The Bible gives us specifics as to how this—the Lord’s prayer Jesus told us to pray—will be answered. This is a biblical truth of which many evangelicals are completely unaware. I want to look at some of these specifics in this posting.
Immediately after Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, He received the Holy Spirit to equip Him for His task on the earth. Thus empowered, Jesus was then deliberately led by His Father into the wilderness for His first confrontation with Satan, the one He came to earth specifically to defeat.
After that initial, successful skirmish, Jesus then came to Galilee and began His public ministry with these first words, which would prove to be a summary of His ministry, and would later be of ours as well: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
When He came to earth as a baby, Jesus, the second person of the Godhead “laid aside his mighty power and glory,” declining to live from His deity while remaining “very God of very God” in His person (Philippians 2:7-TLB). He came to earth to show us what we were intended to be, are becoming right now, and how we will live here as men and women. His death and resurrection have cleared the way for this to occur in time. “But we all…are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus Himself is our model of what the Holy Spirit is doing in us, because He did it first in Jesus, as the “Son of Man,” not the Son of God!
The foundation for this kingdom of God in the culture today was laid just after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, in probably the most overlooked, unrecognized, and uncelebrated major event in Jesus life—His ascent into Heaven. Here, in Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, we discover what happened when that incredible event occurred:
“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself (in Psalm 110): ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, [SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, TILL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL]’. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32-36).
So, according to Peter, at that point, on the Day of Pentecost in 30 A.D., Jesus was, at that moment, firmly established as “Lord and Christ,” to rule over His enemies on the earth from His sovereign Father’s right hand. His Father promised to make those enemies Jesus’ footstool, while He sits there, at His right hand!
How did Jesus get to that position of power, and how can He rule over the earth from there in Heaven? The answer is revealed to us by Daniel, right in the middle of a prophetic section that we read as prophecy to discover what will happen to us in our day. However, if we investigate carefully, we can see this passage is really a prophecy about Jesus’ time, and it has already happened some 500 years after Daniel wrote it.
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. (Daniel 7:13).
“Coming with the clouds of Heaven” in verse 13 reminds us of what the angels told the bystanders who had just observed Jesus’ ascension—that He “will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
So, it is logical that we assume that “coming with the clouds of Heaven” here in Daniel 7 refers to Jesus coming to receive His kingdom on the earth at His second coming, this time to rule. The three verses quoted above in Daniel 7 are seen to be in the future for us. Jesus is not yet ruling over the earth. That fits with the “signs of the times,” as many like to proclaim and as “newspaper exegesis” tells us.
However, one key phrase in verse 13 renders that conclusion impossible. “He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.” He was not “coming down” to earth on the clouds at the 2nd coming, but still “coming up” on the clouds. This is the “other end of the ascension,” described in Acts 1, because He comes up on the clouds to the Ancient of Days, Father God, in His throne room in Heaven!
I can envision the excitement in Heaven with the angels cheering as they welcome the return of the Son, the conquering hero, back home after a 33 year absence. They then brought Jesus into the throne room and He snapped off a salute to His Father, so to speak, as He reported on the mission He was sent to fulfill: “Mission accomplished!,” He said. He had redeemed mankind and defeated the usurper, Satan, just as He had been sent to do!
Verse 14 is the culmination of His seemingly insignificant life as an itinerant preacher and ignominious death on the cross: “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). God has given Him “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), rule over the whole earth, just as He did the first Adam at creation
Then in verse 18 comes the coup de grace: But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). Jesus, having received the kingdom from His Father, then immediately gave it to us, His body, the church. In just 10 short days, on the day of Pentecost, the church would receive the same Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus to empower them, as Peter tells us in his sermon!
The church, both veterans who had been waiting for this event, and new believers who believed on that day, would now be equipped to fulfill Jesus’ words: “the works that I do he will do also; and greater works (in quantity) than these he will do because I go to My Father” (John 14:12).
Paul, some years later, tells a fresh, new, church (the Thessalonians) what has happened because of these “greater works” through them. “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
Spreading the kingdom of God over the whole earth is the “greater work” the church is commissioned to do. Next week we will look at a specific plan the Lord has given His church that will bring that plan to fruition.