What does the Bible teach about Israel, the Church and the Kingdom of God. Are these three the same? Just different words or names for the same thing?
There are some Christians who believe and teach that these three, Israel, the Church and the Kingdom of God are one and the same.
But there are other Christians, and this writer is one, who say, No, these are not just different names for the same thing. These are in fact three separate identities, each with a different place in God’s overall plan for His creation.
I ask you, dear reader, to keep an open mind as we examine these things in the light of the whole Bible, not from pre-conceived ideas or just one or two verses.
Misunderstanding No 1.
“The Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13), some say, has expired.” The request, “Thy kingdom come,” should not be made because the kingdom—by which they mean the Church—has already come.
Answer: This comes from the mistaken belief that, in the New Testament, the word “kingdom” and the word “church” always mean the same thing. That is an interpretation based on the wrong theory that the OT prophecies of the kingdom are not to be take literally, according to the natural meaning of language, but are meant only “spiritually.”
They ignore the parallel phrase, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
The word “kingdom” always implies government, political and civil authority. It should be obvious that God’s will is not being done on earth today! The Scripture says, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1John 5:19, NIV). (“the whole world lieth in wickedness.” KJV). So the kingdom Jesus said we should pray for, has not yet come! Read also John 15:18,19; James 4:4; 2Cor. 4:4.
Kingdom prophecies: What did Jesus mean in the request “Thy kingdom come”?
He meant the kingdom promise of:Dan 7:26-27 “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.'”
He meant the kingdom as promised in Dan 2:44; Dan 7:13-14,18,22; Isa 9:6-7; Luke 1:30-33; Rev 11:15; Psalms 2:1-12; Amos 9:14-15.
He meant Ps 72:8-11; “He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. . . 11 All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”
It is only when those prophecies are fulfilled that the will of God will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. It is at His second coming, when He comes as King of Kings and Lord of Lords that the kingdom comes ! (Rev. 19:11-21 and 20:1-6),
Misunderstanding No 2. The meaning of the phrase “is near.” John the Baptist and Jesus both preached :
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (NIV, or “at hand” KJV, Matt 3:2, 4:17).
The Church was established on Pentecost in Acts 2. It is the only kingdom present, therefore, they say, if it is not the kingdom, then the words of Jesus failed. And it is impossible for Jesus to be mistaken, therefore, they say, He must have meant the church !
(a) First of all, as explained earlier, “the kingdom of heaven” of Matt 3:2 and Matt 6:10 is not the church. It was a promise to Israel in Dan 7:27 and other sceptres. It should be obvious that the church does not fulfil that prophecy.
(b) The word “is near” or “at hand,” does not mean something must come immediately or very soon. That will be clear as we read other Scriptures that use the same words.
James 5:8 “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” But 2000 years later the Lord has not yet come.!
1Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is near. . . .” But 2000 years later the end of all things has not yet come. !
The meaning seems to be that it is something that could happen at any time, NOT that it must happen right away. We are to be ready at all times.
That should help us understand the following two scriptures:
Luke 21:8-9 “He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
Luke 21:29-31 “He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
The Fig Tree (I believe) represents Israel which for more than 2000 years has not had its own kingdom but has suffered under Gentile dominion and been scattered among the nations. In the last century they began returning to the land God had promised to Abraham, and they became an independent nation in 1948.
“All the trees” would then represent the various peoples of Africa and Asia who have become independent nations since 1948.
Misunderstanding No 3.
The mis-application of Mic 4:1-2
“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.”
“2 Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”
“The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
They say this was completely fulfilled with the establishment of the Church on Pentecost in Acts 2.
While it is true that the Gospel went forth from Jerusalem in the beginning, and in that sense there was a partial, or beginning, fulfilment (Luke 24:46,47), it was certainly not complete for the following reasons:
The many nations of Micah 4:2 are pagan Gentile nations who will go to Jerusalem, during the reign of Christ, to be taught of the Lord. These are National efforts, led by their governments. And that has never yet happened. Those gathered on Pentecost were not pagan Gentiles, they were “God-fearing Jews” (Acts 2:5) and “converts to Judaism” (Acts 2:11). They had not come to Jerusalem to hear the Gospel. They had come to keep the Passover and Pentecost feasts.
Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 speak of a permanent Capital City, a Headquarters from which the Word of God shall go forth continually during the reign of Messiah, not just a one-time thing.
Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. For more than 1900 years it has not been a centre from which the Gospel has gone. And Acts 13 tells us that even before 70 AD, Antioch became the centre from which evangelism went out.
The prophecy continues in verse 3 and has to do with government, rulership over the nations: “He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 4 . . for the LORD Almighty has spoken.”
There will be universal peace. See also Isaiah 4:2-6; 9:6-8; 11:1-16; Rev 2:26-29; 3:21-22; 20:4-6.
Also, the context of Micah 3:13 speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and Chapter 4 tells of Jerusalem’s glorious restoration to take place with the coming of Messiah. If the destruction took place literally, why not it’s restoration? By what authority can we say that the prophecies of her restoration are not to be taken literally but are symbolic of the Church?
Misunderstanding No 4.
The “New Name” of Isa 62:1-5 —
One writer quoted Isaiah: “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name” (Isa. 62:2).
And then he said this was fulfilled in the NT in Acts 11:26: “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,”
He failed to read the rest of Isa 62 vs 4 where the new name is given! “But you will be called Hephzibah, . . .” for the LORD will take delight in you.” (Hephzibah = ‘my delight is in her’).
We rejoice in the name “Christian,” but the correct fulfilment of Isa 62:2 is found in Isa 62:4.
Misunderstanding No 5. The Land Promise: The misapplication of Joshua 21:43-45.
“So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. . . . 45 Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”
They claim that God has fulfilled all His promises concerning the land, therefore, they say, God is not going to restore the land and the kingdom to Israel.
That teaching is absolute nonsense. Of course God fulfilled His promises, He has never failed to do so and He will not fail in the future. Joshua 21:43 does not cancel any promises He made to them many years later.
Joshua 21:43-45 was written around 1400 BC. Then, about 600 years later, through the prophet
Amos, God promised their permanent restoration:
“I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.” —Amos 9:14-15
Read all of Isaiah 60:1-22; Jeremiah 24:6,7; Jer 32:3-44; Ezk 34:25-31; Ezekiel 37:24-28; Joel 3:20-21; Those prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel were written approximately more than 700 to 900 years after Joshua.
Misunderstanding No 6.
There are many passages in the NT which apply certain OT prophecies to the Church. Some mistakenly say that proves the Church is the fulfilment of the OT prophecies about the kingdom.
Examples are: Romans 9:25, 26 which is a quotation from Hosea and they claim that this no longer applies to Israel but has been transferred to the Church.
Also, The New Covenant in Hebrews 8:7-13 which God had promised to Israel (Jer 31:31-40) is now made with us in the Church and, therefore, they say, God is not going to make that covenant with the nation of Israel.
Answer: Spiritual Blessings:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph 1:3).
God promised material blessings of land and other things to Israel. He also promised spiritual blessings to Israel. The Church has no need of the material or land promises. Whatever spiritual blessings were promised to Israel are also given to the Church, but they are not therefore denied to Israel.
Both the material and the spiritual blessings will all be given to Israel when Israel repents. The OT is full of wonderful prophecies and promises of the restoration of Israel to their land. Those prophecies cover every aspect of Israel’s life here on the earth under Messiah. There will be Material blessings of wonderful agriculture, building of houses and cities. Sovereignty over the surrounding nations, and universal Peace. And also Spiritual promises of a new covenant, their sins forgiven, circumcised hearts, no more idolatry, fearing Jehovah with all their heart.
