Kingdom Continuity

I’ve made it no secret that I have issues with the way that both dispensationalists and covenant theologians approach the scriptures.  My last post probably had CT scratching their heads wondering if I had even read the epistles which state that there is only one covenant people of God.  There is only one people of God, but this doesn’t override the nature of the Messianic Kingdom.  God has a plan to redeem this earth and it involves the establishment of a Messianic Kingdom here on earth which lasts for 1000 years, but will ultimately last forever and ever.  The one people of God are all spiritual children of Abraham (not Israel) who was a pagan Gentile who lived by faith, Galatians 3:7-9.  In Abraham’s seed, all nations will be blessed as Abraham has become the father of many nations, Romans 4:16-18.  Do you see the need for multi-nationalism for that promise to be fulfilled?  Abraham was not an Israelite, he was pre-Israel.  The induction of Gentiles into the kingdom in the new testament did not negate the existence of nations, but affirmed our Creator’s love for all nations.

 

This post will probably run against the dispensationalist way of thinking.  Dispensationalists tend to divide the scriptures into neat little categories.  They believe that there are certain time periods which are of different dispensations.  They tend to draw lines putting everything on one side of the line in one dispensation and everything on the other side in another dispensation.  Reading things in context is a great way to study the Bible.  But, the problem I have is that the Bible is one continuous story.  So my lens that I’m looking through as I write this post is the lens of continuity which runs contrary to mainstream dispensationalism.  I will say that Progressive Dispensationalism has reconciled many of the inconsistencies, so many PD will probably enjoy this post.  To borrow a word from CT, this post will have the meta-narrative theme woven throughout.

 

There is continuity between the Messianic Kingdom as the psalms proclaim and the Kingdom of God as Jesus proclaimed.

 

When John the Baptist and then Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God as being at hand, this was not some new teaching just pulled out of thin air.  They quoted OT principles which related to the Messianic Kingdom as proclaimed in the psalms.  Jesus presented the example of what life in the Messianic Kingdom would be like, Matthew 10:7-8.  Demons would be powerless.  Sickness would be cured, (see Isaiah 35:5-6 which is in a Messianic Kingdom passage.)  The dead would come to life.  There would always be enough to eat.  Enemies would begin to love each other.  There would be unlimited forgiveness.  Instead of not committing adultery, in the kingdom no one even looks at another with lust in their heart.  What a kingdom!

 

When John the Baptist spoke of judgement, Matthew 3:1-12, Luke 3:3-20, he prophesied as the last OT prophet, Luke 16:16.  He culminated the prophecies of all the law and prophets pronouncing the ultimate judgement upon anyone who rejected the One concerning whom he preached, Jesus.  The axe at the root of the trees, the purging of the threshingfloor, and the fire unquenchable, these powerful metaphors served to prompt Israel to repent in light of the coming Messianic judgement.  All this was embodied in the phrase, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

 

As Jesus appeared on the scene, He continued preaching the kingdom of God.  When He sent out the twelve and seventy, He commanded them to preach that the kingdom of God had come near to whomever they preached, Luke 9:2, 10:9.  The kingdom of God was present in the ministry of Jesus, Luke 11:20.  The harlots were entering the kingdom of God by repentance, Matthew 21:28-32, and that before the religious of the day.  These were repenting and entering the Messianic Kingdom by faith in advance of the judgement which would serve as its harbinger.  So while the Messianic Kingdom was not established by the Messiah, the invitation to enter it by repenting in faith that it would come was preached through what we know as the gospel of the kingdom.

 

This believing remnant of Israelites continued through the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Messiah.  When Messiah sent the Holy Spirit of Messiah, this remnant was bathed in the essence of the kingdom of heaven or the Messianic Kingdom, II Corinthians 2:14-17.  They truly practiced the ways of the kingdom in Acts 2:42-47.  There was no need for greed as they had all things in common.  If any of their congregation had a need, another stepped forward to meet that need.  Later as Gentiles entered into this fellowship, the sharing increased beyond the borders of other countries, Acts 11:27-30, 12:25, and Acts 24:17, Romans 15:25-27, I Corinthians 16:3, II Corinthians 8:13-15.  Truly those in the assembly (the church) were living by the ways of the Messianic Kingdom in advance of its full coming.  Those in the church are living proof that the kingdom is a reality.  We as Messianic Gentiles should so accurately reflect life in the kingdom that those who view our lives should be able to see another kingdom as we live out its principles of kindness, forgiveness, and generosity.  Yet as we live out these kingdom laws we preach that God commands all men everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30.  The message of repentance in order to enter the kingdom has not changed.

