God’s Kingdom Overview
The Announcement of the Kingdom
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (KJV).
God had an earthly Kingdom in mind before the creation of the universe (Matthew 25:34;; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3; I Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:18). The Kingdom is what God has been trying to set up in a visible manner on the earth since the creation of mankind. It is this creature (humankind) to whom He gave a clear dominion over the earth. It was lost at the Fall and Satan usurping God’s authority made himself the Prince of this World (Matthew 4:8-10; John 14:30).
God selected a people group, the Jews to begin setting up the earthly Kingdom starting with Abraham. After a refining period in Egypt the Jews under Moses’ leadership began an outward form of the Kingdom called the Commonwealth of Israel. This reached its high point in the theocracy under the kings of Israel and then the Kingdom was delayed from being set up on the earth due to the sinfulness of the nation Israel. They were punished by God through the Assyrians and Babylonians who removed their national existence, expelled them from the land starting their exile in 586 B.C.
It is important to notice how God is allowing His people to come to the realization that they need the King. Sin in its grossest form is idolatry or turning away from God and worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. As long as this continues on this earth the Lord will not establish His earthly Kingdom. His people the Jews must nationally repent by accepting Jesus as their Savior and asking Him to return. God in His Divine Providence is allowing His people to receive the various forms of punishment meted out by this earth until they cry out for Him.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (KJV).
The Old Testament scriptures teach that there will be an earthly, visible Kingdom over which the Son of Man is to rule (Daniel 7:13–14, 2:34–35, 44–45; Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 14:9). At the time of Jesus’ birth there was a widespread expectation of the coming of the Messiah. For example, Simeon and Anna waited in the Temple for the “Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25–38).
When six hundred years of the Times of the Gentiles had been completed God sent Himself, The King to the earth. He had the angel Gabriel announce to Mary that she would give birth to that King.
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (KJV).
Thirty years later Jesus Himself as well as John the Baptist announced that the Kingdom is “at hand.” This means that the King has arrived and is offering the Kingdom to the chosen people the Jews (Matthew 3:1-2, 4:17-23; Mark 1:14-15). Jesus the King sent out the apostles (Matthew 10:7) and another seventy disciples (Luke 10:1-9) telling them to proclaim to the Jews the same thing. Now the ruling governmental, Temple and Religious authorities rejected the offer as well as the King. They crucified Him and the Kingdom was again postponed. It now had a mystery form called the Kingdom of Heaven.
The “Kingdom of Heaven” is a New Testament term, and is found in Matthew’s Gospel only, where it is mentioned thirty two times. The characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven are described in the twelve “Kingdom of Heaven” Parables (Matthew 13:1–50; 18:23–35; 20:1–16; 22:1–14; 25:1–30). From these Parables we see that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is limited as to its Time and its Sphere. Its Time is from the First to the Second Coming of Christ, and its Sphere is over that part of the world that we call Christendom. In the “Kingdom of Heaven” there is a mixture of good and evil, of “Wheat” and “Tares,” of “Good Fish” and “Bad Fish,” of “Wise Virgins” and “Foolish Virgins.” These Kingdom parables describe the character of the Present Dispensation in its earthly aspect during the absence of the King. The Lord Himself in the following parable teaches it.
11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. 22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? 24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. 25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) 26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. 27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me (KJV).
Jesus is describing the nature of the administration of spiritual gifts during the time on earth between His first and Second Comings. Many on this earth hate Him and will receive their just reward. Those in the Church have been given gifts to use for building up the Church and He will reward us for the seriousness, which with we used them. The believing Jews will be given authority over many cities. Interestingly the world at large called him a nobleman a term, which He uses in this parable. Most of this world will admit to Him being of some value such as a good teacher. When He returns He will be the King of the earth.
After Jesus’ resurrection His Jewish followers asked if now was the time for the Kingdom to be set up on the earth. They realized that the King Himself was here. He told them that it was not going to occur then (Acts 1:6-7). He left them with the belief that there was to be an “earthly and visible Kingdom” some day.
