I would like to illustrate the essence of the Kingdom of God with a verse from four successive biblical time periods.
I want to show how God always chooses a special agent to act as His Representative. God consistently has a special body acting as Heaven’s Lightgiver in any epoch we choose to look at, past present and future. I am also hoping to present, as a by product of this study, a biblical definition of the Holy Nation as taught by Peter as compared to nations of earth. A Theocracy is vastly different to a constitutional democracy.
We will draw examples from Old and New Testament because the sum of His word is truth (Ps 119:160). ‘Let there be Light’, was the first command of God. We will draw from Genesis to Revelation to show the lightgiver role of the Chosen Instrument in every epoch ini relation to the surrounding earth-nations.
Israel as God’s Holy Nation (with Jerusalem on Earth as its Capital)
Natural Israel was the first “Chosen Nation” on earth and created by God through the obedience and faith of Abraham. Israel was created to be a light to the world as stated in this famous passage describing the Glory of Zion:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.Isaiah 60:1-3
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Israel was God’s Light of the World before Christ came. Zion was its HQ. Even today Natural Israel’s chief symbol is the Menora. Even secular Jews relate to this symbol as their divine purpose of giving light to the (gentile) nations. Israel was called to be the leading nation in righteousness, God’s own people, God’s agent and the exclusive Guiding Light to the Gentile nations.
We know Israel struggled with this lofty purpose and their history was a story of some victories and many failures. God always wanted a Theocracy, but Israel wanted a king, just like the Canaanite nations they were sent to dispossess. As is God’s nature, He often gives us the things we nag for even when He knows it is not for our own best good. The Jewish kings were on average a burden to the people. Only under David, was there a respite in that all twelve tribes united in submission to him as a Unified Federation of Tribes.
The Church / Ekklesia as God’s Holy Nation (with the New Jerusalem in Heaven as its Capital)
“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. 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.”1 Peter 2:9-10
Those are deeply profound words by the leader of the church of Acts. We were called out of Darkness and into His Marvelous Light. The Church of Jesus Christ is called to be the Lightbulb of the World.
And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Ekklesia, and the darkness he called the World. And there was evening and there was morning, the first nation day.
Ekklesia means the “gathering of the called out ones”. The word Church has been hijacked and has multiple meanings and connotations, depending to whom you speak. Yet, Jesus addresses his beloved Bride seven times as the ‘the church’ in Revelation Chapter 2. “To the angel of the Ekklesias in Ephesus”. He does not address the ‘Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven in Ephesus’, He addresses the leader/agent of the local Ekklesia in a specific city.
Why are we surprised when Jesus talks about city churches (not the ‘local Kingdom of God’) when heaven itself is named after a city? Zion, the City of David, the City of God, the Heavenly City is called the New Jerusalem in its final and grandest expression. Jesus sets the tone and pattern on how to think about the visible Kingdom of God, the church local in these seven letters.
The ‘kingdom communities” have a name and location. Those love letters have a postal code – they were not spiritual postal codes, they were real earth based postal codes where John had the letters sent.
Now this church/ ekklesia was called out of the world to give its light to the nations all about it, the very same purpose God gave to Natural Israel, this same Lightgiver purpose was transferred to the Ekklesia from Natural Israel during Pentecost, when the Ekklesia was born.
Millennium Church as God’s Holy Nation (with Jerusalem on Earth as its Capital)
At the Second Physical Arrival of Christ to earth, those prematurely murdered for their faith in Christ, will reign in a literal Stone Kingdom in a Millennial Kingdom Palace in Jerusalem as precisely described in Ezekiel 40-42.
“Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”Isaiah 2:3
Jesus will rule the nations with a rod of iron and the nations of earth we will enjoy a 1000 years of peace on earth under the Root of Jesse and his martyr-leaders. The earth nations that do not submit or do not bring tribute, Christ will cause no rain to fall on them.
Despite having a perfect Governor (one far greater than Solomon ruling) with a perfect form of governance in perfect earth conditions – man’s heart will still prove rebellious to this perfect Global Benevolent Dictator.
Bible 2.0 – the Eternal Future God moves in with us and we as sons of God, co-reign with Christ from the New Jerusalem on the New Earth.
The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk in its light. The kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. Its gates will in no way be shut by day (for there will be no night there), and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it so that they may enter. There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.Revelation 21:23-27
Ahh. Home. Finally.
