CHAPTER 26: TYPES OF THE
KINGDOM OF GOD
For many of us, the
Kingdom can be just a concept in our minds. We may have to suffer in this
life for various things. So we say to ourselves, in our deep subconscious,
'Well, I'll be rewarded in the Kingdom'. But 'the Kingdom' can become
just a big black box in our brain- 'I'm doing this for the Kingdom's sake...I'll
be in the Kingdom'. And yet do we really have an accurate picture of that
time? If it is going to be a motivating, driving force in our lives, then
we need to have some detailed appreciation of it. We need to be aware
that the Kingdom of God will take up the vast majority of our eternal
destiny. The only part of our future that will not be spent in the Kingdom
of God is the few days or years of this life which may be left to us.
The Kingdom of God will be a supreme expression of God being " all
in all" ; of God's ways being physically exhibited upon the earth.
It is to be expected, therefore, that the Bible should be absolutely full
of descriptions of what the Kingdom will be like.
Yet although there are
far more hints at what the Millennium will be like than we may
think, there is very little physical information about the Kingdom. The
parables of the Kingdom concern the principles of God's relationship with
men here and now, rather than describing the physicalities of some future
age. The Millennium will be a physical expression of those principles
which we as the kingdom of priests right now (Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:13)
are experiencing. The Kingdom is fundamentally a relationship with
God. Thus the foretaste of the Kingdom presented at the transfiguration
was of faithful men in spiritual conversation with the glorified Lord
Jesus, with his face shining as the sun (Mt. 17:3). He is the Kingdom
of God (Lk. 17:21); he is the salvation of God rather than anything
physical (Lk. 3:6). The Lord paralleled entering into the Kingdom with
entering into “life” (Mt. 19:17 cp. Mt. 19:23; Mt. 18:3 cp. Mt. 18:8).
He saw being in the Kingdom as essentially being about a life that
would be enjoyed. The more 'physical' approach to the Millennium adopted
in the following chapters must be seen in this context.
This section presents
just one man's interpretation of the Millennium. For each of us the Kingdom
will mean slightly different things; and perhaps to some limited degree,
the Kingdom will be different things for each of us. It will be
a stone with a name on it which only we know. Yet is this the real reason
why there is such little discussion about the Kingdom amongst us? A very
small proportion of published Christian material in books and magazines
concerns itself with the Kingdom of God. Yet the Gospel and Hope of the
Kingdom must be the light at the end of the tunnel which we are groping
and struggling through now. Because it is impossible for us to fully imagine,
in our present mortal state, what that age will be like, it is to be expected
that Scripture encourages us to imagine and speculate concerning it. The
degree to which we find this motivating will depend upon our view of Bible
study. If we are convinced that things like allusions and hints are really
designed by the Spirit inspiring the record, then these things cease to
be pure speculation, but become part of the glorious reality of the coming
There is the implication
throughout Scripture that it is God's purpose to bring the world back
to the situation it was in before the fall. However, seeing that there
were male and female before the fall, and also the possibility of procreation,
it follows that Eden is to be seen more as a type of the Millennium than
the full Kingdom age (cp. Lk.20:35,36). In passing, we will be speaking
of the 'Millennium' as being part of the 'Kingdom'. As Adam had
the capacity to eat before the fall, and found joy in eating of the fruit
of the ground, so the mortals will find fulfilment in their agrciultural
work, rather than seeing it as a dreary necessity of human life (Gen.3:17).
As the earth still needed 'subduing' by Adam before the fall, so there
will still be some degree of struggle with nature in the Millennium (Gen.1:28).
Adam was to " have dominion over" (Heb. 'to crush to powder')
the animal creation. There is here some hint of a struggle for absolute
supremacy, intended to point forward to our struggle against our animal
instincts. This struggle will still continue at some level among the mortals
of the Millennium.
In the dialogue between
Jesus and the thief on the cross, there is a parallel between Christ's
Kingdom and 'paradise', i.e. the restored Eden of the Millennium years.
The imagery of the garden of Eden is used at the end of the book of Revelation
to reveal something of what the Kingdom, especially in the Millennium,
will be like. Chapter 31 looks at this in more detail.
We are told by Jesus
and Peter that the second coming is typified by the flood. There is therefore
a similarity between the world of Noah's time, and our last days. It is
easy for us to fail to appreciate the carnage of the flood; the Sunday
School image of happy giraffes with extra long necks poking out of the
ark really isn't on. The destruction wrought by the flood was absolute
and devastating. This gives us a clue to the huge amount of change which
the Lord's coming will suddenly bring on the earth. 2 Peter 3 draws a
parallel between Noah's world being destroyed by water, and ours being
ended by fire. The flood water changed the sea level, the climate, and
totally remoulded earth's topography; whole mountain ranges were created
and destroyed. We can safely assume that even greater physical
changes will be brought about by Christ's return.
