When we speak about “Apocalyptic Theology”, we should understand that it is not necessarily about the end of the world. “Apocalyptic” means “to reveal” it does not mean “the end” as many might think, even though everything we know about the end of the world is apocalyptic. This will become evident as we take a look at Apocalyptic Theology and the Kingdom of God in the earthly ministry of Jesus.
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
1 John 3:8
In all that Jesus said, and especially in all that He did, Jesus made it quite clear that He was the Messiah, come to His people. The coming of the Kingdom of God was the subject of His preaching time and time again; here’s an example:
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)
Notice the connection between the Gospel message and “good news”. Jesus, in proclaiming the Kingdom, has linked it with the fulfillment of God’s good promises that evil would be destroyed, and everything would be transformed into God’s will. This Kingdom idea was the focus of Jesus’ teaching; notice the part Kingdom plays when He teaches His disciples to pray:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt. 6:9-10)
When Jesus calls upon people to “repent” He is calling on them to renounce their alliance with Satan (conscious or otherwise) and conform to the ways of the coming Kingdom. When Jesus forgives sin, He is showing that God is in the process of doing away with evil, in the process of removing sin that has for so long corrupted the entire creation. When Jesus gathers disciples and commands them to “Love each other as I have loved you” (e.g., John 15:12) He is forming the community of believers that are the Kingdom on the earth in the coming “last” (eschatological) age with men and women who will set all aside to follow Him.
The miracles that Jesus performed were also proclamations of the kingdom, for in performing them He demonstrates to all that God has come to the earth in the Person of Christ in power to begin the removal of sin and corruption from this world in all of its forms. For example, when Jesus heals the sick, he demonstrates the power of God to remove pain and suffering in the fullness of His kingdom. As a result, when he sends out the disciples with authority to preach and heal in His name, He gives these instructions:
When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10:8-9)
Healing the sick comes for a purpose, to show the power of the Kingdom of God. Similarly, when he drives out demons, he is showing the power of God to destroy the works of Satan; that when the Kingdom comes in its fullness, Satan will be eliminated entirely (see Luke 11:14-20).
When Jesus walks on water and calms the storms, He shows that even nature (created by God) is under God’s control, and will be redeemed (see Matt. 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21). When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (e.g., John 11) He shows God’s power to resurrect the dead.
We could continue on for many more words, but I think that by now you have the idea: Jesus’ entire ministry, both his teachings and His actions, point people to the coming of His Kingdom with authority and power, and that by doing so, Jesus is letting people see that God’s redemptive work was under way in their midst.
It is all well and good to look at His power and authority, but soon He would be killed. We will see next time how His death plays into Christian Apocalyptic Theology…