the New Covenant (1)
by Ray and Doris Prinzing
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15).
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-10).
Though commonly referred to as "The Lord's Prayer," more correctly this
was to be "THE DISCIPLE'S PRAYER," as Jesus said to them, "After this manner
therefore pray ye..." He was teaching them that the on-going prayer of
their heart should be for the KINGDOM OF GOD to be established in them,
and in the earth. God's WILL, God's RULE, to be their foremost desire.
The Greek word for "kingdom" is "basileia" and refers to the person to whom the title and honor of king belongs, thus it speaks of sovereignty, and demands the presence of the sovereign. Secondly, it refers to the territory subject to the rule of the king.
"Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool." (Isaiah 66:1). Of the totality of His reign, it is ALWAYS ( continuous ), and it is from the Heavenly Sphere. While it is upon the earth that we see visible demonstrations of His KINGDOM RULE. In a figure, His feet are upon the earth, where He WALKS OUT His purpose of the ages. Yet a footstool also bespeaks of a place to rest one's feet, and in HIS WORKING we also see the REST OF GOD-- for His purposes are accomplished without stress or strain. He speaks, and lo, it is!
We read in Genesis 1:2-3, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. AND GOD SAID..." From HIS THRONE came the decree, and it had to come to pass. (Editor's note: In The Spirit of the Word, the author A.P. Adams, writes in the chapter titled, "The Two accounts of Creation," "It is well known to all Bible students that in the first two chapters of Genesis we have two distinct, and in some respects apparently contradictory accounts of the Creation...The first account is PROPHETICAL...the second account is Historical." The web page can be accessed from here: The Spirit of The Word, AP Adams, "Two Accounts of Creation"). Invisible, yet sovereign, and none can resist His will. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain." (Psalm 76:10). For HE IS working "all things after the counsel of His own will." (Ephesians 1:11). "For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isaiah 14:27).
God has ALWAYS BEEN INVOLVED with His creation, governing the affairs of men. The Scriptures begin with the record of God's guidance and working in men. Noah built an ark according to the command of the Lord. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all knew of God's direction and rule. Moses had a tremendous encounter with God, and by the Word of the Lord led Israel out of Egypt. They had a visible SIGN that God was with them, in the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night. Then God gave them THE LAW for an outward governing of their lives, while He remained their INVISIBLE KING. It was difficult for them-- for often man's eyes are veiled, and he cannot see what God is doing.
We find this illustrated in the life of Balaam, whom Balak (King of Moab) tried to bribe into cursing Israel for him. After several episodes with his donkey, finally "The Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face." (Numbers 22:31). Balaam was ready to blame anything and everything, including his donkey, because he could not see that it was GOD RULING. Finally God made clear to him what His plan was, so when Balaam began to prophecy, we read, "And the spirit of God came upon him. And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said..." (Numbers 24:2-3). With his EYES OPENED, seeing more clearly the purpose of God, he spake accordingly. We need our eyes opened to see GOD REIGNING NOW.
Elisha knew that his God reigned, and was with him, but his servant didn't have this knowledge, so "Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2 Kings 6:17). God had been there all the time, REIGNING, but the servant needed his eyes opened to see this reality.
Even in this day God has apprehended a people for kingdom reality. We may not always clearly see His hand in the circumstances of our day, for, "Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour." (Isaiah 45:15). But nevertheless, shadowy as it might be, the HAND OF GOD is there to move, in perfect control. And it is in these moments when we do not see too clearly, that we are admonished to, by faith, "Look unto Jesus the Author and the Finisher of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2). "For when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light." And in those moments He does open our eyes to see more clearly, we can fall down before Him, and WORSHIP HIM for His mighty rule in our life, and joyously acknowledge that He is our Lord and King.
In God's dealings with Israel, He gave them a moral code to follow-- the law, written in tables of stone. But it was hard for Israel to have an invisible king, so they said to the prophet Samuel, "Make us a king to judge us like all the nations." (1 Samuel 8:5). This disturbed Samuel greatly, but "The Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them." (verse 7). So God gave them an earthly king, and a kingdom, and it did not go very well. Saul did not always obey the command of the Lord. Finally God said to Samuel, "It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night." (1 Samuel 15:11). But after wasting a night's sleep with his weeping, Samuel got up and went on to declare the Word of the Lord to Saul, how that because he had "rejected the Word of the Lord, the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel," and furthermore, "The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou." (1 Samuel 15:26,28).
