This article continues the discussion about the three manifestations of the Kingdom of God. The first article – Do You See the Three Kingdoms? provides an overview. The second article – What is the Kingdom of Priests? delves into Christ’s kingdom-building process in the current age with his called, chosen, and faithful body of believers. This third article continues from there and shows how Yeshua the Christ, after he returns to earth, will work to deliver a kingdom to his Father.
Let’s begin with a brief review of Paul’s outline for the work of Yeshua in his coming kingdom, and what he intends to achieve. Pick it up in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26 (ESV throughout)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
These seven verses are fundamental to Paul’s viewpoint of the gospel and the work that God the Father and Christ his Son are engaged in, a presupposition. For now let’s focus on what is said regarding the kingdom.
- Christ is going to deliver a kingdom to the Father
- Notice that occurs at the end (of an age)
- But only after doing some things first:
1) Christ will reign in heaven and on earth
2) Destroying every rule, authority, and power that opposes God
3) Until he has put all God’s enemies under his feet
4) The last enemy he will destroy is death (Revelation 20:14-15)
Next, Paul addresses those who belong to Christ. They too are referred to as the first; the first to hope and trust in Christ, the firstfruits of salvation. These are the elect of God who look to Yeshua and his return for the fulfillment of the promise entrusted first to them. (Ephesians 1:11-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,13-14; James 1:18)
The Purpose for Christ’s Reign on Earth
To grasp fully the reason behind Christ’s reign on earth, we need to delve into each of the four activities outlined above. For this article, we’ll focus on just the third one, taken from verse 25 – he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (Isaiah 45:22-23). This will come in one of two forms:
- as someone surrendered and committed to living under Christ’s rule, or
- as ashes under the feet of those faithful to him (2 Peter 2:6; Malachi 4:1-3).
By recognizing the relationship between disobedience and being an enemy to the truth of God (Romans 11:25-32), we’ll see that another way of saying 1 Corinthians 15:25 is that Christ will lead all into obedience to God. Let’s look briefly at how this process works for those called into Christ now. In Paul’s introduction to the Romans, he points out that Christ’s goal for him is to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. He also clarifies that we come to that faith through God’s grace (Romans 1:1-7). Later in Romans 5, Paul outlines the contrast between the disobedience that existed since Adam, and how Christ’s obedience leads to righteousness for those who’ve surrendered to him.
17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
This disobedience is something we’re all guilty of, and a primary reason for God’s work in Yeshua the Christ. Though there is much wisdom here to delve into, let’s focus on the underlying goal in Christ’s redemptive work – by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. The fruit of that work is shown in those now called into Christ. They too were once disobedient, but have chosen to be slaves of Christ’s righteousness.
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Paul goes on, through the rest of his letter to the Romans, to detail the work of God in Christ. First for the benefit of those called, chosen, and faithful – both Jew and Gentile, but also for the disobedient in Israel. As he closes his letter, Paul goes so far as to suggest that God’s work in Christ will benefit the nations as well.
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Though their respective paths from disobedience to obedience occurs at separate times, we’ll see as we continue that Yeshua the Christ will achieve this not only for those chosen now, but for the disobedient in Israel also. As Christians we should well understand the obedience that set Christ apart and that we’re called to imitate.
There’s more to learn about Christ’s called, chosen, and faithful. Discover more.
Christ Set Apart by Obedience
We should be well aware that God glorified his son specifically because he was willing to suffer for the redemptive work and will of the Father (Romans 5:19); he put the cross before the crown. Let’s look at one example, expressed by Christ himself, of what set him apart.
Fourth Gospel(1) 17:4-5
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
If we read further in verses 6-14, he details some of that work:
- I manifested your name to the people you called out of the world
- I gave them your words of life
- I have revealed to them your truth
It was Christ’s joy to do the will of the Father, and for this he is beloved of the Father (Matthew 17:5). From the very moment that he began his ministry, after demonstrating where his loyalty lies (Luke 4:1-15), he continued in the power of the Holy Spirit to do the Father’s will as outlined in scripture.
Luke 4:16-19, 43 – Christ is anointed by the Father
- To proclaim good news to the poor
- To proclaim liberty to the captives
- To restore sight to the blind
- To provide liberty to the oppressed
- To proclaim the time of God’s favor
- For this purpose he was sent into the world
The Firstfruits of Salvation are Marked by their Obedience
All this Christ has done and is now doing for his firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13). They are called out of the world by God; called out of darkness and into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Yet before God’s calling, we too were the disobedient of the world, enemies of God.
1 Peter 2:10 – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
So it was while we were enemies God’s grace came upon us, and we were reconciled through Christ, the source of our salvation.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
What were the instruments Christ used to lead his called, chosen, and faithful out of darkness and into his glorious light? Was it not the grace and mercy of God poured out on us that we might abide in faith?
Romans 3:23-26 – God’s righteousness comes through faith
- The righteousness of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
- Though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (believers) are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
- It was to show God’s righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
This is precisely what we saw early in Romans 5:19 – For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Through the work of Yeshua the Christ, God is able to turn disobedience into life eternal by his grace and mercy.
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
God’s plan for the new covenant isn’t restricted to just this current age. It’s also Christ’s work in his earthly kingdom to come. What he’s done and is now doing for the firstfruits of salvation (Romans 8:29-30), he also intends to do for Israel and the nations.
Romans 11:32 (NKJV) – For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
Israel and Judah led into Obedience
Let’s not forget that as a people, the descendants of Jacob (Israel) were God’s chosen people. When he assembles them at the foot of the mountain, God reveals his underlying intent and purpose for redeeming the descendants of Jacob and gathering them as his people.
Exodus 19:1-6 (ESV)
1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
God’s intent for Israel as a people was to continue in the covenant he made with their forefather Abraham. They were established by God, even before Abraham, to be his portion among the nations(2) (Deuteronomy 32:8-14). Through them God would fulfill his promise that Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 22:15-18). Those blessings were always contingent upon the terms of the covenant (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). This too was to be an example to the nations of the trustworthiness of God and the faithfulness of his word (Deuteronomy 29:24-28).
Yet Israel strayed from the path and from the covenant, and went after foreign gods who were not God. In response, God fulfilled his covenant with them and dispersed them among the nations as he promised (Deuteronomy 32:16,19-21). God would mete out to them the same disregard which they exhibited toward him(3). As his chosen people, they went after other gods. He, as their true God, would go after other people; the Gentiles (Romans 10:19-21; 11:11-12).
Now some would claim that Israel is rejected by God and has been replaced by the church. Yet this idea is contrary to Christ’s teaching and his revelation to Paul.
1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. . . .
Paul goes on to show that, yes, some in Israel were disobedient and have been temporarily cut off from the tree, which is Christ, so that the Gentiles can be grafted in. However, they will be grafted back into the tree again if they do not continue in unbelief (Romans 11:11-24). As Paul shows, their disobedience results in salvation being offered to the Gentiles. If you read Romans 11 further, you’ll see that Paul confirms they will eventually be led into obedience.
28 As regards the gospel, they (Israel) are enemies for your (Gentiles) sake. But as regards election, they (Israel) are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you (Gentiles) were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they (Israel) too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
So clearly Israel’s calling is secure, and they will be led again into obedience which leads to life. What will be different is that the covenant to which they will be restored will not be the covenant made with their fathers at Sinai (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8). That leaves us desiring to understand the scope and timing of the promises made for their restoration. It’s interesting to note how this will begin with Israel (including Judah) receiving new shepherds.
15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. . . . 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.
1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.
5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”
7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”
Clearly this level of restoration for all the descendants of Jacob (Israel) is yet future, to occur when the Lord returns to fight for mount Zion, to deliver, rescue, and help those in Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:4-9). What we want to understand is the process used to bring about the restoration of disobedient Israel. Fortunately, these unfulfilled promises have been spoken of by the prophets of old. For though the Lord extends wrath upon Israel and Judah for their disobedience, all Israel shall yet serve him in their own land (Isaiah 65; Ezekiel 20:40-44).
To see the process he’s using to lead disobedient Israel and Judah into redemption we can follow their response (in Joel 2) to the call to repentance made to Israel preceding the day of the Lord in Joel 1:13-20.
- Joel introduces the Day of the Lord. Up until that time their correction has come in part from the nations, in part from the wrath of Satan, and finally the Lord himself will correct them. Ultimately this correction is not for their destruction but for their redemption; to lead them to redemption (Ezekiel 33:11, 17-19; 34:28-31; Jeremiah 3:6-12).
- In the midst of the Lord’s correction is the call to repentance – to return to the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel will witness that the gods they’ve followed were not able to save them. (Jeremiah 3:11-14; Deuteronomy 32:19-39)
- Yet the Lord is full of grace and extends mercy to his people. He will bring them back to their own land and bless them. This is the greater exodus spoken of in Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 37:20-28)
- Finally, the Lord will make a new covenant with them. With his Spirit he will write his law on their hearts; and they will be his people, and he will be their God. (Ezekiel 37:11-14, 22-28; Isaiah 61:5-11; 62)
- All those who call upon the name of the Lord Yeshua will be saved. These the Lord will call from among the survivors (Joel 2:32).
So like the firstfruits of salvation, who now receive the grace of God and righteousness which leads to salvation through Christ, the disobedient in Israel and Judah will receive the new covenant in Christ.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Their introduction to the new covenant in Christ comes after his return to earth; after he’s established his kingdom on earth at Jerusalem; after he’s gathered the living remnants from all the nations; and after he resurrects to physical life the descendants of Jacob.
Our goal in this brief article was to show, in part, the purpose for Jesus Christ’s earthly reign of 1000 years; preparing a kingdom to be handed over to the Father. The challenge for Christ is the nature of that heavenly kingdom requires something other than flesh and blood to inherit it (1 Corinthians 15:50-55).
There’s more to learn about Christ’s work to redeem Israel. Discover more.
Many view scripture from the presupposition that this is the only day of salvation, and therefore conclude that all who are going to be in the kingdom of God must be “converted” to Christ before he returns. This presupposition doesn’t stand up to what is revealed in scripture. As the brief scriptural references I’ve cited concerning Israel’s future indicate, none of them have been fulfilled fully, and some indicate they occur after the Messiah sets up his rule on earth and personally rules over the house of Israel. Though the progress of the Jews has a role to play in God’s plan, it simply doesn’t satisfy the prophecies for the whole nation of Israel, of which Judah is only a single tribe. In addition, anyone that thinks it is Christ who is currently ruling the earth is seriously misguided (Fourth Gospel 14:28-31; 16:7-11; 18:36-37).
To discover more Christ’s kingdom-building process for his faithful, a restored Israel, and even the nations, read my recent book . . .
The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View
There is much more to learn about each of these topics, and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.
At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.
- The election of God is not limited to Gentiles in this age only. It started with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and continues today. (Psalm 132:13-18; Galatians 3)
- The work of Jesus Christ and the will of God unites the faithful of the first covenant with the faithful of the new covenant (Ephesians 2; 3; Romans 5; 8; 9; 10; 11)
- Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
- The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
- God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
- A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
- Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
- All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgment and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
- The divinity and supremacy of the Son of God – the creator and finisher of all things. He alone is given authority to judge in righteousness according to the will of God. (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 11:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 5; 19:11-16)
- Based on God’s promise to offer the new covenant to all Israel after Christ returns and establishes his earthly kingdom, clearly this is not the only day of salvation. (Jeremiah 31; 32:37-41; Ezekiel 37:24-28; Zechariah 8; Romans 9, 10, 11)
1) Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.
2) The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, Michael S. Hesier, Lexham Press – 2015
3) Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: God would mete out to them the same measure as they had done to him. Though chosen by the one God to be his own, they had preferred idols, which were no gods. So therefore would he prefer to his people that which was no people. As they angered him with their vanities, so would he provoke them by adopting in their stead those whom they counted as nothing. The terms “not a people” and “a foolish nation” mean such a people as not being God’s, would not be accounted a people at all, and such a nation is destitute of that which alone can make a really “wise and understanding people”, namely the knowledge of the revealed word and will of God.
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