Category Archives: Kingdom

The Kingdom of Heaven

golden-city-of-heavenIn reading the Gospel account of Matthew, there is no doubt as to its running theme and message. The phrase “The Kingdom of Heaven” is mentioned 32 times in the Authorized Version. No where else in the scriptures, is this particular term used. No other apostle or Bible writer uses the term; the other Gospel writers use “The Kingdom of God”.

Most Bible expositors believe the terms Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God are used interchangeably, and we have no reason to disagree. In fact, in parallel accounts of the Gospels, the terms are use interchangeably by the writers themselves. (See Matt. 4:17 and Mark 1:15; Matt. 8:11 and Luke 13:28, 29). In fact, Matthew himself uses the term Kingdom of God five times, (cf. 6:33; 12:28; 19:24; 21:31; 21:43). 

The Kingdom of Heaven IS at Hand!

John the Baptist, began his preaching work admonishing those around him; “Repent ye; for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (3:2) interestingly, our Lord himself began his ministry with those same words (4:17); and he taught his apostles to do the same, when he sent them out to preach (10:7). Not only was this kingdom the main thrust of our Lord’s ministry, it was his only thrust!

This is evident in our Lord’s mountaintop sermon, addressing the multitudes; “… he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” … “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:2, 3, 20)

We can see that this “kingdom of heaven” permeates the record of the Lord’s earthly ministry, as well as in the ministry of the 12 apostles, who were both instructed and commissioned by our Lord.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

Some scholars believe that the message of the Kingdom of Heaven is a reference to heaven itself, and that the message preached about by the Lord and his apostles was the issue of heaven and how to get there.

Others would teach that the Kingdom of Heaven is but a reference to a spiritual condition, in the hearts of men, resulting in the transforming of lives and eventually the society we live in. What the Lord and his 12 apostles were therefore preaching about, was the need for repentance and letting God  reign in the hearts of men. Doing so, God’s will would be done on earth. (6:10)

These are but a few of the commonly accepted ideas as to the meaning behind the “kingdom of heaven.” However, these thoughts are at odds with what the Scriptures themselves declare. A careful search of the Scriptures reveal that the “kingdom of heaven” is not a reference to heaven itself, or to some spiritual reigning of God in the hearts of men, but rather to the Messianic kingdom of peace foretold by the prophets and promised by God himself to the nation of Israel. (Daniel 2:44;45; Isaiah 2:2-5; Micah 4:1-5)

A Promised Kingdom

We read of a covenant relationship in Genesis, between Jehovah God and Abraham.  Accordingly, the nation of Israel was to be a “great nation” and “kingdom” in which “all the families of the earth shall be blessed“. (Ex. 12:1, 3) The arrangement was to give land to Abraham, where he and his descendants after him, would forever dwell as this “great nation” and provide for the blessing of the world and administer God’s dominion over it. (Ex. 19:5, 6)

In prophesying about this event, Isaiah proclaimed:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people:” (Isaiah 2:2-4)

We see here how this nation under God, would provide the way for the world of mankind to walk in the path of God. The will of heaven will reign and rule on the earth by way of the kingdom of Israel.

A Rebellious Nation and Her Failures

God raised up prominent ones to lead his people. History shows that despite God’s plans, Israel rebelled.  In view of her rebellious ways and failures, God raised up King David and made a covenant with him and his descendants.  “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.” (2 Sam. 7:12, 13; 1 Chr. 17:11-14)

Isaiah rejoiced in this future day and proclaimed to Israel…

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this“. (Isaiah 9:6 7)

Daniel in a vision saw the end of Gentile dominion over Israel and the fulfillment of God’s promises to the nation;

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:44)

We see that Israel’s covenanted kingdom was to be established through her Messiah, the promise seed of David in accordance with the Davidic covenant.  He would redeem His people and set up his kingdom dominion in Zion. This is what God’s covenant with Israel called for. This is what the expression “the kingdom of heaven” refers to.

The Kingdom of Heaven AT Hand

When our Lord Jesus was born, he was born for a purpose, a God given mission.  To fulfill the Davidic promise as was announced to Mary;

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 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 1:31 33)

Jesus, the only-begotten son of God, left his heavenly home, to be born of women, and become the promised seed of David, to sit on the throne of David and establish His kingdom on earth. The “kingdom of heaven“, therefore, was “at hand“.

