Life in the Millennium (Part 2)- The King

Any believer when asked would agree that Jesus is King. He is given the title King many times throughout scripture. I believe the Lord would call the corporate body of Christ to some understanding of what His Kingship entails. For while we  nobly attribute the title “King” to our Lord Christ, many times we fall short in seeing the manifold implications of this Kingship beyond our own hearts. Christ is ruling in our hearts (Col 3:15), yet if we only look to the here and now (salvation), we miss the majority of the prophetic millennial theme (Christ’s inheritance).  Here, we could shift into the various view concerning the nature of reign this King will execute, but I’m choosing to put that on hold for now and steer toward the beginnings of this Kingly mandate.

David, one of my favorite people in the bible, was given some of the most dramatic revelation concerning this King and His kingdom. What makes David’s Messianic revelation unique is that 1) The Messianic Seed would come though David’s own line; 2) David received his divine inspiration in the context of worship, song, and prayer; 3) David several times overheard heavenly conversations happening between the Father and Son; 4) Further, we see David as a “type” of Christ – involved in the affairs of both kingly and priestly offices (possibly he is one of the clearest pictures).

In Psalm 2:3 David is shown the age old sin of mankind- pride. The heartbeat of this pride promulgates the vow, “We do not want this man [Jesus]  to reign over us.” Man was given the authority of the earth and has turned that authority into greed and wicked ambition culminating not in atheism, as many think, but in war against Christ himself. Man’s audacious declaration of war against heaven receives laughing scorn from the One who sits on creation’s throne (2:4). The Lord will distress them in His wrath, not because He has forsaken His mercy, but because He has given them every reason to hate Him and they have zealously embraced the opportunity. He has exposed their hearts for what they truly are apart from His blessed salvation – wicked, lustful, and envious.

God’s plan of redemption starts not with blessing of the cross but with an eternal zeal to dwell with man forever. Only Almighty God could so faithfully and flawlessly orchestrate the events of human history, not violate the freewill of man, and redeem an innumerable company of saints that would witness His eternal glory forever. God knew that man would fail. The work of atonement was a revelation of the eternal humility and unconditional love of the Godhead, not a scrambling backup plan due to unforeseen human shortcomings. For this Lamb was, in divine nature, already slain before any man hung Him on a tree.

Messianic Mandate – Psalm 2:6

While man was sinful, selfish, and evil, the Son was sinless, selfless, and righteous – all the attributes necessary for ordering a kingdom in the likeness of the Father’s. He declares to these hardened men that He has chosen another and will set Him on the holy hill of Zion (2:6). David is a witness to Jesus being named “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. Moreover, David is told that this King will rule from his throne forever:

2Sa 7:12-13 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Where is David’s throne? It is none other than in Zion – the city of David (1 Kings 8:1). Beloved saints, the throne of David is not in your heart or in mine. David did not sit on an spiritual throne in the hearts of people. His throne was located in the city of David, in Jerusalem, on the earth. Christ has been given this throne and is waiting to receive His inheritance (Heb. 10:12, 13). This Davidic covenant is the stigma to every king, nation, people of the earth because the message of the Messianic Kingdom is more than salvation from sin but invasion from heaven! Isaiah is shown God’s zeal that the word is sure:

Isa 9:7  Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The angel re-affirmed this to Mary:

Luk 1:32, 33  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

The apostles gave testimony of the  Davidic covenant to show that Christ had indeed been resurrected – for the dead cannot inherit the living. The resurrection was a vital part of God’s covenant to David. (see also Acts 13:21-41)

Act 2:30  Therefore, {David} being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up {resurrect} the Christ to sit on his {David’s} throne,

Jesus will come again, fulfill the Messianic Mandate, sit on David’s throne, and rule the nations of the earth from Jerusalem with  uncompromising righteousness. Creation is groaning and waiting until this kingdom is established and restored. This King will answer every groan, every tear, every malcontent, every injustice, every wrong, every plea, and every cause. This King is what every man, both wicked and just, truly desire. All will come to the Desire of All Nations.

A Pause to Begin Something Old

I have a burden. I’m going to hit the pause button on the “Life in the Millennium” series I’ve started and interject a few thoughts I’ve been having. Because I can, there are no rules on the blog sphere world, and my readers consist of 3 people (whom I very much appreciate).

Anyone with a computer could tell you that we are seeing a resurgence of interest in the end-times. From blogs, twitter, and CNN, articles on the “end of the world” are popping up like Chinese carry-out restaurants in shopping malls. Believers all across the earth are beginning to respond to the trumpet alarm of Matthew 25:6 “Behold the Bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”

Christianity, as with any religion, believes in an ultimate reckoning for mankind. This reckoning (called eschatology) will sum up all things, bring an end to evil, and usher in a glorious age where God will dwell with man as He originally intended.

