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PART 7: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE KINGDOM
By Norman Manzon
The Messianic Kingdom is part of an extended series of studies in support of the We Believe statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations. Much groundwork for this present study has been laid in the six prior studies of the Kingdom series, links to which are located above. It is urged that they be reviewed so that the present study may be more fully understood in its historical and other contexts. For even firmer foundation, it is suggested that the following studies be read or reviewed, as well: The Destinies of the Dead, The Rapture, The Great Tribulation and The Second Coming of the Lord. Some of what has been examined in these studies will be touched on here, but not treated fully.
It is worth stating, once again, that the prophesied Kingdom is a literal, earthly Kingdom in which Yeshua, Jesus, will reign bodily as king over Israel and the world. A polemic to this effect is presented in section IV of Part 1: Introduction.
As has been previously mentioned, a compilation of the Bible's passages concerning the Kingdom would constitute a book. It must therefore be recognized that what is presented herein is, of necessity, a much abbreviated outline and summary.
As in the previous Kingdom studies, we will begin with a restatement of those declarations in the AMC We Believe statement that have relevance to the Kingdom.
By the end of the Great Tribulation and the seventy-five day interval between the Tribulation and the Kingdom, the Lord will have utterly destroyed the evil world system and purged the earth of all unbelievers, including the armies of Antichrist which will seek to destroy Israel. Having done this, the Lord will renovate the earth, making it a beautiful, edenic, safe place in which to live. Although not perfect because certain aspects of the Adamic curse will continue (most significantly, the presence of the sin nature in those with mortal bodies, and death for many, if not all, in mortal bodies), because many who will be born into the Kingdom will reject the salvation and Lordship of Jesus, and because Edom and Babylon will be cursed to become utterly desolate habitations of demons, yet, the planet, as a whole, will be edenic compared to the way it is today.
The Kingdom environment will be characterized by divine presence. The Lord Jesus will reign supreme over the nations from His throne in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit will fill the earth with the splendor of the Lord's glory. No false religion, philosophy or occult practice will be allowed to flourish, and the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).
All who enter the Kingdom, whether as "walk-ins" from the Great Tribulation, or by resurrection, or by being returned, body and soul, to earth from heaven (Enoch and Elijah), will be saved. This glorious throng will be composed of all believers since Adam.
According to Revelation 20:6, all who had been resurrected in immortal bodies will reign with Christ in some capacity for the duration of the Millennium. This group will be comprised of all Old and New Testament saints, both Jewish and Gentile, the two Tribulation witnesses and all martyred Tribulation saints. Surely, Enoch and Elijah, who had never seen death but had been drawn up directly into Heaven, will reign, as well.
Jesus will reign over the entire earth in general, and will exercise special kingship over Israel with resurrected King David reigning as king over Israel under Him. Under this dual kingship, the twelve apostles will reign over the twelve tribes of Israel, and there will be judges and counselors in Israel, as well (Isaiah 1:26). Zerubbabel, post-exilic governor of Judah, will be placed in some unnamed position in Israel (Haggai 2:23). The Gentile nations of the world will be ruled by Gentile kings, but Israel will have authority over them and their nations (Isaiah 14:1-2; 60:10-61:5). The body of Christ and the Tribulation martyrs will rule over the Gentiles, as well (Revelation 20:4-6). How these different rulerships over the Gentiles will coordinate with one another remains to be seen. Civil laws will be rendered in the Kingdom (Micah 4:1-2) from Jesus on down, as well as laws regarding worship.
In our last study, we addressed three key facets of Israel's blessedness in the Kingdom and concluded with a look at the significance of Israel's blessedness in the Kingdom for the nations of the world. This now brings us to an examination of the significance of the Kingdom itself.
God does nothing haphazardly or arbitrarily. Everything He does is calculated, well-planned, and purposeful (Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Philippians 1:11, 2:11; Revelation 4:11), ultimately for His pleasure and glory (Psalm 79:9; Isaiah 40:5; Romans 9:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 1:12,14; Revelation 4:11.) It follows, then, that this is true of His establishment of the Kingdom and, indeed, of His establishment of every preceding age and test that He has put mankind to, and the sequence of them. These we will examine here, particularly the significance of the Lord's Kingdom in regard to the convincing of all humanity of His righteousness, in the blessing of His people Israel and the body of Christ, and in regard to the cross.
