The Kingdom of God is the sure promise of Jesus. But how do we get from here to there? The Bible outlines the steps.
Breaking the Silence
Some 2000 years ago, Jesus was on earth, preaching, teaching, and healing, all in a very quiet way for a very brief three and a half years. The prophet of Israel had also said He would be a King, and since they did not say when this would happen, many expected that when they saw the King they would soon be seeing His Kingdom. Jesus knew this was not the plan, and on at least two occasions He made clear that then was not the time for setting up His Kingdom. When Pilate was questioning Him, Pilate asked Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). What was the answer? Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world [this cosmos, this “present arrangement”]. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
When Jesus was with His disciples, just before He ascended, one of the disciples asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They did not realize His Kingdom was yet many years—nearly 2000 years—in the future.
After Jesus was taken to heaven, He sent special power back to His people, to help them carry on the work He had begun. This power, the Holy Spirit, came on them at Pentecost, just 10 days after He had ascended. Jesus had commissioned His disciples to preach the Gospel throughout the world, and He knew they would need help to accomplish this (Luke 24:46-49). He had also planned that they should write down the text of His preaching, so that it would be available for generations to come. We have this text they wrote in the New Testament.
During all of this time, God was working with His people openly, through special power, visions, miracles, and other supernatural ways. But the time came when He changed His method of working. God had planned that when the Bible was completed, the Holy Spirit power should be withdrawn. He would continue to work with His people, but not openly. The Apostle Paul describes this change in 1 Cor. 13. “Whether there are prophecies [by divine power], they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge [by Divine revelation], it will vanish
Steps into the Kingdom
|away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Cor. 13:8-10). What might be the “perfect” that was to come? The Psalmist tells us that the “law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Ps. 19:7). After God’s people had the written law in their hands, they no longer needed the power of the Holy Spirit to instruct them, and it was taken away. Between that time and the second advent of Christ, is a period of silence. When Christ returns, God will be breaking the silence.
We learn of this time in Psalm 50, where we read, “The Mighty One, God the Lord, has spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people” (Ps. 50:1-4). This is a very descriptive passage, telling of the time we are in. It is the time that will be interrupted, when “our God shall come, and shall not keep silent.” God will be breaking into the silence, ending the time when there were no open miracles or visions. He will be sending Christ to “judge His people…to gather His saints…those who’ve made a covenant.” Christ is coming to break the silence.
Step #1: Elijah the Messenger Arrives
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. —Mal. 4:5
When Jesus came the first time, when He was born in Bethlehem, and grew up in Nazareth, and finally at 30 years of age started His ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing, He had an announcer. The mission of this announcer was foretold in the Old Testament, as one who would be for Him “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isa. 40:3). This prophecy was fulfilled by the ministry of John the Baptist. John said, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” (John 1:26-27). The next day he baptized Jesus. When someone questioned John about his mission, John answered, “I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.…He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28, 30). John the Baptist announced the first advent of Jesus.
At the very end of the Old Testament, we have a prophecy of another announcer, Elijah. In Malachi 4, we are first told about a severe time of judgment that is coming. We read, “Behold the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch’” (Mal. 4:1). Then the prophet tells of the rising of the “Sun of righteousness.” We read: “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (v. 2).
Then two verses later, the prophet tells of the forerunner who will announce the coming of Jesus when He shall come to judge and save: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).
Could this possibly be a prediction of John the Baptist, who announced Jesus’ first advent? We must notice that the prophet describes the time of Jesus’ coming as “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” If we read the Gospels, we realize that Jesus’ first advent was not a “great and dreadful day.” There was no judgment, no punishments on the wicked, nothing that could be described as great or dreadful. On the contrary, Jesus suffered at their hands. They crucified Him.
Jesus’ first advent was not a time of dramatic turning either. There was no great turning to Jesus as a result of His ministry. After He had preached for three years, and gone to heaven, how many gathered in His name? Only 120 were in the upper room waiting for the power He had promised to send. There was no dramatic turning to God at Christ’s first coming.
