Does the Bible present a future literal millennial kingdom, and, if so, what is its purpose?
In brief, the Bible does present a future literal millennial kingdom through various prophetic passages in the Old Testament, through its presentation by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the apostles in the New Testament and its final descriptive appearance in the book of Revelation (20:1-6). It will be a kingdom encompassing both an earthly and a heavenly facet of Christ’s rule upon the earth. Its purpose will be to complete God’s revealed purpose for man’s creation, which had to do with regality. Man was formed from the substance of the earth to rule the earth (Genesis 1:26; cf. 1:28; 2:7, 8), a purpose which he failed to realize due to his fall in the Garden of Eden. But God, through His comprehensive redemption plan for man, will yet establish the kingdom, which will be the culmination of His revealed design for man and earth, as illustrated in the septenary arrangement of Scripture.
More extensive commentary for these aspects of the future kingdom upon earth may be found in the following portions of two books by Arlen L. Chitwood:
Over the Heavens and the Earth
The LORD has established His throne in heaven and His kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His Word, heeding the voice of His Word.
Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
Bless the LORD, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! (Psalm 103:19-22)
God exercises absolute, sovereign control over a universe that He Himself brought into existence, and the earth is a province within that universe. There is “no power but of God,” and “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1, 2).
God is the One who places rulers in positions of power (the power that emanates from Him); and, should it become necessary (both “should” and “when” in man’s case, for he is presently limited by time), God is also the One who removes rulers from these same positions of power (1 Samuel 15:17, 23; 31:3-5; 2 Samuel 1:3-10; Daniel 4:17, 25, 32-36; 5:18-21; Matthew 20:23; Luke 1:52).
Consequently, there is no such thing as a ruler on this province (the earth) or any other province (any other world) in the universe exercising power within a governmental position apart from God. A ruler holds his position because of a divine act (appointment, placement by God), and he exercises power that emanates from a divine source (from the One who appointed, placed him in the position that he occupies, from God Himself).
In relation to this earth, the ruler himself may or may not acknowledge this (in fact, he may not even acknowledge the existence of God); or he may be a rebellious ruler, seeking to rule apart from God. But the simple fact remains: Any ruler on this earth, or any ruler anywhere in the universe, holds a governmental position and exercises power and authority within that position solely because of divine appointment (to his position) and divine delegation (of power and authority). Rulers exercising power and authority after this fashion actually govern, in numerous gradations of positions, within a chain of command that God has established under Himself.
There are no exceptions.
God rules from a throne that is located “on the farthest sides of the north” (Isaiah 14:13). The direction of the compass locating God’s throne would be in relation to the earth. That is, Scripture states that God sits on a throne north of the earth in what would be either the northernmost point in the universe or a point beyond which no additional physical universe exists (i.e., no more galaxies exist beyond this point).
Thus, all rule, power, and authority emanate from one Person (God) seated on a throne at a particular revealed point in the universe. And God rules the universe from this place through subordinates who occupy various appointed positions and exercise various degrees of delegated power and authority (Psalm 103:19; Isaiah 14:13, 14; cf. Daniel 4:17; 5:18-21; 7:9-14; Romans 13:1, 2).
The Universe as a Whole
Man has no idea of the size of the physical universe, outside our galaxy. His telescopes can only see so far, and beyond that he can only surmise, estimate, and guess. And that would even be true, to an extent, of numerous things within our own galaxy.
Our sun is a medium-size star, and there are an estimated two to four hundred billion other stars (some larger, some smaller) within our galaxy. Then beyond our galaxy it is estimated that billions of other galaxies exist, comprising the physical universe.
It is one hundred thousand light years across our own galaxy (a movement at the speed of 186,000 miles per second for one hundred thousand years), and it is an estimated two to two and one-half million light years to the next nearest galaxy. And beyond that are other galaxies separated by comparable distances. Thus the universe is of a size and design that can only stagger man’s imagination.
Returning to our own solar system as a beginning point, this system is comprised of nine planets revolving around a medium-size star (possibly ten planets according to late astronomical discoveries); and the earth is apparently unique as the only planet within our solar system upon which God saw fit to place individuals within His ordered system of government.
But, when viewing the remainder of the galaxy or the universe as a whole, is our own solar system unique in this respect? That is, considering the matter after one fashion, is our sun the only star anywhere in the universe around which planets revolve? Or, considering the matter after another fashion, if other similar solar systems do exist, is the earth within our solar system the only inhabited planet among existing planets within solar systems throughout the universe?
In line with previous statements, the answer to the questions would have to be, “No.” There is an inhabited universe over which God exercises absolute, sovereign control. Man though, as a creature within that universe, is a different matter. The creation of an individual in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26, 27), to have a part in God’s governmental rule of the universe, is an act peculiar to the earth. In this respect, the earth would be unique insofar as man himself residing on a province and having a part in the government is concerned, but it would not be unique insofar as there being other similar solar systems with worlds upon which individuals (angels) reside within God’s ordered system of government.
Astronomers within the scientific community can today state, with certainty, that there are numerous solar systems similar to our own (other stars [suns] with revolving planets). Prior to the time of the Hubble telescope, though astronomers could not see these planets, through infrared techniques developed in recent times they could see systematic blockages of light in connection with different stars that seemingly could only be attributed to planets revolving around these stars.
Then, once the Hubble telescope was placed in orbit above the earth’s atmosphere, allowing astronomers to look into the heavens and not only see things that they had never been able to see before but also to bring everything into a much clearer focus, any question concerning the existence of other solar systems, similar to our own, was removed. Though revolving planets around other stars still could not be seen, the compilation of additional evidence made available through the use of this telescope removed any possible doubt concerning the existence of numerous other solar systems — possibly billions — in our galaxy alone.
But all of that is really neither here nor there, for Scripture has already told us that such worlds exist. And man’s scientific discoveries never verify Scripture, for Scripture can’t be verified. “Scripture” is the standard by which all else is judged, and there can be no such thing as the standard being verified by that which is being judged by the standard.
Where Scripture and Science touch on the same matters, Scripture will always reveal the accuracy or inaccuracy of man’s scientific discoveries. In the case of the astronomers’ deductions concerning planets revolving around numerous other stars in the galaxy, Scripture reveals that they are correct.
The whole matter of viewing Scripture and Science together is really that simple.
“Scripture” lies within the realm of the Creator, but “Science” lies within the realm of the created. And the creature never asks the Creator, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20). Accordingly, as in creation itself, the beginning point must always be the Scriptures — the God-breathed Word (originating from and inseparably connected with the Creator) — never Science (the created).
A main basis for the teaching concerning inhabited planets within other solar systems in the universe is taken from that which is revealed in the first two chapters of the book of Job. Satan is the messianic angel whom God placed over this earth in the beginning, along with a great host of subordinate ruling angels (Ezekiel 28:14ff; Daniel 10:13; Matthew 25:41); and Satan is seen in the book of Job, on two separate occasions, as he appeared in the Lord’s presence with other “sons of God,” which could only be his equals, for Satan appeared “among them” as one of them (1:6; 2:1).
The appearances of the sons of God in the Lord’s presence on these two recorded occasions apparently constituted two of what could only have been scheduled congresses of messianic angels (angels placed over various worlds within the universe). Such is evident, for Satan, whom God had placed over the earth, appeared in God’s presence at these meetings as one of the “sons of God.” And since Satan was the messianic angel whom God had placed over the province upon which man was later created, it can only be concluded that the other “sons of God” among whom Satan appeared — his equals — were messianic angels whom God had placed over provinces in other parts of the universe. They apparently appeared together in God’s presence at scheduled times to render reports concerning activities on the particular provinces over which they had been placed (congresses of the sons of God).
In both instances in the accounts in Job, attention is directed to Satan and the earth rather than to any of the other messianic angels and other worlds (1:7ff; 2:2ff). In fact, other than the simple mention of their presence at these meetings, nothing is revealed concerning the other messianic angels or the worlds over which they ruled.
And this would be in perfect keeping with the way Scripture is structured, for, in the preceding respect, God’s revelation to man has to do with His government of the earth, not with His government of other parts of the universe. The latter is seemingly introduced in Scripture (in a very limited sense) so man can place things concerning the former in their proper perspective.
That is, man understanding the overall scope of God’s government of the universe (beginning in the past and extending into the present) could better understand God’s government of a small part of the universe, i.e., His government of the earth — past, present, and future. Thus, for this apparent reason — along with the fact that man, beyond the millennium, will apparently have a part in God’s government of the universe — God has seen fit to reveal certain things concerning the overall structure of the government within His universal kingdom.
(God actually opens His revelation to man after this fashion, calling attention to the beginning of His universal kingdom and then centering His revelation on one province in that kingdom. Scripture opens with the statement, “In the beginning God created the heaven [lit., ‘the heavens’] and the earth” [Genesis 1:1].
First, God makes mention of the entire universe out in the heavens, separate from the earth; but then “the earth” is immediately singled out for special consideration. And continuing from this point, Scripture, completely apart from any additional revelation concerning God’s activity in the previously mentioned “heavens,” begins to deal specifically with the earth — “And the earth was without form and void… [lit., ‘But the earth became without form and void…’]” [Genesis 1:2a].
For further information regarding the preceding understanding of Genesis 1:2a, refer to the author’s books, The Study of Scripture, chapter 2, or Seven, Ten Generations, the Foreword.
The rest of the universe had been mentioned [1:1a], but God, in His revelation to man, concerns Himself centrally with the earth [and the heavens in the proximity of and associated with the earth], not with the rest of the universe [1:1b ff]. And the apparent reason that God’s activity in relation to other parts of the universe is even mentioned in Scripture is as previously stated: Man, viewing God’s activity in relation to the entire universe, could better understand and place within its proper perspective God’s activity relative to a small part of that universe, i.e., His activity relative to the earth, Satan and his angels, man, etc.)
The Earth Itself
Note that Satan’s fall resulted from his seeking a position of power above the other messianic angels, apart from divine appointment. Actually, such an appointment would have been out of the question, for Satan sought the very position that God Himself occupied.
In so doing, Satan said:
I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [the other messianic angels]: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation [the meeting place where the kings of the kingdom (the messianic angels) met in God’s presence], in the sides of the north [lit., in the uttermost parts of the north]: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds [lit., the Cloud, apparently a reference to deity]; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13, 14)
Thus, Satan became dissatisfied with the governmental position that he occupied (a ruler over only one province in the kingdom, having equals who ruled other provinces in the kingdom). He sought to elevate his throne above all the other messianic angels and occupy the very place that God Himself occupied. He, in this respect, sought to become the supreme ruler of the entire universe.
As a consequence, God not only rejected him as the appointed ruler over the earth but God reduced the province over which he ruled to a ruin. This is the point in Scripture where “the earth was [‘became’] without form and void; and darkness was [became] upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2a).
However, Satan continued to rule — though over a ruined province in God’s overall kingdom — for a principle of biblical government necessitates that an incumbent ruler hold his appointed position until he is actually replaced by another appointed ruler. This is the reason Satan is seen in Scripture among the other messianic angels in the book of Job, millennia following his fall. He still occupied the throne as the earth’s appointed ruler, for the time when his successor would appear on the scene and take the scepter awaited a future day.
And today, millennia removed from Job’s day, Satan still occupies the same position, for the time when he is to be put down and another Person ascend the throne still awaits a future day. Consequently, should there be congresses of the sons of God held during the present time (which there undoubtedly are), Satan would have to attend in the same capacity that he has held since time immemorial — as the earth’s appointed ruler, one of the “sons of God,” one of the messianic angels. Should he be asked questions at any of the present congresses, as at the two meetings revealed in Job; the questions would, of necessity, have to involve one or more of the Lord’s servants on earth today.
A knowledge of this fact will provide a probable reason for some Christians (past and present) having undergone (or presently be undergoing) untold sufferings in their lives. Such Christians, as Job, may have come under Satan’s accusation and have been “counted worthy” to undergo various trials, testing, or sufferings for Christ’s name (cf. Acts 5:40-42; Romans 8:18; Revelation 12:10, 11).
And the inverse of the preceding is equally true. Some Christians seemingly never undergo trials, testing, or sufferings; and the reason is evident. Because of unfaithfulness in their lives they simply find themselves in a category wherein they are not “counted worthy” to suffer for Christ’s name (2 Timothy 3:11-15).
That would be to say, within the congresses of the messianic angels, God would have no reason to call such individuals to Satan’s attention (as He did Job); nor would Satan have any cause to bring accusations before God concerning them (as in Job’s case). Consequently, they live their lives apart from the trials, testing, and sufferings of this nature, experienced by certain other Christians.
Man though has turned this whole thing around and associates “suffering” with God’s disfavor and “blessing” with God’s favor. But God views the matter in a completely opposite framework (Isaiah 55:8, 9). The normal Christian life involves trials, testing, and sufferings. Anything else during the present day and time would, in reality, be abnormal and out of place.
(The preceding is not to suggest that all trials, testing, and sufferings experienced by Christians during the present time emanate from issues at congresses of the sons of God. It does though suggest that some, possibly more than we realize, may very well have an origin of this nature.)
But the “sufferings,” though they must come first, don’t last forever. At some later point in time “blessings” must always follow (cf. Job 2:7ff; 42:10-17). This is a Scriptural principle that cannot be broken.
The same thing is seen in the future glory of Christ following His past sufferings. It was necessary that Christ first suffer. Only then could He “enter into His glory” (Luke 24:25-27). And the same principle applies to Christians undergoing present sufferings and one day having a part in Christ’s glory (Romans 8:17, 18; 1 Peter 4:12, 13).
The latter (the glory) can, under no circumstances, be realized apart from the former (the sufferings). This is the reason Scripture states,
If we suffer [“patiently endure,” which involves trials, testing, sufferings (James 1:2-4)], we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us. (2 Timothy 2:12)
Denying in the latter part of 2 Timothy 2:12 is not denying a person per se (i.e., our denying Christ or Christ denying us). The word “deny” must be understood contextually, and understanding the word in the sense of “disallow” or “not allow” would really better convey the thought that the context demands.
Contextually, the first use of the word “deny” has to do with Christians not patiently enduring with Christ during the present time (note the first part of the verse). They do not allow the Lord (they deny the Lord in this respect), through the ministry of the Spirit, to perform a work in their lives. That is, such Christians deny Christ the central place that He desires to occupy in their lives; and, resultantly, they do not allow the Holy Spirit to progressively work the change (metamorphosis) in their lives, they live apart from patiently enduring with Christ, do not suffer with Him, etc.
Then the second use of the word “deny” has to do with Christians who pattern their lives after the preceding fashion not being allowed to reign with Christ (again note the first part of the verse). Such Christians will not have allowed the Lord (they will have denied the Lord in this respect), through the ministry of the Spirit, to perform a work in their lives during the present time. There will have been no patient endurance involving trials, testing, sufferings; consequently, there can be no future reign.
“Suffering” must always precede “glory.” The latter cannot be realized apart from the former, and the former guarantees the latter (1 Peter 4:12-19; cf. Matthew 5:11, 12).
1. The First Man; the First Adam
Though Satan’s fall and disqualification to rule resulted in a portion of God’s kingdom being reduced to a ruin, God had plans for the earth as a province within His kingdom that would far exceed anything seen during Satan’s rule. This province would be the place where an individual created in the image and likeness of God would one day rule. Further, and foremost as the rulership relates to man, this province would be the place where God’s Son (as the second Man, the last Adam, the Head of a new order of Sons) would likewise one day rule. And then, ultimately, this province (actually, the new earth) would be the place where God Himself, along with His Son and man (redeemed through His Son’s finished work at Calvary), would rule the universe.
To realize all of this though, the earth must first be restored and a new ruler brought forth. And that’s what the opening two chapters of Genesis are about — the restoration of the earth (1:2b-25), the creation of man as the earth’s new ruler (1:26-28; 2:7), along with the removal of the woman from the man to reign as consort queen with him (2:21-25).
Thus, the person eventually brought on the scene to take the scepter was not of the angelic creation. Rather, this individual constituted an entirely new creation in the universe. He was created uniquely different — in the image and likeness of God; and not only was he created uniquely different but he was also created for a revealed purpose, a purpose that had to do with the government of the earth. Man was created to replace the incumbent ruler, to take the scepter that Satan held — “let them have dominion [i.e., ‘let them rule,’ which, of necessity, would have had to include the man and the woman together, for the woman was part of the man and completed the man]” (Genesis 1:26-28).
(In line with the previous, there was both a near and a far purpose for man’s creation. The near purpose had to do with rulership over the earth [which will be realized during the Messianic Era], and the far purpose had to do with rulership within other parts of the universe [which will be realized following the Messianic Era].)
The ruined earth over which Satan ruled following his fall was restored with a view to man taking the scepter (Genesis 1:2b ff). However, Satan, knowing what God was in the process of doing through the restoration of the earth and man’s subsequent creation, immediately sought to bring about man’s disqualification. And this is exactly what he did through deceiving Eve, which resulted in Adam having no choice but to also eat of the same forbidden fruit Eve had been deceived into eating.
Adam fell as the federal head of God’s new creation, man; and this not only resulted in man’s disqualification (placing him in a position wherein he could not assume the scepter) but it also resulted once again, as before, in a ruined kingdom (the earth brought under a curse but not ruined to the extent that it was uninhabitable for man).
However, unlike events following Satan’s fall, redemption entered the picture when man fell. God not only provided immediate redemption for Adam and Eve following their fall but He also foretold the ultimate victory (over the incumbent ruler) of mankind’s coming Redeemer (Genesis 3:15, 21).
Thus, redemption was to be provided for man, with a view to his ultimately realizing the purpose for his creation. Man was to be redeemed so he could, as God intended, one day take the scepter and rule within God’s governmental structure of the universe (first over the earth, then throughout the universe itself).
2. The Second Man; the Last Adam
Galatians 4:4-7 perhaps outlines the entirety of the matter about as well as any similar passage in Scripture. First, there is Christ’s first coming in order to redeem man (vv. 4, 5); and the stated purpose for redemption is then said to be adoption and heirship, which have to do with events surrounding Christ’s second coming (vv. 5-7). This, of course, is the heirship previously mentioned in Galatians 3:29:
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (cf. Genesis 22:17, 18)
Christ came as the second Man, the last Adam, for He must not only redeem that which the first man, the first Adam lost in the fall but He must also occupy the headship that Adam possessed. Only through so doing could God one day give His Son “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom,” something that the Son is presently inviting redeemed man to share with Him in the position of co-heir in that coming day when He receives the kingdom from the Father (Daniel 7:13, 14; Revelation 11:15; cf. Romans 8:16-18; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21).
The first man, the first Adam had a bride taken from his body who was to reign as consort queen with him. And so must it be with the second Man, the last Adam. The matter has been set within God’s activities surrounding the man whom He brought forth in Genesis, and it cannot change within His activities surrounding the Man whom He is about to “again” bring into the inhabited world (Hebrews 1:6, 9; 3:14; cf. Ephesians 5:30-32).
A husband-wife relationship of this nature is seen in Scripture at three different points within God’s overall revelation to man — past, present, and future. It is seen in the past in the relationship that existed between Adam and Eve, and it is seen in the future in the relationship that will exist between Christ and His bride. Then it is seen between these times, during the present, in the relationship that exists between a man and woman within the bonds of marriage.
A man leaves his father and mother, is joined to his wife, and they become “one flesh,” as in the beginning. The man and woman, in this position, as “one flesh,” then become “heirs together of the grace of life.” And the whole matter is said to be a great mystery surrounding “Christ and the Church,” pointing to a relationship that will exist yet future (Genesis 2:21-24; Ephesians 5:25-32; 1 Peter 3:7).
(Note: The preceding is why husbands are “to love their wives as their own bodies” [Ephesians 5:28, 29]. The woman originated from the body of the man.)
The man and woman in Genesis were to hold the scepter together; they were to rule and reign as “one flesh.” The Man and woman yet future (Christ and His bride) are also to hold the scepter together; they are to rule and reign as “one flesh.” And during the present time there is a sense, on a spiritual plane, in which the man and woman are to “reign in life” (holding a scepter) as “one flesh” through being “heirs together of the grace of life” (cf. Romans 5:17-21; 1 Peter 3:7).
The latter would, of necessity, have to be the case, for that is the way in which God dealt with matters in the past, establishing an unchangeable pattern that continues into the future (at which time the relationship will be realized in its fullness). And a husband-wife relationship of this nature during the present time could only be looked upon as the highest possible form of the spiritual life within that relationship.
It is a God-designed apex upon which the marriage relationship should exist and function. This is something that Adam and Eve lost in the fall, this is something that a man and woman can possess on a spiritual plane today, and this is something that will be restored (in its fullness) within the relationship Christ and His bride will possess yet future.
God has set aside an entire dispensation, lasting two millennia, during which He is calling out a bride for His Son. This is the time in which we presently live (typified by events in Genesis 24); and God has set aside this rather long period of time, for this one centrally revealed purpose. In order to bring matters to pass within the person of the second Man, the last Adam, which matters were begun in the person of the first man, the first Adam, a bride must be acquired for the Son.
Salvation made available to man through Christ’s finished work at Calvary is for a purpose, and that purpose is to be realized within the framework of man having a part in God’s governmental rule of the universe. Man’s destiny is to rule and reign, but he must first be redeemed. And during the present dispensation — with the thought in mind of redemption for a purpose, having to do with rulership — God has directed His activities toward the acquisition of a bride to rule as co-heir with His Son. Thus, salvation during the present dispensation is with a view to ascending the throne with God’s Son as His bride, which will be realized during the coming Messianic Era.
(For a full discussion of the work of the Spirit during the present dispensation, in the preceding respect, refer to the author’s book, Search for the Bride.)
Today we are living very near the end of the dispensation, very near that time when the Church (Christ’s body) will be removed from the earth, the bride will be seen removed from the body (following issues and determinations surrounding the judgment seat), and the bride will be presented back to Christ (with a view to the Messianic Era). The two will be “one flesh,” as in the Genesis account; and the two, as “one flesh,” will take the scepter and exercise the “dominion” that the first man, the first Adam lost in the fall. Seated on the Son’s throne, holding the scepter, Christ and His bride will, together, rule the earth for 1,000 years (cf. Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21).
Times of Restitution of All Things
And that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,
whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:20, 21)
The Messianic Era is referred to as “the times of restitution [‘restoration’] of all things.” And this restoration has to do not only with conditions that will exist during the Messianic Era but also with the purpose for this era.
A restoration of all things will exist during the Messianic Era in the sense that the curse will be lifted and a righteous Provincial Governor will once again administer affairs on the earth, but a restoration itself will also be effected through events occurring during the Messianic Era. This has to do with the purpose for this era.
Christ is to “put down all rule and all authority and power,” and He (with His bride) is to reign “until He has put all enemies under His feet.” And once this has been done — which will take 1,000 years — the kingdom is to be “delivered up” to the Father, “that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
Preparation is presently being made for that coming era — i.e., the bride is presently being acquired — and preparation will be made during that coming era, by Christ and His bride, for the eternal ages that follow.
The rule by Christ and His bride will be confined to the earth alone during the Messianic Era (Psalm 2:6-9; Revelation 2:26, 27); but during the eternal ages that follow, man’s rule, first announced in Genesis, will extend out into the universe itself (Revelation 22:1-5).
(In relation to Satan’s aspirations to exalt his throne, resulting in his fall and disqualification to continue holding the scepter, note that there is a degree of irony in man one day exercising regal power and authority beyond this earth, out in the universe. This is the realm into which Satan sought to move; and man, brought on the scene to replace Satan, will one day be allowed to move out into this realm.)
In the Kingdom of Men
This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men. (Daniel 4:17)
The book of Daniel, in its overall scope, concerns itself with one major subject — the complete history of the kingdom of this world, with its center located in Babylon. “The times of the Gentiles” began during Daniel’s day, with Gentile world power centered in Babylon; and it will end in the immediate future, with Gentile world power once again centered in Babylon. In this respect, Babylon is the only center that Scripture recognizes for Gentile world power throughout “the times of the Gentiles.”
Within this framework, Gentile world power is looked upon after a dual fashion in Scripture. It is spoken of as emanating from many kingdoms (“. . . all the kingdoms of the world” [Matthew 4:8]), and it is also spoken of as emanating from one kingdom (“The kingdom of the world” [Revelation 11:15, ASV]). The former is the manner in which Scripture views Gentile world power apart from Babylon, and the latter is the manner in which Scripture views Gentile world power in association with Babylon.
At the time of the events in Matthew 4:8 (Satan showing Christ “all the kingdoms of the world”), Gentile government was not centered in Babylon (as it was several hundred years prior to that time), for Babylon, as a power among the nations, had ceased to exist. And, accordingly, Scripture referred to the nations after an individual fashion — apart from a center — though Rome was the central power among the nations at that time. But, at the time of the fulfillment of Revelation 11:15 (when “The kingdom of the world” becomes “the kingdom of our Lord, and his Christ,” ASV), Gentile world power will once again be centered in Babylon.
Gentile world power, in that future day, will be under one man — Antichrist. He will rule the world through a ten-kingdom confederacy (viewed as one world kingdom under one man), with its governmental center once again located in Babylon.
“The times of the Gentiles” began in Babylon, and this period will also end in Babylon — the same Babylon where it began. That’s what the book of Daniel is about. This book covers the complete history of that depicted by the image in chapter two, or that depicted by the four great beasts in chapter seven. It covers that time that begins with Nebuchadnezzar and ends approximately 2,600 years later with Antichrist (though the center of Gentile world power does not exist in Babylon throughout this period, only for several hundred years at the beginning and immediately prior to the end).
And the time when the prophecies relating to the end-time form of this Gentile world kingdom will be fulfilled is near at hand. We are living very near the end of man’s allotted 6,000 years, Man’s Day; and it is certainly no mere coincidence that, in the Middle East, during particularly about the past fifteen years, certain events have occurred (and continue to occur) that bring (and continue to bring) things in perfect alignment with the way the prophets said that they would exist in the end time.
Recent events in the Middle East have caused the attention of the world to become focused on the Persian Gulf area in general and upon Iraq in particular. And, in the light of biblical prophecy, the reason is easy to understand. A rebuilt city of Babylon on the Euphrates in the country of Iraq is destined to shortly become, once again, the center of Gentile world power. The unfulfilled biblical prophecies relating to this city are about to be fulfilled; and they will be fulfilled, in the immediate future, over a very short period of time (the seven years of Daniel’s unfulfilled Seventieth Week [Daniel 9:26, 27]).
(Note that the kingdom of Babylon included more than just a city. It was a city-state. Sometimes the city alone was referred to by the name “Babylon,” and other times the country itself was referred to by this name.
And this is apparently the manner in which conditions will exist in the final form of the Babylonian kingdom. A literal city will exist, but there will apparently also be a city-state comprising the whole of the kingdom, existing within the confines of the original city-state.)
With these things in mind, the present unfolding of the entire Middle East scenario, in one sense, is really quite easy to understand. These events are as distant hoof-beats (Revelation 6:1ff), growing louder with each passing day, which portend the soon fulfillment of the numerous unfulfilled prophecies in Daniel.
Though biblical prophecy is not presently being fulfilled through different events transpiring in the Middle East, the stage is rapidly being set for its fulfillment. Biblical prophecy relating to the Middle East in general and Babylon in particular will begin to be fulfilled only when the clock begins marking time in Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy once again; and during (and immediately following) this final seven years of Man’s Day, innumerable prophecies — throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation — will be rapidly fulfilled.
This is where attention is focused in the book of Daniel; and since this book has to do with the beginning and the end of Gentile world power during Man’s Day, God has seen fit to reveal certain behind-the-scenes things relative to this power. God has seen fit to reveal certain things concerning how He sovereignly governs the earth as a province in His kingdom, though a rebel provincial ruler (Satan) holds the scepter, and fallen man exercises power under this ruler.
Present Government of the Earth
The manner in which the present government of the earth has been established is really quite simple in its overall scope, but within that scope specific matters become quite complex. In its simplicity, God rules over all, Satan (with his angels) rules under God, and man rules under Satan (and his angels). The matter then becomes quite complex within the framework of God’s sovereign control of matters through both a rebel provincial ruler and fallen man.
