At the very center of Biblical Truth and the heart of the Christadelphian hope is the expectation that Christ is to return to this earth to reestablish God's Kingdom upon this earth. The fact that Christ is to return to restore the ancient Kingdom of Israel on this earth and not in heaven is beyond dispute. Before Christ ascended unto heaven to sit at the right hand of his Father the disciples approached Jesus and asked "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6) Jesus did not try to correct them for their expectations were correct, he merely answered, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power."
A coming Kingdom upon this earth which would be the reward of the faithful to live eternally was the Gospel or "good news" message that the Apostles and other followers of Christ preached to the First Century world. Peter stated to the Jews as is found in Acts 3:19-21, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the LORD; And He (God) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." Jesus also refers to the time of "restitution" or restoration as the "regeneration" in Matthew 19:28- "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Words such as "restitution" or "regeneration" refer to the fact that something that once existed will be restored or refreshed. We look to the prophets of Israel, which Peter referred, for guidance in what is being mentioned. All the prophets of old such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and etc. refer to the time when a glorious and eternal Kingdom is established in the earth with its headquarters in Jerusalem.
With the following words we would like to paint a picture of what the future Kingdom will be like based upon the teachings of scripture and the benefit it will have upon this earth. We will break our consideration into three main areas. First we will consider what effect the Kingdom will have upon the True Believers- those who understand God's plan of Salvation and who have been covenanted to God either through animal sacrifice before Christ's first appearance, or by baptism after. Then we will consider what the scriptures have to say about the Jew and natural Israel- those who do not accept Christ but will repent of their error at His return. We will also consider the outcome of the Gentile nations after all world governments have been subdued by Christ.
When we speak of the "saints" we speak of those who have been covenanted to God through Christ (either by animal sacrifice before the first appearance of Jesus or through the waters of baptism that was instituted after). Rich and poor alike, both simple and intelligent, Jew and Gentile, men and women. Those like Abraham who have faith in the promises of God and have been cleansed and set apart to the Father "through the blood of the everlasting covenant". Those who believe the Truth of what has been stated in God's word and with great expectation and longing look to the fulfillment of that word. What do the saints have to look forward to when Christ returns to set up God's Kingdom on earth.
Simply and beautifully put and found many times in Psalms 37 and repeated by Christ in the beatitudes, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." Through currently under the curse of the thorn and thistle and somewhat scarred by the inventions of man, this wonderful creation of Yahweh is promised as an eternal inheritance to the righteous. It is not promised to the wealthy or influential, but like the faithful of old "strangers and pilgrims" of this age. It is to the "meek" (humble and teachable) or those of the frame of mind who know heir place before God, those who understand that we are nothing more then dust and ashes, and those who understand that it is not in man to "direct his steps".
Abraham was commanded by God during his sojourning in the Land of Canaan to look northward, southward, eastward, and westward, and then promised, "For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever". What does such a promise have to do with anyone else, especially those who are not born as the natural descendants of Abraham but are classified as Gentiles? Galatians 3:27-29 tells us, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." So simple when we read it, as are most elements of fundamental truth surrounding the Things Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, but yet this principle along with many others is so misunderstood or even ignored.
We await the return of our Christ from the right hand of His Father to make good on the promises made to Abraham by putting an end to the wicked and corrupt rule of man that now dominates this earth. This will be the striking of the "stone cut without hands" upon the feet of Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Daniel 2) which is a symbolic representation of the destruction of the Kingdom of Men at the hands of Christ (stone cut without hands) at His return. Further, in Daniel chapter 7 the prophet speaks of the "Ancient of Days" (Christ) who will come to rescue His people from their struggles against an evil system known as the "little horn" (or the symbolic representation of the false religious organization known as The Catholic System). In verses 20 & 21 we read:
"I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom shall be given to the People of the saints of the Most High, Whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him."
THE SAINT'S FUTURE REWARD
The scriptures indicate that it will be the reward of the saints (those found acceptable at the Judgment Seat of Christ) to stand with Christ and be a part of the avenging force that will destroy Man's dominion to make way for the reestablishment of God's Kingdom on Earth. It states in Psalm 149:5-9-
"Let the saints be joyful in glory: Let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: THIS HONOR HAVE
Also in Malachi 4:3 we read, "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts."
It is every true believers hope to be a part of the avenging force known as the "LORD of hosts", (Yahweh Tsa boa) or "I who will be armies". The true believer does not fight for the current system of things, it is not our to fight for, but we do hope to fight for the system to come when called to action by Christ when He returns to the earth. "This honor have all his saints". It will be the great pleasure of the saints, as part of the "Rainbowed Angel" (a symbol of the future military campaign of Christ and His faithful) to first take care of the enemies of natural Israel who dare to invade and pillage God's heritage (Ezekiel 38, 39). Then Yahweh will turn his attention upon that system that has been the enemy and persecutor of Spiritual Israel, known in the scriptures as the "Mother of Harlots", "Babylon the Great", the "Little Horn" of Daniel 7, "the Man of Sin", the "False Prophet", and the "Beast of the Earth"- the Catholic system.
If the reader considers the words of Revelation 19: 11-21, one is able to see the very gruesome, but nonetheless very necessary in the work of Christ and the Saints so that God's righteousness may completely replace Man's wickedness.
1,000 YEAR REIGN
Once the enemies of God are destroyed or subdued then begins the true beauty that we see when reading scriptural references concerning the Kingdom of God. A time of peace, righteousness, and unity that will be so opposite to the tumult, wickedness, and disunity that finds common acceptance in our day.
"And the work of righteousness shall be Peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever." Isaiah 32:17
The beauty of the Coming Age is exhaustively reaffirmed throughout the scriptures, and for the Saints they will enjoy the fullest benefits of not only immortality but of perfect unity and fellowship with God, Christ, and each other- both faithful Jews and Gentiles of all ages who have been covenanted go God through the sacrificial work of Christ.
The beauty and grandeur of the Kingdom was modeled by the reign of Solomon. In Solomon's reign we see a model or blue print, like an architect builds a model of a structure on a smaller scale as a sample to those interested before building on a grand scale. In this model we are taught of a peaceful Kingdom, ruled by a wise and merciful King. How peaceful will God's reestablished Kingdom be, how wise will be the King that the Father has chosen to sit on the throne of David! The account of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem and how it affected her leaves a very strong impression in my mind as to the absolute and overwhelming beauty of the future Kingdom Age both in what the physical environment will look like, its organization, as well as the spiritual well being that will be enjoyed. In I Kings, starting at verse 4 we are told:
"And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD.....................there was no more spirit in her."
Our current figure of speech would state that it "took her breath away" or left her "breathless". She was completely overwhelmed by the beauty and nobleness that no other Kingdom of this earth could compare to, including her own dominion. In verse 8 she exclaims: "Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee and that hear thy wisdom."
Can we imagine the happiness that those who are given a portion in the coming Kingdom might experience to be so blessed to be found acceptable to be Christ's servants in the coming Age? Not a servitude as we may now perceive it but as ministers of Christ to do his will and carry out His righteous commands. How wonderful a thing it will be to see a majesty that far outshines anything ever scene, a wisdom that will refresh the world, and to experience something so completely righteous as to engulf one with the most complete sense of well-being, peace, utter satisfaction, and awe, which Solomon's reign could only be a mere shadow.
THE SAINTS WILL RULE
For the redeemed saints, upon the destruction of the enemies of God, the work will not have finished but just begun. As servants of the King, the reward of destroying the enemies of righteousness is replaced with the joy of implementing righteousness and prosperity throughout all the earth.
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first Resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall reign with Him (Christ) a thousand
Sadly, what was so earnestly contended for by the first century believers- that is the expectation of a literal 1,000 years reign of Christ was demoted by Greek philosophy to nothing more then an allegory and fairy tale by those who called themselves Christians later on. The 1,000- year reign of Christ is very real, very literal in its application and at the center of our hope and future reward.
The scriptures are very clear on the reward of the saints and where that reward will be realized. Reading from Revelation 5: 9,10- "And they sung a new song, saying, 'Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests (i.e. a priestly kingdom), and we shall reign on the earth." And in Revelation 2:26- "And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron."
What an amazing contrast do we see in these verses compared to what we experience now. The position of Mayor, City Councilman, Governor, President, or King (which the true believer should have no part in as "strangers and pilgrims") pales in comparison to the leadership and authority offered in the future age. Our current leaders cannot possibly enjoy their positions to the fullest extent considering the issues they now face. War, crime, corruption, and jealousy stagnate even the most sincere attempts to accomplish anything now seen among the Kingdoms of Men. But under the Kingdom of God- with absolute authority given to the saints as well as the necessary mental and physical powers to accomplish God's will- the task of ruling with a "rod of iron" will not only be possible but enjoyable. Not the kind of enjoyment that a Nebuchadnezzar, Ceasar, or Hitler may enjoy by having free reign to exercise their wicked lusts, but the enjoyment to make right all the evils that the faithful has had to watch and patiently endure during this time of probation. The scriptures speak of this enduring of injustice, persecution, and shame as the "patience and faith of the saints" (Revelation 13:10) And it is such "patience" that will be rewarded upon Christ's return.
In Luke 19: 15-19 Christ gives us a clear picture through parable form of some of the ruling authority that He will reward to his faithful. We read, "And it came to pass, that when he was returned having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, 'Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.' And he said unto him, 'Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities'. And the second came, saying, 'Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.' And he said likewise to him, 'Be thou also over five cities.'" Though this is a parable the lesson is very clear that ruling authority will be given to those who Christ rewards at his Judgment Seat.
