Editor’s Note: We have now reached the final month of 2006, a tumultuous year, filled with apprehension about world events and fearful of leaders who seem to have an agenda not in the best interest of our nations or the people. Yet, it is special month for Christians who seem to enjoy a closer relationship to Jesus that at any other time of the year. For those of us blessed with the Israel Truth, the end of this year simply heightens our excited anticipation of the soon to come glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ. In seeking an article to highlight our sentiment, your editors have reached back nearly forty years, to the time of our beloved Joe Sproule, a past great leader of this Association. As you read the following pages, a light will shine brightly and fears shall dim, as the wonders of the Kingdom calms your heart and mind. God bless you as you ready yourself for a wondrous 2007.
Poets have written things concerning a Utopia upon earth, where all is peace and righteousness, where there is no sickness and death and all are happy. Prophets have been mighty in word concerning a Kingdom to come to earth, which would bring with it the blessings which men have dreamed of that would be in a Utopia. Kingdoms have arisen one after another, upon earth which at the first promised many of the blessings which man has wanted. But each one after another have fallen to the lusts of the flesh and to the unregenerate will of man. Even within our Anglo-Saxon nations we have political parties which promise that if they are put into power they will change things and give to the people the blessings of life which are rightfully theirs. But they no more than get into office and they too become subject to the establishment – to the powers that be. The net result of all this is that man is left still wishing and hoping for a change to come that will lift the burdens of life, and that he will be free from the drudgery of life and live as he was meant to live.
All the writings of a golden age to come to earth are not idle dreams. Every thinking man, when he views life and things, knows that such things ought not to be. He knows that there is a better way, and he is right. There is a better way. There is promise to man through the Word of God a life free from the trammels of Satan, a life where men and women live to the full, an abundant life, and I mean life in the natural realm. We all know there is life in the spiritual realm, but even though we are partakers of that spiritual life now on earth, we have to wait until death before we can enjoy fulness of life, spirit, soul and body. Listen, when God sent His only begotten Son into this world, He sent him for the purpose that mankind might be saved from their sins, and that all mankind might be brought into full relationship with Him, that heaven and all the blessings of heaven might come to earth in the form of a kingdom which would be ruled over by His Son. We pray, “Thy kingdom come and thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven”, and we go on from there as if such words and prayer will never come. The Holy Bible is the only book on earth that tells just how, when and why such a kingdom will come to earth. But men have tried to spiritualize the teachings of such a kingdom. Our Bible Schools and Seminaries teach us that God does purpose to have a Kingdom, but that we will have to wait till we die and go to heaven before we can come into such a kingdom. There are some who teach that maybe such a kingdom will come but it is so far into the future that we need not bother ourselves thinking of it.
The disciples of Jesus in the days when he was on earth really looked for a temporal throne and kingdom right here on earth. In Matthew 20:20 to 23 we have the record of how the mother of Zebedee’s two sons asked a certain thing of Jesus. She asked that her two sons might sit, one on the right hand and the other on the left hand in His Kingdom. All Jesus told her was, that it was not given to Him to grant such a request, but listen to what Jesus did say, He said, “BUT IT SHALL BE GIVEN TO THEM FOR WHOM IT IS PREPARED OF MY FATHER.” Here we understand that Jesus is to have a throne and rewards are to be given to some to sit with Him on that throne. All this is quite temporal, those who heard the words of Jesus understood that he was to have a throne and kingdom on earth. Even the parables of the Kingdom which Jesus gave cannot be understood unless we think of a temporal kingdom right here on earth.
Since the time of Jesus the terms, Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven have been used, but their application has been used especially in connection with the work of God within the soul. It is all right to use these terms in that application but there is a much larger and fuller meaning, and without the larger understanding much of the Bible is left misunderstood. We have several records in the New Testament at the time of the first coming of Jesus, of people who were looking or waiting for the Kingdom of God. If they were looking or waiting for the Kingdom, just what was it they were expecting to appear? With a little study of the Scriptures we are able to find out what they were looking for. If what they were looking for then did not appear, and if we can understand what it was they were looking for, then we can use that same understanding and see if what is taking place today is an indication that that for which they looked is NOW, in our time, to become a reality.
In Luke 23:50-51 we read, “And behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: The same had not consented to the council and deed of them; he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews, WHO ALSO HIMSELF WAITED FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” Just what is indicated here? It says he was a member of the council. He was a counsellor of the Sanhedrin, which was a legislative body, which had within its power life or death. Capital punishment. He did not agree with the council concerning the death of Jesus. It was necessary that ONE would come and die for the sins of the people and Joseph knew this, but the manner of death was another matter. He knew that it was not necessary that Jesus die at the hands of sinful and malicious-hearted men. He knew that it was not necessary for the Sanhedrin, a legislative body to condemn Jesus to death so that a sacrifice for sins could be made. As it was, Jesus said that He laid down His life and He took it up again, and that no one taketh his life but He had power to lay it down and to take it up again. Joseph, as a member of the powerful Sanhedrin which helped to rule the ancient Jewish nation both in its religious, legislative and temporal aspects, knew that God had a kingdom which was to come on earth. He knew the Scriptures and because of this knowledge it says,” He waited for the Kingdom of God.” He knew there was to come a kingdom from God, which was a legislative body. That this body of rulers, selected ones, would have a plan or policy of government. He knew that such a government or kingdom would not condemn such a person as Jesus, therefore He governed himself according to the righteousness of that coming kingdom.
