The Kingdom of God, a correct Biblical Exegesis

April 7, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Articles & Notes 

The Body of Christ is to be about saving the lost, (Luke 19:10) making disciples and baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matt 28:18-19) We should be doing the work of evangelism, preaching to the lost and the poor, and setting the captives free. Our motivation should be our Love for God, our Father, and our love for our fellowman. That is the work of the Church, right now, until Shiloh comes. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 (NIV) The Gospel as handed down throughout the ages is not in err, even though we have problems with our propensity towards religion, beware of wolves whom will repackage the Gospel to make it sound “New and Improved” as they Madison Avenue their way into your pocket books. The so-called gospel of The Kingdom of God the way it is presented today represents another gospel and is anathema to the will of God.

There are a few espousing The Gospel of the The Kingdom of God as a sort of panacea for the present troubles of the body of Christ. This theology, if it is even well intentioned, as it very well may be by its proclaimers, is based on some very faulty Biblical exegesis and will lead many astray. I have noticed that this Gospel is being focused not on the lost or poor as Christ requested The Good News to be preached, but is being focused on the body of Christ to win adherents to certain individuals’ followings. I have presented this clear Biblical exegesis adapted from the works of Clarence Larkin whom is also the creator of the attached charts and Dr. Cyrus Ingerson Scofield.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

It is clear from the Scriptures that God has been trying to set up a “visible” Kingdom on this earth ever since the creation of man, to whom He gave dominion. Gen. 1:26-28. But that dominion was lost by the “Fall,” and Satan set himself up as the “Prince of this World.” Matt. 4:8-10. John 14:30. In the “Call of Abraham” God took the first step toward the setting up of a visible Kingdom on this earth, which assumed an outward form in the “Jewish Commonwealth” under Moses, but the plan was blocked by the Jews losing their “National Existence” at the time of the Babylonian Captivity B.C. 606, and the beginning of the “Times of the Gentiles.” But when 600 years of the “Times of the Gentiles” had run their course, God again made a move to set up the Kingdom, and the angel Gabriel announced to Mary the Birth of the King. Luke 1:26-33. Thirty years later the King’s forerunner, John the Baptist, announced that the Kingdom was “at hand” or “near” (Matt. 3:1-2), and when the King manifested Himself to Israel He Himself made the same announcement (Matt. 4:17-23), and later He sent out the “Twelve” (Matt. 10:7), and the “Seventy-Two” (Luke 10:1-9), to proclaim the same thing. But the King was rejected and crucified, and the setting up of the Kingdom postponed, and the Kingdom took on its “Mystery Form” under the name of the “Kingdom of Heaven.”

There are some who object to what they call the “Postponement Theory,” and claim that the Kingdom which was “at Hand” or “Near” was not an outward visible Kingdom, but a spiritual Kingdom, and that it was not withdrawn but is seen today in “New Born” believers. They base their claim on the fact that the earthly visible Kingdom of Christ could not be set up until after He had suffered and died on the Cross as the Saviour of men, and had risen from the dead, and ascended to the Father and received the Kingdom, and that therefore the offer of an outward visible and earthly Kingdom at that time was not a “bona fide” offer, and that John the Baptist and Jesus must have meant by the “Kingdom of Heaven” something else than an outward visible and earthly Kingdom. What are the facts? First, that the Old Testament scriptures teach that there is to be an earthly and visible Kingdom over which the Son of Man is to rule (Dan. 7:13-14, 2:34-35, 44-45; Jer. 23:5; Zech. 14:9), and we know that at the time of Jesus’ birth there was a widespread expectation of the coming of the Messiah, and that Simeon and Anna waited in the Temple for the “Consolation of Israel.” Luke 2:25-38. We are also told that “Wise Men” came from the East to Jerusalem inquiring “Where is He that is born KING OF THE JEWS?” and when they had found Jesus they worshipped Him as KING. Matt. 2:1-11. There can be no question but that Jesus was born to be a KING. It was not until Jesus was 30 years old that John the Baptist appeared at the Jordan preaching and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matt. 3:2. And we are told that his mission was to “Prepare the Way for the Lord.” Matt. 3:3. Isa. 40:3. Prepare the way for the Lord for what? Not for the “Cross” but the “Kingdom.” John’s message had no meaning to those who heard him and were looking for the setting up of the “Messianic Kingdom,” if he did not mean by the “Kingdom of Heaven” an outward and visible earthly Kingdom. That John himself so believed is evident from the question he sent his disciples while in prison to ask Jesus—, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matt. 11:3. The fact that Jesus answered John’s question by a number of miracles of healing, which are the “signs” of the Messianic Kingdom (Isa. 35:1-10), and were proofs of Christ’s Messiahship, and told John’s disciples to so report, is proof that both John and Jesus had in mind the earthly Messianic Kingdom when they proclaimed that the “Kingdom of Heaven was “NEAR.” It was the “Kingdom of Heaven,” not because it was a Heavenly or Spiritual Kingdom, but because it was not received from men, but was given from Heaven by God the Father.

