My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prefvent
my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.
Old Testament Prophesies announce the coming of the Kingdom of God
We have already seen a number of prophecies which describe the Messiah as a
king. Having the title of king does not avail much unless the one holding the title
has a kingdom and subjects to rule over. When Jesus rode into Jerusalemon a donkey,
he was announcing the coming of a king, and of an immanent kingdom. When asked by Pilate
if he was a king, Jesus responded, ?My kingdom is not of this world.? So what is the
kingdom ruled by the Messiah to be like? To answer this question, one need look
no farther than the Old Testament. There one will find dozens of prophecies concerning
the kingdomof God. The Old Testament has prophecies describing the ?constitution? of
this kingdom, as well as its growth and the extent of its dominion. There are also prophecies
concerning the power of this kingdom and its ?foreign relations,? as well as
the relationship between the king and his subjects.
In the previous chapter we saw messianic prophecies involving the general nature
of the Messiah, but also ones providing amazingly specific details about his
life such as where he would live, when he would come to Jerusalem; even the
exact price for which he would be condemned. Prophecies of the Kingdomof Godin the Old
Testament are not as detailed or specific because the Kingdomof Godis a broad
concept, rather than an entity which is limited by time and space. It is a spiritual,
but not a physical reality. Having said that, however, there was plenty of Old Testament
source material about the coming kingdomof Godfor Jesus to use when he appeared
over forty days after his resurrection during which he ?spoke about the kin
gdomof God.? (Acts 1:3).
A BIBLICAL VIEW OF THE KINGDOMOF GOD
Before looking at some of the beautiful prophetic descriptions of the Kingd
omof Godin the Old Testament, it will be helpful to establish a biblical definition
of this kingdom. It is difficult to give a simple but accurate definition of the Kin
gdomof God, as described in the Bible. Some would say that the Kingdomof Godis the c
hurchof Jesus Christon the earth. Others would say that the kingdomof Godis heaven. In truth, God?s
kingdom expresses itself in different ways at different times. In broadest terms,
the Kingdomof Godis anyone or anywhere over which God rules.
Certainly the Jews under the Mosaic covenant saw themselves as the Kingdomo
f God. One of the reasons God did not want Israelto have a human king is that
He wanted to be king over his people?one without rival. When invited to be king
over tribes of Israel, Gideon replied; ?I will not rule over you, nor will my
son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.? (Judges 8:23). Samuel admonis
hed Israel, ?But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against
you, you said to me, ?No, we want a king to rule over us??even though the LO
RD your God was your king.? (1 Samuel 12:12). The greatest king of Israel, Dav
id, acknowledged that God was the real king of Israel. ?Yours, O LORD is the
kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. (1 Chronicles 29:11). So Israel, and later J
udah, were a manifestation of the kingdom of God on the earth at that time.
However God?s people were not faithful, and besides God intended all along to
set up a spiritual kingdom to replace the physical kingdomof Israel. That is
the point of this chapter. We will see many prophecies of this kingdom. The spiritual kingdom
on earth which replaced the kingdomof Israelwas the church. Indeed, the physical
kingdomof Israelwas a foreshadow of the spiritual Kingdomof God?the churcho
f Jesus Christ. A number of New Testament passages seem to equate the Kingdomof
Godwith the church?the body of Christ (Matt 16:18,19, Ephesians 1:20-23, ? find
more). But we should be aware that while the church which Jesus died for may be the
kingdomof God, the kingdom is something greater than that, for while Jesus reigns
over his church, he also reigns in Heaven. To use a crude description, the church
is ?part? of the kingdomof God.
So the church is the Kingdomof God, but surely the greatest expression of the
kingdom is heaven itself. In heaven, God reigns, with Jesus at his right hand. As Jesu
s said, ?Then the King will say to those on his right, ?Come you who are blessed
by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the
creation of the world.? (Matthew 25:34). The book of Revelation is replete with royal
scenes in heaven, such as Revelation chapter four; ?At once I was in the spirit,
and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it?. Surrou
nding the throne were twenty-four other thrones… In the center, around the throne were
four living creatures? the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne,
and worship him who lives forever?? (Revelation 4:2,4,6,10). To summarize, in ascending
order, physical Israelas a kingdom is a foreshadow of spiritual Israel?the church
, while the church as a kingdom is a foreshadow of the Kingdomof Godin heaven.
