The Spiritual Warfare
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Location of the Conflict
If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God that was given to me for you,
how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery . . .
And to make all see what is the fellowship [‘dispensation’] of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ:
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by [‘through’] the Church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,
According to the eternal purpose [‘According to a purpose of the ages’] that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:2, 3a, 9-11).
There is an existing, ongoing warfare between powerful spirit beings in the heavens (Satan and his angels) and individuals on the earth (Christians). This warfare centers on salvation — not the Christians’ presently possessed eternal salvation but present and future aspects of salvation, the salvation of the soul. In this respect, the existing warfare is a battle for the souls (the lives) of the saved.
And the warfare has regal ramifications, which takes one all the way back to:
Man has been, is being, and will be saved for a revealed purpose. There is a revealed goal in view, and, relative to salvation, that goal is always the same in Scripture, regardless of what aspect of man’s salvation is in view. That goal is the same for the whole of man’s salvation — “spirit, soul, and body” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). That goal has to do with redeemed man ultimately occupying the position for which he was created in the beginning.
Man, realizing the goal of salvation, must one day hold the scepter. And this will occur after “Man’s Day” has run its course, at the beginning of the Messianic Era.
The Church was called into existence to be the recipient of that which Israel rejected at Christ’s first coming — proffered regal positions in the kingdom of the heavens. This offer was extended to Israel in time past, but Christians are the ones to whom the offer is presently being extended. And, with this in view, Christians (as Israelites in time past) are the ones presently being afforded the opportunity to bring forth fruit in relation to the kingdom (cf. Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).
It is Christ and His co-heirs (Christians from the present dispensation) who are destined to one day replace Satan and his angels, the present rulers in the kingdom. This is what is being made known to the present rulers (“the principalities and powers in the heavenly places”), through the Church, in Ephesians 3:10 — the fact that they are about to be replaced, by man, 6,000 years after the fact, realizing the purpose for his creation in the beginning.
God is about to bring in a new order of Sons, and Satan knows this. Six thousand years ago, at the time of man’s creation, it was made known that man would replace the incumbent rulers (Genesis 1:26-28). And, during the present dispensation, a continuing declaration of this same fact is being made known through the Church in a more specific manner (i.e., not man in general but Christ and His co-heirs [Christians] in particular will replace the incumbent rulers).
This is why the warfare rages. Satan and his angels are doing everything within their power to prevent God’s new order of Sons from being brought forth. Satan and his angels know that once God brings forth this new order of Sons (Christ and His co-heirs), these Sons will not only rule the earth in the stead of the incumbent rulers but they will rule from the same heavenly places (cf. Ephesians 6:12).
(Note that the battle seen between Michael and his angels on the one hand and Satan and his angels on the other in Revelation 12:7-9 [cf. Ezekiel 28:16b-19] — a battle that will occur near the middle of the coming Tribulation, in which Satan and his angels will be cast out of their heavenly places onto the earth — anticipates and prepares the way for Christ and His co-heirs to then move into this heavenly realm and exercise regal power therein.)
The coming kingdom of Christ, toward which the whole of Scripture moves, will be one kingdom with two realms — a heavenly realm, and an earthly realm. Christ, the Seed of Abraham, will be the Supreme Ruler; and occupying positions of power and authority with Him will be the seed of Abraham (the Church) ruling from a heavenly realm and the seed of Abraham (Israel) ruling from an earthly realm.
Christ, after this fashion, will have a dual reign, both from His Own throne in the heavens and from David’s throne on the earth (Luke 1:31-33; Revelation 3:21). There will be a Jerusalem above and a Jerusalem below. The New Jerusalem will rest in a heavenly position above the earth, as the capital of the earth from above (apparently a satellite city which those on the earth can possibly behold); and the city of Jerusalem on the earth will be restored, existing as the capital city of the earth from below.
Christ with His co-heirs will exercise power and authority from the New Jerusalem above the earth; and Christ in the midst of and with His people, Israel, will exercise power and authority from Jerusalem below. Power and authority from above will emanate from Christ’s own throne, and power and authority from below will emanate from David’s throne, which will be given to Christ.
That will be the basic structure of the coming kingdom of Christ, in which both the heavenly seed and the earthly seed of Abraham will “possess the gate of [rule over]” the Gentile nations of the earth. And this rule will result in not only the nations being blessed but the kingdom ultimately (at the end of 1,000 years) being brought back into a state where it can be delivered up to the Father so that “God may be all in all [‘God may be all things in all of these things’]” (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; cf. Colossians 1:16, 20).
The Present Kingdom
The earth is a province in the kingdom of God, and Satan holds the position of Messianic Angel (the provincial ruler) over the earth. He has held this position since the time of his appointment by God in the beginning, prior to his fall; and he (along with angels ruling under him) will continue holding this position until he is one day replaced by Man — the second Man, the last Adam, with His co-heirs, redeemed from the lineage of the first man, the first Adam (Ezekiel 28:14-16; Hebrews 2:5-10).
Satan’s fall produced no change in his appointed position, for a principal of biblical government necessitates that an incumbent ruler hold his appointed position until his successor not only appears but is ready to take the scepter. There is no such thing as God removing a ruler from a province in His kingdom and not, at the same time, appointing another ruler.
Though Satan’s fall produced no change in His appointed position, it did bring about a change in the kingdom over which he ruled. The material kingdom itself was reduced to a ruin.
The earth was [‘But the earth became’] without form, and void; and darkness was [‘and darkness became’] upon the face of the deep.” (Genesis 1:2a; cf. Ezekiel 28:18b)
From that time until immediately prior to the creation of Adam, though Satan continued to occupy his appointed position, he ruled over a ruined kingdom shrouded in darkness.
Then, approximately 6,000 years ago God restored the earth, along with the light of the sun and moon, and brought man into existence with a view to man taking the scepter held by Satan. This is the way Scripture begins.
However, the incumbent ruler, Satan, brought about the first man’s fall; and this necessitated the appearance of the second Man to provide redemption before fallen man could one day hold the scepter, as God had originally intended. Satan, bringing about the first man’s fall, followed by God’s redemption of fallen man, follows the pattern previously established in Genesis chapter one:
The earth had been brought into existence for a purpose — “to be inhabited,” i.e., to be an inhabited province in God’s kingdom (Isaiah 45:18); and, following its ruin, the earth was restored in order that God’s purpose for the earth might be realized.
Man, likewise, had been brought into existence for a purpose (Genesis 1:26-28); and following man’s ruin, God began a work of restoration in order that His purpose for man’s existence might be realized.
As God (following Satan’s fall) restored the ruined material creation over a six-day period, He (following man’s fall) is presently restoring another ruined creation — ruined man — over the same length of time, with each day in the latter restoration being 1,000 years in length. Then, as God rested for a day following the prior restoration (Genesis 2:1-3), He will rest for a day, for 1,000 years, following the present restoration (Hebrews 4:4-9).
The pattern concerning how God restores a ruined creation was set at the very beginning, in the opening verses of Genesis. And man, a subsequent ruined creation, must be restored in exact conformity with the God-established pattern.
As this restoration pertains to “time,” it will occur over six days, over six thousand years (cf. Matthew 16:28-17:5; 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:3-8). And there will then be a day of rest that will last for one day, for one thousand years. This is the earth’s coming Sabbath, toward which every earthly Sabbath pointed and every earthly Sabbath anticipated (Exodus 20:8-11; 31:13-17; Hebrews 4:4-9).
The whole of Scripture, progressing through six days of redemptive work, moves toward that coming Sabbath of rest. The skeletal structure was set in perfect form in the beginning, and the whole of Scripture beyond that point must rest on this structure. The whole of Scripture moves toward that coming seventh day when Christ and His co-heirs will take the scepter and rule the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels.
(For additional details concerning a correct interpretation and understanding of Genesis 1:1-2:3, refer to chapters 2-4 in the author’s book, The Study of Scripture.)
From what realm though do Satan and his angels presently rule? It is clear from both Old and New Testament Scriptures that they rule from a heavenly realm over the earth. Satan and his angels have access to the earth (Genesis 6:2-4; Job 1:7; 2:2; 1 Peter 5:8; Jude 6), but they do not rule on the earth.
1) Location of Satan’s Rule — Old Testament
Daniel chapter ten presents certain insights into how the present kingdom of Satan is structured, along with the location of those administering power and authority in the kingdom. In this chapter, a heavenly messenger who had been dispatched to Daniel on the earth from that part of the heavens where God resides and rules (the northernmost point in the universe in relation to the earth [Isaiah 14:13, ASV]) was detained at a point in route. This messenger was detained in the heavens above the earth by “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” Then Michael was dispatched from heaven, and the messenger remained there with “the kings of Persia” while Michael fought with the prince of Persia for his release (Daniel 10:13).
The picture presented is that of powerful angels in the kingdom of Satan ruling the earth from a heavenly realm through counterparts in the human race on earth. There was a prince (ruler) of Persia in the heavens, and there was a prince (ruler) of Persia on the earth. Then, in the heavens, there were lesser rulers associated with Persia (the kings of Persia); and the same would have been true in the earthly kingdom (cf. Daniel 2:39; 5:28-31; 7:5; 8:3-6, 20).
Then beyond that “the prince of Greece” is mentioned — another heavenly ruler, the angelic heavenly ruler over the Grecian kingdom on earth (v. 20). And the reason why attention is called to this heavenly ruler is easy to see and understand. Daniel, throughout his book, deals with the kingdom of Babylon, from the days of Nebuchadnezzar to the days of Antichrist; and Daniel 10:20 (“…the prince of Greece will come”) anticipated that day when Alexander the Great in the Grecian kingdom on earth would conquer the kingdom of Babylon under the Medes and the Persians (cf. Daniel 2:39; 7:6; 8:7, 8, 21, 22).
Thus, there is not only a breakdown of powers in the heavenly kingdom under Satan corresponding to a breakdown of powers in various earthly kingdoms under fallen man but there is also a shifting of powers in the heavenly kingdom corresponding to a shifting of powers in the earthly kingdoms. In this respect, any person occupying a position of power in any Gentile earthly kingdom during the present age is merely occupying a position of power under Satan and his angels, as they rule from the heavens through counterparts on the earth.
(Note that the nation of Israel is the lone exception among nations on earth whose rulers presently hold positions of power and authority under fallen angels in the kingdom of Satan. The prince over Israel is “Michael” [Daniel 10:21], an angelic prince in the heavens who is not numbered among those ruling in Satan’s kingdom, as Israel is not numbered among the nations [Numbers 23:9].)
2) Location of Satan’s Rule — New Testament
The book of Ephesians presents the same picture of Satan’s present kingdom as the book of Daniel, though from a different perspective. Ephesians is a book dealing with the heavenlies, pointing to the place where the Christians’ future inheritance lies (Ephesians 1:3-23). Christians have been saved with a view to realizing an inheritance as co-heirs with Christ in a heavenly kingdom at a future date. That is one of two central messages in this book.
The other central message has to do with the present inhabitants of that heavenly sphere — Satan and his angels (1:21; 3:9-11; 6:11ff). They are said to reside “in heavenly places” (3:10), and Ephesians chapter six presents an existing, ongoing warfare between Christians and these angels.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places [KJV: high places]. (6:12)
(The words “in heavenly places” [3:10] and “in high places” [6:12] are both translations of the same Greek words, referring to a heavenly sphere. The reference, in both instances, is to angels exercising positions of power and authority from places in the heavens within the kingdom under Satan — the present existing kingdom of the heavens.
For additional information concerning the present existing kingdom under Satan, along with the coming kingdom under Christ, refer to the author’s book, The Most High Ruleth.)
Thus, there is a present existing warfare between the heavenly rulers and Christians; and that warfare rages because Satan and his angels know the reason that the “one new man” in Christ has been called into existence (cf. Ephesians 3:9-11). The one new man will comprise the co-heirs ruling with Christ in that coming day, following the time Satan and his angels will have been put down. And Christ, with His co-heirs, ruling in the stead of Satan and his angels, will exercise power and authority from the same realm where Satan and his angels presently rule.
Thus, the warfare rages because Satan and his angels will do everything within their power to prevent this transfer of power and authority; and it will continue to rage until Christians have been removed from the earth, anticipating Satan and his angels being removed from their heavenly realm (“threw them to [‘unto,’ ‘upon’] the earth” [Revelation 12:4, 7-10; cf. Ezekiel 16b-19]) with a view to Christ and His co-heirs taking the kingdom (Revelation 19:11-20:6; cf. Revelation 11:15).
