The Four Elements of a Kingdom--Part 4
May 12, 2008
The Kingdom of God properly includes the whole created universe. But there is also a problem in God's Kingdom. It is the problem of sin. It was caused by man's will usurping the authority of God's will, primarily by man thinking that he had the right to decide for himself whether something was right or wrong. From Adam's rather simple error has come a multitude of very complex errors and injustices. And so the Kingdom of God has been usurped not only by the will of individuals, but by whole nations.
History is the process by which all usurpation is overcome, and all things are once again put under His feet. That is, divine authority is re-established over all that God rightfully owns.
So there are two ways of viewing the Kingdom of God. We can say that God owns it all, including that which has been usurped; or we can limit ourselves by saying that the Kingdom of God is that portion of the earth which is currently under His feet. The distinction is shown in Heb. 2:8,
"Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet. For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him."
So in the overall sense, all things have already been put under His feet. But at the present time, "we do not yet see all things subjected to Him."
The subjection of all things is the goal of history, and it does not happen all at once. In fact, the whole idea of citizenship in the Kingdom is predicated on this very idea. All are, indeed, futurecitizens of the Kingdom, but not all men are yet citizens of the Kingdom. The whole earth is, indeed, the Kingdom of God, but all nations have yet to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ. The earth is the Lord's, but most of it remains usurped by Babylonian governments.
From Adam to Shem, the non-usurped portion of the Kingdom was limited to a few individuals and any land that they might have owned independently. Shem then built a city called Jerusalem, wherein the Kingdom of God actually claimed a piece of territory, complete with righteous government. But in later years, that city was usurped, and so in the days of Joshua (Josh. 10:1) we find kings of Jerusalem ruling under the title of Adonizedek ("Lord of righteousness"). These were successors of Melchizedek ("KIng of Righteousness"), but they were "antichrist" usurpers of the throne of Jerusalem.
When God set up the Kingdom of Israel under Moses and Joshua, it represented the first Kingdom of God upon the earth--as a Kingdom. It was, of course, imperfect, because the citizens of that Kingdom continued to usurp the authority of God and do what was right in their own eyes (Judg. 21:25). God was the King of Israel, but this did not stop men from usurping His authority.
That first Kingdom, formed under the Old Covenant, rebelled against God, and so God brought judgment upon it by placing it under the authority of Babylon. The people were given the option of submitting to a wooden yoke or an iron yoke (Jer. 28). Because they refused the wooden yoke, wherein they could have remained in their land under the authority of Babylon, they decided to fight God's judgment. So God put them under the iron yoke, wherein they were conquered by war, destroyed, and sent to a foreign land to serve out their sentence.
Babylon fell after 70 years, and some of the people returned to rebuild the old land, but the captivity itself did not end. Judea remained under the authority of Medo-Persia, then Greece, then Rome, and finally the "little horn" of Rome called the Roman Church. The prophecy of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2 showed that Babylon was only the "head of gold" in a lengthy captivity that would include a number of other ruling nations. And the captivity would extend many thousands of years.
Babylon was the great usurper of God's Kingdom. This Babylonian succession of empires, called Mystery Babylon, was a divine judgment upon Israel and upon the whole earth for usurping the authority of God. In so judging, God intended to show the earth the evil effects of casting aside God's rule and the authority of Jesus Christ.
So we find a strange situation. Babylon is a usurper, but God has actually authorized Babylon to rule as a usurper for nearly 3,000 years. We have now come to the end of that time, of course, and God is now moving to judge Babylon itself and to re-assert the rule of Jesus Christ over the earth. This time it will be done by the power of the New Covenant.
So when we speak of the Kingdom in the future tense, we are really speaking of a new formation of a Kingdom upon the earth. It is comparable to that which Moses established long ago, except that it is based upon the power of the Holy Spirit and the New Covenant. No longer will it be a tiny model built in Canaan, but it will be a world-wide kingdom. Daniel 2:35 speaks of it as a stone cut out of a mountain by no man's hand. This stone is destined to smash the entire Babylonian image, crumble it to dust, and then that Stone Kingdom will grow until it fills the whole earth.
It is not that the Kingdom of God had never existed in earlier times. It certainly had existed, but God had destroyed the earlier model and is now preparing to re-establish a greater manifestation of it.
Jesus spoke many Kingdom parables, and all of them portrayed the Kingdom of God as being flawed, ruled by usurpers, or filled with ungodly men. In Matt. 13:25, an enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat. Tares are a counterfeit wheat and are poisonous, but they look like wheat plants until the time comes to bear fruit. The fruit is black, rather than golden, and it is lighter than wheat. So the tares' fruit remains standing upright, while the wheat bows its head. For this reason, the parable says to let them grow together until the harvest, when you can know them by their fruits.
The harvest is the end of the age (Matt. 13:39). So it is apparent that the Kingdom of God includes non-believers, that is, people whose wills have usurped the authority of the will of God in their lives.
Further, the Kingdom is like a tree full of "the birds of the air" who nest in it (Matt. 13:32). The birds represent the children of the evil one (Matt. 13:19).
Likewise, the Kingdom has three measures of meal with "leaven" in it (Matt. 13:33). This represents the Great Meal Offering in Num. 15:9, in which they measured three measures of meal for the burnt offering. The fire, of course, was designed to kill the leaven (sin). This same idea is seen in Pentecost itself, whose offering included leaven (Lev. 23:17) and which had to be baked in the fire to kill the leaven. This prophesies that the Kingdom in its Pentecostal stage of development was to be a leavened time. It was not yet perfected, but required the action of the Holy Spirit's "baptism of fire" to kill the leaven.
The Kingdom is also like a dragnet, which brings in fish of all kinds, both clean and unclean (Matt. 13:47). It is only at the end that the fishermen sort the fish and discard the unclean fish. It is comparable to the tares being separated from the wheat at the end of the age.
The point is that the Kingdom is not a perfect place, but it is being perfected. The end of the Pentecostal Age is a crucial time in the history of the Kingdom. It is when we enter the Tabernacles Age. During this transition comes the "harvest," the separation of tares and unclean fish, and the removal of the birds from the tree.
The dominion of Babylon is now ending. God is doing a new thing to end this long captivity and to manifest His Kingdom once again, this time with a King, citizens, laws, and territory under a New Covenant.
This is the fourth part of a series titled "The Four Elements of a Kingdom." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones