God has a way of letting those who are in tune with him, the obedient, the prayerful, the discerning, the elect, the watchful, the humble and the faithful know what his will is for them and for the world. The devil may well try to obscure the vision, obstruct the divine discernment and misdirect the godly perceptions of the Christian church as it relates to God's plan for the future. But in this, as in so many of his wicked schemes, Satan will fail. In our contemplation today God is using a heathen king, that's right, an idolatrous, arrogant, boastful pagan to give the world the most powerful and detailed account of God's mysteries of the future. Through interpretations given by Daniel the church knows much "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment" (Galatians 1:9)
We are going to meditate on the everlasting Kingdom of God and as we proceed we need to keep certain things in mind, such as:
The book of Daniel deals with a host of events related to "end times"
Biblical interpretation of prophecy draws heavily on hermeneutics and we need to be humble and cautious in our interpretation accepting that others might disagree with our explanation.
The kingdom of God is to be understood as being now, present (and incomplete / imperfect) and yet to be in the future (perfect).
With these thoughts in mind let us ruminate on:
THE FORECAST OF THE KINGDOM
During the Roman Empire
The first recognized world empire was Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon, "Thou art the head of gold" (Daniel 2:38d)
Babylon defeated the Assyrians, who were very powerful at the time, with some help from the Medes and ruled the world from 612 BC to 539 BC
Following after Babylon was Medo-Persia, with Persia being the senior partner, "After thee shall arise another kingdom, inferior to thee" (Daniel 2:39a)
Medo-Persia defeated Babylon and ruled the world from 539 BC to 333 BC
The next world empire was that of the Greeks "and another third kingdom of brass, which shall ruleover all the earth" (Daniel 2:39b)
Greece defeated Medo-Persia and ruled the world from 333 BC to 133 BC
The fourth world empire came immediately after Greece, i.e. Rome " and the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron" (Daniel 2:40a)
Rome supplanted Greece and ruled the world from 133 BC to 500 AD approximately and partially thereafter until the Middle Ages (until the Ottoman Empire)
When Jesus impacted humanity
The kingdom was to come after the stone, not made by human hands, impacted the feet of the image "For as much as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the silver and the gold" (Daniel 2:45a)
Jesus Christ was born during the Roman Empire when Caesar Augustus was ruler, "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed." (Luke 2:1) and it was during this ministry that Jesus spoke and gave details about the kingdom for example, "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15)
At the appointed time in prophecy
In the days of these kings gives us a specific time for our guidance, "And in the days of these Kings shall the God of heaven set up his kingdom" (Daniel 2:44)
John the Baptist affirmed that it was near "In those days came John the Baptist preachingrepent ye for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Matthew 3:1)
Jesus himself confirmed the timing "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1: 15a)
All of these taken together shows that the arrival of the kingdom was not some haphazard, unplanned, thought-less occurrence that just happened; for before the world was created God had planned it and so it was revealed to God's servants especially Daniel who could forecast it with confidence.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE KINGDOM
Established in this dispensation
The dispensation of law ended and the dispensation of grace commenced with the arrival of Jesus Christ and it was he who affirmed it was done in this dispensation of grace. Then Jesus came to them and said "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18)
This statement was made after the resurrection and the kingdom must have been established prior to it for Jesus had taught his disciples to pray, "...thy kingdom come..." and here he was saying he was in charge and everything is under him. This is affirmation that the kingdom was set us and functioning.
Not established during Jesus' earthly ministry
So when was the kingdom set up? John the Baptist affirmed it was near, "repent ye for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Matthew 3:1)
When Jesus was on the cross the kingdom was still in the future. The thief on the cross recognized the kingdom was future "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom" (Luke 23:42)
Jesus' response to this thief was a clear indication that the thief's statement was correct for Jesus replied, " And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. " (Luke 23:43)
Established on Jesus' arrival in heaven
Since the kingdom was established during this dispensation of grace and since it was not set up before the crucifixion then this narrows it down considerably. Paul asserts that Jesus is now Sovereign "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be givenand God placed all things under his feet and appointed him head over everything for the church" (Ephesians 1:21-22)
When Jesus was on earth the kingdom was yet to come "He said to them, when ye pray, say; Father, hallowed be thy name, your kingdom come" (Luke 11:2)
When Jesus spoke at the great commissioning (Matthew 28:18-20) he was affirming that the kingdom was set up and he was given charge and the only thing that occurred between those events was Jesus' presenting himself to Almighty God. Therefore taking into account these scriptures a reasonable conclusion can be drawn that the kingdom was established on Jesus' arrival in heaven. This is a separate event to the church being born which took place at the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:1-47.
FEATURES OF THE KINGDOM
Almighty God created the kingdom
God, himself, took the initiative and created the kingdom "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom" (Daniel 2:44a)
The rock which struck the beast's feet was a supernatural event that came from God "While you were watching, a rock cut out, but not with human handsstruck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them." (Daniel 2:34)
The kingdom is not man-made or earthly, "Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this worldmy kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36)
The kingdom will last forever
The kingdom that God established will never be destroyed, "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44b)
This was asserted by the angel Gabriel "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:32 -33)
This significant truth was also affirmed by the writer of Hebrews "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Hebrews 12: 28a)
This powerful and reassuring fact was attested to in Daniel's vision "He was given authority, glory and sovereign powerHis dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed," (Daniel 2:14)
The church is part of the kingdom
As indicated by the Apostle John on the isle of Patmos "John, to the seven churches in the province of Asiato him who loves usand has made us a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father" (Revelation 1: 4-6)
As attested to by Paul to the Thessalonians "encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." (1Thessalonians 2:12)
The church at Colosse was in the kingdom "...Giving thanks to the father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of lightand brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1: 12-14)
All the righteous dead from Adam up to Pentecost (all those God-fearing souls who died before the church was born) will be part of the kingdom even although they knew nothing much about it.
In this contemplation we had a glimpse of what the everlasting Kingdom of God is like and we praise God for it. Yet we shudder at the magnificence of Gods plans and reflect with awe and wonder at its timely establishment. That God thought so much of humanity, those elect who chose to serve him, that He would go to such lengths to redeem us and prepare an everlasting habitation of such magnitude and splendour is something we can only fully appreciate when we divest ourselves of this sinful body and put on immortality. Let all believers, everywhere, attend with due diligence, their walk with God ensuring no one causes them to lose their crown. (Revelation 3:11). And to those, who have not yet decided to serve God for whatever reason, be reminded that Christ still beckons for there is still room for you in God's everlasting Kingdom that shall never be destroyed.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013