Summary: The Lord calls each of us to be his representatives to the world, sharing his life to those around us in a peculiar way.
“The time has come.” What is this time that has come?
The time that has come is the fulfillment of Israel. From the cut off, burned out stump of Jesse, a shoot arose; from that shoot a single flower blossomed, producing a seed. Which seed fell to the ground, and thence arose a new tree, but not without its forebears’ life—a new covenant, but not without the fulfilled promises of the first.
John was the final prophet of the old covenant and the messenger of the end of the former days; Jesus is the source of the new covenant and the bringer of the latter days. Venerable Bede wrote, “John, being put in prison, fitly does the Lord begin to preach. For when the Law ceases, the Gospel arises in its steps.” When the Law ends, then grace appears.
The time has come for the Lord’s arrival. “Prepare the way for the Lord” (Mk. 1:3). “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk. 1:7–8).
“The kingdom of God is near.”
The angel blocking the gate to Eden has been dismissed. The pathway to God is again open. This kingdom was prophesied long ago by Samuel. “The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom… I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son” (2 Sa. 7:11–14).
The kingdoms of this world are waning, and their glory is fading. But, as Isaiah prophesied, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (Is. 9:7). Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome, Germany, France, England, and yes one day even the United States—every great kingdom, nation, and rule in this world emerges, rises, peaks, and then collapses. Despite the increase in our government—and I say that tongue-in-cheek—our nation shall one day cease to be, and another empire shall govern this land. But the kingdom of God, from its introduction, knows no diminishment. The setbacks that we see on this earth do nothing to lessen the reign of God. His kingdom is established forever, whether or not men choose to pledge their allegiance to it, or to some other authority. We see clearly the truth in the Psalmist’s words: “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save” (Ps. 146:3). Our salvation does not have its origin among the sons of men, but from the Son of Man, the Son of God.
“Repent and believe the good news.”
The coming of the kingdom of God forces us to react. When a person knows—knows in their knower—that “Now is the time for judgment on this world. Now the prince of this world will be driven out” (Jn. 12:31), then action is required. Surely there will be people, as it was in the days of Noah, who will carry on as they always have, eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, until they are taken away, swept away along with this world.