The prominent theme woven throughout the Old and New Testament is the Kingdom of God and its ruler, Messiah. Because of all the promises and prophecies pointing toward the exaltation of their nation under Messiah, the Kingdom was the hope and “expectation” of every Israelite (Luke 3:15).
John the Baptist, forerunner of our Lord Jesus, announced to Israel, “Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus himself “went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God” (Luke 8:1). All his parables taught the Kingdom theme from various standpoints. His lessons included the need of entire consecration to God, in order to share with Jesus in administering the Kingdom (Matthew 19:27,28; Luke 14:27-35; Matthew 22:37). The Apostles were then sent forth to preach the same message (Matthew 10:7; Luke 9:2).
A Ransom Provided Before the Kingdom
Jesus encouraged his followers, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). He specifically promised his disciples, “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may ... sit on thrones judging [ruling] the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29,30). How saddened and disappointed they were that, instead of being enthroned as king, Jesus was crucified! As the two on the road to Emmaus said to him, whom they supposed was a stranger, we had “trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel” (Luke 24:21, 25-27). Then Jesus opened their eyes by explaining from the Scriptures that first his sacrifice was necessary before his Kingdom could be established.
God could have given Jesus the dominion of earth without redeeming man. “The Most High ruleth [over] the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he [pleaseth]” (Daniel 4:32), but in that case any blessings for the world would be temporary. For man to receive everlasting life, he must be first legally redeemed from the penalty of death.
When Jesus was about to ascend back to heaven, with hopes revived, the apostles enquired, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” The Lord did not respond, “Israel?—they just crucified me!” Instead Jesus’ answer did not contradict their hopes but simply said, “It is not for you to know the times and seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:6,7). His answer clearly implied a future time for the establishment of his Kingdom.
Earthly and Heavenly
At first the disciples, in common with the entire Jewish nation, had an imperfect concept of the Kingdom. They thought it was only an earthly Kingdom, just as many today err in the opposite direction, thinking it is only heavenly. But Jesus taught both. His faithful disciples would rule with him from heaven, and that rule would be exerted over all the earth (John 14:3; Luke 19:17). For this reason Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Heavenly Kingdom Invisible
The worldly-wise considered Jesus an imposter and fanatic and his followers mere dupes. They could not explain his astonishing words or miracles, but it seemed absurd to them that Jesus would inherit, rule, and bless the world. His followers—fishermen and common folk—seemed no match for the empire of Rome.
The Pharisees, hoping to expose Jesus' claims and undeceive his followers, demanded to know when this Kingdom would make its appearance. They asked, “When will your soldiers arrive?” “He answered ... 'The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst'” (Luke 17:20-21 NAS). Jesus here describes the spiritual phase of the Kingdom. It was that which he introduced, and to which he called people. The Pharisees, whom Jesus styled “hypocrites,” were unable to understand this (Ephesians 4:4; Luke 16:16; 1 Corinthians 2:14).
There was some truth to the Jewish expectation of an Earthly Kingdom, and this will be realized in due time, but first the Heavenly Kingdom must be set up. Its presence will be invisible, and for a time unrecognized; but, when fully established, it will be everywhere present, ruling and powerful. Its effects will be clearly seen in the Earthly Kingdom.
The Questions of Nicodemus
One Pharisee, however, called Nicodemus, came to Jesus privately at night, anxious to solve the mystery of the Kingdom weighing on his mind. The conversation between the Lord and Nicodemus, (John 3) recorded in part, gives more insight into the Kingdom of God and may be paraphrased as follows:
Nicodemus—“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God is with him.” Yet, you and your disciples claim, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” while you have no army or power! When and how will this Kingdom be established?
Jesus—I can answer your question about the Kingdom, but still you would not understand. “Except a man be begotten* from above, he cannot see** [know or be acquainted with] the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus, even my disciples have much to learn about the Kingdom they are proclaiming! I cannot tell them more for the same reason I cannot tell you. Our Father requires obedience to the enlightenment already possessed before more light is given. Those worthy of sharing in that Kingdom need to walk by faith—sometimes seeing only one step in advance clearly.
*The Greek word is gennao, Strong's Concordance word number 1080. It can be rendered either “begotten” or “born,” according to the context. Both concepts are included, for a birth implies a previous begettal, and a begettal leads to a birth. (The English word “generated,” as applied to new life, would be similar.)
