The two prophets are Moses and Jesus, like-minded, totally in agreement at the heart of any matter. The One who became Jesus was the One whom Moses knew as YHVH the Spokesman, the Word, the Logos, and the Lord of the Old Testament. This One revealed to Moses that every human being would have his one opportunity for salvation, despite his intervening death in his own uncalled generation: that there was in God’s design one Last Great Day when all past generations would be physically resurrected to be given their one and only chance. In addition, He told Moses that the purpose of human life was to become God as God is God! No pie-in-the-sky, harp plucking, cloud-floating, eternally retired psalm singers, but real, active, all-powerful sons of God! But the question is: What will those sons of God be doing? What does your Father have in mind to keep us busy joyfully, eternally productive?
The great Creator of all this has a plan for you and me which far exceeds the most vivid imaging of men, who have come up with rewards for the saved which are so vague, ethereal and basically undesirable. The good news, the gospel Jesus preached and the prophets and apostles wrote about, is the good news of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15).
All religions are aware of this, but have spiritualized away the heart of the good news by either making that Kingdom of God in heaven (or hence having nothing to do with the earth), or concluding that the church is the Kingdom. Neither idea is substantiated in the pages of the Bible. Believe it or not, there is no scripture from Genesis to Revelation which states that the reward of the saved is heaven! Yet, on the other hand, there are many very specific statements about the Kingdom of God being here on this earth.
Most of orthodox Christianity is unanimous in believing that the reward of the saved is heaven. Vague and misinterpreted scriptures are used to document this belief, along with a generous amount of human imagination. Fortunately, the Bible itself is not “orthodox” and has many plain, detailed, clear statements about the reward of the saved being God’s literal rulership in His Kingdom here on this earth!
Let’s choose to be biblical rather than “orthodox” and see what is the reward of the saved as revealed in the pages of the Bible.
A kingdom has four basic elements: 1) a king; 2) subjects; 3) sovereign territory; 4) laws. Everyone is in agreement with that as far as the kingdoms of this world are concerned. Each kingdom jealously guards its own integrity. Wars are fought over disputed boundaries, succession of rulers and laws regarding the subjects’ rights. But when we come to the Kingdom of God the general desire is to make it seem unreal. God is “allowed” to be King, but God is in His heaven and we are here on earth, and the “spiritual realm” is deliberately made vague, powerless except as represented by human beings taking the name of the god they worship in order to exercise control over their subjects.
The whole concept of God and His Kingdom is put in fantasy land, never-never land, the life hereafter, dismissed from today’s or tomorrow’s reality. To consider that the one who made the earth would ever be interested in governing what He has made is anathema! Separate church and state as much as possible (which is an excellent practice, seeing few pay any attention to what God says anyway). Keep God in heaven and out of temporal affairs at all costs except as the idea of God might be used to control people. Plato put it this way: “It was indeed a wise man who first conceived the idea of God!”
If it really were man who “conceived” God, then we can continue to have our own concept of the future life. But if it were really God who invented mankind, and He did so with a specific purpose in mind, which He reveals plainly in His Word, then it would behoove us to consider His ideas, purposes and statements. If you believe the former, then there is no need to read further. If you believe the latter, read on.
Since general belief goes contrary to biblical statements, let’s examine just a few quotes from God’s Word which have no meaning if heaven is the reward of the saved, but have tremendous impact if we consider the Bible to be true.
Abraham, the father of the faithful (Gal. 3:7), whose children you are if you are Christ’s and so heirs to promises made to Abraham (Gal. 3:29), was promised by God land forever (Gen. 13:15)! God says the land belongs to Him forever and we are mere sojourners and strangers living on it (Lev. 25:23).
The message of Daniel covers the entirely of history from the Babylonian Empire until the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
“And in the days of these kings (the last resurrection of the Roman Empire, yet to come) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44). And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain (biblical symbol for government), and filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:35).
“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints (that’s us, we hope!), and prevailed against them: until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan. 7:21-22). “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 (territories, rulers) shall serve and obey him (them, as it is translated in RSV)” (Dan. 7:27).
Daniel had no questions about whether God’s Kingdom was to have power and dominion here on earth or not. He dealt with the first two of the world-ruling, earth-governing kingdoms (Babylon and Persia), and all his prophecies are very pointed and deal exclusively with the governments of the earth (including the Kingdom of the most High) and all its peoples.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”! Jesus said in Matthew 5:5. Yet He said in verse 3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Does this mean that “meek” people have to settle for earth, while those who are “poor in spirit” get to go to heaven? Or does it simply mean, as the rest of the Bible corroborates, that the “kingdom of heaven” is to be established here on earth, and that both the “meek” and the “poor in spirit” (and it is rather hard to distinguish between the two, you must admit) will share that kingdom of heaven on earth?
Jesus exhorted us to pray and surely no one is ignorant of this most oft repeated “Lord’s Prayer” “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
The book of Revelation, which tells in detail of the time of God’s intervention in the affairs of mankind, the coming of His Kingdom to this earth, plainly says: “And the seventh angel sounded: and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). That certainly agrees with what Daniel had to say. And to make crystal clear the precise location of the heavenly control of earthly kingdoms, the same book reveals: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).
Reviewing the biblical doctrine we have expounded, a minister who believed that the saved go to heaven asked: “Would you settle for earth?” Let us answer that question now!
A brief glimpse of all history proves that the great majority of mankind in every generation would not only “settle for earth,” but has fought bitterly over the jurisdiction of every square inch of its surface to try to ensure that they and their heirs would control some portion of it! A second glimpse will reveal that very religious-minded people have been in the forefront of provoking “holy wars” to gain or regain “holy land”! “Settle” for “earth? Man has fought, scratched, killed, connived, deceived, plotted, etc. throughout his entire history for just pieces of the earth!
