In any type of building project, the first step is the making of a plan. All the details of the building must be spelled out in advance if the project is to proceed in an orderly manner. Materials must be procured, and transported to the building site. Coordinating the various parts of the construction is critical to the overall success of the project.
The same elements apply to the building of the Kingdom of God. From Genesis, through the Kings and Prophets, through the time of Jesus, all the way to the book of Revelation, the details are being worked out according to the plan.
When the Prophets spoke, they were teaching about the coming Kingdom. The nation of Israel was a prototype, showing that the Kingdom would be a physical entity. When Jesus taught, He focused His teaching on the Kingdom, its location, its inhabitants, its rulers, and most important, its King. On numerous occasions He made clear that He Himself was the first visible element of that Kingdom: He was the King.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, His Apostles continued preaching the same message. A Scepter suggests royal dignity and authority. The teaching of the Kingdom is the central focus of the Bible.
What elements are needed for building the Kingdom of God?
To have a kingdom, there must be a king. As far back as the Books written by Moses, God was revealing details about this King-to-be. “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near: a Star shall come out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Num. 24:17). The King would be descended from the family of Jacob.
The Prophets continued to add details about the King. There are prophecies in Psalms, in Isaiah, in Jeremiah, and Zechariah. In Isaiah 9:6-7 we read about this coming King. “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be
Jesus Will Be King
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. —Isa. 9:6-7
over the whole earth
And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be ‘The Lord is one.’ —Zech. 14:9
His government will bring peace and justice worldwide.
A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. —Jer. 23:5
|called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it….” There is no question about the offices Christ will fill. He is going to be the King.
Jeremiah added another prophecy of the coming King: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth” (Jer. 23:5). He would be a branch from the house of David. The family was already chosen.
Some 200 years later another Prophet foretold the extent of the authority of the same King: “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be ‘The Lord is one,’ and His name one” (Zech. 14:9). In Psalm 72 king David uses colorful language to describe the dominion of his greater Son Christ. “In His days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth…Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him….His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed” (Ps. 72:7-8, 11-12, 17).
When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would have a son, he told also the destiny of the child. “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33). Unlike other monarchs, this King would be reigning “forever.”
Jesus will reign forever
And He will reign… forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. —Luke 1:33
The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever! —Rev. 11:15
But when He came they did not recognize Him as a king. They did not expect a baby who would have to grow up and be one like them. So when Jesus came, they rejected Him as the Messiah. But this, too, had been prophesied (Isaiah 53).
A kingdom needs more than just a King. One person does not do the whole job. Christ also is going to have associate rulers with whom He shares the responsibilities of government. He will not reign alone. He will be “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).
Christ as King will have lesser kings under Him, each with their respective areas of authority. That is why He says to His faithful ones that they will “sit with Me on My throne.” He will be King of kings, and Lord of lords.
The Book of Revelation makes a number of allusions to these associate kings. “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations” (Rev. 2:26); “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne” (Rev. 3:21). They are qualified because they overcame “as He overcame,” and now they are seated with Him, sharing His authority.
In Revelation 14:1, we learn about this group of associates. “I looked, and behold a Lamb standing on Mount Zion.” Jesus is called the Lamb of God, “and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand.” These are very special people. Note the description in verse 4: “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” This description shows their faithfulness. They “followed the Lamb” anywhere. It is a picture of commitment, faithfulness, dedication. “These
Who will reign with Jesus?
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne. —Rev. 3:21
He is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. —Rev. 17:14
|were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits to God and the Lamb.” They are the called-out ones, the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. “And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (v 5). Here is the standard by which Christ chooses.
In Revelation 5 we learn more about these chosen ones. “And they sang a new song, saying: You…have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10). Kings to rule and priests to teach, they are the associates of Jesus. These right-hand persons are “called, chosen, and faithful”—all amply qualified for their positions (Rev. 17:14).
In the Book of Daniel, the prophet revealed that the Kingdom would be given to “the people of the saints of the Most High” (Dan. 7:27)—Christ and His associate rulers.
The King’s associate rulers are being selected during the first 6000 years of the plan.* Back at the time of Adam God began choosing those who would be the King’s associates. That time is now almost complete.
*A period of 6000 years extends from Adam to the second advent of Christ. This time was typified in the creation allegory as six days, or prophetically speaking, 6000 years, using each day for a year (1 Pet. 3:8)
Multitudes for the Kingdom
Our next building block for the Kingdom is the populace, the vast multitudes who will fill the earth with the glory of God. This very large group is described in Revelation 7, after the description of the associate rulers. We read in Rev. 7:9-10, “After these things”—after the associate kings are picked—“I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”
What are the qualifications of these people? We read more about them in verses 13 and 14. “One of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of [after, beyond] the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood [word] of the Lamb.’” (For an understanding of the symbolic use of blood in the Bible see article on page 9, this issue.)
|Notice that these individuals are all dressed in white. White robes symbolize moral purity. They are prepared, ready to serve. They have all been tested and approved. They have washed their robes (of character) by applying the commandments in the Word (blood).
In Zechariah 13 we learn more about this group. The details are sprinkled all through the Bible, and here the Prophet is telling us about some proportions. We read in Zech. 13:8: “And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it:” Can it be? Will
|people risk their lives to keep their own way? The sad answer is, Yes. When the Lord comes, He will not find everybody willing to accept Him. All will be given an opportunity, but many will resist Him and as a result will die in the battle of Armageddon. The Lord will not work with those who will not submit to Him. He will have a cooperative, happy people who are willing to accept His law as authority in their lives.|
Those who submit will not be instantly ready to be part of His eternal Kingdom. They have to be developed, tested, and refined through trial. The Prophet describes it this way: “I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God’” (Zech. 13:9).