With one exception, the manner in which the government of the earth is presently carried out has not changed since the beginning. In the beginning, following the creation of the heavens and the earth, God placed Satan (in his unfallen state) in the position of provincial ruler over the earth, along with a great host of angels occupying various positions of power and authority under him (Genesis 1:1; Ezekiel 28:14, 15; cf. Matthew 25:41; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:4). But, at a point in time following Satan’s fall and disqualification (which would be following the accompanying ruin and subsequent restoration of the earth, recorded in Genesis 1:2-25), another provincial ruler was brought on the scene to replace the incumbent ruler. But the earth’s second provincial ruler was not of the angelic creation. Rather, an individual created in the image and likeness of God was brought on the scene to take the reins of government (Genesis 1:26-28).
This is the one exception to the past and present form of the government of the earth. In the beginning (Genesis 1:1; Ezekiel 28:14, 15), man did not fit into the equation. But for the past 6,000 years, matters have been different (Genesis 1:26ff). Though Satan and his angels continue to rule, man now has a part in the government, but not in the manner for which he was created. Man was created to take the reins of government held by Satan; but, because of his fall, man presently rules on the earth, among his own kind, under the incumbent ruler, i.e., under Satan, with his angels.
That is the manner in which Scripture presents the present structure of the earth’s government — a government in disarray, both within the ranks of the first and second provincial rulers.
The first provincial ruler, Satan, is not only presently holding the scepter in a rebellious fashion, but his kingdom can only be in disarray. Two thirds of the original contingent of angels, which God appointed in the beginning to rule with Satan (Revelation 11:4), refused to go along with him in his vain efforts to exalt his throne. Thus, the remaining one-third can only fall far short of the number of angels that God had originally decreed necessary to properly rule the earth.
Man was created to rule in the stead of Satan and his angels. But man, because of his fall, finds himself occupying a position alien to that for which he was created. He can now only rule under the one he was created to replace.
Thus, certain things within the present structure of the earth’s government are completely out of place, and they will remain out of place until the end of the present age. At that time, Satan and his angels will be put down, Christ and His co-heirs will take the kingdom, and a God-ordained number of rulers will once again occupy positions of power and authority.
1. Heavenly Princes, Earthly Princes
The manner in which the earth is presently governed is clearly set forth in Daniel chapters four and ten. But for purposes of this part of the study, first note that which is revealed in Daniel chapter ten.
In this chapter, Daniel had been “mourning” (to walk with the head down, to lament) for three full weeks. At the end of this time, Daniel saw a vision (vv. 5-7); and this was followed by the appearance of a heavenly messenger to make known the things in the vision (vv. 10ff), which corresponded to the things within Daniel’s thoughts. The vision had to do with the things that would befall Daniel’s “people in the latter days” (v. 14), which concerned mainly the future day of Antichrist and the ultimate deliverance of the Jewish people (chapters 11, 12).
(By way of passing, note that Daniel 10:14 makes it very clear that events in chapter 11 [also chapter 12] have to do with “the latter days,” not with events surrounding Antiochus Epiphanes, over 2,200 years ago as many attempt to teach. Rather, events in this chapter [beyond v. 4] have to do with the future day of Antichrist and the deliverance of the Jewish people at the time Antichrist is put down [11:45-12:3]. In this respect, Daniel 11:2-4 corresponds to events prophesied in Daniel 8:3-8, and events in Daniel 11:5ff correspond to events in Daniel 8:9ff.)
However, for purposes of the subject at hand — the government of the earth — another matter other than this fourth and final vision shown to Daniel needs to be considered. The heavenly messenger sent to Daniel, who made known things occurring during his three weeks of mourning (corresponding to things in the vision), had been dispatched at the very beginning of his time of mourning, but detained at a point in-route. He had been detained in the heavens for twenty-one days by “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” (10:13).
This prince was so powerful that Michael, “one of the chief princes,” had to be dispatched from that part of the heavens where God dwells in order to effect the deliverance of this messenger. And during this time the heavenly messenger who had originally been sent to Daniel remained in the heavens with “the kings of Persia” (v. 13).
Comparing this verse with verse twenty, where “the prince of Persia” is again mentioned, along with “the prince of Greece,” an individual can arrive at only one conclusion. Earthly rulers in the human realm have counterparts within Satan’s kingdom in the heavenly realm — powerful angels ruling within a chain of command under Satan. And since “the heavens do rule” (Daniel 4:26) — beginning with the most High God, with Satan still holding the earth’s scepter, under God — it can only be further concluded that any rule by man would have to be under Satan and his angels (who rule from the heavens) within this chain of command. And man ruling after this fashion, because of his disqualification to assume the scepter in Eden, continues to hold a position during the present time described as “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:4-6; Hebrews 2:7, 8 [note that these verses are set within a context having to do with governmental rule]).
(But, as will be shown, this rule from the heavens [a rule from Satan’s domain in the heavens through men upon the earth] has to do with the Gentile nations alone, not with Israel.)
Satan is the provincial ruler, the ruler over all the Gentile nations. Then under Satan, within his heavenly kingdom, there are lesser (but powerful) rulers governing various individual nations. Then under these angelic rulers, still within the heavenly kingdom, there is a further breakdown of powers and authorities (note “the kings of Persia,” which could only be a division of rulers under “the prince of Persia”). Then “the prince of Greece” is mentioned (in a prophetic frame of reference) because he ruled, from the heavens, over the earthly kingdom that would eventually succeed the kingdom of Babylon under the Medes and Persians.
As seen in Daniel chapter ten, among the Gentile nations on earth, all existing government is structured after a parallel fashion to an existing government in the heavens. There is a breakdown of powers under the earthly rulers that corresponds to a breakdown of powers under the heavenly rulers. And, accordingly, there is no such thing as Gentile rulers occupying positions of power and authority during the present time apart from occupying these positions directly under a breakdown of powers within the kingdom of Satan.
Thus, (1) God sovereignly rules over all, (2) Satan rules under God, (3) angels within the kingdom of Satan rule under him (occupying various positions of power and authority), and (4) man then rules under these angels (holding various counterpart/parallel positions on earth to those held by angels ruling under Satan in the heavens). And since both fallen angels and fallen men are involved in the government of the earth, numerous things would be done outside the will of God; but nothing would be done outside God’s sovereign control of matters.
Exactly to what extent earthly rulers are influenced and moved to act on the basis of decrees and determinations rendered by their counterparts in the heavens could only be open to speculation. There are fallen creatures ruling in the ranks of both, and Satan’s kingdom itself is presently in disarray (note again that two-thirds of the angels formerly ruling under Satan refused to have a part in his rebellion [Revelation 12:4]). Suffice it to say though that possibly far more acts by world leaders than we may realize conceivably have their origin in prior decrees and determinations rendered by powerful fallen angels in Satan’s kingdom in the heavens.
But, there is one exception to the preceding type rulership among men on earth and angels in Satan’s kingdom. The nation of Israel is not to be “reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9; cf. Deuteronomy 7:6). Scripture reveals that Michael is the “prince” among heavenly angelic beings over Israel (Daniel 10:21), and Michael is not part of Satan’s present kingdom.
Thus, there is the major governmental distinction between Israel and the Gentile nations which would have allowed God to place Israel at the head of the nations within a theocracy during Old Testament days, out from under Satan’s governmental control. Israel could have ruled the nations, within a theocracy, apart from Satan’s kingdom (Exodus 19:5, 6). But no Gentile nation has ever occupied or ever will occupy a governmental position of the nature occupied and held by Israel.
(Refer to the author’s book, God’s Firstborn Sons, chapter 2, for more information along the preceding lines.)
2. Watchers and Holy Ones
Daniel chapter four, along with showing God’s sovereign control over the entire matter, reveals another behind-the-scenes facet of the earth’s government. This chapter deals with “watchers” and “holy ones” who are operative within God’s government of the earth (vv. 17, 23-26, 32).
Nebuchadnezzar was the first king of Babylon within the framework of that period covered by the book of Daniel — “the times of the Gentiles,” beginning with that period depicted by the head of gold on the image in chapter two and ending with that period depicted by the feet part of iron and part of clay on the same image (vv. 37-45). God had given Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom and had established him as the ruler. And along with the kingdom and position of power; God had given him strength, glory, majesty, and honor (cf. 2:37, 38; 4:17, 25, 32; 5:18).
Nebuchadnezzar though looked upon the matter after a different fashion. Nebuchadnezzar looked at his kingdom, his position, and all that he possessed, and said,
Is not this great Babylon that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty? (Daniel 4:30)
And because Nebuchadnezzar had failed to recognize that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will” (vv. 17, 25, 32), all that he possessed was taken from him. He was suddenly stripped of his power, strength, glory, majesty, and honor; and he was driven into the field to eat grass as the oxen for seven years. And he was forced to remain in this position until he recognized the truth about the origin of all that he possessed as king of Babylon (4:32ff).
The matter of Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude and his removal from power is where the “watchers” and “holy ones” enter into the picture. They are revealed as the ones who acted on the Lord’s behalf through watching affairs within the kingdom, issuing decrees, demanding that certain action be taken, and then themselves carrying out that action. And that which they did, acting after this fashion under what could only have been fixed laws previously established by God, was looked upon as having been done by the Lord Himself (cf. 4:17, 23-32; 5:18-20).
Within this same light, since the watchers and holy ones were the individuals who actually removed Nebuchadnezzar from power and stripped him of all that he possessed, it would logically appear correct to view the watchers and holy ones as having also previously acted on the Lord’s behalf after this same fashion in establishing Nebuchadnezzar in his position of power, at the beginning. And, in this same respect, they were apparently also the ones who reestablished Nebuchadnezzar in the kingdom after he had spent seven years in the fields, removed from the kingdom.
The Lord uses angels after this and related fashions in numerous facets of everything which He does. Note for example that the law was given through “the disposition of angels [‘the direction of angels’ — God sovereignly acting through angels],” though the Lord Himself was present (Exodus 19:3; 24:16-18; Acts 7:38, 53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2). Then note how angels will be very instrumental in bringing matters to pass during the coming seven-year Tribulation, as revealed in the book of Revelation (cf. 7:1; 8:2; 10:1; 14:6; 15:1; 16:1; 17:1; 18:1; 19:14). And, during the present time, angels are very instrumental in the Holy Spirit’s mission to acquire a bride for God’s Son, though the Holy Spirit Himself is present (cf. Hebrews 1:13, 14; Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14).
Events surrounding the destruction of the cities of the plain during Abraham’s day provide an example of activity within the angelic world similar to that seen in Daniel chapter four. In this case a report had been presented to the Lord concerning activity in the cities of the plain; and the Lord, in the company of two angels, went down to see for Himself whether or not they had done “altogether according to the cry of it.” But even going down to see for Himself (though, in His omniscience, God already knew everything about that which He had come down to see), the two accompanying angels were the ones who actually went on down into Sodom to see and act on the Lord’s behalf. The Lord remained with Abraham in the high country, removed from the cities in the plain (Genesis 18:20-22; 19:1ff).
The two angels, acting on the Lord’s behalf after this fashion (acting under fixed laws, previously established by God), conducted matters after such a manner that the Lord Himself was looked upon as the One doing these things. For example, the two angels brought about the destruction of the cities of the plain, but the Lord Himself was said to be the One who destroyed these cities (Genesis 19:13, 24).
And that’s the fashion after which the present government of the earth has been established and is being carried out. God is sovereign, and He so rules. Nothing escapes His attention; nor is anything done apart from His sovereign control of matters. He is the One who establishes and removes rulers, along with bestowing upon these rulers all that they possess; and He carries out all things within His kingdom through angels who hold various assigned positions and act on His behalf.
(Also note man acting in a similar capacity [1 Samuel 15:1, 17], though angels undoubtedly had a prior part in the matter.)
Satan and his angels are still in power (acting on the Lord’s behalf, though in a rebel capacity) and will remain in this position until the end of the Tribulation. And man throughout the Gentile nations, occupying positions of power and authority today, must, of necessity, occupy these positions directly under Satan and his angels.
There is no alternate form under which any present government among the Gentiles nations can find itself established today.
3. Earthly Rulers
All rulers on earth today are like Nebuchadnezzar in the sense that they have received everything that they possess from the Lord (their positions of power, glory, honor, etc.). The Lord is the One who, through the direction of angels, placed them in their respective positions of power and bestowed upon them all that they possess. And, in this capacity, they are as Cyrus, King of Persia during Daniel’s day, or Saul, King of Israel during David’s day — “the Lord’s anointed” (cf. 1 Samuel 15:17; Isaiah 45:1).
And within a Scriptural framework, it is very wrong to do that which is being done on a massive scale today — bring accusations against the Lord’s anointed. Such accusations can only reflect, after a negative fashion, upon the Lord Himself, the One previously placing these individuals in their respective positions.
Note that those under Moses who rebelled against his divinely appointed leadership were, in reality, rebelling against the One who appointed him. They were rebelling against God Himself (cf. Numbers 14:2, 9).
This is why David had such respect for the Lord’s anointed, Saul, even though Saul was a rebel king (typifying Satan within the overall framework of the type). Saul had been placed in his position by God, and this had to be recognized and dealt with accordingly (1 Samuel 15:1, 17). David refused to stretch forth his hand against Saul during the time he was in exile (1 Samuel 24:6). Then he later had one of his men slay the Amalekite who had previously slain Saul; and this was for a reason that went far beyond God’s command to slay Amalek and all that he had (cf. Deuteronomy 25:17-19; 1 Samuel 15:3). This particular Amalekite had “slain the Lord’s anointed” (cf. 1 Samuel 26:9-11; 31:3-6; 2 Samuel 1:14-16).
Even Michael, when contending with Satan about the body of Moses, wouldn’t bring “a railing accusation” against him for the simple reason that Satan was (and remains today) the Lord’s anointed. Michael simply said, “The Lord rebuke you” (cf. Ezekiel 28:14; Jude 9).
There was a case during David’s day where a man cursed the Lord’s anointed and cast stones at him. And the question was later asked, “Shall not Shimei [the guilty party] be put to death for this…?” (2 Samuel 16:5-7; 19:21). Though Shimei received mercy at the hands of David (19:22, 23), his previous actions had been such that the death penalty was brought into consideration.