If we turn to Matthew 17, we find another prediction of Elijah’s coming. This prophecy immediately follows the transfiguration, when the disciples had seen Jesus in His glory. Very logically, as they came down from the mountain, after the vision (Matt. 17:9), after they had seen Jesus coming in this very dramatic way, the disciples asked a question. “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” (v. 10). Why did they mention Elijah? Because they had just seen Elijah in the transfiguration, and they knew the prophecy that Elijah would come before Jesus. So Jesus answered, “Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.” In these words Jesus affirmed the prophecy of Malachi, that Elijah would precede His second advent. “Elijah is coming first” (Matt. 17:11).
How does this all fit into our picture of the steps toward the kingdom? We have a time of silence, the time which we are now in. That time will be interrupted by the appearance of Elijah the prophet, who comes to herald the second advent of Jesus. From the words of Malachi, we may conclude that he will make an all-out effort to inform people of coming events, and with some degree of success. “He shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
Step #2: Restoring “All Things”
What will Elijah do? Why is he coming? Jesus said that he is coming to “restore all things.” What might that “all things” include?
John the Baptist or Elijah?
Some people believe that Jesus spoke of John the Baptist when He said in Matt. 17:11, “Elijah is coming first,” as though He spoke of a prophecy already fulfilled. The wording in verse 12 further complicates it, as Jesus says, “I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished.” Why did Jesus refer to John the Baptist as Elijah? He had a reason. If we look at Luke 1:17, we learn that John the Baptist was to come “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” And the way Jesus said this in Matt. 17:12 is a statement which could only be true about John the Baptist, because they (the authorities) had done to him (John) what they wished. This could not have been said about Elijah, who was victorious on Mt. Carmel, was in command, and at the end of the scene slew the prophets of Baal. At the end of his career, Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind. No one did to Elijah “whatever they wished”!
Verse 13 clarifies the point, saying that “the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” The disciples understood, and if we think about what Jesus is saying, we can understand also. If we follow the narrative as recorded in the Gospels, we can see that when Jesus spoke these words, John the Baptist was already dead. The story of his suffering and death is told in Matt. 14. Herod had beheaded him, so John the Baptist’s career was closed. True to Jesus’ words, they had done to him “whatever they wished.” Then Jesus says, speaking of an event yet future, “Elijah is coming first.” Elijah the prophet, taken up miraculously at the end of his career, will be brought back, fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi that he will come before “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5-6).
If we look at Peter’s address on the day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 3, we get a little idea. Peter relates the current event, the receiving of Holy Spirit Power, to the prophecy of Joel (Acts 2:17-18), and then he says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.” Notice that this prophecy is speaking of a time when God will “show wonders in heaven,” when there will be dramatic demonstrations of Divine power. He also describes it as the “great and awesome day of the lord.”
What will be restored at this time? Quoting Joel again, Peter cites the prophecy “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.” The restoring of the Holy Spirit Power may be a large part of Elijah’s work.
In Acts 3, Peter again describes the second advent of Jesus as the “times of restoration of all things.” He says, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21). It will be a time of restoration, of restitution, and Elijah will be a key person in this very important work.
Step #3: Resurrecting the Sleeping Servants of God
Another task that must be done before the arrival of Christ is described in First Thessalonians 4, where the Apostle Paul is consoling some of his people who had lost loved ones. Paul says that when Jesus comes, those who are living and looking for Him will not have any advantage over those who have served Him and fallen asleep in death. Why? Because the dead in Christ will rise first, before Jesus comes.
The passage reads, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” How will this be possible? He says: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:13-16).
Here we have a picture of the resurrection. The dead in Christ are going to awake at the time of Jesus’ coming, so that they are ready to meet Him in the air, as the next verse says: “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
According to Paul, Jesus will return to living people. This means that those who have fallen asleep in death must be resurrected, and here is a work which may well be assigned to the prophet Elijah. We are not told directly, but the timing of the resurrection, being before the advent of Christ, would seem to indicate this possibility. One who comes with the ability to restore the power of the Holy Spirit would certainly be able also to raise the dead, if that is the plan of the Almighty.
