For more than one thousand years, the
Hebrew people often confused the kingdom of God with the kingdom of earth. From
the day God promised Abraham He would give him land, many of his descendants
focused on building a lasting earthly empire rather than centering their hearts
on the Giver of that land.
For centuries many Hebrews kept asking
God to repel their enemies and give them physical peace, but God kept reminding
them He cared about their hearts first (Isaiah 29:13). God sent prophet after
prophet to remind them to turn their hearts back to Him, and He promised to use
whatever means necessary to regain their hearts—including the loss of their
The promise to Abraham was never just
about the land—it was about faith and relationship. For many, the land has come
first, but it was never the point. If it was, the work of God would have been
completed when Joshua led the people into the promised land. But as the book of
Hebrews reminds us, God had much more in mind: “For if Joshua had given them
rest, God would not have spoken later about another day” (Hebrews 4:8). God
looked forward to a relationship with laws written on tender hearts rather than
on civic institutions (Hebrews 10:16).
It is tempting to grow discouraged
when watching our influence in culture wane, but the promise of an earthly
government that acts with Christian values or a society that behaves according
to our standards was never the point of Jesus, His teachings, or His
This blog post has been adapted from my book How Jesus Changed the World. You can read more about it here.