Challenge Group #3
God's Kingdom in the Old Testament
There are several interwoven "Kingdom" usages in the OT.
- The Universal Kingdom - God is the only real Ruler of the universe--He is in ultimate control of Eternity past--Time-- Eternity future. God's sovereignty and Power is unlimited and encompasses the whole universe. (I Chron 29: 11-12; Ps 103:2,9)
- Theocratic Kingdom - is God's Kingdom on earth to demonstrate His Sovereignty & His right to rule. This Theocratic Kingdom has double aspects:
- it is eternal - it is also temporal--earthly
- it is universal - to convince the universe God is God. It is also local--in one locale--this earthly sphere until the consummation of that program.
- it is immediate - here and now; yet it's completion is in the future.
- it is God's rule on earth, yet it is ruled through a divinely appointed mediator - a member of the human race. It must be traced through time.
In the OT we see the Theocratic Kingdom:
- In Eden This was a true theocracy, God was recognized as Sovereign. He delegated mediatorial power to Adam.
- Human Government When Adam sinned he threw off God's sovereign rule and chaos resulted until the flood. Then God set up human government until Nimrod.
- Patriarchal Theocratic Kingdom through Abraham and his seed. This Abrahamic Covenant was unconditional, binding God by His "I wills" concerning Abraham's seed, the land of Palestine, blessing to the whole world, and the Kingdom would be eternal. Gen 12, 15
- The Judges and Kings Judges 8:22-23, I Sam 12:13 The Lord claimed Rulership through the Judges and Kings, then in II Sam 7:16 God entered into an eternal, unconditional covenant with David identifying David's kingdom ultimately with His Theocratic Kingdom.
- "The throne of the kingdom of the Lord in I Chron 28:5-7
- Called the glorious kingdom of God" Jer 33, 36 Amos 9
- The Prophets took the place of the kings after Solomon as the divinely appointed spokesmen. They relayed God's message to the kings who sometimes obeyed but with greater frequency did not.
- With the departure of the Shekinah Glory from the temple (Ez 8:4, 9:3, 10:4, 18, 11:22-23), God marks the close of the Theocratic Kingdom in Israel's past history.
- The "times of the Gentiles" began in which Israel is set aside until Messiah should come.
- The Future Theocratic Kingdom now becomes the major theme of the prophet's message. It is referred to by nearly every O. T. prophet.
- It will be theocratic--the king will be Immanuel (God with us) for He is by human birth a rightful heir to the Davidic throne, born of a virgin in Bethlehem (Isa 7:14, 11:1-5, Ez 34:23, 37:24, Hos 3:4-5, Micah 5:2)
- It will be heavenly in character (Isa 2:4, 11:4-5, Jer 33:14-17, Hos 2:18).
- It will be in Jerusalem and worldwide (Ps 2:8, Isa 11:9, 42:4, Zech 14:9, 8:20-23, Jer 23:6-8, 32:37-38, 33:7-9, Ez 37:21-25)
- It will be established by the returning king. (Ps 50:3-5, 96:13, Zech 2:10-13, Mal 3:1-4)
- It will be spiritual in that the will of God will be directly effective in all matters of government and conduct. The Messiah King will rule in perfect +R and true holiness (Isa 11:2-5).
This kingdom will be literal, ruled by Messiah King with His saints. He will introduce great social and economic changes, world-wide peace and social justice. This kingdom will bring great physical changes--no disease, long life, geologic and climatic changes, increased fertility etc. No one will mistake this kingdom & this is the kingdom the Jews were looking for when John the Baptist and Jesus announced, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Mt 3:2, Mt 4:17). Even after Jesus' resurrection (Acts 1:6) the disciples expected the personal reign of Messiah over this Kingdom.
Now back to Eden, the first theocratic kingdom on earth: Adam and Eve's choice to disobey God and become their own god resulted in :
- Spiritual death--alienation from God
- Physical alienation in relationships
- Eventual physical death
- A fallen, hostile world
This alienation requires reconciliation so God set up His Redemptive Plan which parallels His Kingdom but it is not identical with it. God initiated His Redemptive Plan because of His love for us. The barrier of our sins is insurmountable, even our righteous deeds are like "filthy rags" (Isa 59:2, 64:6). But God takes no pleasure in the death of sinful mankind so He initiates His Redemptive Plan whereby the barrier will be removed and we are able to be reconciled to God (Ezek 33:11-13).
All through the O. T. God progressively reveals how He is going to accomplish this reconciliation: prophetically and with symbols and typology.
- Symbol--is an object or event that connotes a matter of timeless significance . If it is prophetic it pre-figures a future situation or event (Lk 17:11, Heb 9:15)--Blood
- A Type (typology)-- a predictive symbol of truth to be accomplished in the work of Christ. It is also an independent historical reality communicating future redemption to the people who practice it. e.g. sacrificial system (Lev 1:1-4, Jn 1:29, Heb 10:10-14).
- Even in the garden of Eden God begins to reveal details of His Redemptive Plan.
- Abel must have known about the sacrifice of an innocent lamb for his sins (Gen 4).
- This innocent life would be a substitute God would provide--His own beloved Son (Gen 22).