God does not tell us the timing. We are not told how long the interval will be between the coming of Elijah and the second advent of Jesus. Communications as they are today, Elijah’s message could circle the globe in seconds.
In First Corinthians 15, we have another telling of these events. In the early part of the chapter, Paul has been talking about the resurrection, the certainty of Jesus’ resurrection, and the surety that all believers will also be resurrected. Then he says (v. 50), “This I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Our corruptible bodies are not a type of substance that will be in Christ’s finished Kingdom, when everyone who lives is immortal and incorruptible. We will have to be changed to some better, superior substance, at present unknown to us. That is why Paul says, “Behold I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” When Jesus returns, there will be living believers to meet Him, along with those who have been resurrected. Those who are living will not have to “sleep” but all, whether living or resurrected, will have to be changed into the immortal state, undying and incorruptible.
The Apostle speaks also of this change, and associates it with Christ’s second advent: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
This passage tells us of three events. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound…” Some have suggested that the trumpet may represent Elijah, who will come as Christ’s announcer, a mission appropriately symbolized by a trumpet. After the sounding of the trumpet, the dead in Christ will be raised, so that they are ready to meet Christ when He returns. The next event will be the Judgment, not mentioned in this passage, when the faithful ones will be changed from the mortal to the immortal state. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
For yet a third description of these events, let us look at the words of Jesus Himself, recorded in Matthew 24. At this time, the disciples were with Jesus, and they were aware that their time with Him was limited. Jesus had been telling them about end-time events, and so the disciples asked, “Tell us, when will these things be? Lord what will be the sign of your coming?” (Matt. 24:3). Then Jesus goes into a lengthy discourse, telling them of events from the time then present through the time of His second advent.
The first major event which He mentions is the destruction of Jerusalem. “Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…” (v. 15), and He gives a message pertinent to the people who will be living then.
Then He continues (v. 21), “Then there shall be great tribulation.” After the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, true religion would be silenced, the power of Rome would overpower it, and for a long time no true religion could be taught or practiced. Here is a prophecy of the apostasy in the sequence of events. This same time was foretold by the prophet Daniel, as Jesus says (see Dan. 7:25; 8:12). Then as Jesus looks forward in the sequence of events, He approaches the time of His second advent, and issues a warning against false signs, false Christs, and false prophets (Matt. 24:23-26). Why is there no danger of mistaking the false from the true? Jesus states the answer very clearly in verse 27. You do not need to worry about being deceived, because “as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” No danger of confusing it with any pseudo-event.
Then He returns to the sequence of events that He has been discussing. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days [the end of the apostasy] the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.” He is describing a time of extreme distress and turmoil in the political heavens, the sun, moon, and stars of the political heavens. “The stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” It will be a time of extreme political turmoil.
And then what? Then the sign of the son of man will appear in heaven (v. 30). Here is another possible reference to the coming of Elijah, as “the sign of the son of man.”
And then what? “And then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Then the event of the ages:
Step #4: The Arrival of King Jesus!
Suddenly, with a host of angels as His escort, the King will arrive, not in spirit but in body, physical, as He went away (Acts 1:11).
Someday, some ordinary day the heavens will open, and down the parted skies will come the King in the greatness of His glory, His face shining with the splendor of the sun. The immortal Conqueror, the Eternal King, the Prince of Peace will come to take His throne, and “every eye shall see Him” (Rev. 1:7).
How magnificent beyond all mortal imagination! How glorious, how sublime the moment when He “shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels” (2 Thess. 1:7).
The arrival of the King will be the greatest event of the ages. It will be the culmination of all the years of watching, waiting, and preparing. It will be the fulfilling of all the prophecies of Scripture that have focused on this great event.
Let us look further at the plan of God to bring in the Heavenly Kingdom on earth. What must happen immediately when Jesus returns?
