Tag Archives: Lord’s Prayer

The Kingdom Message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer – Part 3

The-Lords-PrayerWe are continuing our section by section look at the “Lord/Disciples’ Prayer” through the lens of Kingdom Theology. If you are just now joining us, you can find the intro and first section here and the second section here.

Our father in heaven,
May your name be honored,
May your kingdom come,
May your will be done
As in heaven, so on earth.
Give us today the bread we need now;
And forgive us the things we own,
As we too have forgiven what was owned to us.
Don’t bring us into the great trial,
But rescue us from evil.
-Matthew 6:9-13, The Kingdom New Testament

Now on to the last section of the prayer:

“And forgive us the things we own, As we too have forgiven what was owned to us”

The context of this prayer makes it clear that the phrase “things we own” is a veiled reference to sin. Right after this prayer, St. Matthew writes a little blurb about the forgiveness of sin in our lives. St. Luke goes further and includes the term sin in his version of the prayer, “forgive us our sins.” Knowing that Jesus was talking about sin and not owning people money or other such items is very important in understanding this prayer.

Under the Temple system, if you messed up and did something cruel or mean towards a follow human, you were supposed to do two things. First you go to the Temple and offer a sin sacrifice so that God the Father would forgive you and cleanses you from your sin. The priest would then tell you what would need to be done to make things right with your neighbor, i.e. replace the item stolen, asking for forgiveness, etc.

In Jesus’ end-time declaration that the Kingdom of God had come, he shifts things up a bit. Now instead of having to go to the Temple to get forgiveness for our sins, we could be forgiven by Jesus anywhere at any time! Furthermore, our forgiveness from the Father was tied to our actions of forgiving those who sinned or hurt us! This was a radical, redefinition of forgiveness and sin that removed the Temple and the priests from the equation – something that was prophesied to happen on the Day of the Lord came.

“Don’t bring us into the great trial, But rescue us from evil”

Judgment was one of the key components of the coming of God’s Kingdom. The majority of folks at the time tended to think of this judgment as coming against the pagan Romans, as we looked at previously. Jesus, in keeping with the tradition of the prophets of old, is telling his followers that they are to pray for safety and salvation as they walk through this hoped for, but dreaded day. As prophet Joel said,

“Woe to you who long for the Day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall, only to have a snake bite him. Will not the Day of the Lord be darkness not light – pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?” – Amos 5:18-20

Think about the ten plagues in Egypt or the flood that swept over the earth during the days of Noah. In the middle of both events the people of God were protected from the evil one and the judgment God unleashed upon him. Jesus, in keeping with his end-time declaration on the Day of the Lord, is telling his disciples to pray that they will be like Noah and his family or the Israelites in Egypt – diligently obeying the Creator King despite the persecution and pain that came from the people around them.

By now I hope you can see the amazing Kingdom message within this prayer. It may take a little bit of reading and re-thinking to unbury the end-time Day of the Lord message from underneath the layers of cultural baggage. But when you do, you will see why followers of Jesus have kept this prayer close to their hearts throughout history. It is an end-time petition for strength and encouragement to keep on declaring the message of the Kingdom as commanded by Jesus, the King of Kings.

The Kingdom Message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer – Part 2

lords_prayer_tissot448x480We are continuing our section by section look at the “Lord/Disciples’ Prayer” through the lens of Kingdom Theology. If you are just now joining us, you can find the intro and first section here.

Our father in heaven,
May your name be honored,
May your kingdom come,
May your will be done
As in heaven, so on earth.
Give us today the bread we need now;
And forgive us the things we own,
As we too have forgiven what was owned to us.
Don’t bring us into the great trial,
But rescue us from evil.
-Matthew 6:9-13, The Kingdom New Testament

Now on to the next two sections in the prayer:

“May your kingdom come, May your will be done, As in heaven, so on earth.”

This is probably the most obvious end-time portion of the prayer as Jesus is telling his disciples to actively ask for the rule and reign of God to come down from heaven and invade earth. It is well to note that the rule and reign of God includes all areas of life – not just one’s spiritual life or well being. As such in praying this prayer, we are inviting God to enter into every area of our lives. This is not a prayer that we should be saying flippantly! This is an end-time, world changing; hold the boat, the world is going to collapse prayer that should give us chills every time we say it!

