For most who are persuaded through the influence of Dispensational Premilliennialism, the Watchtower Society and the split eschatological dichotomies of Amillennialism, the kingdom of God lies in ruins.
A Human Government
It is believed by some that the design of the kingdom of God is to replace human civil government. God’s experiment with theocratic governments demonstrated the failure combining religion and government. It was called Judaism. It was replaced by Christianity.
All the while Judaism existed, non-religious governments existed yet not without the influence of God. In Genesis, Philistine Kingdom Abimelech of Gerar and his son were both God-fearing kings. There is evidence that the Pharaoh’s were also and especially during the reign of Joseph until a new king arose which did not know him.
Moses’ father-in-law was the priest of Midian, so there is no doubt, (though most fell into corruption the same as ancient Israel). In the early to mid 19th century, a doctrine arose that suggested that a kingdom government would be set up on earth, largely operated though political influences. To this very day, politicians and some rulers around the world believe they are fulfilling Bible prophecy. Such reveals the deep-seated ignorance and false teaching flowing from pulpits across the land regarding the kingdom.
God Ordained Civil Government
That God ordained government, the emphasis on “civil” is apparent from such texts as Romans 13. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (v. 1-2).
However, civil government exists for the “good” of the people not for tyrannical rule and corruption. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Do you want to unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.” (v. 3).
They are to uphold what is good, protecting the good from the evil of society. Good and evil is not defined by “government” but rather is defined by God. Thus, no principles or laws of government should usurp the authority of God under whose laws they operate (v. 1). It is for this reason that men such as Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, the Apostles and many Christians practiced “civil” disobedience when the laws of the government conflicted with the laws of God.
God judges governments also which is why many of those of old do not exist to this day. Pharaoah’s Egypt, a government that endured for centuries, ancient Israel (1500 years) and Rome who lasted about 500 years were all great governments. The one common denominator of them all was corruption and disregard for the law of God.
The Kingdom of Heaven
God’s kingdom is not a human government. It is not operated through political means, does not extend itself through land grabs (theft of land) nor does it engage in acts of aggression (mass murder). These are all violations of the kingdom of which God takes full account. Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world.
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world, If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.'” (Jn. 18:36).
Knowing the Difference Between “Not From This World” and In This World
While Jesus taught that his kingdom was not from this world, he did not intend for people to conclude that it would not be “in this world”. Many claiming a belief in the Bible and to be followers of the Savior-King deny the kingdom has already been set up. They have turned their heads away from the Bible and look for their salvation in human governments, largely due to the influence of Dispensationalism.
The Time Had Come
When Jesus’ ministry began after John, the Baptist was cast into prison, he came preaching that the time for the kingdom had arrived.
“‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.'” (Mk. 1:15) The huge mistake of those who do not understand the kingdom has arrived is the failure to use sound biblical hermeneutics (principles of interpretation) and common sense.
Three words in Jesus’ short sentence provide sufficient evidence for us to know when the kingdom arrived. The first is the word “time” translated from the Greek word “kairos”. It is not “general time” as from “chronos” but a definite predefined limited time. It means the time the prophets had spoken of for the coming of the kingdom.
The Time Was Fulfilled
The second word of note that Jesus used in “fulfilled” from pleroo which means filled to the brim, as in a cup which can hold no more. The “cup of time” was no longer unfilled or half-full but had reached its limit for the prophecy to be fulfilled.
What is the significance of this point? The historical setting of the statement was made in the first century. A time which is appointed and fulfilled in the first century, can not be fulfilled at any time later, and particularly not in our future. The same is true for the past. Just as the appointed time did not occur in the days of the ancient prophets before Christ, it does not occur in modern times. There was only one time which fulfilled the prophetic time for the kingdom’s arrival, i.e. the first century.
The Time Had Drawn Near
Now as we look at the third word Jesus used to speak of the kingdom’s arrival, he said it was “at hand” i.e. literally had drawn near, from the word “engus”. That means it was near to those living in the first century.
An event which was near to first century saints cannot be near to 21st century saints. One logically and scripturally cannot remove an event within a historical setting of the first century and impose it on the first century. That is an anachronism, (error is time).
The Kingdom Arrived Before That Generation Passed
Lastly, Jesus taught that the kingdom would arrived before his generation (first century) passed away. Speaking to Peter, James, John and Andrew, apostles who lived in the first century, Jesus said “they” would see the events he spoke of earlier in the chapter and when they did, they would know the kingdom was near. He then said, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.
That means the generation in which Peter, James, John and Andrew lived would not pass away until all those things occurred. The kingdom is in fact in this world, though it is not from this world. It is a government of heaven operating in the earth through its faithful citizens who live by the law of God.
All who teach the kingdom has not arrived and therefore who are yet waiting for it are teaching falsehood and wreaking havoc on the body of Christ by such teaching.
It causes them to look for civil governments that fulfill the kingdom, such as modern Israel or America, who believe that by quoting or toting the Bible they are transformed into the kingdom of God. It gives false pretenses for Christians to support acts of aggression against other human beings, while pillaging and stealing lands, minerals and treasures.