4. Christians and Politics
All of the preceding, for Christians, insofar as earthly rulers are concerned, should really be neither here nor there. Christians really should not find themselves involved in the politics of this present world system after any fashion, for Scripture clearly reveals that their political involvement with the government of the earth lies in an entirely different realm.
For our citizenship is in heaven [lit., presently exists in (the) heavens]; from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
The word, “citizenship,” is a translation of the Greek word, politeuma, and is a form of the Greek word from which we derive our English word “politics” (from politikos). Accordingly, the thought within “citizenship” as a translation of politeuma would have to do with “politics.” That stated in the Greek text of this verse, in this respect, could perhaps best be conveyed in English by translating, “For our political sphere of activity presently exists in the heavens . . . .”
This heavenly political sphere of activity during the present time would center itself on the heavenly warfare (Ephesians 6:10ff), with a view to Christ’s return and the establishment of His kingdom. Satan and his angels still occupy their appointed positions in the heavens. Thus, Christians cannot rule from a heavenly sphere today.
The objective though is to overcome in the present warfare in view of one day being accorded a position in the kingdom of the heavens after Christ takes the kingdom and Satan and his angels have been put down. In this respect, Christ is to replace Satan, and Christians are to replace the incumbent rulers presently holding positions of power under Satan (cf. 2 Samuel 1:10; 2:4; 5:3; Daniel 7:13, 14; Matthew 20:23; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21; 11:15; 19:11ff).
(Refer to the appendix for additional information concerning Christ replacing Satan and Christians replacing angels ruling under Satan in the coming kingdom.)
With these things in mind, it’s a simple matter to understand how a Christian would be completely out of place involving himself in the political activities of this present world system. His present political sphere of activity is in an entirely different realm — both as to time and place. His outlook, politically, is to be heavenly and future, not earthly and present. It is to encompass the same time and place that the goal of the race in which he is presently involved lies. And while running this race he is not to look around; rather he is to keep his eyes fixed on the goal and not be distracted by the things of this present world system (Hebrews 12:1, 2).
Should a Christian though choose to involve himself within the present system, he would only be involving himself in a system lying under the governing control of the god of this age. And should he aspire to hold a political office in the present system, he would only be seeking to hold a position of power under a fallen angel in the kingdom of Satan.
It would be impossible for a Christian to involve himself in the present world system and, at the same time, keep his eyes fixed on the goal out ahead. These two realms of involvement are completely incongruous; they are totally at odds with one another.
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier.
And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:4, 5)
In short, this is not the day in which Christians are to have a part in the governmental affairs of the earth. That day for them, as it does for Christ, lies in the future (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1-8).
Future Government of the Earth
The future government of the earth is destined to be administered by man. Man was brought into existence for this purpose, and, according to Romans 11:29, “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [‘without a change of mind’].” God will not change His mind concerning the reason He called man into existence.
The world to come will not be ruled by angels, but by man (Hebrews 2:5). This is really the message of the whole of Scripture. This is the manner in which Scripture both opens and closes; and the central reason for the fall and purpose surrounding redemption must be understood within this same framework.
But, prior to the purpose for redemption being realized, Satan is going to engineer his final thrust to thwart God’s plans and purposes. He is going to bring his man upon the scene, the seed of the serpent — Antichrist (Genesis 3:15). We’re told though, in this same section of Scripture, at the very beginning, 6,000 years before it actually occurs that the Seed of the woman will have the final word in the matter. He will be the Victor in that day (cf. Genesis 3:15; Daniel 7:11; 11:36-45; Revelation 19:11ff), and then God’s purpose for bringing man into existence will begin to be realized.
1. Day of Antichrist
Satan is to one day give “his power, his throne, and great authority” to the final ruler of the kingdom of Babylon (Revelation 13:2). This is the power, position, and authority that was given to him, by God, in the beginning; and he can, in turn, give it “to whomsoever” he wishes (Ezekiel 28:14; Luke 4:5, 6), which is exactly what he will do in the middle of the coming Tribulation.
Satan will give unto Antichrist the same thing that he offered to Christ in the temptation account (Luke 4:5, 6). Antichrist, unlike Christ, will accept the offer, and this man will then rule the earth in this capacity for three and one-half years, resulting in troublous times of such a nature that no parallel will have existed throughout man’s past 6,000-year history. Scripture states,
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21, 22)
The elect is a reference to “Israel.” For Israel’s sake, those days will be shortened. Then, through Christ’s return at the end of this period, God will bring an end to the earth’s present existing governmental system. The “times of the Gentiles” will be brought to an end by a final and fatal blow at the center of Gentile world power — the Stone smiting the image at its feet, the final form of Gentile world power (Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45). Babylon will be destroyed, Antichrist and those ruling with him will be put down, and Satan will be bound in the abyss for 1,000 years (Revelation 18:1-20:2). “Man’s Day” will, through this sequence of events, be brought to a close; and then Christ and His co-heirs will move in and take over the government.
2. Day of Christ
In that coming day when Christ and His co-heirs ascend the throne together and jointly exercise power over the earth, Israel will have been reestablished back in her proper place at the head of the nations. And man, in that day, will rule both from the heavens and on the earth.
The Church will be established as the ruling nation in the heavens, exercising power with Christ from His own throne (cf. Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10; Revelation 3:21); and Israel will be established as the ruling nation on earth, with Christ reigning from David’s throne in the nation’s midst (cf. Joel 2:27-32; Luke 1:31-33). Rulership will emanate from Jerusalem above and from Jerusalem below, through the seed of Abraham (Christ, Israel, and the Church). And the Gentile nations will, in turn, be blessed through the seed of Abraham, fulfilling verses such as Genesis 12:3; 22:17, 18.
That will be the day in which man will come into a full realization of his very existence. And when that future day is ushered in, there will be a 1,000-year period, to be followed by an eternity of endless ages, in which man will occupy positions in God’s government over not only this earth but ultimately out in the universe as well.
From the Heavens Over the Earth
Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings that arise out of the earth.
But the saints of the Most High [lit., “the saints of the high places”] shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever. (Daniel 7:17, 18)
The final form of the kingdom of Babylon as it will exist under its last king, Antichrist, will be a conglomerate of the whole of the kingdom as it is seen in the book of Daniel. When the Stone strikes the image at its feet (feet “part of iron, and part of clay,” describing the kingdom in its last days under Antichrist), Scripture states that the Stone will break in pieces together “the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold [depicting the kingdom in its final form — a composite form of the whole of the kingdom, viewed from the days of Antichrist back to the days of Nebuchadnezzar]” (Daniel 2:32-35, 44, 45).
The Stone striking the image at its feet forms the biblical description of Babylon’s prophesied destruction. Throughout “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), Babylon has never been destroyed. It has been conquered several times and has faded into obscurity, but it has never been destroyed.
And Babylon must not only be destroyed, but, according to the prophecies in Daniel, it must be destroyed at a particular time and after a particular fashion. It must be destroyed at the end of “the times of the Gentiles” (actually, the destruction of Babylon is the event that will mark the end “the times of the Gentiles,” for Gentile world power will be centered in Babylon at that time), and it must be destroyed after such a fashion that the kingdom depicted by the entire image — from the head of gold to the feet part of iron and part of clay, the kingdom existing from the days of Nebuchadnezzar to the days of Antichrist — will be destroyed at the same time, never to rise again. This is what is meant by the iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold being “broken to pieces together,” becoming like the “chaff from the summer threshing floors,” and being carried away by “the wind” (Daniel 2:34, 35).
Thus, since the kingdom depicted by a part of the image has yet to appear (that part that is to be smitten), the composite form that the kingdom must take at the time of its destruction can only await the reemergence of Babylon in that future day. The image must be complete at the time of its destruction. This is not something that could have occurred at any point in history; nor can it occur today. It can occur only during the future days of Antichrist, during the days of the last king of Babylon.
And, remaining within this same line of thought, one can easily understand what is meant in Daniel 7:4-6, 11, 12 by the first three great beasts (likened to “a lion,” “a bear,” and “a leopard”) having their dominion “taken away” but their lives “prolonged for a season and time.” These beasts depict the kingdom as it existed from the days of Nebuchadnezzar to the days of Alexander the Great; and these three segments of the kingdom, though they have long since faded into obscurity, didn’t die. Rather, they are presented in the book of Daniel as living down through time, and they are further presented in the book as being alive as an integral part of the final form during the days of Antichrist.
All of the great beasts in Daniel 7:4-7 (a “beast” in this section of Scripture represents a form of the kingdom of Babylon [7:17, 23]) will be present together — comprising the final form of the Babylonian kingdom — and they will be destroyed together.
Note the first three great beasts in verse twelve in this respect. Their dominion was taken away (in history, not at the time of events in the previous verse, v. 11), but they continued to live, awaiting the days of Antichrist and the destruction of Babylon in its final form (occurring in v. 11).
Thus, the death (destruction) of the first three great beasts (v. 12) occurs at the same time as the death (destruction) of the fourth great beast — when the Stone strikes the image at its feet and breaks in pieces together “the iron, the clay [fourth beast], the brass [third beast], the silver [second beast], and the gold [first beast]” (v. 11; cf. Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45). Verse twelve simply provides additional information to help explain verse eleven and the preceding vision of the four great beasts, and these verses must be understood in the light of that which had previously been revealed about the image in chapter two.
Then, “the kingdom of the world [one world kingdom, with its governmental center in Babylon]” will become “the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ [a theocracy, with its governmental center in Jerusalem — Jerusalem above and Jerusalem below]” (Revelation 11:15, ASV). The kingdom will have previously been given to the Son by the Father (Daniel 7:13, 14; cf. Psalms 2:6-9); and the Son, at the time of His return, will then take possession of the kingdom, suddenly and swiftly, through force.
The Stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” will smite the image at a time when the kingdom will have reached its zenith of world power (note that for the first time in Babylon’s history all four parts of the image will be living together); and in this manner, Gentile world power will suddenly and swiftly be brought to an end (Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45; 7:11, 23-26; cf. Revelation 19:11-21).
(For additional information concerning that which is depicted by the image in Daniel chapter two and the four great beasts in Daniel chapter seven, refer to the author’s book, The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, chapter 3.
Also, note Theonomy — the “Kingdom Now” theology — with particularly respect to the prophecies in Daniel. Theonomy [very prevalent thought in certain segments of Christendom today, especially among those in Charismatic circles] teaches that the Church is to gradually take over the kingdoms of this world, through present spiritual-political means, etc.
This is looked upon in the same sense as the leaven permeating the meal, “till the whole was leavened,” in Matthew 13:33 — a parable often misunderstood and used to depict the spread of that which is “good” rather than that which is “evil,” seeking, through this means, to give credence to false ideologies of this nature. And, viewing matters along these lines, would, correspondingly, form a major reason for Christians to involve themselves in the political structure of the present world system under Satan.
Theonomy is simply a reemergence of the old postmillennial ideology [restructured for the times, etc.], prevalent in Christendom during pre-WWII days. And it is no truer in its restructured form today than it was in its original form. According to Scripture, the Church can have no part — nor should the Church even seek to have a part — in bringing to pass the kingdoms of the present world system being controlled and governed by the Lord at the time of His return.
Rather, nothing can be done along the lines of a change in administration until that day when there is once again one world kingdom with its governmental center located in Babylon. It will be then, not before, that the Stone will strike the image at its feet; it will be then, not before, that “the kingdom of the world” will become “the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ” [Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45; Revelation 11:15]; and it will be then, not before, that “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High [lit., ‘the saints of the high places’ (i.e., ‘heavenly places’)]…” [Daniel 7:23-27; cf. v. 18].
Also, in this same respect, as previously seen, “the times of the Gentiles” will end with the Stone striking the image at its feet, not before. Thus, this period, which began with Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, cannot end before Babylon appears in its final form under Antichrist.
Some have sought to teach that “the times of the Gentiles” came to an end when the Jews retook the old city of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, allowing them to once again have access to the Temple Mount, with a view to rebuilding the temple. However, the Jews having access to or coming into possession of the Temple Mount has nothing to do with the matter.
They possessed this Mount in history during “the times of the Gentiles” [from about 536 B.C. to 70 A.D.], and they will possess it once again in the immediate future during “the times of the Gentiles” [during the first part of the Tribulation, when the Jewish people rebuild their temple]. Aside from that, both Luke 21:24 and Revelation 11:2 specifically place the termination of “the times of the Gentiles” at the end of the Tribulation, which is when Babylon will be destroyed.)
Saints of the High Places
The scriptural references, “kingdom of the heavens” in the gospel of Matthew, “heavenly places” in Ephesians, and “heavenly calling” in Hebrews, do not form companion references peculiar to the New Testament. Rather, the overall thought of man occupying heavenly positions in the kingdom, as opposed to earthly positions, was previously set forth in different places in the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis (cf. Genesis 14:18, 19; 15:5; 22:17, 18).
Abraham, five centuries prior to the time of any written revelation, understood this matter and looked toward a calling beyond the earthly, to a heavenly (Hebrews 11:8-16). And numerous other Old Testament saints living at different times following Abraham did exactly the same thing. They looked beyond the earthly to the heavenly as well (Hebrews 11:32-40).
Thus, it is nothing new in either Old or New Testament revelation when one finds a reference to saints being placed in positions of power and authority in the heavens following the overthrow of this present world system, as in the book of Daniel, the gospel of Matthew, Ephesians, or Hebrews. This is a teaching which has its origin in Genesis.
Satan and his angels presently rule from the heavens over the earth, and Christ with His co-heirs will one day replace the incumbent governmental powers and rule from the same location, from the heavens. Christ will replace Satan, and Christians will replace the angels ruling under Satan. The whole matter is really set forth in Scripture after that simple of a fashion.
1. Israel in the Old Testament
Two millennia following Adam’s fall, God called one man out of the human race to be the instrument through whom His plans and purposes for having brought man into existence would ultimately be realized. God called Abraham out from Ur of the Chaldees. And through the nation that would emanate from the loins of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, God was going to accomplish three things: (a) provide man with a Redeemer, (b) provide man with a written revelation, revealing His plans and purposes, and (c) ultimately place man in the position for which he had been created.
