Biblical Theology — 6

Biblical Theology — 6

The Present Kingdom

 

Review

Last week we learned that at the end of the Old Testament, the perfect Kingdom of God (God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule, and enjoying God’s blessing) is nowhere to be found. The perfect kingdom is still somewhere in the future. We called that epoch “The Prophesied Kingdom.”

  • God’s people — A remnant; The inclusion of the nations
  • Live in God’s place — A new temple; a new creation
  • Under God’s rule — A new covenant; a new king
  • Enjoying God’s blessing — Blessing to all nations

 

The Time Has Come

We should be on the edge of our seats as read the very first words of the New Testament:

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Jesus is the one who fulfils the promises to Abraham in Genesis 12 and to David in 2 Samuel 7. Mark begins his gospel by quoting from Malachi and Isaiah both who foretold that a herald would appear in advance of God’s king, to announce His imminent arrival and to urge people to get ready for Him.

The message is clear! The waiting is over! The exile is about to end and the time of fulfillment is soon to come. Then Jesus appears, proclaiming the “good news of God…The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:14-15).

 

The Fulfillment of the Promises in Christ

The New Testament never leads us to expect that there will be any fulfillment of the Old Testament promises other than their fulfillment in Christ. We are not encouraged to look for their fulfillment in the State of Israel, in a new temple, or a new king. That is to expect a renewal of the model that has now been dismantled. For the New Testament, the interpretation of the Old Testament is not “literal” but “Christological.”

Near the end of the 19th century, a father promised his young son that he would give him a horse on his twenty-first birthday. Sometime between that promise and the son’s twenty-first birthday, cars were invented. So, when the son’s twenty-first birthday came, the father gave the boy a new automobile instead of a horse. Did he fulfill his promise? Of course! It was not fulfilled literally but it was fulfilled in a fashion that was much greater than what had been expected. The father could not have promised his son a car because it did not exist and neither the father or the son understood the concept.

In a similar way, God made His promises to Israel in ways they could understand. He used categories they were familiar with — a nation, the temple, a king, and material prosperity in the land. Yet, the fulfillment breaks the boundaries of those categories. To look for literal fulfillments of the prophecies in Isaiah or Ezekiel is like taking delivery of the automobile but still expecting to receive a horse!

All the promises of the kingdom of God are fulfilled in Christ: He is God’s people, God’s place, and God’s rule.

 

  1. God’s People
  • Jesus is the true Adam — He is descended from Adam (Luke 3:23-38). He identifies with Adam’s race in His baptism (Luke 3:21-22). But unlike the first Adam, when He is tempted He does not sin (Rom. 5:18-19).
  • Jesus is the true Israel — Using a quotation from Hosea, Matthew deliberately identifies Jesus with Israel: “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matthew 2:15). But this Jesus is different. He too is tempted, as the Israelites were in the wilderness, but He does not fall (Matthew 4:1-11).
  • A New Israel — Jesus calls His first disciples. His choice of twelve is no coincidence; it is a deliberate statement. He is calling together a new Israel, with twelve disciples as the foundation, rather than twelve tribes (Matthew 4:18-22). The kingdom of God is to be taken away from the Jews and given to a people who will produce its fruit (Matthew 21:43). The new Israel is made up of Abraham’s offspring — not only those who are of the law (i.e., Jews) but also those who are of the faith of Abraham (who was not a Jew — Rom. 4:16).

 

  1. God’s Place
  • Jesus is the true tabernacle — “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling (or tabernacled) with us” (John 1:14).
  • Jesus is the true temple — If we want to meet with God, we must go, not to a building, but to Jesus. John tells us that “the temple in He had spoken of was His body“( John 2:21).

 

  1. God’s Rule
  • Jesus is the true prophet — (Mark 1:14-15)
  • Jesus is the true priest — (Heb. 3:1; 4:14-5:10; 7:24-10:25)
  • Jesus is the true king — (Matthew 1:17-20; 12:22-28; Luke 1:30-33)
  • The new covenant — Jesus came, not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Jesus is the “mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance — now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9:15).
  • Jesus is the source of God’s blessing — Rest was the goal of God’s creation. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

 


The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God has come and yet it has not come in all its fullness. Jesus taught His disciples that he would leave the earth and that there would be a delay before He returned. It is only when He comes again that everything will be put right and all discord will be banished forever. The next epoch (The Proclaimed Kingdom) looks at what the Bible teaches about what we can expect in the meantime, between Jesus’ first and second comings. At the end of the Gospels we see the final picture beginning to come into focus:

  • God’s people — New Adam; New Israel
  • Live in God’s place — True tabernacle; True temple
  • Under God’s rule — New covenant
  • Enjoying God’s blessing — Rest

 

Biblical Theology Diagrams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *