In "The Kingdom of God - Part 1," we discussed the Kingdom of God as portrayed in scripture, which is sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven. This terminology represents a significant theme that we find woven throughout the Bible. We also covered the following points:
- We addressed the idea that Christ will be king over a world ruling government here on earth. This is not a metaphorical concept but rather a literal one, based on numerous scriptural references.
- We also touched on who will rule alongside Christ. Scripture provides clues about those who will share in this rule, and we examined these in our discussion.
- An important aspect we considered is how to enter this Kingdom. Scripture gives us clear guidance on the prerequisites for entry, which we broke down in detail.
- We went on to describe the citizens of this Kingdom under this divine governance.
- We noted that the Kingdom is not yet here. It's a future promise we, as Christians, anticipate and work towards.
- Finally, we tackled a few difficult scriptures. These are verses that may seem complex or ambiguous at first glance, but offer deep insights when explored in detail.
A Point of Clarification
1 Corinthians 15:50 KJV Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
John 3:5-6 KJV: Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
These two scriptures offer profound insights into the nature of entering the Kingdom of God.
In 1 Corinthians 15:50, we find a clear declaration: "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." This scripture reminds us of the transient and corruptible nature of our physical bodies and contrasts it with the eternal, incorruptible Kingdom of God. This points us towards the necessity of a transformation - from our current physical state to a future spiritual one.
This transformation is further elaborated in John 3:5-6. Here, Jesus provides a dual requirement for entering the Kingdom of God - being born of water and of the Spirit. The reference to water refers to baptism, a symbolic act representing the death of the old self and the birth of a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:7, Romans 6:4).
However, baptism alone is not enough. Jesus stresses the need to be born of the Spirit and goes on to state in verse 8 that, like the wind, you cannot see spirit (v. 8). We'll cover this in more detail in subsequent episodes.
In summary, these verses paint a vivid picture of the steps a Christian must undertake to enter the Kingdom of God - a journey marked by baptism, receipt of the Holy Spirit, and a transformative shift from the physical to the spiritual.
A World Under Righteous Rule
Psalm 98:8-9 NRSV Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy (9) at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
Psalm 72:4, 12-14 NRSV May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. (12) For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. (13) He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. (14) From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.
Isaiah 11:9 NRSV They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Jeremiah 31:33-34 NRSV But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (34) No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
To sum it up, the return of Christ to earth is a very good thing!
The Earth Physically Refreshed
In the first installment of our series, we delved into the prophetic period known as the Millennium, the remarkable 1000-year period following the return of Christ. This period is marked by Satan's binding, drastically reducing the influence of evil in the world. You can read more about this period of time in Revelation 20.
Zechariah 14:4, 8 NRSV On that day his [Christ’s] feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. … (8) On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter.
Ezekiel 47:8-9 NRSV He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. (9) Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.
The cited scriptures from Zechariah and Ezekiel offer an inspiring depiction of earth's transformation under Christ's rule. Living waters will flow out from Jerusalem, replenishing the eastern and western seas continually, regardless of season. Ezekiel 47:8-9 presents a complementary prophecy where a river, initiated by these living waters, flows into the stagnant seas, purifying them. The fresh, revitalized water brings about abundant life, transforming every area it touches into a thriving ecosystem.
Just imagine, the polluted waters of our world—contaminated rivers, seas riddled with plastic, damaged ecosystems—all restored to their original, pristine conditions.
This incredible time is referred to as “the times of refreshing:"
Acts 3:19-21 KJV Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (20) And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (21) Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
The weather and ecosystems will also be affected:
Isaiah 35:1-2 KJV The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (2) It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing...
Isaiah 41:18 KJV I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
Agriculture will be positively affected:
Amos 9:13 NRSV The time is surely coming, says the Lord, when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps, and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.
In a world where weather and soil conditions are perfect, growing food will be incredibly easy! With optimal conditions, farmers will be able to produce abundant crops with minimal effort and resources.
Time of Rebuilding and Rejoicing
There are two periods of time before the millennium:
- The Tribulation
- The Day of the Lord
The worst time in human history is yet ahead of us. Cities will become desolated, infrastructure will be destroyed, and resources will become incredibly scarce. Many lives will be lost and the human population will be greatly reduced. After humanity comes through this tumultuous period, there will be a great time of rebuilding:
Isaiah 61:4 NRSV They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
Amos 9:14-15 NRSV I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. (15) I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land that I have given them, says the Lord your God.
Jeremiah 33:10-11 NRSV Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, "It is a waste without human beings or animals," in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without inhabitants, human or animal, there shall once more be heard (11) the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord: "Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.
Zechariah 8:4-5 NRSV Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. (5) And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.
We can all eagerly anticipate this remarkable era, a time of unparalleled restoration and total peace.
Micah 4:4 NRSV But they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
The Nature of Animals and Man
In the prophesied future, a shift in animal behavior leads to a more peaceful coexistence, while the cessation of wars marks a significant milestone for humanity. This paints a vision of a world characterized by harmony and peace.
Hosea 2:18 NRSV I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.
Ezekiel 34:25 NRSV I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild animals from the land, so that they may live in the wild and sleep in the woods securely.
Isaiah 11:6-8 NRSV The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. (7) The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. (8) The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.
The nature of man will also be changed!
Ezekiel 36:26-27 NRSV A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (27) I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
These verses convey a profound commitment from God to bring about a significant change in the spiritual state of mankind. God pledges to replace the hardened, inflexible heart of man with a heart of flesh - one that is soft and receptive to God's way of life. Humanity will no longer be obstinate and resistant to God's teachings. God's spirit within them will guide their actions, encouraging obedience to His statutes and careful observation of His ordinances.
Even more blessings:
Isaiah 35:5-6 NRSV Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; (6) then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.
These verses offer an inspiring forecast of universal healing and rejuvenation. This prophecy predicts a time when physical limitations will no longer bind individuals. The blind will regain their sight and the deaf will hear. Those confined to wheelchairs, inhibited by their mobility, will rise and walk, experiencing the joy of unhindered movement. And those who cannot speak, will not only speak, but sing for joy!
Isaiah 25:7-8 NRSV And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; (8) he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.
These verses outline a future where the "shroud" preventing people from understanding God's truths will be removed. However, comprehending this concept requires a more extensive discussion in a separate episode. The verses also promise a time when death will be eliminated, and human sorrow will cease - an image of a future where joy prevails, as brought about by the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 6:33 KJV: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
We now more fully understand the importance of seeking the Kingdom of God. As we've delved into the remarkable future that God's Kingdom promises, this verse stands as a strong reminder. It urges us to direct our aspirations towards God's Kingdom and His righteousness. Seeing the incredible future that awaits us, our prayers for the Kingdom to come should now be more fervent than ever!