The first two of these three purposes have been realized, but the latter waits for fulfillment. It waits for that day in the immediate future when Babylon reemerges as the center of Gentile world power, with the last king of Babylon present.
In the Old Testament, Israel was made the repository for both earthly and heavenly blessings. When viewing Scriptures such as Genesis 14:18, 19; 15:5; 22:17, 18; Daniel 7:18-27, Israel alone was in view. And the same would be true in Matthew 8:11, 12 where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are seen, in that future day, in the kingdom of the heavens. Accordingly, those cast into the darkness outside at this time would have to be looked upon as Israelites (i.e., saved individuals who could have been in the kingdom but, because of unfaithfulness, were cast without [note that the subject matter in this passage has to do with entrance into or exclusion from the heavenly sphere of the kingdom, not with matters surrounding eternal salvation or eternal damnation]).
There was no Church at this time. Aside from that fact, all spiritual promises and blessings must be realized through, and only through, the seed of Abraham. Thus, only Israel could possibly have been in view.
(And this will explain a central reason why Christ, when commissioning His twelve disciples to carry the message concerning the kingdom of the heavens to Israel, specifically told them, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles…” [Matthew 10:5-8]. Israel alone was the repository for the promises and blessings associated with the proffered kingdom of the heavens.
The Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel…” [Ephesians 2:12]. “Commonwealth” in this passage is a translation of the Greek word politeia, a cognate form of politeuma, having to do with one’s “political sphere of activity” [refer to the section, “Christians and Politics,” chapter 2].)
Since Israel alone was in view after this fashion, how can the Church later fit into certain Old Testament promises (or passages such as Matthew 8:11, 12), which it does? And, since the Church does later fit into certain promises and blessings given to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (or certain passages in the gospel accounts) — which had to do with Israel alone at the time they were given — where does this presently leave Israel?
Has the Church supplanted Israel, leaving Israel with nothing? Has God finished, is God through, with Israel within His plans and purposes in relation to man?
Some understand matters after the preceding fashion, but Scripture teaches something entirely different. God is no more through with Israel today than He was when certain promises were made to Abraham at the time he was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, four millennia ago. Israel, as in Moses’ day, is still God’s firstborn son (“sonship” implies rulership), and Israel will yet occupy her firstborn status in relation to the nations.
(This is what was in view when God announced Israel’s firstborn status in Exodus 4:22, 23 [cf. Exodus 19:5, 6], at the time Israel was called out of Egypt. And God will yet deal with Israel after the fashion set forth in Exodus, establishing Israel at the head of the nations following Israel’s removal from a worldwide dispersion at the time of Christ’s return [typified by the nation’s removal from Egypt at the time of Moses’ return; cf. Exodus 2:23-25; 3:10; 12:40, 41; Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Isaiah 2:1-5; Jeremiah 31:31-34].)
Paul, in Romans 11:1, 2, raised the issue concerning Israel’s present and future status; and he responded after a fashion that leaves no room for questions along these lines:
I say then, has God cast away His people? Absolutely not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.… (Romans 11:1, 2)
The words, “Absolutely not,” are a translation of a Greek negative appearing with a verb in the optative mood, which is a very rare mood in the Greek New Testament. Paul used this expression fourteen of the fifteen times in which it appears in the New Testament, and he used it mainly to express his abhorrence to an inference that he had raised (cf. Romans 3:4, 6, 31; Galatians 2:17; 3:21; 6:14).
The inference in Romans 11:1 had to do with God casting Israel aside, which was declared to be something completely abhorrent to Paul’s way of thinking. Paul, through the use of the optative mood, declared that such an act, in reality, was “impossible” (i.e., it was “impossible” for God to cast away His people, Israel).
Then, later in the same chapter, in keeping with what he had declared concerning Israel, he reviewed the present status and future history of Israel (vv. 17-29). And neither Israel’s present status nor future history had anything to do with a nation removed from God’s plans and purposes. Rather, exactly the opposite was true. Paul’s portrayal of Israel set forth a nation — separate from the other nations of the earth — which had been, presently remains, and always will be an integral part of God’s plans and purposes.
2. Christians in the New Testament
But, if God already had a nation through which His plans and purposes could be realized, why call into existence a new entity — the Church — through which at least a part of His plans and purposes would, as well, be realized? Why did God not just simply accomplish the entire matter through the lineal descendants of Abraham, leaving matters, in this respect, as they had stood for the preceding two millennia?
The answer is derived from that which Israel did at Christ’s first coming, resulting in reciprocal action on Christ’s part. Israel, as a nation, rejected the proffered kingdom of the heavens. And, not only did the Jewish people reject the message, but they rejected the Messenger as well, ultimately crucifying Him.
The nation’s rejection of the kingdom of the heavens resulted in this facet of the kingdom (the heavenly promises and blessings) being taken from Israel, with a new entity — the Church — then being called into existence to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected.
Following the offer and subsequent rejection of the kingdom of the heavens, with the events of Calvary only several days away, Christ responded to that which Israel had done (and was about to climax at Calvary) through removing the nation from the position it held relative to heavenly promises and blessings. At that time, concluding a parable dealing with the Householder and His vineyard (Matthew 21:33-39) — which had to do with matters surrounding Christ and Israel — Christ allowed the religious leaders in Israel the opportunity to seal their own fate in this respect.
Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers [the Jews, those to whom He was speaking, the ones who had rejected the Householder’s Son and were about to cast Him out of the vineyard and slay Him]?
They [these Jewish religious leaders, not yet realizing that He was speaking about them and the nation at large, responded] said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” (vv. 40, 41; cf. v. 45)
It was then that Christ drew from the Old Testament Scriptures, identifying Himself as the Chief Corner Stone, the One whom the nation had rejected and was about to cast out of the vineyard and slay (v. 42; cf. Psalms 118:22, 23). And He then made the announcement concerning the proffered kingdom being taken from Israel, in complete keeping with that which the Jewish religious leaders had already stated:
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God [referring to that facet of the kingdom of God which had been offered, the heavenly portion of the kingdom] will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (v. 43)
Then the Church, an entirely new entity, whose future existence had been previously announced (Matthew 16:18), was shortly thereafter called into existence for the express purpose of being that “nation bearing the fruits of it” (1 Peter 2:9, 10). And since all spiritual blessings and promises must flow through Abraham and his progeny (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17, 18), the Church, in order to be the “nation” spoken of in Matthew 21:43 and 1 Peter 2:9, must be identified with Abraham.
This is accomplished through the Christians’ positional standing “in Christ.” Christ is Abraham’s Seed, and Christians, through their positional standing “in Christ,” are likewise “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:16, 29).
Thus, during the coming age, in relation to the government of the earth and in line with Genesis 22:17, 18, the Seed of Abraham will occupy positions in both heavenly and earthly places, though the vast majority of the numerous individuals occupying heavenly places in the kingdom will not be lineal descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Rather, they will have become “Abraham’s seed” through their positional standing “in Christ.”
Governmental rule will emanate from both Jerusalem above and Jerusalem below. Christ with His “companions,” His “co-heirs,” will rule from His Own throne in Jerusalem above (the New Jerusalem, which will apparently be a satellite city of the earth at this time); and Christ Himself will also rule from David’s throne in the midst of Israel in Jerusalem below (Jerusalem in the earthly land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).
(In the preceding respect, Christ will have a dual reign at this time — both from His own throne in the heavens and from David’s throne on the earth. But neither Israel nor the Church will occupy a dual status of this nature. Israel will be placed at the head of the nations on the earth, and the Church will rule from the heavens over the earth [which will include all nations, even Israel; cf. Matthew 19:28; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21].)
Since the Church has become the repository for the heavenly promises and blessings originally held by Israel, sections of Old Testament Scripture such as Abraham’s seed likened to “the stars of the heaven” (Genesis 22:17, 18) or “the saints of the most High [‘saints of the high places’ (‘heavenly places’)]” (Daniel 7:18, 22, 25, 27) would today relate to the Church. This would also be true concerning sections in the gospel accounts having to do with the kingdom of the heavens, such as entrance into the kingdom in Matthew 7:13, 14, 21-23; 8:11, 12.
But all of this has nothing to do with Israel’s earthly promises and blessings. These have not been and can never be taken from Israel. And during the coming age, following Israel’s repentance, conversion, and restoration to the land, that which was promised through Abraham relative to the nation’s earthly calling will be realized.
(But what about those Old Testament saints who looked toward heavenly promises and blessings and died in the faith prior to Christ’s announcement in Matthew 21:43? Scripture clearly reveals that the removal of this (heavenly) facet of the kingdom from Israel’s possession at Christ’s first coming cannot make null and void any previous acceptance by individual Jews of that which God had promised [cf. Matthew 8:11, 12; Hebrews 11:13-16, 39, 40]. Christ’s announcement in Matthew 21:43 though does forever do away with Israel as a nation occupying such a position, continuing to be the repository for these heavenly promises and blessings.
Following Christ’s announcement to Israel concerning the kingdom, only one way has existed for Jews to come into a realization of heavenly promises and blessings. They must become a part of the one new man “in Christ” through faith in Israel’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Doing this, they relinquish their national identity and earthly calling, becoming “fellowheirs” with believing Gentiles, who have also relinquished their national identity [but, unlike Jews, had no calling to relinquish (Ephesians 2:12)]. And, “in Christ,” where “there is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile],” they both, together — as one new man — become partakers of a higher calling, a “heavenly calling” [Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:13-15; 3:1-6; Hebrews 3:1].)
The Millennium and Beyond
According to Daniel 7:18, 22, 27, the day is coming when “the saints of the most High [‘saints of the high places’ (‘heavenly places’)]” are going to take and possess the kingdom. It will be exactly the same kingdom that presently exists under Satan — a governed province within God’s universal kingdom. That’s why Scripture states,
The kingdom of this world [the present existing kingdom, under Satan] is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ [the same kingdom, but under a new administration] . . . . (Revelation 11:15, ASV)
In the type, in the books of 1&2 Samuel, when Saul was finally put down and David with his faithful men moved in and took over the government, they took and possessed the same kingdom that had previously existed under Saul. It was the kingdom of Israel. The change was in the administration of the kingdom, not in the kingdom itself.
(Refer to the Appendix for additional information concerning the typology seen in the books of 1&2 Samuel.)
And, as seen in the typology of the books of 1&2 Samuel, so will it be in the antitype. When Christ and His co-heirs move in and take over the government, they will rule the same kingdom that Satan and his angels previously ruled. They will rule the one province in the kingdom of God into which chaos entered, and they will rule this province for a specified period of time — for 1,000 years — in order to effect a complete restoration of order in this one part of God’s universal kingdom.
This is the matter dealt with in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28:
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
For He has put all things under His feet. But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.
Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
At the beginning of the Millennium, the curse will be lifted (with the creation restored to its condition preceding the fall), and there will be literally millions of individuals (Jews and Gentiles alike [both saved and unsaved among the Gentiles]) entering the earthly sphere of the kingdom ruled by Christ and His co-heirs, with Israel placed at the head of the nations on earth [cf. Isaiah 11:6-9; 35:1ff; Acts 3:19-21]). Israel will provide the evangels to carry God’s message to the ends of the earth during this period; and it will require 1,000 years of a righteous rule, “with a rod of iron,” to bring about complete order out of chaos.
That is, when Christ returns, Gentile world power will be destroyed, suddenly, swiftly, and completely, with Satan and his angels being correspondingly put down after the same fashion. Satan will be bound and cast into the abyss. Then the physical creation will be restored, Israel will be saved and restored to the land at the head of the nations on earth, Christians (previously shown qualified at the judgment seat) will be positioned “in heavenly places” in view of their impending rule as co-heirs with Christ, and the Gentiles surviving the Tribulation will then form the nations entering the kingdom on earth (cf. Matthew 24:13, 14, 31; 25:20-23; Revelation 20:1-3).
These things will apparently occur within the scope of a seventy-five-day period that will exist between the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennium (Daniel 12:11, 12); but even with conditions as such, God is still going to take 1,000 years beyond that point to bring complete order out of chaos.
(Matthew 25:31-46 comprises a section of the Olivet Discourse often used attempting to show that only saved individuals will populate the earth at the beginning of the millennium. Those following this line of thought teach that this section has to do with a judgment of all living Gentiles surviving the Tribulation, both saved and unsaved, with the saved being allowed to enter into the kingdom and the unsaved being cast into the lake of fire.
A teaching of this nature has its sole basis in a misunderstanding of this section of Scripture. By its own internal evidence, eternal salvation or damnation is not the subject matter in Matthew 25:31-46. The subject at hand has to do with realizing or not realizing an inheritance in the kingdom, not with eternal verities [v. 34].)
And, in keeping with the preceding, the Greek word aionios, translated “everlasting” and “eternal” in vv. 41, 46 would, in the light of v. 34, have to be understood as “age-lasting,” not “eternal” as it has been translated in most versions of Scripture.
Neither the Hebrew of the Old Testament nor the Greek of the New Testament contains a word for “eternal.” Olam is the word translated “eternal,” “everlasting,” or “perpetual” in English translations of the Old Testament, and aion [a noun] or aionios [the adjective form of aion] are the words translated “eternal” or “everlasting” in the New Testament [aidios, an older form of aionios, used only two times and meaning exactly the same as aionios, is the only exception (Romans 1:20 and Jude 6)].
Olam, aion, and aionios all have to do with “a long period of time,” which, if the context permits, can refer to “eternity” [e.g., the Aionios God in Romans 16:26]. But the words standing alone, apart from a context, cannot be understood as “eternal.” Context is the all-important factor to ascertain the length of time in view when these words are used.
Aion and aionios are usually thought of and used numerous times in the New Testament in the sense of “an age.” And a usage of this nature is even brought over into English. For example, the English word “aeon [or ‘eon’]” is derived from the Greek word aion.
The only way in which the Greek text can express “eternal” apart from textual considerations is through a use of aion in the plural [e.g., Luke 1:33; Hebrews 13:8, referring to “the ages,” i.e., ages without end, which would comprise eternity] or a double use of aion, in the plural and articular both times [e.g., Revelation 1:6; 4:9, 10, referring to “the ages of the ages,” again, ages without end].
