The Kingdom – Part 3

This is the conclusion of a study of the Kingdom of Heaven by my friend Michael White. If you missed it, check out part 2.


By: Michael White

A Postponed Kingdom (Continued)

This brings us to the Third and final rejection mentioned before during the previous phase of the kingdom. We will spend some time on it now. This rejection of the Kingdom by Israel happens after the resurrection. Some may struggle with the concept that the Kingdom is still offered to Israel up until Acts chapter 8. To help…

Wiersbe cites 11 reasons that the kingdom was still the primary focus after the resurrection for the first eight chapters of Acts.

1.)   The disciples expected the establishment of the kingdom (1:6), and Christ did not rebuke them for their request. He had promised they would sit on twelve thrones (Matt19:28)

2.)   It was necessary that they elect a twelfth apostle (1:22) to take Judas’ place so that Christ’s promise might be fulfilled. Paul was not supposed to be that new apostle, for his ministry was primarily to the Gentiles. Paul’s ministry had to do with the one body the church. (In fact Paul did not meet the qualifications laid out for this replacement having not been with Jesus since the beginning. Matthias would sit in Judas place on one of the 12 thrones mentioned above judging Israel.)

3.)   Peter preached to the men of Judah, Jerusalem, and Israel in his message at Pentecost (2:14-22). He did not address his words to Gentiles. It was primarily a Jewish message to a Jewish congregation on a Jewish religious holiday.

4.)   The prophecy of Joel (2:16ff) relates primarily to Israel, not the church.

5.)   Peter portrayed the cross as an instrument of crime, not as God’s gracious remedy for sin (2:22-23). Compare this with Paul’s message in 2 Cor. 5.

6.)   Peter’s theme at Pentecost is the resurrection. Christ had promised to give Israel a sign- the sign of the prophet Jonah- which is death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 12:38ff). This was the sign Peter preached. God was now giving Israel another chance to accept the Messiah and be saved.

7.)   The apostles and first converts worshiped in the temple until they were thrown out.

8.)   Peter said that the days of blessing that were experienced in Acts had been prophesied by the OT prophets (3:21,24). But the church was a mystery hidden by God and was not fully made known until Paul’s ministry (read Eph. 3 carefully). The prophets spoke of the Jewish kingdom, not of the church. To confuse these two creates problems.

9.)   Jerusalem was the center for blessing; everyone came there (5:16). It was definitely kingdom ground; see Isaiah 66:5ff.

10.)   Peter clearly told the council that the message was one of repentance for Israel (5:31)

11.)     In chapter 7, Stephen reviewed the history of Israel and showed how the nation had rejected the truth down through the years. It takes little effort to see that the first seven chapters of Acts, we are concerned with the Jewish nation and that the message is meant primarily for the kingdom, not the church. [1]

It’s also important to note that when Peter preached his sermon on the day of Pentecost after the resurrection. Acts 3:17-21 He tells the Jews that even though they crucified the Messiah that if they repent that God would send this messiah back and usher in the kingdom Acts 3:19,20. This is before the gospel goes to Samaria Acts 9 or even the Gentiles. Acts 10. Before Paul is even called to be an apostle Acts 13.

It’s not surprising then that in Acts 1 Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven for 40 days to his 11 Apostles. The 11 apostles ask Jesus “Are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel.” Jesus says “it’s not for you to know the times and dates the Father has established by his own authority” Basically this is a direct quote that Jesus will in fact at some point in the future restore the Kingdom to Israel. The restoration will happen during the millennial kingdom on this earth and a future nation of Israel living during the time of the millennium “will produce the fruit of the Kingdom” as droves of Gentiles are saved by their example. Jesus ascends into heaven not having restored the kingdom. Peter Again acknowledges that the Kingdom has not been restored to Israel after the ascension in Acts chapter 3 and tells Israel that if they will “repent” and receive Jesus as their King that God would, in fact, send Jesus back to establish the Kingdom. Acts 3:17-20Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” Although 3000 people believe however the Leadership of Israel does not and even arrests Peter and John while they are preaching this very message. Acts 4 which should be included in the story of Acts 3. Because of the chapter break we ignore this often. This offer of the Kingdom after the resurrection is typified in one of the final parables of the Kingdom “the wedding banquet” found in Matthew 22:1-14. The calf has been prepared that is Jesus had been crucified and rose from the dead. And the invite again goes out to Israel “to those who had been invited” by the preaching of the Apostles and Stephen. But Israel pays no attention and is occupied with life. So the servants (his angels) are told go and invite “Anyone”. Stephen in Acts 7 preaches a sermon to Israel condemning them for not listening to the prophets calling them to repent yet they reject Stephen’s message as well and stone him. “They beat some and stoned others” Matthew 21 This final rejection of the Holy Spirit “you always resist the Holy Spirit” marks the end of the offer of the kingdom to Israel fulfilling the parable of the kingdom spoken in Matthew 21. 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” One side note is the people that will produce the fruit of the kingdom Jesus refers to here are a future Generation of Israel that will be alive during the Millennium and will produce the fruit of the kingdom, namely that the gospel would reach the ends of the earth. This view is strengthened by Romans 11:12 We do not have enough time to treat this properly here I only mention it in passing.