Not only was the promised Messiah here, but he was right on schedule as the prophets had long foretold (see Dan. 9:24-27). The establishing of the kingdom of heaven was near completion. Which prompted our Lord to tell the masses as he preached; “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17)

This was the Divine Plan of ages ago. The long awaited Messiah, the promise seed of David, the King of Israel had arrived. To announce that the covenanted “kingdom of heaven” was “at hand“. And as such, the work began to prepare the way.  Jesus taught the masses the beatitudes in view of it (5:1-12). He taught how to gain entrance into it (5:20; 7:21; 18:3; 19:23; 24).  He expounded on those who would be the “least” and the “greatest” in it (5:19; 11:11; 13:32). He even informed his closes disciples of their special positions in it (19:28) and finally, he warned about the destructive judgments He would execute upon the nations prior to fully establishing the kingdom (chapters 24, 25).

As God’s plan unveils, the Apostles eagerly looked for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. (Acts 1:6) They, therefore, proclaimed to Israel the arrival of her “last days“, (Acts 2:1 36), as spoken of in the prophets, and exhorted the people to respond positively to the offer of the kingdom. (Acts 3:12 26)

Where is this promise Kingdom?

It is obvious that “the kingdom of heaven” has not yet been established on the earth. None of the prophetic pronouncements concerning its establishment have been fulfilled, however, when our Lord was on earth “the time” was “fulfilled” for it, and so it was preached to be “at hand“. So we ask ourselves, what has happened? Why hasn’t “the God of heaven” set up that kingdom of promise?

Though many have endeavored to explain, we find that God’s own explanation concerning what he has done and what he will yet do is the one that needs to be understood and appreciated.

A New Dispensation

The Apostle Paul tells us the reason behind the delay in the establishing of Israel’s kingdom. We’re told that God has temporarily set aside his plans for Israel, and has ushered in a new dispensation. We read in Romans 11, that when Israel “stumbled” at the testimony of Christ, God did something unexpected. He “blinded” the nation and turned to the Gentiles.

“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 has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” (vs. 25 – cf John 12:37-40; 2 Cor. 3:14)

Yes, God has “blinded” Israel and has put his plans and His special dealings with her on hold. In doing so, God has turned his attention to the Gentiles and has administered a dispensation of grace. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians;

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery;…which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” (3:1-6)

This dispensation of grace is what God is now working out, and has been working out. We must remember God has “not cast away His people“. He is not through with them. Rather, her “fullness” is yet to come. Since her “blindness” is “in part“, “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in“, Paul goes on to say;

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Romans 11:1, 26, 27)

Israel’s “fullness” is yet to come, and when it does, as Zechariah 14:9 says, “…the LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

Also, as Isaiah declares to the redeemed and the delivered of Israel in that day;

“…ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God:…For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” (vs 6,11)

One Kingdom Two Phasgolden-city-of-heavenes

The literal Kingdom of God is not to be seen by hands, Jesus will not sit on a literal throne on earth, but this kingdom will be in the literal heavens, thus the Kingdom of Heaven is a spiritual Kingdom, unseen to the human eye, but its influence will be worldwide.  When asked about his Kingdom, Jesus replied:  “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” [or “in your midst” – Rotherham] (Luke 17:20-21)

Israel will be the earthly representatives of that heavenly kingdom, with the ancient patriarchs of old being its rulers.  Jesus and His Church will be the heavenly representatives of that kingdom.

Israel’s promised kingdom is yet to be established, God’s word is sure, for He cannot change or alter his promises (Psalm 89:34). However, God’s plan for Israel is set aside and in abeyance. God is working out “the mystery of Christ” in this “dispensation of His grace” and is preparing the “new creation“, the church, the body of Christ, made up of both Jew and Gentile, for a purpose He has in the heavenly places. When that number is complete, “all Israel shall be saved” and their promised Kingdom realized. They shall be the blesser nation, and through them “all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”

I Will Come Again

2nd coming“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and
receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John
14:3

When this age-abiding promise was first uttered by Jesus to his
apostles, it did not make sense. To the naturally minded men who
followed Jesus, they assumed the logical move would be for Jesus to
take charge as a King, throw off the yoke of Roman bondage, exalt the Jews and bless the world. Why should he leave now? There was work to be done here. When Jesus spoke of his death and strangely of his leaving, the idea simply did not fit into their expectations.
But as they wended their way along the path to Gethsemane, Jesus had assured them, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.

Dazed, these words made little impression on his little band. But forty days later on Mt. Olivet, huddled together in amazement with eyes turned heavenward, straining to catch the last glimpse of their
ascending Lord, this promise came alive. “I will come again.” Yes their beloved Master would return. The Apostles wove that glorious theme into the fabric of their ministry and their very lives.

No other doctrine is discussed more in the New Testament—over one third of its writings deal with this momentous event. How our hearts trill at the hope of being united with the returned Lord, our heavenly Bridegroom, seeing him as he is, living with him and experiencing his love forevermore—and the reality of reigning with him (Rev. 20:5) in a kingdom that extends to the ends of the earth, bringing “peace…like a river and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” Isa. 66:12

Long have faithful Christians prayed with the Apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Centuries have passed. Seemingly nothing has
happened. But suddenly our day is charged with an air of expectancy.

Few would question that we are living in an unprecedented time of
human history. Most Bible-believing Christians feel we are living in
the very time the Bible says Christ is to return. There is a surge of
interest in prophecy—a revival of interest in the second advent. Many speak of the imminent coming of Christ. This expectancy is based on our Lord’s Great Prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21. Many believe that the nearness of Christ’s return is indicated by such signs as the following: Israel restored (Matt. 24:32; Jer. 16:13-18); knowledge and travel increased (Dan. 12:40); evils exposed as never before (Luke 12:2; 1 Cor. 4:5); infidelity rampant from university to pulpit (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-4); men seeking pleasure, morality rotting (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13); strikes, walkouts (James 5:1-4); racial strife, riots (Zeph. 1:7-9)’ juvenile delinquency (2 Tim. 3:2); wars and war preparations intensified (Joel 3:9-11); men crying fearfully for peace (1 Thess. 5:3, Luke 21:26); trouble everywhere (Matt. 24:21,22).

But let us take a closer look at our Master’s words and see what these signs really prove.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him
privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [Greek, parousia], and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3

Coming or Presence

The Greek word translated “coming” is parousia. It really means
“presence.” If parousia means “presence,” then the fulfillment of the
signs of this prophecy would mean that Christ is not coming shortly,
but he is already secretly here as a “thief in the night.” Remember, the Scriptures show that Christ’s initial return would be a thief-like, secret presence (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15) before “every eye shall see him.” The following dictionaries (standard works in fundamentalist and evangelical bookstores) confirm this definition of presence.

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being…denotes
both n arrival and a consequent presence with.”

Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.”

Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.'”

The Bible Definition

However, we are not confined to dictionary definitions. The Lord has provided a Scriptural definition for the Greek word parousia. Parousia appears in Matthew 24:27 where it is mistranslated “coming.” The following chart compares its parallel citation in Luke 17:26, providing the Bible’s own definition for parousia.

Matthew 24:37Luke 17:26 But as the days of Noah were, = As it was
in the days of Noah, so shall also the parousia of the Son of man be =
so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.

The phrase “parousia of the Son of man” in Matthew 24:27 means the same as the phrase, “in the days of the Son of man” in Luke 17:26. the “days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26) refers to the time that Christ is present, just as the “days of Noah” would refer to the time when Noah was present among his wicked generation. Therefore, parousia in Matthew 24:37 should be translated “presence of the Son of man” instead of “coming” of the Son of man.”
This is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s usage of the word. The thought of “presence” is plainly shown by the contrast with “absence” in Philippians 2:12. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence [Greek, parousia] only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is also shown in 2 Corinthians 10:10.

Evangelical and Fundamentalist Consent to “Presence”

The Emphasized Bible translated by Rotherham is published by Kregel, an evangelical publishing house. Rotherham relates his struggle with the word parousia in the third edition of his translation. Although contrary to his theology, he acknowledged that parousia means “presence” and so translated it in every occurrence. He states on p. 271 in the Appendix:
“In this edition the word parousia is uniformly rendered ‘presence’
(‘coming,’ as a representative of this word, being set aside). The original term occurs twenty-four times in the N.T., viz.: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7; 10:10; Philippians 1:26; 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:3; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12 and 1 John 2:28. the sense of ‘presence’ is so plainly shown by the contrast with ‘absence’ (implied in 2 Cor. 10:10, and expressed in Phil. 2:12) that the question naturally arises,—Why not always so render it? The more so, inasmuch as there is in 2 Peter 1:16 also, a peculiar fitness in our English word ‘presence.’