And the use of aionios in Matthew 25:41, 46, referring to an inverse of that seen in verse thirty-four [failing to realize an inheritance in the kingdom] can only be understood as “age-lasting.” It can only be understood as referring to the outcome of a judgment of unfaithful saved Gentiles coming out of the Tribulation.
A judgment of the unsaved, with eternal verities in view, could not possibly be the subject at hand in Matthew 25:41, 46. First, the context will not permit such an understanding of these verses; and second, inheritance in the kingdom, contextually in view, would limit this judgment to the saved alone. Note Romans 8:17: “And if children, then heirs…”
“Sheep” and “goats” (vv. 32, 33), can only be understood contextually as a metaphorical way of describing two classes of saved individuals, similar to the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-30. The unsaved and eternal verities simply cannot be in view in either passage. Rather, in both passages, only the saved, with a view to an inheritance or non-inheritance in the kingdom, can be in view.
(The extensive use of “metaphors” in sections of Scripture such as Matthew 13, 24, 25 must be recognized. Note, for example, “meat” or “food” in Matthew 24:45; 25:35, 42, all part of the same discourse. The use is metaphorical in chapter twenty four [referring to that which is spiritual, the Word of God], when dealing with the judgment of a servant; and the servant rendering an account at the time of his Lord’s return is with a view to regality [realizing or not realizing a position with Christ in the kingdom (cf. Luke 12:42-48)]. Why should the matter be viewed after any different fashion in chapter twenty-five when also dealing with a judgment of individuals at the time of the Lord’s return, with a view to inheritance in the kingdom [exactly the same as regality previously seen in chapter twenty-four, though stated in a different manner]?
Understanding the preceding after this fashion [which, in reality, is the only contextually correct way to view this section of Scripture] will, again, show that only saved individuals can possibly be in view throughout Matthew 25:31-46. Both those depicted by the “sheep” and the “goats” are seen as being in a position to dispense “meat,” “food.” Unsaved man cannot occupy a position of this nature.
There is no such thing in Scripture as a judgment of unsaved Gentiles at the end of Man’s Day, prior to the millennium. Rather, the millennium itself will form their judgment in this respect, for the millennium will simply be 1,000 years of a righteous judgment, when Christ and His co-heirs will rule the nations with a rod of iron.)
Man, on the earth during the Messianic Era, will possess a body of flesh, blood, and bone, with the old sin nature still present (i.e., he will possess a “natural” body [a “soulical” body; Greek: psuchikos, Romans 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:44, 46], identical to that which man possesses today). This will be true both within the camp of Israel and among the Gentile nations. This is the reason Christ will be a King-Priest, after the order of Melchizedek at this time. He will not only be King over the earth but He will also exercise a priestly office as well, representing man to God and God to man. And Christ must be a Priest after a new order, under a new covenant, on Israel’s behalf, for He is not of the Aaronic line.
(Note that Christ can presently exercise a ministry in the heavenly sanctuary after the order of Aaron, though not of the Aaronic line, for the simple reason that His ministry today is on behalf of Christians [who do not come under covenants made with Israel] rather than with Israel [with whom the old covenant was made]. Christ could not exercise a priestly ministry on behalf of Israel after the order of Aaron [present or future], which will necessitate a change in the priesthood when God restores Israel [Hebrews 7:11, 12].)
Man, on the earth during that future day, still possessing the old sin nature, will beget children who must be redeemed; and sin and death will correspondingly occur within activities surrounding man at that time. And, as a consequence of man’s condition, Scripture presents the possibility of man rebelling against the authority that will emanate from Jerusalem above and from Jerusalem below (Isaiah 65:20; Zechariah 14:16-19) — something clearly seen in its climactic form in that which is revealed concerning Satan being loosed at the end of the millennium and leading a number described as “the sand of the sea” in rebellion against the King in Jerusalem (Revelation 20:7-9).
And within this whole scenario lies the reason God has set aside 1,000 years to bring complete order out of chaos. As previously stated, Christ and His co-heirs will reign — “with a rod of iron,” breaking the nations and dashing them into pieces, likened unto “a potter’s vessel” being struck and shattered (cf. Psalms 2:6-9; Revelation 2:26, 27) — until all things have been brought under subjection.
At the end of the 1,000 years — after all things have been “subdued” by Christ and He has “delivered up” the kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28) — “all things” will then be made new. Then, not before, there will be no more “death…sorrow…crying…pain…” In that day there will be no need for a priest to represent man to God and God to man, for God Himself will dwell with man, “and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3-5).
This will be the scene beyond the millennium, after complete order once again exists in all parts of God’s universal kingdom. There will be a “new heaven [the heaven associated with this earth and solar system, not the universe] and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). The New Jerusalem will be the capital of the new earth (Revelation 21:2), which probably will be a much larger earth than presently exists, large enough to accommodate a city of this size. And universal rule will emanate from “the throne of God and of the Lamb” on the new earth (Revelation 22:1-3). That is, God Himself will dwell on the new earth and, with His Son, rule the universe from this location.
And man, in that day, will come into a complete realization of the purpose that God had in mind for His creation in the beginning. Up to this time, man’s rule will have been limited to the earth alone. But, during the eternal ages following the millennium, man will exercise positions of power and authority of a universal nature in God’s kingdom. And even the saved Gentile nations and those Christians not holding positions of power and authority during the millennium will be brought into and have a part in this rule (Revelation 21:4; 22:2, 5).
Crowned Rulers — Christ, Christians
When Christ returns to the earth at the conclusion of the Tribulation, He will have many crowns upon His head (Revelation 19:12). But these crowns, through comparing this section in Revelation with other scriptures on the subject, are not crowns that Christ will wear during the Messianic Era. Christ is destined to wear the crown that Satan presently wears; and at the time Christ returns to the earth, Satan will still be in possession of his crown. Satan’s crown will have to be taken from him (by force) and given to Christ before Christ can actually sit upon the throne and occupy, in its fullest sense, the position depicted in Revelation 19:16: “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
Saul and David, Satan and Christ
Certain things concerning crowns, especially relative to the crown that Christ is to wear, can possibly best be illustrated by referring to the typology of Saul and David in the books of 1&2 Samuel.
Saul had been anointed king over Israel, but Saul rebelled against the Lord and was rejected (as king) by the Lord (1 Samuel 10:1ff; 15:1-23). David was then anointed king in Saul’s stead (1 Samuel 16:1-13). However, Saul did not immediately relinquish the throne; nor did David make an attempt to immediately ascend the throne. Saul, even though rejected, with his anointed successor on hand, was allowed to continue his reign.
Affairs continued after this fashion in the camp of Israel until David eventually found himself in exile, living out in the hills (e.g., in the cave of Adullam). During this time, certain individuals who were dissatisfied with existing conditions in the camp of Israel under Saul gathered themselves unto David (1 Samuel 22:1, 2). They separated themselves from affairs in the kingdom under Saul and lived out in the hills with David. He became “a captain over them”; and they were faithful to him, anticipating the day when Saul would be put down and David would take the kingdom.
The day eventually came when this occurred. Saul, following a battle and an attempted suicide, was slain by an Amalekite. His crown was taken and delivered to David (1 Samuel 31:1-13; 2 Samuel 1:1-10). Then, David and his faithful men moved in and took over the government (2 Samuel 2:1ff).
The entire sequence of events depicting Saul and David typifies great spiritual truths concerning Satan and Christ.
Just as Saul was anointed king over Israel, Satan was anointed king over the earth; just as Saul rebelled against the Lord and was rejected, Satan rebelled against the Lord and was rejected; just as David was anointed king while Saul continued to reign, Christ was anointed King while Satan continued to reign; just as David did not immediately ascend the throne, Christ did not immediately ascend the throne; just as David eventually found himself in a place removed from the kingdom (out in the hills), Christ eventually found Himself in a place removed from the kingdom (heaven); just as David gathered certain faithful men to himself during this time (anticipating his future reign), Christ is presently gathering certain faithful men to Himself (anticipating His future reign); just as the day came when Saul was put down, the day will come when Satan will be put down; just as Saul’s crown was taken and given to David, Satan’s crown will be taken and given to Christ; and just as David and his faithful followers then moved in and took over the government, Christ and His faithful followers will then move in and take over the government.
Purpose for the Present Dispensation
A principle of divine government set forth in the type of Saul and David shows the necessity of an incumbent ruler, although rejected, continuing to reign until replaced by his successor. The government of the earth is a rule under God through delegated powers and authorities. In this respect, Satan rules directly under God (though a rebel ruler), and a great host of subordinate angels rule with him.
Even though Satan and his followers have been rejected, they must continue in power (as Saul and those ruling with him) until replaced by Christ and His followers (as when David and his faithful followers took the kingdom). God will not, at any time, allow conditions to exist upon the earth in which there is no divinely administered government through delegated powers and authorities. Even though the government of the earth is in disarray today, because of Satan’s rebellion, it is still under God’s sovereign power and control (Daniel 4:17-34).
The present dispensation is the time during which the antitype of David’s faithful followers being gathered to him occurs. As during David’s time, so during the present time — there must be a period, preceding the King coming into power, during which the rulers are called out. David’s men were the ones who occupied positions of power and authority with him after he took Saul’s crown. Thus will it be when Christ takes Satan’s crown. Those who are being called out during the present time are the ones who will occupy positions of power and authority with Him during that coming day.
Satan will be allowed to continue his reign until God’s purpose for this present dispensation has been accomplished. Then, he and those ruling with him will be put down, and an entirely new order of rulers will take the kingdom. Christ will enter into the position previously occupied by Satan, and Christians will enter into positions previously occupied by angels ruling under Satan.
And since Christ (replacing Satan) will wear the crown presently worn by Satan, it only naturally follows that Christians (replacing subordinate powers and authorities) will wear crowns presently worn by angels ruling under Satan. All of these are crowns that neither Christ nor Christians can come into possession of until Satan and his angels have been put down at the end of the Tribulation.
Angelic Rule About to End
The originally established angelic rule over the earth has continued uninterrupted since the beginning, preceding man’s existence on the earth. However, with the creation of Adam, God announced that a change was in the offing. Man, an entirely new creation, made after the image and likeness of God, was brought into existence to take the governmental reins of the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). But the first man (the first Adam), through sin, was disqualified, necessitating the appearance of the second Man (the last Adam) to effect redemption and the ultimate realization for man’s creation.
The price has been paid, but redemption includes far more than that which presently exists. Redemption includes the complete man (body, soul, and spirit), it includes the earth (presently under a curse), and the goal of redemption will be realized only when man has been brought into the position for which he was created (ruling over a restored earth).
Scripture clearly attests to the fact that the “world [‘inhabited world’] to come” will not be placed “in subjection” to angels (Hebrews 2:5). Man is the one to whom power and authority will be delegated.
This is clearly seen through the action of the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4:10, removing themselves from their thrones (v. 4) and casting their crowns before God’s throne. Their activity can only be with a view to the fact that the government of the earth, at this point in the sequence of events depicted in the book, is about to change hands.
These twenty-four elders can only be a representative group of heavenly beings (angels) who, up to this time, had held positions within a sphere of governmental power and authority relative to the earth. And at this point in the book, through the action of these elders, the way will be opened for God to transfer the government of the earth from the hands of angels to the hands of man.
(These crowns are cast before God’s throne [cf. 4:1-4; 5:1-7] because the Father alone is the One who places and/or removes rulers in His kingdom [Daniel 4:17-37; 5:18-21]. He alone is the One who placed those represented by the twenty-four elders in the positions which they occupied; and He alone is the One who will place individuals in particular positions in the kingdom of Christ [Matthew 20:20-23].
These crowns cast before God’s throne can only have to do with the government of the earth. And, at this point in the book, they can be worn by angels alone, for the Son will not yet have taken the kingdom [cf. Daniel 7:13, 14; Revelation 11:15]. These crowns are relinquished to God at this time [with a view to man, rather than angels, ruling in the kingdom] so that He can appoint those who had previously been shown qualified at events surrounding the judgment seat [chapters 1-3] to positions of power and authority; and those whom God appoints will wear these crowns in Christ’s kingdom.)
The transfer of the government of the earth, from the hands of angels into the hands of man, in reality, is what the first nineteen chapters of the book of Revelation are about; and, as well, this is what the whole of Scripture preceding these nineteen chapters is also about. In this respect, these twenty-four elders casting their crowns before God’s throne forms a key event that one must grasp if he would properly understand the book of Revelation and Scripture as a whole.
Christ and His bride, in that coming day, will rule the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels. And, in the process of ruling in this manner, they will wear all the crowns worn by Satan and his angels prior to Satan’s fall.
Thus, that which is depicted through the action of the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4:10, 11 is contextually self-explanatory. This has to do with the government of the earth, it occurs at a time following events surrounding the judgment seat (chapters 1-3) but preceding Christ being shown worthy to break the seals of the seven-sealed scroll (chapter 5), and it occurs at a time when Satan’s reign is about to be brought to a close.
After events in Revelation chapters one through three have come to pass, for the first time in man’s history, the person (the bride) who is to rule with the One to replace Satan (Christ) will have been made known and shown forth. And events in chapter four reflect that fact.
Only one thing could possibly be in view at this point in the book, for the bride will not only have been made known but will be ready for events surrounding the transfer of power to begin. The twenty-four elders casting their crowns before God’s throne can only depict the angels who did not go along with Satan in his rebellion; and they will willingly relinquish their crowns, with a view to those comprising the bride wearing these crowns during the Messianic Era.
But the crowns worn by Satan and those angels presently ruling with him are another matter. These crowns will have to be taken from Satan and his angels by force when Christ returns to overthrow Gentile world power (a power exercised during Man’s Day under Satan and his angels [Daniel 10:13-20]) at the end of the Tribulation.
The identity of the twenty-four elders is shown not only by their actions and the place in which this occurs in the book but also by their number. Comparing Revelation chapters four and twelve (4:4, 10, 11; 12:3, 4), it appears evident that the government of the earth — originally established by God prior to Satan’s fall — was representatively shown by three sets of twelve, thirty-six crowned rulers. “Three” is the number of divine perfection, and “twelve” is the number of governmental perfection.