While it is true that John the Baptist pointed out to two of his own disciples Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29), this was after Jesus’ return from the “Wilderness Temptation,” and had been revealed to John at the Baptism of Jesus, and does not nullify or alter the character of his previous proclamation that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. We must not forget that as soon as Jesus was baptised He was “immediately” driven into the Wilderness to be tempted of the Devil (Matt. 4:1-11, Mark 1:11-13), and it was not until 40 days after His Baptism that John pointed out to his disciples Jesus as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The words “next day” (John 1:29) refer not to the day after Jesus’ Baptism, but the next day after the Priests and Levites had inquired of John whether he was the Christ or Elijah. John 1:19-28. In John 1:32-34, John the Baptist testifies that he knew not Jesus as the “Lamb of God” until His Baptism. Then he knew by the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove upon Christ that He was the “SON OF GOD.” Therefore John the Baptist knew nothing about Christ’s sacrificial work at the beginning of his ministry, and his proclamation that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand could have had no reference to a Spiritual Kingdom.

When Nathanael exclaimed—”Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the KING OF ISRAEL” (John 1:49), Jesus did not disclaim the title. When Jesus entered on His own ministry His message was the same as John the Baptist’s—”Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is NEAR.” Matt. 4:17. The repentance called for was a “NATIONAL REPENTANCE.” The Old Testament scriptures clearly teach that the Messianic Kingdom cannot be set up until Israel as a nation REPENTS. In Matt. 4:23 we read—”Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” While this was attended with “signs of bodily healing” we are nowhere told that the “Gospel of the Kingdom” had anything to do with the The Salvation of The Soul, and as it is to be preached again after the Rapture of the Church for a “witness” unto all nations, that the time has come for the setting up of the Kingdom (Matt. 24:14) the inference is that the “Gospel of the Kingdom” has nothing to do with “SALVATION,” but is simply an announcement that the “Messianic Kingdom” is NEAR.

When Jesus sent forth the Twelve Disciples He commanded them, saying, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the “lost sheep” of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:5-8 (NIV) Note again that the works they were to perform were “Kingdom SIGNS,” and had no reference to the salvation of the soul. They did not preach the “Gospel of Salvation,” but the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” And further the “Gospel of Salvation” is for the whole world, but the Disciples were forbidden to go to any but the “House of Israel,” thus showing that what they preached was exclusively for Israel. That the Disciples were expecting the setting up of a visible earthly Kingdom is evidenced by the request of James and John that they might sit, one on the right hand, and the other on the left hand of Jesus in His Kingdom. Mark 10:35-41. If there was to be no earthly Kingdom Jesus would have cleared their minds of that idea, but He confirmed it by saying that the place of honor was not for Him to give, but would be bestowed by His Father. Matt. 20:23.

The fact that after the miracle of the “Loaves and Fishes” the multitude was desirous to take Jesus by force and make Him a KING (John 6:15), reveals what they understood by the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven being NEAR. That Jesus prevented their doing so by escaping to a mountain is no evidence that He repudiated the idea of Kingship over a visible earthly Kingdom, but that to have received the Kingdom from them would have been wrong, for He is to receive the Kingdom from the FATHER, and not from men. Dan. 7:13-14. That Jesus did not deny His Kingship of an outward and visible earthly Kingdom is clear from the fact that He accepted the “Hosannahs” of the multitude when He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Zech. 9:9. John 12:12-15. And it was as “King OF THE JEWS” He was crucified. Matt. 27:37. When Pilate asked Jesus—”Are you the King of the JEWS?” He evaded the question, but admitted that He was a KING, and to that end had been born, but that His Kingdom was “not of this world,” that is, it would be given to Him by God the Father, and therefore would be from Heaven. John 18:33-37.

Figure 1: The Church vs The Kingdom

But someone may ask, “What would have happened if the Jews, as a nation, had repented, and accepted Jesus as King, would the earthly Messianic Kingdom have been set up?” Certainly, but not necessarily immediately, for certain Old Testament prophecies as to Jesus’ death and resurrection had to be fulfilled, for He had to die for the redemption of the race, before He could assume His office as King. But this could and would have been fulfilled by the Roman Government seizing Jesus and crucifying Him as a usurper, and with Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, Daniel’s 69th week would have terminated, and the 70th week begun without a break, and at its close Jesus would have descended and set up His earthly Kingdom.

But you ask, “What about the Church? If it was God’s Eternal Purpose to form the Church (Eph. 1:4), how could it have been formed if there was no break or gap between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week, and how therefore could there have been a ‘bona fide’ offer of an earthly Kingdom to Israel?” The question is hypothetical and based on the supposition that something might have happened that God foresaw would not happen. God’s foreknowledge that the Jewish nation would not at that time heed the announcement that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and repent, does not militate against the sincerity of the announcement any more than the offer of spiritual salvation by a preacher of the Gospel to an audience of sinners who he has every reason to believe will refuse his offer, is not a sincere and “bona fide” offer.

Figure 2: Kingdom of God, of Heaven – The Church

God’s Plan and Purpose in the Ages is based upon His FORE-KNOWLEDGE. If God had not foreseen that the Jews would reject the King and therefore the Kingdom, He would have planned for the formation of the Church at some other time than this present Dispensation. As the Church was to be purchased by the precious blood of Christ (Acts 20:28, 1 Pet. 1:18-21), it was necessary that Jesus should be rejected and crucified, and that by His own nation, for the Prophet Zechariah (Zech. 12:10) foretold that the Jews should look upon Him whom they had PIERCED. But God’s foreknowledge did not require or compel the Jewish nation to reject Jesus, any more than Jesus’ foreknowledge that Judas would betray Him compelled Judas to so do. The possibility of the Church being crowded out by the repentance of the Jewish nation did not enter into the “Plan of God,” who foresaw the refusal of Israel to accept Jesus as King, and that Israel would not nationally repent until after the Church had been formed and taken out of the world.

In expounding the Scriptures we are not to take something that belongs to a “PAST” and a “FUTURE” Dispensation and put it in the “PRESENT” Dispensation. For instance, “THE KINGDOM.” The “PAST” and “COMING” Dispensations have to do with “THE KINGDOM,” but the “Present” has to do with the CHURCH. The “Kingdom” is an outward, visible and earthly “POLITICAL ORGANIZATION,” and is to be “set up” on the earth (Dan. 2:44); while the “Church” is an invisible and heavenly “SPIRITUAL ORGANISM” that is to be “caught up.” 1 Thess. 4:16-17. The “Kingdom” was prepared FROM the “Creation of the World.” Matt. 25:34. The “Church” was chosen in Him “BEFORE” the “Creation of the World.” Eph. 1:4. The “Church” then is not the “Kingdom.” See the Chart on “The Church versus The Kingdom.” Figure 1.

Here we must distinguish between the “Kingdom of God,” the “Kingdom of Heaven,” and the Church. See the Chart on the above, Figure 1. The “Kingdom of God” is the “Reign of God” in the Universe over all His created creatures, and includes time and eternity, heaven and earth. It is spiritual and “cometh not with observation.” Luke 17:20, 21. It is entered by the “New Birth,” (John 3:5); and is not a matter of “eating” and “drinking,” but of “Righteousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 14:17.
The “Kingdom of Heaven” is a New Testament term, and is found in Matthew’s Gospel only, where it is mentioned 32 times. Its character is described in the 12 “Kingdom of Heaven Parables” given in Matt. 13:1-50; Matt 18:23-35; Matt 20:1-16; Matt 22:1-14; Matt 25:1-30. From these Parables we see that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is limited as to its Time and its Sphere. Its Time is from the First to the Second Coming of Christ, and its Sphere is over that part of the world that we call Christendom. In the “Kingdom of Heaven” there is a mixture of good and evil, of “Wheat” and “Tares,” of “Good Fish” and “Bad Fish,” of “Wise Virgins” and “Foolish Virgins.”

After the Resurrection of Jesus the hope of an earthly visible Kingdom was revived, and just before His Ascension the Disciples asked Him—”Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” His reply was—”It is not for you to know the ‘Times’ and ‘Dates’ the Father has set by His own authority.” Acts 1:6-7. Now Jesus did not deny that there was to be a “visible earthly Kingdom,” He simply told the Disciples that it was not for them to “know” when it would be set up. If Jesus came simply to set up a “Spiritual” Kingdom in this Dispensation then common honesty demanded that He at that solemn moment when He was about to leave His Disciples and go back to the Father should have cleared up His Disciples’ minds of their false hope, and told them plainly that the Kingdom He came to set up was “Spiritual” and not earthly. But He did nothing of the kind. He left them with the belief that there was to be an “earthly and visible Kingdom” some day.

The King having been rejected it was impossible then to set up the Kingdom, so the Kingdom took on another aspect known as the “Kingdom in Mystery,” described in the twelve “Kingdom of Heaven” parables of Matthew’s Gospel. Then the disciples came to Him and said, Why do You speak to them in parables? And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets (and/or MYSTERIES) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. Matt. 13:10-11. In Matt 13:35, He gives as His reason for speaking to them in Parables, that it might be fulfilled as spoken by the Prophet—””I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” The “Kingdom of Heaven Parables” therefore cannot describe the “Millennial Kingdom” for it was no “secret” to the Old Testament Prophets. Neither do they describe a “Spiritual Kingdom,” for the figures they use are all of an “earthly” nature. They must then describe the character of the Present Dispensation in its earthly aspect during the absence of the King.

THE KINGDOM IN MANIFESTATION

Jesus is the “Certain Nobleman” who went into a “Far Country” to receive for Himself a Kingdom, and to return. Luke 19:12. And when He comes back He will reward His servants, the Jews, and give them authority over as many cities as they deserve. Jesus has not yet received the Kingdom. He must finish His High Priestly and Mediatorial work first. Daniel describes the event in Dan. 7:13-14. The form of Government will be a “Theocracy.” Christ will reign through a “King” or “Prince” called DAVID (Hosea 3:5; Jer. 30:9; Ez. 37:24; Ez. 34:24), whose Throne shall be at Jerusalem. The Temple will be rebuilt, and the “Aaronic Priesthood” reestablished. Ez. 44:15-31. There will be a revival of the Land of Palestine (Joel 3:18), and the length of human life extended. Isa. 65:20-22. Zech. 8:4.

Figure 3: The Four Gospels

Compiled and adapted by Danny Peace

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