Is.54:9 speaks of the
latter day judgments upon Israel
being " as the waters of Noah unto me: for the mountains shall
depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness
shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant...be
removed" . Thus in the future, the mountains and hills will
depart as they did at Noah's time; but God's kindness and covenant will
not. An obvious example of these physical changes is in Ezekiel and Zechariah's
descriptions of the plateau upon which the temple will be built in the
Millennium. That fire rather than water will achieve this may suggest
God's use of volcanoes or meteorites in the future (descriptions of the
heavens literally ablaze could refer to these).
We can imagine Noah
coming out of the ark into that glorious new world, cleansed from the
effects of sin. It would have been a world whose physical and human features
he did not recognize; there would have been no physical strand of continuity
with his former life. And when we emerge from the Christ-ark at the ending
of the world's judgments, we will be in a like position. Remember those
words in Isaiah: " Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers,
and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment,
until the indignation be overpast" (Is.26:20). Thus whilst we may
experience the first stages of the judgments, we will be preserved from
this final physical cataclysm which will come on the planet. It may be
that somehow we will be involved in the execution of those judgments.
Under The Law
We can well ask 'Why
is there so much detail about the Law recorded in the Old Testament?'.
We may have gone on to muse: 'It's all very well saying that it all points
forward to Jesus, but there's so much of the Law which seems concerned
with the day to day life of Israel, and can only obliquely point to Christ'.
One of the reasons for this is that Israel
living under the Law should have been a type of the situation in the Millennium.
There is ample evidence that the Mosaic Law will be re-established to
some degree in the Millennium (see 'Jesus Of Nazareth' p.92-95
concerning this). The covenant made at Sinai will in some ways be re-established
with Israel in the Millennium.
The 'new' covenant will enable them to keep the 'old' acceptably. Israel
under the Law were God's Kingdom (Ex.19:5,6); when that Kingdom is re-established,
it follows that then Israel will
also be under the Law. There is ample supporting evidence:
- The last eight chapters
of Ezekiel describe a temple in the Millennium age, serviced by mortal
priests who are governed by regulations based upon the Mosaic Law.
- Zech.14:16 speaks
of the nations keeping the feast of tabernacles, a Mosaic feast. They
will " go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts,
and to keep the feast of tabernacles" .Mention is made of "
the bowls before the altar" being inscribed with " holiness
unto the Lord" , as was the High Priestly mitre (v.20). It should
be noted that these descriptions show similarities to the Mosaic
system, rather than an identical revival of the Law.
- Mal.3:4 prophesies
that the future work of Elijah will result in " the offering
of Judah and Jerusalem (being)
pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old" . The offerings will
still be made, but then they will truly please God. Mal.4:4 confirms that
Elijah's work will be to turn Israel back to the Law: " Remember
ye the Law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for
all Israel, with the statutes and judgments (i.e. not just the ten commandments)...Behold,
I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and
dreadful day of the Lord" . That alone should put an end to any question
as to whether Elijah will come or not in the last days! " He shall
turn the hearts of the fathers to the children" . His work will be
to turn Israel back to a true
keeping of the Mosaic Law.
- Ez.20:41 says that
when Israel have repented and
the rebels been purged from them, " I will accept you with your sweet
savour ('a savour of rest' A.V.mg.). This connects with Noah (= 'rest')
offering a savour of rest to the Lord after coming out of the ark. The
experiences of the flood therefore point forward to the cleansing of Israel,
leading them to afterwards offer up an acceptable offering to God. Their
offering of acceptable sacrifices would therefore fit in beautifully.
- Ez.36:26 speaks of
how God will enable Israel to keep the laws of the old covenant, through
the new covenant which He will enter into with them in the last days:
" A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within
you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will
give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause
you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them"
. This connects with Malachi's prophecy that Elijah will turn Israel
back to the Law of Moses in the last days.
- " All the flocks
of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee (Israel),
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with
acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory (the
temple)...they shall bring gold and incense" (from Sheba;
Is.60:6,7). This teaches that there will be a temple, an altar and sacrifices
in the Kingdom.
- " It shall come
to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another,
shall all flesh come to worship before me" (Is.66:23). The sabbath
will be kept in some way, as will the new moon festival; there will be
a system of regular worship, as there was under the Law.
- Therefore the nations
will say " Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house
(temple) of the God of Jacob...for the Law shall go forth of Zion"
In the light of all
these passages, is it really a question whether the passages in Ezekiel
about a future temple and sacrifices will have a literal fulfilment in
the Millennium? Therefore we read in Is.42:21 that when Israel
are obedient to the Law in the Millennium, God will " magnify the
Law and make it honourable" . Although the nations are spoken of
as keeping the feasts, many of the hints that the Law will be kept in
the Millennium are in this context of Israel
obedience to the Law will be evident to the whole world, and they will
receive the promised blessings for obedience (Dt.28). In this way the
Law will be openly magnified and honoured. David's vision of the Kingdom
seems to have been along similar lines. Psalm 51 was written after his
repentance concerning Bathsheba. David looks out from his own repentance
towards that of Israel as a whole.