Those angels who did not follow Satan in his attempt to exalt his throne would be represented by the twenty-four elders — two sets of twelve, showing two-thirds of the original contingent of angels ruling with Satan. And the angels who did go along with Satan, presently ruling with him, would be represented by a third set of twelve, showing the other one-third of the original contingent of angels ruling with Satan (Revelation 12:3, 4).
In this respect, these three representative sets of twelve would show divine perfection in the earth’s government. And, also in this respect, this same perfection in the structure of the earth’s government has not existed since Satan’s attempt to exalt his throne.
But, this structured perfection will one day again exist in the earth’s government. When Christ and His bride ascend the throne together, crowns worn by those represented by all three sets of twelve will be brought together again. Then, divine perfection will once again exist in the government of the one province in God’s universe where imperfection has existed for millennia.
There are two words in the Greek text of the New Testament which are translated “crown” in English versions. The first and most widely used word is stephanos (or the verb form, stephanoo), referring to a “victor’s crown” or a crown denoting certain types of “worth” or “valor.” The other word is diadema, referring to a crown denoting “regal authority,” “kingly power.”
Stephanos (or the verb form, stephanoo) is the only word used for “crown” in the New Testament outside the book of Revelation. This, for example, is the word used referring to the “crown of thorns” placed upon Christ’s head immediately preceding His crucifixion (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2, 5). This is also the word used throughout the Pauline epistles, referring to “crowns” awaiting faithful Christians (1 Corinthians 9:25; Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 2:5; 4:8). James, Peter, and John also used stephanos in this same sense (James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10; 3:11). The writer of Hebrews used this word (the verb form, stephanoo) referring to positions that will ultimately be occupied by Christ and His co-heirs in “the world [‘inhabited world’] to come” (2:5, 7, 9). Then John used the word six additional times in the book of Revelation in several different senses (4:4, 10; 6:2; 9:7; 12:1; 14:14).
Diadema, the other word used for “crown” in the New Testament, appears only three times; and all three occurrences are in the latter part of the book of Revelation (12:3; 13:1; 19:12). The first two references have to do with power and authority possessed by incumbent earthly rulers immediately preceding and within the kingdom of Antichrist, and the latter reference has to do with power and authority that Christ will possess at the time He returns and takes the kingdom.
The way in which these two words are used in the New Testament relative to the government of the earth must be borne in mind if one is to properly understand the Scriptural distinction between the use of stephanos and diadema. Diadema (referring to the monarch’s crown) is used only where one has actually entered into and is presently exercising regal power. Stephanos is never used in this respect. The word appears in all other occurrences, covering any instance where the word “crown” is used apart from the present possession of regal power (though the possession of such power at a past or future date can be in view through the use of stephanos). Then, diadema is used when one actually comes into possession of this power. An understanding of the distinction between stephanos and diadema will reveal certain things about the twenty-four elders that could not otherwise be known. They each cast a stephanos before the throne, not a diadema. This shows that they were not then occupying regal positions, though crowned and seated on thrones.
At one time they would have occupied such positions (wearing diadems); but with the disarray in the governmental structure of the earth, resulting from Satan’s rebellion, they ceased exercising regal power (for, not participating in his rebellion, they no longer retained active positions in his rule). Their crowns could then be referred to only through the use of the word stephanos; and these crowns would, of necessity, have to be retained until the time of Revelation 4:10.
In this respect, overcoming Christians have been promised a stephanos (victor’s crown), never a diadema (monarch’s crown); but the promised stephanos will become a diadema at the time overcoming Christians assume positions on the throne with Christ. There can be no such thing as either Christ or His co-heirs wearing a stephanos in that day. They can only wear the type crown referred to by the word diadema.
Then, note that the One who, in time past, wore a crown of thorns (a stephanos), will one day come forth with many diadems upon His head, for the Father will not only have delivered the kingdom into His Son’s hands but the Son will, at that time, have a consort queen and be ready to ascend the throne (cf. Daniel 7:13, 14; Revelation 19:7-9). And because of this, when He comes forth, the announcement can be sounded for all to hear: “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).
(Crowns to be worn by Christ and His bride, in that coming day, will include the crowns relinquished willingly in Revelation 4:10 [undoubtedly the crowns on Christ’s head in Revelation 19:12, which can, at this point in the book, be referred to as diadems] and the crowns subsequently taken by force from Satan and his angels.)
Christ, at that time, will have entered into His long-awaited regal position. And the first order of business will be the putting down of the Beast, the kings of the earth (Gentile world power, as it will exist in that day), and Satan and his angels (Revelation 19:17-20:3). Satan and his angels cannot be allowed to reign beyond the point Christ assumes regal power. Their crowns (diadems) must, at this time, be taken and given to others — those to whom they will then rightfully belong.
The Septenary Arrangement of Scripture
Hebrews 4:1-11 deals with a rest that will be realized by “the people of God” during the seventh millennium dating from the restoration of the earth and the creation of man in the first chapter of Genesis.
Teachings surrounding this rest, textually and contextually, viewed from the standpoint of the way matters are outlined in the book of Hebrews, are based on three portions of Old Testament Scripture:
The experiences of the Israelites under Moses,
and later Joshua, during a past dispensation form the type;
and the experiences of Christians under Christ during the present
dispensation, leading into the coming dispensation, form the
antitype. Then teachings surrounding a rest lying
before both the Israelites in the type and Christians in the
antitype are drawn from the rest that God entered into following six
days of work in Genesis
chapters one and
two. And the Sabbath was
given to Israel to keep, ever before them, the whole overall
thought of that that occurred in the opening two chapters of
“Was” or “Became”
It would go without saying that there has been
a great deal of controversy over the years among theologians and
Christians in general concerning exactly how the opening two
chapters of Genesis
should be understood. And it would also go without saying that, as
a result, confusion has reigned supreme in Christian circles
concerning not only these chapters but the general tenor of the
remainder of Scripture as well.
Those in one school (probably the position held by the majority today) view the six days in the first chapter as time revealing and describing God’s creative activity from verse one.
And those in the other school view these six
days as time revealing God’s restoration of a ruined creation (creation
seen in v. 1,
ruin of this creation seen in v.
2a, and God’s
restoration of the ruined creation seen in vv.
(a) “The earth was without form, and void;”
(b) “And darkness was on the face of the deep.”
(c) “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
In the Hebrew text there is what is called a “waw” beginning verse two (a conjunctive or disjunctive particle [actually, a letter in the Hebrew alphabet, the waw, prefixed to a word], usually translated “and” in most English texts). Some grammarians view this particle beginning verse two in a conjunctive sense (showing a connection between v. 1 and v. 2), and other grammarians view it in a disjunctive sense (showing a separation between v. 1 and v. 2). Normally the context determines how the particle is to be understood.
(The other two circumstantial clauses in verse two begin with “waw” as well, which will be discussed later.
The Hebrew text of the Old Testament uses the “waw” more frequently in a conjunctive [“and”] rather than a disjunctive [“but”] sense. Of the approximately 28,000 usages of this particle, some 25,000 appear to be conjunctive and some 3,000 disjunctive.)
Using the King James Version (KJV) text to illustrate, the translators of the Septuagint used de and kai to translate the three Hebrew “waws” in this manner:
And [De, lit., But] the earth was without form, and void; and [kai] darkness was upon the face of the deep. And [kai] the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And, viewing the verse beginning in a disjunctive sense of the preceding nature, there would be no connection between the first two verses of Genesis. Rather, a separation would exist instead. Within this view, one would normally see verse one revealing an absolute beginning, with verse two (along with the following verses) revealing events occurring at later points in time.
(Most holding this linguistic view see verse two as a description of God’s perfect creation [from verse one] being brought into a ruined state, separated from verse one by an unrevealed period of time. And they would, accordingly, see God’s activity during the six days as activity surrounding the restoration of this ruined creation.
Some holding this linguistic view though still see the six days as time revealing God’s creative activity. They view verse one as describing a “grand summary declaration that God created the universe in the beginning.” Then, apart from seeing a connection between v. 1 and v. 2, they view God’s activity during the six days as a revelation concerning how God accomplished that which He had previously stated in verse one.)
Leupold, a Hebrew grammarian from past years,
in his commentary on Genesis,
appears to capture the overall thought of hayah to mark
beginning points in each day quite well by translating, “. . .
Then came evening,
then came morning — the first day the second day . . . the
third day,” etc.
Attention is called to this fact because
numerous individuals look at the translation “became [or ‘had
become’]”as so rare in the Old Testament that serious consideration
should not be given to the thought of translating
Genesis 1:2, “And
[or But] the earth
became [or had become] . . . .” But the rarity is in the
English translations, not in a literal Hebrew rendering or in
certain other translations (e.g., in the
KJV there are only 17
instances in all of Genesis
where hayah has been translated “became [or, ‘. . . become’]”
10; 3:22; 9:15; 18:18; 19:26;
20:12; 21:20; 24:67; 32:10; 34:16;
37:20; 47:20, 26; 48:19]; but in
the Septuagint there are at least 146 instances [and some 1,500 in
the entire Old Testament]).
In this respect, first note the words tohu wavahu from the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:2.
The words tohu wavohu from the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:2 are translated “without form and void” in the KJV English text (“formless and void," New American Standard Bible [NASB]; “formless and empty,” New International Version [NIV]; “waste and void” American Standard Version [ASV]). These two Hebrew words are used together only two other places throughout all of the Old Testament—in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23. And both of these passages present a ruin of that previously seen existing in an orderly state.
In Isaiah 34:11, Edom (v. 6) was destined to become tohu wavohu (translated “confusion” and “emptiness” [KJV], “desolation” and “emptiness” [NASB]; and in Jeremiah 4:23-28, there is a comparison of that which had previously occurred relative to the earth in Genesis 1:2a to that which was about to occur relative to the land of Israel.
The land of Israel was about to become tohu wavohu. That is, as seen in Jeremiah 4:23-28, God was about to do the same thing to the land of Israel (cf. vv. 14:22) that He had previously done to the earth in Genesis 1:2a. And the reason for both of these actions — that which God had done to the earth, and that which He was about to do to the land of Israel — was the same. Sin had entered (sin on the part of Satan in the former, and sin on the part of the Jewish people in the latter).
And, in complete keeping with this type understanding of the use of tohu wavohu in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23, Isaiah 45:18 (where the Hebrew word tohu is used, translated “in vain”) clearly states that God did not create the earth (in Genesis 1:1) in the manner described in Genesis 1:2a. Isaiah 45:18 states that God “created it [the earth] not in vain [not ‘tohu,’ not ‘without form,’].”
Thus, if Genesis 1:2a is to be understood in the light of related Scripture bearing on the subject, there can be only one possible interpretation — the ruin of a prior existing creation (from v. 1) because of sin. The earth from verse one “became” tohu wavohu.
The ruin seen in both Genesis 1:2a and Jeremiah 4:23, for a purpose is with a view to eventual restoration. And the restoration seen in the continuing text of Genesis 1:2 (vv. 2b-25) and in the overall passage of Jeremiah 4:23ff (v. 27b), as well as in related Scripture (e.g., Isaiah 35:1ff), is also for a purpose.
Then, the whole of subsequent Scripture is perfectly in line with this type understanding of the opening section of Scripture. The whole of subsequent Scripture is built on a septenary structure, with the foundation established and set in an unchangeable fashion at the beginning, in Genesis 1:1-2:3.
That is to say:
The heavens and the earth were created, there was ruin of the material creation (because of sin), God took six days to restore the ruined creation, and He rested the seventh day.
Man was created on the sixth day, man fell into a state of ruin (because of sin), God is presently taking six days [6,000 years] to restore man, and God will rest the seventh day (the seventh 1,000-year period [cf. 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:3-8]).
And the latter, patterned after the former, is what the whole of Scripture is about. The whole of Scripture is about the same thing initially introduced and established in an unchangeable fashion in the opening thirty-four verses of Genesis (1:1-2:3). The whole of Scripture is about the creation of man, his ruin, his restoration over a six-day period (over a 6,000-year period), followed by a seventh day of rest (a seventh 1,000-year period — the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God [Hebrews 4:9; cf. vv. 3, 4], the Messianic Era).
As previously stated, man would have been expected to understand this opening section of Scripture after the preceding fashion at the time it was written. And subsequent Scripture simply verifies the correctness of the way man would have been expected to understand these verses, apart from other revelation at the time Genesis was written.
Days in Scripture
The structure of God’s revelation to man will
be set forth briefly under three headings, and material discussed
under these three headings will relate specifically to how
particular sections of Scripture handle the matter at hand. Then
attention will be called to other related Scriptures outside these
sections to better present the overall picture from the whole of
The Sabbath was given to Israel as a sign, and the Sabbath was to be observed by the Jewish people “throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16). In this respect, God stated concerning the Sabbath,
It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the LORD made heavens and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:17)
When giving the Sabbath to Israel (cf. Exodus 20:11) or referring to the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God in the book of Hebrews (4:4-9), in each instance, for a very good reason, God called attention to that which had occurred in Genesis chapters one and two. There is a latter work of restoration, followed by rest, which is based on a former work of restoration, followed by rest; and the Sabbath was given to Israel to keep this thought ever before the Jewish people.
But a ruin ensued once again. Man, an entirely
new creation in the universe, fell; and, as a result, the restored
material creation was brought under a curse (Genesis
3:17), leaving God with two ruined creations: man,
and the material creation.
According to Scripture, God set about to
restore the subsequent ruined creations in exactly the same
manner as He had restored the former ruined creation in the
opening chapter of Genesis.
God set about to restore the two subsequent ruined creations over a
six-day period (in keeping with
Genesis 1:2b-25); and, in keeping with
3, following His restoration work, God would then rest on
the seventh day.
The Sabbath was a “sign,” and a sign in
Scripture points to something beyond itself. This “sign,” the
Sabbath, points to a seventh-day rest that God will enter into
with His people (“the people of God” in
Hebrews 4:9) following
six previous days of restorative work.
Jesus performed such signs for one central purpose:
. . . that you [the Jews]
might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing you might have life through His name. (John
20:30, 31; cf. John 2:11; 5:46,
47; 6:14, 21; 11:45).