Jesus has arranged to have co-rulers. He will not be a one-man government. He has planned to share His authority with those who have served God during the previous six thousand years between Adam and Christ’s second advent and who have proved faithful under trial. In the Bible these very special people are variously described as the Bride of Christ, the Saints, the Isaac seed, the faithful, the winners. But they must be chosen out of a very much larger group of called-out ones. The process of choosing the winners is the Judgment. That is why the apostle Paul said, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Jesus’ first major task when He returns is the Judgment of His servants. That is why they are resurrected, brought back to life, so that they can be judged.
Step #5: The Judgment of God’s Servants
In many religious circles, judgment is thought of as a form of punishment, and is applied only to the wicked, the transgressors, the rebellious. But according to the Bible, God has arranged that all His servants will be judged. We might think of it as the final exam, where each is rated according to achievement. Those who have the highest scores will be there, also those who have the lowest. And each will receive according to what he or she has done.
How can we be sure of this? Let’s look at the evidence.
The prophet Daniel foretold the resurrection, saying that “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2). What determines who is awarded each? Only the record of their lives. For Jesus promises to give to everyone according to their works (Rev. 22:12).
Jesus, in His parable of the sheep and the goats, pictured the judgment, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him.” He described Himself as the Judge who will “sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations [eth-nos, meaning a race, persons joined by a common allegiance or habit, i.e., His servants] will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matt. 25:31-33). Those He places on the right will receive His richest blessing. Those who are placed on the left will hear the words of separation: “Depart from Me, you cursed” (Matt. 25:34, 41). Jesus is very definite that both the winners and losers will be present at the Judgment. As we read in Ecclesiastes 12:14, God will bring “every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
We might picture the Judgment as payday. When a person takes a job, an agreement is made between that person and the employer. The person agrees to do a certain task for the employer, and in return the employer agrees, to give a certain compensation. The Lord also works with His people on the basis of a contract, an agreement. He says, If you do thus and thus, I will do thus and thus.
This was the arrangement with the Israelites. He said, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine” (Ex. 19:5). Again He said to King Solomon, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
The prophet Isaiah repeated a similar compact: “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day,…And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isa. 58:13-14).
Imagine a court room today where the judge could read the minds of all who testified. That is the ability Jesus will have. His judgment will be based on absolute fact.
When Christ returns, He will come as Judge to recompense His servants, to give them according to what they have done, whether good or bad. There is no indication that the Judgment is of the bad only. Judgment is part of the Divine Plan for all, as Jesus Himself said: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12). The Lord is fair; He will give just according to what we do. We must all stand at Judgment, whether our record is “good or bad,” whether we have done well or poorly. That is why the Apostle Paul said “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10)—all who have agreed to be Christ’s servants.
Is this fair? Imagine an operation where everyone who worked was paid the same. The engineer, the sales person, the supervisor, the designer, the part-time day laborer all received the same, without any consideration for the skill they were bringing to the job or their level of responsibility. Who would work really hard at their assigned task? Wouldn’t the general attitude be, “Why bother? It’s not worth it!” When a company has a special assignment that requires a special skill or heavy responsibility, they offer to pay more to the person in that position. If everyone were guaranteed the same pay, whatever their task, very little would get done.
Is the Lord less wise? He knows the capability of each and places a requirement on each accordingly. He says, I will give each of you just according to what you do (Jer. 17:10; Jer. 32:19; Rom. 2:6; Rev. 22:12).
Jesus said it again in Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” His plan is all fair, all just. The Lord is absolute justice. And His decision will be final. It will not be whimsical. Justice will not be tainted by bribery. No one will have to worry that he did not get what he deserved because the Judge will have total knowledge of all parties and factors concerned. Those He accepts will sit with Him in His throne of authority and will share these same advantages (Rev. 3:21).