He realized that his offerings and obedience to the Law were now
acceptable, now that he had come to know the forgiveness of God which
was ministered to him outside of the Law. " The sacrifices of God
are a broken spirit...do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou
the walls of Jerusalem...then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices
of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall
they offer bullocks upon thine altar" (Ps.51:19).
The details about the
priests in Ezekiel's temple give quite some insight into the nature of
the Millennium and its mortal population. They are told that they are
not to marry a widow " nor her that is put away; but they shall take
maidens of the seed of the house of Israel,
or a widow that had a priest before" (Ez.44:22). All we can
say from this is that divorce will occur in the Millennium age. The hardness
of the human heart which God took into account when permitting divorce
under the Law will not have changed in the mortal population of the Millennium.
The trauma of broken relationships, whether from divorce or widowhood,
will therefore still be experienced in the Millennium. As the King-priests
of that age, it is likely that we will be involved in the counselling
and spiritual strengthening of the victims of such things.
The priests are not
to shave their heads, " nor suffer their locks to grow long; they
shall only poll their heads" (Ez.44:20,21), perhaps hinting at a
return to the principles of Nazariteship. " Neither shall any priest
drink wine when they enter into the inner court" (Ez.44:21) shows
that wine will still be made in the Millennium; and therefore there will
be the temptation for people to abuse alcohol. The disillusion of the
mortal population towards the end of the Millennium which Rev.20 hints
at will probably be accompanied by things like a growing abuse of alcohol.
To some degree the saints may even play a 'policeman' role in the Millenium
dealing with drunks, comforting the widows, strengthening those with broken
relationships. Another hint that the Millennium will not be as idyllic
for the mortal population as we may imagine is to be found in the fact
that there will be money in the Millennium. Jeremiah was told to buy the
field of Hananeel, as a sign of his faith that there would come a day
when fields were again bought and sold in Jerusalem. That time is yet
to come- in the Millennium. The very existence of a property market and
currency will doubtless spark off ample disputes for the saints to sort
out. The commands of the Law certainly show that there will be the concept
of private property and personal ownership of goods in the Millennium.
However, there is a
strong hint throughout the Law that transactions will involve material
goods rather than coinage. The impression is given of an agriculturally-based,
self-sufficient community; an extension of God's ideal for Adam in Eden.
Our imagination is given full vent in imagining the details of the Millennium
by almost every verse in the Law. For example, Dt.26:2 speaks of the people
bringing the firstfruits to God in a basket; leading us to imagine people
making baskets in those small, agricultural hamlets of the Millennium.
The sacrifices in the future temple must be offered with salt, Ezekiel
was told. This leads us to the picture of someone mining the salt, or
perhaps trapping it in salt pans along the Medditteranean. These pictures
are somewhat different to the image of people literally sitting under
trees with fruit literally dropping into their mouth. The Millennium will
be full of dynamic activity; the physical, moral and intellectual lethargy
which now engulfs mankind will be greatly lessened, rather than given
greater rein due to the more advantageous physical conditions.
The System Of Judges
There is ample emphasis
on the Lord Jesus being the supreme judge of His Kingdom. He will be "
of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge
after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his
ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with
equity for the meek of the earth" (Is.11:3). The presence of Christ
and the saints on earth will not stop the weak being ripped off by the
unscrupulous, nor will it totally remove poverty. These things will exist,
but there will be the opportunity of appeal to Christ, who will judge
Under the Law, there
was a referral system up to Moses, smaller cases being dealt with by the
70 elders and family heads. These 'elohim' must surely point forward to
us, the King-priests of the future age. It may well be that some of the
cases tax even our spirit nature to resolve, and they are referred up
to other saints with greater Spiritual endowments than we, and finally
to Christ. " We shall judge angels" (1 Cor.6:3) may refer to
each believer being in the position to pass judgment on a messenger or
representative of, e.g., a town or village. This mention of angel-messengers
implies that we will be geographically located in one place in a region,
to where cases must be brought by a messenger.
Blessings And Cursings (Dt.28)
The world will receive
the blessings outlined in Dt.28, on account of their obedience to the
Law. " The fruit of thy body...the fruit of the ground...the fruit
of thy cattle" etc. would be blessed (Dt.28:4). It is reasonable
to assume that the Bible-minded Israelite would have read Isaiah's prophecies
of the Kingdom with this passage in mind- he would have seen the Kingdom
first and foremost as a time of great obedience to God's Law, resulting
in all these physical blessings coming upon the land. This also raises
the question, to be addressed more fully later, as to whether the blessings
of the Kingdom prophecies will only come upon the Jews and the land of
Israel, rather than on all the earth.
" The Lord shall
give unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give rain unto thy land
in his season (suggesting that there will be rain and seasons in the Millennium),
and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And
the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail" (Dt.28:12).
