A couple of weeks ago we began a new series which I am entitling “The Gospel of the Kingdom.” And in this teaching, we are becoming established in the fact that the kingdom of God is the gospel message. So, the reason we began with the message of the kingdom itself is because in order for us to see the significance of this subject, we need to see the emphasis placed on it by everyone from Jesus to the apostles after Him.
Now in part one of this series, we began in the beginning of the New Testament and saw what the Lord Jesus Himself’s message was throughout His earthly ministry. So, we looked in the four Gospels and saw what He placed the emphasis on—clearly seeing that His message was the kingdom of God. Yes, time and time again throughout the Gospels we see the Lord saying, “The kingdom is like this” and “The kingdom is like that.” In fact, we learned that throughout the four Gospels, Jesus uses the phrases “kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, His kingdom, etc.” over 80 times! So, yes, even though He spent time talking about other subjects, all of Jesus’ teachings were absolutely kingdom centered. Therefore, we can correctly conclude that the kingdom of God was Jesus’ message!
We looked at a Scripture where the very purpose of Jesus’ ministry was clearly described: In Luke 4:42-43, Jesus responded to the people who wanted Him to stay by saying, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Notice that He said He must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also. In other words, we learned from Jesus’ own mouth what Jesus preached. So, there should be no argument regarding this—Jesus’ “sermon” was the kingdom of God! Then we learned from this passage of Scripture that Jesus said that He must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also because it was for this purpose that He was sent. In other words, not only was the kingdom of God His message, declaring this message was His very purpose for being sent by His Father!
Then we looked back at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and saw Him preaching the kingdom of God: In Mark 1:14, when Jesus began His three-year mission we are told— “… after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,” So, we learned that this is the first thing we see Jesus doing after His ministry began— “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” Therefore, Jesus did indeed come preaching the gospel, but was the good news that he preached the gospel of the kingdom of God? According to these Scriptures, the good news that He proclaimed was the kingdom of God! Then we learned what this gospel was that Jesus was preaching in the following verse when we are told specifically what He was saying: This verse says, “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”
So, what I wanted you to realize in this first message on the gospel of the kingdom was how the kingdom of God was the gist of what Jesus came to proclaim to His chosen people. And if Jesus emphasized the kingdom of God in His life and ministry, I think we ought to as well. Amen? Yes, we should embrace this kingdom mentality in our lives because, when we come to see things from this perspective, it will change how we view life in this world and what Christianity is all about. It’s all about the gospel of the kingdom of God!
But last week, we moved on into talking about how the kingdom of God was not just Jesus’ message; it was (and still is) the message of the entire New Testament. Yes, we saw others from John the Baptist to the apostle Paul also declaring the message of God’s kingdom in their ministries.
We began in Luke 16:16 where Jesus made a profound statement: In it, He perfectly described the dividing line between the Old and New Testaments. Jesus said, “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time, the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.”
We first learned that when Jesus referred to “the law and the prophets,” this was just the terminology that the Jews used in their day to describe what we refer to as the “Old Testament.” The reason for this is because to the Jewish mind (whom Jesus was preaching to), the Scriptures pertaining to their covenant mainly consisted of the law (i.e. The books of Moses) and the prophets (i.e. Isaiah, Jeremiah, the minor prophets, etc.). So, essentially Jesus was saying, “The Old Testament was until John …” Until John who? Until John the Baptist! So, the thought Luke was conveying was— “until John the Baptist came on the scene.”
We learned that when John the Baptist arose in the wilderness preaching repentance, Jesus was saying that this is when the preaching of what would lead us into the New Covenant began to be declared. But, of course, Jesus did not call it the New Testament or the New Covenant, did He? So, what did He call it? Well, let’s look at that verse again: “Since that time (since the time the Old Testament had been declared and since the time John came on the scene) the kingdom of God has been preached…” So, just as Jesus referred to the Old Testament as “the law and the prophets,” He also used a different terminology to refer to the New Testament message. And what terminology was that? He simply called it the kingdom of God!
So, we gathered from all of this that, again, the kingdom of God is not just a message of the New Covenant; the kingdom of God is the message of the New Covenant! We know this because in this verse the message proclaimed after the Old Testament is called the kingdom of God! Amen.
