An angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream that Mary would give birth to the savior from sin and that he should call him Jesus. Gabriel reveled to Mary that she would conceive a child from God who would inherit David’s throne and rule over the house of Jacob forever. Both of these truths need to be embraced to live a fruitful life of discipleship in Christ. We have examined salvation at length. Let us continue to look into the kingdom.
Matthew’s gospel begins with “This is the genealogy of Yeshua the Messiah, son of David, son of Avraham.” David was a real king who ruled the house of Jacob from a real throne in Jerusalem for 33 years. Jesus of Nazareth died outside of Jerusalem at 33 years of age, but was raised on the third day and is destined to rule from David’s throne a kingdom that shall see no end. Gabriel’s message to Mary wasn’t simple allegory for her to understand that as David ruled over men on earth, Jesus rules in hearts of men from heaven. His message to Mary was that the promise YHWH made to David He would fulfill in the child she would bear.
The truth of Christ the King is irrefutable, but the actuality of it has not occurred yet. Where, in heaven or on earth? His kingship in heaven is accomplished fact.
- He is seated in heavenly places far above all principalities, powers, might, and dominion. (Eph. 1:20-21)
- He is ascended far above all heavens to fill all things. (Eph. 4:10)
- He has all the authority in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18)
- He is seated on His Father’s throne in heaven. (Rev. 3:21)
When we look around us, we see a world full of suffering, evil, and injustice. It is not the type of world we would expect if Jesus was in charge. If He currently had functional control over all realms of authority in our day, the lame, blind, and dumb could not be found; the hungry, tired, and oppressed would not exist; famine, terror, and sword would all be but distant memories of bad stories told by elders long gone. But such is not the case.
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. ESV [Emphasis added.]
It is in the clear evidence on not seeing everything subject to Christ that Millennial debates begin. Those who state that Jesus needs to come back to get this planet straight are thought negligent and passive by those who believe we must conquer the world’s kingdoms for Christ. Conversely, the former think the Dominionist ideal of instituting the kingdom of Christ without Chris the King physically ruling on Earth is naive in the extreme. I think both sides have valid points.
We do not have the luxury of sitting on His laurels and watching our world go to hell.
As we fulfill the Great Commission to disciple nations, the world’s kingdoms will more and more reflect the kingdom of Christ. We do not have the luxury of sitting on His laurels and watching our world go to hell. The church must preach the justification by faith as well as bring justice to bear in our generation. But so long as we are in this present corruptible flesh, sin lives in us. We are not yet perfected to rule in perfect righteousness for Jesus. This is why I believe that the idea of the saints ruling some glorious theocracy before the return of Christ to earth flies in the face of Scripture and experience to the contrary. That said, we are still expected to accomplish what we can with what we have.
Christianity transformed the world into a better place. Whenever nations with repentant hearts have endeavored to follow the righteous way, conditions for those living in them have improved. When the Lord’s righteousness is abandoned as the standard for just rule, the guilty go free, the innocent are murdered, and tyranny reigns. We are to be salt and light in our generation. The worth of our salt will be rewarded in His earthly kingdom.
1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. KJV
If Christ never rules from David’s throne, God lied to Mary.
Revelation shows an angel from heaven locking Satan up in the Abyss. Even in the best of circumstances, we have never seen what a devil-free planet looks like. Christ’s thousand year reign in verse 4 is what gives rise to the term Millennial Kingdom. Though often cited, Revelation 20:4 is not the only place this kingdom is mentioned. At least 1,845 references to it can be found in the Old Testament and 17 of its books give prominence to it. The New Testament is full of the Kingdom. It holds prominence in 23 of its 27 books with at least 318 references to it. If Christ never rules from David’s throne, God lied to Mary. And we know God cannot lie. The Millennial Kingdom isn’t fodder for eschatological debates. It’s a matter of our covenant keeping God fulfilling His promise to David.
Promise of the kingdom to come was part of the benefits package that Jesus told the disciples about when they listed for Him what they had sacrificed to follow Him.
27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. KJV
Twelve apostles sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel is not a symbolic picture. It is a promise of the world to come. It was a promise they took to heart. After seeing Jesus baptized, after walking with him and seeing the miracles, after the harrowing events of the crucifixion and the wonder of the resurrection, they had one question.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? KJV
These men were there. They were taught directly by the Master. They lived in his time, spoke his language, knew his manner and doctrine. It would be foolish of us to think they misunderstood Jesus’s promise in Matthew and asked of him a silly question in Acts. Jesus didn’t respond with, “Guys, you misunderstood. I didn’t mean a literal kingdom on earth where you would rule Israel under me. Don’t you know it was just a spiritual allegory for you showing Israel how it is supposed to live?” No, he didn’t say that. He simply said not yet.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. KJV
Jesus is destined to rule all nations. His physical return to the planet will bring upheaval to the status quo and healing to the land. Our environment will transform to perfection as described by the prophet Isaiah. He will rule with a rod of iron, a perfect benevolent monarchy run with complete righteousness.
Nature and nurture is a longstanding debate with regard to the state of mankind. The nurture argument holds that man’s degeneracy derives from poverty, be it poverty of food, love, or economic opportunity. In this view, man steals not because he is wicked but because he needs money. Christ’s reign on earth is God’s final answer to the depravity of man. It was while living in perfect conditions that man first rebelled against God. Ever since, rebellious man has argued that his faults only exist because he lives in a less than perfect environment.
Our heavenly Father will provide perfect governance on Earth through His Son. The art of war will be studied no more as swords are beat into plowshares and planters overtake harvesters. No war, no famine, no corruption, no injustice. Unredeemed man’s response after 1,000 years of a devil-free planet will be to take up arms and try to overthrow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in Jerusalem. They will not succeed, for His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.