Two or Three Kingdom Viewpoints
Oct 26, 2011
Two "Kingdom" theories have been debated for a long time in Christian circles. They are generally known as "Kingdom Now" and "Postponed Kingdom." The "Kingdom Now" view came out of long Roman Church tradition, which viewed itself as the fulfillment of the Kingdom since Peter was given "the keys of the Kingdom." The "Postponed Kingdom" view was popularized just a century ago by Cyrus I. Scofield.
One side argued that the Kingdom began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2; the other side argued that the Kingdom was yet future.
In my view, both sides are right, but neither side has a complete picture. The problem is that they lack one very important biblical "key" to understanding. Neither side has understood 1 Sam. 12:17, where Samuel spoke at the coronation of King Saul, "Is it not the wheat harvest today?"
The time of wheat harvest was Pentecost, or the "feast of weeks." We read of this in Ex. 34:22, "And you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest." Hence, when Samuel revealed the timing of Saul's coronation as being "wheat harvest today," he was telling us that Saul was crowned on the Feast of Weeks, which was later known by the Greek term, Pentecost.
This is the key that unlocks our understanding of the debate over the timing of the Kingdom. There is only one Kingdom, but there is more than one phase of the Kingdom in its progressive history. In fact, the Kingdom of Israel, which is called in Acts 7:38, "the church in the wilderness," was called out of Egypt at Passover, received the law at Sinai at the original day of Pentecost, and then inherited the land when they crossed the Jordan River 40 years later at the time of Passover (Joshua 5:10).
This was the Passover Kingdom--that is, the Passover phase of the Kingdom.
The Pentecost Kingdom began in Acts 2 with the fulfillment of Pentecost. Its primary OT type is the reign of King Saul, which also began on the day of Pentecost in his day. It is THIS phase of the Kingdom that has been with us since the beginning of the Pentecostal Age in Acts 2. Because this Kingdom phase was as legitimate as the calling of King Saul, it is absolutely true that the Kingdom of God has been with us for the past 2,000 years. In fact, it has been with us since the days of Moses, if we include the Passover phase of the Kingdom. In other words, "Kingdom Now" is true, but it actually began 1480 years prior to the events of Acts 2.
However, the weakness of "Kingdom Now" is that it does not understand its limits. It is not the full manifestation of the Kingdom. King Saul was legitimate but rebellious. He usurped authority instead of considering himself to be a servant of God and a steward of the Kingdom. He was ultimately disqualified, as we read in 1 Sam. 15:23,
(23) For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.
The Roman Church, which has been the primary manifestation of King Saul during the Pentecostal Age, believes that its kingdom will never pass from its grasp. As proof, they quote Jesus' statement to Peter in Matt. 16:18, "you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." They do not realize that Jesus was talking about the Kingdom, not the Roman Church. Even as God was able to change kings (Saul to David) without destroying the Kingdom itself, so also is God able to change the rulers of the Kingdom from the Saul company to the David company (overcomers).
What Scofield taught was thus a partial truth as well. He taught a future Kingdom, though he did not recognize the distinction between Saul and David. So it was as if he did not recognize the legitimacy of Saul's reign. It was as if he refused to recognize any Kingdom until the reign of David. That view was wrong. Even David recognized Saul's authority as legitimate, even while Saul was trying to kill him!
When we understand that Saul and David represent Pentecost and Tabernacles phases of the Kingdom, then we can embrace both "Kingdom Now" and the "Postponed Kingdom" while seeing the deficiencies of each view.
Because the Church did not seem to possess our key of understanding, Scofield was able to take advantage of their ignorance and create the future Kingdom in the image of Zionism instead of basing it upon the rule of David. Scofield turned David's Kingdom into Absalom's Kingdom. But Christians were largely ignorant of the prophetic events in David's reign and were unfamiliar with the meaning of the revolt of Absalom and how it prophesied of future things.
In 2 Sam. 15-18 we are told the story of Absalom's revolt and how he overthrew his father, David for an unspecified amount of time. The revolt began in Hebron (15:10), the same town where David himself had first been proclaimed king of Judah. He was helped by Ahithophel, David's friend and counselor who betrayed David (15:12).
Ahithophel later hanged himself (17:23). David himself did not try to fight Absalom, but walked from Jerusalem to the top (rosh, "head") of the Mount of Olives and made a sacrifice there (15:30). Then he went to a far place while Absalom usurped his father's throne. At some point later, David returned, Absalom the usurper was killed (18:15), and David took back the throne that was rightfully his.
This prophetic type was replayed in the New Testament, when Jesus, "the son of David" came to claim His throne. The chief priests, playing the role of Absalom, rejected Him and usurped His throne rights. Judas, a man from Hebron, betrayed Him and later hanged himself as Ahithophel had done earlier. (Judas is called Iscariot, which is Greek for Ish-Kerioth, "man from Kerioth." Kerioth-arba was the old name for Hebron. See Joshua 14:15.) Jesus walked out of Jerusalem and made a sacrifice on the "head" of the Mount of Olives. It was the "skull" (John 19:17) where David had made his own sacrifice after being rejected.
The second coming of Christ is pictured in the eventual return of David to the throne. The usurpers (Absalom's Zionists) are killed, and the rightful Heir to the throne is recognized as the true King. Because Scofield did not understand the prophecy in the story of Absalom, his view supported Zionism. In his day, Scofield became the chief advocate for Absalom, rather than of David. In this way, he played the role of Ahithophel and Judas, the "friends" and "betrayers" of Christ.
Zionism is Absalom's army, called to fight "David" in his return. Christian Zionism--the natural son of Scofield's Dispensationalism--is Ahithophel and Judas today. As in the days of David and Jesus, most of the people were duped into supporting the wrong side. Both Ahithophel and Judas, however, ought to have known better. David wrote about Ahithophel later in Psalm 55:12-14,
(12) For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. (13) But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend. (14) We had such sweet fellowship together, walked in the house of God in the throng.
Likewise, Jesus called Judas "friend" in Matt. 26:50 when he was betrayed with a kiss. An enemy may kill you, but only a friend can betray you. As part of the pain of the cross, it was necessary in the divine plan for Jesus to be betrayed by a disciple and childhood friend. But fortunately for us, Jesus has other friends who do not betray Him. Let us be among them, so that we can inherit the Kingdom with David when He returns to reclaim His throne.
Dr. Stephen Jones