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Kingdom of God

15th April 2008, mgh

 

1) The Plan with the Earth

The earth is a planet of great beauty and grandeur. From its lofty peaks to the smallest plant and creature it displays the hand of a wise and intelligent creator. The earth was made to reveal the glory of the Creator, not only in its physical wonders but eventually in humans. The earth is the one planet in the solar system that is perfectly suitable for all forms of life and provides ideal climatic conditions for the maintenance of life.

The Bible says God made this planet and the people to show his glory. To do this God will bring justice and peace to all the nations of the earth. This is the Good News of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God found in the Bible.

The Bible's Promise

God's purpose with the earth is stated in numerous passages in the Bible. Habakkuk expresses the promise in the following way.

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2: 14)

This purpose is to be achieved through the people who live and have lived on this planet and who recognise the plan and purpose that the Creator has with the earth. Isaiah states clearly that the earth was not created in vain.

“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.“ (Isaiah 45: 18)

God's final purpose is with the Earth and seeing it inhabited with people who do his will perfectly.

The Kingdom

The Lord Jesus Christ taught his disciples to pray and this prayer is known by all Christians. Take a close look at the opening of the prayer. It starts with a reverential address to the Creator and the next consideration is about the Kingdom and the end of the prayer again relates to the Kingdom.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.....For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever.” (Matthew 6: 9,13)

This prayer emphasises the importance of the Kingdom. Those who pray these words should see the importance of the understanding of the reality of the coming Kingdom and God's promise. Matthew's words show that the Kingdom was the focus of Jesus' teaching.

“Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” (Matthew 4: 23)

The Kingdom is the main theme of the Bible, from the promises to Adam, Noah, the Fathers of Israel and to King David. It is referred to by the prophets of Israel and the apostles of the New Testament.

The Kingdom of God will have international laws that provide justice for all mankind. As the Bible confirms there will be a King, God's son, the Lord Jesus Christ. who will rule from the city of Jerusalem. Isaiah writes of a future time when Jerusalem will be the centre of government.

“He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3)

The Psalmist says that Jerusalem (Zion) shall be the city of great king, indicating it is the centre of the kingdom.

“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great king.” (Psalm 48:2)

There will be one religion and one form of worship and peace will at last be brought to a world that has long suffered from devastating wars, violence, immorality and man's activities that have produced pollution and destruction of earth's resources.

For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD;

joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgement to rest for a light of the people. My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. (Isaiah 51: 3-5)

These words of Isaiah about peace and righteousness for the future to the nation of Israel also include other people and nations. It is a promise of peace for the earth, an end to oppression, hunger and famine. justice for all people and laws to prevent violence and immorality.

2) A Kingdom

A Kingdom requires a country and a king.

The Kingdom of Israel

Because of the great faith of Abraham in God, promises were given to him that his seed (multitudinous) would become a great nation, which was Israel, and through his seed (singular), all nations of the earth would be blessed. His seed was the nation of Israel, but because of the disobedience of the people they were scattered and the nation destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. Through the work of Jesus (seed singular), Israel's promised Messiah, the hope of the Kingdom was offered to the Gentiles through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ who was the offering for sins. He was the first to be raised to life eternal, which is the promise to the faithful of life in the Kingdom of God.

Some Jews did recognise Jesus as their Messiah and they were to become the first Christians. Famous followers of Jesus such as Paul, Peter and John were among those who took the hope of the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles. Jesus' disciples were promised a special role in the Kingdom as explained in Matthew's gospel.

“Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19: 28)

This promise requires the resurrection of the disciples who all died in hope of the Kingdom and also the revival of Israel as a nation, which occurred 1948. For a fulfilment of this promise we await the return of Jesus to the earth when the dead will be raised.

The future Kingdom

Before the Kingdom is established there will be judgements on the nations. The nations will gather against Israel and Jesus Christ will destroy the invaders, when he returns to the earth. (see Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 38) There will be a major earthquake in Jerusalem that will have widespread disastrous consequences. Some nations will challenge Christ, but there will be judgements upon those nations. There will be a resurrection and those who have been judged faithful will be granted eternal life, that is immortality. Those who are alive at Jesus' return will if faithful and waiting Jesus' return will be granted eternal life.

In the Kingdom there will be two classes of people. The rulers will be immortal and include Jesus as king and great worthies of old such as David, Abraham, the prophets, the apostles and the faithful from all ages. They are those who have been faithful and obedient to God's commandments. Those who have survived the war and devastation of the earthquake will constitute the mortal population which will still be subject to death.

The Kingdom will last a thousand years at the end of which time there will be a resurrection and judgement of those mortals who lived during the thousand years. After this wonderful period of peace there will still be those who oppose the rule of Jesus and these will be destroyed and we are told the following by Paul in 1 Corinthians.

“Then comes the end, when he (Jesus) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death... And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15: 24-28)

This is the climax of the Creator's purpose with the earth, where there will be men and women who are immortal, possessing the attributes that reflect the character of Jesus.

“As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” (Numbers 14: 21)

3) A Vision of the Kingdom

One of the most famous and faithful of the kings of Israel, David, wrote many Psalms and his final words express his expectations of the Kingdom to come. He knew that it was a disant vision and that although it would not occur in his lifetime, he would be resurrected to see its glory. The opening verse of Psalm 72 speaks of the king's son (see below). Jesus Christ was from the kingly line and was a direct descendent of King David of Israel. David says this son will bring a time of peace and righteous judgement.

Give the king thy judgements, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgement. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. (Psalm 72: 1-4)

The next section describes the extent of this king's power. That there will be peace is again emphasised and all the kings of the earth are subject to him. His rule extends from “sea to sea” and to the “ends of the earth” and “all nations shall serve him.”

They shall fear you as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endures. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.(Psalm 72: 5- 11)

It then follows that the King will attend to the needs of the people, who will be protected from violence and their daily needs provided, so that there will be no hunger or poverty.

For he shall deliver the needy when he cries; the poor also, and him that has no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight. And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised. (Psalm 72: 12- 15)

The earth will provide an abundance of food.

There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. (Psalm 72: 16- 17)

King David acknowledges that it is the Creator alone who can achieve these outcomes and it is to Him that all praise and thanks are due. The Psalm concludes with the theme that is frequently repeated in the Bible. David's final prayer is that “the whole earth be filled with his glory.” An earth at peace without violence, wars, hunger, pollution and immorality is beyond this world's capabilities and can only be achieved by God's intervention in the affairs of men and the return of Jesus Christ His son to establish a righteous rule in the earth.

Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.(Psalm 72: 18- 20)

The promise is that the Creator will ultimately establish the Kingdom of God on this earth with a wonderful king. He said through Isaiah,

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor Powerful Mighty Everlasting Father Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

The New Testament says this king is Jesus. In the closing chapter of the Bible Jesus states that he is the son of David and that he will return.

“I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star....Surely I come quickly. Amen”. (Revelation 22: 16, 20)
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