This passage, it will be remembered, relates to our Lord’s
transformation upon the Mount. The wonderful manifestation there
made was a display and sample of ‘presence’ rather than of ‘coming.’
The Lord was already there; and, being there, he was transformed (cp. Matt. 17;2,n.) and the ‘majesty’ of his glorified person was then
disclosed. His bodily ‘presence’ was one which implied and exerted
‘power’; so that ‘power and presence’ go excellently well together—the ‘power’ befitting such a ‘presence’; and the three favored disciples were at one and the same moment witnesses of both.”

Harry Rimmer (D.D., Sc.D.), who was styled “Fundamentalism’s
outstanding spokesman” until his death, admitted that the word
parousia meant personal presence. In his book, The Coming King, he
observed that the Greek word parousia is used 13 times in describing the return of Christ and not once does it have the thought of “coming.”

Christianity Today (a well-known evangelical magazine) published a
series of essays on “Fundamentals of the Faith.” the essay in booklet
form on “The Second Advent of Christ” had this to say about parousia: “…let us look at the Greek words used in the New Testament for the idea of the return. First of all, there is the word parousia, which means basically ‘presence.'”

No doctrine is more frequently mentioned in the New Testament that Christ’s second advent. Yet, few doctrines have been as greatly
fragmented into such diversified concepts. Much of the beauty of this doctrine has been wrested from the grasp of God’s people. All secular Greek dictionaries define parousia, “presence.” Most Biblical
dictionaries likewise define parousia, “presence.” Most current
fundamentalist and evangelical writings on the second advent usually begin by correctly defining parousia, “presence.” Then a strange thing happens. Somehow the word “coming” replaces “presence.” Incorrect theology requires parousia to be translated “coming,” but Scriptural harmony requires that it be translated “presence.”

“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”

Historically there is not a single Protestant concept of the second
advent that has an unbroken lineage back to the time of the
Reformation. Since that time, Bible-believing Christians have
fluctuated among a number of conflicting concepts.

Our purpose in this work is to set aside all theories of men and
ascertain from the Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone, the glorious
beauties of this momentous event. The faithful Christian is to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The Word of Truth was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. But now the average Christian is no longer dependent upon the translators or scholars to determine the meaning of a specific Hebrew or Greek word in a given text. In fact, many of the new “translations” are mere
paraphrases of former translations, with little or no consideration given to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Further, even the best
translations have some flaws since they are the works of man.

The ready accessibility of Biblical concordances, Hebrew and Greek
dictionaries and lexicons in libraries and Bible bookstores is one of the blessings of our day. With the Bible in one hand and a concordance and lexicon in the other, the average Christian can verify the meaning of original words in the Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament manuscripts. He can be a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

For many centuries, the church has been on a rough and stormy sea
longing for the blessed haven of Christ’s return. Now, with the chart
and compass of God’s word, the Christian can trace the various
independent lines of prophecy and see the blessed haven just before
him. As there is the danger of shipwreck upon reefs just beneath the
water’s surface along many shorelines, so the Christian must be his own mariner avoiding the ensnarements of unscriptural or even partially Scriptural theories on the second advent. As a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” he will utilize, whenever necessary, the tools that make the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture readily accessible.

If this work inspires the reader to a deeper search of the Scriptures on this subject, then it will have made a contribution to the fellowship of believers.

A Secret Presence Before “Every Eye Shall See Him”

Having observed that the word parousia means presence and not
coming, Matthew 24:3 properly reads: “What shall be the sign of thy
presence and of the end of the world?”

Luke 21:25 refers to “signs” in the plural.

The Scriptures show that the first stage of our Lord’s parousia,
presence, will be secret. “The day of the Lord will arrive [will be here,
Greek, heko—see Strong’s, Young’s or Vine’s] as a thief.” 2 Peter 3:10, Rotherham A thief enters a house quietly, doing a secret work.
Consequently, the first works of our returned Lord are during a secret presence. The world will, at first, be unaware that Christ has returned.

“But ye brethren are not in darkness that day should overtake[implies, a period of overlapping] you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:4 Later, his presence will be made manifest to all. The Scriptures use another Greek word, apokalupsis, to describe this revealment to all. “The Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 It is in reference to this revealment to all, that Scriptures like Revelation 1:7 apply; “He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Christians, who are not overcharged with the cares of this life, will experience the joys of discerning the signs of his secret presence (Luke 21:34-36), before they are “caught up together” with him.

What On Earth Is A Kingdom?

ancient_walled_kingdom_by_androgs-d81tm0oA Kingdom on Earth…is the real answer we need.
“Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done in Earth.”—Early Christians expected a literal fulfillment of this prayer. Shouldn’t we?
Just imagine what it will mean!

Real joy and peace and health. Real contentment and fullness. Real government by God, for man, which will not perish from this globe.
Real hopes—soon to come. Read them. Find joy and calm.

CONSIDER THE WORLD NOW! BUT THEN…
…the earth shall yield her increase. Psalm 67:6
The want of today will give way to the fullness of tomorrow. Blight will no longer cause famine—insects no longer destroy; and the inhabitants shall no longer say “I am sick.” The balance of
nature will return: the wolf, in peace, will rest with the lamb, and nothing will hurt nor destroy in all is holy kingdom, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

The eyes of the blind…shall be opened! Isaiah 35:5
Restoration of all that man has lost will be the first work of the kingdom. He whose eyes are darkened will see again with bright delight; he whose mind has been darkened will comprehend
with clarity. The dignity of a sound mind and a sound body will return. Ears which have never perceived sound will hear; minds which have never perceived truth will understand. Love will
extend from hearts which had been stone; wrongs will cease and forgiveness will reach out from those who have been wronged. The knowledge of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the
sea; fear will flee away.
The lame man…shall leap like a deer. Isaiah 35:6
Vitality will pulse through limbs once withered. Wholeness will return to bodies once dismembered. Life! Life expressed in energy, in direction, in attainment, in the joy of knowing that our bodies will respond to our wills—all accompanied with the profound peace of the knowledge that tragedies will no longer strike us down. Think of all the beauty of human form and feature that you have ever seen—and know that perfected humanity will be still of surpassing loveliness.

Neither shall they learn war anymore…Isaiah 2:4
The enemy which has cast its shadow across the path of every man will perish. Death itself will die! And the hope (seemingly beyond hope) will be realized as all who have died are awakened, restored, and are given the opportunity for life without end; for God is the Savior of ALL—not just those who have believed.

Think of the reunions, the rebuilding, the re-planning—all without fear of termination. Think of the peace, the calm, the certainty—the government of the Prince of Peace: “and of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end.” No tears or pain; no sorrow and crying; no death, no dying. Weeping has endured for a long, long night; but joy and song will greet the morning!
He will swallow up death in victory…Isaiah 25:8
“Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16

Food for all in rich supply will be one of the abundances in God’s kingdom. Hunger will vanish. But there is another kind of hunger, one that can be satisfied now. It is the hunger for truth. If you
have found the kingdom prospects shown in these writings to be good, then you may be hungering for more. There are answers for the questions so often asked but rarely answered: How does God plan to accomplish these things? If God really exists, why has He permitted suffering? How does He deal in both love and justice with believers and also with unbelievers?

What is all of this that we hear about “church” and “being saved?” What about the scriptures which speak about heaven instead of earth? What about Bible contradictions? Truth is available. Truth is consistent. Truth is reasonable. Taste it! Read the 360-page book,
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES, available on this website. This booklets you see that the Bible does, indeed, make sense. You can know the when, the how, and the why of the kingdom on earth!
God hath made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
This Biblical texts on which this is based are listed below for your consideration:

Genesis 22:18; Job 33:25,26; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 72:8; Psalm 145:16; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:5-10; Isaiah 29:24; Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 61:11; Isaiah 65:21-25; Jeremiah 31:33,34; Ezekiel 36:36; Micah 4:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 6:10; Acts 3:20,21; Acts 24:15; Romans 8:20-25; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26; Galatians 3:8; Ephesians 1:10; 1 Timothy  2:4-6; 1 Timothy 4:10; Revelation 21:4

God’s Kingdom

kingdomofgod“Of those born of women there is not a greater prophet than
John the Baptist, but the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is
greater than he” Luke 7:28

There can be no better illustration of the sharp line of distinction
between the earthly and the heavenly classes and their calling
than is shown by our text. The great Teacher freely attested to
the loyalty and courage and saintliness of His cousin John, as
evidenced by the words of our text. But if so great and honorable
a Prophet, why could not John be a member of the Bride class?
Why could he not be numbered with the disciples of Jesus and be
an Apostle, or at least a footstep follower? The Answer–is that
he was not called to the heavenly plane, but to the earthly. He
was honored of God in being made one of the Prophets of the
Jewish Age the last of them. Although a different honor from
that conferred upon the Apostles, John’s was a great honor, and
we have reason to believe that, under Divine providence, when
perfected in the resurrection, he will appreciate the earthly
blessings and privileges which will be his, more than the
spiritual and heavenly privileges bestowed upon the Apostles
and the less prominent members of the Church.

The Lord “will choose our inheritance for us,” we read (Psa.
47:4). Happy are those who repose implicit confidence in Divine
goodness and who seek to obtain whatever may be God’s choice
for them. If we have been called with the heavenly calling, let us
not shrink back and declare ourselves unworthy and decline to
accept the favors of God and to choose an inferior position. Let
us, rather, be glad to say, Thy will be done in my heart, in my
life, in all my future. “Order Thou my steps in Thy Word.”

A FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM

Jesus had a two-fold mission: (1) He came “that the world
through Him might be saved” that He might give Himself “a
ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:6).
(2) Incidentally His mission was to proclaim the acceptable year
of the Lord the time in which God is willing to accept the
sacrifices of such as desire to walk in the Redeemer’s footsteps,
and to constitute these the Bride and Joint-heir of Messiah.
John the Baptist referred to the latter feature of our Lord’s work,
saying, He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom, but the friend
of the Bridegroom heareth His voice and rejoiceth greatly. This,
my joy, therefore, is fulfilled (John 3:29). It was not for him to
be a member of the Bride, but he rejoiced to be a friend of the
Bridegroom. As our Lord’s forerunner he announced the
Bridegroom; he called upon the nation of Israel to turn from sin,
to purify their hearts, to come back into harmony with God and
thus to be prepared to receive the Bridegroom and to become the
Bride. So far as the nation was concerned John’s mission was a
failure, as God had foreknown and foretold. but so far as the
Bride class was concerned John’s mission was a success, for, as
the Scriptures intimate, those who believed John’s testimony
accepted Jesus and He accepted them.

GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM

We must remember that the Church is the Kingdom of God now
in a formative or embryotic state, but in the end, by “the
resurrection,” to be spirit beings and partakers with Jesus, their
Bridegroom, in His wonderful glory, honor, immortality and
Kingdom work. This Kingdom class is not reigning now, but
merely forming. It is joined “on probation,” after the Methodist
style. If the probationary period of the present life be faithfully
used, the full induction into the Kingdom, its glories, honors and
immortality, will surely follow by participation in the First
Resurrection.

Amongst the faithful followers of the Master there will be
differences, as St. Paul explains, “as one star differeth from
another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:41). We cannot know, and it is
not necessary for us to guess, who shall occupy the chief places
in the Kingdom. These shall be given to those whom the Father
prefers, as the Redeemer explained to the woman who asked that
her two sons might sit, one on His right hand and the other on
His left hand in the Kingdom (Matt. 20:21).

If we were to guess who shall be closest in position to the Master
we would suppose that St. Paul would be first, with St. John, St.
Peter and St. James near by in glorious excellence. And yet we
know not how nearly up to the Apostolic standard some may be
who have lived very humble and obscure lives, have fought a
good fight and finished their course with joy. Indeed, the twelve
Apostles seem to occupy, by Divine decision in advance, the
very highest stations in the Kingdom, next to that of the
Redeemer, Who said of them, “Ye who have followed Me, in the
regeneration… shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve
tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). Again, they are pictured to us as
the “crown of twelve stars” to the Church in her future glory, and
again they are pictured to us as the twelve precious foundation
stones of the Church in future glory, as the New Jerusalem (Rev.
21:14).

Those called of God to this high salvation, as members of the
spiritual Kingdom which shall bless natural Israel and through
her all the nations, are required to demonstrate their loyalty to
God by faithfulness even unto death in the narrow way of self-sacrifice.

As there is no other name than that of Jesus whereby
any may be saved to eternal life, so, likewise, there is no other
path whereby any may reach the Kingdom except the narrow
way, “and few there be that find it.” All who attain to the
Kingdom must be overcomers of the world to the extent of self-sacrifice.

The gradations of glory will be because of special
manifestations of zeal for the Lord and His cause of
righteousness and Truth against sin and error.

A LESSER SPIRITUAL SALVATION

The Scriptures clearly show another class in process of salvation
during this Gospel Age, quite separate and distinct from the
Bride class. These are referred to in various parts of the
Scriptures. They will all be loyal, to the extent that they would
not deny the Lord nor willfully practice sin. Their failure to
reach the status of the Bride is indicated in an insufficiency of
zeal in connection with their loyalty. This class is described in
Rev. 7:14. They are represented as having failed to keep their
garments unspotted from the world failed to live circumspectly,
carefully enough.

Hence in a great time of trouble in the end of this Age these are
represented as washing their robes and making them white in the
blood of the Lamb and then coming up through that tribulation to
glory and honor, but not to immortality, nor to the same degree
of glory and honor as the Church, the Bride. The distinction in
their glory is indicated in that instead of being in the Throne they
are before it; instead of being the Bride, they will serve; instead
of wearing the crown, they will bear palm branches; instead of
being the Temple, they will be servants in the Temple.

This same class is referred to by the Apostle in his declaration
respecting the end of this Age. He intimates that some will have
an abundant entrance (2 Pet. 1:11) into the Kingdom, while
others will be “saved so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). The fire of this
Day will test every man’s work of what sort it is. Some will be
proved to be gold, silver, precious stones. These the “fire” will
not consume. Others will be proved to be an admixture of hay
and stubble, which will be consumed, though themselves will be
saved so as by fire (1 Cor. 3:12,13).

The tribe of Levi pictured the entire “Church of the First-born,”
but it contained two classes the “little flock” of priests and the
“great company” of Levites the Bride class and the servant class, none of whom have any inheritance in the earth, all of whom have the heavenly inheritance.

As Isaac typified our Lord, the Redeemer, and as Rebecca
typified the Bride class, so Rebecca’s maidens typified this
“great company ” class. This same thought is brought to our
attention in Psa. 45, where the Bride class is pictured as being
presented to Jehovah in the end of this Age in glory, honor and
immortality, illustrated by raiment of fine needlework and gold.
Following the Bride come “the virgins, her companions, who
follow her.” These also will be greatly honored, greatly blessed,
though theirs will be a lesser honor. This “great company” will
not constitute the Kingdom, although they will be identified with
it and its wonderful salvation and blessing for mankind.

KEEPING OR BREAKING COMMANDMENTS

The great Teacher’s declaration that they who break God’s
commandments and teach others so to do shall be called “least in
the Kingdom” has caused considerable perplexity in the past.
The question has been, How could anyone be fit at all for the
Kingdom who breaks God’s commandments and teaches others
so to do? The Answer–is that many of God’s people have
labored under more or less of blindness and have done things
which they ought not to have done and left undone the things
which they ought to have done. As an illustration, John Calvin,
noble man as he was, burned his Christian brother, Servetus.
Such violation of the Divine commands and such wrong teaching
must, according to our human judgment, assign Brother Calvin
to a lesser place in the Kingdom than if he had more carefully,
more earnestly sought the will and Spirit of God. However, it is
not for us to judge. We are merely seeking to ascertain the spirit
of our Lord’s words.

Begotten of the Holy Spirit and privileged of the Lord to be
disciples and to be guided of the Holy Spirit, we should be so
faithful in the study of the Scriptures as not to be mistaken in
respect to the general application of their meaning. Wrong
practice and false teachings do not always represent disloyalty to
God, but they surely do always represent slackness or inattention
to the Divine message; though we may be sure of the Lord’s
faithfulness in enlightening all who are of the proper, teachable
spirit.

JOHN THE BAPTIST CLASS

To what class does John the Baptist belong, and what will be his
share in the Kingdom, according to our text?