When gennao is associated with a male, it is usually begotten—when associated with a female, it is usually born. (Thus in 1 John 2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 18 it should be begotten, because God, masculine, is the active agent.)
However, sometimes the translation depends instead on the nature of the act. Thus when it is used with ek, meaning from or out of, it should be translated “born.” (As in John 3:5,6, “out of water,” “out of flesh,” “out of spirit.”)
** The Greek word for “see” here is eido, Strong's Concordance word number 1482, “to see (literally or figuratively),for “to know.” For example, “consider” (Acts 15:6).
Nicodemus—But what do you mean? “How can a man be begotten when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” I notice your disciples, like John the Baptist’s, preach and baptize in water regularly. Is this baptism a symbolic birth, somehow necessary to see or enter your Kingdom?
Jesus—Our nation is a consecrated nation, baptized into Moses “in the sea” and “in the cloud” when they left Egypt (1 Corinthians 10:1,2). God accepted our nation in Moses as mediator of our covenant at Sinai. But this covenant has been forgotten. Many are openly sinners; others are self-righteous hypocrites. That is why John and my disciples preach repentance!
But more than this is necessary. You must also receive a begetting and birth of the spirit, in order to see my Kingdom. Repentance will bring you back to a justified condition—then you will be able to recognize me as Messiah, the greater Moses. When one receives me, and consecrates their life to do God's will, then one is begotten to a new life by our Father. After developing as a new creature, one will be “born” in the first resurrection. Then one will both see and share in the Kingdom.
The change to this new birth of the Spirit is truly great, Nicodemus. What is born of the Spirit is spirit. Let me illustrate: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 NAS). In the resurrection they will “enter into” or become part of the Kingdom administration. They will be like the wind—powerful, yet invisible.
Nicodemus—How can this be? Invisible beings?
Jesus—Now, Nicodemus, surely as a well studied Pharisee you know that spirit beings can be present, yet invisible. Remember Elisha and his servant as well as Balaam's ass. Spirit beings were present, yet invisible. Angels are invisible spirit beings. As I told you, except a man be begotten from above, he cannot understand the Kingdom of God.
To become a joint-heir with me in this Kingdom, you must follow the light step by step. You acknowledge me to be a teacher come from God, but with all my preaching and miracles, you have not acted on your faith and openly become one of my followers. What I have taught with earthly illustrations, such as the wind, has not brought understanding or conviction, so “how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (verses12,13) I know of what I speak, for I alone have descended from heaven and no man has ever ascended to heaven. The knowledge of heavenly things can only be received with the begetting of the Spirit. Heavenly things themselves can only be experienced when “born” as a spirit being (verses 3, 6).
Kingdom Now a “Little Flock”
Jesus as Messiah first offered participation in his Kingdom to “his own” Jewish nation (John 1:11, 12, but only a “remnant” of Israel accepted (Romans 11:5). Later, after his resurrection, the call was extended to the Gentiles at the conversion of Cornelius. Still, even after including Gentiles, it is only a “Little Flock” who will appreciate the privilege of joint-heirship in God’s Kingdom.
Today a third of the world are called Christians. But most of these are “tares,” not the true “wheat” of the Lord's flock. The Kingdom of God is not composed of tares. However there is a work of grace now in the hearts of believers, within the true Church. And there is a sense in which the true Church now is the Kingdom of God.
But ultimately the Kingdom will become worldwide. Christ will rule “from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth” (Psalms 72:8), “all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:27), for “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:10).
Now the “prince of this world” rules a kingdom of “darkness” (John 16:11; Colossians 1:13). But when the Kingdom of God is established, Satan will be thoroughly bound “that he should deceive the nations no more” (Revelation 20:3). Then the Kingdom will be set up “in power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). The truth will become worldwide (1 Timothy 2:4, Jeremiah 31:34), and all will recognize the righteous authority of our Lord Jesus (Isaiah 25:9).
Kingdom Established When Jesus Returns
The parables of our Lord Jesus clearly teach that the Kingdom is established after the return of Christ. At first the disciples “thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear,” so Jesus gave a parable to explain there would be a lengthy delay. “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (Luke 1911,12).