Imagine how different a court session would be today if the judge could read the minds of all the people in the court. There would be no misjudgments, no need for any juries, and no delays because of missing evidence. There would be no false witnessing, and no criminals would go free because every judgment would be based on absolute fact. That is the type of judgment Christ will render, because He will know exactly who and what He is judging. Even during His earthly ministry, whether they were disciples or opposition, He knew what they were thinking (Matt. 9:4; 12:25). It is recorded that Jesus “knew what was in man” (John 2:25).
The Prophet Daniel pictures the auspicious Judgment, and places it in the sequence of events following the four world kingdoms. In vision He saw these four kingdoms represented as four beasts. Following the rise and fall of these beasts, the Prophet says, “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated;…His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:9-10).
What will be given to those who are approved at this judgment? First of all, immortal life. “This is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life” (1 John 2:25; Prov. 3:13-18). Along with life will come authority (Rev. 3:21), riches and honor (Prov. 22:4), and glory (Rom. 2:7). It will be the fulfilling of the promise, that He is able to do “Exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), more than eye has seen or ear has heard or the human heart has imagined (1 Cor. 2:9). To the winners will be given the high honor of being kings and priests with Christ (Rev. 5:9-10), reigning over all who submit.
The Judgment: Where?
Where will the Judgment take place? The Bible does not specify a location. However, one statement by the Prophet Zechariah may hold a clue. Zechariah speaks of the arriving King as coming “and all the saints with Him” (Zech. 14:5). This fact suggests that at the time of His arrival the “saints” have already been selected, suggesting that the Judgment may take place in the air between the time the servants of God rise to meet their King and the time that He first stands on Mount Zion. The identity of the “saints” will not be known until the Judgment has taken place.
What about those who are rejected? Since the plan of God is to give all according to their works, those who have done some good work for God, even though they did not do all, must be compensated. This again is the Lord’s promise, and part of His absolute fairness. Since the next step, according to the Scriptures, will be the setting up of the new government, it seems very possible that those not granted the full reward may be given a partial recompense by being permitted to live during a certain portion of the Millennial reign of Christ.
What about those who turned back, who spurned God’s loving call or rebelled against Him? They will be Christ’s “battle axe,” “a people great and strong,” a “strong people set in battle array,” His “mighty ones” (Jer. 51:20; Joel 2:2-10; Isa. 13:3; Ps. 2), who will be Christ’s arm of authority in bringing the nations of earth under His authority. They will fight in Christ’s army, and when their work is done, they will simply die. There will not be any suffering, torment, or torture for them.
Step 6: Jesus is King!
The next event will be the greatest event of the ages—the coronation of the King. This coronation will be the fulfilling of the prophecies of centuries, when Jesus takes the throne of earth, along with His co-rulers, and sets up the new, worldwide government.
The scene of Jesus with His new co-rulers was seen by the Revelator in vision as “A Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads” (14:1).
The success of the new government is foreordained. “The Lord shall”—no question about it—“be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9).
A Worldwide Summons
Christ and the saints must demand allegiance to the new government, as stated in Revelation 14: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’” (Rev. 14:6-7).
Crown Him with many crowns
Crown Him the Lord of love!
Crown Him the Lord of life!
It will be an appeal with force, and, naturally, resistance. All people will not willingly give up their patriotism, their cultures, their traditions, and their autonomy. But refusal will not be an option. The alternatives will be: submit or perish. Christ’s new government will not allow rival creeds, rival philosophies, rival gods, or rival allegiances. The time of tolerance will have ended. One government worldwide will allow only one loyalty: that of the God-ordained authority, Jesus and His associates.
At the same time, the new government will be totally impartial. No nationality or race will be favored above another. This is not new in God’s scheme. Never has He showed partiality. “In every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35). In the Church of God “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11). The redeemed who reign with Christ will be “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
The result of Christ’s ultimatum will be conflict. Some will submit, more will resist, even preferring death to submission. The reaction of humankind will fulfill the prophetic vision John the Revelator described when he wrote, “I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him…and against His army” (Rev. 19:19)—in other words, Armageddon.