Now we make a quite large, non-conformist, leap ahead to an event of considerable division – the Rapture. The revelation of the rapture is an odd thing because the rapture isn’t in the book of Revelation – yes, that did sound like Willy Wonka. In fact, the word “rapture” doesn’t appear in the inspired word of God. The meaning is derived from the Latin word “rapturo” meaning “caught up“. The rapture of the saints is an amazing revelation intended to instill hope in believers enduring persecution. The premier verse concerning the doctrine of the rapture, 1 Thess 4:14-18, was written to a church to whom Paul said a few verses prior, “[You] received the word in much affliction (1:5)…we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation…(3:4)” The believers in Thessalonica were undergoing significant persecution at the hands of both Jew and Gentile antagonists. Paul wrote them because he had concern for their faith lest his “labor [be] in vain” (3:5).  He was giving them a hope of the things to come. The doctrine of the rapture was meant to enable believers undergoing persecution to fix their eyes on their ultimate glory in Christ, not give them a false escapism mentality.

If one were to look at church history, specifically the early church, one would see that there wasn’t a message of escaping the onslaught of wicked adversity, but rather, the message was to stay strong in adversity. The early church fathers, the martyrs of the Reformation, and the modern day martyrs in China and the Middle Eastern nations all bear witness to the deception of the pre-tribulational doctrine. This doctrine understands neither the mercy of the Lord, nor His wrath, but rather misconstrues it into a false hope. On top of that, it reassures believers that the teacher is infallible and that the flock need not fret nor read their bibles. Corrie Ten Boom said in her letter addressing the rapture:

“In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.”

Beloved saints, we have been hoodwinked, taken for the lethargic, prayerless Christians we are. Out of touch with our suffering brethern. Out of sync with the Holy Spirit. Closed to the teaching of the apostles and Christ. Useless to the kingdom of God. Susceptible to error. Instructed in comfort. Bred for deception. We are bent, but not broken. What will it take to awaken the church in America to the coming storm?

Life in the Millennium (Part 1) – The Kingdom

In modern days, few believers have sought to grasp the truth of the millennial kingdom. Most have received the Lord into their heart and have sought to “bring the kingdom” into the various aspects of their lives – and rightly so.  What we need to understand about the kingdom is that it is meant to invade every aspect of society. This is what I love about Morningstar Ministries. They are sounding the trumpet in the earth that the kingdom is more than personal salvation but governmental/social/economic invasion. It is not enough for believers to only receive salvation, yet many have stopped here. The message of salvation will not receive persecution in the nations of the earth because it is only the entrance to a far greater glory. Obviously, we are not seeking persecution to validate our faith, but we as believers are commanded to declare the whole message (Acts 5:20) of the kingdom and to disciple the nations (Mt. 28:19).

When you think of the kingdom, what comes to your mind? This is one of the most defining beliefs that a Christian has and often goes unaddressed in the mind of believers. The way we see the kingdom today determines how we order our lives tomorrow and the years to come.

I believe the message of the kingdom can be thought of in 3 stages. 1) Salvation – this is square one, not the completion of a lifetime of searching. Salvation is the threshold- as it were – into the household and family of Christ. 2) Repentance – this is an ongoing process after the initial salvation of the soul. I think of repentance as the work of holiness- becoming Christ-like in our thoughts, action, and words. We must fully submit to what the Lord has called a believer to, and not simply fit our faith into an established lifestyle. I like the phrase, “The Sunday morning gathering has to touch Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons.” 3) The fulfillment of the kingdom – Christ’s leadership as “King of kings”. We know that Jesus is the King of kings, but when we think of what that actually means, it’s easy to lose sight of the full picture.

John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles primary message was the declaration of the kingdom – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Jesus was resurrected so that the Holy Spirit could come dwell in our hearts. He said it was better for him to leave than to stay- can you imaging what the disciples must have initially thought of that statement? Better? However,  Christ is now ruling in the hearts of believers, in the temple of our body (1 Cor. 6:19). We are the living stones that constitute the dwelling place of God in the earth. The kingdom of God is already here in the heart of believers – yet it is in part. A man by the name of George Ladd, when referring to the kingdom, coined the phrase, “The already, but not yet”. The kingdom has come, but it is in a limited way.

