Bible Truth Examiner


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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

OUR subject is very prominent in the Scriptures. The Old Testament is filled with promises and prophecies of the Kingdom of God; and its King, Messiah, is at its center. Every Israelite had the hope that God would exalt their nation under Messiah, and when our Lord came, it was as their King (Luke 3: 15).

John the Baptist, the herald of our Lord Jesus, opened his mission by announcing, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3: 2). The Lord opened His ministry with the same announcement (Matthew 4: 17), and the apostles were sent out with the same message (Matthew 10: 7) (Luke 9: 2). The Kingdom was our Lord’s main topic (Luke 8: 1) (Luke 4: 43) (Luke 19: 11), and the majority of His parables were illustrations of the Kingdom.

Our Lord’s talks with His followers were given to strengthen and encourage their expectations of a coming kingdom (Luke 22: 29, 30) (Luke 12: 32). But when He was crucified instead of being enthroned, His disciples were sorely disappointed. Thinking He was a stranger, two of them expressed their sad disappointment to Him on the road to Emmaus. Jesus then opened their understanding, showing them from the Scriptures that His sacrifice was needful first, before the Kingdom could be established (Luke 24: 21, 25-27).

Ransom Precedes Kingdom Blessings

Had God given the dominion of earth to Jesus without redeeming man, the blessings would have been merely temporary, since all mankind were under condemnation to death. But God had a better design – to ransom the race from death, and make the blessings of His Kingdom everlasting and complete.

Jesus revived the hope of His disciples of a coming Kingdom; as He was about to leave them, they inquired, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” He responded, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1: 6, 7).

The Jewish nation thought that God’s Kingdom was to be exclusively an earthly kingdom, even as many err today in supposing it to be exclusively a heavenly kingdom. But Jesus always expressed the idea of a kingdom to be established in the earth and to rule among men. He inspired them to hope for a share in the Kingdom, and taught them to pray for its establishment – “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done IN EARTH, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 10).

The worldly-wise among the Jews thought of our Lord as a fanatic and imposter and His disciples as mere dupes. To them His claim to establish a kingdom which would rule the world, and that His followers would be joint-rulers with Him in that kingdom seemed absurd.

The Pharisees, hoping to expose the supposed weakness of our Lord asked, “When will this kingdom appear?” “When will your soldiers arrive?”, etc. (Luke 17: 20-30). He answered that when His kingdom would come, it would be everywhere present and powerful, yet invisible. He was describing the spiritual phase of the Kingdom, which would be set up first.

Perhaps due to the Pharisees’ critical attitude, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to Jesus by night, anxious for an understanding of this mystery, but ashamed to publicly acknowledge his interest. Their conversation gives insight into the character of the Kingdom (John 3). Jesus explained that God requires obedience to the light already possessed before more light is given, and to be worthy of the Kingdom requires faith.

Difference Between Begotten and Born of the Spirit

Jesus spoke about being begotten of the spirit, which follows consecration, in verses 3 and 7. (In both verses, the word born should properly be translated begotten.) He also spoke about being born of the spirit in verses 5, 6 and 8, which takes place at the resurrection for members of the Kingdom’s spiritual phase. They will all be as invisible as the wind, and men will neither know whence they came nor whither they go.

In one sense the Church has been the Kingdom of God throughout the Gospel Age, but it has only been an embryo Kingdom, a work of grace in the hearts of consecrated believers hoping for a share in the future Kingdom, when the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Luke 11: 2). Christ’s Kingdom shall be “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (Psalm 72: 8). All nations “shall serve and obey Him,” and unto Him “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth” (Daniel 7: 27) (Philippians 2: 10).

Our Lord’s parables show that the setting up of the Kingdom of God in power is future, and not until the King comes. The parable of the young nobleman going into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return, etc. (Luke 19: 11-15), locates its establishment at Christ’s return.