The promise to us, who hope to reign with Christ, is “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”—not in this life, but in the next (Revelation 2:10, 5:10). Only “If we suffer” with Jesus will we “also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12).
By contrast, the nominal church often seeks friendship with the world. They consider temporal prosperity a sign of God's favor. Jesus warned, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23). James said, God has “chosen the poor of this world rich in faith ... heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” (James 2:5).
Embryo Kingdom Now in Preparation
The true Church at present is not the Kingdom of God set up in power and glory, but is only in its embryo condition, developing faith, knowledge, patience, love. If we “give diligence to make [our] calling and election sure,” then we will receive an abundant entrance “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10, 11).
Jesus is our king now, and we accept his lordship now. In this sense we have already been “translated ... into the kingdom of his dear son” (Colossians 1:13). Paul refers to the kingdom in a similar way: “The kingdom of God is ... righteousness, and peace, and joy in the holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). These texts refer to the blessings we enjoy now. But in time, when the Church is complete in glory, the Kingdom of God will extend to the entire world under the reign of Christ and his Church.
The promises of Kingdom honor and joint-heirship with Christ are strong incentives to us for faithfulness under present trials and persecution. As the letters to the churches in Revelation repeatedly affirm, only overcomers in this present life will gain Kingdom honors in the next life. “He that overcometh ... to him will I give power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26; 20:6). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
The Worldly, Premature Kingdom
Human nature seeks to avoid suffering and is ever ready to grasp honor and power. Even in the Apostles' day some began to claim the future honors for the present life. “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us” (1 Corinthians 4:8). The effect was toward pride, and away from sacrifice.
Meanwhile Paul, and other faithful ones, were still “fools for Christ's sake...despised... made as the filth of the world” (1 Corinthians 4:10-17). If the promised reign had begun, Paul reasoned, why was he not reigning also? The saints do not reign in this life. They enter their royal authority at their resurrection. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
The early Church endured much persecution under Pagan Rome, but after faithfully enduring much tribulation, theories began to spread that the mission of the Church was to conquer the world, establish the kingdom, and reign over the nations before the Lord's return. Compromises with Paganism were made to ease the Christian’s way. This led to great ceremony, pomp and show to impress the worldly. The wheat field planted by Jesus and his Apostles became overgrown with false wheat—“tares” (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-42).
Step by step the Church rose in secular authority. During the Fourth Century, it began uniting with the kings of earth, instead of waiting for Christ's return. For centuries Papacy herself crowned and uncrowned the kings of Europe, and her various Protestant “daughters” sought to imitate her political influence. Those systems also have more or less claimed that the reign of the Church is in progress. Alas, when Christ returns to “stand at the door [figuratively],” he finds the nominal church thinking she is “rich,” although she is spiritually “poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17-20).
Any thoughtful observer can see a great difference in the view of Christendom, aspiring to earthly riches and authority, and the teaching of Jesus and the apostles, that the Kingdom and its honors follow the return of Christ and our resurrection to glory.
Two Phases of the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God does not come at first with outward show or “observation” (Luke 17:20). The spiritual part will always be invisible to man. When fully set up, however, the Kingdom will also include an earthly visible phase. The presence and power of the spiritual phase will then be made known chiefly through its human representation.
Those of the spiritual phase of the Kingdom are the overcoming saints of the Gospel Age—the Christ, Head and Body—glorified. Their resurrection is the “first resurrection” because it precedes all others and because through them all others are to be blessed.
“They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev 20:4-6 nas).
The italicized phrase, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed,” was added sometime during the Fifth Century. (The phrase is not found in the oldest and most reliable Greek manuscripts—the Sinaitic, Vatican #1209 and #1160, nor the Syriac.) It was evidently copied into the text by accident from a marginal note, and is not an authentic part of scripture for no manuscript dated earlier than the fifth century contains it. Additionally, this phrase would contradict the clear testimony of Scripture that the purpose of the Millennial Age is to give everyone a full opportunity for life again, including the dead of past ages, who must be raised during the Millennium to have that opportunity.
Those who come “to life” to reign attain the “first resurrection.” All the rest of mankind are raised during—not after—the Thousand-Year Kingdom for the purpose of their restoration. Their resurrection (Strong’s #386 anastasis, “a standing up again”) will be a gradual re-standing to regain the fullness of life lost by father Adam in the Earthly Kingdom.
