The Study of God
Bringing Truths from Different Books of the Bible into Focus, Perspective, and Understanding.
For the LORD Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2
The Kingdom of God
God's Establishment of His Kingdom upon Earth
Introduction. The story-line of the Bible is God’s establishment of His Kingdom on Earth through Man. In the first two chapters of the Bible (Gen. 1-2), God assigned unfallen and untested man the task of ruling the earth and all its creatures. In Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 (Gen. 3; Rev. 20), God has recorded Satan’s sabotage of that mandate and God’s just, yet merciful efforts to salvage his chosen ones and reestablish benevolent rule over the earth through the God-Man, Jesus, the Anointed One. By the end of Rev. 20, Satan has been deposited in the Lake of Fire, Original Earth has been explosively obliterated, and all rebel humans have also been deposited in the Lake of Fire. In the last two chapters of the Bible (Rev. 21-22) God has successfully consummated His Kingdom upon the Earth. He has created New Heaven and New Earth and redeemed men are ruling New Earth, in which no vestiges of sin or sinful people or any form of evil exist. God has established New Jerusalem as the capital city of New Earth and God Himself and His Eternal Son, Jesus Christ sit as Co-Regents on their throne in eternal fellowship with Man. The Bible is the story of the Inception, Sabotage, Salvation, and Success of God’s Kingdom on Earth.
1. Original Kingdom Mandate. God’s original mandate to man was to rule over all the earth and all its creatures (Gen. 1:26-28). In order to do that, man would need to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.” That is the genesis, I believe of the whole notion of a kingdom of God upon earth. Since God is the Supreme Ruler, and since He created man in His own likeness and image, He created man to be His Representative on Earth, ruling the animal and physical creation. Man was to be King of the Earth, though never specifically called that. David, however, captured this marvelous interchange between God and man in Psalm 8 (Ps. 8). The majestic, all-powerful God has granted mere man rulership and dominion over the earth!
2. Satanic Sabotage. Of course we know what happened. Another one of God’s more powerful creations, Satan, himself a son of God (Job 1:6; 2:1), successfully wrested away from man beneficent control of the Earth by deceitfully tempting Eve and through Eve, Adam, to eat the forbidden fruit. They died spiritually instantly, estranged from God (Gen. 3:1-10). Man was now inevitably mortal (Gen. 5), and his capacity to rule the earth in a beneficent way had been utterly compromised (Gen. 3:9-24). Now an imposter, Satan, had become “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), the one in whose power “the whole world lies” (1 John 5:19). The plan of God, to establish His kingdom on earth in a benevolent way through His human representatives, had, by all appearances, been irreversibly derailed.
3. Cataclysmic Judgment of Corruption. Man finally grew so corrupt (Gen. 6:1-13) God had to destroy all but eight souls in the Global Deluge (Gen. 6:13-8:22). At its termination, God again mandated man to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (Gen. 9:1, 7). With a dramatic change in earth’s environment, it now became necessary for certain animals and for man to become carnivorous. God protected man from animals by instilling within the latter a fear and a dread of man (Gen. 9:1-5). Significantly absent from God’s mandate was a reissuing of the command to subdue the earth! So man’s capacity to be King of the earth had been sadly diminished.
4. Linguistic Dispersion. Once again, man allowed evil to corrupt his way. Instead of spreading out, man banded together and the first United Nations was formed. Man built a city and a tower and was attempting to build a name for himself lest he be scattered abroad over the face of the earth (Gen. 11:1-4). God was greatly displeased, and came down to observe. God knew that there was no limit upon what man in His rebellion against God would be able to accomplish against God’s will, and so God sabotaged man’s unity by destroying his uniform speech. This effectively forced men to spread out over all the earth, for they sought people groupings of the same language (Gen. 11:5-9). Babel, later called Babylon, was the focal city of man’s rebellion and judgment (Gen. 11:9).
5. Covenant of Blessing through Abraham. It was then that God called to Himself Abram (later Abraham), first promising and then covenanting with Him a specific land, many descendants, and a great blessing which would extend to all the peoples of the earth (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:5-7, 8-21; 17:1-8; 18:17-18; 22:15-18). This great blessing would culminate in Abram’s ultimate descendant, Jesus of Nazareth (Gal. 3:16-18). It was through Jesus that God planned to save the people of the world from their sin, and to establish a kingdom upon earth that would govern the entire earth according to God’s standards and desire. But that would not happen for a long time.
