In this series I would like to give consideration to that which the scriptures teach us concerning the Kingdom of God.
In bringing the facts to bear upon our subject let us first of all look at a general overview of the kingdom of God what it means and the various manifestations of it throughout time.
The word Kingdom is made up of two words Kings domain = King-Dom
It is the territory or area over which a king rules or reigns; the kings domain.
In terms of defining it as an expression it speaks to us of the reign or the rule of God, whether in heaven or earth and involves His universal rule over all creation and the universe of worlds, including within itself angels and men.
Psalm 103:19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
The Kingdom of God therefore is all conclusive, including within itself, its domain, the total universe, the elect angels, heaven, the fallen angels and all creatures and mankind on earth.
All are under His control and dominion, and nothing could exist or act without His sustaining power.
The second thing to note is that God’s kingdom is everlasting in nature, that is that it always has been and always will be in as much as the dominion is an expression of the king who is the eternal I am.
Psalm 93:1 The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.
Psalm 93:2 Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.
Psa 145:13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
In consideration of the above verses then it is clearly evident that the kingdom is eternal and unlimited and it is all compassing in nature.
Now then just to clarify at this point the distinction that exists between the kingdom and the church let me briefly say that while there is an obvious relationship between the two yet they are distinctly different and therefore it is important not to confuse one with the other.
As already noted the kingdom is the universal reign of God over all things while on the other hand the church is composed of the redeemed believers out of every kindred, tongue, tribe and nation.
The church is to be found within the Kingdom and the kingdom is to be expressed through the church but the kingdom is not the church and the church is not the kingdom.
Now then let us note the following in book of Daniel as it relates to God as the one who ultimately rules over all things.
Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
Daniel 4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
Daniel 4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
Let us compare this with what we find in Psalm 145:13
Psalm 145:13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
By comparison what find here then is that the kingdom of God or the exercise of His dominion is something that has found a progressive expression through time or throughout all generations.
The same idea is expressed again in Daniel 4:34
Dan 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
Let me just give then a little bit of outline of the nature of the kingdom of God in relationship to the progressive expression of it throughout time.
And as we do that let me also say that it is evident from the statement in Daniel 4:25
Dan 4:25 ….till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
That while the Kingdom is the Lord’s and He sits upon the throne of it, God in His wisdom has used various personalities as an expression of it in the earth down through time.
In this way God from Generation to Generation has exercised His rule through those that He has raised up for that purpose.
Nobody could exercise any kind of power or authority except it were allowed them of God
Note the following verses of scriptures again confirming this fact.
John 19:10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Let us consider then the expression of the Kingdom of God in the earth in its development as to this present creation.
Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
In this we find that God’s kingdom was to find a dimension of expression through Adam & Eve, in effect they were God’s king & queen who were to exercise kingly dominion over the realm of the earth.
And let me also say that within the mandate there is the implication that they were to exercise and to execute dominion over Satan, the fallen angels and all the demonic host of the prior fallen creation.
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Unfortunately as we know Satan drew Adam & Eve into a life of sin and by this means rather than them conquering him he conquered them and brought them under the dominion of death.
By this means they effectively surrendered the exercise of the dominion of the earth into the hands of the devil.
Now what that simply means is that man lost the original dominion that he had and that Satan has gained a control over the earth and mankind, but it does not mean that God is no longer in control of the earth.
God still remains in total control He has not surrendered His dominion but rather mankind has lost that which was invested in them.
Consequently God is now engaged in the work of redeeming both mankind and the original dominion with the purpose of restoring us back to that which was ours before the fall.
This dimension of restoration is something that is particularly spoken of relative to the second coming of Jesus Christ and the literal establishment of His Kingdom upon the earth in the millennial age yet to come.
Daniel 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
As I have already said ultimately it is a restoration in which we see that complete subjugation of our enemies.
Note the meaning of the word dominion as it is used in Daniel 7:27
It means empire, and it comes from a root word which means to have the mastery, have power, bear rule, be (make) ruler.
With the fall of the Adam & eve and the loss of the original dominion God with a view to the full redemption of mankind promised a seed that would ultimately conquer the enemy and restore that which was lost.
We find this promise given to us in the book Genesis directly following the fall of mankind into sin.
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
In what is said here we have the seed promise to restore man again to the original dominion that was lost that is a restoration of the empire in which there is again the complete return to a total mastery over the devil and his hosts.
Now then while the original dominion was lost yet as I have already mentioned God has still continued to exercise His dominion in the earth through those that He has chosen as a legitimate expression of it.
God’s kingdom found an expression in the times of the patriarchs.
Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all covenant men through whom God exercised and demonstrated His kingdom on earth.
In a generational sense each of the men preserved and carried forward the promise of kingship that was embodied in the promise of the seed of the woman.
Genesis 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. (kings are to do with dominion and rule)
Following this and the development of the chosen people into a nation God’s kingdom found an expression through the nation of Israel
The name Israel actually means he will rule as God;
This name change for Jacob is both symbolic and prophetic of God intended purpose for the true Israel of God
Consider God original purpose as expressed to Israel prior to the receiving of the law covenant.
Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Now in this we see that God intended Israel to be the instrument in the earth to demonstrate His rule & reign to the other nations, that is it was His purpose through them to give all other nations the revelation of the true God.
In the nation of Israel God establish more fully the revelation of the kingdom giving them His laws and that they in walking according to them might effectively express the kingdom of God in the earth.
In time the kingdom found an expression through the various kings that reigned over the kingdom.
Eventually the kingdom was divided into two houses, the house of Israel & the house of Judah both of which had prophets who were sent reminding them of there responsibility to uphold the laws of God.
Unfortunately as we know Israel failed in this respect ultimately leading to both the houses of Israel being taken into captivity.
Now during the captivity of Israel and particularly the house of Judah God used various gentile nations to be the instrument of His rule and reign on earth, and as we have already considered the book of Daniel particularly shows the sovereignty of God’s kingdom over all things.
This again is particularly evidenced in Cyrus the king of Persia and his role in the restoration of the Israelites to the land of Israel following the 70 years Babylonian captivity
Ezra 1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
In consideration of this then we can observe then that the Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman kingdoms were all given the reign under God over the people of God because of their failure to walk according to His laws.
Now then while God’s kingdom found an expression through the various Gentile kingdoms in the earth, God at the same time acted to recover His people back to the land of Israel and then held them there until He who is the King of the Kingdom was to come forth.
In the manifestation of Christ then we have a further expression of the kingdom of God on earth as the kingdom was represented in Him who is the King and the promised seed that was to come forth.
Christ as the coming king and fulfillment of the seed promises is spoken of prophetically in a number of places under the Old Testament, but is particularly to be seen as shadowed forth in the expression of the kings of Israel and most notably that of King David and the covenant promises made unto Him.
Let us consider the prophetic implications 2 Samuel 7:12-16
2Samuel 7:12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
2Samuel 7:13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
2Samuel 7:14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
2Samuel 7:15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
2Samuel 7:16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever.
Note V 12 while speaking of Solomon it is ultimately prophetic of Christ who is the promised seed.
In V13 where it says He will build the house again though finding a measure of fulfilment in Solomon it ultimately points to Christ who is building the true temple which is the church made up of many members.
In verses 14-16 mention is made of the establishing of the throne forever again these are things these that can only find an ultimate fulfilment in Christ
Now then something to bear in mind as we consider Christ sitting upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom is that in one sense David becomes the type of Christ sitting upon the throne of the kingdom this pointed forward and was prophetic in nature.
And yet in another sense David and his throne was the shadow of the heavenly reality of the throne of the kingdom in the heavens.
In consideration of this then the throne and the kingdom of David was an earthly pattern or expression of the heavenly reality.
Now then when we understand this what it brings into view is the fact that there was an eternal aspect to the earthly throne and kingdom of David.
It was the eternal kingdom of God finding an expression in time through David and the throne of his kingdom on earth.
The significance of this then is that all the various promises to do with Christ sitting upon the throne of David are because the throne of David was and is an eternal throne.
Now then let me elaborate on this a little more for I feel it explains something to be understood concerning the nature of the kingdom.
Let us consider God's word to Saul in 1 Samuel 13:13-14
1Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever.
1Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
In these verses we have some interesting statements that really need some explanation.
For instance the Lord said his kingdom could have continued forever and yet he was not of the kingly tribe Judah of which the promise of kingship had been invested.
This raises the question how could God be saying this of Saul?
Well in consideration of this let me first of all bring you back to the fact that the only kingdom that can be established upon Israel forever is the eternal kingdom of God.
In speaking of this it is evident then that the kingdom of God having found an expression through Saul could have passed on to another and so continued forever because it is an eternal kingdom, however God says now his kingdom would not continue
The reason for this is because we are dealing with two different kingdoms
1)The heavenly Kingdom finding an expression through the earthly kingdom in this instance the kingdom of Saul
2)The earthly kingdom of Saul which was supposed to be an expression of the heavenly kingdom
Now had Saul’s kingdom continued to be an expression of the heavenly kingdom it would indeed have continued upon Israel forever but Saul having rejected the king of the kingdom (the Word of God) he was simply left with an earthly kingdom which in time would come to an end.
If I may paraphrase the verses under consideration it would read like this
His kingdom (that is Saul’s kingdom) as an expression of God’s kingdom would have been established upon Israel forever, but now his kingdom (that is Sauls kingdom) would not continue.
What is mentioned here is the same thing in principle that happened to natural Israel, the kingdom was taken from them and given to another and so the natural kingdom of Israel came to an end.
Coming back to 2 Sa 7:14-16 notice again the promise that God would not take away his mercy from David but the throne would succeed – this was because David’s throne though it passed through many hands was that which genuinely represented the heavenly kingdom on earth.
It is this Kingdom that God promises would extend for ever and while many of the kings of Israel failed in the matter of the kingdom, God did not take His mercy away from David but watched over the kingdom until it emerged again in the person of Jesus Christ the true King of the Kingdom.