Nothing about the kingdom of GOD is in keeping with the logic and understanding of natural men. It is impossible that they should ever gain any knowledge of it apart from the goodness of GOD in revealing it to them. This is demonstrated quite clearly as the LORD spoke to the Pharisees who impudently made demands unto HIM to explain it. “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
HE plainly told them that the kingdom of GOD was already “in their midst” (i.e.; within you) but that they could not “observe it”, (i.e.; cometh not with observation). Regardless of how diligently they might search for it, it was hidden from their view by their limited carnal understanding of what this kingdom consisted of and in what manner it was established.
Religious men presume that the Kingdom of GOD is a carnal kingdom (at least in part). Some look at it as a future occurrence which will be seen by the real estate that it will occupy. Some (probably most) are convinced that it is a Kingdom which can be entered or discovered by their adherence to certain principles, their acts of faithfulness and devotion, and their cooperation with GOD in securing unto themselves an interest therein. The latter is demonstrated in the minds of some by defining what is necessary for a man to believe in order to attain it and in the minds of others by the measured obedience which they might produce by their own free will. Both of these mindsets involve establishing a measure of personal righteousness, which these zealots presume that they possess especially as they compare themselves to others.
The Kingdom of GOD cannot be inherited by flesh and blood since it is a Kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness. Everything about the flesh is corruptible and every man in the flesh is corrupt. You cannot bring a clean thing out of that which is unclean, neither can a corrupt fountain bring forth pure water. Every thing in the earth produces after its own kind, and sinners produce sin, because they are conceived in sin and have no means whereby they can correct that situation, even if given a desire to do so.
Paul speaks of this very situation in the seventh chapter of Romans. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Rom 7:18-19) He goes on to confess that the only MEANS whereby he can escape this prison house of sin is through the deliverance of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 7:24-25)
This is the only BASIS upon which any man, born of a woman, could ever be given an entrance into that Kingdom which is eternal and fadeth not away. Only as men are given an eye to behold HIM who is the GOVERNOR of this Kingdom, can they see it unfolded, desire to enter it, or to possess a LIVING HOPE of their acceptance therein. The thief on the cross is a good example of one who was given such an eye as we hear him confess. “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42) He was given an understanding in an instant of who CHRIST is, and every man who would enter into this kingdom must be given the same knowledge and desire.
CHRIST is an absolute RULER over HIS Kingdom, and HE giveth it to whomsoever HE wills. HE is bound by nothing but HIS desire to do HIS FATHER’s will. In keeping with that desire HE will lose none which have been given to HIM as the subjects of HIS Kingdom. “And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John 6:39)
Thus we see Zechariah given a prophecy concerning the LORD’s purpose to deliver those people, (given to HIM by HIS FATHER), which HE calls HIS own. Those who are HIS are, here, called “prisoners of hope”. Now a man cannot know that he is a prisoner, until he is shown the walls which surround him. The natural man believes himself to be free to choose whatever might be brought before him. Paul has already shown the folly of such thinking, yet the “free-will” mongers, masquerading as “gospel preachers” assure their hearers that they can of their own volition become the children of GOD. They do not consider themselves bound in any way. Yet the truth is that they are every one bound in the darkness and death of sin, without any means of escape. They are “prisoners” for sure, but they have no hope, except in the power of their own weak flesh and they warm themselves by a fire which they have kindled.
On the other hand there are a people in the earth who are “the called according to HIS purpose.” These are the same people that Peter spoke of on the Day of Pentcost, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39) These are those of whom Paul speaks, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” (2Tim 2:19) They are indeed in the exact same prison house as all of the sons of Adam, but they are made aware of their bondage, the impossibility of escape by their own power, and so are made to call upon HIM who is their only HOPE of deliverance. Thus they are called “prisoners of HOPE”.
The “STRONG-HOLD” upon whom they rely, is not of their choosing or will but as they are made to see HIM who is the GOVERNOR of the prison house in which they dwell and the ONE who has led captivity captive and given gifts to men. They are prisoners who hope but they are also prisoners of hope. They are compelled to hope in HIM. They have no other choice. The calling of GOD is without repentance. They have become willing bondslaves to HIM who is their RULER and they love to have it so.
These same sons of GOD who are shut up to the grace of GOD, just like Noah was shut in to the Ark, are the very prized possession of the ONE who loved them with an everlasting love and did give HIMSELF for, that they might live and never perish. Thus HE calls them “stones of a crown”. HE sees them as fair and precious jewels which HE gladly puts on display for the created world to see. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:5-7)
The LORD would magnify the glory of HIS grace in JESUS CHRIST as HE exhibits those who are precious in HIS sight. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known (i.e.; manifested or put on display) by the church the manifold wisdom of God, “ (Eph 3:10)
Peter sums up both the FOUNDATION and the BUILDING of this everlasting Kingdom. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1Pet 2:5-10) This Kingdom shall never pass away.mam