They don’t call it “real estate” for nothing, you know! There is a biblical record of one who did have control of earth at one time (Jude 6), but was not willing to “settle” for it. Rather he made war in heaven and sought to take over God’s throne and replace Him. He ascended above the clouds and stormed the very gates of heaven. He failed. You can read about that in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.
Since God’s promise to the faithful is the earth, our answer is, “Yes, we would settle for the earth!”
The parables of Jesus have been grossly misunderstood. First, let’s let Jesus Himself tell us why He used parables. “And the disciples came, and said unto him, why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not; neither do they understand. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:10-16).
Then follows Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed. Jesus Himself interpreted the parable and said: “The field is the world, the good seed are the children of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:38). The lesson is this. Do not conclude that the generally accepted understanding of the parables is correct. Usually they are applied as having some “spiritual” lesson only to be realized in some distant heavenly kingdom and as having little or nothing to do with real life here on earth. Nothing could be further from the truth. And the purpose of Jesus’ use of parables, in His own words, remember, was to obscure, not to enlighten.
The parable of the talents is one which could only be applied to an earth-ruling Kingdom of God. Look it up in Luke 19.The successful users of the talents supplied by God are rewarded with “ten cities” (v. 17) and “five cities” (v. 19). Are there cities in heaven? If so, where does the Bible so state it?
The Bible plainly states that King David and the twelve apostles will be in the Kingdom of God. But what will they be doing? Plucking on harps? No! Floating on clouds? No! Wearing golden slippers? No! What then?
Let’s check on David first. Ezekiel 37 tells, as explained in Part 4 of this series, of the resurrection of all the past generations of Israel and Judah a physical resurrection: bone, sinews, flesh, skin and breath. All those who said, “Our hope is lost” (v. 11) are resurrected to hope eternal! “And David my servant shall be king over them. And they shall dwell in the land (not in heaven) that I have given unto Jacob my servant and my servant David shall be their prince for ever” (vs. 24-25).
Now David wrote in Psalm 86: “for I am poor and needy.” Wouldn’t you say that was an attitude of “poor in spirit”? And yet the scripture we have just read clearly says David is going to be king of Israel, here on this earth, forever! How about that?
If Israel is going to be here on this earth, and David is going to be its king forever, where does that put the twelve apostles?
Jesus said and that always seems good authority to me: “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29-30)! They must be the “meek” who “inherit the earth”!
Now if David and the twelve apostles are busy down here on earth governing Israel (finally with all its resurrected billions), do you want to be in heaven doing nothing?
Jesus consistently preached one gospel: the good news of the Kingdom of God. Jesus preached that one gospel through the prophets of old who wrote the Old Testament: He preached it personally during His life on earth; and He preached it through the New Testament authors, the apostles. It has never been a gospel divided - one kingdom in heaven and the other kingdom on earth and it never will be. That one gospel has always been the gospel of the Kingdom of God (or of heaven) on the earth!
The Kingdom of God has never been just an ethereal idea, a spiritual concept, a nebulous notion. Nor has the Kingdom of God been by proxy, through vicars or third parties. The Kingdom of God is not an emotional experience, a religious dream, an opiate for the people, in your heart. The Kingdom of God is real. A real kingdom!
The Kingdom of God is world government located on the earth, performing every facet of sovereignty ever known to any earthly government and then some!
Isaiah and Micah make it plain. Let’s read Micah. Governments are composed of three basic functions: executive, legislative and judicial. Micah says: “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord (the government of the Kingdom of God) shall be established in the tip of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills (over all governments, large and small): and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he ( the God of Jacob and the head of the executive branch of that government) will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law (the legislative branch of government) shall go forth of Zion (not heaven), and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (the capital).
“And he shall judge (the judiciary branch of government) among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever” (Micah 4:1-3, 7).
The United Nations chose well their motto: “Swords into Plowshares” but only the power of the Kingdom of God on earth will bring it to pass. That will be the most real kingdom this earth has ever known!
If you turned to Micah 4 which we quoted above, you noticed we skipped over a couple of verses. Let’s notice them right now: “”But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever” (vs. 4-5). Can this possibly mean that the Lord is going to allow many gods to be worshiped absolutely contrary to His own first commandment and that “for ever and ever”?
Since the purpose of God in creating us is to make us members of His family, sons of God. The saved will be God! There is only God the Father (one) and God the Son, Jesus (two), in the God family now. But when the last trump is blown, the dead in Christ, resurrected and changed in a moment and a twinkling of an eye, then Jesus will be the “firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29), and the Father will be delighted in “bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb. 2:10), all worthy of worship (Rev. 3:9), born members of God’s family, each having different names (Rev. 3:12), but all sharing the name God! All sharing in the government of this earth in the Kingdom of God for ever and ever.
So, “all people will walk every one in the name of his God,” the Son governing in that particular area, “and we” hopefully you and I, glorified as born sons of God at that time “will walk in the name of the Lord our God” total unity “for ever and ever,” and that is a long time!
David will be the son of God governing all Israel. The twelve apostles will be busy with the duties of judging and governing, one each, the twelve tribes of that one nation, Israel. Some, yet unnamed successful overcomers, will have lesser duties governing five or ten cities. What will you and I be doing?
Now that we have scratched the surface, gotten the overview of the purpose of life, and the Kingdom of God, we’re ready for more details of that busy eternal life. “Governing and “ruling” in the Kingdom of God are too general. Some people even say they don’t want to be telling others what to do forever. They have too narrow a view of government. Life won’t be just a piece of cake; sitting on a throne giving orders. Active doing in every facet of life is involved.
In the last article we will get to some of those details, and see if you wouldn’t just love to be doing at least one of those jobs forever!
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