When God created the world it was a perfect place. Adam and Eve, our first parents, lived with no pain, no sadness, no death, and no evil. They even met with God.
Genesis 3:8a (KJV)
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:
Yet we learn from that same chapter that Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the one tree that they were told not to, after listening to the voice of Satan. That disobedience resulted in their eventual physical death as well as their spiritual death. They lost the relationship that they had with God. Not only were the humans affected, but the entire world with them began a process of decay.
Romans 8:22 (KJV)
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
The world was given over to Satan's authority.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (KJV)
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
This is the situation that mankind was in prior to the coming of Jesus.
In parts 1 & 2 of my previous posts we learned that Jesus' message was, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). If Jesus is the king of a spiritual kingdom (kingdom of heaven) how was His kingdom "at hand"?
The Free Online Dictionary defines "at hand" as 1). Close by; near and 2). Soon in time; imminent. How does this fit with Jesus' statement?
A king is the representative of his kingdom or nation. When he enters another country the king brings, after a fashion, the kingdom with him. This is what happened when Jesus came to this earth. He, as king of His kingdom, as its representative, officially brought the kingdom with Him. This is how the kingdom of God was "close by".
If you also remember, the subjects of the kingdom of God are those people who have repented of their sins and have been saved. They then also become representatives of the kingdom. As the number of subjects grows the kingdom also grows. This is another way the kingdom is "close by".
Luke 17:20-21 (KJV)
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
In this Luke passage this idea is confirmed. Jesus was saying that the kingdom of God is spiritual; we can't see it. But it exists in the hearts and minds of those who have been born again. Hence, the kingdom is "close by".
But as I said in the prior post the kingdom of God will not always be a spiritual kingdom alone. When Jesus returns to this earth He will bring the kingdom with Him and will establish a physical kingdom here on earth, centered in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 3:17 (KJV)
At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
Daniel 7:13-14 (KJV)
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Daniel speaks about the Son of man (the Messiah/Jesus) receiving that kingdom on earth. Jeremiah pinpoints the throne's location as Jerusalem. This kingdom will come at the end of the age when Jesus returns. This is how the kingdom is "soon in time".
We don't know when the end will come. During the first century the Christian believers thought that it would come in their lifetime. It did not. We don't know if it will come in our lifetime. But every day brings us closer to the return of Jesus. We are to wait and watch for it. We are to live as if today could be the day. This is how the kingdom is "soon in time".
So, we have a kingdom that exists spiritually now, but will in the future become a physical kingdom. Satan will no longer be the ruler, but rather Jesus will be king.
And when Jesus returns our world will be restored to the condition that existed during Adam and Eve's time before they sinned. Again, there will be no pain, sadness, death, or evil. We will be able to meet with God.
Previous: Part 2