We then looked specifically at what John the Baptist came on the scene preaching and learned that while his message certainly was one of repentance, he didn’t just come saying, “Repent!”; he came telling the Jewish people what they were to turn unto—the kingdom: We saw in Matthew 3:1-2 that his message was— “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” So, he didn’t just say, “Repent!”; He told them why to repent. Yes, preaching repentance, in and of itself, is incomplete if we do not also preach what we are repenting unto.
Then, as we had already discussed in part one of this series, not only did John begin the New Testament with this message, but Jesus followed Him with essentially the same word for word message. But this message did not stop with Jesus either! We saw how He passed this message on to His disciples to preach as well. In fact, we learned that He did not wait to give them this message until His ministry was complete either. No, He gave it to them to proclaim while His ministry was in its prime. We learned that He gave the message of the kingdom to His twelve disciples and then, shortly after that, He commissioned the seventy disciples to proclaim it as well.
So, this message of the kingdom of God was obviously all throughout the four Gospels, but what about the Book of Acts? So, I then took you through some verses in the Book of Acts to verify that the message of the New Covenant never changed after Jesus was raised from the dead.
We saw in Acts chapter one that He spent 40 days on the earth teaching His disciples. But in Acts 1:3, we saw what Luke said that He spent those 40 days teaching them: He said it was “things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” That is interesting, isn’t it? Now mind you, He spent 40 days teaching them of the things pertaining to God’s kingdom. Now that is a lot of teaching on one subject, isn’t it? 40 days!?! That might be something like me saying, “We are going to spend 40 Sundays teaching things pertaining to God’s kingdom.” And one might wonder— “How could he possibly spend that length of time talking about just this one subject?” Well, what helps one to understand how Jesus was able to do that was the terminology that Luke used: Notice that Jesus taught them the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. The words “pertaining to” literally describe things “concerning or about.” What would these things be that pertained to God’s kingdom? Everything! You see, every other subject that we spend time emphasizing in the church today such as grace, faith, love, peace, joy, righteousness, the Holy Spirit, etc. are all things that pertain to the pure New Testament message of the kingdom of God. That, my friends, is a powerful statement of truth!
You see, one could be tempted to think— “Wow! How wonderful it would be to be one of Jesus’ disciples during those 40 days? I wonder what those teachings were about? I wish I could have been there to know what they were learning.” Well, the truth is—you don’t have to wonder about Jesus was teaching them! Why? Because the Holy Spirit was good enough to inspire these men to share those things pertaining to the kingdom of God through their epistles! Amen. So, what we have written through the letters of the church contain a lot of what Jesus taught from the time of His resurrection to his ascension.
So, this explains to us why we don’t see a lot specifically about the kingdom in the epistles because all of the references the epistles make to the gospel being something other than the kingdom are simply just referring to things concerning the kingdom. In other words, all of the other topics of focus that we see in, for instance, the Pauline Epistles, are simply things pertaining to the New Testament message of the kingdom of God. For example, one of the most often used references to the gospel by the apostle Paul is the gospel of Christ or the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, this is actually the most common description of the gospel used in the New Testament (after that, the “gospel of the kingdom of God,” the next is the “gospel of God”). But what I want you to realize is that when Paul refers to the good news as the gospel of Christ, he has not varied from Jesus’ message in the least.
I made the point last week that many mistakenly use the word “Christ” as either Jesus’ surname or even His last name (i.e. Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ). It is sad to say, but countless Christians do not even understand what it means to say that Jesus is the Christ. But if we understand the basic definition of this word “Christ,” we can understand who and what Jesus truly is and also understand what the gospel truly is: And we learned that Christ literally means “the anointed one to be king.” Therefore, Christ means King.
So, we learned that when Paul made repeated references to the gospel of Christ, what He was literally proclaiming was the gospel of the King! He was preaching the good news that there was One born on this earth to be King of all kings! He was teaching the good news that Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead on the third day to reign forever and ever as King of all kings and Lord of all lords! He was proclaiming the same gospel that Jesus began proclaiming—albeit, Jesus did not come to glorify Himself! But Paul’s gospel magnified a different aspect of the kingdom—it’s King! And this in no way varied from Jesus’ gospel, but simply was the fulfillment of it! Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom itself and Paul came proclaiming the good news of the King of this kingdom! It all built upon each other!
