The kingdom of God - past and future

When God delivered the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt, he made a covenant with them to constitute them his kingdom:

”… if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. And all the people answered together and said; All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:5-6, 8)

For the formation of a kingdom, five things are required. There must be:- - a king - a people - a territory - judges - a law

GOD’S KINGDOM IN THE PROMISED LAND

All these elements existed when God constituted his kingdom in the promised land. Because this kingdom was the kingdom of God, all its elements were appointed by him. He was the king; the people were his chosen people of Israel; the territory of the kingdom was his land which he gave to his people; the judges were appointed by him; and the law was his law given to Israel through Moses and thereafter known as the Law of Moses.

The kingdom of God existed in this form for about four hundred years until the time of Samuel who was the last judge of the kingdom. In his days, when the LORD God was their king (1 Samuel 12:12), the people demanded a human king to reign over them. This was a serious mistake but their desire arose from observing the kings of other nations and wishing to have a similar king for themselves. Samuel was greatly distressed at their demand but the LORD informed him that their request should be granted, saying:

“Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7)

God chose Saul to be their king but he proved disobedient and so the royal house did not continue in his line. The throne passed to David whom God described as “a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22, 1 Samuel 13:14). King David sat on the throne of God as did Solomon, his son:

“God hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel” (1 Chronicles 28:5)

So we see that the kingdom of Israel was God’s kingdom.

THE THRONE OF THE KINGDOM OVERTURNED

The kingdom of God existed for hundreds of years but when the people turned from the LORD to wickedness and idolatry he overturned his throne in Jerusalem and scattered both king and people out of the land. Nevertheless, he promised that the throne would be restored when his appointed king would rule upon it, as he said to Zedekiah the last king:

“Remove the diadem, and take off the crown… I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him” (Ezekiel 21:26-27)

All the scriptures speak of this restoration in the future when a great king will sit on the throne of the LORD and rule in his kingdom. For example,

“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33)

THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM

Jesus was born in the direct line of King David, for his mother was a descendant of Nathan, one of David’s younger sons (Luke 3:31). When he began preaching, it was clear that his message was connected with the restoration of the kingdom of God:

“And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God, for therefore am I sent” (Luke 4:43)

Also, of his disciples we read,

“And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:2)

“And they departed and went through the towns, preaching THE GOSPEL (or good news as the word means)” (v6)

So the Gospel is the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.

ANTICIPATING GOD’S COMING KINGDOM

After his resurrection Jesus spent forty days with the disciples “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Should we be surprised that they then asked the question: “Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (verse 6). Notice carefully his reply - he did not say, “the kingdom has nothing to do with Israel, but is in your hearts”. He just told them that they were not to know when the restoration of the kingdom would occur. “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (verse 7).

Immediately after this, Jesus went to heaven and the angels told them of his future return to the earth (verses 10-11). From that time forward the Apostles preached the second coming of Christ to restore the kingdom of God to Israel and to rule the world in righteousness. This is the wonderful future for which Jesus taught his disciples to pray,

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6.10)

THE FUTURE KINGDOM OF GOD

The future kingdom of God will also have the essential elements, all of which will be appointed by God:

  • the king will be the Lord Jesus Christ;
  • the people will be his chosen people of Israel;
  • its territory will be his land of Israel;
  • the judges will be the faithful of all past ages, raised from the dead to reign with Jesus;
  • and the law will be God’s law administered by Jesus from Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom.

In addition, the kingdom will have an empire, consisting of all nations, for the Lord will be king over all the earth. God’s invitation is for you to live and reign with Jesus in this kingdom.

THE HOPE OF ALL TRUE CHRISTIANS

All true Christians await the return of Christ to re-establish the kingdom of God:

“And he [God] shall send Jesus Christ… whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:20-21)

God’s kingdom will certainly come and then there will be:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14)

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