The apostle Peter informs the faithful that they are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation". (I Peter 2:9). Revelation 1:6 informs us that through the redemptive work of Christ that he has "made us kings and priests" (i.e. a royal priesthood). And Revelation 5:10, a picture of redeemed around the throne of the Lamb states "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on the earth."
There is no question that at the current time that the true followers of Christ act in a sense as priests offering up "spiritual sacrifices" of acceptable worship to God. But in the future age as Christ will in himself combine the office of High Priest with King (the order of Melchisedek with the throne of David), so also in a lesser degree will the office of priest be combined with the position of ruler by the redeemed. Religion and State affairs will no longer be separated in the Kingdom Age ("separation of church and state"). All decisions made and justice meted out will be based upon Spiritual wisdom and Spiritual consequences. The Saint will not be able to make decisions for who they may rule over separate from a "thus saith the LORD" or the "law that comes forth from Zion". Matters both civil and spiritual will be inseparable and likewise the rulers of the future age will act as guides in spiritual matters as well as enforce rules and regulations that direct day-to-day life for the mortals of the earth.
The Catholic System tried this during their domination of Europe for 1,200 years. Thinking that their Church system as the Kingdom of God on earth, all matters (both civil and religious) were under the authority of the Church. Looking back on history we see a brutal and unjust system, though under the banner of Religion, which offered something evil and vicious as the world has ever seen. But where man has failed in attempting to combine Church and State only God can successfully achieve.
According to the vision given to Ezekiel concerning the future Temple that will exist in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40-48) we also know that there will be a select group of immortal priests that will minister to the sacrifices offered up by the nations. They are known as the "Sons of Zadok". Ezekiel 44:15- "But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near to minister unto Me, and they shall stand before Me to offer unto Me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD". Who exactly will be selected to such a high honor it is difficult to say, maybe quite literally it will in fact be the literal sons of Zadok who for their loyal service to God will be given one of the highest honors in the Kingdom. Nonetheless, it is but yet another snapshot into the beauty and organization of the Coming Age.
No doubt that many different duties and levels of honor will be bestowed upon the saints in the Kingdom. We know that some will rule over "ten cities" while others may have "five". We know that the 12 apostles will rule over the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). Some if not all of the Saints may act as teachers to the nations in some capacity in connection with priestly and rulership duties. Some may occupy specific positions and jobs that we cannot now imagine. It is also revealed to us in Ezekiel that there will be musicians, or singers, who fill the temple with music. Will should not think that the music of the Kingdom and of Yahweh's glorious temple will be inferior to the music of man that we now hold in such high regard. Can we imagine the beauty of the harmonies and melodies that will echo through the temple especially if the source is from the immortals who no doubt have the spirit of God's power flowing through them? No matter what position one may be so blessed to inherit in the Kingdom, no matter how prestigious or how basic the duty, we no doubt should have the attitude found in the Psalms that states, "I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, then to dwell in the tents of wickedness."
In order to close this portion of our consideration of the future Kingdom, from the aspect of how it will benefit the Redeemed of Christ, we would like to consider a glorious picture given us in Revelation chapter 7. Starting at the 9th verse we are given a wonderful vision of the redeemed as they celebrate the victory they have gained and the salvation they have received. They are here represented as celebrating the revived Jewish celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles as they sing praises to the Lamb (Christ).
"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and *palms in their hands. And cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.' And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, 'Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.' And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, 'What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?' And I said (John) unto him, "Sir, thou knowest." And he said to me, 'Thee are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'" * palms are used as a symbol of deliverance
Though there is symbolic language being used here to teach us of this vision, the event described is very real. What will it feel like to be part of such a large, perfectly united, and glorious multitude? How complete will then our appreciation be for all that God currently plead with us to now endure for the sake that he has something better in store for us? Even if we are now doing what we should be doing in order to prepare for the coming Kingdom, since we still are of the flesh nature I do not think that it is within us to fully comprehend how utterly joyful it will feel to stand in the presence of our Elder Brother in full realization of the salvation that has been extended to us at that time. We have nothing that we see or experience that compares to the beauty described by the scriptures. The age we now live in is a constant struggle against wickedness. The promise of this coming age is to those "which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
We have a hymn that is based upon this vision found in Revelation 7, and we would like to quote from it to close this portion of our consideration.
"Who are these like stars appearing,
These, before God's Throne Who stand?
Each a golden crown is wearing,
Who are all this glorious band?
Alleluia, hark! They sing,
Praising loud their heavenly King.
Who are these of dazzling brightness,
As the angels now arrayed?
Clad in robes of purest whiteness,
Robes whose luster ne'er shall fade,
Ne'er be touched by time's rude hand-
Whence came all this glorious band?
These are they who have contended
For their Saviour's honor long,
Wrestling on till life was ended,
Following not the sinful throng:
These who well the fight sustained,
Triumph through the Lamb have gained."