What is the Kingdom of God?

Where does the confusion arise?

There is much confusion amongst Christians as to what the kingdom of God is. This mainly arises because the modern Church places no distinction between the covenants that relate only to Israel and those covenants that pertain to the Church (they use replacement theology which is a false theology). In essence, these people also place the commencement of the new dispensation (that of the church age) at the white page in the Bible that separates the Book of Malachi from the Book of Matthew, when in fact the church age commenced in Acts chapter 2. God sent the Holy Spirit at the commencement of the age of grace (church age) in order to convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:7-11). The first event the Holy Spirit attended is described in Acts 2:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4

This event is important to understand because it is evidence of the setting up of the Church, which was a mystery (that is hidden from view) up to this point. Furthermore, one needs to comprehend that in the first half of Matthew (before chapter 13) Jesus speaks as the Messiah coming as King to the Nation of Israel, but the Nation of Israel rejects Him (they state he is from Satan, that is, they blaspheme him), and eventually kills him at Calvary. Note that although at his place of death he was called the 'King of the Jews' (John 19:19), he had neither throne nor kingdom – this is still to come. Instead, at this point in time, Jesus Christ turns to the disciples and privately teaches them about the coming ages, where the gentiles, who believe, will be blessed, and along with Jews who put their faith in Yeshua, form the Church, which has Yeshua (Christ) as her head.

The church does not have a King, but High Priest

The events in Acts are not the commencement of the kingdom of God, but rather the start of the Church of God (Acts 20:28). Therefore, the simple answer to the question is, since the Kingdom of God is where the king is, or put another way, a kingdom has a throne, a king, a people, a land and it is where the king rules, and since the Church does not have a throne, it cannot be the Kingdom of God, indeed, it cannot be a kingdom at all. Instead, Jesus came as a prophet, speaking on behalf of God, both about current issues and future events (prophecies).

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. John 12:49

Jesus Christ the Messiah will return as a judge at a future date, which we read in the Revelation, and which will usher in the Messianic Kingdom where Jesus will rule from His rightful throne in Zion (see Psalm 87 etc.). So what is he now? The answer – he is a priest, indeed a high priest. The book of Hebrews, in exquisite detail, shows that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is a priest, not of the order of Aaron, who could not take away the guilt of sin, but a priest of the order of Melchizedek:

As He also says in another place: "you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek"; Hebrews 5:6

The Kingdom of God is not the Church, and Christ is not the King over the Church (although he is a King – in the same way Melchizedek was both king and priest), but at this time he is acting in his role as the great high priest:

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. Hebrews 8:1-2

For a Christian this is an important truth: God sees us through the cross of Christ washed clean by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is our High Priest who is just and able to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), and is an advocate for us, for all times – because his work is complete.

And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. Hebrews 10:11-13

This does not mean Jesus is not King, for indeed he is surely King – but he has not established his Kingdom yet, for His people have rejected him. Note Paul's exclamation to Timothy;

[Christ Jesus] … He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords
1 Timothy 6:15 (See also Revelation 1:5 etc.)

Israel, however, was promised a King

Moses states that Israel would have a king when they got to the land of Canaan and possessed it:

"When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me'" Deuteronomy 17:14

his is a real king (Isaiah 9:6-7, Revelation 11:15 etc.), sitting on a real throne (Luke 1:32 etc.), who rules a real people (Leviticus 26:40-42, Daniel 7:14, Isaiah 2:3, Isaiah 10:20, Obadiah 17-21 etc.), that occupy a real land (Daniel 7:14, Zechariah 14:9), ruling by law (Isaiah 2:3, Zechariah 14:16-19 ); it is not, as many Christians suppose, a metaphor for something else.

So why isn't the Kingdom in place?

The reason there is no king in Israel is because of Israel's corporate sin and rejection of their Messiah. In Scripture we see;

  • The coming kingdom was predicted by Isaiah (11:6-9)
  • The people sinned before God and abrogated their part in the covenant made at the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:15ff, Hosea 5)
  • The Kingdom was offered by the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7)
  • The Kingdom was rejected along with its king (Matthew 12:24-36)
  • Kingdom was postponed (Matthew 13, Romans 9-12)

However, Jesus prophesised that there would be a king at a future time (Matthew 24:14; 25:31 plus many references in the Old Testament). And this king would be the Lord Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah, whose kingdom will encompass the whole world, and whose throne will be in Jerusalem, and would last for ever.

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem; Jeremiah 3:17a

I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me." Hosea 5:15 (See also Hosea 6:1-3)

And Jehovah shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Jehovah, and his name one. Zechariah 14:9

In the meantime, God has established the Church (Matthew 16:18; 28:18-20 etc.) made up of men and women (of any nation) who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8

And He [The Christ] is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

When will the kingdom be restored?

When Israel calls upon the name of God again, the Kingdom will be restored:

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.  Psalms 118:26 – see also Matthew 13:39

And it shall come to pass in all the land," Says the LORD, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.' " Zechariah 13:8-9

he actual timing of the establishment of the kingdom is explained in Revelation while all the characteristics of the throne and its King is discussed in many placed in the Old Testament.  In the Revelation we find the time-course of the tribulation laid out, although much of its details can be found in the Old Testament. The tribulation will bring about the preaching of the gospel (Matthew 24:14, Revelation 7:1-17), while God judges the earth, whereupon a certain number of people will be saved (Tribulation saints) and who are sealed. These sealed ones will proclaim the gospel in the Tribulation and therefore will fulfill Matthew 24:14.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

he judgement rids the earth of those that hate God and those who rebel against God, while a remnant will turn to God. God then establishes His Kingdom, ruling over Israel and the nations – the Messianic Kingdom (sometimes called the Millennial Kingdom), which runs for 1000 years (see Revelation 19). This period is followed by the Everlasting Kingdom (Revelation 22).

David L Simon  (25 April 2016)
What is the Kingdom of God?