And in the Acts of the Holy Spirit, we can continue to see how this message continued beyond the ones who had actually walked with Jesus: We saw in Acts 8:12 how the kingdom of God was proclaimed by Philip the Evangelist. We then saw how the apostle Paul himself preached the kingdom of God (See Acts 19:8 & 20:24-25) …
Now I stated last week that what put the cherry on top for me concerning the kingdom of God being the New Testament message was what the very last verse in the entire Book of Acts said: If you look at the very end of the Book of Acts when Paul was speaking to the Jews during his stay in Rome on his way to being brought before Caesar, guess what he was ministering to them? You guessed it: He was preaching the kingdom of God!
So, notice that in the very last verse of recorded New Testament church history the kingdom of God was being preached (Acts 28:31). So, just as the New Testament began with the kingdom of God being preached (Luke 16:16), we see the same message being proclaimed at the end of the history chronicling the New Testament! Therefore, we can clearly see that the kingdom of God was the first message of the New Testament with John the Baptist and it was the last message of the New Testament with the apostle Paul!
Friends, the gospel of the kingdom is the alpha and the omega of New Testament doctrine! It is the first and the last regarding New Covenant truth. It is the first gospel being proclaimed and it is the last gospel being proclaimed! There is no other message of the New Covenant than the kingdom of God. Everything else we hear preached and taught from the New Testament Scriptures are simply things pertaining to this gospel.
But we noticed how the Book of Acts does not end with the resounding “Amen!” that many of the books of the New Testament end with. Why is this? It is because the Acts of the Holy Spirit have not ceased! The history of the New Testament is still being written today! So, what does this mean regarding what we have been talking about? It means that the New Testament message of the kingdom of God is still supposed to be being proclaimed today and will be, even to the end of time! Then we will have our “Amen!”
And we saw that this is why Jesus said what He did in Matthew 24:14: In this verse, He brings all of these truths together and paints a clear picture of what we are saying: In this verse, Jesus tells us that this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to the ends of the earth and then the end will come. So, this verse confirms to us that the gospel of the kingdom is the church’s message today as well, and will continue to be until Jesus returns, because Jesus said that it must be preached to the ends of the earth before the end will come. This implies that the kingdom of God is to be the gospel even in these last days, all the way up to the end prophesied in the Revelation.
THE BOOK OF THE COMING KINGDOM
Now then, since we have clearly established that the kingdom of God is the message of the New Testament, we need to understand that this is only half of the truth. The whole truth is that the kingdom of God is not just the message of the New Testament; the kingdom of God is actually the message of the Bible itself—for it has been well said that the entire Bible itself could be described as “The Book of the Coming Kingdom of God.”
Friends, the fact is, if we do not understand kingdoms, it will be downright impossible for us to understand the Bible and its complete message. The reason being is that even the Old Testament leads us through the story of God establishing a kingdom. But it did not stop there: As we just saw, the New Testament continues this same gospel of God’s kingdom with the entrance of the Christ—the King of the Jews.
You see, the Old Testament, in and of itself is incomplete. Yes, it held signposts that pointed to God’s will of a kingdom. Yes, it proclaimed the good news of God’s Messiah and His entrance that would free them from their bondage. But this good news of an everlasting kingdom was not fulfilled until the New Testament was given.
So, what I would like for us to begin doing now is to take a brief journey through the Old Testament as we just did through the New Testament in the last couple of weeks and see how Jehovah’s gospel has always been about a promised kingdom. But this week, I want to particularly look at God’s chosen people—the kingdom of Israel—and see how this kingdom message was proclaimed both to them and through them. And what we will find is that the gospel which we heard about already is no different than the gospel that they heard and that they experienced in measure.
Let’s begin with the calling of the Father of us all—the Father of faith, Abraham.
THE FATHER OF MANY NATIONS
Early in the first Book of the Old Testament—the Book of Genesis—we see God calling a man named Abram out of his country and kin in order to build a new and great nation out of him. We see that the Lord eventually gave this man of faith the name “Abraham”—which means “the father of many nations.” This was the beginning of God reestablishing the kingdom that was lost in the fall of Adam (a point I believe we will visit next week), which would eventually be given the name of the kingdom of Israel.
And then, throughout the rest of the Old Testament, we basically have the recorded history of God’s chosen kingdom: From Genesis to Esther, we have chronicled for us the glories and failures of the kingdom of Israel from a historical perspective. Then, from Isaiah to Malachi, we have the prophecies given to the nation of Israel about how He wanted His kingdom to operate. He also declared through His prophets how He was going to establish His everlasting kingdom through their promised Messiah.
