In the model prayer that the Lord taught His disciples—commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer”—one of the key petitions is “Thy Kingdom come.” Most Christians today, however, have no real idea what this means. Yet there are more promises and prophecies about this “kingdom” than any other period in the entire Bible!
The lack of any realistic perspective on the kingdom may be the root source of the widespread apostasy that characterizes our contemporary churches today.
Leonard Ravenhill, the famous minister and preacher from England, said:
Is there then a forgotten truth from the holy and imperishable Word of the living God that could shake this Laodicean Church from its creeping paralysis? I believe there is. If there is no word from the Lord in this hour, there certainly is no word for the Church from anyone else. One day I grasped two handfuls of books of sermons and found that not one of them had a message on the [Millennial Kingdom] or the Judgment Seat of Christ. This, I am persuaded after much thought, is the most neglected part of eschatology. Sermons there are and books without number on the Second Coming of Christ, but books dealing as a sole subject [of the Millennial Kingdom] and the Judgment Seat of Christ can be counted on one hand. Why is this? Does meditation on such a penetrating truth terrify the minister? Well it might.
It is tragic that most of the major denominations—Roman Catholic and Protestant—embrace an eschatology (“study of last things”) that is amillennial: a view that does not envision a literal rule of Christ on the Throne of David on Planet Earth.
While there are many different, yet defendable, views regarding many aspects of end-time prophecies, this basic divergence—denying a literal Millennium—is particularly hazardous since it would appear to be an attack on the very character of God! It does violence to His numerous and explicit promises and commitments that pervade both the Old and New Testaments.
The Old Testament is replete with commitments for a literal Messiah ultimately ruling the world through Israel from His throne in Jerusalem. There are at least 1,845 references in the Old Testament and 17 books that give prominence to the event. The ancient rabbinical aspirations were dominated by it. In fact, this obsession obscured Israel’s recognizing the Messiah when He made His initial appearance.
There are at least 318 references in 216 chapters of the New Testament and 23 of its 27 books give prominence to the event. The early church looked longingly for His promised return as their “Blessed Hope” to rid a desperate world of its evil rulers.
The Davidic Covenant
One of the hazards of the amillennial view is the failure to take the covenants of God seriously. There are a number of major covenants—commitments—of God throughout the Old Testament. Four of them are unconditional (that is, unilateral commitments on God’s part):
1. The Abrahamic Covenant
2. The Land Covenant
3. The Davidic Covenant
4. The Everlasting Covenant
Throughout the world today anti-Semitism continually challenges the Abrahamic Covenant. Most New Testament Christians have an inadequate understanding of the Old Testament roots of our faith and the ultimate destiny of Israel in God’s program for mankind.
The Land Covenant, and Israel’s right to the land, is the primary challenge of the militant agenda of Islam today.
The post-modern church, in its Replacement Theology that ignores the passages outlining the ultimate destiny of Israel, dismisses the Davidic Covenant. Paul’s definitive statement of Christian theology we call the book of Romans hammers away in three chapters—9, 10, and 11—that God is not finished with Israel and emphasizes its future restoration. The fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant—and its implications for Christians in our day—is the subject of this article.
The Throne of David is central to many of the Messianic prophecies; i.e., Isaiah 9:6-7 and Luke 1:31-33.
The Throne of David, however, did not exist during the Messiah’s earthly ministry. So the Thorn-crowned One has yet to assume that very Throne and to fulfill this destiny; i.e., Acts 15:13-18 and Amos 9:11!
Revelation 20 details the fulfillment of these kingdom commitments in which a specific period of one thousand years is designated and thus yields the common label, the “Millennium.” (Although most of what we know about this period accrues from other related passages.) The Millennial Kingdom is a one-thousand-year literal and visible reign of Christ upon the earth during which Satan is bound, Israel as a people is re-stored, and the Jewish Temple rebuilt. Jesus will be the King of kings ruling over a literal kingdom, in the literal land of Israel, located in the literal city of Jerusalem.
The Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew used a specific phrase, “the Kingdom of Heaven” in his Gospel. He was the only one to use this phrase. Mark, Luke, and John, in similar passages always used the phrase “the Kingdom of God.” Many assume that these are simply synonyms. Careful exegetical study suggests that they are not precisely equivalent:
The Kingdom of God is all-inclusive; it’s a spiritual kingdom that focuses on our relationship with the King who rules over our hearts (Luke 17:20-21). This kingdom is universal, unlimited in scope, eternal in its duration and the subject of New Testament revelation.
It is promised to those who believe in Jesus Christ and to those who accept Him as their personal savior. Thus, the only door into this kingdom is Jesus Christ and it can be entered only by regeneration.
Matthew’s use of Kingdom of Heaven is more specific and a denotative subset within the all-inclusive term. This kingdom is the literal, earthly sphere of the universal Kingdom of God. It’s a physical kingdom and one that can be seen, so it is limited in scope. It’s called the Kingdom of Heaven because of its rule over the earth. It will be centered in Jerusalem. It’s also a political kingdom and will contain some unbelievers, i.e., some “tares.” It’s the Messianic Kingdom on earth and thus, it’s emphasis is Jewish. The people that will be in this king-dom are: resurrected Old Testament Saints (Daniel 12:1-2; Matthew 8:11); resurrected Tribulation saints (Revelation 20:4); resurrected church age saints (1 Corinthians 6:2); and survivors of the Tribulation.
The object of the Kingdom of Heaven seems to be the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. In other words, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven will merge, fulfilling God’s plan to come down and dwell among us.
The illuminating discovery is that the Millennium is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. It is also important to realize that it is a physical kingdom on the Planet Earth.
See Chart 12: Defining the Kingdom
The Purpose of All History
Jesus summarized the purpose, tragedy, and triumph of all history:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gath-ered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing.
The Tragedy of All History
But ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
When Jesus came, they rejected Him, attributed His miracles to Satan, and began plotting His death. From that day on, He preached publicly only in parables. His explanations were reserved in private sessions with His disciples. It will require the Great Tribulation to ultimately drive them to repentance:
I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their of-fence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me earnestly.
The Triumph of All History
For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Because of their rejection, national blindness was decreed upon Israel as Jesus rode that donkey into Jerusalem, present-ing Himself as the Messiah on the very day that Gabriel had established with Daniel. But that blindness would not last forever
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
Upon His return in power, the Messiah will establish His Kingdom, and build the Temple, fulfilling the Davidic Covenant.
And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the Temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the Temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his Throne; and he shall be a priest upon his Throne.
This is the Kingdom predicted throughout the Psalms and the Prophets, in which the Messiah will rule the earth “with a rod of iron” and before whom “every knee will bow.”
The determination of our individual roles and responsibilities in this Kingdom will be determined by our faithfulness and commitment in this life that we are now living.
To be continued next month: “Kingdom Events.”
This article has been excerpted, in part, from Chuck and Nan’s new book, The Kingdom, Power and Glory.