Due to their continual sin, Israel
have never really been the head of these nations; this prophecy awaits
fulfilment, both literally and spiritually, in the Millennium. In passing,
notice the implication that there will be currency in the Millenium; there
will be lending and borrowing, ever a potential cause for strife. It is
often said that this prophecy about Jewish money lending has been fulfilled
in the Jews already. But note that this is said to be conditional on their
obedience, which as yet Israel
have not shown. The riches of the Gentiles will be given to Israel,
notably the riches of their Arab enemies. They will be in a strong position
to lend and totally control the economy of the mortal population.
Words like " I will set thee on high above all nations of the earth"
(Dt.28:1) shout for a Kingdom application. Zechariah's prophecy of ten
men taking hold of the skirt of a Jew and going up to Jerusalem with him
intimates something similar.
The curses that would
come for disobedience are alluded to in the Kingdom passages, the implication
being 'But if you are obedient, then the reverse of those curses
will come upon you'. Dt.28:30 warns: " Thou shalt build an
house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard,
and shalt not gather the grapes thereof" . This language is picked
up in Isaiah 65: " They shall build houses and inhabit them...they
shall not (any longer) plant and another eat" . This permits
us to look at the curses for disobedience, and imagine their opposite
being realized in the Millennium. " They shall plant vineyards, and
dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes;
for the worms shall eat them" (Dt.28:39) will certainly be reversed
in the Millennium. Each man will sit under his own vine and fig tree (the
implication is, enjoying the fruit of them). As Noah made wine after the
flood (a clear type of the Millennium), so will the Jews. Noah's abuse
of the wine is proof enough that there will be a possibility to misuse
alcohol in the Millennium by the mortals. Our role as teachers will doubtless
include educating the mortals in its use.
Any law of God, be it
the Mosaic or otherwise, highlights the seriousness of sin. The commands
to sacrifice animals were an ideal method of doing this. In the same way
as the Mosaic sacrifices looked forward to the work of Jesus, so those
made in the Millennium will point back to this. It will be our thrilling
joy to explain to ready minds the wonder of the cross and our Lord's perfect
life. Faith is of utmost importance to God. What we can see with our eyes
is not faith. The mortal population will be able to see Jesus; but God
will not want them to 'believe' in him just as some provider of good,
having the popularity of any other successful leader. He will require
them to have faith in the spiritual aspect of Christ, centred around his
work on the cross. The animal sacrifices pointing back to his offering
on the cross will help develop this kind of faith. Rev.20:13 describes
the second judgment at the end of the Millennium (i.e. of the mortal population)
as being a judgment according to their works, as if great stress will
be placed upon their works. Faith will have been turned to sight then,
in many ways. Works are a proof that a man really does have the faith
which he professes, as James highlights. Performing the works of the Law
in a right spirit will be proof of this, although of course total obedience
will not be a condition for entry into the Kingdom proper, seeing that
forgiveness will be available through the work of Christ. In passing,
note that Rev.20:13 speaks of the sea giving up the dead which were in
it. Presumably, some people will drown during the Millennium. The shock
of death, the trauma of tragedy, will still be experienced in the Millennium.
Again, we can imagine the work of comforting the families in their loss,
encouraging them with the prospect of the second resurrection. We need
to ask whether in this life we have that desire to reach out into the
world of suffering around us, ministering the grace of God and the love
of Christ; if we rejoice to do such things now, our joy and fulfilment
will be the greater in the Kingdom.
Under the Law, the land
and administration of Israel
was very well organized. There were certain cities of refuge and priestly
cities. Passages like Joshua 15 indicate that the cities of Judah
were divided up into various groups. We read of groups of " cities"
, " with their villages" - e.g. " ...all the cities are
twenty and nine, with their villages" (Josh.15:32). When we read
that the righteous will rule over a certain number of cities in the Millennium,
we have reason to imagine that this same system of administration will
be re-established then. We will, as it were, be ecclesial elders for one
or a number of towns.
Whilst towns will exist
in the Millennium, the ordinances of the Law suggest that God's ideal
for His people is for them to live a settled, agricultural life in a rural
environment. Lev.25:28-31 contains the laws concerning inheritance. Land
that was bought from another tribe had to be returned to the original
owner at the year of Jubilee. But a house within a walled city could only
be redeemed within a year of purchase; after that, it had permanently
changed hands. This would indicate that God is more concerned with the
people's continuous ownership of their agricultural land, than of urban
property. " But the houses of the villages which have no wall round
about them shall be counted as the fields of the country...they shall
go out (or back) in the year of Jubilee" . This would hint at God's
discouragement of large, " walled" cities, which are so often
associated with evil. They were not to sell the land because it belonged
to God (Lev.25:23). That they were allowed to sell houses within walled
cities shows that God did not count them as belonging to Him any more,
in the way that the rural areas did.