David was a man after God's own heart-- he diligently sought the heart of God, the will and purpose of God, to serve God. But there followed David other kings who found it difficult to be Israel's visible king, yet all the time serving the INVISIBLE KING, and in time Israel totally lost their kingdom. Always they wanted it for themselves, and not for God to have His rightful place. So again and again God had to discipline them, and when they repented, and God eased up with His judgments, back they went to their own selfish interests, till eventually God had to scatter them far and wide among the nations. Indeed, "God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." (Romans 11:32). And with the visible demonstration of the kingdom through Israel ended, it became more INVISIBLE again. But still, ever and always, God IS REIGNING, controlling the affairs of men, even when they know it not.
Jesus employed the phrase "Kingdom of God, or of Heaven" to indicate that perfect order of things which He came to establish, in which all nations would ultimately be gathered, dedicated and intimately united to God, and made partakers of His glorious salvation. This kingdom is spoken of as now begun and actually present, inasmuch as its foundations have already been laid by Christ, and some of its benefits realized among those that believe in Him. Likewise the blessings of the NEW COVENANT began as soon as Jesus Christ, its Mediator, placed it into effect by His death and resurrection. Yet the Scripture is also clear that we have but received "the earnest of our inheritance" when we are "sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:14). Clearly the new covenant becomes the order of the kingdom as He writes His laws within. Thus, when John the Baptist came preaching, he said, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. " (Matthew 3:2). He was literally saying, "The Royal Majesty of the Heavens approaches." Hence John's role (and message) was clear, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." (Matthew 3:3). THE KING IS COMING-- prepare the way before Him, be ready to welcome Him. A NEW ORDER was truly on the horizon!
The Psalmist gave witness to this. "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and "All the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's: and He is the Governor among the nations." (Psalm 22:27-28).
ALL shall remember, and turn, and worship the Lord, though it be "Every man in his own order. " It shall be acknowledged that God, and God alone is the Sovereign Royal Majesty. The throne IS HIS! All other powers are subservient to Him! He is Lord! And it is HIS WILL that shall be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
All religions have one thing in common-- they are based upon the fact that you must DO SOMETHING. They will disagree with each other on how you DO it, where you DO it, when you DO it, why you DO it, but regardless of all that, they will insist you must DO it. But the Gospel Of The Kingdom is not based upon a DO, for it is a Gospel of GRACE, which means that HE is the DOER, and it is by His enablement that we live out His WILL, His LAW, which He has written in our heart. Only the Christ can live out the Christ-life, hence it is His INDWELLING which produces the manifestation of His life through us.
Nebuchadnezzar gave strong witness to the Kingdom of God, once he had been duly processed by the corrective hand of God's judgment upon him. He said, "At the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored Him that Iiveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 3:34-35).
The Kingdom of God, being "from generation to generation, " bespeaks the fact that it is ever in present-tense operation. HIS RULE IS CONTINUOUS AND ETERNAL. Whether we see the outward manifestation of it, or not, nevertheless His Kingdom is currently ruling-- He is DOING HIS WILL both in the heavens, and among the inhabitants of the earth. And the more we pray as we have been taught, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, " the --more we shall see the evidence of this in our daily walk.
An interesting terminology is found in some religious areas, where they speak of their points of doctrine-- He is my Saviour, my Healer, my Baptizer in the holy Spirit, and my soon coming King. What is to be understood in this term "soon coming King, is an outward manifestation of His Kingship when He will come and sit upon a literal throne, and rule and reign among men. We will not comment upon the theology of this idea, but we note a subtle inference that could readily take over-- since He is a SOON COMING King, that implies that He is not King right now. Then if we do not confess His LORDSHIP IN OUR NOW, do not acknowledge His REIGN WITHIN US now, then we have to examine and see who, or what is reigning in us now.
Since HIS kingdom is not currently taught as being in our NOW, we find that Christendom has come along with a usurper on the throne, and they give much attention and much credit to Satan, and teach that he is currently the "god of this world," even though the Scripture clearly states, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. " (Psalm 24:1). One writer beautifully stated that when we read, "the god of this world, " (2 Corinthians 4:4), "we must not understand it as conferring upon him any title, any more than our Lord's calling him "the prince of this world," (John 12:31), conferred on him a rightful dominion. As a prince he is a usurper, as a deity an idol; he is a prince without right, and a god without divinity." AMEN!
Psalm 93:1-2, "The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself; the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old: Thou art from everlasting."
Significant that there are three Psalms, Psalm 93, Psalm 97 and Psalm 99, that all begin, "The Lord reigneth." And each Psalm ends with the thought of HOLINESS. "Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord, for ever." -"Give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness." - " Worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy." Wherever there is a manifestation of God's reign, there will be holiness. Truly, the more we teach an acknowledgment of HIS KINGSHIP, the more there will also be a corresponding emphasis upon holiness. For, "As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (behavior); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16), And again, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14).
We repeat, wherever there is a manifestation of God's reign, there will be holiness. For, as He writes His laws in our heart, and mind, and then lives out those laws through us-- it becomes self-evident that HIS KINGDOM, and HIS NEW COVENANT with men, are ONE WITH HIS HOLINESS. "Righteousness and judgment are the habitation (establishment) of His throne." (Psalm 97:1).
Always the fulfillment of the prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,..." will bring a deeper revelation and outworking of His HOLINESS. Any manifestation and evidence of the new covenant working in our lives will reveal more of HIS HOLINESS. The COVENANT -REIGN of God demands holiness, and in this we truly rejoice. "0 worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him, all the earth. Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: He shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad." (Psalm 96:9-11).
Righteousness, holiness, divine purity-- these are not to be feared, but rather are a cause for great rejoicing. When He writes His laws into our inner being, they truly become "The perfect law of liberty," (James 1:25), or as Williams translates this, "The flawless law that makes men free." Praise His wonderful name!
In due time Jesus came preaching the "Gospel of the kingdom." And even after His resurrection, when He was "seen of them forty days, (He was) speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom." And finally, "They asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel." (Acts 1:3,6).
They still had difficulty with the kingdom. No longer were they rejecting the King, for they knew that the Royal Majesty was in their midst. But now they had again reduced the kingdom to a nation-- THEIRS. This attitude often results in a rejection of the kingdom itself, though unwittingly so. Many will speak of the King, but will omit His kingdom-- omit His LORDSHIP in their life, or omit His Lordship in, and over all the earth. After walking with Jesus, beholding the miracles, etc. and hearing His gracious Word, they were willing for Him to be King, but they knew not the manner of His kingdom, nor its coverage.
There are many even today who will try for social, political renewal, and even include the first covenant commandments as their moral code, but they still reject the King of kings. Nor do they see that the Kingdom of God is to rule IN THE HEART OF MAN. It is first a spiritual kingdom, followed by manifestation in the natural realm, according to His purpose and working, for, as we have already seen, Heaven-- the spiritual, is His throne; and then the earth-- the natural, is His footstool.
"Jesus answered (Pilate), My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice." (John 18:36-37).
HIS KINGDOM is not of this world, i.e. kosmos, order, present arrangement. Its origin is in the SPIRIT REALM. Just as the new covenant is "not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. " (2 Corinthians 3:6). He came to bear witness of the TRUTH of that SPIRITUAL DIMENSION, in its rule and in its ministration. Yes, Omnipotent God is OVER ALL THIS WORLD, but the dominion, power, authority is of a much higher origin. "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." (1 Corinthians 15:48).
Truly Jesus lived and taught out of the Heavenly. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life." (John 6:63). And when He discipled men, it was in relation to Himself, and His kingdom. None would ever say, "we are disciples of such and such a church order." They were HIS disciples! Furthermore, He neither canceled nor postponed His kingdom. It is ever NOW!
Paul said, "I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God... (so he went about) PREACHING THE KINGDOM OF GOD." (Acts 20:24-25). The GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD and the message of the KINGDOM OF GOD go hand in hand. Indeed, you cannot have the one without the other. God's rule always involves His grace, and, I dare say, His grace always involves His rule.
It is significant that you can keep the law of the first covenant, and build your own kingdom. But GRACE only builds God's kingdom in you, for HIM. And the traditions of men are like old wine skins, they will not hold the new wine of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Hence the inworkings of the Spirit of God in a people, to bring them to the end of the works of the old covenant, that He may establish them in the GRACE of the New.
It ends all of our self-kingdom-building-practices, and works in us the needed transformation that we may become His dwelling place. It is also significant that Jesus only spoke of the "church" on two occasions. His message was not about the "church" but about the KINGDOM! He said, "I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18). We have heard preachers refer to "His church " as being weak, impotent, etc. and we say, they do lie! HE IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH, and it is strong in the power of His might, filled with His life. Man's organization, and various so-called church orders, may be weak, not filling their expectations, etc. But don't equate that which man is building, with what HE is building. HIS CHURCH IS ALIVE AND WELL. It is being built up into Him, according to His wise design and purpose, and it shall be to His glory.
The other time Jesus spoke of the "church " concerns "if thy brother trespass against thee,... tell it unto the church..." (Matthew 18:17). We have seen men do quite the opposite, they tell it to the world, the ungodly, etc. But we are reminded of the words of David, when told that Saul and Jonathan were dead, "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph." (2 Samuel 1:20). Obviously these things are not to be broadcast far and wide, " for love covereth a multitude of sins."