These things will occur at the end of the present dispensation (which has lasted almost 2,000 years) and near the end of the present age (which has lasted almost 6,000 years). Then, and only then, will redeemed man realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning — “. . . let them have dominion” (Genesis 1:26-28).
(The present dispensation covers time between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week in Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy [Daniel 9:24-27], though not time related to the prophecy itself. The present dispensation comprises a 2,000-year period separate from time in Daniel’s prophecy.
God’s chronometer, marking time in the prophecy, has, so to speak, stopped, allowing the present dispensation to run its course. Then, once the present dispensation has been completed, the Church will be removed, and God will complete His dispensational dealings with Israel by and through the fulfillment of that which is seen in Daniel’s prophecy.
God’s chronometer relating to the Jewish people will then mark time in Daniel’s prophecy once again, fulfilling the final week, the final seven years. This final unfulfilled week is the coming seven-year Tribulation. And the fulfillment of this final week will not only complete seven unfulfilled years of the previous dispensation but also the final seven years of the age covering “Man’s 6,000-year Day.”
For more information on Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy, refer to Chapter 12, “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks,” in the author’s book, The Time of the End.
For information on distinctions between ages and dispensations, refer to the author’s book, The Study of Scripture, chapter 5.)
The Proffered Kingdom
Israel was called into existence to be the nation that God would not only bless but would, in turn, through this nation, bless all the other nations as well. In this respect, Israel was called into existence to be the channel through which God would bless all of mankind (Genesis 12:1-3).
In order for these blessings to ultimately be realized in their fullness, man must occupy the position for which he was originally created. Man must hold the scepter. There can be (there have been and presently are) blessings for mankind, through Israel, as man moves toward that end; but the fullness of blessings that God has in store for mankind, through Israel, cannot be realized until Israel has been restored and man actually holds the scepter.
To effect the whole of the matter, Israel’s calling involved giving man the Redeemer, giving man the Word of God, and being made the repository for both heavenly and earthly promises and blessings.
Through Israel God has given to man the Redeemer and the Word of God, revealing His plans and purposes. But the heavenly and earthly promises and blessings, other than a foretaste, have yet to be realized. Such a realization awaits Israel’s restoration and man holding the scepter during the coming Messianic Era.
1) Israel and the Proffered Kingdom — Past
There were two times in history when the nation of Israel was placed in a position where the people of Israel could enter into and occupy the kingdom. The first was under Moses and later Joshua following the Exodus from Egypt, and the second was under Jesus the Christ almost 1,500 years later.
a) The Earthly
The proffered kingdom during the days of Moses and Joshua had to do with the earthly segment of the kingdom. The Israelites had been called out of Egypt to realize an inheritance in another land, and that other land was the earthly land of Canaan.
The nation under Moses, at Kadesh-Barnea, rebelled against God and His appointed leader Moses. Because of unbelief, they refused to enter the land and, under God, take the land; and, within their actions, they even went so far as to seek to appoint a new leader and return to Egypt (Numbers 13:26-14:4).
This resulted in the entire accountable generation, save Caleb and Joshua (because they possessed “a different spirit” relative to entering the land), being overthrown in the wilderness during the next thirty-eight and one-half years (Numbers 14:5-38). And then Joshua, after the overthrow of the entire accountable generation and after the death of Moses, led the second generation of Israelites into the land (Joshua 1:1ff).
The Israelites entering the land under Joshua though, along with succeeding generations of Israelites, never realized the fullness of the purpose for their calling. This failure was the result of unbelief and disobedience at different times on the part of the people. And the attitude and action of the people in this respect governed the attitude and action of God in this same respect (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
God’s blessings would follow Israel’s belief and obedience, resulting in the surrounding Gentile nations also being blessed. But exactly the opposite would result from unbelief and disobedience. There were curses rather than blessings, and a withholding of blessings from Israel resulted in a withholding of blessings from the surrounding Gentile nations as well.
The kingdom reached its heights during the days of David and his son, Solomon. But following the division of the kingdom after Solomon’s death, things took a different turn entirely. The nation, through a continuing disobedience, became entrenched in a downward course from which there would be no return, leading to Gentile captivity and the “times of the Gentiles.” God’s call to His people to “humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways” (2 Chronicles 7:14) — through the prophets — went unheeded.
And God remaining true to His Word (Leviticus 26:32ff; Deuteronomy 28:25, 37), eventually allowed Gentile powers to enter the land and take His people captive, uprooting the Jewish people from their own land and transporting them to Gentile lands. The Assyrians came down and took the northern ten tribes into captivity beginning about 722 B.C., and the Babylonians came over and took the southern two tribes into captivity beginning about 605 B.C.
The removal of the southern two tribes, completing a captivity and removal of the Jewish people from their land by Gentile powers, began the period known as “the times of the Gentiles,” which extends from that point until the end of the coming Tribulation.
The kingdom was taken from Israel at this time, along with the Glory; and neither will be restored to Israel until the coming Messianic Era (Ezekiel 10:4, 18; 11:22, 23; 43:1-5; cf. Luke 9:32; Acts 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:16). Though the Jewish people were allowed to return from captivity seventy years following the Babylonian captivity, only a remnant returned; and though the temple was rebuilt, it housed no Glory.
And the same holds true today. Though the nation has been allowed to return, only a remnant has done so (but this time by and through a Zionistic, man-made movement, in unbelief); and though Israel will shortly rebuild her temple, it will house no Glory.
Another parallel relative to Israel past and present also holds true. The remnant forming the present nation, just as the remnant forming the past nation, will be uprooted and driven to the ends of the earth. The former occurred under the Romans, beginning in 70 A.D., and the latter will occur under Antichrist, beginning in the middle of the Tribulation.
And as the temple that was built by the remnant returning to the land following the Babylonian captivity was later destroyed (in 70 A.D.), so will it be with the temple that Israel is about to build. It too will be destroyed (Daniel 9:26; Matthew 24:15-22; Luke 21:20-24).
Israel, with her temple (housing the Glory of God once again), will be restored only after the “times of the Gentiles” has run its course and after Messiah returns. Christ, Himself, will personally restore the nation (Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Matthew 24:30, 31), and He, Himself, will personally build the temple (Zechariah 6:11-13).
b) The Heavenly
The preceding forms a brief historic and prophetic overview of the earthly segment of the kingdom, which could be understood following the days of David as the kingdom covenanted to David (2 Samuel 7:4-17; cf. Luke 1:31-33).
However, there is another segment of the kingdom that also, of necessity, had to be offered to Israel; and that other segment is the heavenly.
This segment of the kingdom was offered to Israel at the time of Christ’s first advent. Scripture clearly reveals that the earthly segment of the kingdom was not in view at all at this time. Only the heavenly segment was in view.
John the Baptist preceded Christ with the message,
Repent [plural in the Greek text, referring to the entire nation]: for the kingdom of heaven [lit. the heavens] is at hand! (Matthew 3:1ff)
John was the forerunner of the Messiah (v. 3); and he appeared, calling the nation to repentance (a change of mind), announcing that the kingdom of the heavens (the rule of the heavens over the earth) was at hand (i.e., had drawn near and could have been established, for the Messianic King Himself was present [cf. Matthew 2:2; 27:37]).
(The expression, “the kingdom of heaven,” appearing thirty-two times in the gospel of Matthew [KJV, et al.] should literally be translated, on every occasion, “the kingdom of the heavens.” The word “heaven” is always plural and proceeded by the definite article in the Greek text.)
Then after John was imprisoned, Jesus took up the message (Matthew 4:12, 17), later He called out twelve disciples to carry this same message to the people throughout the land of Israel, and later yet He called seventy others for the same purpose (Matthew 10:1ff; Luke 10:1ff).
Thus, the offer of the kingdom of the heavens was extended to Israel initially by John the Baptist and for a subsequent three and one-half years by Christ and His disciples — the Twelve, and then the Seventy. But, after all had been said and done, the nation, because of the attitude of the religious leaders in Israel, rejected not only the offer but even went so far as to reject and crucify the One who made the offer (Matthew 12:22-32; 23:1ff; 27:17ff).
