All earthly kingdoms have territory. Without territory, one could hardly call something a kingdom. By its very definition a kingdom is “a land or area that is ruled.” Why should we expect the kingdom of God would match earthly kingdoms in so many fundamental characteristics, yet differ in the one which gives the word its very meaning?
Spiritual and natural territory. We were born into the natural realm and have lived in it our entire lives. We can see it, smell it, touch it, hear it and taste it, and we don’t doubt its existence because it’s so obvious to all of our senses. But there is also a spiritual realm, which is not as readily apparent as the natural. (Col. 1:16-17). The invisible-spiritual and the visible-natural were both created by God and that in Him they both “hold together.” (Col. 1:17). Now I realize this is almost not worth staying, but hang with me because I’m headed somewhere with this.
King Jesus must rule in spiritual and earthly realms. For a kingdom to rule over all that is, it must be able to reign in both the natural and the spiritual realm. It would be silly to argue the kingdom of God had the ability to rule in the spirit realm but not on the earth since God created both. As silly as it sounds though, many modern Christians believe just that. However, the kingdom of God is designed to extend the rule of King Jesus in both realms. (Eph 1:8-10; Col. 1:18-20).
Earthly territory has geographical boundaries. If we were to define the boundaries of a residence, a city, county, state or country, we would talk in terms of geography. If you were asked where you live, you could give an address of a physical spot on the planet. If we wanted to ascertain the boundaries of a city, we could go to a map and draw a line around the outer edges of the city and know that everything inside of the line was part of the city. Territory in the natural realm is measurable because it exists in space and time.
The Kingdom has geographical distinction. Because the kingdom of God extends the rule of Jesus on the earth, and the earth had ascertainable territorial boundaries, the kingdom of God also has definable geographical distinction. That is not to say Jesus doesn’t have sovereignty over the entire universe. What I am attempting to do here is give you a paradigm for understanding the presence of the kingdom of God on earth. Think about it: the Bible promises that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of God. (Dan. 2:44; Rev. 11:15). That cannot happen unless the kingdom of God has a geographical existence in the natural because earthly kingdoms exist only in the natural. If the kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdom of God then they must do so with the very thing without which they would be kingdoms at all—earthly territory. Otherwise, we could only say the kingdom of God destroyed all the earthly kingdoms, but we could not say these kingdoms became the kingdom of God.
Now you may be thinking, “Ok, but so what?” However, as I think you will see, recognizing the kingdom of God has a geographical footprint on the earth is foundational to understanding how the kingdom of God expands on the earth. Coming in Part II: How to recognize the earthly territory of the kingdom of God. GS