Ancient Worthies Resurrected As Leaders
The “Ancient Worthies” are those men and women of faith who lived before Christ opened a “new and living way” to “glory and honor and immortality” (Hebrews 10:20, Romans 2:7). These include people like Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Samson, David, Samuel, Rahab and the Prophets. “These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise” (Hebrews 11:39). As men and women of proven faith, they will not be brought forth to judgment again, but will be raised as perfect human beings at the outset of the Kingdom.
Their leadership and example will inspire the world. They will be models of perfection for the world to see. As the world comes up from their graves with their handicaps and challenges, they will see the potential of perfect life exhibited in the Ancient Worthies. These Ancient Worthies will be the human representatives of the Heavenly Kingdom of God on earth.
We are not given explicit information as to the exact manner in which these two phases of the Heavenly Kingdom will operate, but we know that after the final removal of the kingdoms of this world, and the binding of Satan, these divinely honored agents of God will lead the world to a better future. The world will quickly learn to cooperate with them, follow their lead, and progress up the “way of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8).
The Ancient Worthies as perfect men will establish a perfect government. Well planned educational and charitable works will promote every aspect of human welfare. The wealth of the world will multiply and be distributed equitably among all who cooperate. The Ancient Worthies will draw upon the wisdom from above, and the human race will be elevated step by step, back to life, health, blessing, and ultimately to perfection.
As people have God's law written “in their inward parts ... their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33), every noble desire and ambition may be gratified. It will be glorious and satisfying. When the work of restitution is complete, at the end of a thousand years, the whole human race will stand approved, without spot or wrinkle, in the presence of God—excepting the few incorrigible, who will be removed (Matthew 25:46, Revelation 21:8).
The work and labor of the Ancient Worthies will never be forgotten by their grateful fellows. They will shine as “the stars forever and ever” and be held in everlasting remembrance (Daniel 12:3; Psalms 112:6). The saints in glory will “shine forth as the sun” (Matthew 13:43). The honors of heaven and earth will be laid at the feet of Christ and his heavenly “bride” class, and ages of eternal blessing will lie ahead (Romans 8:18; Ephesians 2:7-14).
First the “Stars,” Then the “Sand”
That God intended to establish both a heavenly and an earthly phase of the Kingdom was suggested as far back as God's promise to Abraham. “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven [spiritual], and as the sand which is upon the sea shore [earthly]; ... and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:17; 26:4). Abraham probably understood only the earthly promises, but God had in mind the superior heavenly promises as well—favor upon favor.
The Abrahamic Covenant was a root of promise. From this root grew fleshly Israel—but later Gentile believers were grafted in also, when the natural branches were cut off because of unbelief (Romans 11:17-21, 25-32). The spiritual branches are developed during the present Gospel Age, but there will also be earthly branches developed during the Millennial Age.
While natural Israel, the branches, which grew during the Jewish Age, appeared first, the spiritual branches of the Gospel Age will receive the greater honor and glory in the Kingdom. So it will be that “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30).
The earthly promises to the Ancient Worthies cannot be fulfilled until the higher promises to the heavenly Seed are completed. “These all [Ancient Worthies] died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them ... God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:13, 39,40).
After Jesus sacrificed his life on Calvary's cross, he was highly exalted in heavenly glory. The overcoming Church join him, first in suffering and sacrifice, then in the glory to follow. As “heirs according to the promise” of Abraham, they receive the chief blessing (Galatians 3:29). Then, when the heavenly class is completed, the blessings of God will flow through them to all others.
Israel—a “Light to the Nations”
The earthly channel of the Kingdom blessings will flow through Israel. Around this fact cluster the many prophecies which relate to the prominence of that nation in God’s plan.
- “I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them ... I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God” (Amos 9:14, 15).
- “...it is too small a thing that you should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6 NAS).
- “And it will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing” (Zechariah 8:13 NAS).
- “In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout; And they will fill the whole world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6 NAS).
- “...Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem ... ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah 8:22, 23).