While applications of these things to ourselves are to be made and lessons are to be learned (Rom 15:4), applications are not interpretationss! The interpretations of those prophecies belong to Israel, not the church. Meanwhile, those Spiritual blessings are also ours in Christ Jesus
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Yes, the Church is the Kingdom of God on the earth today, because if you are in Christ, you are in God’s kingdom. According to Col.1:13, God has taken us out of the kingdom of Satan and “brought us into the Kingdom of the Son he loves,” However, that does not make the church to be the fulfilment of OT prophecy concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Every time the kingdom is mentioned it is not always the church. We should understand that the word “kingdom” is used in several different senses in the Bible.
(a.) God has always had a Throne and a Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is Universal and Eternal.
Ps 47:2 “How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!”
Ps 103:19 “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”
Ps 145:13 “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”
Those verses tell us that God has always had a kingdom. The whole universe is His! Obviously the church is not that universal kingdom because the church began only after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It should be understood that wicked unbelievers and even Satan are in God’s kingdom. If they were not, God would have no authority or power to cast them into the lake of fire. The Kentucky State Police can not go to Brazil to arrest a Brazilian who commits a crime in Brazil. Just so, the wicked are not in the church, but they are in God’s kingdom. If they were not, God could not judge them and consign them to the lake of fire. (Rev.20:10-15; 2Pet 2:4-6; Jude 6).
Obviously, there is a rebellious area within God’s universal kingdom. Satan has a rebellious kingdom within the domain of God. This is referred to as the “dominion of darkness” (Col.1:13). See also Matt. 12:26; Luke 4:5,6; 2Cor.4:4; Eph.2:2, 6:11, 12; John 14:30; 1John 5:19.
Because “all have sinned” we were in that rebellious territory under satan’s sovereignty. We were in the “dominion of darkness.” But when we believed in and came to Christ we changed sides. We made our oath of allegiance to Jesus Christ and were baptised into Him. God “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Col.1:13). He also added us to His church “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47 NKJ).
Misunderstanding No 8. Some say that before Acts 2 the kingdom is always spoken of as future, and after Acts 2 it is always spoken of as present.
The Truth is that the above statement is false! One can find verses before Acts 2 that speak of the kingdom as being present and also verses after Acts 2 as being future. Examples:
Kingdom present before Acts 2 :
Matt 12:28; 21:43;
Kingdom future after Acts 2 :
Paul, speaking to the church, says, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
Repeated warnings are given that Christians must live holy lives, or they “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5.
Misunderstanding No 9.
Some say that the words “church” and “kingdom” are used interchangeably.
They site Matthew 11:11, Matthew 16:18, John 3:5, and Colossians 1:13.
But even if they are used interchangeably in those passages, that does not mean that everywhere you see the word “kingdom of God” in the New testament that it means the “church,” They are not necessarily synonyms. For example, Lexington is not synonymous with Kentucky. You can be in Kentucky without being in Lexington. But you cannot be in Lexington without being in Kentucky! If you are in the church then you are in the kingdom of God! But the kingdom of God is much wider than the church. The church is the Body of the King. It is the Bride of the King.
But is the kingdom synonymous with the church in Matthew 11:11? “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Let us read verse 12 also. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”
Here Jesus speaks of the kingdom as already present and advancing. He is obviously not speaking of the church because the church has not yet come into existence! It is not until chapter 16 that Jesus announces that He is going to build His church!
The Church Shall Inherit The Kingdom. The church is to be given an inheritance and authority in the kingdom of God. The church does not inherit itself!
James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
Gal 5:21 Paul warns the church”. . . I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.: See also 1Cor 6:9.
Acts 14:22 “We (the church) must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God”
Col 1:12-19 “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
Misunderstanding No 10.
The kingdom, they say, came on Pentecost, because Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). If it did not come, then we should expect to see some of the Apostles here with us being over 2000 years old!
Also, in Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”
They play on this word “power” and say, “the kingdom was to come with power, and power came at Pentecost, therefore, the kingdom came at Pentecost, therefore, the kingdom is the Church.”
Answer: The Transfiguration,not Pentecost, is the fulfilment.
(a) This event is recorded in Matt 16:28—17:1-6; Mark 9:1-7; Luke 9:17-36.
(b) In each case you will notice that after making that prophecy, the very next thing is the Transfiguration.
(c) Also, Mark’s account is condensed. Matthew gives us more information. (When teaching their theory they do not use the Matthew account.) “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt 16:28).
(d) Jesus did not come on Pentecost. Peter there declares that Jesus was, at that moment, at the right hand of God in heaven and had sent the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:33).
(e) The Apostle Peter later declares that the Transfiguration was indeed the fulfilment prophecy of Jesus.
2 Peter 1:16-21 “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain . . .”
Failure To Understand the use of the word “Mystery” in Eph 3:2-6,
“Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, . . . 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.
6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
The Church is this “mystery of Christ” (Eph 1:9-10; Eph 3:4-6. Now a Bible mystery is not a prophecy, and it is not the fulfilment of a prophecy. It is a new revelation from God of His eternal purpose “which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.”
It is “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.” (Col 1:25-27).
See also Eph 1:9,10; Eph 3:9; Rom 16:25,26. The word “mystery” in those references always refers to some purpose of God that was not prophesied in the Old Testament.
The church is a New Creation, not the restoration of something that had broken down.
Eph 2:14-15 ” . . His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.”
Misunderstanding No 12
Is the church the Israel of God ?
One writer quotes from Galatians 6:16 “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God (NASB)” And then he says of this verse, “Paul referred to the Lord’s church as the Israel of God.”
Answer: He is greatly mistaken. He overlooks the fact that Paul spoke of two groups in that verse. Notice that peace and mercy is pronounced upon:
1. “Those who will walk by this rule”
2. “The Israel of God.”
It is wrong to say that the church is the ‘Israel of God’. That is in conflict with the verse itself, with verse 15, and contradicts the whole meaning of the book of Galatians.
We should understand that the members of the Galatian church were mostly Gentile believers in Christ. They had come out of the darkness of false gods. They knew nothing of the Law of Moses. They only knew and believed that Jesus had died for their sins and had been raised for their justification. But then some false teachers came to Galatia. They claimed to be from Jerusalem and told the Gentile believers that it was not enough to believe in Christ, but that they must also be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, otherwise they could not be saved. (See Acts 15:1,5).
Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians to counteract that false teaching. He warned the Gentile believers in Christ that they must not receive circumcision as something to make them acceptable to God. To do so would nullify the sacrifice of Christ.
Paul concludes in 6:15 by giving a rule:
“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, what counts is a new creation.”
This rule was expressed earlier as:
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6).
Paul is pronouncing peace and mercy upon two groups in 6:16.
The first group, ‘those who will walk by this rule,’ are the Gentile Christians who trust in Christ for salvation. They refuse to be circumcised because they are following the rule of verse 15.
The second group, ‘the Israel of God’, are those Jewish Christians, who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. They have already been circumcised—but only because they are sons of Israel. (An Israelite boy was circumcised when he was only eight days old.) However, they do not trust in their circumcision. Their faith is solely in Jesus Christ. Those Israelite Christians, and only Israelite Christians, are the ‘Israel of God.’
Gentile Christians are not the Israel of God, they are the Gentiles of God. Gentile Christians are never spoken of as “sons of Jacob “or “sons of Israel.” It is Abraham who is the father of those who believe, according to Romans 4:7-17 and Galatians 3:29.
Misunderstanding No 14.
Jesus said in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Therefore, they say, it is only a “spiritual kingdom in the hearts of believers” and cannot be a material kingdom on the earth ruling over the nations.
But the word “of ” does not refer to locality, nor does it mean that it is not a material kingdom, it refers to the source of its power and authority—the source of its power is from heaven, not the military powers of men.
Why The Church Cannot Be “Spiritual Israel.”
In the OT, Israel is spoken of as The Adulterous Wife of Jehovah, now, because of unbelief and apostasy, disowned and dishonoured, but yet to be restored.
Ezek 16:32 “‘You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!
Isa 54:5-8 For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. 6 The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit–a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. 7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.
Hos 2:14-16 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. 15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
Hos 3:1-5 “. . . .4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.
