The Four Elements of a Kingdom--Part 6
May 15, 2008
The Kingdom of God has territory, which consists of everything God created, whether in heaven or in earth. All that He owns is part of His Kingdom, and He owns the earth by right of creation.
In the days of Moses, when God gave Israel its inheritance in the land of Canaan, God made it clear that the people did not really OWN the land. They were not given sovereign title to the land, but rather they were given authority. This is stated directly in Lev. 25:23, where God says, "the land is Mine," and for this reason the people's use of the land was limited by law.
If they did not abide by these laws, then God claimed the right to bring judgment upon them and even to evict them from His land (Lev. 26:33). In other words, Israel's right to the land of Canaan was conditional upon their obedience. It is for their disobedience and rebellion that God eventually cast them out of the land, first by the Babylonians, and later by the hand of Rome.
When God evicted Judah from the land through the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, God again reminded them of His right as Creator to do so. Jer. 27:5 says,
"I have made the earth and men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight."
The earth was created to manifest the glory of God, and His purpose will be fulfilled in the end. God will not fail in His purposes.
The land of Canaan was a type and shadow of a much greater fulfillment yet to come. Think of Canaan as a scale model that was designed to show us God's intent for the entire earth. He is not merely the God of Canaan, and not merely the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but He is "the God of the whole earth" (Isaiah 54:5).
The Old Covenant was the first method which God set forth to bring about His purpose. It was designed to fail, because God intended for men to learn their limitations. The Old Covenant put the responsibility upon man to be obedient to God and thereby establish the Kingdom through his own effort, his own will, and his own ability to fulfill his promise to be obedient (Ex. 19:8). Their confidence in the flesh had to be broken by a healthy dose of reality.
First Israel and then Judah failed and were evicted from the land. God then established a New Covenant in which God took the responsibility upon Himself to bring righteousness into the earth. In the New Covenant, God says, "I will" and "you will." It contrasts with the Old Covenant which said, "If you."
Further, the territory of the Kingdom was increased from a small strip of land to the entire earth.
When God evicted Judah from Canaan in the days of Jeremiah, the people at first thought that this was to be a mere 70-year captivity, after which time the people would return, and life would return to what it was in earlier times. But Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2 revealed that Babylon was only the "head of gold" on a much larger image. That image represented a much longer captivity that would continue to the end of the age.
And so, when Judah's 70-year captivity to Babylon ended, they found themselves under the dominion of the Medes and Persians for another two centuries. Medo-Persia formed the two "arms of silver" on Nebuchadnezzar's dream-image. This phase was followed by Greece--the belly of bronze--and finally by Rome's "legs of iron." Furthermore, Daniel himself saw in a vision that Rome's time would be extended in a different way by a "little horn" (Dan. 7:8, 20), which was fulfilled by Papal Rome after the fall of Imperial Rome in 476 A.D.
Daniel saw only a brief outline of history in this succession of empires, but he did see that in the end the saints of the Most High would be given the jurisdiction and authority in the earth. Only then would this long captivity actually end. And when we turn to the New Testament, we find that the saints would be given authority, not by the power of the first covenant, but rather the New Covenant.
God would also use this Babylonian succession of empires to unite the earth, even as Nimrod, Babylon's founder, had attempted to unite mankind by conquest at the beginning (Gen. 11:4). God has thus used Babylon's intent for His own purpose--to enlarge the scope of the Kingdom to include the whole earth. That way, when God overthrows Babylon, He is able to take all of its assets at one time and thus lay claim to the whole earth.
And so, while Christians may become alarmed at Babylon's attempt to bring about a one-world government, a one-world religion, a global economy, and to destroy national borders, those who understand the divine plan and who believe in the sovereignty of God are able to watch these developments without fear. They know that all of this is part of God's master plan, and that God is using the Babylonians (as He used King Nebuchadnezzar) as His servants (Jer. 25:6). They are God's unwitting employees, called to organize the kingdoms of this world on behalf of the Kingdom of God. When their work is done, God will take what they have built, regulate it according to His own law, and incorporate it into His Kingdom.
Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2 revealed a Stone Kingdom smashing the image on its "feet" (end of the age). That Stone is the Kingdom of God, and Dan. 2:35 says that it was to grow until it filled the whole earth. In Daniel's visions in 7:27, we read,
"Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; His Kingdom will be an everlasting Kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him."
Who will these "saints" be? Christian Zionism says they will be Jews. The New Testament makes it clear that they will be Christians--and not all Christians, but the overcomers. They are the ones who have made the full journey through Passover and Pentecost. They are the ones who had caught the vision of going beyond Pentecost into the feast of Tabernacles, regardless of their genealogical heritage.
God has broken down the middle wall of partition/division and is in the process of creating "one new man" in Christ (Eph. 2:15). That new man is a corporate man, having Jesus as its Head and the overcomers as its Body. All become part of that Body in the same manner, regardless of their genealogy. All must be justified by Passover, sanctified by Pentecost, and glorified by Tabernacles in order to qualify in time for the first resurrection.
Paul also depicts this "one new man" as a corporate temple, built upon the Apostles and Prophets, having Jesus Christ as its chief Cornerstone. Regardless of how it is pictured metaphorically, the underlying truth revealed is that it is based upon one's relationship to Christ.
Rev. 20:6 says that these overcomers will reign with Him a thousand years until the end of the Sabbath "day" (millennium). This will bring to a close the first "week" from Adam. And then the next great phase of the divine plan will begin, in which all the dead will be raised, judged, and all unbelievers put in subjection to the Body of Christ. They will all bow to Christ and confess Him as Lord at that time (Phil. 2:10, 11). This will be their Passover experience (justification by faith). But they must then learn righteousness through Pentecost in the final Age to come, until the Creation Jubilee, when all creation will experience the freedom of the Sons of God.
This is the final part of a series titled "The Four Elements of a Kingdom." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones