This is a follow-up to my last post, in which I asked the question, “In praying ‘thy kingdom come,’ what are we praying for?” In that post, I connected the request for the coming of the kingdom to the request that God’s will be done on earth in the same way that it is done in heaven. In other words, isn’t praying for the kingdom praying for something that happens or will happen on the earth?
I understand that there is a lot of discussion about “the kingdom.” Some simply cannot accept the idea of what they consider to be “an earthly, carnal, political” kingdom. According to these folks, it’s a “spiritual kingdom,” that is, the rule of Christ in the hearts of His people. It’s already happening, because He’s ruling in Heaven. But that in itself is nothing new. “Relationship with God,” as it’s called today, has always been about God’s rule in the lives of people. Even under the Law, obedience was the prime requisite, and disobedience was severely punished.
As far as the “earthly, carnal, political” part is concerned: I’ve never been able to understand why it’s alright for the Lord Jesus to sit on a throne in Heaven, but not for Him to sit on a throne in Jerusalem. What difference does it make WHERE the throne is? It’s about the Occupant, not what He’s sitting on, or where! For my own part, I’d much rather have Him, say, in the White House than its current occupant – or any of its previous occupants.
It seems to me to be a great insult to our Lord to say that an “earthly” kingdom of His would be “carnal” and/or “political.” Scripture says that His scepter, His royal insignia, is a scepter of righteousness, Psalm 45:6; Hebrews 1:8.
We just recently completed elections here in the US. But when the Lord sets up His kingdom, there won’t be any campaigning. There won’t be any signs out in the front yard or any TV commercials. There won’t be any of the back room deals or the wheeling and dealing associated with current politics. There won’t be a Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or Green or Prohibition party. [Yes, there used to be a Prohibition Party candidate on the ballot in Colorado, long after Prohibition itself was gone.] There won’t be any voting about it. Daniel 2:44 says, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom…. And there won’t be any focus groups or polls about how He should do it!
Yes, but didn’t our Lord say that His kingdom was not of this world, John 18:36? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that from the pulpit or read it as a “proof” that there will be no “earthly” kingdom. But clearly, the Lord was talking about the source of the kingdom, not where it will be located or operate. He said this Himself in a part of v. 36 that’s never quoted, “My kingdom is not from here.” Otherwise, He said, His disciples would fight. But the kingdom God will set up will not be set up in any manner remotely similar to other earthly kingdoms.
Furthermore, the Lord Jesus said that He Himself was not of this world, John 8:23. He said that of His disciples, John 15:19. Yet, clearly, He and they were located and functioned, physically and actually, in this world.
In the New Testament, there are a couple of clear references to the reign of our Lord as over more than just some ephemeral something that has no relationship to this world. In Revelation 19:15, after a brief description of our Lord’s return to this earth in vs. 11-14, we read, Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. If the kingdom is only related to believers, why then is “a rod of iron” necessary? And who are the nations whom He will “strike” as well as “rule”? Certainly not believers. The word translated “rule” means “to shepherd,” i.e., John is saying that Jesus will shepherd the nations. This seems to me to be a far cry from the idea that He will return, officiate at the final judgment and then usher in eternity. For an idea of what His return and rule entails, read Zechariah 14. We’ve done a couple of posts on that chapter.
Revelation 20, which continues ch. 19, indicates this “shepherding” will last for 1000 years. And, yes, I’m aware of the uproar over that figure. As one Reformed writer put it, the thousand years simply refer to the present Gospel age of 2000 years (!) However, it seems to me that the Holy Spirit had a reason for inspiring John to write 1000 years six times in six verses. Perhaps it was to impress on us that He meant 1000 years, not just some indeterminate period of time.
He shall rule them with a rod of iron.
Psalm 110:2 says that Messiah will rule in the midst of His enemies. Where is this happening today? What kind of a king is it who rules “in the midst of His enemies,” and they don’t know it, but continue to reject, ridicule and rebel against Him? When our Lord sits on the throne of His glory, Matthew 19:28, that will not be possible.
There is so much more that we could say on this subject, but have decided to save it for other posts. Also, we recognize that there are many good, earnest Christians who differ with us on these subjects. Further, we recognize that the subject of “prophecy” is not considered “a fundamental of the faith” by many, not worth “fighting over” or causing controversy. While we do believe that one’s view of prophecy doesn’t determine or deny their salvation, we also believe that it is important and not to be neglected or ignored. After all, assuming we believe in divine inspiration and not that the Bible is just a miscellaneous collection of ancient writings, written long after the events they describe, the Holy Spirit saw fit to give it to us. We should try to know as much about it as possible.