(An offer of the heavenly segment of the kingdom was a matter that the religious leaders in Israel should have been quite familiar with. This segment of the kingdom, though not dealt with as extensively in the Old Testament as the earthly, was still a major subject of Old Testament Scripture [Genesis 14:18-22; 15:5; 22:17, 18; 26:4; Daniel 7:18-27; 10:13-21; cf. Job. 1:6-12; 2:1-6]. And many Israelites throughout Old Testament history, understanding these things, looked beyond the earthly to the heavenly [cf. Matthew 8:11; Hebrews 11:8-16].)
Israel’s rejection of the kingdom of the heavens anticipated the Church being called into existence to be the recipient of that which the nation had rejected (Matthew 16:1-18). And the announcement concerning the matter was subsequently made to the religious leaders in Israel, as recorded in Matthew 21:43, immediately prior to the events of Calvary:
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God [that part of the kingdom that had been offered, the heavenly] will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:43)
The heavenly segment of the kingdom was taken from Israel in view of the Church being called into existence to be the recipient of that offer. And Israel, from that point forward, in line with Matthew 12:31, 32, could not bring forth fruit relative to the kingdom of the heavens.
Israel, relative to this segment of the kingdom, could no longer bear fruit, “either in this age or in the age to come.” That encompassed the two ages covering the whole of the time set forth by the seven days in Genesis chapters one and two, which covers the 6,000 years comprising Man’s Day and the 1,000 years comprising the Lord’s Day, the Messianic Era.
But note that this is relative to the kingdom of the heavens only. It has nothing to do with the kingdom covenanted to David, the earthly segment of the kingdom. This can never be taken from Israel, and Israel will one day be very fruitful, on the earth, when Messiah returns and this segment of the kingdom is restored to the nation.
2) The Church and the Proffered Kingdom — Present
When Christ announced to the religious leaders in Israel that the kingdom would be taken from Israel and be given to “a nation bearing the fruits of it,” that nation — the Church (1 Peter 2:9) — did not then exist. But though the Church had not yet been called into existence, it had previously been mentioned by Christ (Matthew 16:18) and had been anticipated by events leading into Matthew 21:43 (Matthew 12:22-32; 13:1ff; 21:18-42).
The first mention of the Church though, in reality, actually precedes these events in the gospel of Matthew by one and a half millennia in one respect and by four millennia in another respect.
Moses, 1,500 years before Christ’s first appearance and 1,500 years before the Church was brought into existence, provided the first recorded information concerning the Church. And this information is provided by way of typology in Genesis chapters two and three, drawn from events occurring 2,500 years before Moses recorded them (Eve removed from Adam’s body, foreshadowing Christ’s bride removed from His body, etc.).
Then another interesting matter surrounds the fact that the Church is presented in biblical typology prior to any mention of Israel after this fashion. Israel is not seen in biblical typology until the events recorded in Genesis chapter four (Cain slaying Abel, Israel slaying Christ). And events in chapter four parallel events in the previous chapter, in chapter three, where Adam partakes of sin to effect Eve’s redemption, foreshadowing Christ becoming sin to effect our redemption (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Thus, matters surrounding Israel rejecting the offer of the kingdom of the heavens, climaxed by the crucifixion of the One who made the offer and necessitating the calling into existence of the Church, all have their roots back in the opening chapters of Genesis. The Church is that “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) spoken of in type by Moses, referred to by Christ in Matthew 16:18, and in the mind of Christ in Matthew 21:43 when He announced to the religious leaders in Israel that the kingdom would be taken from them and be given to “a nation bearing the fruits of it.”
The Church is comprised of a heavenly people with heavenly promises and blessings, and these promises and blessings will be realized during a future day (the Messianic Era), in the heavens, not on the earth. Contrariwise, Israel’s future promises and blessings are earthly alone, for the heavenly promises and blessings have been taken from Israel.
Accordingly, viewing the matter after the preceding fashion leaves no room to question what facet of the kingdom (heavenly or earthly) was offered to, rejected by, and taken from Israel. The Word clearly states what facet: the “kingdom of the heavens,” referring to the heavenly sphere of the kingdom.
(The confusion in this realm usually emanates from erroneously understanding the expression, “the kingdom of the heavens,” as referring only to a kingdom having its origin in the heavens, where God dwells, not to a kingdom located in a heavenly sphere.
