We often paraphrase or use metaphors, similes and even hyperbole to communicate to others. Our efforts are to ensure others understand the message being conveyed. There are different levels of understanding that we could categorize as knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, amalgamation of information, and discernment or judgment. The very first level of understanding is to gain knowledge so that information can be recalled for various reasons. The other levels of understanding are the outcomes of what is done with knowledge. But, in our 30-character soundbite world where attention spans are low or the demands of life inhibit achieving mastery of understanding, do we really digest the words used in a message; or, just settle for getting the gist of a message? I guess the answer depends on the importance of the message to you.
My last blog, “Out of the World“, was centred around Paul’s revelation of the mystery of Christ, the stewardship of the mystery, and, the Church from Ephesians 3. To comprehend his teaching, distinctions were noted regarding the words he employed (clearly through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit). You see, there is absolutely a difference. I believe Jesus was being literal when He said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18)”. I’ll come back to this.
This supplemental blog adds points that were intentionally omitted from the last one for brevity purposes. The focus is on contrasting between the kingdoms mentioned in the Bible and is outlined into 4 parts as follows:
- The Kings
- The Kingdoms of Heaven and of God
- The Kingdoms’ Citizens
- The Kingdom of Earth (Including the Kingdom of Heaven)
For now, let’s think about distinctions that should be made when we use the expression “the kingdom”. Have you ever heard people talk about advancing the kingdom? Depending on who you are and where you are, the kingdom means different things.
The Scripture talks about 3 sets of kingdoms: (1) the kingdoms of this earth or world; (2) the kingdom of heaven; and (3) the kingdom of God. It’s obvious that the kingdoms of this earth change as do its rulers, so we’ll defer this for now.
Let’s draw some comparisons and contrasts between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. Who is the King? Where is the kingdom?
In this first section, we are
Introducing the Kings
into our purview
- The Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the king of the kingdom of heaven that comes from heaven and resides on earth. Here is Scriptural evidence:
- Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:36 to 37);
- “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13 to 14);
- Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6);
- And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10).
- God is the King over the kingdom of God, and it is in heaven and on earth.
- Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1st Corinthians 15:28);
- The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19).
- The kingdom of heaven that is given to the Messiah, Jesus Christ is limited. It is political, under heaven, local to the earth, and has an earthly capital. Here are the supporting Scriptures:
- “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. (Luke 1:32);
- Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7);
- And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be: “The LORD is one,” And His name one. (Zechariah 14:9).
- Note: the word for “one” is echâd which means first, AND united, AND the only one. This is the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:4 which refers to Yehōvâ or LORD in English, and ‘ĕlōhîm in English is God in the plural form. More on this later.
- And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. … In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the LORD of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 14, portions starting from verse 16 to 21).
- The kingdom of God is where and when God is over everything. This kingdom is unlimited, moral and spiritual, and forever was, is and will be. It is written:
- “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11);
- for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17);
- The LORD is King forever and ever; The nations have perished out of His land. (Psalm 10:16);
- Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15).
Now let’s take a look at the differences in scope between Their respective rule:
Praise God! We should be so thankful that at the appointed time in human history, our Father will bring every kingdom under His authority. This God of unfailing love, grace, and goodness will ensure His people will live in eternity in His presence free from sin!
The next point is
Introducing the Kingdoms
This is especially helpful when reading about the kingdom parables in the book of Matthew.
These distinctions indicate that one kingdom pre-existed the temporal one. This being the case, there must be distinctions to be made about the kingdom’s citizens as well.
- The kingdom of heaven has been coming since the day of Pentecost at the birth of the church, and it will be established on earth at the second advent or seconding coming of Christ. (Please refer to the previous blog titled Out of the World for more on this). Christ’s second coming is a different event than the catching away of the church in the air which has become known for its Latin derivative, the rapture. (To see this, please compare 1st Thessalonians 4:17 to the Latin Vulgate and then in Greek). Getting back to the kingdom of heaven, its citizens include both the church and (for a time) those outside of the church. There is physical evidence of this kingdom. Let’s review the Scriptures:
- I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: (2nd Timothy 4:1);
- Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10);
- “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; … “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. “And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven. (Mark 13:24, 26 to 27) Note: in this verse, the “elect” are those Jews and Gentile who are still alive after the tribulation that will serve Christ. the Scriptures before this quote describe the great tribulation (refer to Mark 13:14 to 23);
- Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints (Jude 1:14). This is incredible because Enoch was the first recorded person to be “taken” by God, and before he was, he saw the return of God’s people to earth.
- Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. (Revelation 19:11 to 14).
- Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, And all the saints with You. (Zechariah 14:1 to 5);
- and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. (2nd Thessalonians 1:7 to 10);
- Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3);
- “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33);
- The kingdom of God has no beginning or end, is angelic, interplanetary, has a heavenly capital and is without ocular evidence.
- Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, (Revelation 5:11);
- But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:22);
- Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; (Luke 17:20); Did you notice that Jesus even makes a distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven?
- for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17);
- For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. (1st Corinthians 4:20).
Introducing the Kingdoms’ Citizens and their Inheritance
One of God’s attributes is immutable! I love this because He keeps His covenants. The LORD has given conditional promises to His creation but everything He declared for His purposes never changes.
- “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19);
- “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Luke 21:33);
- For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29);
- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17).
It is exciting to realize everything God declared as an inheritance for His people will come to fruition just like the prophecies about the circumstances of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. The overcoming, new-creation person (Ephesians 2:11 to 22) will rule and reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9 to 10) with the LORD during the new millennium when the kingdom from heaven comes to earth. The implementation of the kingdom of heaven on earth starts the Messianic dispensation for the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the Jews. This is when they will be the head of all nations (Deuteronomy 28:13); the Gentile nations will be greatly blessed because of this time of peace on earth.
Now let’s consider the details about the kingdoms.
- In the kingdom of heaven, its citizens are flesh and blood; they are people who have not received a glorified body through the transformation that takes place at the rapture.
- But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (Psalm 37:11). Note: This is the Old Testament version of Christ’s statement in Matthew 5:5.
- ‘But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’ (Daniel 7:18);
- And He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places. (Ezekiel 43:7).
- In the kingdom of God, only the resurrected saints inherit all things:
- For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:14 to 17);
- Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1st Corinthians 15:50 to 53);
- “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (Revelation 21:7).
He declared for David and the Jewish Nation that they would inherit the promised land.
- Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me (Psalm 89:35 to 36);
- “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” ‘ ” According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David. (2nd Samuel 7:16 to 17);
- “The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the LORD. “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this [is] My covenant with them: My Spirit who [is] upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:20 to 21);
- The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the LORD. (Isaiah 2:1 to 5).
For the Church he declared:
- …To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7);
- … He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11);
- … To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17);
- … “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations (Revelation 2:26);
- … “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5);
- “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. (Revelation 3:12);
- “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21).
Friends, look at the future the overcomer has!
Introducing the Purification of the Kingdom on Earth (including the Kingdom of Heaven)
Earlier I had deferred examination of the kingdoms of the earth. Everything changed when God sent His Son to the earth to atone for the sin of the entirety of humanity (John 3:16 to 21). The condition for receiving new birth is genuinely believing in the heart that risen Jesus is the Son of God. Scripture says:
- that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9 to 13).
Anyone who is reborn through accepting Christ is part of the Church; and, the indwelling Holy Spirit will continue sanctifying them because we are not perfected yet. Notice the following important distinction:
- sin was paid for at the cross for all of humanity; but,
- sin was judged at the cross for the believer because Jesus took the penalty of sin away.
That said believers’ works will still be judged to remove impure attitudes and motives; and, to reward for overcoming (2nd Corinthians 5:10). Please note, while a believer sins from time to time, they can not perpetually practice sin because they have been regenerated (1st John 3:6 to 9). This is why Paul encourages self-examination and continual yielding. It is a process and change becomes increasingly evident. No one should judge their Christian sibling’s progress; rather, we should spur each other on to grow. When Jesus returns to the earth with the Church, the Church will have been purified!
But, there are two kingdoms left. The LORD must resolve sin once and for all to fulfill prophecy. The LORD will judge all who are still alive when He returns to the earth (Matthew 25:31 to 33). Scripture states that Jesus will: (1) send all people who followed the imposter world ruler to hell where they will await their final judgement; (2) cast both the false religious and political leaders directly into the lake of fire; and, (3) fetter the devil in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 20:6).
The enemy is released for one final attempt to defeat the LORD and test those in the kingdom of heaven. Remember at this point the kingdom of heaven contains both the immortal perfect church who returned to earth with Christ and the mortals who survived the great tribulation without being deceived into following the imposter saviour. The mortals had children. Some of these mortals will join the enemy’s rebellion, but he is defeated and cast into the lake of fire. Then the final great white throne judgment takes place, and all the dead who were waiting in hell to stand before God receive their due reward in the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11 to 15).
Note Jesus made a distinction between entering the kingdom of heaven versus entering the kingdom of God. He said:
- ... “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.“ (Matthew 19:23 to 26).
Friends, we may not be able to fathom how Deity, God, can be 3 distinct persons and entirely unified.
We see His work in creation, history recorded His earthly incarnation and ascension, we sense Him in our beings. Each member of the Trinity participated at Christ’s baptism.
This holy and good God did what we could not do for ourselves. You see, we are unable to save ourselves, so our Triune God arranged it all.
- The Father gave His Son to pay for our sin, redeeming us to Him as part of the plan of the ages before the foundation of the world.
- The Son agreed with the plan and co-created all that there is so that He could enter His creation and give up His life to redeem us. He rose again to ever live to make intercession for us.
- His Spirit, who brooded over the waters at creation, who at times moved upon Old Testament saints to prophecy is now indwelling in the believer so that we can overcome.
- The Godhead has conversation about us and guides us as we yield.
God gave us Scripture so that we would know His eternal plan. He will need to put an end to sin by banishing evil to the lake of fire forever so that those who willingly bow to the LORD Jesus Christ will be with Him forever, free from the presence of sin and its effects.
- Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1st Corinthians 15:24 to 28).
You see, there are no contradictions in Scripture; there are only opportunities to:
- learn by acquiring knowledge of Him through His Word;
- pray and study to grow in comprehension of the One you will be joined to;
- grow in sanctification through the application of His Word;
- develop a heart of worship and awe through analysis and discovery;
- build strength and armour to overcome through the amalgamation of information;
- exercise good discernment and judgment interpreting correctly based on the mind of Christ, the Word made flesh.
There is so much I do not know; and, life is becoming so much more exciting as I study the Word of God, paying attention to details, distinctions, and context while searching the full-counsel of Scripture. Why? Because there is nothing more important than God, and nothing with a greater impact on our eternity. Glory to God!
Now can you imagine what it will be like to be joined to Christ and filled completely by God? Plus there will be adventures or assignments for our King throughout the universe? You see the Church is unique in that we inherit all things! I know it will be better than anything in this life, but I can not grasp how marvellous it will be!
Listen, there’s not a lot of time left; perhaps you can sense this. If you feel the Holy Spirit encouraging you to believe in Jesus Christ so that you can enter the Kingdom of God, it is as simple as admitting you are a sinner and believing that God sent Jesus Christ to pay the price for sin. Ask Him to enter your heart and to teach you all things. Then, in your daily life you need to obey His Word but because His Spirit will be in you, He will help you do this. There are no “specific words” to pray, but there is a process to coming to faith.
If you are still unsure and want to evaluate more please visit DESIRINGFRUITFULNESS.CA/CHOICES.
All Scripture is from the King James Version unless otherwise specified.