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Course: A Guide to Christian Theology
Lecture: God’s Kingdom
This is the 36th lecture in the online series of lectures on a Guide to Christian Theology by Dr Breshears. Recommended Reading includes: Biblical References from the Course and Study Guides 1 – 39.
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I. The New Messianic Kingdom
From the beginning of Scripture we see that God has created humanity with blessings and wanted humanity to be in a ruling relationship with God. From Genesis 1:26 man was made in their image so that we can rule with him. I think we were introduced into Eden, a place of God’s blessings and now we are in a building state bringing order to rest of the world. Now that gets sidetracked in Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve decide not to trust God which resulted in a promised Messiah. This rescue mission continues with the church to bring the Kingdom back from a sin marred world. This happened in different stages and with the coming of Jesus was a major stage in this development. This was done to establish his rule through the defeat of evil powers thus bringing order to all relationships and Jesus being worshipped as Lord. This is the basic idea of kingdom. In Mark chapter 1 Jesus comes preaching the Kingdom of God saying repent and believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand. This new phrase of God’s Kingdom has arrived because the King has arrived. In this Messianic Kingdom, it is a fulfillment that goes all the way back to Genesis 3 but it includes other things as well. In 2nd Samuel 7 there was a Davidic promise and a New Covenant Promise in Ezekiel 6 and Jeramiah 31, etc. In this new Messianic Kingdom with the Messianic Son of Man with Isaiah’s suffering servant in Isaiah 53 will all come together in Jesus. But understand this, the enemy is not yet defeated and the world is not in order; righteousness is not yet in place. We already have this in what we call the inaugurated kingdom where the kingdom has begun with the first coming of Jesus; Satan has been decisively defeated but not yet destroyed. The kingdom has begun but not yet consummated. The kingdom authority has come in part but there are yet things that we are waiting for.
II. The Prince of the World, Satan
I think of Jesus in relation to David where we see in 1st Samuel 16 that David is anointed king by Samuel. I’m comparing this with what is happening today. So, for the next 25 years, the reigning king is Saul. He is on the throne in Jerusalem and David is running around in the wilderness where Saul is trying to kill him. Between 1st Samuel 5 and 2nd Samuel 1, who is really King? Is it Saul or is it David? I think that is where we are at today. For much of the world, they are worshiping the prince of this world, the world of the flesh and the devil because Satan is the prince of this world. Jesus says this in John 12:31 and for many people, they really believe that Satan’s way is the right way. Satan’s principle has to do with what is in it for me? That is his message. People say that they can’t trust God as it is not in their best interest. A lot of people worship Satan in so many different ways but it is Satan that they worship by their mouths and by their actions. But those who follow Jesus continue to say that the way to go is Jesus; his truth, his teachings, his radical ideas of putting others first and of denying sin in their lives. So we, as Christians, believe that Jesus is the anointed king, exalted and sitting on the throne in heaven but not yet the reigning king. That is yet to come. We are in between the times of the 1st and 2nd coming of Christ. We, the people of faith have the ability to recognize the reality of who Jesus is and that this kingdom has begun but is not yet consummated. Inaugurated eschatology is in reference to an already – not yet kingdom. So, one thing that this means is that Jesus is coming again. That is the blessed hope, the glorious appearance of his coming. In Acts 1, the people are peering into heaven and the angel says that he going to be coming back again. You need to be busy, doing kingdom work.
III. The Second Coming
The expectation that Jesus is coming again is showing up in many different places. Now the fact of his coming again is certain, the time of his coming is totally unknown. But people are still trying to set dates for the return of Christ. Jesus tells us that we don’t know. The second coming of Christ is a sure and certain hope that will happen. Jesus spoke about this and I want to relate Matthew 24:3 to this. At the end of chapter 23, Jesus just finishes describing the destruction of the temple. The disciples thought that the temple was amazing and beautiful but Jesus reminded them that it is nothing, it is desolate. Jesus tells them that it is all coming down, it will be destroyed, not one stone left on another. It was then that the disciples ask when this will happen and what will be the sign of the end of the age. It was two questions. The first question is covered down to verse 36. The second question continues from verse 37. He talks about this in a very layered parable. There will be a lot of things in regards to the devastation but it will not yet be the end. There will be nation against nation and sickness and yet this isn’t the end. It is only the beginning of the birth pains. The signs of the times as they are today will be like this all the way to his return. We will see wickedness increase and a lot of bad things yet. We need to do our job, preach the Gospel. But when we see the abomination of desolation, then we are to leave. That was the days when the Romans came and entered the temple. We are to understand what is happening during this time. All of this happens in that generation leading up and including the destruction of the temple. In tracing verse 30 back to Daniel chapter 7:13 in regards to the Son of Man and the heavenly Messiah, but it talks about a continuing war with the beast. This picture is about the enthronement, then anointing of Jesus as Messiah. It is not talking about the second coming. This is difficult for people to understand. We see in Matthew 24:30 again where we will see the Coming of Man coming on the Clouds of heaven. Many Christians disagree with this. But this is about the enthronement of the Messiah. This isn’t so much a second coming picture as an enthronement picture. This is a picture used in the Old Testament in the destruction of Babylon that happened long before the coming of Jesus. Down through verse 35, Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple and he expects people to understand this.
In verse 36, the topic is changed to the day of the second coming, nobody knows. It compares it to the days of Noah and then even with working people, some will be taken while others left behind. So down through verse 35, it is talking about the destruction of the temple. This is somewhat radical as different people believe different things here. Verse 36 and following is talking about the day of the Lord that Jesus doesn’t even know when. This is much debated as to the actual meaning; I have expressed my ideas on it.
What is the kingdom of God?
What is inaugurated eschatology mean?
What’s the danger of interpreting current events as definitive signs of Christ’s second coming?