Then, beyond these clear statements concerning what facet of the kingdom was in view at the time of Christ’s first coming, exactly the same thing can be seen and understood when viewing the matter from the standpoint of the whole of Scripture.)
The earthly segment of the kingdom had been covenanted to David via an unconditional covenant and could not have been, nor can it ever be, taken from the nation of Israel. Christ’s announcement to the religious leaders in Israel could not have had anything to do with the earthly segment of the kingdom; nor was the earthly segment of the kingdom even in view in the offer of the kingdom to Israel, beginning with John and continuing with Christ and His disciples.
The heavenly segment of the kingdom alone was in view in the offer to Israel, the rejection by Israel, the removal from Israel, and the offer to another nation. And the Church alone — “Abraham’s seed [because of the Christians’ position ‘in Christ’], and heirs according to the promise [heavenly, not earthly]” (Galatians 3:29) — is the only entity that can possibly be identified as this new nation, the one presently being extended the opportunity to bring forth fruit relative to the kingdom of the heavens (1 Peter 2:9-11; 2 Peter 1:8-11).
And the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire present dispensation revolves around this whole overall thought. Redeemed man, removed from both Jew and Gentile, has been saved (has become a new creation, a part of the one new man “in Christ”) for a purpose; and that purpose has to do with bringing forth fruit (present) with a view to occupying a position as co-heir with Christ in the “kingdom of the heavens” (future).
The Future Kingdom
Satan and his angels are to be put down, and Christ and His co-heirs are to take the kingdom. That is the clear testimony of Scripture, beginning in Genesis and concluding in Revelation. The matter will occur after exactly the same fashion set forth in Daniel 4:17.
. . . 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 . . . (Daniel 4:17)
The Most High will one day give the kingdom to His Son (Daniel 7:13, 14; cf. Revelation 11:15), Satan and his angels will be put down (exactly as Nebuchadnezzar in history was put down, for that will be “the decree of the Most High” [Daniel 4:23-31]), and the Son will then take the kingdom and rule, holding the scepter.
At that time God will place redeemed, qualified individuals in positions of power and authority as co-heirs with His Son (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32; Matthew 20:23); and Christ, with His co-heirs, will hold the scepter (cf. Psalm 2:6-9; Revelation 2:26, 27).
Christ’s co-heirs will have previously been shown qualified at the judgment seat; and following the Father positioning these co-heirs on the throne with His Son, Christ and His co-heirs (who will form His wife in that day) will then rule the earth from His throne in the heavenly Jerusalem for 1,000 years.
Israel will have been restored to the nation’s earthly land, and the kingdom covenanted to David will have been restored to Israel. David’s throne will have been given to Christ; and He will rule from this throne on the earth as well as from His own throne in the heavens (note that David will also rule from this throne [cf. Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24; Luke 1:31-33]).
Thus, Christ will have a dual reign during the Messianic Era. And it will be after this fashion that Christ will exercise power and authority over the earth for 1,000 years.
Christ’s rule from the heavens will involve His co-heirs (His wife), who will exercise power and authority with Him over the nations. And Christ’s rule on the earth will involve the Jewish people (the restored wife of Jehovah) who will also exercise power and authority with Him over the nations.
Accordingly, the Gentile nations, in this manner, will be governed from two realms during this time — heavenly and earthly; and blessings will flow forth through Abraham’s Seed from both realms (cf. Genesis 12:3; 22:17, 18; Romans 9:4, 5; Galatians 3:16, 29).
And the object of Christ’s rule after this fashion will be to bring order out of disorder, to effect a cosmos out of a chaos.
“All rule and all authority and power” must be put down; “all enemies” must be put “under His [under Christ’s] feet,” even “death.” And when “all things are made subject to Him [Christ],” the kingdom will be “delivered up” to “God the Father” in order that “God may be all in all [‘God may be all things in all of these things’]” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
This is what the whole of Scripture, beginning in the opening verses of Genesis, anticipates; and to bring the matter to pass, the Son, in conjunction with His co-heirs in the heavens and the nation of Israel on the earth, will rule the earth for the duration of that seventh day — for 1,000 years — foreshadowed by the seventh day seen at the very beginning, in Genesis 2:1-3.