“Give us today the bread we need now”

While the previous line was the most obvious, this line is most likely the most cryptic in the prayer. Most modern English translations, like the Kingdom New Testament quoted above, translate the Koine Greek words to reflex a material request for bread. For example, the New International Version says “give us today our daily bread” while the English Standard Version says “give us this day our daily bread.” Sadly, while technically correct, these translations fail to convey the message that Jesus was trying to get across.

breadTo help with understanding this line, let us imagine ourselves in 1st century Palestine. Each year we would join our families in celebrating the deliverance of our people out of Egypt by the hand of God. This Passover celebration would include a feast and the breaking of bread that reminded us of the manna God gave to our forefathers in the desert. And while we ate this bread, we would remember that one day in the future God would deliver us once again from our enemies and we would sit at his banqueting table and feast on the bread of the new age. This coming wedding defined our future as 1st century Jews just as much as the Passover and the exodus out of Egypt defined our past.

Using these glasses and knowing the central message of Jesus was that the Day of the Lord had come, let us re-read this line of the prayer: “Give us, O’ Lord, today the bread of tomorrow.” Let us partake of the bread of the wedding feast just like our ancestors eat the bread of heaven in the desert. Let us celebrate and eat today, the feast that is to come in the new age when the Kingdom of God comes among us.

Do you see the radical shift in this line?

It is not about making sure we have physical food to eat, thou God does care about that. Instead it is an end-time petition for the wedding feast of the Lamb that fits perfectly within the overarching end-time message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer as well as within the greater context of the message of Jesus the King.

More to come…

The Kingdom Message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer

shutterstock_87575320 ConvertedSt. Luke tells us that the disciples of Jesus came to him one day and asked him to teach them how to pray. They had seen the intimate relationship Jesus had with God the Father and they wanted to learn how to pray like he did. The resulting prayer is normally called the “Lord’s Prayer” as he is the one who choose the words of the prayer; however, I tend to think of it as the “Disciples’ Prayer” as it was given to them to pray.

Now most of us don’t think about the “Lord/Disciples’ Prayer” as something to help us through the in-between times of the Kingdom. For most of us, it is just a nice poetic prayer that we hang on our walls or just recite in a flippant manner when someone asks us to pray.  A look through history tells a different story as this prayer was the marker for those who truly gave their lives to follow Jesus. Even when everything else changed – cultures, tradition, Christian sub-group, etc. – the followers of Jesus have always kept this prayer close to their hearts, even when they really didn’t understand why they held on to it. When seen through the lens of Kingdom Theology, everything changes and the prayer takes on a whole new meaning.

Our father in heaven,
May your name be honored,
May your kingdom come,
May your will be done
As in heaven, so on earth.
Give us today the bread we need now;
And forgive us the things we own,
As we too have forgiven what was owned to us.
Don’t bring us into the great trial,
But rescue us from evil.
-Matthew 6:9-13, The Kingdom New Testament

In English there are ten simple and easy to memorize lines; yet each one is packed full of theological and practical implications for our lives. Accordingly, we are going to take a look at each of these lines section by section and see if we can’t better understand this prayer that the King left his followers.

“Our father in heaven”

It may sound obvious, but before you can pray you need to know who you are praying too. From the dawn of history, people of all religions have prayed to their gods and/or to their ancestors. In defining who we are to pray to, Jesus tells us that we are to pray to our Kingly Father who dwells in heaven.

A lot has been made about the term “father” that Jesus used in this pray; however, I don’t think it was as shocking as some folks think to a 1st century Jew. They were used to God being their Father – abet, they used it in more of a corporate sense than an individual one (i.e. God was the Father of the nation of Israel). No, I think the more shocking items were to come – this line just set the stage to remind the followers of Jesus who they were talking too.

“May your name be honored”

One’s name and reputation meant everything to a 1st century Jew, as it still does to a large portion of the world today. To have one’s name honored meant that everyone knew who you were and what you had accomplished. Throughout the Old Testament you can see verses warning the Israelites against dishonoring the name or reputation of the Creator God. Furthermore, there are verses talking about how the world may know that the God is the Lord of the universe. These verses usually follow a mighty act of God, like the ten plagues, crossing the Red Sea or destroying Jericho. The concept is that God had acted, and, therefore, we are to honor his name.