So we see in the Bible 2.0 future, this same theme of God’s chosen earth agent, the Lightgiver role continuing, ever increasing, eternally compounding, till the glory of God covers the earth and everywhere else we do not know of yet, 100%.
Here the Holy City, occupied by the Holy Nation is again in the ultimate and grandest fulfillment as Lightgiver. What is astounding is that there is access control, with big angels guarding the twelve gates.
In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.Isaiah 26:1-2
There is a massive and dazzlingly ornate wall that separates the Holy Nation with the New Earth Nations. Note, a wall is a structure created to separate two distinct groups: in this case the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem from the New Earth Nations outside. This is Heaven people! Shocked?
It is is shocking knowing security walls are going to be necessary in the eternal future. Sin will still happen outside even with the devil locked up and no tree of the knowledge of good and evil!
The nations will be governed and walk in the light of the New Jerusalem. The saints will reign and govern nations and cities forever and ever and ever. Some rule, some are ruled. Phew!
The distinction is brazen. We do not reign the nations of earth now, like we will reign the New Earth Nations then. Its not our time yet. We are in the Donkey Kingdom Jesus inaugurated at the First Coming, the Horse Kingdom will be inaugurated at his Second Coming.
What am I saying? The Holy Nation that Rules the Universe.
God’s eternal purpose is that through Israel, the church, the glorified sons of God, whatever form the Lightgiver Agent of God is appropriate in God’s progressive revelation of His glory: the same role through many different agents over time speak to God’s desire to make known His infinite and manifold wisdom to all creation, through His chosen people.
He does this now through His church to the vast visible and invisible realms He created. This purpose shines through the Bible and in all recorded history but is most clearly seen in the last two chapters of the good book.
Currently the born again Ekklesia have exclusive rights as God’s agent to give light to the surrounding nations. This is what the Kingdom of God is in essence. We are the light of the world and Jesus is our Light. He was, is and is to come the very source of illumination – He is the Divine Incandescence. He was the hope of Israel, the Lord of the Church and future Husband of the Bride.
So, the key then – is the Lightgiver role appropriate to the epoch? Should the church be taking over Babylon now, especially if it is unwilling?
Chalk and Cheese
Now the Holy Nation, the Eternal Zion of the Future has to be separate to the nations of the world. If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! The Church, the Called Out Ones, the Chosen Race cannot operate like the nations around us. They are chalk and cheese. We bear a powerful peace message as faithful Ambassadors of Christ. Our diplomacy to and discipleship of the people of the nations is key to make converts.
We pray for the Kingdom to Come on Earth as it is in Heaven. Come Lord Jesus come! We will point to Your coming, while you tarry, we will faithfully represent our True Home to interested emigrants. And those not interested we shall by all means attempt to make jealous, make thirsty and in all confidence in the end command them to repent and obey the gospel!
We will preach the good news of the Kingdom of God, the kingdom’s soon coming. We confess we can only now foretaste of its tremendous power now (Heb 6:5), but the fulness is coming.
A prototype is on display in the trade show of God. Come and see, ye all. We go and you are shown. We have embassies here in this present darkness, our City of God has not come yet. We point all day long to the Lord of Light that is coming on the clouds.
Star Wars & Star Trek & Kingdom of God
Perhaps a useful contemporary analogy to describe the Kingdom of God is exploring the difference between two well know sci-fi movie traditions -Star Wars and Star Trek.
The Star Trek perspective has the Federation of the Planets as the sitting government, the powers that be, are generally benevolent, good, kind and liberal.
In Star Wars, the ruling government is the decidedly evil Galactic Empire of evil Judas Emperor Palpatine. The good guys are the Rebel Resistance trying to unseat the domination of the Galactic Empire. Basically the protagonists sit on the opposite side of the table of power – the default government in Star Wars is bad, the government in Star Trek is good.
If your subjective view of the Kingdom of God is ‘trekkie’ or more ‘star wars fan’ orientated, you will offer dramatically different responses to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
It is hard for a trekkie to walk with a star wars fan.
