The Promise of A Kingdom

Intro: Matt 3:1-2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” John has been described as the last of the O.T. prophets, even though he was only 6 months older than Jesus Himself. This may be because his message was right out of the words of the OT prophets who spoke hundreds of years before him.

  • Jesus said in Matt 11:13-15 – For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! John’s message was simple: Repent for the kingdom of heaven was near. How near?
  • Consider the comments found in Robertson’s Word Pictures concerning Matthew 3:2 … It was a startling word that John thundered over the hills and it re-echoed throughout the land. The Old Testament prophets had said that it would come some day in God’s own time. John proclaims as the herald of the new day that it has come, has drawn near. How near he does not say, but he evidently means very near, so near that one could see the signs and the proof.” (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament).
  • We will consider today some of the OT predictions concerning the kingdom of God. Promises that God fulfilled through His Son, Our King, Jesus Christ.

I. What is the Kingdom?But first we need to look carefully at the words. What is the kingdom? What did the John and prophets mean when they used that term? Although we can rightfully state that the kingdom is the church, this may prove to be an oversimplification. The subject of the Kingdom deserves a much fuller understanding.

A. The word kingdom has certain connotations that do not flow from the word church. While the word “church” calls attention to the people or assembly of the saved, whether local or universal, the word “kingdom” focuses on the King, His rule or dominion. It does not fit to substitute the word church everywhere the word kingdom is found, even in the N.T.

1. “basileia” is primarily an abstract noun, denoting “sovereignty, royal power, dominion,” then, by metonymy, a concrete noun, denoting the territory or people over whom a king rules… It is used especially of the “kingdom” of God and of Christ….”The Kingdom of God is …the sphere of God’s rule, (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) The word is defined by Thayer as “royal power, kingship, dominion, rule” (J.H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

2. The N.T. contains 119 references to the word “kingdom”, In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ teaching, he quotes Him as using the term “kingdom of heaven” on 33 occasions. This term is a fitting expression of what Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom. It reinforces the clear concept that Jesus’ kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36).

3. Everything about the Kingdom was from heaven: its government, its laws, its manner of living, its worship all come down from heaven, and it looks to heaven as its home, its proper homeland. Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”

a) Alfred Edersheim in his Life and Times of Jesus the Messiahobserves, “An analysis of the 119 passages in the N. T. where the expression kingdom occurs shows that it means the rule of God; which was manifested in and through Christ; is apparent in the church; gradually develops amidst hindrances; is triumphant at the second coming of Christ, and finally is perfected in the world to come.” Whenever and wherever we find the rule or kingship of God acknowledged among men, we find the existence of the kingdom of God.

b) “It is a kingdom of heaven because its origin, its end, its king, the character and destiny of its subjects, its laws, institutions, and privileges—all are heavenly. In the teaching of Christ and in the apostolic writings the kingdom of the Messiah is the actual consummation of the prophetic idea of the rule of God, without any national limitation, so that participation therein rests only on faith in Jesus Christ, and on the moral renewal which is conditioned by the same. It is the combination of all rights of Christian citizenship in this world, and eternal blessedness in the next.” (Marvin Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament).

I. An Anticipated Kingdom: For centuries the O.T. prophets had continuously revealed elements of the coming of God’s Kingdom. Last week we studied about God’s promise to King David as recorded in 2 Samuel 7. The Lord promised to build David’s house (family) and that his descendants would occupy the throne of God’s kingdom forever. (We also noticed that the physical reign of David’s descendants came to a close with Jeconiah as predicted in Jeremiah 22, when Judah was carried away into Babylonian captivity. So the fulfillment of this prophecy looked toward the coming of a spiritual throne to be occupied by the Messiah, Jesus.) What were some of the other promised elements of the coming kingdom? We can view a few…

A. Isaiah 2:1-4 – The second chapter of Isaiah contains a prophecy concerning the rule of Christ and the establishment of His kingdom. Isaiah prophesied more than 600 years before the time of Christ, during the reign Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah (Isa. 1:1). He boldly proclaimed the coming of the Messiah as the “suffering servant of God” in a series of prophecies that described the character of the One to come. Isaiah 2:2-4Now 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. 3 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. 4 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.

1. Something would happen in the “latter days.” This term consistently identifies the time of the coming Messiah. Isaiah proclaims that at this time

            • The Mountain of the Lord’s house” would be established. (Mountain = power of a government to rule)
            • All nations” would flow to it. include more than just Israel.
            • The way, paths, law of God would go forth from Jerusalem (Zion).
            •  Men would turn their “swords into plowshares.” The kingdom citizens would live in peace. The kingdom would not be promoted through the sword.

B. Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Daniel spoke of coming kingdom 500 years before it arrived. I

        • In interpreting Nebuchanezzar’s dream he envisioned an awesome statue that represented the successive kingdoms of men beginning with the mighty Babylonians, to the Persians, then the Greeks and finally the Romans. In the dream, another stone, cut without hand, struck the statue at its feet and it collapsed and was carried away with the wind, never to be seen again. But this stone was transformed into a great mountain that filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:34,35)
        • Daniel’s words foretold the coming of God’s kingdom during the days of that 4th kingdom (Roman). It was at this time that the Messiah’s Kingdom grows from a small stone to a mountain and would fill the earth, never to be destroyed. Daniel provides a definite time reference. In beginning an account of the birth of Jesus Luke writes… And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.(Luke 2:1)
        • Later Daniel prophesied about the universal appeal and everlasting sovereignty of this Kingdom. Daniel 7:13-14 – 13 “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. 14 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.

C. Joel 2 – About 800 years before Christ came the prophet Joel spoke a message of doom to the nations and a promise of glory for Jehovah’s cause. Joel appealed to God’s people to repent and God would bless His people. He provided a long range look at how and when that blessing would come. Joel 2:28-32And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

        • God would pour out His Spirit on all people (both Jew and Gentile)
        • The presence of the Spirit would be accompanied by miracles.
        • In Zion there would be deliverance. Salvation to those who call on the name of the Lord.

D. Acts 2 – 1. Joel’s prophecy is easily connected to the events of Acts 2 – The apostle Peter, in defending the twelve against drunkenness, tells us that this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel (2:16) What we can recognize is that all of these prophetic “markers” are visible in the events of Acts 2.

        • right place: It happened in Jerusalem.
        • right time: in the days of the 4th kingdom – the Roman empire.
        • Men from every nation were present.
        • The word, paths and ways of God were made known. The mystery was made known in the gospel beginning at Pentecost.
        • God poured out of His Spirit, evidenced by the apostles speaking in other languages.(Acts 2:33).
        • The Mountain of the Lord’s house was established on top of the mountains.

II. The Kingdom Arrives: What was established on Pentecost? We often answer “the church”, and that is correct. But notice that the beginning of the church, or kingdom was evident from the preaching of the authority of the king. The mountain (authority) of the Lord’s house (Kingdom).

A. Peter preached clearly the authority of Jesus Christ. His sovereignty was confirmed in His resurrection from the dead. Acts 2:30-31Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ.

1. The legitimacy of Jesus’ Kingship was attested to by the appearance of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. His coming was prime facie evidence that Jesus was not still in the grave, but had ascended to heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit as He promised.

2. Peter’s argument was airtight. If Jesus’ tomb was empty then, according to God’s prophetic word, He had ascended to the throne of the Kingdom of God, to David’s throne. At His ascension Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God (2:33) and crowned both Lord and Christ (2:36). If the King was reigning, then the Kingdom was here!

3. In fulfillment of Joel’s words, the emergence of the kingdom of God coincided with the offer of salvation to all who would call on the name of the Lord. Acts 2:36-41 – “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” A Vital Church Grows 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

B. A Kingdom in the Past Tense: It is significant to note that the Biblical language suddenly changes after Pentecost. No longer is the Kingdom spoken of as something to be anticipated, but treated as an accomplished fact. Colossians 1:13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, The apostle Paul spoke to the Christians of his day urging them to live worthy of God who had called them into the kingdom (1 Thess 2:12). The apostle John calls himself a companion in the kingdom in Rev. 1.

1. Amos 9 in Acts 15 – “The “tabernacle” of David was the “royal family” of David. The word tabernacle is also translated as a fallen hut. Keil says this symbolizes the utter ruin of the kingdom. The physical kingdom of David was fallen, but God would restore the Kingdom and throne of David when the Gentiles would be given the opportunity to turn to the Lord.

a. When the apostles and elders met in Jerusalem to discuss the state of the Gentiles, James quoted the prophecy of Amos and pointed out that it had to be fulfilled before the Gentiles could seek after God. (Acts 15:13-19). What had to happen before the Gentiles could seek after God? The tabernacle of David had to be rebuilt. If Christ is not on David’s throne, if the tabernacle has not been rebuilt, then the Gentiles cannot seek after God!

Conclusion: God’ plan of salvation became a living reality on Pentecost. The price for sin has been paid. The king has ascended to the throne. And through the apostles the divine invitation has been extended to the whole world. Those who could claim to be citizens in the Kingdom were those who were baptized in the name of, or in submission to the authority of Christ, the King. As citizens in the heavenly kingdom, they must constantly submit themselves only to the King