While Jesus did not speak much concerning the "church," He certainly proclaimed the wonderful message of the KINGDOM OF GOD, emphatically stating, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3). True, you can behold much of God's handiwork everywhere, "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead;... " (Romans 1:20). But to really SEE, i.e. EXPERIENCE the kingdom of God, His INTERNAL RULE, you must be born again-- literally, "be born from above." It is a Spiritual realm, an Heavenly, a realm wherein HE IS SOVEREIGN. To be born from above is an ACT OF GOD IN US, He implants His seed of life, He nourishes it, He brings it to full stature, He writes His law into our heart and mind, for we are literally to become expressions of HIS character and nature. Indeed, the Kingdom of God bespeaks of the operation of the new covenant in us, bringing forth a new creation species of which Jesus Christ is the Firstborn.
Jesus prayed, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am;... " (John 17:24). He is King now, He is Lord now, for He sits upon His Father's throne now, in the glory of OVERCOMING-- and He desires that we share this with Him. Then we become overcomers, and are able "to reign in life by One, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17).
Overcoming is the opposite of escapism. It is REIGNING IN LIFE by His enablement. Daily we need His authority in our life. It is not to be relegated to the "sweet bye and bye," it is for NOW. Our obedience is to Him NOW! Our allegiance and obedience is not just to some church, a pastor, a creed, etc. but TO THE KING. There are no "part time" subjects in His kingdom! As He imparts the knowledge of His will, and imparts the ability to obey, we have indeed begun to taste the reality of the kingdom of the new covenant.
The bottom line is, HE IS LORD, NOW. If He abides in us, He does so as KING OF ALL. When we surrender to Him, we do not make Him King, HE ALREADY IS KING when He takes over our life. GOD CROWNED HIM KING, not us! He already had a kingdom, and He, BY GRACE, "delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." (Colossians 1:13). It is the kingdom of the new covenant. And we have to die to our self-kingdom, to truly come into HIS. Darkness goes, and we dwell in His light!
Exodus gives us the record of how God called Moses up into the mount, and for forty days God gave him instruction for the building of the tabernacle, etc. "And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18). And Moses went down the mount to return unto the people, "And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount." (Exodus 32:19). Thus he signified that Israel, left to themselves, would always break the law. Man, in himself, cannot keep all the laws of God.
Then Moses returned a second time up into the mount, taking with him two tablets of stone which he had hewn out, and there was a very special VISITATION, for he said to the Lord, "I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory. And he said, I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And He said, Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock. And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen." (Exodus 33:19-23).
This vision of God's glory, goodness, mercy, grace brought such a LIGHT into his face that Israel could not look upon it, and they were afraid to come near to him. So a VEIL was brought to cover his face. They were not ready for GRACE AND GLORY, they still had to walk out the law, without the light, without the grace, without the glory. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17).
It was with joy that the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14). Why? Because the King had come! And how beautifully He demonstrated the life, the way, the manner of His kingdom. Always men wanted it to be EARTHY, and He taught them it was necessary to "Seek first the KINGDOM OF GOD, and His righteousness, ( then) all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33). For, while the HEAVENLY can always add to the earthly, the earthly can never add to the heavenly. He can impart to you, and HIS WORK IN YOU will make you righteous, but your self-works can never bring you into His righteousness.
"The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace,
and joy in the holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17).
The Spirit of His Kingdom brings life, and joy, and peace,
An everlasting kingdom, its blessings never cease.
He's ruling o'er the earthy, from higher realms of grace,
To swallow up the lesser, redeem each tribe and race.
Establish His commandment, a covenant of love,
Write within thy heart and mind His message from above.
Nor is it yet all future, in distant, far off time,
He's in thy now perfecting in thee His counsel's rhyme.
No negatives can alter the purpose He decreed,
He reigns when sight is blinded, and when our hearts do bleed.
He reigns when sun is shining, and soft, warm breezes blow,
He reigns when nights are stormy, and trials bring thee low.
Let this thy heart be knowing, when pressures crowd thee sore,
That though evil's abounding, His grace aboundeth more.
New covenant of mercy, this kingdom rule of God,
In Him we have the true way-- He is our Staff and Rod.
And what we have "in earnest," some day we'll have "in full,"
The kingdom of His covenant in thee shall overflow.
(1) Prinzing, Ray and Doris. WHISPERS OF THE NEW COVENANT. P.O. Box 5822, Boise, Idaho 83705