More evidence of the parallel and complimentary nature of the different aspects
of the Kingdomof Godis found in the use of the number twelve in the Bible. The physi
cal kingdomof Israelwas divided into twelve tribes. Jesus chose twelve apostles who
had special spiritual authority in the spiritual kingdomof Godon the earth. The para
llel is carried into the future kingdomof Godin Revelation 21:12,13;
It (the New Jerusalem) had a great, high wall
with twelve gates and with twelve angels at the gates.
On the gates were written the names of the
twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the
east, three on the north, three on the south and three
on the west. The wall of the city had twelve
foundations, and on them were the names of the
twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Twelve is the number associated with God?s kingdom in its three most obvious
manifestations. The throne scene in heaven in Revelation chapter four has twenty-four elders
laying down their crowns before the throne of God, declaring him to be worthy
to receive glory and honor and power. The twenty-four elders in this scene represent
the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles. James was not making a mistake when he wrote
his letter to the church as a whole, describing them as ?the twelve tribes scattered
among the nations.? (James 1:1).
Much more could be said about the Kingdomof God. The earth itself, with
all its flora and fauna are a kingdomof God. The kingdom is God?s rule over
anyone who takes him as King. Having said all this, in this chapter we will look
principally at Old Testament prophecies which refer to the kingdom as it is
manifested in the church. That the passages we examine refer to the church may not
always be completely clear cut. Some prophecies of the
kingdom may refer principally
to the church, but also have some reference to physical Israel. Others will
be predictions of the church, but have prophetic overtones referring to heaven.
We have already seen this phenomenon, where prophecy has a dual reference. One example
we have seen is 2 Samuel 7:11,12, in which one finds a dual prophecy of the
kingship of Solomon over physical Israeland of the kingship of the Messiah over
spiritual Israel. An example of a prophetic passage which seems to slip back
and forth between reference to the church as a kingdom and to heaven is the
extensive prophecy given by Jesus in Matthew 24:1-25:13, in which Jesus moves
from predicting the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 to describing his return at the
trumpet call of God at the end of days without providing a clear transition,
to the point that it is sometimes difficult to know to which he is referring.
Now that we have a working definition of the Kingdomof God, we will look at
a number of the Old Testament prophecies of the kingdom. In the study of messianic
prophecies in the previous chapter, we worked from the front to the back of
the Old Testament. In this treatment, the kingdom prophecies will be divided according
to subject matter.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOMOF GOD
We will begin by looking at passages that predict the establishment of a new
kingdom and a new covenant for that kingdom. The most well known of these is Jeremiah
?The time is coming,? declares the LORD,
?when I will make a new covenant with the house of
Israeland with the house of Judah. It will not be like
the covenant I made with their forefathers when I
took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant, though I was a
husband to them,? declares the LORD.
?This is the covenant I will make with the
house of Israelafter that time,? declares the LORD.
I will put my law in their minds and write it on
their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my
people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor
or a man his brother, saying, ?Know the LORD,?
because they will all know me, from the least of them
to the greatest,? declares the LORD. ?For I will forgive
their wickedness and will remember their sins no
In this passage, God tells his people that he will establish a new covenant
some time in the future. It will be very different from the one he gave to them
when they passed out of Egypt, at Mt.Sinai. This new covenant will be based
on a personal relationship with God, rather than on obedience to a set of laws.
People who were born into the first covenant had to be taught to know about
God because they were born as infants into Israel, but the people in the new
covenant will all know him from the start. In the old covenant, some, such as priests,
knew God more intimately than others, but that will not be the case in the new
covenant. All will know God and all will be forgiven of their sins.
The Jews who read Jeremiah must have found this description of a future covenant
to be very different from their own experience. To the Jews, God loved them, but from
a distance. The non-Levites had no access into the Most Holy place. God had taught them,
through Moses (Deuteronomy 6:6-9), to teach their children carefully about God,
but in this new covenant, all will be close to God, and all would be born already
knowing about him.
The church, the Kingdomof God, is the place where this new covenant finds its
fulfillment. ?For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who
are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance?now that he has died
as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.? (Hebrews
9:15). Gal 4:9 describes those who are in Christ as those who know God?or rather
are known by him.
