The Kingdom of God (No. 2)
The kingdom of God was established in the city of Jerusalem, upon the first Pentecost, following the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Its appearance was in fulfillment of many promises and prophecies of the Old Testament. It is our purpose in this article to trace the fulfilling of one of these prophecies -one made by Daniel and recorded in the second chapter of the book which bears his name.
In the opening verses of the second chapter of Daniel, we learn that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, dreamed a dream which troubled him, but the details of which he was unable to recall after he awakened. Consequently, he sought f or a wise man who would be able to both tell him the dream and give the interpretation. In his desperation he dcreed that any wise men who failed to carry out his desire would be put to death. This brought fear to Daniel and his companions, so they sought God about the matter. "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a vision of the night" (Dan. 2:19).
After some preliminaries, Daniel stood before the king to make known and interpret the dream for him. He proceeded by telling the king that in his dream he had seen a great and horrible image, which was composed of various metals and some potters' clay. "Its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and part of clay" (Dan. 2:32, 33). He then went on to remind him that he had also seen "that a stone was cut out
without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and break them in pieces and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth" (Dan. 2:34, 35).
Daniel turned his attention next to the interpretation of the dream. He informed Nebuchadnezzar that the great and horrible image, which he saw in his vision, represented four earthly kingdoms which would succeed each other in dominating the world. He declared that Nebuchadnezzar, as head of the sprawling Babylonian Empire, was "the head of gold" (Dan. 2:38). Although Daniel did not identify by name the -other three kingdoms, symbolized by silver, brass, and iron, scholars have almost universally understood them as being the Medo-Persian, Greek or Macedonian, and Roman Empires.
Continuing his interpretation, Daniel said: "In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Dan. 2:44).
The, expression, "In the days of those kings," would certainly place the inauguration of God's kingdom some time before the end of Imperial Rome. She reached the height of her power shortly after the advent of Jesus and continued in such for a long time after his death. Neither was the kingdom of God set up before the personal ministry of Jesus Christ, because he entered upon it with these words: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mk. 1:15). Thus we have narrowed the field of our investigations, as we seek to establish the time that God's kingdom the church, came into existence.
We now advance to prove the announcement made in the first line of this treatise. Turning to Mark 9:1, we read these words from Jesus: "Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power." Although Jesus anticipated his own death (Mk. 8:31), he declared that some of those present would live to see his kingdom come.
Let us also note that in this passage in Mark, Jesus revealed that his king. dom would "come with power." In the first chapter of Acts, verses 6 through 8, we have recorded a conversation whicn Jesus had with his disciples after his resurrection. from the dead. The disciples asked him this question: "Dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Their question indicated a misconception of the nature of the kingdom of God. They clung to the idea that this kingdom would be a restoration of the old kingdom of David, and not a different institution. But their question is also unmistaken evidence that his kingdom had not as yet been inaugurated.
To this question, Jesus replied: "It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority. But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon YOU."
We now have two points to bear in mind: First, the kingdom is to come with power; and second, the power will come when the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples. With these before us, let us now turn and read again: "When the day of Pentecost was now come, they (the apostles) were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
Here we have the descending of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles - the conferring of power, as Jesus promised. This is the climax to our reasoning upon this point. Let us now summarize and present our conclusion:
(1) The kingdom of God was to come with power. Mark 9:1.
- The power was to come when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. Acts 1:8.
(3) The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2-1-4).
Therefore, the kingdom of God came upon the day of Pentecost -- just 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus, - 10 days after his ascension into heaven. We deem this conclusion to be reasonable, logical, scriptural and irrefutable.
The events which accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles led some of the people to charge them with drunkeness. Peter, rising as spokesman for the group, denied this charge, and then proceeded to preach to the people. His sermon is recorded in Acts 2:22-36, He proclaimed the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as a fulfillment of prophecy. He made it clear that in the resurrection of Jesus and his ascension into heaven, God fulfilled the promise he previously made to David, that "he would set one upon his throne." He declared that Jesus would thus continue to reign at the right hand of God till his enemies became the footstool of his feet. He challenged the people by urging: "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified."
The people quickly responded; they inquired: "Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission
of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:37, 38).
"They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). These were the first to be granted citizenship in the Kingdom of God, upon the conditons announced by the coronated Christ. Through the centuries which have passed since that day, millions of people have sought refuge within its borders. Its gates are still ajar, and will remain so until "time shall be no more."
(To Be Continued)
Truth Magazine I:3, pp. 4-5, 11