Yet even in the apostles’ day some in the Church began appropriating the promises of future honor and power to the present life, and began acting as though the time had come for the world to honor, and even obey the Church. The Apostle Paul wrote to correct this error; he perceived the injurious effect of cultivating pride and leading away from sacrifice. He reminded them that if the Church’s reign had begun, he would also be reigning, but the fact that he was suffering for the Truth, proved their reign to be premature and a snare (1 Corinthians 4: 10-17) (2 Timothy 4: 8).

After much persecution, theories began spreading that the Church’s mission was to conquer the world, establish the Kingdom on earth and reign over the nations before the Lord’s Second Advent. This laid the foundation for worldly pride, ostentatious show and ceremony in the Church, designed to impress and captivate the world. The Papacy claimed that as God’s kingdom on earth, it had a right to command obedience to its laws and officers by every kindred, nation and people. Under this false claim Papacy for a time crowned and uncrowned the kings of Europe.

This idea was eventually adopted by Protestantism – that somehow the Church’s reign is in progress – in contrast to the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles, who taught that there can be no kingdom until the King comes (Revelation 20: 6) (Revelation 3: 21) (2 Timothy 2: 12).

Two Phases of the Kingdom of God

When God’s Kingdom is fully set up, it will consist of two parts: a spiritual or heavenly phase, and an earthly or human phase. The spiritual phase will be invisible to men, for those composing it will be of the divine, spiritual nature, which no man hath seen nor can see (1 Timothy 6: 16) (John 1: 18). Its presence and power will be manifested chiefly through its human representatives, who will compose the earthly phase of the Kingdom.

The spiritual phase of the Kingdom of God consists of the overcoming saints of the Gospel Age – the Christ, Head and body. Their resurrection and exaltation precedes all others, because through this class all others will be blessed (Hebrews 11: 39, 40). Their resurrection is called the first resurrection (Revelation 20: 5), first in time as well as first in priority. Their work pertains not only to this world, but to all things in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28: 18) (Colossians 1: 20) (Ephesians 1: 10) (Philippians 2: 10) (1 Corinthians 6: 3).

The earthly phase of God’s Kingdom will be confined to this world and to humanity, and will consist of those whose judgment day was prior to the Gospel Age. These will receive an instantaneous resurrection to perfection as men, and will be fully prepared to act as the human agents of the Christ class, in restoring and blessing the remainder of mankind. Being seen of men, the glory of their perfection will serve as an example and incentive to other men to attain the same perfection. That these ancient worthies will be seen by men is proven by Jesus’ words to the unbelieving Jews: “Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13: 28) – note that Jesus does not mention that He or the Apostles would be visible with Abraham.

Harmonious Operation of Heavenly and Earthly Phases

We know not the details as to how the two phases of the Kingdom will operate together harmoniously, but an illustration of how they may operate, is found in God’s dealings with Israel through their representatives, such as Moses, Aaron, Joshua, the prophets, etc. The coming manifestations of divine power, however, will far exceed those of the typical Jewish Age, for the work of the coming Age will encompass awakening the dead and restoring the obedient to perfection. That great work will require a perfect government, with perfect men in positions of control, to rightly order the affairs of state. Proper educational facilities and various philanthropic measures will be put in place. The Ancient Worthies will be given that noble work and high honor of elevating the race (under the direction of the Kingdom’s spiritual members), and soon they will receive the honor and cooperation of all men.

When the great restitution work is complete (largely through those human representatives), these ancient worthies will shine as “the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12: 3), and will be held in everlasting remembrance (Psalm 112: 6). But the glory of the heavenly phase will excel, for they will shine forth as the brightness of the firmament – the sun (Daniel 12: 3). The mind cannot conceive of the Christ’s glory through the countless ages of eternity (Romans 8: 18) (Ephesians 2: 7-12).

The promise to Abraham will be fulfilled in the Kingdom’s two phases (Genesis 22: 17, 18) – an earthly and a heavenly seed, though Abraham saw only the earthly seed. The nation of Israel was the first to be offered the chief, spiritual blessing, though but few accepted the offer (the Apostles and others). 

