January 21, 2017

The King and the Kingdom

By Irvin Himmel

There is much misunderstanding centering around the kingdom of Christ. Too many people are getting their information on this subject from popular preachers rather than the holy Scriptures.

Kingdom Not of This World

When Jesus Christ was asked by Pilate, “Art thou the king of the Jews?” the affirmative answer was qualified with this explanation: “My kingdom is not of this world. . .” (John 18:36). The kingdom of the Messiah is not of this earthly realm; it is not a political kingdom; it was not granted by earthly power; it is not advanced by carnal fighting.       “. . . if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” Christ’s kingdom operates in the world but it is not “of the world.”

When asked by some of the Pharisees when the kingdom should come, Jesus answered, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21). The kingdom comes not with outward show such as armies marching, horses prancing, banners waving, crowds cheering, and music playing. It has no physical boundaries; the heart of man is the territory of the king.

The general expectation among the Jews was that the coming kingdom would be the restoration of national Israel. They anticipated a kingdom comparable to that over which David and Solomon reigned. They looked for some manifestation of the rule of God in the realm of the civil and external.

Many today have the same mistaken concept. Not recognizing the spiritual nature of the kingdom, they yet look for national Israel to be restored with the Messiah ruling over it.

Christ on David’s Throne

It was foretold in the Old Testament that David’s seed would be given an everlasting kingdom. “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Sam. 7:16). “Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me” (Ps. 89:35, 36).

The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bring forth a son to be called by the name Jesus. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:26-33).

Christ has occupied the throne of David since ascending back to the Father. The Holy Spirit revealed through Peter that Christ was raised up from the dead to sit on David’s throne (Acts 2:29-31). Sometimes the throne of David is called the throne of God. Solomon sat on the “throne of David” (1 Kings 2:12). In doing so, he sat on the “throne of Israel” (1 Kings 8:20) or the “throne of the Lord” (1 Chron. 29:23). Jesus, in being raised to sit on the “throne of David,” was elevated to the “Father’s throne” (Rev. 3:21). Just as David ruled over God’s people long ago, Christ (descended from David according to the flesh) rules over God’s people in the present age.

Kingdom In Existence

The Messiah’s kingdom foretold in the Old Testament began when Jesus returned to heaven and the gospel in its fullness began to be preached and obeyed on earth. While on earth, Jesus foretold: “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). The kingdom did not come with “observation” or “outward show,” or “signs to be observed,” but it came with power. Some of those addressed by Jesus would not experience death prior to the coming of the kingdom; they would live to see that marvelous day.

Paul made statements acknowledging the existence of the kingdom. He wrote to the Colossians that God has de- livered us from the power of darkness, “and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). Compare this statement with Hebrews 12:28. John referred to him- self as a brother “in the kingdom” (Rev. 1:9). Clearly, the apostles understood that the kingdom had come following the events of Pentecost in Acts 2.

Kingdom To Be Delivered Up At Christ’s Coming

In 1 Corinthians 15:22-26, Paul said, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father . . .”

It is a serious mistake to suppose that Christ is coming back to “set up” the kingdom. It is in existence now. He reigns now. The rule of Christ on David’s throne is a present reality. “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” When Christ returns and the dead are raised, death will be no more. The King “delivers up” the kingdom to God. Having abolished all rule and authority and power that is in opposition to God, thereby putting all enemies under his feet, the King hands over the kingdom to the Father “that God may be all in all.” The kingdom does not end but stands forever. Hence, Peter referred to it as “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:11). Daniel prophesied that the kingdom of God “shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:44).

Everyone who wants to be blessed eternally must put himself under the royal reign of Christ. To enter the kingdom one must be “born again,” that is, “born of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:3-5). Citizens in the heavenly kingdom are expected to honor the King, loyally serving and submitting to his laws. We who belong to Christ must never forget that our citizenship is in heaven.

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