You see, this is the reason that you see the gospel of the kingdom so freely proclaimed by John the Baptist and, after that, Jesus in the beginning of the New Testament. Have you noticed that you never see the Jews responding to the messages of either John or Jesus with, “What is all this kingdom stuff you are talking about?” No, you never see a response like that because they knew and understood God’s concept of a kingdom. Why? It was because His kingdom was emphasized throughout the Old Testament! It was a promise made to Abraham and this gospel was consistently proclaimed throughout the law and the prophets. It was the promise for which the nation of Israel hoped in!
In fact, in Luke 3:15 we see that God’s chosen people were expectant of the kingdom of God when John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness. This means that they were eagerly looking for the manifestation of God’s promise of a kingdom. This is also the reason why their leaders asked John as to whether he was the Christ or not. So, I can assure you that they would not have been looking for God to establish His kingdom and sending His King unless this is the message that they were used to hearing in their Scriptures. Why? Because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (See Romans 10:17). Not only that but hope also comes through the Holy Scriptures as well (See Romans 15:4). Yes, friends, even the Old Testament contained a gospel which fueled the faith and hope of God’s chosen people.
THE ROYAL GOSPEL
As a matter of fact, did you know that the gospel that was proclaimed to us was declared in the Old Testament as well? Many Christians have never seen this. The reason why so many have not seen this is because they do not themselves understand what the gospel truly is. But if one understands that the good news is God’s kingdom, then they would see how it could have been declared in the Old as well as the New Testament. The difference between the gospel in both the Old and New Testament is that, in the Old Testament, the gospel of the kingdom was prophesied as yet to come and was illustrated through a natural kingdom—Israel; in the New Testament the gospel of the kingdom is revealed as already here now while still being partly yet to come!
So, let’s look a little deeper into how this same gospel that has been preached under our new and better Covenant is the same gospel that was heard by those before and during the Old Covenant?
Again, let’s start with Abraham: Galatians 3:8 reveals to us that Abraham had the gospel preached to Him. It says, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”
This Scripture makes it very clear what the gospel was that Abraham heard: It was that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed! More specifically, God gave him a more detailed gospel in Genesis 17:6 by promising Him— “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.” Who were these “kings”? Of course, we know that the Lord was referring to Israel’s kings such as Saul, David, Solomon, all the way to the King of kings, Jesus Christ!
You see, Jesus showed us that Abraham actually saw His day and rejoiced in it (See John 8:56). Abraham knew the plan that God had for us and heard the same good news which we have heard. Therefore, these promises that God made to Abraham are the foundation to the good news of the kingdom of God.
You see, Abraham—the Father of faith—was chosen to be the representative of the whole kingdom of believers. And, likewise, the promised land of Canaan—was chosen to be the representative of the whole earth itself. The end result of all of this is that all of the earth shall be the inheritance of the sons of the kingdom. Hallelujah!
How about the sons and daughters of Abraham? Did the children of Israel hear the good news as well? Absolutely!
Hebrews 4:2 says, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them…” This verse was speaking specifically about the children of Israel during their journey through the wilderness.
So, what was the gospel that they heard? Well, notice how the authors of Hebrews said it was the same gospel that was preached to us. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they heard the totality of the message that we have heard about Jesus and all that His death, burial and resurrection would accomplish, but it was evidently a similar good news of the kingdom. If you consider the context, the good news was a promise of entering enter His rest—which was of course to them, the Land of Promise, Canaan. But I believe the good news that they heard is best described in Exodus 6:6-8 when God told Moses to tell the children of Israel— “I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.’”
Therefore, the good news that the children of Israel heard ranged from the deliverance from their oppressors—the Egyptians—all the way to their obtaining the Promised Land to establish and build a kingdom in.
Of course, we understand in hindsight the gospel that they heard was in type and shadow form because the land that God was going to give them as a heritage was a representation of our eternal “Promised Land,” the kingdom of God. You could say that their Promised Land was a type of the Promised Kingdom of God that we see fulfilled through the New Testament Scriptures.
But we see this gospel of a kingdom and its Messiah even being declared through the prophets:
In the Book of Isaiah, we have a prophecy of the gospel that we even have repeated in New Testament Scriptures: Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good tidings, that publishes peace, that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says, your God reigns.” What do these bringers of good news say? They say, “Your God reigns!” That sounds like kingdom talk, does it not? So, the gospel of the kingdom was prophesied! These good news bearers would declare— Our God reigns! In other words, our Lord and God reigns as King! God’s kingdom is at hand and His Messiah, Jesus Christ, reigns as King over it! Amen!