Since the call of God began with the call of the Church, and
since the Church began at the First Advent of Jesus, it follows
that no one was called of God to salvation prior to Jesus’ time
none for forty-one hundred and fifty years after sin entered the
world.

God did, however, recognize the loyalty of heart of His Prophet
Enoch and communed with him and blessed him, etc. God also
recognized Abraham’s faith and spirit of obedience, and Isaac’s
and Jacob’s, and that of Moses and Aaron and numerous
prophets and other faithful ones less notable.

Did He not call these? We Answer–that He did not call them to
salvation, for no salvation could be positively offered until the
Redeemer had sacrificed; nor were they called to the Kingdom,
for the same reason, God did tell them that in due time He would
bless all the world. He did tell them that in due time the great
Ruler of the world would come forth from Abraham’s posterity
in the line of Isaac and Jacob and the nation of Israel. But telling
them of a coming blessing and giving them eternal life are
different matters. St. Paul declares that none of them got
everlasting life, and that “by the deeds of the Law no flesh can
be justified before God.”

Israel’s Law Covenant served to instruct the Chosen People. It
was a call to do right, and a promise of eternal life if they would
keep the Law. “He that doeth these things shall live.” Israel
learned the lesson that a perfect Law could not be kept by
imperfect beings. Some of them and some of the Gentiles in due
time heard of Jesus and how God has provided justification
through His sacrificial death.

SOME BETTER THING FOR THE CHURCH
THAN FOR ANCIENT WORTHIES

St. Paul tells us the status of those noble characters, of whom
John the Baptist was the last. They were volunteer servants of
God, so to speak. Those of them who were born under the Law
Covenant, by their faith lived above it and will be fully
rewarded, although they lived before any specific call or offer of
eternal life was made. Their faith and obedience were pleasing to
God; as St. Paul relates, “All these died in faith, not having
received the things promised (them), God having provided some
better thing for us (the Gospel Church), that they without us
should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:13,40).

“The Church of the First-born” is to be perfected first, and on the
spirit plane, “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). In due
time those Ancient Worthies will come forth from the tomb to
receive the blessing which God declares shall be the reward of
their loyalty. As the Church will have the “better resurrection”
on the spirit plane, so those Ancient Worthies will have the
“better resurrection” on the earthly plane. They will come forth
from the tomb actually perfect, while the remainder of mankind
will be obliged to attain perfection by the slow process of faith,
works, obedience, during the thousand years of the Kingdom.

ANCIENT WORTHIES WILL BE PRINCES IN ALL THE EARTH

Moreover, those Ancient Worthies, while not members of the
Kingdom, per se, which will be spiritual, will be members of
that Kingdom in its earthly phase. They will be the Kingdom’s
earthly representatives, princes or rulers, in all the earth, as the
Scriptures declare (Psa. 45:16). We remember the words of Jesus
to this effect: “Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the
Prophets in the Kingdom,” but He said not a word about Himself
or His disciples being seen; properly so, because they, as spirit
beings, will be invisible to men.

The Scriptures still further intimate that during the thousand
years of Messiah’s reign, all the faithful of mankind, all the
obedient, will be privileged to come into relationship with the
King. This is figuratively represented in the statement that the
great ones of the earth “will bring their glory and honor into the
New Jerusalem.”

With such glorious hopes before us, with such appreciation of
our Heavenly Father’s glorious character and wonderful
Plan, with such a grand view of our Savior’s work, with such a
hope of a share with Him in His Kingdom, what manner of
persons ought we to be in holy living and godliness! Nor should
it be thought strange that any of the spirit-begotten now, or the
restored of the future, who would turn their backs upon the
gracious provisions made for their salvation, would be
considered unworthy of further favor or blessing at the hands of
God and should die the Second Death annihilation. As Paul says
they shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the
presence of the Lord and the glory of His power (2 Thess. 1:9).
Soon the disciples of the Master will be one with Him beyond
the veil, sharers of His glory and Kingdom. Then will come the
time when the world will believe. The knowledge of the Lord
will fill the earth and all the blinding and stumbling influences of
the present will be at an end. The Savior will then exercise His
power on behalf of the world, overthrowing evil and uplifting
every good principle and all who love righteousness, and
destroying those who would corrupt the earth. Rev. 11:18