SEED & BREAD Number 194: NEXT
THE KINGDOM IS COMING
(Originally published 10 Oct. 86)In regard to the emphatic and unqualified declaration made in the subject of this study, I will even be more positive and say that of this I am sure — as sure and certain as anyone can be concerning things to come — the kingdom of God is coming. Yes, as sure as God exists, as sure as the sun will be in the sky tomorrow, the day is surely coming when God in Christ will take unto Himself His great power (Matt. 28:18), judge the peoples of the earth righteously (Acts 17:31), and govern the nations upon the earth (Psa. 67:4).
As to when this great divine action will take place, I do not know. It may take place today, or it could be next week or next year, or it may not be for a hundred years. Waiting for it is a definite part of our walk before God. Thus, we wait for that "one divine event to which the whole creation moves."
There is no prophecy that must be fulfilled before God assumes sovereignty. All God needs to do is speak in heaven and its inauguration will take place upon the earth. Then we can truthfully say: "The Lord reigneth’ and praise Him because "He has taken to Himself His great power and does reign’ (Psalm 96:10, Rev. 11:17).
Due to the manifest sway of evil upon the earth today we know we are living in the last (concluding) days of God’s long display of grace. From Scripture we know that the manifest kingdom of God will be the next condition of things upon this earth. However, no one knows the date when God will speak in heaven and assume sovereignty over this world. It has not been given to me or to anyone else to know "the times or the seasons which the Father has put in His own power" (Acts 1:7). The restoration of the kingdom (divine sovereignty) to Israel is one feature of God’s government of the world, and it was not given to the Lord’s most favored disciples to know as to the time of this. But we can be sure it will take place, even as we are told in God’s Word (Zech. 14:9).
In handling this great truth of the coming of divine government upon the earth, we must be careful not to confuse events or to scramble times and seasons. God’s initial act when His benevolent rule over mankind begins is the divine assumption of sovereignty. He takes to Himself His great power and governs the earth and all men upon it. The Lord does not descend from heaven with a shout as described in 1 Thess. 4:16, for this imposition of government will be as described in Matt. 12:18-21. "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon Him, and He will show judgment to the nations. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And in His name shall the nations trust."
Jesus Christ will remain seated and acting upon the rights of God until His foes are made His footstool. "For he must reign (govern) until He has put all enemies under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:25).
"The LORD’S throne (seat of government) is in heaven (Psa. 11:4). "The LORD hath prepared His throne in the heavens" (Psalm 103:19). Three times in the Word, God has declared that heaven is His throne and earth is His footstool. See Isa. 66:1, and Matt. 5:34, 35. So again I say, when God’s administration of grace ends and His administration of government begins, that government will proceed from the throne and not from the footstool.
Many contemporaneous events are included in the initial act of God, the divine assumption of sovereignty, and these works of God will form the foundation of the just rule of God over the earth and its inhabitants. But we must be careful not to relate to it events which have no place. Common sense will tell us that an event in which there is no cry, neither will any voice be heard, cannot be the same as an event in which the Lord descends from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. Matthew 12:18-21 cannot be the same event as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
The magnificent things that take place at God's assumption of sovereignty are numerous and they lay the foundation and provide the framework for His righteous government over mankind. Without these the kingdom would be like a man without a skeleton. Briefly stated these acts of God are the enlightenment of the world (Psalm 97:4); the pouring out of God's Spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:28); the unveiling (apokalupsin) of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:7); the manifestation (epiphaneia — blazing forth) of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13); the divine evaluation (judgment) of all the living and all the dead (2 Tim. 4:1); plus many other related events which are clearly enunciated in Scripture.
In proclaiming that the kingdom is coming, by "kingdom" I mean government." I do not mean that a "land" is coming or even that a "king" is coming. I mean that a divine adminstration, oversight, rule, reign, guidance, control, or regulation, is coming from God. And let no one say that I believe in a kingdom without a king. One has already been established a King, now the question is when will He take to Himself His great power and do the things everyone knows a good King should do. And remember, that if Jesus Christ cannot govern this earth from heaven, then He cannot govern heaven from the earth.
To me there is not one shade of difference in the phrases "the kingdom of God" and "the government of God." In fact, if I were translating the whole Bible, I would render the Hebrew word malkuth and the Greek word basiliea by the word "government" in every occurrence, except in a few cases where synonyms such as rule, control, or sovereignty would more clearly set forth the nuances indicated by the context.
Thus, it is God’s government that is coming upon the earth, and this government will include every human that has ever lived in this world, those who are among the living at the time it comes and all who are among the dead. This truth is expressed in the usually ignored and neglected declaration found in 2 Timothy 4:1, which faithfully translated reads: "I charge you therefore before God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His epiphaneia (blazing forth) even His kingdom."
This epiphaneia, a blazing forth of the glory of our great God and Savior, is the first positive manifestation that the government of God is a reality. From that point on every man living upon the earth will know Who Christ is and What He is, fulfilling the ancient prophecy of Isaiah: "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isa. 40:5). It will also fulfill God's promise made through Habakkuk; "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (2:14).
This blazing forth and the start of God’s manifest government are one and the same. This passage troubles many readers of 2 Timothy since it describes a universal judgment, the living and the dead — all inclusive, but this is because they read far too much into the word "judge’ They give to this word an unlimited meaning, making it cover every detail of one’s life, settling all destinies and rewards once for all. The believer is to come into no such judgment as this as we are told in John 5:24, but he will come into another judgment as declared in 2 Tim. 4:1.
This judgment, limited as to its purpose, is a divine evaluation, and it will determine who among all mankind are to have a place in the kingdom of God. If you and I are among the living when God assumes sovereignty this evaluation of all who are then living will determine if we are to be blessed by continuance among the living. And if we are among the dead this evaluation of all the dead will determine if we are to be raised from among the dead to enjoy the rich blessings that will be the portion of those upon this earth.
Let it be carefully noted that when the kingdom of God becomes a reality, our entrance into it or our exclusion from it is going to be determined by the life we have lived during our days upon this earth. Can anyone read 1 Cor. 6:9-11 and Gal. 5:19, 21 and say that exclusion from the kingdom of God is not determined by the life one has lived upon this earth? Furthermore, can anyone read John 1:12; 3:16, 17, 18; Acts 10:35 and say that entrance into eonian life (which is life in the kingdom of God) is not to be determined by things done upon the earth?
Let no one think that the enlightenment of mankind which takes place upon God’s assumption of sovereignty will give to anyone a "second chance:’ an opportunity to reconsider and do right by the God who is our Savior. God is not running a lottery. The Bible reveals and it is also quite evident that some individuals have so lived that their conduct has made them persona non grata (an unacceptable person) so far as life under God's benevolent government is concerned. Let no one deceive himself. The life you are living today, our present attitude toward the God who is our Savior may be the facts that will exclude you from the kingdom of God. Remember, the Bible says "He that has the Son has life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 John 5:12).