But then again God can do impossible things. Its the same story as those that think we are in exile in Babylon or those that think we are Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem. Thankfully God is God and the Gospel of the Kingdom speaks to both scenarios. Are your a Christian Trekkie or Christian Star Wars Fan? Perhaps there is a third way, that is not pro Federation of the Planets, nor pro the Rebel Alliance. Its not a dualistic choice between good and evil – there is the Kingdom of Christ, the Tree of Life, divorced from the conflict, beckoning all to eat of His fruit and take of His life. His kingdom is unseen yet rules both the Star Trek and Star Wars worlds.
The Holy Nation operates equally well among the Greeks, the Romans and the Persians – it is transcultural.
We wait for our King to return and destroy them all. Daniel 2 paints the picture of complete dominion so vividly – doomed to destruction – their destiny is destruction – gospel truth. So much for the glory of the pagan cultures of the pagan nations.
Not a wisdom of this Age
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.1 Cor 2:6
The Gospel of the Kingdom code cannot be deciphered except by the Holy Spirit. Its a message from another age and another dimension. No wonder it cannot be seen unless you are born again! There are keys needed for the locks placed over these mysteries of the Kingdom of God. This kingdom, this Holy Nation is like no nation on earth.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD MANIFESTO
The King of Kings is Coming Again! The Bridegroom is Coming! Let every creature under heaven and in earth know that the Lord Jesus Christ is soon coming to judge the living and the dead!
We, his sons and daughters, proclaim His Father is our Father. As His Ambassadors, we welcome you to Christ’s Embassy, the Church. Come get your passport to life, your access to the New Jerusalem, now. We implore you, as subjects of the Kingdom of God, to accept Christ our King, as your King and Saviour.
The Church is the Foreign Office of the Kingdom of God. Leave the hostile kingdoms of men and become a citizen of the City of God. Leave the Kingdom of Darkness and be joined to the Kingdom of Light. Sell all you have and come and buy this priceless treasure. Obtain your citizenship in the Kingdom of Christ where:
- Righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit are our constitution.
- There is no black, nor white, nor Asian. Christ has broken down all racial divisions. He has created a nation of New Creations, a Chosen New Race that, well, supersedes all other races. Leave Ur, leave Moab, leave South Africaness and become Christian.
- In the Economy of the Kingdom of God, there is only one class in Christ. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.
- In this Kingdom there is neither male nor female because all born again New Creations are offspring of the Godhead and profoundly equal before God.
- In the Kingdom of God there is no high culture or low culture, there is just Kingdom Culture. Kingdom culture transcends all other culture, just as the New Jerusalem’s culture shall give light to all the nations outside of it (Rev 21). The white of righteousness is the colour of the Kingdom. Kingdom people are sensitive to indigenous culture where it does not cross Kingdom Culture – but are not beholden to it. Kingdom culture’s source is spiritual, inward and based on spiritual diversity.
- In the political system of the Kingdom of God there is no nationalism except the nationalism of the Holy Nation, all other patriotism is treason.
- In the Kingdom of God there is no outward based human religion. We do not allow meaningless outward variances of religious ritual to divide us.
- All nations will hate Christians because they are citizens of the New Jerusalem.
This gospel of this Kingdom is being preached to every living thing. It is being built with spiritual stones and its influence is spiritual in essence. It will in the future be built with real stone and in the distant future be built with real precious stones found on earth but built in heaven – yes Made in Heaven (not Made in China or Made in USA – the pride of the nations will be brought low).
It acts like yeast in dough but sometimes it acts like the loud siren of an ambulance or police car. Its working is paradoxical. It is simultaneously effective in heaven and on the earth, in the spirit and in biology. Its primarily a promise for the future but it is also the Good Samaritan now.
The nature of the Kingdom of God is entirely otherworldly. The stone that came from Heaven in Daniel 2 and destroyed all successive human kingdoms by smashing the feet-foundation of the statue was made of an entirely different material to the materials of the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. In the exact same way Christs kingdom is made of a stone not cut with human hands. You will not find one size fits all in the kingdom. Babylonian Babel Bricks Towers and Mormon Legoland’s (thanks Judy Scott) built with mans hands is not the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God can be foretasted now. You can find the travel brochures in our Foreign Offices all over South Africa and the world. Come and see the Lord tastes good. Don’t forget all His benefits. When our Monarch returns the Second Time you will bend your knee with all creation and finally witness all prayers being answered, ‘thy kingdom has come on earth, as it is in heaven.’.