Can you imagine one out of every three persons joining the Lord’s side? And that is only the beginning. Those who submit will multiply. Isaiah says a nation shall be “born at once” (Isa. 66:8), and within a few generations their families will meet the description of God’s prophets: “numberless,” “boundless,” like “the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered” (Jer. 30:19; Gen. 22:17; Jer. 33:22; Hos. 1:10).
The prophet Isaiah describes this happy, blessed, peace-loving, prosperous people as filling the earth as water fills the ocean: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9).
Territory of the Kingdom
We have three building blocks for the Kingdom: a King, His associate rulers, and a vast populace. Now we need territory.
What will be the territory of the Kingdom of God?
Jesus stated it in His prayer that He taught His disciples: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
“The land…the earth”
In Psalm 37, six times the righteous are described as inheriting the earth, the land (Ps. 37:3, 9, 11, 22, 27, 29, 34).
Even the book of Proverbs has a promise in it: “For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it” (Prov. 2:21). If they remain, and are not taken away, they must be on the earth.
Jesus identified the earth as the eternal inheritance of the blessed. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). And Revelation 5:9-10 further identifies the location of the government of the associate kings and priests of the new order: “We shall reign on the earth.”
“From sea to sea…to the ends of the earth”
In Psalm 72, the Psalmist says that Christ “shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends…” of heaven? No, “to the ends of the earth.” The Kingdom will be right here on earth (v. 8).
“Under the whole heavens”
The prophet Daniel was informed of the territory of the Kingdom. He was divinely inspired to say that it would be “under the whole heaven” (Dan. 7:27). In Revelation 11:15, the Revelator states in prophetic language the extent to which the new government will replace the old authorities: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”
The Psalmist said it very simply: “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men” (Ps. 115:16).
All Natural Born Jews?
Some who read Revelation 7:4-8 have concluded that Christ’s associate rulers (the 144,000) will be all natural born Jews because they are said to be 12 thousand from each tribe of the children of Israel. However, one must remember that the book of Revelation is filled with symbolic language, and the number from each tribe is not necessarily intended to be a literal number. If we look closely at the names of the tribes given in Revelation 7, we see that they are not exactly the same as the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Apparently that issue wasn’t important.
How can we know the chosen ones are not all natural Jews? Look at Revelation 5:9: They are “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” The Apostle Peter said the same after learning that God was working with both Jews and Gentiles. “…God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him” (Acts 10:34-35). He is taking people from “every nation.”
The Lord does not respect color or race, but only character. He does not care what tribe we come from or what language we speak, or what the color of our skin happens to be. His kings and priests will be redeemed out of “every tribe and people,” and they will all be chosen, all faithful.
Why does Revelation 7 speak of them as all coming from the tribes of Israel? The term “Israel” refers to God’s chosen ones. He has chosen “Israel,” meaning those who serve Him. In the big picture, God calls all who are willing to serve Him, and these are thought of as a nation. Out of this nation He chooses those who serve faithfully. In a spiritual sense, each is an Israelite, a “Jew inwardly” to use Paul’s terminology (Rom. 2:28-29).
The Lord is looking for those who are Israelites in heart, whatever their nationality or race. The Apostle Paul explained it in his letter to the Romans, that “They are not all Israel [chosen ones] who are of Israel [natural born], nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham” (Rom. 9:6-7). That is why we have to be adopted into His family, by taking on the family’s character likenesses.
Not a suitable place? You are right. Much work must be done—clean up, renovation, preparation, transformation. But when the prep work is done, it will be beautiful, glorious, and all new! It will be the same earth but with new rulers, and a whole new populace. It will be heaven on earth!
Laws for the Kingdom
One last essential for the building of Christ’s Kingdom is laws. No government can function without laws, and the Heavenly Kingdom of God is no exception.
What will be the source of law in Christ’s Kingdom? In Isaiah 2, the prophet identifies the high authority of the laws that will govern the people of the Kingdom during the millennial age: “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:2-3; see also Mic. 4:1-4).
The enforcement of these laws will result in total peace and justice worldwide. How? They will be everywhere and always present in the form of law enforcement agents who will be able to check misbehavior at its source. “Your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isa. 30:20-21).
No one anywhere will be able to plead ignorance of the law, for the people will be totally informed, from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34).
A law unenforced is worthless. But in Christ’s Kingdom, for the first time in history, perfect enforcement of fair and equitable laws will bring universal benefit. No open disobedience will be tolerated. “For the nation and kingdom which will not serve You shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined” (Isa. 60:12).
When all the building blocks are assembled, the result will be the Kingdom of Christ: A King, associate rulers, a populace, land, and laws. Even the capitol city has been identified in advance: the city of Jerusalem (Zech. 2:12; Ps. 48:1-2; Isa. 24:23). Jesus Himself declared Jerusalem “The city of the great King” (Matt. 5:35).
According to His plan, the Lord has set aside 7000 years to complete this building project. When it is done, He will have a finished product, perfect, beautiful, with nothing to hurt, nothing to destroy, nothing to make trouble.
Do you want to be part of that Heavenly Kingdom on earth? Each of us can be—if we follow Jesus’ example, put on the character image of the King, the Lord Jesus. Then He will choose us to be part of His Kingdom, and we can belong to the things that will remain!