But what we need to realize is that Isaiah 52:7 was not declared first to us; it was declared to the nation of Israel before a New Covenant had even been realized. So, although we know it to be a prophecy concerning our New Covenant, it was a truth that was relevant for them as well. So, since this was proclaimed in the Old Testament as “the gospel” this shows us that it is not just our gospel but was also the gospel of the Jewish believers as well.
But Isaiah was not the only prophet to prophesy concerning God’s promised kingdom; you see this gospel threaded all throughout the writings of the Old Testament. We saw how it began with Abraham, was passed on throughout the many generations of the children of Israel, and was forecasted through God’s prophets.
THE EVER-INCREASING KINGDOM
But perhaps the most detailed prophecy concerning God’s good news of a kingdom is found in the Book of Daniel. So, I want us to now spend some time focusing on this powerful prophecy of God’s kingdom that we are living in the fulfillment of today:
In the Book of Daniel, we have one of the most concentrated focuses on the kingdom of God in the entire Old Testament. In fact, the theme of this prophetical book is the sovereignty of the kingdom of God over all the other kingdoms of the earth—past, present, and future.
In Daniel chapter two, we see that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which none of his wise men and sorcerers could describe, much less interpret. And when Daniel was brought before the king, he correctly explained the dream he had down to the very last detail: In his interpretation of the king’s dream, Daniel described what we discover to be the kingdom of God. We read in Daniel 2:34-35 what the dream entailed: “…a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”
First of all, notice that the kingdom of God is described here as a stone: This is an obvious reference to the Lord Jesus Christ because, in various places, the Scriptures describe Him as the Rock. Probably one of the more popular Scriptures concerning this description of Jesus is found in the Psalms: David said in Psalm 118:22— “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Jesus affirmed in the gospels that this prophecy was indeed about Him.
We know from Matthew 16:15-18 that when Jesus asked His disciples who He was, Peter replied— “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus’ reply to Peter’s inspired declaration was, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter (Grk. petros - a small stone that came from a larger rock), and on this rock (Grk. petra - refers to a large boulder, and likely the larger rock that the “petros” came from) I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.”
You see, the confession of Jesus as King and as the Son of the Living God is the foundation on which the church is built. So, Jesus is, in essence, that chief cornerstone that His church is founded on. Peter was not the rock that the church was built on, Jesus was. Peter was just a smaller rock (Grk. petros) that became what we would now call a “Christian” when he confessed that Jesus was the “Christ.”
Later in his first epistle, Peter revealed to us the lesson He learned that day from the Lord: He said, “Coming to Him (Jesus) as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious” (First Peter 2:4). You see, Jesus is the living stone (the living chief cornerstone, that is) and as Peter went on to say, “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house …” So, when we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become a “petros” (i.e. a Peter) too and are built upon the “petra”—our chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ.
So, Jesus was obviously the stone spoken of in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, but notice the rest of Daniel’s description of his dream. Daniel saw specifically that this stone was “cut out without hands”: The phrase “cut out” describes something that was set apart for a specific purpose even though it was already there. You see, Jesus has always existed. As God the Son, He was before all things and all things were created through Him. Therefore, He already existed as the Word before He came in the flesh. But although He was eternal, He was “cut out” of God’s everlasting kingdom up in heaven—chosen and set apart for God’s eternal purpose here on the earth. As Peter went on to say in First Peter 2:6 in quoting the prophet Isaiah— “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone (Again, a reference to Jesus as that stone), elect, precious. And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame (i.e. ashamed or disappointed).” What this verse is saying is that in that Great Day when God’s kingdom is established here on the earth, we will not be disappointed that we made the decisions that we did to seek first His kingdom now because hope in His kingdom never disappoints.
But notice that this verse also said that He was elected by God and precious to Him. The word “elect” means “chosen” and the word “precious” simply means “valuable or costly.” This describes that “cut out” stone King Nebuchadnezzar saw from God’s perspective. Jesus was chosen, precious, and hand-picked by God to do what He did.
But notice that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream not only described this stone as cut out, but it revealed it as cut out without hands. By using the terminology “without hands” we can see that this was not man’s doing, but solely God’s doing. David prophesied this as well in Psalm 118 because after he said what he did about the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone, he said, “This was the Lord’s doing; It was marvelous in our eyes” (vs. 23). You see, Jesus’ election—His virgin birth to His resurrection from the dead—was all God’s doing. Man cannot take any credit for so great a salvation. It was all accomplished without any help from us, and it is a marvelous thing!
