In the entire Bible, the word “observation” appears only once and it is used by the Lord Jesus himself in the context of the kingdom of God. (Luke 17:20 KJV) Observation can be much more than merely seeing with one’s eyes. When we observe rules, it means that we abide by them. When we observe silence, we maintain it. When we observe certain days, we draw attention to their importance.
At a meteorological observatory, most weather elements cannot be observed with the eyes. But wind speed, wind direction, atmospheric pressure, air temperature, humidity, can all be measured and recorded with instruments. At an astronomical observatory, only a fragment of the universe can be viewed closely, but scientists keep looking beyond in the hope of unravelling its mysteries.
When Jesus began his work on earth, his opening call was “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!” (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15) His inaugural address, or the sermon on the mount, started with the words: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God!” (Luke 6:20) The kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, was a new concept and Jesus went on explaining it to his hearers in many different ways. He once likened it to a gathering of little children (Luke 18:16). He compared it with the process of sowing and reaping, with the sprouting of a mustard seed, the addition of yeast to flour, a hidden treasure, a pearl, and so on. (Matthew 13, Luke 13).
However, Jesus’ listeners were still unable to visualize the kingdom. They could not understand whether the kingdom of God had come, and if it had, then where was it? Jesus clarified to them, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation. Nor will people say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
Indeed, the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed from outside, because it is not a physical kingdom of this world. (John 18:36) It is in the realm of the spirit. Its virtual reality is to be seen, heard, felt and experienced by the spirit.