Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” —Jesus
This is one of my most favourite verses in the Bible. I remember sitting in one of the classrooms in the church where I grew up and seeing a sign that my Sunday School teacher made. Each Sunday, week after week, I looked at those words, hand written with a black marker on gold paper in an 8 x 10 frame hanging on the wall. Those words of Christ left an indelible impression on my mind. In fact, this verse became so meaningful to me that I selected it as my e-mail address.
I appreciate this verse because it reminds me to put my priorities in order. To me, nothing is as important as seeking God’s kingdom first and foremost in my life. It says that if God’s kingdom and his righteousness is put first, then “these things” we deem as necessities of life will be supplied. And I won’t need to worry for as Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on…” (Matt. 6:25).
Jesus went on to say, “Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need these things,” (Matt. 6:31-32). Jesus referred to the birds of the air and how they never sow or reap yet our heavenly Father feeds them. And he illustrated how the lilies of the field do not work or make cloth yet God provides for them. “Are you not much more valuable than these things?” he asks. “How much more will your heavenly Father care for you?” (Matt. 6:26-30). Only those of “little faith” in God allow their worries to keep them from seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
So, if I do not want my worries and fears to dominate my life, then I must have faith to seek God’s kingdom first. But what is the kingdom of God? In my studies of God’s Word, I find that there are three phases of his kingdom that give me comfort as well as inspiration:
Phase 1, Providential: God’s universal rulership over his creation including all of humankind. All humanity is in his Providential Kingdom (1 Chronicles 29:10-13; Psalm 103:19; Isaiah 33:22). In his providential kingdom, God is calling out those in the world who are willing to enter phase 2 of his Redemptive Kingdom (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; 2 Samuel 7:23; Ephesians 1:7-23; 1 Peter 2:9-10). Thus, I am assured that God is in control of all things that happen since he is the providential ruler of his creation (Daniel 2:21; Psalm 24:1-2).
Phase 2, Redemptive: God’s rulership over the redeemed in Christ who are heirs of his future kingdom and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10; 20:6). In the present age, God is preparing his chosen people (Israel and the Church) for the future final phase of his Territorial Kingdom (Isaiah 43; 1 Peter 1:17-21). God’s redemptive plan in this present age includes entering into Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, and filling of the Holy Spirit (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Romans 8:1-11).
Phase 3, Territorial: God’s rulership over the entire earth (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14), the final phase of his Kingdom when Jesus literally returns to initiate the age to come. This will be accomplished in three parts—Part 1: The Reign of Christ known as “the thousand years,” (Revelation 20:1-6) in which the church will reign with him as “kings and priests,” (Revelation 1:6); Part 2: The Judgement (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Peter 2:1-9; Revelation 20:11-15); Part 3: The New Heavens (celestial) and Earth (terrestrial). God will come down to earth in his everlasting Kingdom at the end of the final phase. (See Psalm 2:7-9; Isiah 9:6-7; 35:1-7; 61:4-6; Daniel 2:34-45; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; 2 Peter 3:9-18; Revelation 21).
Each phase is progressive. One advances into the other. Out of the Providential phase comes the Redemptive phase. Those who are in the Redemptive phase are still a part of the Providential phase for though they are “IN the world” (Providential), they are not “OF this world” (redeemed in Christ). See John 17:11-16.
Those who are in the Redemptive phase of this present world [age] will live eternally in the coming Territorial phase [world or age to come, (Luke 18:30)] when God’s plan of redemption is made complete in the Everlasting Kingdom age. Thus, what God had intended when he created the heavens and the earth but were cursed due to man’s sin (Eden lost), will be restored in the Territorial phase of his Kingdom plan (Eden restored, Revelation 22:1-5). The Redemptive phase is like a span that bridges the Providential and Territorial phases when the restitution of all things is complete (Acts 3:21). The “day of redemption” will mark the time when the redeemed (sealed with the Spirit) will inherit a place in the Territorial phase of God’s Kingdom on earth (Matthew 5:5; Ephesians 4:30).
To seek first the kingdom of God is to be a part of the plan of God’s salvation. To me, it includes being involved in a divine program that brings joy to my life, helps me to keep my sanity in a depraved world gone mad in sinfulness, prevents me from being consumed in my own temptations, and provides hope when all seems hopeless at times. To be a kingdom seeker is most rewarding, not only now but especially when that “day of redemption” comes.
Good News to you!