Because of the King’s rejection it was impossible to establish it at that time. Its establishment will require the Jews to affirm Him as the King. They will do this at the second Coming (Zechariah 12:10). They will look on Him whom they have pierced. This has all been part of the broad “Plan of God,” who knew that Israel would refuse to accept Jesus as King, and that they would not nationally repent until after the Church had been formed and taken out of the world. The Church is not the Kingdom or any aspect of it. The Kingdom is an outward visible political theocracy yet to be set up on earth (Daniel 2:44) whereas the Church is a spiritual organism that will be taken out of the world at the rapture (Matthew 24:40-41; Luke 21:34-36; I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The impact of Christianity over this world is diminishing as the Prince of this World gains more control and adherents. Whereas many western world governments were influenced by Christianity causing them to adopt laws and social practices patterned after the Bible’s teaching this is coming to an end. The influence of Christianity on this world, which is called Christendom, is referred to in Matthew’s Gospel as the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus has not yet received the Kingdom. He must finish His High Priestly and Mediatorial work first.
13I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (ASV 1901).
The form of Government will be a “Theocracy.” Christ will reign through a “King” or “Prince” called David (Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:24, 37:24), whose Throne shall be at Jerusalem. The Temple will be rebuilt, and the “Aaronic Priesthood” reestablished (Ezekiel 44:15–31). There will be a revival of the Land of Israel (Joel 3:18), and the length of human life extended (Isaiah 65:20–22. Zechariah 8:4).
Characteristics of the Future Earthly Kingdom
The general characteristics of the Kingdom are revealed through a great many of the Old Testament prophets. In general they are:
- Man will be rightly related to God
- Universal peace between men
- Animals will return to their Edenic state
- Renovation of the heavens and earth
- Elimination of infant mortality
- Minimum human longevity is one hundred years
- Death in the Kingdom is limited to unbelievers
- The incentive for sin will be greatly reduced
- Many of the effects of the curse will be removed
- Warfare and inter-human calamity will be removed
- The Church Age saints as well as Tribulation and OT saints will have glorified bodies
- God will control the entire government from Jerusalem
6And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea (ASV 1901).
Most of the exact nature of the effects of the Fall will be removed from the earth at that time. When Satan lured Eve into disobeying God she let sin and decay into the arena of time and space. What exactly was this sin that Satan imparted to Eve and has become endemic to mankind; even celebrated? It is pride, the source of all sin and that, which is an abomination to God.
We are warned the effects of pride in our lives in multiple Scripture passages.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride [goeth] before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall
It was the principal reason that God destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah.
Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy
God hates pride within mankind and especially within His Church. There is no room for prideful ambitions in our lives. It stunts our spiritual growth and causes us to be out of fellowship with the Lord when we are prideful. This will all be removed through the Great Tribulation. God has expressed three distinct reasons for the Great Tribulation.
- To make an end of sin and sinful people (Isaiah 13:9; 24:19-20)
- To bring about world wide evangelization (Revelation 7:1-17)
- To break the power (will) of the Jewish people (Daniel 11-12)
So sin and its source are eliminated at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom.
Only the Biblically illiterate fail to realize that we are in the final throes of the Last Days. Conservative and hermeneutically sound Bible teachers are presently teaching that world events have reached a point in the long session of Last Days “Birth Pangs” that Jesus spoke about in the Olivet Discourse. We should be aware of what He said and pay attention to Him. This should heighten our expectations of Christ’s soon return. They are as follows:
- World Wars I & II (coupled with famines and earthquakes)
- The Reestablishment of Israel (we will cover this in detail next session)
- Jerusalem under Jewish Control
- The Northern Alliance Invasion of Israel
- The One World Government
- The Ten Kingdoms
- The Rise of Antichrist
- The Period of Peace and Security
- The Seven Year Covenant
It is extremely important that we do not fail to realize that Christ explained in the Olivet Discourse that these things must happen before the Great and Terrible Day of The Lord. The Olivet Discourse provides detail of each of these Birth Pangs or Travails as some translations render these events.
As the economic distress, persecution, and conflict as well as political turmoil increase we must be aware of how we are commanded to respond.
- Believers Should be Watchful and Alert
(Matthew 24:42-44; Mark 13:33-37: Luke 12:35-40; 1 Thessalonians 4:4-6; Revelation 16:15
2.Believers Should be Motivated to Godly Living
(Matthew 24:45-51; 1 Peter 31:13-15; 2 Peter 3:11-14; 1 John 2:28)
3. Believers Should Consider His Coming Very Soon
(Romans 13:11-12; Phil 4:5; James 5:8-9; 1 Peter 4:7)
4. Believers Should Eagerly Await It
(1 Corinthians 1:7; Phil 3:20; Titus 2:11-13)
5. Believers Should Encourage One Another
(Romans 8:23-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
6. Believer Should Long for It
(2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:12; Revelation 22:20)
7. Believers Should Persevere
(Matthew 24:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:12-14; James 5:7-8)