I. The importance of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) to this study.
II. Overview References: Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D., D. Litt., (DTS). Dr. Merrill F. Unger, Th. D., Ph. D. (DTS). Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D. (DTS). Dr. John F. Walvoord, Th. D., D. Litt., (DTS). Dr. Harold Hoehner, Th. D., Ph. D. (DTS). Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint, Th. D. (DTS). Lewis Sperry Chafer, Th. D., D. Litt. (DTS).
III. Overview Narrative. God is Sovereign, and as Sovereign He rules eternally in a kingdom in which He is the absolute authority. In order to understand the biblical concept of “kingdom,” we must recognize that it includes several ideas: the right to rule, a realm in which ruling authority is exercised, and the reality of that authority actually being exercised.
A. The Kingdom in Eternity.
1 Concerning God’s kingdom, the Bible presents two aspects: the eternal aspect and the temporal aspect. The eternal kingdom is characterized by four essential truths: 1) It is timeless; 2) it is universal; 3) it is providential; 4) it is miraculous.
2. In eternity past, before the creation of the angels, the earth, and man, a kingdom existed in the sphere of “the heavenlies” because of the relationship among the members of the Trinity. God the Father was sovereign. God the Son, although equal in person, was subordinate to the Father. God the Holy Spirit was the active executor of the will of the Father (Gen. 1:2-3). Thus in eternity past there was a kingdom, involving the right to rule, as well as the sphere in which the right operated and the rule was exercised. Indeed, all the elements
essential to a kingdom were present.
3. This kingdom arises from the character of God and reaches from eternity to eternity. God’s kingdom was displayed in the angelic realm before it was developed on the earth. The created angelic hosts in that kingdom were subject to the Sovereign, and they worshiped Him and obeyed Him. This continued until the fall of Lucifer and the angels who followed him in rebellion.
B. The Kingdom on Earth (Pre-Abrahamic).
1. To demonstrate His right to rule, God ordered this earthly sphere as the place where He would rule. He populated it with creatures who were responsible to recognize that right, submit to it, and give the Ruler that which was due Him. Our sovereign God, in every period of theocratic administration, has ruled through those to whom He assigned His authority. It was the responsibility of administrators to subjugate all to God’s authority, to reward those who do good, to punish evildoers, and to provide an atmosphere in which the subjects of the King might live in peace. In the garden, Adam was the theocratic administrator whose responsibility was to subject all creation to himself, so that through him creation might be subject to the authority of God. When this form of administration failed, God brought a judgment and expelled Adam and Eve from the garden.
2. God instituted a new form of theocratic administration in which He wrote His law in the hearts of men and subjected man to His law. That law was man’s conscience (Rom. 2:15), and as men subjected themselves to the rule of conscience, they were in subjection to the authority of God. But that too failed. And when men rebelled against that form of theocratic administration, God wiped the human race off the face of the earth by a flood.
3. God then instituted a new form of theocratic administration in which authority was given to human government (Gen. 9:6). It was the responsibility of human government to curb lawlessness and to bring man in subjection to the authority of God. Again, man failed miserably. And when men organized in open rebellion against God; the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel-because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world (Gen. 11:8-9).
C. The Kingdom in Israel.
1. With the call of Abraham, God introduced a new form of theocratic administration. He instituted the Abrahamic Covenant that promised Abraham a land, seed, and blessing. Throughout the Old Testament-through that expanding covenant program-God administered His theocracy here on earth.
2. The kingdom program was then developed with the nation Israel through the
covenants God made with them: the Abrahamic (Gen. 15:18), the Davidic (2 Sam. 7:14), the New (Jer. 31:31-34), and the Land, (Deut. 28-30). These eternal, unconditional, irrevocable covenants determined the ultimate form of the kingdom of the God of heaven on earth.
3. While the covenants promised a kingdom here on earth, it was the prophets who described the glories of that kingdom. The prophets of the Old Testament had proclaimed a message of hope that caused Israel to eagerly anticipate the fulfillment of God’s covenants and promises to them. David’s son the Messiah would come to bring peace, righteousness, and prosperity to the nation. He would come as a Savior to redeem and as a Sovereign to reign. The nations which had persecuted Israel would be subjugated to Him, and Israel would
know the promised peace which the Prince of Peace would bring. Her accumulated sins would be put away and she would experience forgiveness and life in righteousness. Such was the hope of Israel.
4. Years passed before an official proclamation was made by the prophesied forerunner, John the Baptist, who heralded his message to the nation: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2 NASB). When Jesus began His ministry He made the same proclamation: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17 NASB). The call to repentance shows that this was a contingent offer and that the blessings of the kingdom depended on the nation’s response. This does not mean, however, it was not a genuine offer.
The reference to the kingdom needed no explanation; it was the covenanted kingdom under David’s son the Messiah, of which the prophets had so clearly spoken and for whom the nation was waiting. The nation was plunged into a great debate concerning His person. Who is this Jesus of Nazareth who claims to be the son of David and the Son of God? Is He what He claims to be? If so, He truly is the promised and covenanted Messiah. If not, He is a blasphemous impostor who is worthy of death. Jesus made His claims concerning His
person very clear. He validated those claims convincingly by His miracles, and He challenged people to accept His claims and to put faith in Him, so as to receive a righteousness from Him that would enable them to enter His forthcoming kingdom.
5. From the inception of His ministry two responses to His presentation were evident. John says: “He came to His own [things], and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12). His rejection is clearly seen in the response of those in Nazareth, who heard Him claim to be the One who would fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2. These responses climax in the incident recorded in Matthew 12:22-24. There were those who, on the basis of the evidence He had presented about Himself as the son of David, the Messiah, expressed their .willingness to accept Him as the Messiah. But there were also those who rejected the evidence and sought to explain it away, so that they would be guiltless for their rejection. There were two supernatural powers who could perform miracles: Satan and God. If the leaders acknowledged that Jesus performed miracles by God’s power, they would be without excuse for their unbelief; but if He performed miracles by Satan’s power, they could justify their rejection. Thus they sought to dissuade those who believed by saying: “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons” (Matt. 12:24).