The World's Two Kingdoms.
In our series reviewing what Jesus Christ and the Bible tell us about the world, we have so far reviewed that the world as created by God is good, although now in a “fallen” state because of the entrance of the evil which fallen angels (devil, demons) and humans brought into the world (Gen 3). Due to such rebellion, creation now suffers death (Wis2:24) and decay (Ro 8:20-23), and is under the power of the devil, its ruler (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4). But we also know God has a plan that is being worked out in history.
Then what is the world’s destiny? On the one hand, the world is to be condemned (1Cor 11:32) and punished (Is 13:11) for its evil. Yet just as God’s grace has prepared the means of salvation for humanity so that we need not be condemned (1Cor 11:32), there will similarly be a “new creation,” a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Rev 21:1; Catechism ofthe Catholic Church [CCC] 1043). That is, there will be a profound restoration or renovation of the material world (Is 65:17, 66:22; Ro 8:19-23; CCC 1046) uniting all things in Christ (Eph 1:10; cf. Zec 14:9; Col 1:16-20).
Remember the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah? "Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever. King of kings, Lord of lords." (The words come from Rev 19:6; 11:15; 19:16; cf., Ps 2:8).
So there are two kingdoms: the kingdom of this world, and the kingdom of Christ.
We also have to now make distinctions with the word, “world.” There is the fallen world subject to decay and condemnation, and the world as the material universe that is good.
The “Hallelujah Chorus” sings of Scripture’s promise that the good material world shall come entirely under the kinship of Christ leading to eternal life. (And thus the fallen, corrupt world, the kingdom of the devil’s rule, shall end.)
That certain final victory we still await. As the book of Hebrews (2:8-10) reminds us, we do not yet see everything subject to Christ – however, we do see Jesus, humbled as a man (a “slave,” although He is God, Phil 2:6-7) so that he might be “crowned with glory and honor” (King and Lord of all creation; cf. Phil2:9-11) by His suffering and death, so that by his obedience and sacrifice (Heb5:8; Phil 2:8), he might destroy death and the power of evil (Col 1:20) and the devil who has the power of death (Heb 2:14) (CCC 609, 624, 629, 635).
That’s the cosmic, eschatological dimension. OK, so what about today? What about this up-side-down world I now live in? What about elections, covid, “vaccines,” transhumanism, war, food supply, economy, social credit systems, WEF’s Agenda 2030, sex trafficking? Very real. Very serious. But there is another level. We need to realize this and not forget the other level.
Without negating the terrible seriousness of today’s issues, we have to look deeper to a more consequential, more far-reaching level. These issues are the means by which the kingdom of the enemy fights its war against the kingdom of Christ. And it is a war each of us is fighting every day. When we see deception and lies, when fear is promoted, we know the enemy is at work.
St. Paul says, “Though we live in the world, we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor 10:3-4). “We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness” (Eph 6:12). This is the battleground. This is the war.
Understanding that it is a war, and that at root it is a spiritual war, gives us confident hope in the outcome. We may lose a battle, but Christ shall win the war. His victory is certain!
Dibby Allan Green