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. The Pharisees had known that Jesus had spoken this Parable against them and looked for a way to arrest him but were unable to. In Acts 8 the Gospel goes to the Samaritans and then in Acts 10 the Gentiles “Anyone.” Before this time the Apostles in obedience had continued to go to the lost sheep of Israel even after the resurrection just as Jesus had told them to do in Matthew 10 and again at the end of Matthew.

We now come to the end of this section. Quickly recapping, There are three great murders in Israel’s history that complete this rejection of the Kingdom. The Father’s message is rejected at the imprisonment and beheading of John the Baptist his representative on earth “the greatest of prophets”. Next, the Son was rejected and murdered. ”Let his blood be on us and on our children” Finally; the Holy Spirit is rejected at the stoning of Stephen.

In response to this God would send his armies to burn their city i.e. the Romans in 70 AD Matthew 22:7 Jesus had wept over this rejection Matthew 23:37 but Israel’s rejection of the Kingdom now moves the prophetic clock forward and the ultimate agenda of God to establish his sovereignty on this earth. Romans 9-11

A Physical Kingdom

The 4th phase of the Kingdom is the Physical Kingdom. Today we Christians live in the period of the postponed form of the Kingdom. The true King is acknowledged only in the heart of his subjects. But outwardly it can be hard to discern who those subjects are. The Kingdom of Heaven today exists on earth in mixed company like the parables of the kingdom describe, both believers and unbelievers claim allegiance to Jesus. We cannot read their hearts and know who they are so we are told not to try to uproot them. When we share our faith, we are unaware not how it will take root in the hearts (soils) of men. We see that although Christianity under the umbrella of all Christendom has become enormous, we also see much evil within it. i.e. crusades, etc… and much false doctrine from within (leaven) i.e. Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. We await the return of the King to set things right and establish his Physical Kingdom removing everything that defiles. This defilement will be eliminated from the kingdom in a future day when Jesus “will restore all things.” Jesus return will inaugurate the conquering of the nations of men Revelation 11:5, Daniel 2. The Kingdom will be Physically manifested on the earth with Jerusalem as its capital city (Zion) and Jesus (David’s descendant) reigning on the throne. Bringing the prophecy of Daniel 9:27 to a close when the Most Holy will be anointed. And Jesus will Rule physically on this earth for 1000 years. Revelation 21 This is future to us who believe today. The Postponed Kingdom will give way to a Physical manifestation of the Kingdom here on earth. It will be restored to Israel as the Apostles had asked in Acts chapter 1. The King will no longer be absent in heaven but present physically here on earth. Then Jesus’ prayer will be answered. “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Because the King will be physically present here on earth the hearts of men will be revealed for what they are.

A Permanent Kingdom

The final phase is a permanent or perpetual kingdom. Daniel had said in Daniel 2:44 that the Kingdom would never pass away nor would it be left to another people. The Physical manifestation of the Kingdom though it lasts 1000 years, will be a speck in all eternity. Jesus will “renew all things”. The earth will be destroyed by fire and renovated to a state better than the Garden of Eden. The redemption of the creation with a new heaven and new earth will fulfill Romans 8:22 “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time”. This kingdom will go on into eternity and will never end, completing the prophecies of Daniel 2:44

The 5 phases of the Kingdom are easy to understand when one sees them from a big picture perspective. First, it was Prophesied to Israel, then it was Presented to Israel, upon Israel’s rejection of the King, the Kingdom was Postponed and the gospel has gone out to all the earth even still in our current day while the gospel goes out to all nations. But one day Jesus the King will return and the Kingdom will be manifested in Physical form and then 1000 years later will continue Permanently on into eternity. The below chart puts it all together visually.

kingdom-graphic-final

In conclusion when you look around and see false doctrine in the church it should not surprise you because we live during a time when the Kingdom of Heaven is postponed, and there is leaven in the dough. While our Lord is away in Heaven, there are two types of subjects on earth. Those who believe inwardly and those who profess outwardly (Wheat and the Tares). Both are part of the Kingdom. You can see that although Christendom has become very large externally (the mustard seed grew into a tree) when you consider all who profess you can also recognize that there are evil things that take place under its umbrella (the birds). And just as the seed only was able to reproduce itself in one kind of soil (parable of soils) so to the gospel does not have 100% success rate today based on the wickedness of men’s hearts. And just like the woman with the yeast (evil) worked it through the whole lump of dough, so also false doctrine permeates all parts of Christendom today. You may ask what our role is today in this postponed timeframe. The answer is to plant seeds. To share your faith and spread the gospel. Not being discouraged by the form of the kingdom today because it is only temporary. Or distracted by trying to uproot the Tares or by worrying about the condition of the soils it falls on but rather on sharing the gospel and teaching the truth. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” We do this while waiting for the “most holy”; Jesus to be anointed on David’s throne literally on this earth. “As for God’s Gifts and his Call they are irrevocable” Israel will receive her Kingdom. God will not fail to fulfill all his promises to national Israel, and in the process of doing this, he has accomplished salvation on the cross available to all men both Jew and Gentile. What an Amazing God we serve!

Daniel 9:24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy…” Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

 


[1] Weirsbe Expository Outlines

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