be granted life (2 Peter 3:9).
Thank you Jesus for having delayed until 1986, when I responded in faith and was born into your Kingdom!