The Kingdom Model, part 3
Jun 12, 2018
Someone sent me an article about the various models of the Kingdom that Christians believe.
The article reads:
In Models of the Kingdom: Gospel, Culture, and Mission in Biblical and Historical Perspective (Wipf and Stock, 2001), Howard Snyder investigates eight distinct ways that Christians across the centuries have interpreted the kingdom concept:
1. The kingdom as future hope;
2. The kingdom as inner spiritual experience;
3. The kingdom as mystical communion;
4. The kingdom as institutional church
5. The kingdom as countersystem;
6. The kingdom as political state;
7. The kingdom as Christianized culture;
8. The kingdom as earthly utopia.
Howard Snyder then analyses these from his perspective. Of course, I have my own perspective on each of these as well.
The second option is based largely on Luke 17:21 KJV, where Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is within you.” The NASB renders it, “The kingdom of God is in your midst,” that is, “among you.” This view sets forth an inner kingdom that is non-political and non-geographical. It is intensely personal and invisible.
I actually agree with this view, but I see the Kingdom progressing outward from its present inward location. Hence, I also agree with other views. Each has a portion of the truth.
The Kingdom of God was within Abraham, but in the time of Moses it was extended to an outward Kingdom. Even then it did not reach its apex until David. The patterns seen in the Old Testament are the same pattern that we are seeing in the New Testament and into our own future.
The problem with the inward kingdom view is that the Kingdom is said to remain inward forever, when in fact the inward kingdom ought to have an outward expression. We are the temple of God, where the presence of God abides in us. Where God rules, there is Kingdom territory.
As the presence of God is seen in us, others will desire to have His presence as well. So the Kingdom’s dominion increases over time in each individual heart. But the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). Shall we ourselves be saved, but not the earth itself which God created? Did God not create the nations as well? We have the prime example of Israel, which was formed into a nation.
Israel was supposed to be a kingdom of priests. Their personal relationship with God (Christ) was supposed to be expressed in all of the political, social, judicial, and religious functions of society. Israel failed because the majority of the people did not have the glory of God residing in them. But if the pure Kingdom had been in them, it would have naturally created a social structure that reflected Kingdom culture.
As long as only a small minority of people have the Kingdom within them, the outward forms of society and politics will reflect the views of the darkened hearts of unbelievers. Worse yet, even believers can be carnal, or soulish, not being able to distinguish between the old man of flesh and the new creation man within. In other words, Christians are often lawless (anomia), being misinformed about the relationship between law and grace.
During the Pentecostal Age, the church (i.e., the reign of King Saul) has had this particular problem and, like Saul, has largely degenerated into rebellion and lawlessness without realizing it. For this reason, the Kingdom of God has not fully emerged into the world as it ought to have done. The church has been a mixture of flesh and spirit, much like Saul, the rebellious king who also prophesied.
So the saying in Israel is relevant today: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 10:12). It was a saying that conveyed a puzzle due to an apparent contradiction. How could a rebellious king also prophesy? Hence, when a contradiction arose that made no logical sense, the people would throw up their hands and say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
But the biblical pattern tells us that Saul’s reign will come to an end. Theoretically, if Saul had continued to follow God, his kingdom would have been established indefinitely. But we read in 1 Samuel 15:28,
28 So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you.”
Every religion thinks that it will never end. Saul’s household could not accept the fact that the kingdom had been torn from them and given to another. The Roman church also thinks that its reign will never end, because they do not understand that the church in the Age of Pentecost was a manifestation of King Saul, whose kingdom was replaced by that of David.
Any kingdom that degenerates into rebellion and lawlessness cannot stand. But its very carnality will blind it to the reality of God’s intention. Nonetheless, their blindness will not stop the judgment from coming at the appointed time; it will only prevent them from seeing it as their end approaches.
Even today, we see a new Kingdom arising. It is the Kingdom pictured by the reign of David, rather than Saul. Daniel 7:22 says the “the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” I like the Concordant Version better: “they will safeguard the kingdom.”