So what mighty act did God do that caused Jesus to tell his disciples to honor God for? It wasn’t the cross as Jesus was still alive. The mighty act that Jesus was honoring the Father for was the coming of his Kingdom into the world!

It is no accident that both St. Matthew and St. Luke place the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer in the context of an end time declaration. For St. Matthew, the prayer was placed in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus lays out the framework for life in the newly ushered Kingdom. St. Luke places the prayer at the beginning of a selection that ends with Jesus telling his followers to ask for the Holy Spirit, an event that was supposed to happen when the Day of the Lord came.

It is also interesting that St. Luke follows up this end-time declaration with Jesus casting out a demon and telling the onlookers that the “Kingdom of God has come” and that he has bound the strong man (i.e. Satan). May the Name of God be forever honored!!

More to come…

What is the Kingdom? Booklet Excerpts #3

The following text is an excerpt from the recently released “What is the Kingdom?” booklet published by the Vineyard USA.

rich nathan“One of the most challenging questions confronting Christian faith is simply this: If Jesus really was who he said he was, if he really was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, then why is the world still in such bad shape? Why do so many people still die of hunger and cancer? Why are there still so many wars and suicide bombings? Why is there still so much slaughter taking place in Syria, in Iraq and in Afghanistan? Why is rape used as a common tactic of war across the African continent?

Let me make this really simple. If Jesus is Lord and he has all power and we have the Holy Spirit, and we have this powerful message called the Gospel, then why aren’t we more successful than we are? Why are so many marriages, even among church-going, supposedly Bible-believing Christians, in such bad shape? And why do some Christian marriages end in divorce? Why do so many kids raised in Christian families end up barely connected to church? Why are so many church-goers living double lives, hopelessly
addicted, unhappy, unfulfilled?

The bottom line is if Jesus is really true and is really risen, why is the truth not more obvious? Why don’t more people believe what Christians  believe? Why is the world not in better shape if the Messiah really did come? Haven’t you wondered about this?

Have these questions crossed your mind? For the last hundred or so years New Testament scholars have been unanimous in saying that the basic message of Jesus concerned
the kingdom of God. Jesus came preaching that through his person and his ministry the kingdom of God had broken into the world. So we read lots of texts like this one:

‘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).

So what is the kingdom of God? What did Jesus mean when he said, “The kingdom of God has come near?” Is he saying Christianity has come near in my person? Is the  kingdom of God the Christian religion? No. Is the kingdom of God the church? Is Jesus saying the church has come near? Not at all. Is the kingdom of God heaven? Not really.

What are we Christians praying when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?’ Very simply, the kingdom of God is what things would be like if Jesus ran everything and if his will was done everywhere. The kingdom of God is what things would be like if Jesus was in charge. When we pray “your
kingdom come,” we are saying that we want this situation to be like what it would be like, if you, Lord, were in charge, if your will was done. We say the kingdom has come when the Lord totally has his way, when he is running the show.

what is the kingdom 2There is a secret that God has kept for all eternity, but has now disclosed. Everyone who listens to Jesus hears the secret that God’s kingdom is going to come in two stages. In the first stage the kingdom is going to be hidden. It is not going to be obvious. You have to look for it and search for it. In the second stage God’s kingdom will be evident and open. It is going to be overwhelming, like a boulder from heaven. In the first stage God’s will doesn’t displace every other will. In the first stage of the kingdom coming into the world, God’s will is done, but so is the will of sinful human beings, so is the will of Satan.

In the second stage of the coming of the kingdom, when Christ returns, there will be only one will done on earth, the will of God. Right now, during this era, God’s will doesn’t always win the day. God’s will can be resisted. God’s will can be ignored.

The mystery of the kingdom is that the kingdom of God is here, but it hasn’t replaced every other kingdom. The will of God is being done, but so is the will of sinful men and women, and so is the will of Satan. In this age, we’re running on parallel tracks. When Christ returns creation is going to run on a monorail. Our world is going to run on
the will of God.”

– Rich Nathan