The Apostle Paul speaks of the Abrahamic Covenant as a root out of which fleshly Israel grew naturally, but into which the Gentile believers were grafted when the natural branches were cut off because of unbelief (Romans 11: 17). This proves the double fulfillment of the promise in the development of the two seeds – the earthly and the heavenly – the two phases of the Kingdom. In order of development, it was first the natural (earthly), afterward the heavenly rulers, but in order of greatness of position and time of installment, it will be first the spiritual, afterward the natural. There are last which shall be first, and first which shall be last (Matthew 19: 30) (Luke 13: 30).

The promise to Abraham was earthly; he and his seed were promised possession of the land. Though still unfulfilled, this promise must yet be fulfilled (Acts 7: 4) (Genesis 13: 14-17). The Apostle indicates that the earthly promises to the Ancient Worthies cannot be fulfilled until the higher promises to the Christ class are fulfilled (Hebrews 11: 13, 39, 40).

Israel the First Nation to come into Harmony with the New Order

Many Scriptural statements indicate that the nation of Israel will be the first to come into harmony with the new order of things in the times of restitution. Jerusalem will be rebuilt and their government will be restored as it was when they were under their princes and judges (Isaiah 1: 26) (Psalm 45: 16) (Jeremiah 30: 18). Their trust in the long unfulfilled promises, and measureable obedience to the law, will favor their speedy harmony with the principles of the new government.

God’s Kingdom is symbolized by the New Jerusalem. At first it will only consist of the spiritual class, however, when the present empires break in pieces, the earthly phase will be established. In the light which will shine from this glorious City of God, the nations will walk on the highway of holiness, up to perfection and harmony with God (Revelation 21: 24).

When mankind attains perfection at the close of the Millennial Age, they will be admitted into the Kingdom of God and given control of the earth – each man being a king (Revelation 21: 24-26). None, however, will be permitted entrance who has not been thoroughly tested, who would work deceit and unrighteousness (Matthew 25: 34).

The glory of the Kingdom’s earthly phase, as represented in Jerusalem, is spoken of by the prophets in the following Scriptures: (Isaiah 52: 9) (Isaiah 65: 18) (Isaiah 66: 10-12) (Jeremiah 3: 17) and (Isaiah 2: 3).

Let us remember that Israel as a people is typical, as well as actual. In one respect, they are typical of the whole world of mankind, and their Law Covenant is typical of the New Covenant to be established with the world during the Millennial and future Ages.

The blood of atonement under their typical covenant, and the priesthood which applied it to that nation, typified the blood of the New Covenant and the Royal Priesthood (the Christ) which will, during the Millennial Age, apply its cleansings and blessings to the whole world.

Gentiles also to be Blest

Future blessings will be to the Jew first, but also to the Gentiles. Ultimately, every blessing promised to Israel, except those pertaining to the elect classes, will have its actual fulfillment in that people, and its antitypical fulfillment in all the families of the earth (Romans 2: 6, 10, 11).

The Apostle shows that Israel as a nation lost the chief blessing, the high calling to the divine nature and joint-heirship with Jesus, because of unbelief. The nominal Christian Church also failed in this respect, nevertheless, a little flock from among the called ones, makes its calling and election sure through obedience (2 Thessalonians 2: 13) (1 Peter 1: 2). 

But Paul shows that Israel did not lose all favor, for they had the same privilege of being grafted into Christ, if it was accepted by faith (Romans 11: 23, 24). He further argues that even though the nation of Israel was cast off from favor during the Gospel Age, divine favor will yet return to fleshly Israel, and the glorious Deliverer will turn away ungodliness from Jacob (fleshly Israel), and so all Israel shall be saved [recovered to favor] (Romans 11: 25-33).

Heirs of the Kingdom

Psalm 24: 3, 4: “Who shall ascend into the hill [literally mountain, symbol of kingdom] of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place [temple]? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.”

The city of Jerusalem was built upon a double mountain top, which was separated into two parts by the Tyropoeon Valley, yet it was one city, surrounded by one wall, with bridges connecting the two divisions. The Temple was built on one of the mountain tops which might be understood to symbolize the one Kingdom of God with its two phases – the spiritual temple not being of earthly origin, separate from, yet united with the earthly phase.