6. Invisible Theocracy. God’s plans to save the earth led to God’s assembling of the nation of Israel, over whom God would reign as Invisible King (Ex. 19:1-6). The people of Israel were to be a kingdom of priests on God’s behalf, a people who would mediate between God and all the peoples of the world and bring them into a relationship with God.
7. Visible, Mediated Theocracy. Sadly, the nation of Israel rejected God as their invisible King and requested a visible, human King (1 Sam. 8:4-9). God acquiesced, warning them of the dire consequences, which they ignored. God had Samuel anoint Saul to be Israel’s king, and God placed His Spirit upon Him (1 Sam. 9:15-17; 10:1-10). But he intruded into the priesthood, disobeyed God, and God rejected him as king (1 Sam. 13:5-14; 15:1-35). God had Samuel anoint David to be king over Israel, and God anointed David with His Spirit, removing Him from Saul (1 Sam. 16:1-14). David eventually wished to build a house for God, but God said that God would instead build a house for David. David’s son would build God a house and God would establish the throne and the kingdom in the house (descendants) of David forever (2 Sam. 7:1-16)! That, of course was God’s plan to provide, through both Abraham and David, the ultimate descendant of Abraham and David that would rule the world (Luke 1:26-33)!
8. Diaspora. David died, and his descendants proved to be less than faithful. God tore ten tribes away from Rehoboam, David’s grandson, gave them to Jeroboam. Jeroboam made idolatry the official state policy of the northern kingdom, Samaria (1 Ki. 12). Assyria deported those tribes in 722 B.C. Babylon deported the southern Kingdom, Judah, in stages – 606, 597, and 586 B.C. God allowed a portion of the southern kingdom to return from exile, but the returned exiles failed to follow God wholeheartedly, and repeatedly suffered enemy occupation. As the New Testament opens, Israel is occupied by Rome.
9. Sacrifice, Resurrection, and Ascension of the King. Finally, God sent His Son, incarnating Him in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem according to promise (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20; Matt. 2:1-12). God anointed Him (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:26-34) to be prophet, priest, and king. But the people through their leaders rejected Jesus and ordered the Romans to crucify Him. In the providence of God, He had always planned that Jesus’ death would pay for all the sins of all the people of the earth (Acts 4:24-28; 13:36-39). Miraculously, God raised Him from death, and Jesus assigned His followers to be His witnesses throughout the earth (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). It was not at this time, but at some subsequent time that God would restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6-7). Jesus’ followers were to serve as a royal priesthood (1 Pet.2:9), Christ’s ambassadors to recruit people throughout the world into Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus ascended to heaven and took His seat on the Father’s right hand (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:33-34; 5:31; 7:56; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22). There, seated on "the throne of the grace" (Heb. 4:16), He serves as our Great High Priest (Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14, 15; 5:5, 10; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1, 3; 9:11) while He awaits His Kingdom on earth below (Psalm 110:1-2).
10. The Mystery Form of the Kingdom. But what would happen to the "Kingdom of the Heavens" that Jesus had previously announced had drawn near to the people of Israel upon earth (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9, 11; 11:20; 19:11)?
a. Jesus’ Teaching. When it became clear to Jesus that the Jewish people of His day would largely reject Him as their King, He began to teach His followers the “mystery” form of the Kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 13:11). In this context, the term “mystery” refers to truth about Jesus’ Kingdom here on earth unrevealed in the Old Testament but now revealed by Him in the New. In Matthew 13 Jesus described in general terms the course of His Kingdom between His first and second comings.
i He said that during His absence there would be four different responses to the message about the Kingdom, only one of which would bear fruit (Matt. 13:18-23).
ii He said that response to the message of His Kingdom would experience a dominating growth from a small beginning (Matt. 13:31-32).
iii He taught that His followers would have a pervasive influence that would dwarf their size (Matt. 13:33).
iv He taught that, during His absence, adherence to His coming Kingdom would spread throughout the world, but that it would be sullied by evil people distinguishable from the righteous only at the judgment at the end of the age (Matt. 13:36-43; 47-50).