The children of Israel will be the first in the Kingdom to recognize and cooperate with the fathers of faith—Abraham, Moses, David, and others―who will be “princes in all the earth” (Psalms 45:16). “And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning: afterward thou [Jerusalem] shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city” (Isaiah 1:26).
Israel, by training under the Law, with a heritage of respect for the Ancient Worthies of the Old Testament, will be prepared for a speedy acceptance of the Kingdom, its new laws and rulers. Because they are children of the patriarchs, to whom God's covenants were given, they will have the special privilege to represent the Kingdom of God to the world.
Jerusalem—”City of Peace”
Jerusalem, “the city of the Great King,” was the seat of empire in the typical kingdom of God, and it will be again when the Kingdom of God is established during the Millennium (Psalms 48:2; Matthew 5:35).
The Church complete, ready to rule with Christ to bless the world, is depicted in Revelation 21:2 as “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Thus “Jerusalem” from above, and Jerusalem below, constitute the two phases of the one Heavenly Kingdom to govern the world. It will be the government Abraham looked for, “which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, NAS). This government is founded upon the “rock” of the righteousness of Christ, the value of man’s ransom which he gave, and the firmness of divine justice that can no more condemn the redeemed than it could previously excuse the guilty (Romans 8:31-34; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
Glorious City of Peace! whose “walls” signify “Salvation” (Isaiah 60:18) and protection and blessing to all who enter, and whose foundation is laid in justice, which can never be moved. As the people walk upward on the “Highway of Holiness” toward perfection in the Kingdom, they will become “kings,” sovereigns of earth as was Adam. “And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it” (Rev 21:24-26 nas). John, in his vision, saw the people walking in the light of the New Jerusalem, but none who would defile it by working deceit or unrighteousness could enter. No matter how good or how evil their present life has been, all will have an opportunity to inherit the kingdom. But, each will first be thoroughly tested and proved before they receive the invitation, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
As the world turns to righteousness, and fills the kingdom, it will expand to fill the world. “New Jerusalem” which comes out of heaven admits through its gates the redeemed world, and thus expands to include the entire earthly kingdom as well. Thus “Jerusalem,” mentioned by the prophets, has a wide application.
Many Old Testament prophecies use the city of Jerusalem to symbolize the future glories and splendor of the Kingdom of God established in the earth.
● “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem” (Isaiah 52:9).
●”Behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy” (Isaiah 65:18).
●”Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her...that ye may ... be delighted with the abundance of her glory ... Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream” (Isaiah 66:10-12).
●”At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it” (Jeremiah 3:17).
●”And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain [Kingdom] of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion [spiritual] shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem [earthly]” (Isaiah 2:3).
God Will Have Mercy on All!
When considering these beautiful prophetic promises to Israel, keep in mind that Israel is sometimes typical of the whole world of mankind. Her Law Covenant, which promised life for obedience, pointed forward to a “new covenant” for the world during the Millennial Age and beyond. The blood of atonement offered by Israel's priesthood represented the “better sacrifices” (Hebrews 9:23) and blessings brought by the Royal Priesthood―Christ and his Church.
The Law had been given to Israel to be a schoolmaster to prepare them to accept Christ (Galatians 3:24). Though it brought only a remnant of them at the first advent, in the second advent it will bring Israel as a people to the Lord. Israel will be a first-fruit among nations in the Kingdom. Under that government, God “will render to every man according to his deeds ... glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:6,10,11).
When Jesus came, Israel did not achieve what it sought—the chief place in divine favor and service. “Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 11:7). Israel, as a whole, failed to grasp the high calling to heavenly glory and joint-heirship with Jesus; therefore God expanded the call, and “did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14). But from the Gentiles there are also only a few who have responded. Only a few, by obedience and self-sacrifice will make their “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Only a few actually become part of the Little Flock.
Many of the natural branches were broken off for unbelief, and we should take warning as well. “Boast not ... take heed lest He also spare not thee” (Romans 11:18-21). As to the Jewish people, despite the many broken branches, God's election stands. Israel will yet have a special role in the Kingdom. “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:28,29).
God is able to “graft them in again” (Romans 11:23,24). Israel missed the chief blessing of the heavenly promises, hidden among the earthly promises. But those great earthly promises are still valid. Israel will still have a wonderful service for the world during the Millennium.
Israel's “blindness”—their “hardness of heart” (Romans 2:5)—is only temporary. When the full number of the Gentile Church is complete, then Israel will be saved by Christ—Head and Body—who “shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” God will have mercy on all, blessing the Gentile world through the glorified Church from above, and through Israel, led by the Ancient Worthies.
“...A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, 'The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.’...they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable ... because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy.... Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:25-33 NAS)
Jerusalem on Two Mountains
“Who shall ascend into the hill [mountain] of Jehovah? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3,4).
Jerusalem was built on a double-top mountain, separated into two parts by the Tyropoeon Valley. It was one city, with one wall, and bridges connecting the two parts. On one mountain was the Temple, symbolizing the priestly office of the glorified Church. The other mountain might be understood to represent the earthly phase of the Kingdom.
It was an honor to be in the city at all, and a still greater honor to ascend the mountain with the holy Temple, where priests would officiate. “Clean hands and a pure heart” are necessary to attain either honor—whether the heavenly call now, or the earthly call during the Millennium.
We who aspire to the Royal Priesthood, the heavenly kingdom, “walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit” (Romans 8:1). The Ancient Worthies, who will serve in the Earthly Kingdom, also loved righteousness, hated iniquity, and were grieved when overtaken by weakness. During the Millennium, when God's spirit, the spirit of truth, is poured out upon “all flesh” (Acts 2:17), mankind will also need to strive for purity of heart if they would have a right to enter the city—the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34)—the original dominion of earth restored.
The Rule of Iron
Not all will be pleased, however, to see the Kingdom with its restrictive laws. “He shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Psalm 2:6-9; Revelation 2:27). The liberty to defraud, abuse, misrepresent, deceive, or hurt fellowmen will be halted. Even the liberty of self- indulgence to abuse oneself will be interrupted. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9). All present institutions founded upon wrong principles will be destroyed. Corruption of every kind will be exposed and ended. “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail [righteous judgment] shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters [truth] shall overflow the hiding place” (Isaiah 28:17; Matthew 10:26).
Many will feel rebellious against the perfect and equitable rule because accustomed to lording it over fellow mortals. “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you…” (James 5:1-6 NAS). Many and severe will be the “stripes” (Psalm 89:32) which a present life of self-indulgence and gratification will naturally demand and receive under that reign before the lessons of righteousness have been learned. But the liberty to do good in any and every way will be immediately rewarded. Under Christ’s reign the vast majority will learn to love righteousness and will live forever. Still, some may refuse to conform to Kingdom equity, justice, and righteousness. These will be “destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:23).
The Everlasting Kingdom
“The LORD [Jehovah] shall be King over all the earth in that day” (Zechariah 14:9). The Kingdom is Jehovah’s.
However, during the Millennium, the Kingdom will be under the direct control of Christ. After World War II, the aggressor nations were under temporary occupation in order to establish responsible democratic governments.
It will be similar with the world during the Millennial Age. The reign of Christ over the affairs of earth is for a limited time and for a particular purpose, and will terminate once that purpose is accomplished.
Man forfeited his rights through rebellion. God redeems those rights, through Christ, and restores them to man—but He requires man to work toward his own recovery. To administer this process requires a strong and perfect government, and heading this government is the privilege accorded to Christ. “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Then Jesus will turn it back to God, “that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:25-28 NAS). Mankind will then deal directly, as at first, with Jehovah. The mediation of Christ and his Church will have accomplished completely the grand work of reconciliation.
Our acceptableness to God now is only through the merit of Christ's ransom sacrifice. But when the Kingdom is turned over to God, all people will be able to render perfect obedience in letter as well as spirit. All will be able to stand faultless before God, and receive the blessed result—”Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
The special intervention and reign of Christ and the Church over earth will then be finished. But the higher Kingdom and honor for the Bride and joint-heir of Christ—”ordained before the world unto our glory”—will never close (1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:4). Jesus with his Bride will forever share in increasing glory. What wonderful works in other worlds of our boundless universe await the power of this highly exalted agent of Jehovah!
Until then, while trouble in the world increases, the whole creation groans and waits. It is waiting for this Kingdom, “for the manifestation of the Sons of God” (Romans 8:19,22). God’s Kingdom alone will crush out evil, heal and bless all. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”