 

There is continuity between the current kingdom work and the kingdom come. 

 

The current work of the kingdom of God through the church is directly related to the Messianic Kingdom.  Our faithfulness now will result in positions of authority in the Messianic Kingdom, or should I say, the Christian Kingdom.  Basically, we are determining how much authority we are worthy of in that kingdom by our present conduct.  Consider the following scriptures.

 

Rule over 10 cities.  Luke 19:11-27 is a parable that Jesus told because many thought that the kingdom of God would immediately appear when Jesus arrived at Jerusalem.  Instead of the kingdom of God (the Messianic Kingdom) immediately appearing, Jesus taught of an interim period.  This period in time would be characterized by ten servants working for the kingdom in His absence before the kingdom is established.  When the nobleman in the parable reappears having received the kingdom (that means He has now been proclaimed the King) he reckons with his ten servants.  Each of the ten servants was given the same resources yet some labored more diligently than others.  Those who labored more diligently were given more authority in the kingdom.  He states that the servant had done well and would “have authority over ten cities”.  The parable teaches that the servant received a position of authority within the Messianic Kingdom because of his faithfulness in the nobleman’s absence.  This is contrasted with the laziness of the one who simply buried his mina in the ground.  The application is simple.  Our faithfulness in the absence of Messiah will determine our position of authority within the Messianic Kingdom.  Note also the parallel that Jesus leaves this earth, comes back to this earth, and establishes His kingdom here on this earth with His servants in positions of authority.

 

To him that overcomes.  The overcomers in Revelation 2-3 are promised certain rewards if they overcome the trials of this world.  It behooves us to look at these rewards.  In Revelation 2:7 we have the reward of being able to eat from the tree of life.  This may seem heavenly at first because this tree is said to be located in the paradise of God, but at the end of Revelation we see a city descend from heaven to earth with the tree of life in the midst of that city, Revelation 21:2, 22:2.  In Revelation 2:26-27 we have the reward of authority over the nations.  It is mentioned in the same context of Jesus ruling over the nations with a rod of iron.  That is here on earth and not in heaven.  Revelation 3:12 mentions the temple of God, but it is in the same context as the New Jerusalem which is said to come down from heaven.  So the reward will be given in the city here on earth where God’s presence is known since God’s presence is the temple, Revelation 21:22.  Revelation 3:21 shows that those who overcome will share in the throne of Jesus.  In each of these instances there is a reward in the Messianic Kingdom for those who overcome the trials of this world.  Again, there is continuity between our current faithfulness in the midst of trials and our rewards in the Messianic Kingdom.

 

The saints will judge the world.  I Corinthians 6:2-3 is the text.  The context is that some in the church were going to the secular authorities for matters between believers.  Paul admonishes them because they did not apprehend their authority for dealing with the matters themselves.  Notice Paul does not give them the go ahead to take secular authority in their own hands, but with matters of correction, forgiveness, and reconciliation Paul pointed to their future positions as judges of this cosmos.  Because they will be appointed to such lofty positions in the Messianic Kingdom, they had authority to do what God had already commanded them.  Do you see the continuity between our authority as believers now and our authority to judge the cosmos and angels in the age to come?  Paul saw it and proclaimed it.

 

We make a great error when we believe we cannot affect this world for the coming Messianic Kingdom because this world is slated for destruction.  It is true that a judgement is coming and many things will not survive.  Our kingdom work will survive the coming fire.