v He revealed that some would see the value of the coming Kingdom, and would sacrifice all to participate in it (Matt. 13:44-46).
vi Last, he pointed out that teaching about the time between His two advents would necessarily incorporate truths both familiar and new (Matt. 13:51-52).
b. The Church Age. So now we are in the age between Christ’s First Coming and His Second Coming. It is the era or dispensation of the Church (ekklesia), the “called-out ones.” God’s purpose is to call out people from all over the world, both Jew and Gentile, into Jesus’ kingdom. We who are believers in Jesus have been transferred by God from “the domain of darkness” into the Kingdom of Light of His beloved Son (Col. 1:12-13). Jesus is reigning as Great High Priest even now in heaven. We the church, are recruiting subjects for His Kingdom. Meanwhile, Jesus is patiently awaiting the time when His enemies will be made a footstool for His feet, and He will return to earth and reign as King from Mount Zion (Psalm 110:1-2). God’s purpose was never to isolate forever His Anointed King up in heaven and allow an imposter, Satan, to usurp His original mandate that man should rule the earth in a benevolent way. At Jesus’ first advent, He was offering to extend His Kingdom of the heavens here upon earth. His kingdom must be spiritual, but it must be political and earthly, and it must be headquartered on Mount Zion in Jerusalem (Psalm 2:4-9; 110:1-3, 5-7). That was the whole point of the message of both John and Jesus. People needed to be transformed spiritually in order to participate in the Kingdom of the Heavens here on earth, which, in His own person, had literally drawn near to them in time and space (Matt. 3:2; 4:17)! When will that happen?
c. The Removal of the Church. At the end of the Church Age, Jesus will return for His own just as an Israeli bridegroom in the first century would come to whisk away His bride, take her to be with Him and complete the wedding celebration (John 14:1-3). We call this event the Rapture. After calling His bride the Church to His side, Jesus will purify her (Eph. 5:25-27; Col. 1:22).
11. Judgment of the Earth and Its False Messiah. At the event of the Rapture, Jesus will remove His bride, the Church from the earth to a place of safety (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:9). The Holy Spirit, indwelling the Church, will depart from the earth as the Restrainer of evil at the Rapture (2 Thess. 2:6-7). Thereafter, the world will descend into great apostasy, and the man of lawlessness will appear as the False Messiah, the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 9-11; Rev. 13; 1 John 2:18; 4:3). Because of man’s great proclivity for evil, both Jesus and God the Father will vent their wrath upon the earth (Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 19:15). This will be a time of unprecedented judgment, the time known as the Great Tribulation (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14).
12. The Return of the True Messiah. At the conclusion of the Tribulation, Jesus will return to Earth to rule as King of the entire earth (Rev. 19:11-16; Matt. 24:29-31; Zech. 14:4; Rev. 19:17-21; Matt. 25:31; Zech. 14:9; Isa. 2:2-4; 45:21-24; Zech. 14:16-17)! He will do so with power and great glory! We call this event Christ’s Second Coming.
13. The Judgment of the Survivors of the Tribulation. But only the “poor in spirit” and those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness will participate in the Kingdom of the Heavens (Matt. 5:3, 10); only the gentle will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5); and only the “pure in heart” will see God (Matt. 5:8). Jesus will sit in judgment on all survivors of the Tribulation. He will judge all Jewish people and all Gentiles. Only those Jewish people who submit to Jesus and mourn their previous execution of their own Messiah (Zech. 12:10-14) will survive Jesus’ return and subsequent judgment (Ezek. 20:33-38; Matt. 25:1-30; Luke 19:11-27). These are they who will joyfully serve Jesus as their visible Theocratic King/Priest/Prophet throughout His reign! Then will be fulfilled Paul’s prediction that all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:25-27)! The same will hold true for all the Gentiles of the Earth who survive the Tribulation and subsequent judgment by Jesus (Matt. 25:31-46)!
14. The Kingdom of Messiah upon Earth. Jesus will reign upon Earth as King of kings and Lord of lords. This was always God’s plan! Satan will be bound for a thousand years, unable to deceive people (Rev. 20:1-6). Universal peace and knowledge of the Lord will prevail during Jesus’ reign over all the earth (Zech. 14:9-11; Isa. 9:6-7; Isa. 2:1-4; Mic. 4:1-3; Psa. 22:27; Hab. 2:14; Isa. 62:1—2; 66:12-13, 23). Because this reign of Jesus lasts for one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6), we appropriately label it the Millennium.