We are told that we
shall be 'king-priests' in the Millennium (Rev.5:10 Gk.), as we are now.
" Kings and priests" is a poor translation; we will be both
kings and priests, after the order of Melchizedek, rather than some of
us being kings and others priests. If we can gain a clear picture of God's
intended roles for the priests under the Law, we will have further insight
into our future work as king-priests.
The book of Malachi
stresses what the priesthood should have been like, compared to
what it actually was. Indeed, many of the Old Testament prophecies against
Israel are specifically aimed at the priests. The priests should have
followed the example of the early descendants of Levi: " The law
of truth (God's word- Jn.17:17) was in his mouth, and iniquity was not
found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn
many away from iniquity" (Mal.2:5,6). These words are alluded to
in James 5:20 concerning how we, as the new " royal priesthood"
(1 Pet. 2:9) should turn our brethren from the error of their ways. This
covenant was given on account of Eleazar's going in among the people to
slay them, and thereby turning many others away from iniquity. He was
not just showing an iron fist to those who were being disobedient; his
real role was to turn men away from sin. As the future priests, our role
will also be to execute the judgments written; but it will be to the end
of bringing men to appreciate the seriousness of sin, and to turn them
away from it. To this end, " the priests lips should keep
knowledge (i.e. they shouldn't apostatize from it), and they should seek
the (meaning of the) law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the
Lord of Hosts" (Mal.2:7) by reason of accurately speaking forth His
word. The priests were to use their knowledge of God's word to turn the
people away from sin. If we have a real hate of sin and a true love of
God's righteousness, we ought to have a burning wish to take the Gospel
to the kids in the tower blocks, to the call girls and drug addicts. Yet
we are frustrated by the knowledge that somehow they are deaf to God's
word. The joy of the Kingdom is that we will be able to speak forth the
word with convicting power within the community we rule over, and to see
its very real effect.
Then, men will come
to us, to seek the true meaning of God's word from us! " They (will)
seek the law" from the priests' mouth. This reminds us of
passages like Is.2 and Mic.4, which speak of all nations going to seek
the Law at Jerusalem. As the people rejoiced because of the Levites
being amongst them at the time of the restoration (another type of the
Millennium; Neh.12:44), so we will be truly loved and appreciated amongst
the believing mortals. It would seem from Jer.26:2,7 that the people came
up to Jerusalem with their priests, from " all the cities of Judah"
; exactly the same pattern will be seen in our bringing of our charges
to Jerusalem. Having initially learnt this desire to seek the meaning
of God's word from us in the towns and villages we rule over, they will
then be motivated to go up to the massive Bible schools which the Lord
Jesus will hold for the mortals at Jerusalem, based around the Jewish
feasts. That pilgrimage will be made from a love of Bible study which
we have taught them to acquire. Even in this life, there is nothing more
gratifying and soul-warming than to see one's own convert grow in the
truth after baptism, developing a real love for the word and the knowledge
of God. We will each experience this on a far more glorious scale in the
An example of seeking
the meaning of the Law is to be found in Numbers 36. The children of Gilead
and the daughters of Zelophehad came to Moses and sought a fuller statement
from God about their position regarding inheritance. Moses then expounded
the Law in more detail to them, under inspiration. It is interesting that
David associates worshipping at the temple with appreciating the greatness
of God's word (Ps.138:2), as if meditation on the word was part of going
up to the tabernacle. If we ourselves have no real love and thirst for
the knowledge of God in this life, no desire to really communicate this
with other believers and the world outside, then how much can we really
look forward to being in the Kingdom? For this is what it will be all
The priests were scattered
throughout the land of Israel, in fulfilment of the prophecy that Levi
would be scattered in Israel (Gen.49:5-7). This curse was turned into
a blessing through the priests being placed in their priestly cities throughout
the tribes of Israel. They were given " suburbs" around the
towns where they could live, often quite small in area (Num.35:4,5). Thus
there was a well known location within each town for the priests; they
were constantly ready to counsel the people. One can imagine a similar
set-up in the Millennium. Lev.22:10 warns that " a sojourner of the
priest" was not to eat of the holy things which the priest's family
could feed on. This provides the beautiful hint that it was the place
of the priest to entertain visitors to the town; the Law recognized that
there was a good likelihood that 'strangers' would be putting up in the
priests' houses; therefore there was the need for this warning against
such people eating the holy things which would have been lying around
in the family kitchen. They were only for the priest and his immediate
family. Num.35 says that the priests would have their houses outside the
city wall. This further shows God's dislike of big city life; His people
will have to go outside the city to find the true knowledge of Him (cp.
the pitching of the cross outside the walls of Jerusalem). Neh.11:30 hints
that there were priests stationed in quite small villages; the priests
were from " Zanoah, Adullam, and in their villages, at Lachish, and
the fields (hamlets?) thereof" . This all gives our imagination
ample homework concerning our possible situation in the Millennium.