Another passage that prophesies the coming of a new relationship with God is
?For I will take you out of the nations; I will
gather you from all the countries and bring you back
into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on
you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from
all your impurities and from all your idols. I will
give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I
will remove from you your heart of stone and give
you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you
and move you to follow my decrees and be careful
to keep my laws.
Verse twenty-four is a reference to the return of the Jews to the Promised Land
after their captivity in Babylon. But, as we will see, God also used the return
of the diaspora Jews to Jerusalemas a prefigure of the bringing of Gentiles
from every nation into the kingdomof God. When Ezekiel continues by describing
being sprinkled with clean water and being given a new heart and new spirit,
he is definitely not talking about anything which God promised under the covenant
at Sinai. Jesus announced the immanent fulfillment of this prophecy (and of Jeremiah
31:31-34) in John 16:13-15;
But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide
you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he
will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you
what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by
taking from what is mine and making it known to
you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That
is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine
and make it known to you.
The giving of the promised Holy Spirit to all who come to believe in Jesus was
foretold by the Christ and was announced by Peter the following Pentecost in
Acts 2:38; ?Peter replied, ?Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the
name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the forgiveness
of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.? ? Notice that Peter?s
statement includes water (baptism), the forgiveness of sins, and the reception
of the Holy Spirit, all of which are predicted by Ezekiel.
To summarize John 16:13-15 and Acts 2:38(and Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36), one
enters into this new manifestation of the kingdomof Godby repenting of sins
and by being baptized. At that time, one is forgiven of sins and receives the gift of
the Holy Spirit who helps the believer to know God, to have a heart for him
and to overcome sin in his/her life.
WHO WILL BE KING?
There will be a new kingdom, but who will be the king? The Old Testament answers
this question in Ezek 34:23,24;
I will place over them one shepherd, my servant
David, and he will tend them; he will tend them
and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God,
and my servant David will be prince among them.
I the LORD have spoken.
?Them? in this passage is God?s people. The Jews of Jesus? day would have no problem
anding this prophecy. The Messiah will be over God?s kingdom at some time in
the (for them) future. Jesus, the ?Son of David,? who was also called the ?Good Shepherd? (John 1
0:14) will rule as king over his people. This is the New Testament view of the relationship
between the church and Jesus Christ. ?And God placed all things under his feet and
appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body,
the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.? (Ephesians 1:22,23).
Another passage which prophetically identifies the one to be over the church
is Hosea 3:5;
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
Of course, David was dead long before Hosea wrote. His readers knew that he was talking
about the Son of David?the Messiah. Jesus is the Son of David, both physically, being
directly descended from the former king David, and as spiritual antitype, as
the king of the spiritual Kingdomof God.
THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM GOD
Most people become subjects of a physical kingdom either by being born to one
of the subjects of the king or by living in territory which is conquered by
another ruler. How will one become a subject of what was, for the Jews, the future king
domof God? And how will this kingdom get its start? We have already seen that Shav
oat, the Feast of Pentecost, is an Old Testament foreshadow of the coming of the k
ingdomof God. Let us look at two specific prophecies fulfilled on the first Pentecost
after Jesus was crucified:
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all
people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams, your young men
will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and
women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I
will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will
be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before
the coming of the great and dreadful day of the
LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the
LORD will be saved; for on MountZionand in
Jerusalemthere will be deliverance, as the LORD has
said, among the survivors the LORD calls. (Joel 2:28-32).
Peter quoted this passage as part of the first gospel sermon preached on the
Day of Pentecost. Like Jesus had said (Acts 1:5,8), and like Joel prophesied, the coming
of the kingdom was to be accompanied by a pouring out of the Holy Spirit and
by miraculous signs. The Joel passage uses apocalyptic language, including dramatic
imagery which should not be taken literally (the moon turning to blood and so
forth). This prophecy was fulfilled in a great way when the Spirit was poured out
on the apostles that day, causing a great wind, tongues of fire, and giving
the apostles the miraculous ability to speak in many languages. Referring to the miracles,
Peter said, ?this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.? (Acts 2:16).
Not only does this prophecy in Joel announce a great pouring out of the Holy
Spirit. It also predicts the arrival of salvation which will be available to all people.
?Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.? At the end of his great
sermon, Peter announced publicly for the first time salvation in the name of
Jesus Christ, ?for all who are far off?for all whom the Lord our God will call.? (Acts 2
:39). Of course, as prophesied by Joel, this great pouring out of the Spirit came
on MountZion, in Jerusalem.