David seems to refer to these two places. It was an honor to be of the city, and an even greater honor to ascend into the holy temple, the sacred parts of which only the priests were permitted to enter. David shows that purity of life and honesty of heart are essential for any who would attain either honor. Joint-heirs with Christ were required to be pure in intention, reckoned as actually pure, with Christ’s imputed purity supplying their unavoidable deficiencies.

But purity, sincerity and entire consecration to God are essential to all who would enter God’s Kingdom in either phase. The Ancient Worthies, who will inherit the earthly phase, loved righteousness and hated iniquity. The same will apply when the spirit of God will be poured for all flesh. The overcomers of that Age will eventually need to attain actual purity in order to be admitted into God’s Kingdom, prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

The Iron Rule

The regulations of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom will be very exacting. The liberty of the people will be restricted to a degree that will be galling to many who now clamor for more liberty. Liberty to do wrong will be strictly prohibited. The only liberty allowed will be liberty to do good. Nothing will be permitted to hurt or destroy in all that Holy Kingdom (Isaiah 11: 9) (Romans 8: 21). Many will feel that rule too severe, for it will break up former habits, customs and the institutions that have been founded upon these false habits and ideas of liberty. Because of its firmness, it is symbolically called an iron rule (Revelation 2: 26, 27) (Psalm 2: 8-12).

Many will feel rebellious, having been accustomed in the past, under the rule of the present prince, to lord it over their fellows. A present life of self-indulgence and gratification will naturally demand many and severe stripes before such learn the lessons of that kingdom (Psalm 89: 32) (Luke 12: 47, 48).

But the masses of mankind will learn that “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14: 34). They will learn that God’s plan and laws are best in the end for all, and ultimately they will learn to love righteousness and hate iniquity (Psalm 45: 7) (Hebrews 1: 9). All who do not learn to love righteousness will be unworthy of life, and will be cut off from among the people (Acts 3: 23) (Revelation 20: 9) (Psalm 11: 5-7).

The Kingdom Everlasting

“The Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day” (Zechariah 14: 9). Though the Millennial Kingdom will be God’s, it will be established under the direct control of Christ, as His Vicegerent. This will be similar to the way the United States government dealt with the Southern states after the Rebellion. The Southern states for a while were not permitted to govern themselves by electing their own officers, lest they should not conform to the Constitutional laws of the Union. Governors, with full power to act, were empowered to reconstruct those state governments and bring them back into harmony with the central government.

Likewise, Christ’s reign over the earth is for a limited time and for a particular purpose, and will terminate when that purpose is accomplished. Through rebellion, man forfeited his God-given rights, including self-government in harmony with God’s laws. God redeems those rights, through Christ, and secures the right for man to return, not only to his former estate, but also to his former office as king of earth. To accomplish this, man will be required to work toward his own recovery, which will require a strong and perfect government. This honor of completing man’s recovery is conferred upon Christ, the right to which He died to secure. “He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” – until none exist who do not recognize, honor and obey Him. Then, having accomplished His mission of restoring mankind, He will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, and mankind will deal directly with God, as at first – the mediation of the man Christ Jesus having accomplished the grand work of reconciliation (1 Corinthians 15: 24-28).

Mankind, then capable of rendering perfect obedience, will enjoy everlasting blessedness under God’s perfect law, in perfect harmony with his Creator. Men will again be given the dominion of the earth, as the Father’s representatives (Matthew 25: 34).

When the special intervention of the Christ over earth will terminate, Christ and His Bride and joint-heir will forever share His increasing glory. What wonderful works in other worlds await this highly exalted Agent of God, we cannot imagine, other than to suggest the infinitude and activity of divine power, and the boundlessness of the universe.

The Kingdom is “the desire of all nations,” for under it all will be blessed. All then, may earnestly long for that time, and all may well pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is what the whole creation has long been groaning and waiting – the manifestation of the sons of God, the Kingdom which will crush out evil and bless and heal all nations (Romans 8: 19) (Romans 16: 20).