As the Levites were
given their cities, so the faithful will be given ten or
five cities etc. to reign over. Instead of the division into civil
and relgious leaders which was seen in early Israel, we will be 'king-priests'
(Rev.5:10 Gk.), fulfilling both roles as part of the Melchizedek priesthood.
The hierarchy amongst the priests will be seen among the saints; they
will take over the present hierarchical system of the Angels. Hierarchy
appears to be a feature of the elohim of all ages. There will be a referral
system for hard cases, where more knowledge of God's word is required;
from those ruling over one city to those over five, to those over ten
etc., until some things are left to Christ Himself at Jerusalem. It may
well be that some of the most senior saints are located with Jesus in
Jerusalem, forming the " camp of the saints" there (Rev.20:9),
in the same way as the " heads of the fathers...chief men...dwelt
in Jerusalem" during the kingdoms of David and Solomon, which were
also typical of the Millennium (1 Chron.8:28).
This shows how those
who have the greatest knowledge and appreciation of God's word will have
the highest places in the Kingdom. This does not mean that those with
the capacity to cram their brain with Scripture in this life will have
the rule over ten cities etc. It is those who know God and His ways,
who appreciate His judgments and have made them their own, who will use
those very same attributes in judging the mortal population in the Millennium.
Christ's parable implies that the more we trade our talents, the more
cities we will be given. The talents must therefore represent something
like our appreciation of God and His word. As one star (or believer) will
differ from another in glory in the Kingdom, so some will rule over one
and others over ten cities. Our ruling over the cities will be reflecting
God's glory like a star. It is therefore possible to be spiritually ambitious
to want to be great in the Kingdom. If we truly want to give God glory,
ours will not be the attitude which says 'I just want to scrape into the
Kingdom; I'm not worried about anything else'. Such reasoning has relegated
the Kingdom to a black box in our mind; we want to be 'in the Kingdom',
but we don't stop to think why, or indeed what the Kingdom will
be all about. If we truly appreciate this, then spiritual ambition will
dominate our lives. Our Lord taught, both by example and in so many words,
that whoever humbles himself now will be the greatest in the Kingdom.
This in itself is encouraging us to seek true greatness in God's Kingdom.
Preaching The Word
The priests' major role
was as teachers. A teacher needs to have some kind of credibility with
those who are to learn. The High Priest had his credibility established
by the fact that he was also prone to the same temptations as those for
whom he made atonement. He could therefore " have compassion on the
ignorant (i.e. those committing sins of ignorance) and on them that are
out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed about with infirmity"
(Heb.5:1,2). This is supremely shown in the suitability of Jesus as our
teacher, example and priest. The mortal population will therefore be aware
that at one stage we, their priests, were also ignorant and spiritually
" out of the way" to eternal life; and who better to explain
this to them than we ourselves? The eternal reality of God's forgiveness
of us will be the encouragement to the mortal population to believe that
their sins too can be forgiven, and they too can become related to the
hope of eternal life, as we have been. Our own example and relationship
with God will powerfully preach to the world in those days- as it should
now. To some degree, therefore, we will be aware of our present spiritual
state in the Millennium, although no longer will we remember the sadnesses
and traumas related to it.
Ex.19:5,6 says that
God intended the whole people of Israel to be a Kingdom of priests. Therefore
Israel in the Kingdom will no longer teach their brother saying "
know the Lord" , for then they shall all know Him, and speak to each
other about Him. No longer will the tribe of Levi be those who teach their
brethren the knowledge of God; they will each individually have this knowledge,
and will pass it on to others. We should be a whole Kingdom of priests
now, in this life.
Although Israel will
have this knowledge of God, it seems that we will teach this to them.
Of Israel in the Millennium it is written: " Thine ears shall hear
a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn
to the right hand (becoming legalistic again?), and when ye turn to the
left" (Is.30:21), perhaps by going the way of the flesh again. We
will be the initial teachers of Israel, according to Jer.3: " I will
give you pastors according to mine heart (then we will fully have and
represent the mind of God!), which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding"
. We will therefore tell Israel " this is the way (Christ is the
only " way" ; i.e. we will teach Christ to them), walk ye in
it" . Their ears hearing a word behind them surely implies that we
will somehow monitor their spiritual progress, and guide them accordingly.
It will need our constant attention to keep them on a balanced spiritual
course, not going to the right hand or left. Truly we will take over the
work of the Angels! This is exactly their relationship with us.
We must remember that
the priests under the Law were limited in their wisdom and knowledge;
and to some degree, our being part of a hierarchy implies that we will
also be. Our reward will largely be in terms of how far we are allowed
to know and express God's mind. Seeing there will be degrees of reward,
some stars differing from others in reflecting God's knowledge, so there
must be degrees of knowledge, implying that there must be limitation of
knowledge in that age.