This describes stewardship, rather than ruling as if they owned the kingdom. God owns all that He created; man is a steward of that which God possesses. Saul thought he owned the kingdom; David knew that he was only a steward. Saul thought he was the highest power with sovereignty; David understand that he was only the servant of God and was to ask himself always: “What would God do?”
This is the proper exercise of the Dominion Mandate. The overcomers are those called to “be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6). To reign is not to own, for they do not have sovereignty. They only have authority, which is authorized by a higher power.
Nonetheless, their calling is to make decisions based upon the word of God, ruling in Christ’s throne. In the past, the overcomers’ authority has been limited by the captivity of the beast systems (Babylon), who were given the Dominion Mandate in the days of Jeremiah and Daniel. But that has now ended (2014-2017). Babylon is now falling and will be replaced by the overcomers in whom is the Kingdom of God.
Their job will not be limited to an inward kingdom. They will be administrators of nations. Whether or not they will actually hold political offices is debatable. I tend to think that they will be above such low offices. I believe that they will be transformed fully into the image of Christ and that their Melchizedek Order priesthood will stand above earthly presidents, prime ministers, and kings. But this remains to be seen.
The point is that their job will be to transform the earth and to do what Adam ought to have done when he was given the Dominion Mandate. This is what it means to “subdue” the earth (Genesis 1:28; Philippians 3:21 KJV). It is not accomplished by the attitude of “submit or die,” but a conquest of love and the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit.
The overcomers have always been expected to exercise the Dominion Mandate in the world in a limited way. So the prophets influenced the nations, and the apostles worked miracles among the people. But as long as the beast nations held the Dominion Mandate, they controlled the politics and determined the culture of society. In fact, with two groups exercising Dominion, the overcomers found that they were competing with Babylon on the ground level.
During the 1980’s, as I was learning the art of spiritual warfare in the Net of Prayer, we often saw how we were able to win every battle and yet lose the war. It was frustrating, because, as representatives of the overcomers, we found ourselves constrained by something called “church decision.” Essentially, the church had made decisions comparable to King Saul, and we had no choice but to live with that, because Saul was yet king.
In other words, we were like David fighting Saul’s battles while Saul was harassing him. Because the 40-Jubilee reign of “Saul” did not end until 1993, our authority was limited. We could win battles, as led by the Spirit, but in the end, we always had to withdraw (retreat), allowing our spiritual enemies to win the war. Why? Because, like Saul, the church as a whole thought that the overcomers were their enemies, so they did not support us. In fact, they often fought us and condemned what we were doing.
As I came to understand the story of Saul and the value of timing, I saw how things began to change in 1993 and then changed further in the year 2000 according to the prophetic pattern in David’s incremental increase in authority (2 Samuel 5:4, 5). Overall, this showed me that even David had to wait for the appointed time to be crowned king of Israel. So also, we needed to learn patience and to submit to the appointed times set by the Father.
We must also recognize that God created time and authority. We must recognize all that He has created, rather than try to fight against it. In the end we must be led by the Spirit, of course, because in practice we have the authority to do whatever He says to do.
So when we acknowledge the internal nature of the Kingdom, this does not mean we are to withdraw into our temple and remain there while the world rages around us. We are called to influence the world and to preach the gospel to all nations. Yet at the same time, we must recognize that believers have been doing this for thousands of years within the context of the rule of beast systems, which were given Dominion on account of Jerusalem’s rebellion against God.
Even before that, when Adam sinned, he gave the highest dominion to the flesh and to its realm of death, and mankind was sentenced to labor as a slave to the flesh for six days (6,000 years). That sentence can be mitigated, but it cannot be reversed entirely. Even individual faith cannot overrule a divine decree once it has been made.
But yet the sentence of death (mortality) has been overcome incrementally, as prophesied in and by the feast days. Hence, our Passover experience (faith) imputes the life and righteousness of Christ to us. Our Pentecost experience (obedience) causes this life to grow. But only a Tabernacles experience (agreement) will complete this process.
This is part 3 of a series titled "The Kingdom Model." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones