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Biblical/Doctrinal Studies:
Focus on Jesus Series

The Kingdom of God
by Ed Vasicek

The term “The Kingdom of God” is either used or implied in each of the four incidents mentioned in today’s sermon. Jesus frequently used this term (or “The Kingdom of Heaven”) to refer to both broad and specific aspects of the Kingdom. There are at least 5 distinct uses of this term, as defined by Arnold Fruchtenbaum in his book, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology:

  1. The Universal Kingdom or Eternal Kingdom. Fruchtenbaum tells us that “...this emphasizes His eternal, sovereign rule everywhere over His entire creation.” Since God is the Sovereign of the universe, the universe is His Kingdom.
  2. The Spiritual Kingdom refers to all those who have been born again. We can think of the words of Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3, “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” The Spiritual Kingdom predates the church (people were born again before Christ came), but during the church age the spiritual kingdom and the true church are one and the same (much like State Road 22 and State Road 35 run together for a certain length), the Spiritual Kingdom being the broader term. In today’s lesson, Zaccheus is called a true “son of Abraham.” This meant that he was not only related to Abraham genetically, but also exemplified Abraham’s faith. A term used by Paul is “the Israel of God.”
  3. The Theocratic Kingdom refers to that era of Jewish history when God ruled through mediators, to the degree that the judges or kings administrated His will. This era began with the first judge, Moses, and ended ignobly with the last king, Zedekiah, during the Babylonian captivity.
  4. The Messianic Kingdom refers to the Millennium, the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth. In a sense, it is a continuation of the Theocratic Kingdom with the perfect King, Jesus Christ Himself, reigning. Fruchtenbaum comments, “This was the kingdom proclaimed as being at hand by John the Baptist. This was the kingdom Jesus offered to the Jewish people. It is the kingdom that was rejected.” Although postponed, this Kingdom will one day be realized when our prayer, “Thy kingdom come” is granted (Acts 3:19-21).
  5. The Mystery Kingdom is described by Christ in Matthew 13 in the form of parables. It is the form of Christ’s reign while He is absent, so it includes the church age and the Tribulation period. We currently experience this “mystery kingdom” which has lasted nearly 2,000 years thus far.

Another way to look at matters is to combine #4 and #5 and refer to the “Messianic Age” as having begun with the birth of Christ, and then dividing into three phases: the Church Age, the Tribulation, and the Millennium. Thus the birth of Christ began an era called “the last days” as opposed to the “former days” before Christ. The term “last days” may also refer to the period just before the Tribulation or the Tribulation itself. When we get to heaven, we can ask God why He chose such confusing terminology!

Pastor Ed

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Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA
765.452.1779
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