I. THE VINDICATION OF THE LORD
The Lord Jesus neither needs nor seeks vindication in His own eyes: He has no Self-doubt, and is fully Self-sufficient. However, He seeks vindication in the eyes of man that man may be fully convinced of His righteousness whether he chooses to walk in it or not (Romans 1:20,32)
God made eight covenants that affect all mankind either directly or indirectly to this day. Three He made with all mankind, and five with Israel. Some are still in force today, and some are not. Some contain a multitude of requirements or provisions, some a few. Some initiated periods of time called dispensations during which, among other provisions, God provided tests of man's or Israel's faithfulness to Him. It is the study of these tests and of man's and Israel's response to them - and an analysis of the sequence of them leading up to the Kingdom - that we are presently engaged in.
TEST 1: RESPECT FOR THE TREE IN THE GARDEN - Genesis 1:28 - 3:8
Adam and Eve were created in perfect health of body, mind and spirit, in a perfect environment, and enjoyed daily fellowship with God. To test the depth of their love for Him - not for His knowledge, but for theirs - the Lord instituted one requirement of them that would require a sacrifice of self-gratification: to refrain from eating of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden (Genesis 3:3). Choosing self-gratification over submission to the One who blessed them so marvelously, our first parents broke fellowship with God and brought upon themselves the curse of expulsion from the Garden, pain, struggle and death; and this curse remains with all of us to this day.
TEST 2: FAITH IN THE SEED OF THE WOMAN - Genesis 3:9 - 8:14
Having broken down the barrier of resistance to sin and now being poisoned in spirit with the sin nature, they and their descendants were now permitted by God to attempt to live righteously according to the dictates of their own consciences to see how well they would do at it. After all, they had acted on their own in the Garden, so the Lord now gave them leave to live according to their own consciences with the memory of the consequences of their first sin as an inducement to heed the dictates of their consciences.
Having sinned and now possessing the sin nature, the human race was now in need of salvation. Therefore, the central requirement of the first post-Fall covenant that God made with mankind, the Adamic Covenant, was that they exercise faith in the Redeemer, which God promised them in Genesis 3:15. In the hearing of Adam and Eve, God said to the serpent, And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.
Throughout Scripture, genealogies of nations, families and individuals are traced through male lineage, the seed of men, but here the Lord declared to Satan, who empowered the serpent, that the Seed or Descendant of the woman shall crush his head. In both instances of its use, the word bruise would better be translated crush. Though Satan will bring slight, temporary injury to Christ, which later would be revealed as crucifixion, He who will be born of the Virgin will bring him, Satan, to utter defeat.
Well, how well did mankind do? The first significant event we read of after the Expulsion is the murder of righteous Abel by his self-willed brother, Cain, which serves as the keynote for the behavior of mankind from that point forward until the Flood before which The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).
Man had failed the test miserably, God brought on the Flood, and began the human line afresh with righteous Noah.
TEST 3: DISPERSAL ACROSS THE EARTH AND
Thus far, man had proven himself disobedient in the Edenic environment and wicked in the extreme in the Dispensation of Conscience, rejecting even the thought of a Redeemer who championed righteousness; and Noah and his family were well aware of what could be expected of their descendants were they left to the dictates of their own consciences. Therefore, they could readily accept the new requirement that God would make of them and their descendants in regard to murder. In addition to the requirement to spread out and multiply across the earth, God required capital punishment of murderers: Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6).
As to the first requirement, man built a city and a tower specifically to keep themselves from spreading out, in direct defiance of God's command to fill the earth: Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth (Genesis 11:4). This puny attempt to thwart God's will failed miserably as God got His way by causing them to scatter through the multiplication of languages.
And how has mankind done in the matter of capital punishment for murderers? It has always been carried out to some extent, but certainly not in every case! Furthermore, from the earliest annals of history, nations and armies have embraced mass murder through unjustified invasions and conquests and, in many cases, nations thus victimized have retaliated with vengeance. However, vengeful reciprocation could hardly be classified as the kind of capital punishment that God enjoined on Noah. (This is not intended as a comment on the use of military force for self-defense.)
How are we doing in the matter of Noahic capital punishment
today? As of
the date of this writing, November 3, 2015, 140 of the world's 196 countries, 71
per cent, have abolished the death penalty for all causes, and it
appears that others will follow.
TEST 4: THE BLESSING OF ISRAEL - Genesis 12:3
Further "input" came through the calling out of a nation to be a beacon of God's light, a carrier of His spoken and written Word, and the bringer forth of the Messiah into the world. This calling out of Israel contained requirements for both Israel and the Gentiles. The chief requirement concerning Israel will be addressed immediately below. Here we will focus on the requirement enjoined upon the Gentiles concerning Israel.
In Genesis 12:3, God told Abram, I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. The promise was not just for Abraham personally, but for all of Israel. We see that as Isaac verbalized that very promise to Jacob (Genesis 27:29). Even Balaam declared the same concerning the entire nation (Numbers 24:9).