 

There is one point that I agree with Dispensationalists on.  The nation of Israel will enter the Kingdom of God as a nation at some point in time in the future.  The nation of Israel had the opportunity to enter the kingdom of God at the first advent, but failed because of her hardness of heart.  The LORD foresaw this and ordained that through Israel’s rejection of her Messiah, Gentiles would be saved.  This rejection of the Messiah is not permanent.  There will come a day when the prophecies will be fulfilled just as they were written, Isaiah 49:5-7, Jeremiah 23:3-8, Ezekiel 36:22-38, Daniel 9:24-27, Hosea 3:4-5, Joel 3:15-17, Amos 9:14-15, Obadiah 20-21, Micah 4:1-8, Nahum 1:15, Zephaniah 3:14-20, Zechariah 8:20-23, Malachi 3:1-4.  The voice of the prophets sings in unison that Israel is God’s chosen nation destined to be the center of the Messianic Kingdom.  This does not mean Gentile exclusion but Gentile inclusion.  The nation of Israel will be Christianized, and then other nations may follow.  That’s the nature of the Messianic Kingdom.

 

Where I disagree is on a kingdom postponement theory.  God’s plan was not postponed by the rejection of the Messiah, but confirmed and advanced.  The cross was not the second option but the entire reason why Jesus came.  Jesus came proclaiming His kingdom of forgiveness, healing, humility, community, and generosity.  Most of the religious rejected these ideas thereby rejecting Messiah’s kingdom.  But that didn’t stop the LORD and His disciples from advancing God’s kingdom plan to the next step.  We still proclaim the message of the kingdom knowing that its fullness here on earth is inevitable.

 

More to come…

 

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

 

-The Orange Mailman

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10 Responses to Kingdom Continuity

  1. Kathy says:

    A question for you Darrin. You said in your 6/23 post…"So the establishment of the kingdom will not result in all the wicked going away instantly. There will be wicked people still here on the earth after Messiah ascends the throne. The kingdom will be established, the righteous shall inherit the earth, they will flourish, but little by little the rest of the wicked will melt away. The Messiah shatters the kings on the day of His wrath, but not every single wicked person is slain." I\’m having trouble reconciling this with Revelation 13:8 which says that all who dwell on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain." Then in Rev. 14:9 there is the angelic announcement that says "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives the mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb." So are you saying that their placement into the lake of fire will not occur before Jesus takes the throne in His kingdom? I\’ve always thought only those washed in the blood of the Lamb will enter the kingdom.

  2. Kathy says:

    …in other words…God doesn\’t wipe out with His wrath during the DOTL – all who mark up…from Rev. 13:8 it sounds like all who are not in the book of Life do take the mark and worship the beast and will be killed during the DOTL…the rest are in the book of life. Those in the book of life who are alive prior to the rapture and repented and trusted Christ will be raptured. But there will be others in the book of life who do not come to Christ until after the rapture…these are the 144,000, the first fruits, and then the rest of all Israel, plus Gentiles…help me out…=)

  3. Kathy says:

    …and I\’m now thinking the lake of fire comes after the second death…at the great white throne judgment…sorry for my disjointed thoughts…

  4. Kathy says:

    Please allow me to pester you one more time…John 3:3 – "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." I generally try to back up my thoughts with scripture…

