Posted: May. 30, 2020 12:01 am
Editor’s note: This column is part two in a series about the biblical end of days and the book of Revelation.
What are the Old Testament prophecies and how are they to be fulfilled? One of the great themes in prophetic scriptures is the kingdom of God — in other words, the promise the Messiah will come set up a kingdom over which he will reign forever. Jesus is the king who fulfills the prophecies about the kingdom, but there is disagreement as to how these prophecies will be fulfilled.
Some believe these prophecies refer to the time when Christ will return to establish a physical, political kingdom in Jerusalem and reign over earth for 1,000 years.
Others believe Christ established his kingdom when he came the first time and that is a spiritual kingdom.
God promised the Israelites he would send them a great king, like David. His kingdom would be universal, eternal and benevolent (Psalm 2:1-7, Isaiah 9:6-7). That king is Jesus. These prophecies are referring to something Jesus has already done at his first coming. The kingdom of God has already been established. In Matthew 12:28, he says, “The kingdom of God has come.” This kingdom is heavenly and spiritual. The great king is Jesus.
In Matthew 4:17, Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Here, he is referring to the establishment of the church on the Pentecost (Acts 2).
Christ’s kingdom is spiritual, not political or physical. In John 18:36, he says, “My kingdom is not of this realm.”
Christ’s kingdom is the church. The apostle Peter made his confession in Matthew 16:16, where he identified Jesus as “the Christ, the son of the living God.” In the next verse, Jesus tells Peter, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” He is identifying the church with the kingdom of heaven.
Every Christian is a subject of King Jesus and is a part of his kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Jesus reigns over us, his church, his kingdom, from his throne in the angelic heaven.
The nature of the kingdom of God is being distorted by some Christians today, who are expecting some earthly kingdom in the form of a future millennium. Premillennialists expect an imminent secret rapture of the church, followed by a period of tribulation for believing Jews and then by Christ’s visible return to set up a physical kingdom with a physical throne in the physical nation of Israel. They believe he would then reign over the Earth from that physical location for the next 1,000 years.
This isn’t going to happen. “The kingdom of God has come.”
Jay Craig of Shelbina, Mo., has worked with Shiloh Christian Children’s Ranch for nearly 40 years. He’s a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Craig attended Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Mo. He can be contacted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.