Daniel went on to explain that this stone, which was cut out without hands, struck the image and broke it into pieces. It crushed it until it became like chaff from the summer threshing floors and the wind carried them away and no trace of them was found. This too was prophesied through the mouth of our Savior: When Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22— “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”– He also added another statement which we can clearly see perfectly coincides with this prophecy in the book of Daniel. He said, “Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Luke 20:18).
You know, there is a big difference between something fragile falling on a large boulder and a boulder falling on something fragile. Am I right? If say a glass falls on a large boulder, it will obviously break into many pieces. However, if a large boulder falls on the glass, it will do more than break it into a few pieces. It will grind that glass into powder. And from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, we know what the stone is going to fall on and grind to powder: It will be the kingdoms of this world that have rejected His Lordship. Yes, swift destruction awaits all those who reject the King and His kingdom’s rule in this life. As Daniel saw, they will become like chaff from the summer threshing floor.
In his explanation of the dream, Daniel went on to say that this stone then became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. So, after the Rock of Ages struck these other nations and brought them to naught, it grew and became a great mountain which eventually covered the whole earth.
You see, Jesus and His kingdom started out as a cut-out stone—seemingly small and insignificant. But, as the living stone that He is, His kingdom grew and became a great mountain because of all the other living stones who are being added daily. This will continue until the end of the age when that mountain—the spiritual house which is being built up (See First Peter 2:4)— fills the whole earth. Of course, this will continue to occur as we fulfill our great commission to preach the gospel of the kingdom throughout the whole earth. Yet it will not be ultimately fulfilled until Jesus returns to destroy His enemies and brings with Him the new heavens and the new earth- the New Jerusalem. Praise God for that Day!
For those who are learned in the Scriptures, this picture of God’s kingdom filling the whole earth should sound very familiar. It sounds a lot like Jesus’ parables concerning the kingdom of God, doesn’t it? In Jesus’ parables of the mustard seed and of the leaven, He described the kingdom of God as starting off small but becoming increasingly greater—covering and filling the whole earth.
Friends, this is God’s ultimate plan for His kingdom. It is for it to grow up like the mustard seed—from being one of the world’s smallest seeds to becoming one its greatest trees! It is for it to spread like leaven—like leaven infiltrates the meal- until it leavens the whole lump!
God’s royal gospel is this hope of an everlasting kingdom that will fill the earth, where righteousness and peace will dwell, and where Jesus Christ will reign over all! Our hope is that, although we are still in those beginning stages of God’s kingdom becoming that great mountain that fills the whole earth for everyone to see, we will see our Rock who was cut out without hands become that great mountain that is seen and confessed by all men! Hallelujah!
So, from the promise given to Abraham to the prophecy given through Daniel, we can clearly see that this gospel of the kingdom has always been God’s good news to His chosen people! In fact, when He originally created man, His initial plan was to give him dominion over all His creation. This was God’s purpose for mankind then and it is no different now… He wants us in His kingdom and ruling and reigning with Him forever! This is the everlasting gospel! It is the royal gospel!
THE SHADOW OF THE KINGDOM
Now we know in hindsight that although the Jewish nation was well schooled in these different Scriptures concerning the kingdom which was to come, they had an incorrect interpretation of the gospel that they heard.
The reason for their misinterpretation was because they only saw God’s kingdom coming in the natural, physical realm. In other words, they supposed the kingdom of God was exclusively an earthly kingdom. And this is eventually how they would miss their promised Messiah. They missed what God was doing through His Christ—the Lord Jesus—because they missed the fact that His kingdom was not of this world and must first be established in the hearts of men. This was a major obstacle that created doubts in the hearts of the majority of Israel and, of course, subsequently what led to the crucifixion of their King and Christ.
So, yes, it is God’s will for His kingdom to reign in both realms and this physical world is important to Him. But the problem was that the Jew’s mind was veiled. They only saw the importance of His kingdom being established in this physical world.
In fact, even the most excellent Jews only saw God’s kingdom from this natural perspective because even John the Baptist doubted whether Jesus was the Christ or not after He had sufficient evidence that He was the Chosen One. And why did John doubt? Of course, there are many opinions given as to what caused his doubts, but to me, it is rather obvious. It was because he was not seeing Jesus establishing His kingdom in the natural like all of the Jewish people assumed the Christ was sent to do. But the fact was that Jesus did not come to deliver them from their natural oppressors, the Romans; He came to free them from their unknown spiritual oppressor, the devil.