- The Passover in the Exodus pictured the blood of the unblemished lamb providing protection from death, the lamb itself provided life. This symbolized Christ's death on our behalf:
- His blood provides payment for our sins (Heb 9:13-22)
- His sacrifice makes it possible for us to contain divine life (II Pet 1:4)
- The Tabernacle with it's sacrificial system and priesthood is all a picture of God's Redemptive Plan in the person and work of Christ. God established the sacrificial system to enable the Israelites to understand that they could not approach Him without a mediator who symbolically paid the price for their sins on the Day of Atonement, as he sprinkled blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies where God's presence dwelt (shekinah glory). Through the sacrificial system God demonstrated that He recognized the guilt of the sinner and although He did not ignore or overlook it, He provided the substitute sacrifice of His Son, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" with His reconciling love (Jn 1"29).
- Additional revelation was given by Isaiah prophesying that the One to come would be a suffering Servant (Isa 53), yet called Mighty God, ruling on David's throne forever (Isa 9:6-7).
- In Jer 31:33 and 33:16 in the prophecies concerning the New Covenant, God says He is the "Lord, our righteousness". This pre-pictures Christ as He became sin for us, buying us back, so we can be righteous (II Cor 5:21, Mk 10:45, I Tim 2:6)
When Satan challenged God in eons past saying "I will be like God" he was trying to take away:
- His office as prophet--no longer God's spokesman.
- The office of priest--because he stole the worship due God
- His delegated right to govern under God. Instead he took the earth as his headquarters and the conflict between Satan and God began. God is allowing Satan to complete his kingdom to prove to all created beings His justice and that a kingdom or a life set in opposition to God will end up in utter self-destruction.
When God placed His Kingdom on earth he gave Adam the privilege of ruling under Him. But Adam chose instead to be his own god.
We've seen the result: a series of Kingdoms with God's Redemptive Plan paralleling those kingdoms. When God's Messiah Redeemer came he was the: 1) Last Adam 2) the Second Man
- The Last Adam because He fulfilled the role the first Adam failed to do.
- The Second Man because Christ started a whole new race of men and women, redeemed from their sins, given the role of mediating His Kingdom of grace and truth in His absence.
Jesus Christ as the Last Adam is prophet, priest and king. The Bible is full of prophecies about Christ's role as:
- "a prophet like you" God said to Moses (Deut 18:18)
- "you have heard", "but I say unto you" (Mt 5)
- Jesus claims: I am bread, water, light, life, door, way, truth Jn
- Prophesying the course of this age through parables (Mt 13)
- Prophesying the "signs of the end of the age" (Mt 24-25)
- Transfiguration: God said "This is my Son, listen to Him" Mt 17
- One Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus (I Tim 2:5)
- Our high priest mediating between us and God (Heb 4:14, 5:10, 7:4)
- Presentation as King (Lk 19)
- King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16).
- Root and Spring of David (Rev 22:6).
- Every knee shall bow (Phil 3:9-11)
As the Second Man in order to qualify as the Head of a new race of mankind.
- He had to become a man so He could:
- overcome death--by His resurrection
- be like us in all things so he could qualify
- to be our substitute-- a sinless sacrifice
- So He could be our High Priest and represent us to God
- since He cares and understands all we go through (Heb 4:14-16, 7:1)
- so He could propitiate (satisfy) God's wrath on our behalf--He had to be infinite God to pay for all mankind's sins, and man in order to die.
- Christ had to be the revealor of God-- we had no accurate concept of God since the fall. Jesus became what we are so He could show us and tell us what God is like (Jn 1:18, Jn 14:10).
- Jesus had to become a man to reign on David's throne (II Chron 7, Rev 22:16).
- Jesus had to become a man to sum up all things at the end of time. He will put back together the disruption Satan and mankind have caused.
- to bring order out of chaos and anarchy
- to rule His kingdom on earth with righteousness, justice and peace.
It's amazing to see how God's Incredible Plan is so comprehensive, is never de-railed or destroyed by Satan or mankind's rebellion and is marching inexorably towards the end of time.
God's Incredible Plan is historical and the God of the Bible is pre-eminently the God of history. In O. T. times virtually all the religions were nature religions, (they worshipped the sun, moon, seasons etc.). In all cases the flow of religion was cyclical and history had no meaning. This is very much the dilemma of our contemporary culture--New Age religion is cyclical, nature religions are fast taking over in our western world. They reduce mankind to meaninglessness and insignificance in the vast cosmic all, with god as a life force, not personal or involved with mankind.
The answer to this meaninglessness is to enter into the meaningful flow of history: it is Christ's history and the way into it is through Him. History is going someplace and has meaning to the individual who by God's grace is involved in it. Every instant of time is momentous and is eschatological.
A biblical word for time is kairos--meaning time is eternally important. Another biblical word nun--(now) brings us to the realization that our every "now" matters---Our Todays count in the flow of history by God's grace and our union with Christ, mediating His love and good news to a lost world. "Once you were no people but NOW you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but NOW you have received mercy (I Pet 2:10).
"Behold NOW is the acceptable time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation" (II Cor 6:2).
- It is evident that we need more than a theoretical knowledge of God, and we can know Him only as He reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures and are willing to be changed by the Word as the Holy Spirit applies it to our heart. But where do we begin? There is no better starting point than God's revelation of Himself to Moses at the burning bush. "I AM WHO I AM" (Ex 3:13-14). It's more than His name, it's a description of all that God is in Himself.
- See if you can write out what God means by His definition of Himself. Do a study of the life of Moses from this point on in Ex., Num., & Deut. as he interacts with God. Does he understand more and relate more personally with God? What attributes of God does Moses discover? What is his deepest insight into God's character? Try to apply these insights to your own life as you study them in the life of Moses.
- Read the book of Matthew noting the prophecy he uses and the theme of the Kingdom.