LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hidden in Plain View


Much like the Jews expected the Messiah to establish a political kingdom in which Israel would rule over the Gentile nations, many Christians today anticipate Jesus’ reign over the nations in a future millennial kingdom. The first scenario explains in part why the Jews rejected Jesus as their Annointed One. The New Testament, however, equates Israel’s restoration, prophesied in the Old Testament, with Jesus’ kingdom – a kingdom not of this world.
“Jesus answered [Pilate], ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this world.” - John 18:36
Interesting.
I wonder why some Christians continue to hope for a kingdom in this world.
I think there’s something we often overlook in what we call the “ascension,” but that I think would be better referred to as the “coronation.”
Hidden in the riches of Scripture is the account of how when Jesus’ glorified body returned to the Father, He took His rightful place on His Throne and reigns over His kingdom – not only upon His future return to earth, but upon His past return to heaven.
After His resurrection and just before his ascension, Christ told His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” - Matthew 28:18
And then: “…the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” - Mark 16:19
Do we daily live like we believe that Jesus is this day seated at the right hand of God with all authority in heaven and here on earth – in our very lives?
In Luke’s account, chapter 24, verses 50-53, we read: “Then he [Christ] let them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.”
They were filled with great joy at Christ’s departure here. Why?
I ask this to provoke thought in us all.
It’s interesting that upon Christ’s ascension there would be rejoicing. Could the disciples have known that it was Coronation Day and that the Lord’s Kingdom was inaugurated?
In 1 Corinthians 15:24, it is written:
“Then comes the end, when he [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”
If Christ does not have the kingdom, He cannot deliver it to the Father. Jesus must first have the kingdom, and I believe that He does right now.
Why else are we exhorted to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1b-3
How many of us set are minds on the things of earth in hopes that they might signify the coming of the Kingdom? Why are we not rejoicing in our King already seated on His Throne? Is He not reigning? Do we live as though He is?
Could it be that we do not yet see – as did Job – that our “Redeemer lives!”
The spiritual kingdom of heaven over which Christ reigns this day – as never was a kingdom in like form beforehand – was established at His ascension.
Jesus described His kingdom – the kingdom of heaven – in Matthew 13:31-33:
“He put another parable before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’ He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.’”
So small – almost imperceptible. A mustard seed – sown in a field. Leaven – hidden in flour. Present, but can we perceive it?
May the Lord open the eyes of all who are His to see Him – perceive Him – throned in His rightful glory – now and yet to come.

30 Comments:

Blogger jazzycat said...

Susan,
You have given some more passages to further solidify my strong amil leaning on the eternal state. Thanks for this post.
wayne

May 23, 2007 7:34 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

"I wonder why some Christians continue to hope for a kingdom in this world."

Rev. 5:10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Matt. 6:9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Matt. 6:10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

May 23, 2007 11:25 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

“But my kingdom is not of this world.” - John 18:36

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” – Isa 65:17

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:13

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” – Rev 21:1

May 24, 2007 7:29 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

I'm enjoying this!

May 24, 2007 9:32 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Some "systems" put the kingdom as entirely future. Those same systems also have no problem accepting the idea of the existence of carnal Christians. We are saved in order to be disciples, people who are servants of the Kingdom. Read Revelation 1:6 "[Christ] has made us a kingdom and priests to His God and Father..." and again Rev. 5:10. These are the praises of people looking back at the whole of what Christ has accomplished on the cross.

May we live now like we shall live then, as servants of the King!

May 24, 2007 10:19 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, so there will be a "kingdom in this world" right? Even the texts you cite show that don't they?

May 24, 2007 10:38 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan -

1. When Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world," I believe He meant not of this earth. I believe His kingdom is real and literal - and spiritual.

What do you, Jonathan, think these words of Jesus mean?

2. I believe when Jesus ascended to His throne, He sits there as King - over His kingdom. I believe that His kingdom grows every day, and we can rejoice in that.

Jonathan, what do you think Jesus is doing up there, in addition to interceding for us?

3. I don't believe that the texts I cited show a "kingdom" in "this" world. I believe the texts I cited describe a "new" heavens and a "new" earth.

I don't see where you see in those Scripture verses that I cited that Christ's Kingdom is on "this earth" as a literal kingdom in an earthly sense as, say, the kingdom of Monaco is today.

May 24, 2007 11:40 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

A few things for all of us to consider.

Unlike the Old Testament prophets, who announced the coming of the kingdom in a distant (or as yet unforeseen) future, John announced that its arrival was "imminent."

John declares "the ax is laid to the root of the trees" and "His winnowing fan is in His hand." (Matt 3:10, 12)

The axe has already penetrated to the core of the tree, hinting one more decisive stroke will make it fall. The farmer is not heading to the barn to get the fan. It is already in his hand and he is about to begin winnowing.

"The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2) With the coming of Christ on earth, the kingdom is inaugurated, reaching its acme in His ascension. Insofar as Jesus presently occupies His seat of cosmic authority, the kingdom of God has come.

May 24, 2007 11:43 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jesus also told the Pharisees that his casting out demons by the Spirit of God was proof that the Kingdom of God had come upon them (Matt 12:28).

May 24, 2007 11:51 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, first let me say that I’m glad you are finally posting! Let me address your questions below:

(1) You may convince me otherwise, but right now I really don’t see John 18:36 as having any significance in the millennial debate. I think Jesus’ point was that His kingdom had nothing to do with the worldly, evil world system that Pilate was concerned about. In other words, Jesus’ kingdom has nothing to do with the human, political system. So it’s not about location so much as essence.

(2) As a Progressive Dispensationalist, I believe in the “already-not-yet” scheme of the kingdom. Yes, the kingdom was inaugurated at Christ’s coming and He is King. However, the “not yet” aspects involves the OT promises of an earthly rule that will commence with the Lord’s coming.

(3) If the texts that mention our “earth” are not our “earth,” then what planet is God talking about? God is talking about our earth, recreated. I think it is important to distinguish between the millennial kingdom from this new heavens and new earth. This poses a difficulty for the amillennial position because of the distinction that is made in Revelation 20 between these two periods and the resurrections.

Question: do OT prophecies, taken by themselves, predict an earthly kingdom in the Land?

May 24, 2007 1:05 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,
You wrote:
"You may convince me otherwise, but right now I really don’t see John 18:36 as having any significance in the millennial debate."

But it is about the kingdom. The term ‘millennial,’ if I understand correctly, has to do with the few passages (if not one singular passage) in the book of Revelation. I prefer to take the whole of Scripture for better exegesis. I favor the historic Protestant hermeneutic of anoalogia fidea, or ‘analogy of faith,’ which refers to the importance of interpreting unclear biblical texts in light of clear passages that speak to the same subject rather than taking the literal sense (eg, ‘a millennial period’) in isolation from the rest of Scripture. I’m not talking about one 1,000-year-period; I’m talking about Christ’s kingdom, which He said is not of this world. If you’re thinking of the dispensational literal 1,000-year millennium as separate from Christ’s kingdom, okay. But if you’re thinking that the 1,000-year-period of the dispensational construct as part of Christ’s kingdom, I don’t think you can isolate John 18:36 from the discussion.

You wrote:
"So it’s not about location so much as essence."

I agree with you, and the essence is spiritual. I’m often amazed at the accusations of ‘over-spiritualizing’ Scripture. If not spiritual in essence, what is the Bible? Yes, it’s history; yes, it’s literature; and all of the other genres, but it is at its core – spiritual.

You wrote:
"As a Progressive Dispensationalist, I believe in the “already-not-yet” scheme of the kingdom. …Yes, the kingdom was inaugurated at Christ’s coming and He is King. However, the “not yet” aspects involves the OT promises of an earthly rule that will commence with the Lord’s coming."

Yes, but I believe they will be upon His second coming and the establishment of a new heavens and a new earth.

Eschatology must be Christ-centered. I don’t believe that our eschatological expectation should be epoch-centered or centered in an earthly golden age.

The goal of eschatology is to determine how prophecies made in the OT are treated and applied by writers of the New Testament, where we are told of some OT images as being types and shadows of the glorious realities that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

If my understanding is correct, the dispensational hermeneutic sees OT prophecy as the determinative category through which NT prophetic data are interpreted.

You wrote:
"If the texts that mention our “earth” are not our “earth,” then what planet is God talking about?"

The earth – our earth, but not as you see it. A new earth. The one on which we are living will be destroyed before (or at the same time that) the new earth is created.

My daughter is clamoring to go outside. I’ll address the Rev 20 and last Q of yours as soon as I can this evening.

May 24, 2007 5:38 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, I am interested in your response to Revelation 20, but I want to throw a bone out there to the Bluecollar Crew:

Do dispensationalists and covenant theologians use differing hermeneutical methods? There has been talk here and there about dispensational hermeneutics and CT hermeneutics. Is this valid?

May 24, 2007 6:27 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,

You wrote:
“God is talking about our earth, recreated. I think it is important to distinguish between the millennial kingdom from this new heavens and new earth. This poses a difficulty for the amillennial position because of the distinction that is made in Revelation 20 between these two periods and the resurrections.”

It doesn’t pose a difficulty for the amill position. I’ll address the verse re: resurrections, since that’s what you cited. Christ’s victory over death and the grave is now also His saints’ victory as well. He alone possesses the key to Hades and the abyss. In His resurrection, Jesus Christ is the firstfruits of the same resurrection harvest in which His saints will also rise. (See 2 Tim 2:11-12)

Throughout the book of Revelation, the throne of Christ and His people are invariably said to be in heaven (Rev 1:4, 3:21, 4:22, etc). The scene is in heaven, not on earth.

John told us that the people who reign while Satan is bound are those who did not worship the beast or his image (v4). This mostly likely includes those who were killed “because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.” (Rev 6:9), as well as those who died of natural causes “in the Lord (Rev 14:13). They have been given authority to judge, John said, which conveys the idea of God’s people joining the heavenly court where there are thousands upon thousands of angels who attend the Ancient of Days waiting for the books to be opened. (Dan 7:9-10). Acc to Daniel, the beast “was waging war against the saints and defeating them until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” (Dan 7:21-22).

From this it is clear that when Satan is bound, the saints not only possess their kingdom (Christ’s), but judgment is passed on their enemy on their behalf. The reign of the saints depicted in Revelation 20:4-6 fulfills the prophecy of Daniel 7 and is of a “thousand years” duration.

It is important to note that the thousand-year reign is said to take place where the disembodied souls of the martyrs are (in heaven) in contrast to the abyss. Furthermore, these souls reign during the entire period of time when Satan is bound from the resurrection of Christ until the thousand years are over, when Christ returns in judgment and to raise the dead (Rev 20:7-10). After Christ returns, disembodied souls no longer reign because after the resurrection, body and soul are reunited when the perishable becomes imperishable. Once this occurs, the saints will reign not for one thousand years but “for ever and ever” (Rev 22:5). This is what John meant by “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev 3:21)

It needs to be pointed out too that the “thousand year reign” occurs where Jesus lives, for we read “And they lived and reigned with Christ” Where does Jesus live? Heaven.

May 24, 2007 8:26 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Since there are two resurrections mentioned in Rev and one of them is bodily, acc to premillennialism, the second must also be bodily. The second resurrection includes unbelievers at the end of the ‘thousand years.’

This is natural if you understand the events of Rev 20 as occurring after those in Rev 19.
As it is problematic to interpret symbols used in apocalyptic literature literally, it also is problematic to read Revelation chronologically. Revelation contains a series of visions, each of which functions like a different camera angle looking at the same event. Therefore, the order in which the various visions contained in Revelation are recounted by John does not necessarily reflect the order of historical occurrence of the reality those visions symbolize.

Although the cycles of judgment in Revelation increase sin intensity as the return of our Lord draws near, the vision described in Rev. 20 might come to pass at the same point in history as the previous visions in the book. Rev. 20 may, in fact, not be describing events that come chronologically after those recorded in Rev 19 that are contemporaneous with them.

A carefully study of chapter 20 reveals that this chapter describes a period synchronous with that of chapter 12. Compare 12:7-11 with 20:1-6.

The obvious parallelism between chapters 12 and 20 are important for a number of reasons. For one thing, this means that Rev 12 and 20 are both speaking about the present period of time. Although not identical, they depict the same events and mutually interpret one another. If Rev 12 and 20 describe the same events from different perspectives then the thousand years of Rev 20 is a description of the present ‘millenial’ age rather than a future earthly ‘millenium.’

Also, there is another exegetical reason to believe that John had in mind two different kinds of resurrection: a spiritual and a physical resurrection. This has to do with the contrast John made between the ‘first resurrection’ and the ‘second death’ in verse 20:6. One of the critical points in the exegesis of this passage is in the preceding verse “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” (v 5). The interpretation of ‘protos’ (Greek: first) is understood by premills as purely sequential sense of first in a series of items of the same kind. The contextual usage of ‘protos’ may refer to a difference in kind rather than purely sequential order.

Look how that same adjective (protos) is used in Rev 21, where John’s use of the term is illustrative as to how to understand the term in chapter 20. ‘Protos’ does not merely mark the present world as the first in a series of worlds and certainly not as first in a series of worlds all of the same kind. On the contrary, it characterizes this world as different in kind from the ‘new’ world. It signifies that the present world stands in contrast to the new world order of the consummation that will abide forever.

May 24, 2007 8:26 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

You wrote:
“Do OT prophecies, taken by themselves, predict an earthly kingdom in the Land?”

I think the premise of the question is flawed. We cannot separate the OT “by themselves.” They must be read in light of the New. OT prophecies should not be isolated without what has been given to us as NT revelation.

May 24, 2007 8:27 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, thanks for the explanation of Rev 20. Your comments raise a bunch of issues, but I think I will let it be since it was not the topic of the post.

Let me ask my previous question a different way: based upon OT prophecies, did OT Israel expect an earthly kingdom in the Land of Israel?

May 24, 2007 9:47 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Jonathan,
Have you ever read the fide-o guys view on amil vs. disp. pre-mil?