This natural way of thinking was the great pitfall in God’s chosen people during Jesus’ ministry and it remains to be in much of God’s church today. Let me explain: You see, many born again believers today still read the Old Testament through the same veil that the Jews did. They only see the things that were written before through a carnal and naturalistic mentality. They only see the Old Testament as a history book and even place themselves back under the law of the Old Covenant. But what we need to understand is that the primary purpose of the Old Testament is to reveal spiritual realities to us in a natural way! Let me explain: The apostle Paul taught us that the things of the Old Testament were simply types and shadows of that which was to come. He taught us that the real-life examples that we have recorded beforehand were meant to illustrate the realities of the spiritual realm.
Therefore, God desired to mirror His spiritual kingdom in and through His chosen representatives—Israel. In other words, the real-life events that were written in the Old Covenant about God’s chosen kingdom are meant to illustrate to us how God’s everlasting kingdom operates.
Now there are many different examples we have of this in the Old Covenant, but what I believe to be one of the best descriptions of the kingdom of God is the example of King David versus King Saul. The reason I see this story as so prophetic regarding how God’s eternal kingdom would start out through His Christ is because it illustrates how the Son of David’s reign would begin.
You see, while Saul was still the king of Israel, David was anointed as king by Samuel behind the scenes. Not only that, but David had a small band of followers in comparison to the rest of Saul’s kingdom. Likewise, in the kingdom of God, Satan is still temporarily the “god (i.e. king) of this world”, but Jesus has been anointed King of all kings and is awaiting the kingdom to fully be delivered to Him by His Father. And just as David, Jesus also has a small band of followers now acknowledging Him as the Christ—the Anointed King—while Satan still has the majority of the kingdoms of this world bowing their knee to his rule. But the day is coming, praise God, that just as it did in David’s day, where the kingdom will be handed over to our King and the new heavens and the new earth are established here on the earth and His kingdom will fully come! Hallelujah!
This is just one little typology found in the Old Testament that illustrates the kingdom of God, but we need to understand that there are numerous examples given to us in the Old Covenant that reveal God’s kingdom to us. We just have to renew our minds to this true gospel and then let the Lord reveal them to us. Yes, all of these examples of the Old Testament, although true and real life stories that actually happened, are simply types and shadows meant to exhort, encourage, and instruct us in how God wants His kingdom to operate.
God intended for us to learn from the good kings like David, Solomon, Josiah & Jehoshaphat and also from the bad kings like Ahab, Rehoboam, and Hezekiah. All of these examples were recorded for our admonition so that we could learn the concept of God’s kingdom and how we are to rule and reign with Him as kings in it.
THE KING OF THE JEWS
Did you know that God’s original plan for Israel was for Him to be their King? He never intended them to be like the other nations and have a man rule over them. Perhaps this is the reason they had so many problems as a nation. God Himself wanted to be their King. But like so many of God’s people today still do, they wanted to be like the world and have a man rule and reign over them.
This is the primary difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world. The world looks to man. It wants to exalt a person in the place of God and place them on a pedestal. The fact of the matter is that they do this because they want an idol. They want a graven image that, in comparison to God, cannot speak and cannot hear. Then, when they do find their “king”, they look for a “Saul.” They look for the one who looks the part—one who is tall, handsome, and a great orator—one who appeals to the lusts of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and their pride. In other words, they seek for these “kings” because of their carnality.
And do you know why they oftentimes do this? It is because they want someone else who will lead them. They want a man who will hear from God for them. They want a man who will rule the kingdom for them. Simply put, they want a man who will do their part for them.
But, oh no, this is not God’s plan! His plan from the beginning was that He be our King—where we do not need someone else teach us, but His Spirit teaches us all things; where we do not need someone else to instruct us to know God, but we all know Him from the least to the greatest; where we all are able to enter into the holy of holies, personally dine with the Holy One of Israel, and have a one on one relationship with Him; where we all rule and reign with Him as joint heirs of the King of king’s inheritance. This is the heritage of us all!
And this is what God intended from the beginning. He imagined His kingdom that you and I now walk in as being ruled by and demonstrated through all of His children. For we are born (again) for this very purpose and in this very hour. Let us begin now the process of ruling and reigning with Him here on the earth now. Amen.
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