The reality of the kingdom in our hearts now is like unto the ark residing in the tabernacle of David. Was the presence of God in Israel’s midst? Yes. Was it the permanent dwelling place that fulfilled the desire in the heart of God to dwell with mankind forever? No. The Holy Spirit will not leave the hearts of believers at the second coming of Jesus, but the current expression of the kingdom can be thought of as the skukkot before the presiding presence in the temple . The current dispensation of grace is not the full expression of the kingdom. Why? because we are still finite beings with mortal temples, and secondly, the land has yet to be redeemed. The Garden of Eden is a picture of the 2-fold expression of the kingdom – God dwelt with man – man dwelt in a garden. Man was meant to fully experience God and to do so in the environment of a natural garden. The full measure of God’s dwelling is vividly portrayed in Revelation 21 and 22. Here, we see that earth is renewed and transformed in order to house God and man in the experiential union of a perfected environment.

Let us therefore express the kingdom now in every sphere of our influence, and look forward with zeal and joy to the consumation of the eternal plan of God – dwelling with Him.

The Millennnial Kingdom

The millennial Kingdom is the most revealed prophetic theme in the Bible. It is the fulfillment of the hundreds of verses concerning the rule of Messiah from Jerusalem. If you’re only beginning your study of the millennial kingdom, I would suggest starting with Revelation 20-21 and Isaiah 2, & 11. Of course, there are many more vital passages, but sometimes the overwhelming amount of information is just that, overwhelming. This can make beginning the study of the Word difficult. It’s an odd thing that most believers desire to be students of the Word but they don’t know where to begin, and so after some frustration, most give up. So, the above mentioned passages are a great starting point.

I’ve found the two most helpful keys to interpretation of prophetic scripture to be-

1) literal, or “face value“, interpretation. This means that the reader understands that God’s word was meant to be understood in a plain sense without loads of hidden meaning (obviously there are exceptions to this). If it says it’s symbolic, it’s symbolic; if it doesn’t say it’s symbolic – the reader can assume that it’s meant to be taken literally. Many times in scripture the angel will tell the original author what the symbols mean (see Dan 7 and Rev 17). This method lets the interpretation become congruent between the most learned scholar and the beginning student. The bible was written for the below average person (i.e. “untrained and uneducated men” Acts 4:13).  If one must have a PHD in order to understand prophetic revelation – a serious error has occurred.

2.) Progressive revelation – this simply means that “revealed truth” throughout scripture builds upon itself, thereby revealing more and more truth throughout the following generations. Prophetic revelation “looks forward” not backward. For instance, if we interpret the reign of Jesus from Jerusalem in Isaiah 2 first; and then interpret the saints sitting on thrones in  Rev. 20 – it is understood that saints will reign on the earth with Jesus. However, if use regressive revelation we would find that Jerusalem  and Jesus ruling on earth are not specifically mentioned in Revelation 20. Therefore, one could deduce that Isaiah was only speaking of symbolic rule of Christ during the first century church and in the hearts of men. This is a serious error and causes not just 1 or 2 OT passages to loose their significance but 10’s of passages suddenly become volumes of misconstrued symbolism that have little to no future relevance. Many, through a poor interpretation of Heb. 8:13,  attempt to discredit the Old Testament by saying it has “passed away”. To be clear, the Old Testament is not equivalent to the Mosaic Covenant. The revealed truth of the NT does not eliminate the truth of the old. Even justification by faith was not a completely new idea to the first Jewish believers in the church (see Gen. 15:6, Rom 4:1-5). The OT is the inspired word of God and works with the NT in harmony to reveal the eternal plans of God to redeem mankind and dwell with him forever. Jesus and the inspired writers of the New Testament did not use this method of regressive revelation to interpret scripture and reveal more truth. They built upon (looking forward) the understanding of the OT teachings of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms.

The Jews, that made up the majority of the initial church, had somewhat of an advantage over their fellow Gentile brothers who were coming in to “the Way” (Christianity) quite rapidly. A Jewish man or woman of that day would be quite familiar with the teachings of Moses, the psalms, Daniel, or Isaiah. More specifically, they would be well versed in OT covenants namely, the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants – which to the dismay of many, still retain significant future fulfillment. I believe this is one of the reasons that there were no Gentile authors of the inspired New Testament books. God used men who were going to build upon the revealed truth in the OT to establish the New Covenant (justification- grace through faith) and add to the revelation of the Second Coming and establishment of the Messianic Kingdom – namely through the book of Revelation.

In conclusion, we must, as students of the word, dilegently pour over the prophetic passages related to the end-times. We must take God “at His word” and not seek to “force” our interpretation upon the inspiration of scripture, but rather, let the scriptures speak for themselves and adjust our interpretation accordingly.