15. The Final Revolt. Sadly, when God releases Satan from the abyss at the end of Christ’s one thousand year reign upon earth, he will deceive multitudes upon earth. They will rebel and come from the four corners of the earth to assassinate the King and destroy His capital city and His administration. But to their utter consternation, fire will come down from heaven and destroy them. Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented there forever (Rev. 20:7-10).
16. The Purging of the Universe. Satan’s ability to deceive huge portions of the earth’s population living in an almost perfect earthly environment while the King Himself is seated on His throne in Jerusalem will demonstrate for all time man’s basic incorrigibility and the utter contamination of the universe by human sin. Before God can begin His eternal Kingdom, both blights must be rectified. The existing universe must be obliterated and evil people must be permanently disposed of outside any physical universe that would replace it. This is precisely what will happen.
a. Placing all His people in a safe place, God will destroy heaven and earth in a roaring inferno (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12; Rev. 20:11).
b. Then, bereft of any material support, all the wicked dead of all the ages will appear before Jesus for the final terrible judgment. All those who appear there, their names apparently not being found in the Book of Life, will be cast forever into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone (Rev. 20:11-15).
17. The Eternal Kingdom of God upon Earth. But God will create New Heaven and New Earth, wherein dwells only righteousness (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). Then He will cause New Jerusalem to descend from Heaven down to New Earth (Rev. 21:2, 10), there to serve as Capital City of the entire New Earth. Both New Jerusalem and New Earth will be populated by the redeemed of all ages. The capital city will be the happy headquarters for the redeemed of Israel (Rev. 21:12) and of the Church (Rev. 21:9-10, 14), while the rest of mankind joyfully serve God in various pursuits and occupations on Earth (Rev. 21:24, 26). New Jerusalem and New Earth will be blissfully devoid of any evil and all evil people (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:4, 8, 27; 22:3, 15). Then God will have achieved His initial plan of having man, created in God’s image and God’s likeness, benevolently ruling over the fish, fowl, and animals of the Earth and over the Earth itself as God’s representatives. And God will forever enjoy fellowship with redeemed mankind, preserved by God in holiness and immortality forever! And all the redeemed will reign with God and His Son (Rev. 22:5), who has given the Kingdom over to God (1 Cor. 15:24), throughout the rest of eternity, unspoiled by any sin or unrighteousness whatever! Finally Jesus’ prayer will have been answered, “Come, Your Kingdom! Come to be, Your Will! – as in Heaven, so upon Earth” (Matt. 6:10, author’s literal translation).
18. Invitation. God is poised to destroy both the universe (2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 12) and sinful man (Rev. 20:15) by fire, and to create a Brand New Universe in which only righteousness and righteous people dwell (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-4). But He is patiently waiting, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:8-9). God invites you to accept, at no cost to yourself, the spring of the water of life (Rev. 21:5-7). Are you thirsty enough to take a drink? Will you, the reader, reach out and grab hold of Jesus, God’s loving sacrifice for your sins? He stands ready to enter your life (Rev. 3:20). Will you open the door? Here is a brief guide to becoming reconciled to God through Jesus.
a. I must admit I am a sinner (Romans 3:23). I have sinned, and I fall short of the goodness and glory of God. I fall far short of God’s standard of perfection.
b. I realize my sin has separated me from God. That means I am already spiritually dead. I understand that I am doomed to die physically because of my sin. I also understand that I am doomed to die a second death in the Lake of Fire because of my sin. That is what I deserve. I have earned it (Romans 6:23a).
c. I believe God loves me and sent His Son to die in my place on the cross of Calvary (Romans 5:8). He wants to give me the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b).
d. I understand that If I trust in Jesus, God’s sacrifice for my sin, God will forgive me and give me eternal life (John 3:16; Acts 10:43). I choose to trust in Jesus and to know for certain that I have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13). Thank You, God!
Prepared by James T. Bartsch
First published May, 2009. Updated May 26, 2015
Published Online by WordExplain.com
Email Contact: email@example.com
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
WordExplain by James T. Bartsch
(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Used by Permission.)
Published October 8, 2011
Updated May 27, 2015
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