As we saw in my last post, God rules, but in this world we struggle against the angelic rulers, powers, world forces of darkness and spiritual wickedness who hate God’s people but whom God has allowed to have dominion over the unbelieving world. God’s unfallen angels serve under Christ as ministering spirits to the servants of the Kingdom of God who still remain in this world. The Bible reveals God’s angels interact with His people to: announce good news, encourage, guide, instruct, provide for, strengthen, warn, guard/protect, and rescue them from the powers of this world. So what is the Kingdom of God and how does it overcome these powers?
Creation: A Corrupted Realm
The Kingdom of God is first represented in the OT by the Kingship of God over all creation. It is later called the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of Christ and God. The Son’s of God (angels) rebelled and corrupted mankind; then Humanity multiplied violence so God destroyed all humanity and started over with Noah. However humanity then rebelled again at the Tower of Babel. Since the corruption of mankind, the whole of creation has groaned in the hope for—and in anticipation, longs for—the revealing of the glorified followers of Christ (ie. the New Testament “sons of God”) when He comes to rule the earth. The arrival of this day will free creation from the curse of Gen 3. But how will God restore creation as the realm for His kingdom?
Abraham: A Promised Blessing and A Corrupted Kingdom
After rejecting the nations at the Tower of Babel (see my previous post), God chose the line of Abraham as His inheritance to bless the world. He then chose the tribe of Judah for kingship and later God formally ruled as suzerain King over His chosen people Israel (ie. a “theocracy”). However Israel rebelled and rejected God as their king and demanded a human king to be an intermediary to protect and to rule them (Saul).
Israelite Kingship: Royal Failures And A Promised King
God rejected Saul (a Benjamite) for his disobedience and selected the line of David (a Judahite) for eternal rule over God’s people. However this Hebrew kingdom and these kings failed to lead Israel into obedience to God. Israel broke God’s suzerainty covenant (found in Deuteronomy) which enacted the covenant curses for disobedience. However God was patient and sent His prophets to warn Israel and Judah to return to the covenant, and also to prophesy of both a new covenant to come[23 ]and an anointed Divine son of David who would eventually rule.
Israel: A Nation Set Aside (for a time)—Abrahamic Blessing offered to Gentiles
When God sent His people into exile for their disobedience, Daniel prophesied that this was the beginning of a series of worldly kingdoms (aka the “time of the Gentiles,”) that would rule over the world and oppress God’s people. This time of the gentiles would not end until the Messiah came to rule, but Daniel prophesied that the Messiah initially would be “cut off.” This occurred when Jesus Christ came proclaiming the arrival of the “kingdom of God” and himself as the Davidic king and Messiah, but was rejected by the rulers and crucified by the Romans. It was God’s plan to set aside the people of God for their unbelief and to bring the Gentiles back into relationship with Him through the Abrahamic promise (in Christ); and finally to graft the Jewish people back in through faith in Christ when He returns, thus ending the time of the gentiles.
Jesus: the Delivering King
The Gospel of Jesus Christ: Within God’s planned timetable, Christ (fully God and fully man), willingly died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, raised from the dead on the third day, and appeared to many eyewitnesses. When embraced and confessed, this good news of Christ’s blood shed to atone for our sins delivers humans out of their slavery to sin and out from under the oppression of the realm of darkness. Faith in Christ and His gospel delivers us into the light, truth, and dominion of God in Christ. We become reconciled to God and are made into new creatures having been given the Holy Spirit to empower and guide us. Individuals are being called out of the kingdom of this world by Jesus to be citizens of the Kingdom of God (as sons of God) through faith in Him.
Jesus and the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God is embodied in Jesus, the Son of David, as well as in His teachings. Through His miracles, Jesus demonstrated His dominion over creation, mankind, sin (through forgiveness), sickness, death, and over the spiritual powers of this world (demons). This kingdom was inaugurated by His ministry and purchased by His atoning death and resurrection, but it is not yet spatially fulfilled. The kingdom of God is currently a heavenly Kingdom found within the hearts of Christians and ruled by Jesus Christ who is, “…at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him”(1 Peter 3:22). Christ is daily interceding to God the Father for the citizens of His Kingdom (the sons of God) and against the accusations of their enemy (Satan). One day Christ will return, conquer the armies of the nations, cast the fallen angels (OT “sons of God”) out of His heavenly ruling council and imprison them. He will at that time redeem Jerusalem and comfort His people. This is when the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of God and His Christ. When He is revealed, He will bring His followers (NT “sons of God”) to rule with Him. This future return will finally restore the direct rule of God over all the nations as God’s inheritance through the promised descendant of David, Jesus.
This is the Biblical Framework for Governance of the Created order—within which Authority is derived, governments are ordained, and rulers are permitted. Coming next—Sons of Light.