THE KINGDOMS OF DAVID AND SOLOMON
The Messianic promises
to David about having a seed who would have a glorious Kingdom were primarily
fulfilled in Solomon. Therefore his kingdom was typical of the future
Kingdom of Christ. The dimensions of Ezekiel's temple are identical in
many ways to those of Solomon's; this is surely evidence enough for believing
that a temple will be literally built in Jerusalem for use in the Millennium.
Isaiah 11 describes Jesus as the perfect judge between people in the Millennium,
earning him the people's respect; this may allude to Solomon's legendary
wisdom in judging the difficult cases which Israel presented. The wisdom
of God was " in the midst of" Solomon (1 Kings 3:28), as "
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are hid in Christ.
The Kingdom prophecy of Is.60:1-8 is full of allusions to Solomon's Kingdom:
" Thy light (Jesus) is come...the Gentiles shall come to thy light
(cp. Is.2:3, and how the nations flocked to Solomon)...the multitude of
camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah (the regions
which sent tribute to Solomon); all they from Sheba shall come (cp. the
Queen of Sheba); they shall bring gold and incense (as they did to Solomon)"
The visit of the Queen
of Sheba is therefore typical of how the peoples of the Millennium will
come to worship Christ. The motive behind her visit was that she had heard
about Solomon's wisdom, and wanted to learn more for herself. Through
our teaching of the people in the towns and villages over which we rule,
the motivation for the visits to Christ at Jerusalem will be similar.
The Queen of Sheba saw Solomon's wisdom through seeing the "
sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their
apparel" (1 Kings 10:4-8). It was through her observation of Solomon's
people that she perceived and understood his wisdom. The nations will
likewise learn the knowledge of Christ through observing the example of
natural Israel and ourselves; as they should in this life too.
Passover In The Kingdom
The record spotlights
how much she was impressed by " the meat of his table...his cupbearers...the
sitting of his servants" , as if she observed a banquet held by Solomon
for his servants, at which wine was shared. This connects with how we
will keep the Passover with Christ; presumably on a regular basis, not
just once at the beginning of the Millennium. This will be a fitting way
in which to constantly have before us the means of our salvation; not
that we will have the tendency to forget, but in order to commemorate
His work. Likewise our present 'memorial table' is not just to jog our
memories concerning events of two thousand years ago; it is to commemorate
and glorify the work of our Lord. From the type, it would seem that our
Passover feast with Jesus will be observed and known by the nations; our
evident joy of fellowship with him will persuade them to hearken to his
teaching. Likewise there is reason to think that the present memorial
service was something designed to witness to the world. By keeping the
agape (the love feast), " so shall all men know that ye are my disciples"
. Although we can in no way share those precious emblems with the world,
shutting the doors on them on Sundays at 11a.m. hardly fulfils our Lord's
The Queen of Sheba gasped
in amazement: " Happy are thy men...happy are these thy servants,
which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom" .
Here she saw true joy and spiritual fulfilment of a type beyond her previous
conception. Their joy was through continually hearing Solomon's wisdom.
As the people of Christ, we too will desire to continually be in his presence,
hearing his words. If we do not love them now, if they do not ceaselessly
inspire and mesmerize us, how much will we enjoy the Kingdom? David's
picture of the Kingdom was of continually being in the temple, hearing
God's wisdom: " One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I
seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of
my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple"
(Ps.27:4). The joy of the Kingdom, and of our relationship with God now,
will be on account of our knowledge of Christ, our love of the wisdom
of God as manifested in Him. Our joy will not be because of the ideal
climate, the lack of death etc. It will be for the joy of knowing Christ,
of appreciating the righteousness of God in Him. The former things will
be forgotten. We will not be shaking hands with the brother next to us
and commenting how great it is not to be living in the bad old days. That
is not the joy of the Kingdom; it will be the joy, the exaltation of spirit,
which comes from knowing God for ourselves.
Solomon was not just
given the gift of heightened intellectual powers for their own sake. The
wisdom which he asked for, and was given, was in order to lead God's people
spiritually (1 Kings 4:29,32,33). Therefore when " he spake of trees...of
beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes" (i.e.
all the things of the natural creation; note the Genesis 1 language),
this was for the spiritual edification of Israel. It was not his academic,
scientific exposition of these things which would have motivated people
to cross the known world to hear his words. It is quite likely that the
knowledge of God in the Millennium will be spread through Christ's exposition
of the lessons inherent in the natural creation. This was quite a favourite
method of his in the parables; and that too pulled the crowds. In this
context of Solomon's wisdom about the natural creation, we are told that
" his songs were a thousand and five" ; it may be that the people
memorised his wisdom in the form of songs. It is likely that such music
will play a major part in the spreading of the knowledge of God in the
We have seen how the
priests typify the saints in the Kingdom. 2 Chron.5:11,12 explains what
the priests were like in the days of Solomon: " When the priests
were come out of the holy place...also the Levites which were the singers...of
Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being
arrayed in white linen (quoted in Revelation about the saints in the Kingdom)
having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the
altar...(they made) one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the
Lord...saying, For he is good" . This division of the priests into
different groups again hints at some kind of similar organization on the
Kingdom. The emphasis on the " one voice" which they had shows
hints at the glorious unity of God's children in the age to come; although
even now we can praise Him " with one mouth" . It is possible
that Paul was alluding to this Kingdom type in Solomon's reign when he
wrote that, showing that in prospect we can now be in the Kingdom, through
our unity in worship. It is tragic that the form of our worship sometimes
creates so much bitter disunity amongst God's people now.