The Church is the Virgin Bride of Christ. Not yet married to Him.
John 3:27-29 To this John replied, . . .28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.” .
2 Cor 11:2 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”
Eph 5:25-28 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
Rev 19:6-9 “. . .For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)”
It should be obvious that Israel and the church are two separate identifies. The Son cannot take the Father’s wife!
The Parable of the Kingdom of God
Luke 19:11-27 “While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. . . .
Please open your Bible and read verse 11 through verse 27.
Let me point out:—Four major things of prophetic significance:
- The Nature of the kingdom,
- The Timing: When will the Kingdom of OT prophecy come?
- The Interim Period between the Travel to the “Distant Country” and
- The Return.
(1.) Nature of the Kingdom: This is established by the expectation of the people in verse 11 and confirmed by the body of the parable itself. What did the people understand that the Kingdom of God was supposed to be? “the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” They certainly did not believe this meant the church!
The Numerous OT prophecies concerning the kingdom were quite clear and very explicit. The people to whom Jesus was speaking were familiar with the prophecies. Their hope for the redemption of Israel was based on the written word. Many of them thought that Jesus was the Messiah and would bring this about. (Matt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9).
What were the expectation of the prophets and of these people to whom the parable was
spoken? Obviously, they expected:
A literal kingdom of Israel here on the earth —Dan 7:27; Amos 9:14,15.
A son of David to rule over Israel on David’s throne. —Isa 9:7; Lk 1:33
Righteous government, perfect justice for all. —Isa 9:7; 11:4-5; 42:1.
The Kingdom to be over all Gentile nations. —Rev 11:15; Psalms 72.
A time of universal peace with all nations worshipping the Lord, because:
“the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” —Isaiah 11:9.
There would even be changes in nature with much of the curse being lifted,, “the lion will eat straw like the ox.” —Isa 11:6-10; Rom 8:21.
There is absolutely no hint or suggestion that this kingdom would be only a “spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men.” Certainly the kingdom would be spiritual, but it would also be social, political, and economic It would govern every aspect of man’s existence.
This was their expectation of the Kingdom and Luke here tells us that they expected all this to “appear at once” There are some today who teach that these people misunderstood the nature of the kingdom. If that were true, why did Jesus did not correct them? I believe, that in giving this parable, Jesus confirmed them in their understanding of the nature of the kingdom. It was their timing that was off. They expected the kingdom to appear at once. Jesus is here confirming that the Kingdom was certainly going to appear, but not at this time! There would be a long delay before the kingdom should appear. This parable confirms that the appearing of the Kingdom of OT prophecy must await the Return, the Second Coming of Christ the King.
(2.) The Timing: When will the Kingdom appear?
“A man of noble birth went to a distant country “to have himself appointed king “and then to return.”
In the parable, and in the reality of the political events in Judea, it is obvious that the king cannot exercise any authority in His kingdom during his absence, but only upon his return.
The obvious application is:
“the man of noble birth” is our Lord Jesus Christ.
The “distant country” is heaven.
The “return” is obviously the Second Coming of Christ which has not yet taken place.
It is only upon his return that the King begins to execute his authority.
Jesus uses well known political events in Judea to illustrate: the nature of the Kingdom,
the long delay before the kingdom would appear, what would take place during the absence of the king, and what would take place when the king returns.
Judea had long been under Roman rule. But Rome exercised its authority by appointing certain locals who held this authority under the Romans. Rome required that the prince or king desiring such position should travel to Rome to receive his authority from the Emperor himself. This occurred several times. Herod the Great, also Archelaus, a son of Herod the Great, also Agrippa the younger, grandson of Herod the Great, each in their time had to make that journey. T
his was well known by the people.
(a.) Rejection of the King :
Vs.14, “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
(b.) vs.15, “He was made king, however,”
This actually happened in the case of Archelaus, when he went to Rome to obtain confirmation of the title which had been left him by his father, Herod the Great. The Jews, knowing his extreme evil (compare Matt 2:22), sent a delegation of 50 men to Rome, to beg Caesar Augustus not to confer the title on him, but they were rejected. He “received” the kingdom, and reigned in Judea in the place of his father. This was well known by the people.