  5. Darrin says:

    Hey Kathy-It\’s actually taken me a while to get to this place in my thinking. I had these same thoughts when examining psalms like 18 and 72. But I realized I had some presuppositions that may or may not be true.First principle, the kingdom of God is not a kingdom with boundaries in the traditional sense. The kingdom is actually the rule or reign of God. There has been no time when God hasn\’t been ruling over all creation. But when Jesus is here on earth, there will be a progressive step forward in His kingdom reign. So what will that mean for the Kingdom of God? It will mean that anyone who wants to enter the Kingdom of God still has to do so by faith. There won\’t be a different way to be saved from your sins, but the same way, through God\’s grace because of the cross. God rules over all creation now, but each person must individually submit to Him. It will be the same during the 1000 years, only nations will have the opportunity to submit to Him as people groups. Each nation now (meaning today in the 21st century) makes corporate decisions that not every single citizen agrees with, nevertheless, it stands as the corporate decision of that nation. The same principle will preside in the Messianic Kingdom.The kingdom of God (the Messianic Kingdom) will be administrated differently though. He will reign on earth taking authority over inferior nations. He will have the governments of the world rest upon His shoulders, Isaiah 9:6-7. His ways will prevail because He will serve as the King of kings with other kings of nations serving under Him. If a nation submits to His rule, does that mean that every single person within that nation is saved? I\’m not sure. But that nation that makes the LORD their God will experience great favor during the 1000 years.Second principle, sometimes there are general statements in scripture that we can take too far. For instance, "authority was given him over every tribe and people and language and nation", Revelation 13:7. This is a general statement. It is obvious from Daniel 11:41 that not every single nation will come under his direct authority. But generally speaking, the world will be in submission to this beast from the sea. The verse that follows is the same. "all who dwell on earth will worship him, everyone whose name is not written in the book of life". That\’s a general statement. The world at large will turn to the beast and worship him. There will be a choice to be make in the midst of the great tribulation. Most will have to take sides. Either die or worship the false messiah. But I don\’t believe that every single person will either die or worship the beast. The majority of the world will most likely have to face this choice, but some may be spared. Remember that the plans of the devil will be cut short for the sake of the elect which may allow others to benefit from this blessing which God extends on their behalf.Remember the story of Noah. The entire world was destroyed and 8 souls inherited the new earth. From these 8 the entire world was repopulated. There may be only 100 people of all the entire earth\’s population which survive and enter the new earth from the Gentile nations, but they would still repopulate the entire earth and fill it. Read Isaiah 60 and at the end ask yourself what verse 22 is saying about the kingdom come.And remember, there could be others in the book of life who do not come to Christ until after He ascends the throne. Hopefully this gives you a good start on seeing my point of view. I\’m not saying there aren\’t difficulties with what I\’m putting out there, but I\’m trying to challenge the status quo into incorporating the psalms and OT prophets into their views instead of focusing entirely on the NT.There is also the point of view that John saw a vision of a beast rise out of the Mediterranean Sea with ten horns. The geographical location of the events that he sees would surround a ten nation confederacy right in that area. This may not include the whole world in our way of thinking, but it would include the whole world in the way that John and his contemporaries viewed it. I\’m not too sure about this point of view because God had the big picture in mind even if those in the old Roman world didn\’t.If you have any more questions, let me know. Thanks for the response.Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13-The Orange Mailman

  6. Kathy says:

    I agree, the kingdom is the rule or reign of God. This progressive step forward. Can you explain that a bit more? Also, doesn\’t the sheep/goat judgment weed out all the wicked and let in only the righteous, the saved, into the Messianic Kingdom? That is how I see it…no one enters the Messianic Kingdom from the wrath unsaved… Some of the offspring born from those who enter will not be elect, the uprising at the end of the Millennium proves that…ill…but I don\’t see anyone entering who is not saved…

  7. Kathy says:

    hmmm…don\’t know what that stray "ill" word is all about!

  8. Darrin says:

    There are some things that I don\’t think we will completely understand until they happen. But as far as the rule/reign of God, I\’ll be writing another post within the next month (LORD willing) focusing on Psalm 107 and how it will be fulfilled millennially during the reign of Messiah. Perhaps that will answer your question.As far as the sheep/goats, I think we assume too much about this event. Will it occur before the Messiah begins to reign, or after He sits on His glorious throne? Will it occur in an ongoing way or in a one time event? Perhaps this is the bema seat judgement, perhaps not. Nobody can enter into eternal life after this judgement unless they are saved, but that\’s a bit different than the Messianic Kingdom which will be here on earth. Eventually they will be one and the same when Messiah delivers up the kingdom to the Father as per I Cor. 15:24-28. But this is after He has ruled for some time subjecting all things to Himself.I\’ve got just as many questions as you do, believe it or not. I don\’t entirely understand what the purpose of the millennial kingdom will be, I just know it will happen.Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13-The Orange Mailman

  9. Kathy says:

    Just thought I\’d let you know Orange that I see it now…the NJ on earth during the Mil…that is where our dwelling places are isn\’t it? Sinfulness will still exist for a time outside of the city, but there will be no tears or mourning or death within the NJ. What you write is making a whole lot more sense. You said, "When Messiah sent the Holy Spirit of Messiah, this remnant was bathed in the essence of the kingdom of heaven or the Messianic Kingdom…" Made me think of our discussion at FP with Mo and Joel…that makes more sense now also… Really enjoyed your "Living in the Light of the coming Messianic Kingdom" post. Keep up the good work, for the King of the Kingdom!

  10. Pingback: Links for the Series on Prophetic Apocalypse in the Psalms | The Orange Mailman

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