Biblical Theology — 8

Biblical Theology — 8

The Perfected Kingdom

 

Review

Last week we learned that the Kingdom of God (God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule, and enjoying God’s blessing) had yielded the first fruits of the Spirit: a taste of the blessings of heaven. We are adopted as children of God (Eph. 1:5-6). We know something of what it is like to be holy, and we long for more. And we know something of what it means to know God through Christ and to be loved by Him, and we cannot wait to feel it more. That is why we “groan inwardly.” All of this is the inevitable consequence of the fact we live in this “in-between period”, in the intersection of the ages. We are citizens of heaven, who must, for the time being, live as “strangers” in the world (Phil. 3:20; 1 Peter 1:1). But we shall not have to live away from home forever. One day the Lord Jesus will return to take us to join Him in the perfected Kingdom.

  • God’s people — The Church
  • Live in God’s place — The individual believer; The Church
  • Under God’s rule — New covenant; Holy Spirit
  • Enjoying God’s blessing — Adoption

 

The Book of Revelation

Revelation is the last book of the Bible. It was probably written by the apostle John while he was exiled on the island of Patmos. The most likely date is during the time of the Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96). It is written in a style of literature known as “apocalpytic”, which uses symbolism to convey its message.

 

Interpreting Revelation

Much of Revelation (Revelation 5-16) is dominated by sequences of divine judgments: seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. Over the years, there have been many attempts to interpret who, or what, they represent.

  • Some have argued that all the symbols refer exclusively to people or institutions at the time John was writing (the preterist view).
  • Others see the book as presenting a chronological account of the different eras through history from the first century to the second coming (the historicist view).
  • Still others think that, from Revelation 4 onwards, the book describes only the events at the very end of the world (the futurist view).
  • Each of these positions has problems. It is better to see the book as describing what will happen in the whole of “the last days” between the ascension of Christ and his second coming. Revelation is not written to give us a time chart.

 

Out with the Old

Revelation 17-20 uses picture language to describe how God will destroy this power at the end of time, and thus make it possible for him to create a new world, completely free from evil.

  • The fall of Babylon — Babylon represents non-Christian society organized without reference to God: “the world.” Like the people of Judah in the sixth century B.C., we are in exile. We belong to heaven, but we must live in a foreign land: Babylon, the world. We must resist the temptation to go to bed with the prostitute, because she is heading for destruction.
  • The millennium — the interpretation of chapter 20 is dictated by your particular eschatological view

 

In with the New

The last two chapters of Revelation use a variety of images from the Old Testament to describe that new world. It is the new creation, the new Jerusalem, and the new temple.

  • The new creation (Rev. 21:1) — A new heaven; A new earth
  • The new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2) — A perfect community, united in Christ. God’s new community will be a multiracial, multi-cultural society uniting black and white, male and female, Serb and Croat, Arab and Jew.
  • The new temple (Rev. 21:3) — There will be no special place in the new creation where God’s presence will be concentrated and no holy building to go to if we want to meet with Him. The whole place is a temple. That is why we read: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22). There will be no distance between us and God anymore; we shall know Him perfectly.

 

The Kingdom of God

The New Testament ends where the Old Testament ended: looking forward; waiting for the final fulfillment of the promises of God. Jesus reassures His people: “Yes, I am coming soon.”And our response is obvious: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

  • God’s people — Multi-national family of God
  • Live in God’s place — New Heaven/Earth; New Jerusalem; New Temple
  • Under God’s rule — Throne of God and the Lamb
  • Enjoying God’s blessing — Perfect Blessing

Biblical Theology Diagrams

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