This stuff confuses me, but while you think Rev. 20 poses problems for amil. view, their (fide-O) view poses a whole bunch of problems for disp. pre-mil view.
wayne

May 24, 2007 10:10 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Wayne, you raise my "problems" to "bunch of problems," so I raise your "bunch of problems" to a "whole buncha problems"! To answer your question, no I have not read Fide-O on Revelation 20.

BTW, in response to a previous comment, not all premills read Revelation chronologically. Others read it synchronically or by recapitulation.

BTW x2, our beloved Matt Waymeyer is published on Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate.

May 24, 2007 10:36 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,

Let me take your question and raise you one (a most Jewish thing to do - answering your question with another question – so I thought you might appreciate it.
:-)

What do any possible OT Israel expectations of an earthly kingdom in the Land of Israel have to do with the Kingdom of Heaven?

Also, Abraham is OT, yet he lived as a “stranger and exile on the earth” (Heb 11:13), “desiring a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (11:16)

Earthly city?

May 24, 2007 11:01 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jazzy (and your servant Wayne),
I think Fide-O's blog has a lot of good stuff on it. Good charts and info in general.
I highly recommend Kim Riddlebarger's book "A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times." I think he presents in a very easy-to-read format (has to be, cuz I understand it) a survey of different eschatological views, biblical and theological concerns, an exposition of critical texts (Daniel, Olivet Discourse, and Revelation) and other stuff.
It's worth a read.

May 24, 2007 11:05 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, I loved this! Even an Historic Premill like me had to take notice. Wow!

May 25, 2007 7:34 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, what is the kingdom of heaven?

Mark, where have you been?

May 25, 2007 8:03 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, I'm still puzzled why you wouldn't answer my question (based upon OT prophecies, did OT Israel expect an earthly kingdom in the Land of Israel?).

May 25, 2007 8:05 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,
I think answering "what is the kingdom of heaven" would take a more exhaustive research than I can answer in a single comment. I'm sure volumes have been written about it, by minds much greater than my own.
I'll say for here - simply - that I see the kingdom of heaven in a spiritual realm.
When we responded to regeneration, it was the Lord regenerating us spiritually. We serve Him with our bodies physically, but we are regenerated spiritually.
God is Spirit.

May 25, 2007 9:24 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,
Don't be puzzled why I didn't answer your question re: OT Israel's expectations regarding physical land.
I just don't see the relevance whether or not their expectations have anything to do with spiritual reality.
I really don't understand the point of your question.
What if they did expect an earthly kingdom? Do the expectations of people prove anything in the kingdom of God?
What about OT Israel expecting Jesus to drive out the Romans and rule over them as an earthly messiah?
What about the patriarch of OT Israel - Abraham - looking forward to a "heavenly" city?

May 25, 2007 9:29 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, I agree that defining the kingdom is a difficult task. There seem to be internal aspects, external aspects, present aspects, future aspects, millennial aspects (in my view), and eternal aspects (in my view).

The reason I asked the question about OT expectations is because that way we can agree that this expectation is the message of the OT. It seems like most CT folks would readily admit that the OT does teach a future, earthly kingdom where the seed of David would rule over ethnic Israel. However, according to CT, passages in the NT indicate that these promises should be understood spiritually as having been fulfilled in Christ and in the Church.

May 26, 2007 11:53 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan (if you're still reading here) -
By "CT" do you mean Covenant Theologians?
Also, I guess I don't agree that "the" message of the OT is the expectation you spelled out. I see "the" message of the OT pointing to Christ.
Also, in my view, OT prophecy must be viewed through the lens of the NT and not vice-versa.
I think I'm learning that the theology of dispensationalism views through the lens of the OT. I think....

May 26, 2007 8:54 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"I think I'm learning that the theology of dispensationalism views through the lens of the OT. I think...."

I would agree, Susan.

Vern Poythress points out that the way to interpret OT scripture is shown us in the book of Hebrews. Covenant and New Covenant Theology follow that example given us there...


BUT

Where in the Bible do we see an example of the Classic Dispensational hermeneutic?

May 26, 2007 9:28 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, yes CT=Covenant Theology. And yes, the message of the OT points to Christ, but we were talking about the OT expectation about the earthly kingdom. One of the many examples would be Ezek 40-48.

The "priority" (relatively speaking) of the testaments is the distinction between our positions. I would say that there is progression from Old to New, but not reinterpretation. I don’t see the NT texts as reinterpreting the OT texts, but complimenting them.

Mark, who is arguing for Classic Dispensationalism?

May 27, 2007 6:15 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jonathan, nobody on this thread.... I DO have some friends though that...........Well, they live in Ohio.

May 27, 2007 9:17 PM

 

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