In Luke 2:25 we have the record of Simeon who was a just and righteous man, and very devout, he was, “Waiting for the consolation of Israel.” Moffat says, He was on the OUTLOOK for the consolation of Israel. He was looking for something. And when he saw Jesus he immediately knew this was what he was looking for. Also, we have the record of Anna, a prophetess in this same chapter, verses 36 and 37, she spoke to all those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem. Notice the word LOOKING, they were on the outlook for redemption. Joseph, Simeon and Anna were all waiting and on the outlook for something to appear. They looked for a kingdom, for redemption, for consolation. The word consolation means salvation, comfort, or gladdening. The Kingdom of God on earth would be most comforting and gladdening wouldn’t it? Simeon and Anna were looking for this even before Jesus had grown and entered into His ministry, and they saw that the Holy Spirit was commencing to move to fulfill what had been promised.
In Hebrew 11:7-16 mention is made of some of the Old Testament worthies and how they died in the faith, and how they looked for a City, and because of their faith God has prepared for them a city. This City is mentioned in the Book of Revelation as the New Jerusalem, which means a policy or government, or kingdom which God is preparing. Those Old Testament worthies died in faith, not receiving the promises, but having seen the fulfillment of them afar off, were persuaded of them, and embraced them. They all knew there was a city, country, a government of a kingdom which God was to bring to earth. They didn’t get to see the fulfillment, but they looked ahead and were glad, for God had promised him that he would not die until he had seen the Christ. What a wonderful consolation he and Anna must have had as they looked upon Jesus, and were content and even wished to die, knowing there would be a fulfillment of the promises concerning a Kingdom on earth.
When John the Baptist came on the scene Matthew 3:1-2 tells us that he preached, “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Also Mark 1:14 and 15 says the same thing concerning Jesus, “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” Jesus said that the time was fulfilled. The angel Gabriel told Mary concerning Jesus that, “He shall be given the Throne of His Father David and of His kingdom there shall be no end. That which was begun in the days of Jesus would never have an end. And that throne on which Jesus is to sit would never cease. When Jesus sent forth the twelve as recorded in Matthew 10:7-8 He told them to preach, saying,'” The kingdom of heaven is at hand, or nigh, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils,'” and when Jesus sent out the 70 He told them the same thing. With all the mighty works that were going on, miracles and healings of multitudes of people, the Pharisees came to Jesus as recorded in Luke 17:20 and demanded to know when the Kingdom of God would appear. Jesus answered them that the kingdom of God was within them, or in their very midst. The Royal Personage of God, the Ruler of that Kingdom was in their midst then, and they didn’t even realize it.
Now then, with all that I have shown you concerning what was looked for concerning the Kingdom of God, and also when Jesus and His disciples preached concerning the kingdom that they healed the sick and wrought miracles, it was a sign that the Kingdom of God was nigh. That it had come NIGH to them. It was NIGH because the ruler or the King was there in their midst. Now notice this, when Jesus and His disciples preached about the Kingdom of God being NIGH that there were signs, gifts, miracles, healings, casting out of devils, and raising of the dead accompanying that preaching. But it was shown in Luke 19 that the Kingdom of God was not to immediately appear. The natural question then is, when will it appear? In Luke 21:25-31, Jesus gave us some signs whereby we could know when the Kingdom of God would appear. In these verses Jesus said there would be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring. Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Verse 28 tells us that when we see these things begin to come to pass then look up your heads and rejoice for your redemption draweth NIGH. This is that same redemption which the Prophetess ANNA and others were looking for when Jesus was brought to the temple. And here we are told that redemption was to appear when Jesus comes the second time. Then Jesus gave the parable of the fig tree shooting forth leaves as a sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God. The fig tree as mentioned here in symbol represents the Jewish people when they would shoot forth leaves but no fruit and establish a nation. Jesus tells us that that would be a sign that the Kingdom of God was nigh. In verse 31, we are told that ” when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the KINGDOM OF GOD IS NIGH AT HAND.”
Friends, all these signs are now upon us. It must be that the Kingdom will soon make its appearance. In Isaiah 35, the prophet spoke forth in inspiration concerning our time when fear would be upon the people. We are told to fear not, to be strong that our God will come with vengeance, and then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. The lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongues of the dumb shall sing. I suspect this is already commencing to take place. How near then MUST BE THE KINGDOM OF GOD? When that kingdom appears it will eventually cover the whole earth till, as Philippians 2:5-11 says, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord.
So, I ask you, are you ready for that day when Jesus shall come and manifest His Kingdom to the peoples of this earth.