Seven of the eight signs in John’s gospel were
performed in connection with particular days, all in perfect keeping
with one another, all in perfect keeping with the sign of the
Sabbath, and all in perfect keeping with the septenary arrangement
of Scripture. And all of the signs refer, after different fashions,
to the same thing. They all refer to things surrounding Israel’s
coming salvation and restoration.
The eighth sign, in
20:1-29, has to do with
Christ’s resurrection, after two days, on the third day.
This sign pints to that coming third day, dating from the
crucifixion, when not only Israel but all of God’s firstborns
(Christ, Israel, and the Church [following the adoption]) will be
raised up to live in His sight, which will be after two days,
on the third day.
a) At a time following the creation of the heavens and the earth (“the heavens . . . of old” and “the world that then was [the world existing at the time of ‘the heavens . . . of old’ (in Genesis 1:1, not during the days of Noah)]” [2 Peter 3: 5, 6]).
At a time following the restoration of the heavens and the
earth (“the heavens and the
earth that are now,” existing since the restoration in
Genesis 1:2b-25 [2
Peter 3: 7]).
The destruction of the former is seen in
Genesis 1:2a (“But
the earth had become without form,
and void; and darkness [the sun had ceased to give
its light] was upon the face of
the deep [the raging waters]”), and the destruction of
the latter — destruction by fire — is seen in succeeding verses in
2 Peter (3:10ff).
(Note one thing about the restoration in Genesis 1:2b-25 that should be understood. This restoration could only have been a complete restoration. No trace of “the world that then was” [the world preceding the ruin seen in Genesis 1:2a], or the subsequent ruined earth [in Genesis 1:2a], can be seen in “the heavens and the earth, which are now.”
A complete restoration would have removed all traces of anything having to do with “the world that then was” or with that world during that time when it lay in a ruined state. That is to say, geology today cannot show evidence of any type ruin of a pre-existing creation, for a complete restoration — the only type restoration possible through the divine work seen in Genesis chapter one — would have removed all traces of the ruin occurring in Genesis 1:2a.
In this respect, all that exists in the present secular world of history and science — e.g., the complete fossil record, the dinosaurs, topographical formations such as the Grand Canyon, etc.— would all have to be placed this side of the restoration seen in Genesis 1:2b-25, within time covered by “the heavens and the earth, which are now.”
That which occurred during and which resulted from the Noachian Flood, 1656 years following the restoration of the earth (Genesis 6-8), along with later topographical changes on the earth during the days of Peleg [born 100 after the Flood (Genesis 10:25), must be looked to for an explanation of numerous things of the preceding nature, not to a world lying in ruins in Genesis 1:2a, or to a world existing prior to that time.)
By viewing the whole of Scripture, the correct interpretation of the opening verses of Genesis can be clearly and unquestionably presented through:
1) The manner in which the Hebrew words from Genesis 1:2a, tohu wavohu, are used elsewhere in Scripture (interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture [Isaiah 34:11; 45:18; Jeremiah 4:23]).
2) And through the typical nature of Old Testament history (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11), which has been set forth in a very evident divinely established septenary arrangement.
And these opening verses, providing the
divinely established basis for that which follows, must be
“The thought of a ruined condition of the earth succeeding its original creation . . . is . . . required by the typical view [that is, the earth’s creation, ruin, and subsequent restoration forms a type of (foreshadows) man’s creation, ruin, and subsequent restoration].”
Accordingly, the opening verses of
Genesis cannot deal
strictly with Creation; nor can these verses deal
strictly with Restoration. Either view would be out of line
with the whole of Scripture, beginning with the central theme of
Scripture, the message of redemption.
absolute beginning, and a perfect creation [v.
The Kingdom of God
Moving beyond “the gospel of the grace of God,” as previously stated, Scripture teaches that man has been saved for a purpose, which has to do with “the kingdom of God.” But what is meant when referring to “the kingdom of God” in this respect?
The expression is used different ways in Scripture. A message surrounding “the kingdom of God” could be looked upon as quite broad in its scope, for:
The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
God rules “over all” from “His throne in the heavens,” which, in its larger scope, includes everything in the entire universe. Thus, in this respect, the expression, “the kingdom of God,” could be understood in an all-inclusive sense.
However, references to the kingdom of God are used in this broad sense very sparingly in Scripture. The Bible is a book that deals, not with the universe at large, but with one province in the universe, this earth. And when “the kingdom of God” is mentioned in Scripture, the primary reference invariably has to do with the kingdom as it pertains to the earth.
Even Psalm 103:19 should be looked upon as pertaining first of all to this earth, though the verse in its larger scope would, of necessity, pertain to the entire universe. That would be to say, Psalm 103:19, in a primary sense, in keeping with how Scripture is structured (pertaining to this earth, not the universe), would refer to God’s rule in relation to the earth; but in a secondary sense, also in keeping with how Scripture is structured (at times dealing with the kingdom outside the scope of the earth in order that man on the earth can properly understand things relating to this one part of the kingdom), Psalm 103:19 would be looked upon as pertaining, as well, to the universe at large. In this respect, the verse could be viewed after a dual fashion.
1) The Kingdom and the Earth
Insofar as the kingdom of God in relation to the earth is concerned, Daniel states that God rules and exercises complete sovereign control within the kingdom of man, though Satan (the disqualified provincial ruler) still holds his God-appointed position and governs as a rebel prince (Denial 4:17ff). And Psalm 103:19, in its narrower interpretive sense, referring to the earth alone, would cover the complete scope of God’s sovereign control over this one province in His kingdom.
In the New Testament though, the expression, “the kingdom of God,” is used almost exclusively in a sense referring to only a part of God’s complete government of the earth (the rule from the heavens over the earth). Almost every time the expression appears in the New Testament it appears as synonymous with “the kingdom of the heavens” (a segment [the heavenly segment] of the complete provincial kingdom).
And the reason for this is quite easy to see and understand. This is the way in which the New Testament begins, and this is the subject matter dealt with throughout the New Testament. In this respect, the expression, “the kingdom of God,” is limited in scope
to that covered by the subject at hand — “the kingdom of the heavens,” the rule of the heavens over the earth.
After describing events surrounding the birth of Christ in Matthew chapters one and two, the New Testament opens with the offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel (Matthew 3:1, 2; 4:17; 10:1-8). It then progresses to that point where Israel spurns the proffered kingdom (Matthew 12:14-32; 21:33-41), with the kingdom subsequently being taken from Israel (Matthew 21:42, 43). Progression is then made to the calling into existence of a separate and distinct nation to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected (Matthew 16:18; 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9). And most of the remainder of the New Testament involves this new nation — the Church — and the proffered kingdom of the heavens.
When John the Baptist, Jesus, the Twelve, and the Seventy carried the message concerning the kingdom to Israel, that which they offered to the nation was “the kingdom of the heavens,” or, as also expressed at times, “the kingdom of God” (cf. Matthew 4:17; 21:43; Mark 1:14, 15). “The kingdom of the heavens” is that which was taken from Israel (referred to as “the kingdom of God” when the announcement was made in Matthew 21:43) — exactly the same kingdom that was offered — and this kingdom (the kingdom of the heavens, the rule of the heavens over the earth) is what is presently being offered to the new creation “in Christ” (i.e., offered to Christians, comprising the Church).
(To summarize, “the kingdom of the heavens” and “the kingdom of God” are not necessarily synonymous expressions in Scripture, though usually used in a synonymous sense throughout the New Testament. “The kingdom of the heavens” refers specifically to the heavenly segment of the kingdom [the rule of the heavens over the earth], and “the kingdom of God” could refer to a larger scope of the kingdom, both heavenly and earthly.
However, the expression, “the kingdom of God,” is usually used in a more restricted sense in the New Testament, referring to that part of the kingdom that was offered to Israel, was taken from Israel, and is presently being offered to the Church [cf. Matthew 19:23, 24; 21:43; Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:21].
That would be to say, the expression, “the kingdom of the heavens,” identifies which segment of the kingdom is in view; and the expression, “the kingdom of God,” is usually used in a sense which is limited to this same segment of the kingdom, remaining within the scope of the subject matter at hand.)
God deals with the Church today in relation to the kingdom of the heavens, i.e., in relation to the heavenly segment of the kingdom. He dealt with the lineal descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob in relation to this segment of the kingdom (along with the earthly) at a time in the past, lasting 2,000 years and climaxed by a direct offer of the kingdom of the heavens at Christ’s first coming.
Today though we’re living in a separate dispensation (following that time when the kingdom of the heavens was taken from Israel [Matthew 21:43]), and God is today offering the kingdom to a separate and distinct seed of Abraham for another 2,000-year period — to Christians, comprising the Church (Galatians 3:26-29; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).
During the past 2,000-year dispensation — during that time when Israel could, as Abraham, look beyond the earthly to heavenly promises and blessings (Hebrews 11:8-16) — numerous Israelites did exactly that (cf. Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28, 29; Hebrews 11:13-16, 35-40). And these Israelites, even though the kingdom of the heavens was later taken from Israel, will, in the coming age (a new dispensation), occupy positions in the heavenly segment rather than in the earthly segment of the kingdom.
During the present 2,000-year dispensation — following a climactic offer of the kingdom to Israel and the removal of the kingdom from Israel by the King of the kingdom Himself — the kingdom is being offered to Christians, who are “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise [heavenly, not earthly]” (Galatians 3:29).
Jews during the present dispensation can still have a part in the kingdom of the heavens, but, to do so, they must become new creations “in Christ.” They must, through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, become part of the nation presently being afforded the opportunity to bring forth fruit for the kingdom. They must relinquish their national identification with the nation from which the kingdom has been taken and become identified with the new nation to whom the kingdom is presently being offered, becoming part of the “remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5; cf. Ephesians 3:1-6).
(Insofar as the natural man is concerned, a saved Jew today remains identified with the Jewish race and/or nation. But insofar as the man of spirit is concerned, having to do with his position in Christ, a saved Jew today has relinquished all connection with the Jewish race and/or nation and has become part of a completely separate nation [cf. Acts 21:9; Romans 9:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26-29; Philippians 3:5; ref. chapter 6 in this book].)
During the coming age there will be lineal descendants of Abraham from both the past dispensation and the present dispensation in the kingdom of the heavens. There will be Jews from the past dispensation who looked toward and had respect for heavenly promises and blessings, and there will be Jews from the present dispensation (believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, having become new creations “in Christ,” Christians) who also looked toward and had respect for heavenly promises and blessings.
Then there will undoubtedly be some Gentiles from the past dispensation who became Jewish proselytes and looked beyond the earthly to heavenly promises and blessings (cf. Hebrews 11:31). And even less is revealed in this respect about those in the first of the three dispensations during Man’s Day — those living during the time extending from Adam to Abraham — though Hebrews chapter eleven clearly reveals that certain individuals from this dispensation will be included.
The main influx of Gentiles though will come from the present dispensation (Acts 15:14; Romans 11:25). During this present dispensation there will be innumerable Gentiles (believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, having become Christians) who also (as some Jews past and some Jewish believers present) look toward and have respect for heavenly promises and blessings.
In this respect, those having a part in the future kingdom of the heavens will actually come from three dispensations covering the full 6,000 years of human history (cf. Hebrews 11:35-40).
2. Gospel of Grace, Word of the Kingdom
The proclamation of “the gospel of the grace of God” is for a purpose, which has to do with “the kingdom of God.” Man was created to rule within this kingdom. He was created to rule the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels (Genesis 1:26-28). However,
Satan, the incumbent ruler, brought about man’s fall; and man, in his fallen state, was/is no longer qualified to take the scepter.
But God provided redemption for fallen man so that he could one day realize the purpose for his existence, so that he could one day take the scepter. Redemption in its complete scope, covering that foreshadowed by all six days of restorative work in Genesis chapter one, has to do with both “the gospel of the grace of God” and “the gospel of the glory of Christ”; and man’s rule over the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels has to do with one part of God’s overall kingdom.
Thus, the complete scope of man’s salvation is that shown only by the proclamation of both “the gospel of the grace of God” and “the gospel of the glory of Christ,” as set forth in Acts 20:24, 25.
And this is why the proclamation of the two facets of the complete gospel together (the full panorama of the good news) can be looked upon as a proclamation of “the whole counsel of God” in Acts 20:27. “The whole counsel of God” moves man from the point where he is likened to and typified by the ruined creation in Genesis 1:2a through not only events foreshadowed by God’s work on day one of the restoration (1:2b-5) but also through events foreshadowed by God’s work on days two through six as well (1:6-25), anticipating the seventh day, the earth’s coming Sabbath, the Messianic Era (2:1-3). And, again, that covers the complete skeletal framework upon which the whole of Scripture rests.
Referring to a larger overall type, also resting on the original type in Genesis 1:1-2:3, the proclamation of “the gospel of the grace of God” and “the kingdom of God” together moves man from the death of the firstborn in Egypt in Exodus chapter twelve to an inheritance in another land, set forth in the book of Joshua. This complete sequence of events moves man from the place of his salvation in Egypt, through the Red Sea, through the wilderness, and into the land set before him.
The type was set forth in perfect, minute form by Moses at the very beginning, in the opening two chapters of Genesis. Then, going beyond the original type, Moses records numerous events — also forming types — that provide various, additional details relating to the overall scope of redemption (Genesis 2:4ff). And when one arrives at Exodus chapter twelve, Moses devotes the entirety of the remainder of that which he wrote to provide the largest single overall type in Scripture covering the whole of the original type in Genesis 1:1-2:3, relying on Joshua to complete the work.
These are the things provided for the Church as “examples [lit., ‘types’],” which have been recorded for our “admonition [or, ‘instruction’]” (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
(Though the author of the book of Joshua is unnamed, it appears evident that Joshua wrote the book. Joshua was chosen to complete the work that God had called Moses to do, which would not only involve leading the Israelites into the land but would seemingly also involve providing the historical record, completing the type [cf. Exodus 3:10, 16, 17; Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 34:1-9; Joshua 1:1-9].)
And within this overall type extending from Exodus chapter twelve through the book of Joshua there are innumerable individual types.
That’s the way Scripture has been written, that’s the way Scripture must be studied, and that’s the way Scripture must be proclaimed.