Just so, did the Jews reject the kingship of Jesus:
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.”—John 19:14-15.
The Nations of This Earth Also Reject Christ:
Ps 2:1-9 “. . . The kings of the earth take their stand . . . against the LORD and against his Anointed One. 3 “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” 4. . . the Lord rebukes them in his anger . . , saying, 6 “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 (Jesus speaks)—”I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son. . . 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, . . . 9 You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
(3.) Period of Time Between the Travel to the Far Country and the Return:
vs.13 “He called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.'”
Travel in those days was very slow. The journey to Rome and back would require weeks and even months. In the parable it is clear that the nobleman was absent for a very long time—long enough for his servants to invest the money he had given them and secure a good return.
The servants are given work to do during the absence of the King They are to look after his affairs until He returns. Just so did our Lord commission the Twelve, and us through them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, . . . I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
After the resurrection of Jesus the Apostles thought that surely now the Kingdom would come.
This is shown by their eager question,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus answered that it was not for them to know the times or dates.
The obvious implication is that He would indeed restore the kingdom to Israel, but not at this time. Instead, now, at this time, He assigns duties to them, work to be done during His absence.
He will send the Holy Spirit to empower and enable them to look after his affairs until He returns. (Acts 1:1-8)
Thus begins the Church Age.
The building of the Church that Jesus had promised in Matthew 16:18. This is no accident, no afterthought—this was the eternal purpose of God which had been kept secret from ages past but now revealed. (Eph 3:3-6, 9-11; Col 1:26).
During this time the Nation of Israel experiences a hardening of heart,
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”—Rom 11:25-27.
The eventual repentance of Israel is prophesied many times in the OT. But this temporary hardening of Israel’s heart during the Church age was a “mystery,” that is, it was not revealed to, nor anticipated by, the OT prophets.
The Church age—which has now lasted 2,000 years—was not prophesied, was not anticipated by the OT prophets because God did not reveal it to them, but He has now revealed it to us.
In Matt 13 Jesus gave seven parables to describe and illustrate the nature of Kingdom of God during this Church Age, the period between His First Coming and His Second Coming. In verse 11 Jesus said that these parables were “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” which are explained in verse 36 as “things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
These parables describe present day conditions which are the absolute opposite of the kingdom prophecies of the OT such as Isa 9:6,7; Isa 11:1-12 and many others.
The prophecies portray a kingdom of absolute righteousness, iniquity is suppressed, the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
These parables, especially the first four, show the opposite. Satan is active, snatching the word away from people, deceiving, corrupting, and the sons of iniquity vastly outnumber the children of God.
Therefore, these parables are not the fulfilment of the OT prophecies about the kingdom. They describe our Church Age in which the Lord’s people are looking after His affairs in a hostile world and waiting for their Lord’s return. It is upon His return that the kingdom “appears.”
(4.) The RETURN:
a.) The first thing He does upon His return is to meet with His servants and give them their rewards.
Matt 16:27 “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”
Eph 6:8 “because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does,
Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
b.) And Set Up The Administration of His Kingdom.
His faithful servants are rewarded with authority in the kingdom,
“Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”
The Lord promised to us: “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery.'” (Revelation 2:26-27).
He must then execute judgement on the rebels of the earth:
“But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.”
This was envisioned by Enoch in Jude 14-15, “The Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, . . . ”
John envisioned it in Rev 19:11-21, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. . . Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter. . .”
Thus begins the mighty reign of Christ over the nations of the earth and so He fulfills the OT and NT prophecies.
Examples are: Isa 9:6-7; Isa 11:1-12; Dan 7:26-27; Amos 9:11-15; Rom 8:17-24.
Rev 20:4-6 (read all of it)
“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. . .
“THEY WILL REIGN WITH HIM FOR A THOUSAND YEARS.”
Revised , 23 Nov., 2016 . R. L. Garrett