There are a number of
other points which demonstrate the connection between Solomon's Kingdom
and that of Christ. For example, Solomon " made silver in Jerusalem
as stones" (2 Chron.9:27)- it was so common. The margin says that
Solomon " gave" silver as stones, heightening the link between
silver and redemption. In some sense, the people will have to go to Jerusalem
for redemption in the Millennium; will it be there that baptisms are conducted,
or some rite of entry into the covenant is conducted? The points we have
considered so far are but the tip of an iceberg.
Jesus will be given
the restored kingdom of David (Lk.1:35); therefore David's kingdom also
prefigures that of Jesus. One of the emphasized features of David's Kingdom
is the system of hierarchy around which the administration was organized:
there were chief rulers, and then " Ezer the first, Obadiah the second,
Eliab the third..." (1 Chron.12). The subdivisions of the mighty
men of David is another example. Again we see the theme of a variation
in rank among the saints in the Millennium. We will rule over different
things, and with varying degrees of power. Christ will rule the world
" by the rod of his mouth" , i.e. by his word. Those who reign
over ten cities will be able to speak forth this word with more power
than those who rule over only two cities, for example. Our love of the
wisdom of God in this life will therefore be proportional to the extent
to which we use it in the ages of eternity.
It is also emphasized
how that there were very specific spheres of authority in David's kingdom.
1 Chron.27 outlines how someone was over the tribute, another over the
army, the camels, the asses, the flocks, the sellers of oil, the vineyards,
the tillage of the ground etc. (see 1 Chron.27). It may be that Solomon's
wisdom concerning the natural creation was for the benefit of those who
had the charge over the different animals and elements of agriculture.
There may be a similar specific subdivision in the Kingdom; one of us,
or a group of us, in control of, e.g., the camels, or a certain type of
animal. We will be guided by the wisdom of Solomon/Jesus in how to control
that animal and the use of it to the glory of God. The natural world is
presently under the control of the Angels; but it is to be handed over
The list of names of
those who ruled over these various things in David's kingdom is very similar
to the list of the men who were with him in his wilderness days; when
he was down and out, those men followed him through thick and thin, even
when it must have seemed crazy to keep following a nobody, one who at
times saw himself as a flea and a dead dog. In these our wilderness years,
we need to be ever thankful for these precedents which we see recorded
in the word. Those men had far fewer than we have. Yet there is something
about both Christ and the difficult life in Him which should keep us with
him; knowing that " if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with
him" (was Paul alluding to David's men here?).
The Early Church
The first century church
possessed the powers of the age to come (Heb.6:15), thus making them a
small fulfilment of the Kingdom prophecies. Passages like Joel 2 which
the church fulfilled in a primary sense are clear Kingdom prophecies (see
'The Doctrine Of Salvation' in 'James and other studies' for more
examples). There was again a hierarchy in the early church, due to the
fact that some had greater and more lavish gifts of the Spirit than others.
It must be noted that the greatest of the gifts were those which brought
spiritual edification to others. Paul says that the gifts of knowledge
and understanding were far greater than, e.g. the gift of tongues. It
is easy when we are new in the faith to think of the Kingdom age as a
time of powerful preaching, using the gifts of tongues and miracles to
validate our message. But the greatest priorities in that age will be
the spiritual glory to God which we will give by the more fully knowing
Him. Yet although all the members had different gifts, together they made
one gloriously unified body. Likewise there will be this tremendous unity
of God's children in the Kingdom, all pulling together, conscious of the
individual actions of every one of our fellow saints, working in harmony
with it to the common end of God's glory- just as the natural body does.
Through the use of the
Spirit gifts, Paul was able to enter into and share his brethren's spirituality:
" though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit,
joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith"
(Col.2:5). No longer will we just relate to each other as humans who are
doing the same kind of thing to give God glory, e.g. Bible reading, breaking
bread, preaching. Presently, we do not really know each other's spiritual
state, nor the peculiar nature of another's personal spirituality. We
are all different in this respect. This is why we are sometimes so shell-shocked
when we find that one whom we so trusted has fallen away, or has been
secretly living in sin. But then we shall be able to touch the souls of
our brethren, as well as to read the minds of the mortal population and
help them accordingly. No longer will we have that feeling of helplessness
as we counsel, frustrated by our limited powers of analysis. Then we shall
know, both God and others, even as we are now known by God.