Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, to the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’ (NKJV)
In chapter 2, Daniel foretold that the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, v. 44. In 7:11, this kingdom is given to One like the Son of Man. Now, in the interpretation of Daniel’s vision in chapter 7, we discover that the saints will also participate in the kingdom. In verse 27, several things are said of this kingdom.
1. The splendor of the kingdom, then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven….
In other words, this kingdom is not going to be some little insignificant thing, some mystical something that nobody can really see or touch, and which has very little, if any, influence on the world around it. There have been times when “the church” has been influential in its surroundings, though not now. By “the church,” I don’t mean organizations like Romanism or the various state churches of Europe. “The church” is not some denominational hierarchy, not some monolithic religious structure, not some political entity enforcing submission to a creed or catechism. Indeed, it has often been these manmade structures, with their political posturing or social agendas, which have been at the forefront of opposition to the people of God. “The church” is saved people, living out their lives in seeking to please God, and coming together from time to time to praise and worship the God who has saved them, often in the face of great persecution or ridicule. When God sets up the kingdom the Bible talks about, such persecution or ridicule will not be possible.
We don’t really have any great kingdoms today, egalitarianism has taken care of that, but there have been such in history. The splendor of ancient Egypt, the riches of the Ming dynasty in China, the far-flung reaches of the British Empire, all these and many others bear eloquent witness to the greatness that earthly kingdoms can achieve. All this will be wrapped up in and overshadowed by the greatness of the fifth and final kingdom, which will encompass the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven….(emphasis added). It seems to me that this cannot refer to anything other than an “earthly” kingdom, in agreement with what Daniel said in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: the “stone” will grow into a great mountain which will fill the whole earth.
Furthermore, God tells us through Daniel that the rest of the beasts had their dominion taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. The nations which made up the first four kingdoms still exist in one form or another, but they themselves will one day fall under the sway of the Son of Man and His saints. As much as some decry the idea of “an earthly, carnal kingdom,” there is coming a kingdom of God which will fill the whole earth. Peter describes this time as one in which righteousness dwells, or, literally, “is at home,” 2 Peter 3:13. It certainly isn’t at home in this present evil world.
By the way, the word translated “fill” has the basic meaning, “to be abundant and overflowing”. This kingdom isn’t going to be some “hole in the wall” affair with people hiding in caves and forests, scared to death they’re going to be discovered worshiping God. No, no. It will be the answer to that petition in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” Matthew 6:10, emphasis added.
How is God’s will done “in heaven”?
Joyfully, willingly, completely, openly, only.
There are some today who desire to serve God like that, but they are few and far between in comparison with the earth’s population. Nevertheless, there is coming a time when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea, Habakkuk 2:14. We don’t really think about this, “the waters cover the sea,” but it’s quite a picture. If we could take the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, and drop it into the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, there would still be well over a mile of water covering Everest!
And it isn’t just some academic knowledge of God Habakkuk is talking about, reserved for scholars in some dusty hall, it’s the knowledge of the glory of God. God will be known in His fullness. He won’t just be shunted off to one side to await our “decision”. Zechariah 14 gives something of an account of this time. Though you should read the whole chapter, v. 16 says, And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of the nations who came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. The earth will be filled with worship and praise of Him, as well as obedience to Him, vs. 17-19.
There’s that word again: “filled” – to be abundant and overflowing. That certainly isn’t true today, all the varied means of communication we have today notwithstanding.
2. The saints and the fifth kingdom, this kingdom shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
Who are these people, these saints of the Most High? This subject is hotly debated. We’ll postpone our own comments until the next post, where we’ll deal with objections to the idea of an “earthly” kingdom, which the Scriptures clearly teach.
3. The certainty of the fifth kingdom, His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom….
Earlier in this chapter, Daniel said, “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed, v. 14. There will never be any “ruins” for future archaeologists to sift through and try to figure out. There will never be a “sixth” kingdom. This King is eternal. His kingdom will be eternal.
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”