The kingdom of God is an historical establishment, a present possession and a future reality.
The kingdom was present throughout the history of the Tanakh (Old Testament). The revelation of God at Sinai began a formal assembly of what would become God’s people.
Exodus 19:5-6 – “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, “and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”
Through the kingdom of Israel, the Torah or Word of God was established and made known. This historical aspect of the kingdom of God was brought to fruition when its prophesied head, the Messiah, taught of its principles to the generation of that age.
Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:19 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 9:35 – Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.
Yet, there was a sense of the kingdom that had not fully come yet, as the Messiah taught that the kingdom was always near but had not yet fully appeared in this reality.
Matthew 3:2 – and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near! “
Matthew 4:17 – From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Matthew 10:7 – “As you go, proclaim: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Mark 1:15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! “
Beyond these urgent admonitions for repentance, there was a sense in which Messiah conveyed that the kingdom would come in a new way before that generation all passed away. When certain signs of judgment were to be fulfilled, they would know that it was “even at the door,” i.e., extremely imminent.
Matthew 24:33-34 – “In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that it is near – at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.
Mark 13:29 – “In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that it is near – at the door.
Luke 21:31 – “In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.
The reason the kingdom almost always appears to always be a future reality is because the writers of the Bible were living at a time where it had not fully blossomed into this reality. At the destruction of Jerusalem, when the old order of things had passed away, when the end of the age of national Israel had come, then could the next age, the age of the spiritual kingdom of God, begin to take hold in this world.
The early believers, the faithful remnant, were the seed that was planted among the nations. At the culmination of that age, the seed that had been planted in the soils of tribulation and watered with the blood of the martyrs then began to shoot forth. The work that was done among the fields of harvest of that chosen generation then began to bear fruit as the teachings of Messiah were taken up by those who had witnessed these things. As the writings of the apostles had been distributed to the congregations among the various nations of the Diaspora, the Tanakh was validated and the entirety of the Word of God began to spread.
Even while the apostles and early believers recognized that they were living at the end of that age, there was still a sense of the kingdom that they knew was beyond this present reality, an eternal inheritance that lie outside of this Created order. It was the inheritance of a heavenly kingdom, one that could only be entered when this earthly life is through.
2 Timothy 4:18 – The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen.
2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
1 Corinthians 15:49-50 – And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we will also bear the image of the man of heaven [Messiah]. What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption.
While we in this age can experience a spiritual communion with God and with his Messiah in the present spiritual kingdom of God, there remains as a hope for believers today a heavenly kingdom, an eternal reality beyond this Creation, the kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe…
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