In ahe heightened success of enlightenment thinking, individualism has ruled the day. This has expressed itself in renewed expressions of individualistic ethics, politics, and religion. Hedonism rules the day of ethics. Libertarian politics is the increasing majority opinion of young voters. Self-centered deism has become the political drug of western culture. This has become true of not only liberal Christianity but also its more conservative branches. In a biblical scope, generations are important. In fact, family is crucial since God establishes his redemptive relationship via families. The God of the Scriptures is the most precious family traditions:
“I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you” – Genesis 17:7-8
We can thus draw mildly from human experience. Family heirlooms are a treasure. In my family, the gift of music is important. Nothing works into our veins like a good melody or rhythm. My children have learned this naturally. They dance in circles at the oddest hours. From the oldest to the youngest, music and movement boils in their blood. It is a family tradition. In a much greater and spiritually-grounded sense, the covenant kingdom of Jesus Christ is a long-standing family tradition.
In fact, all of God’s covenants are family traditions. For instance, the kingdom of David, via Judah, can be traced all the way to the concluding life of Jacob in Egypt (Gen. 49:8-11). It finds itself reiterated by even the pagan prophet Balak (Num. 24:17-19). In this instance, long before God’s promise to David (2 Sam. 7), God had prepared an everlasting kingdom as part of the covenant fulfillment to Abraham and Jacob.
Back to my personal example, this would not be unlike one of my grandchildren becoming a significant country musician because God has promised it to my grandfather. In my example, the promise of God himself is missing, but the genes and heritage have been in the works since my grandfather. In the covenants, God attaches his promises to offspring—even the new covenant,
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.” – Isaiah 59:21
So when Jesus Christ appears on the scene, he is the fulfillment of two millenniums and promises (Matt. 1; Rom. 1:3). He fulfills the promises to Abraham and David in a tied knot that is the New Covenant. Our God is fundamentally a cross-generational covenantal God. He chooses to work within families via his covenants. He binds himself to promises. He alone ensures those promises are fulfilled. He is not the abstract deistic god. He forever remains active in history. He manifests his kingdom in miraculous ways.
As C.S. Lewis alluded to, our God is no tame lion, but he is always good and faithful. His kingdom is a covenantal kingdom promised and decreed by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Yet, it is also fulfilled in the birth and crucifixion of Christ. It is a tumultuous, not tame, history, yet the end is good. This is the covenant history, redemptive-historical, perspective of the Reformed tradition that the Lord’s Prayer alludes to in each of its petitions.
It should not surprise us that this covenant kingdom and promise were deeply ingrained in the conscience of Israel. It was these promises that were sung by Israel in their worship (Ps. 2:7-12). The whole identity of their culture and people were focused on these promises. When their covenant redemption was fulfilled in Christ’s baptism (Matt 3:17) and transfiguration (Matt 17:5), history was shaken. But their history does not stop that.
That this very covenant kingdom is passed on throughout the church is also a miracle – this is the primary emphasis of the book of Acts. Not only does the kingdom pass to the Gentiles, but it still remains passed to their children. The promised kingdom, as the prophet Isaiah foretold, is passed to our children’s children. They all become the covenant community under King Jesus. This is both refreshing and challenging. Our children do not become Christ’s possession at a time of confession; they belong to the Covenant Savior from the beginning.
In Proverbs, Solomon says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children” (Prov. 13:22). Would it not be foolish and shortsighted to exclude their spiritual, covenantal inheritance? Our Heavenly Father’s inheritance is very good. And the covenantal history of the Scriptures challenges us at every step to leave a great spiritual inheritance for our children.
This petition “Thy kingdom come” of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that our God has established his covenant kingdom from the foundation of the earth. Not merely over geography, but also over all of time and space. It stretches across nations. It also stretches across time within households. Our God will not be denied despite our unfaithfulness (Rom. 3:4; 9:6). God’s promises and election founded in Jesus Christ will be true. The gospel is not found in a nefarious god—who demands good works—but a covenantal Father who bestows out of his abundant blessings. This kingdom has come, and we pray it come in greater glory. A gospel that points to Christ’s kingdom glorifies God by acknowledging his promises to generation after generation. We pray for this kingdom to bring glory to God the Father. The fulfilled will of God is crucial to this kingdom.
Joshua Torrey is a New Mexico boy in an Austin, TX world. He is husband to Alaina and father to Kenzie & Judah and spends his free time studying for the edification of his household. These studies include the intricacies of hockey, football, curling, beer, and theology. You can follow him @benNuwn and read his theological musings and running commentary of the Scriptures at The Torrey Gazette.