A second prophecy of the coming of the Kingdomof Godis found in Zechariah 13:1,2;
?On that day a fountain will be opened to the
house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
?On that day, I will banish the names of the
idols from the land, and they will be remembered no
more,? declares the LORD.
The coming of the Kingdomof God, is variously called ?the last days? (Joel
2:28, Isaiah 2:2), and ?that day? (Zechariah 13:1, Isaiah 22:20, Hosea 2:16,18,
?Amos 9:11, Micah 4:6, Zechariah 3:10) in the Old Testament. Again, we have
here a prophecy of a day on which a new way to receive cleansing from sin will
come. As in the Joel passage, this will begin with the inhabitants of Jeru
salem. The fountain of Zechariah 13:1 is a continuous stream of cleansing water?
a reference to the cleansing water of baptism, as announced by Peter on the
day of Pentecost when he declared the availability of forgiveness of sins for
those who repent and are baptized, for all whom the Lord our God will call (paraphrasing
EXTENT OF THE KINGDOMOF GOD
One aspect of the future kingdomof Godwhich was prophesied to the Jews involved
the extent of its ?borders.? The unanimous testimony of these many prophecies is that
with the advent of the messianic kingdom of God on earth, all nations and peoples
would be welcomed into this new dispensation of God?s will. There are far more prophecies
of this aspect of the kingdomof Godthan any other, probably because God knew
only too well that his people had a very exclusivistic concept of the kingdom. The
?Jews were very well aware of being the chosen people of God and were generally
very jealous of maintaining God?s blessings to themselves alone. Throughout their
history, the Jews were reluctant to welcome outsiders, thinking of all other
peoples as ?not the people of God.? A good example of this is found in Jonah. God comma
nded Jonah to go and preach repentance to Nineveh. From a human perspective
one can understand why Jonah would be reluctant to preach to the Ninevites because
this was the capital of Assyria, the power which was at that time threatening
the independence of the Northern Kingdom. When, under duress, Jonah finally went and
preached repentance to Nineveh, he seems to have forgotten to include in his
preadching the possibility of being saved from God?s wrath if they repented. When the
king of Ninevehand his people repented, fasting and wearing sackcloth, God relented
sending destruction on Nineveh. Rather than rejoicing in God?s mercy, Jonah
threw a temper tantrum, telling God that was why he did not want to go there
in the first place. The last thing Jonah wanted was for God to offer repentance and
forgiveness to the Gentiles.
This attitude is the likely genesis of such a large number of prophecies in
the Old Testament testifying to the calling of the Gentiles into the messianic
kingdom. The story of Jonah is an historical prefigure of the offer of repentance to
the Gentiles under Jesus. Let us look at some of the prophecies announcing this amazing
?It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to
restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of
IsraelI have kept. I will also make you a light for
the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the
ends of the earth.? (Isaiah 49:6).
he LORD, have called you (the Messiah, in the
context of the passage) in righteousness; I will take
hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make
you to be a covenant for the people and a light for
the Gentiles.? (Isaiah 42:6).
God tells his people in these passages that the Messiah will restore the (spiritual)
fortunes of Israel, of the Jewish people, but that he would also be a light
to the Gentiles; ?to the very ends of the earth.? This must have come as a shock to
those who heard the preaching of Isaiah.
This is not the first time Isaiah mentioned in his book the offer of salvation
to the nations. Nor was it the last.
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 all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples 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.
He will judge between nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
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. (Isaiah 2:2-4)
Here the prophet predicts that the mountain of the Lord?s temple, symbolic of
the spiritual power of the kingdomof God, will go out to all nations in the
last days. He also specifies that the call to this new kingdom will go out beginning
at MountZion, in Jerusalem. It was on MountZion, in the temple precincts that
Peter gave that famous first public gospel at Pentecost, as recorded in Acts
chapter two. Little did Peter and the other apostles at that time inderstand the
full implication of Isaiah chapter two. It required two visions and a second pouring
out of the Holy Spirit a few years after the Pentecost event (see Acts chapter
ten) to finally convince Peter that Jesus was serious about offering salvation
to all nations. Only then did the exclusively Jewish church welcome Gentiles into the
Isaiah further prophesies, using apocalyptic imagery, that in this new Mountain
of the Lord, nations who would normally only think of fighting and destroying
one another will come together in peace.