Students discuss the kingdom of God

Here at Calvin, there are many conversations about what it means to be agents of renewal for the kingdom of God. Yet the kingdom of God is a complex and often elusive subject; what does it actually mean to be a part of that kingdom? An interactive seminar led by Stephen Kepley, mayor of Kentwood, began addressing this question last Thursday evening.

The Kingdom of God seminar was organized by Mu Kappa, an international fraternal organization for missionary kids. The seminars, which will meet Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. in the Alumni Board room, are open to all students and provide opportunities for group learning as well as mentorship.

Kepley, who organized and led last week’s seminar, has been involved with Calvin students and the Mu Kappa chapter on campus for several years. Last year, he led a seminar on spiritual warfare.

Thursday’s seminar was an intimate group of people, which allowed for dialogue and collaborative interpretation of Scripture. The evening’s theme was looking at the kingdom of God through the worldview of the Jews living in Jerusalem throughout the Old and New Testaments.

The seminar involved close reading of Scripture starting with Old Testament prophets. The group discussed Isaiah’s vision of a new kingdom of peace that will take place in the last days.

After going through other prophetic books, such as Hosea and Ezekiel, Kepley said, “These Old Testament prophets link this kingdom to the Davidic timeframe, saying that the kingdom will come and will reign forever, and it will be different from anything you’ve seen.”

Next, the group looked at the New Testament to examine how Jews during Jesus’s time may have understood the kingdom of God.

“When Jesus comes, their expectation is, is this the time? Is this the time when the Davidic kingdom will now take place, and our Messiah will come and everything will be restored?” said Kepley. “Is this the time that we will no longer be enslaved by Roman rule, but we will be set free from Rome and be God’s kingdom that will reign on earth?”

The group said that although Jesus claimed no one would know when God’s kingdom would come to earth, the Jews maintained the expectation of the kingdom arriving immediately.

“At the time, Jews thought it was a real kingdom that would be established, that the Davidic throne would be reestablished and that Israel would be the nation of the world again,” said Kepler.

After giving further suggestions for Scripture reading, Kepler encouraged students to attend the next seminar. It will address the question: “What was Jesus talking about when he was talking about the good news of the kingdom of God?”