January 14, 1974, was a memorable day for college basketball. The UCLA Bruins, under iconic coach, John Wooden, were leading the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, coached by Digger Phelps, 70-59 with less than four minutes in the game. However, the Irish went on a 12-0 run to beat the Bruins 71-70, and bring to an end the longest NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball winning streak at 88 games. The Bruins had gone 1,092 days without losing a game. Ironically, the last loss before the 88 game winning streak began was exactly three years earlier, when Notre Dame beat UCLA.
Coach Wooden, who led UCLA to 10 national championships in 12 years, put things into perspective, saying, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” Records were made to be broken, and no sports team is unconquerable.
Since we are human, and live in a fallen world, from childhood we realize teams will be defeated, people will die, companies will go bankrupt, and nations will fall. Everything we know comes with an expiration date.
So, when you read Daniel 2:44, it really gets your attention. He wrote: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”
Daniel had just given Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, God’s interpretation of his dream. God revealed, through the king’s dream, the identity and order of empires that would rule the known world: Babylon (Daniel 2:36-38; 7:4), Media-Persia (Daniel 2:39; 7:5); Greece (Daniel 2:39; 7:6), and Rome (Daniel 2:40-43; 7:7). Though he wrote in the 6th century BC, during the days of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire, the ensuing kingdoms rose and fell in the very sequence Daniel noted. If you take any history class on Western Civilization, you will study the same world kingdoms, in the very same order.
What a contrast! The Bible reveals that earthly kingdoms will rise and fall—but God’s kingdom will never fail. As Daniel wrote, when God sets up His kingdom, “it will itself endure forever” (2:44). When Jesus returns and God’s kingdom comes, it will endure without end. That is why, in the Model Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We are to pray for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done here, as it is there (in heaven). Now, it is obvious that this prayer has not yet been answered.
Although Christians await the return of Christ, to establish His kingdom on earth, His spiritual kingdom, in the hearts of His people, is already enthroned. Jesus told Nicodemus, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus may have been counting on his lineage as an Israelite, or on his good deeds as a religious leader, to get him into God’s kingdom. But Jesus jarred his world by limiting entrance to God’s kingdom to the new birth. To be part of God’s kingdom requires one to be born again, by repentance of sin and faith in Christ.
This new birth, or saving faith, denotes a spiritual awakening, bringing a change that begins within, but evidences itself without. It saves our soul and moves us spiritually into God’s kingdom—“He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13, 14).
By physical birth, all of us are part of the earthly kingdom of this perishing world system (John 12:31-32; 14:30). But daily, believers in Christ should strive to live by kingdom values in this sinful world. Because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12), we are to “take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (verse 13).
The shining light in this dark landscape is this—God’s kingdom will prevail! Daniel said it will “never be destroyed” and “it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44). God the Father, says of His Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8). Paul proclaimed, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18).
Children of God will “receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28). No matter what happens here, the future is bright there, for every believer in Christ.
Jeremy Camp captured the awesome theme of God’s unconquerable kingdom musically, in a song entitled, “Can’t Be Moved,” (“I Will Follow,” Sparrow Records, 2015). Listen to these lyrics:
I can’t lean on the earthly things
‘Cause it’s broke and it’s gonna fade
And I can’t stand on the dirt below
‘Cause the dust’s gonna blow away
Truth be told, silver and gold
Ain’t where my treasure’s found
So when I die, gonna open my eyes
With a different kind of crown
When everything in this world is falling
We have a Kingdom that can’t be moved
People get ready Heaven is calling
We have a Kingdom that can’t be moved
We who know Christ should live here by kingdom values and “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12), because we know Who wins in the end. His is an unconquerable kingdom.