How have the nations done in the matter of blessing and cursing Israel? Some, both ancient and modern, have blessed Israel; but the central picture is that of cursing: from Egypt, the Canaanites, Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome right on through the blood-libels, the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Arab-Muslim persecutions, the hugely disproportionate unjust and unfair condemnations of Israel by the United Nations, and the increasing alignment of the nations of the world against Israel today.
As in previous matters, the nations of the world failed in this, and further "input" from the Lord will surely be on its way!
Speaking on behalf of God, Moses commanded Israel,
That Prophet like Moses was Jesus. Did Israel listen to Him? Some did, but as a nation they did not. At the incitement of their religious leaders, they cried out, Crucify Him (Matthew 15:7-15 et al); and Israel, taking the lead of their rabbis, has, on the whole, rejected Him to this day.
The sentence of judgment has been on Israel since their national rejection of Him, and will reach a climax during the period of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), the Great Tribulation. However, as with all of the God's dealings with His people, the Tribulation will have great redemptive value for them, namely, the salvation of all Israelites remaining alive at the end of it, the salvation of every Israelite born after that (Jeremiah 31:34), and their particular blessedness and prominence in the Kingdom.
TEST 6: BELIEF IN THE GOSPEL - Acts 2:1 - Revelation 19:21
Whereas all people of all ages could receive salvation, the means of salvation was made clearer that ever before with the crucifixion of Jesus and the preaching of the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.
How has the world done in this regard? The majority of both groups have rejected Christ, and significant persecutions of believers have been exercised by both groups: unbelieving Gentiles upon both groups, and unbelieving Jews primarily upon Jewish believers.
Yet again rebellious mankind has earned for himself further "input" from the Lord.
From the very beginning, mankind, and then mankind and Israel, has been offered progressive means for living righteously in spiritual standing and in outward action, and for the most part, both Gentiles and Jews have rejected these means, choosing rather to live unrighteously inwardly and outwardly. It would not be too much to say that, in the big picture, everyone did what was right in his own eyes, as they did in the days of the judges (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
In the matter of government, even in his state of edenic innocence man failed to obey the one command that God gave him; he then failed in the opportunity that God gave him to operate righteously according to his conscience. Having failed in that, God added another layer of government, human government, initiated by the command to execute murderers, and mankind failed in this. God added yet another layer of inducement to righteous living by raising up a nation to be a light to the other nations; and the nations of the world not only did not respect that nation, but sought, and is still seeking, to eliminate it. Nor did they or Israel respect the Savior brought forth through that nation to enable both Jews and Gentiles to live righteously; but on the whole, both Jews and Gentiles rejected and crucified Him and have done the same to His followers.
That brings us up to today, and the story is not over.
In the progressive means by which the Lord gave
opportunity to walk in righteousness, He proved to mankind two
The significance of the Kingdom in regard to Israel lies in the fact that God will bring to absolute fulfillment every promise that He has made with her. He promised to save all of Israel (Jeremiah 31:34; Romans 11:26), and He will. He has made numerous promises to them concerning the borders of their Land and their security, prosperity and prominence in the Kingdom, and He will bring all to pass. Against all satanic and human opposition, God will prove Himself to be a keeper of His promises to Israel.
The significance of the Kingdom in regard to the body of the Christ likewise lies in the fact that God will bring to fulfillment the promises that He has made with them regarding the Kingdom. (The promises that He has made with them concerning the eternal ages will be fulfilled after the Kingdom.) When the Lord returns at the end of the Tribulation, His raptured and glorified body of believers will return with Him.
They will then be priests of God and of Christ . . . for a thousand years and perhaps excluding the twelve apostles, who will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:28-30), will reign with Him over the Gentile nations (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10, Revelation 20:6).
Here again, as with Israel, God will prove Himself to be a keeper of His promises to His body.
The Lord not only died for the salvation of sinners, but for the purchase of a cleansed earth, a Messianic Kingdom, and the fulfillment of every promise He made to Israel, His body, and every believer since Adam to whom He promised the crushing of Satan's head. In this there is tremendous significance of the Kingdom in regard to the cross. As we observe that fact implied in the following passage, let us also heed the apostle's exhortation:
To summarize, the significance of
the Millennial or Messianic Kingdom lies in these four areas:
"Events of the Future" Sequence
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum
All of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's publications are available at Ariel Ministries in various formats, many for free listening.
Dr. David L. Cooper
Thomas Paul Simmons
Manzon, Norman A. "The Prophetic Feasts of Israel." http://www.biblestudyproject.org/feasts-of-israel-messianic.htm.
For a continuous exegesis of every doctrinal point in the AMC Doctrinal