The 3 kingdoms of God

It’s clear in scripture that God rules as King.  But King of what and whom?  I’ve recently found it a great help to remember that there are three kingdoms over which God rules and these can be shown diagrammatically:

God rules the cosmos.
God is the creator, sustainer and ruler of all creation. He has dominion over all, from the largest systems of stars and planets to the smallest atoms and molecules. All creation is the kingdom of God.

Psalm 103:21-22 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

And so God rules all the nations. Governments and people are under his rule. God gives all good things, life, family, food, rain and song. He brings blessing and cursing to all, the former as a reminder of his goodness and the latter to show that all is not well between God and his creation because of sin and self righteousness.

Psalm 22:27-28 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

God works all things in his cosmos and so all things have significance and purpose before God, even if they are not parts of his other two kingdoms.

God rules over his covenant people.
God has a special relationship with his covenant people. He rules as King, setting laws and decrees for his people to obey. He blesses and curses his holy people.

Exodus 19:5-6 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’

God has called out a people for his very own, eager to do good works (Titus 2:14) because the grace of God has appeared (Titus 2:11).  His covenant people are set apart to demonstrate the goodness of the rule of God.

God rules over his eternal kingdom.
God rules in eternity over all to whom he shows his grace and mercy.  Not all members of his covenant people will be members of his eternal kingdom but many will truly know God as King and Saviour.

Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Matthew 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

It’s too easy to think of the kingdom of God as only the elect, or only the church.  But God rules over all and in all.  It might seem at times that God is not at work in the lives of individuals, communities, cultures or nations, because the church is small or people are rebellious, but then we remember God rules at all times and in places and through all means. His kingdom is threefold and we can give thanks for all that God does, everywhere.

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7 Responses to The 3 kingdoms of God

  1. James Oakley says:

    I hope the diagram’s not to scale!

  2. neilrobbie says:

    I wondered if someone might ask. It was an old diagram with new labels.

  3. James Oakley says:

    There’s also part of me that wants a motion picture rather than a static diagram. It seems it’s not quite as simple as a snapshot picture, where the eternal kingdom is contained within the earthly. It’s also the case that the earthly kingdom is growing through time, and so is becoming coterminous with the eternal one. Or something.

    Still helpful to lay things out like that. I am glad you hadn’t gone all pessimistic on us though!

  4. neilrobbie says:

    Me, pessimistic? Helpful comment. Hope all is well.

  5. TurretinFan says:

    From a strictly technical standpoint, the eternal kingdom also includes some not in the visible earthly kingdom, namely the saints in heaven.

  6. neilrobbie says:

    Hi TurretinFan, welcome to TG. Your technical point, combined with James Oakley’s point, means that not only is the eternal kingdom growing and dynamic, rather than the snapshot above, but it will presumably be larger than the visible kingdom and so eclipse it at some point. Thank you.

  7. Richard says:

    I have really enjoyed reading David VanDrunen’s work on the two kingdoms. Very helpful, similar to what you say above.

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