BIBLE DIGEST - Number 93                                                                     April 2000

Part 1 - Old Testament Background
Allon Maxwell

When we talk about the Kingdom of God, there are at least FOUR different aspects from which the Bible views the subject. So first, a simple definition which might help us to avoid confusion about that.

A kingdom needs a territory.

So the Kingdom of God is the place where God is King!

However it is also true that no kingdom can exist without a people.

So the Kingdom of God is also comprised of the people 
in whose minds and hearts God reigns!

God willing, we hope to present a series of short Bible Digest studies about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God , in which we shall discover the location of the Kingdom, and the true identity of its people. And for good measure, we shall also discover that the Bible describes its “politics” and natural environment, in considerable detail.


From the very beginning of Creation, it has always been God's plan to establish a Kingdom through whose people His glory will fill the whole earth. God confirmed that to Moses when He said:

“As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD." (Numbers 14:21 KJV)

It should be no surprise therefore to discover that the first references in the Bible, to the Kingdom of God, and the people of the Kingdom, are to be found in Genesis Chapter 1. God said two things:

“Let us make man in our image , after our likeness”; 

“let them have dominion over ..... all the earth”. (Genesis 1:26)

Three quite distinct stages in the development of mankind are contained in that short verse. First the “image ”; then the “likeness ”; and finally, after that, “dominion”.

Verse 27 tells us that mankind was indeed created in the image of God - in the physical form of the angels who were present at the creation and are included in that plural “US”. (Job 38:7) However we note that the word “likeness” is carefully omitted. The likeness of God here is His character - his moral attributes. And as we learn from the story in Genesis Chapters 2 & 3, that likeness could only be learned through experience of the necessary lifelong free will choices to love God and obey God! That was the temptation to which Adam and Eve succumbed .... “your eyes will be opened and you will be like God”. They tried to steal an impossible short cut to the likeness of God.

In Psalm 8:4-6, we are reminded of that original plan. “What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God ..... Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands”.

Note - “God” here is the Hebrew “elohim” - in Hebrews 2:7, that same verse is translated as “lower than the “angels”. Man is “lower” than the angels, firstly, because he is created mortal, and secondly, because he lacks their moral likeness until he learns it through obedience. Even Jesus, who was made like us in every respect, had that need. (Hebrews 5:8)

But in Hebrews 2:5, we are also told that this “dominion” promise from Genesis 1:27 has not yet been fulfilled. It is reserved for “the world to come”. It is reserved for Jesus, the Messiah, the chosen ruler, on whose shoulders the government of the Kingdom of God will rest, when it has finally been established ..... for ever . (Isaiah 9:6-7, Daniel 7:13-14)

The dominion is to be over the future Kingdom which will fulfil God's grand creation plan, and answer that last question which the disciples were able to ask Jesus, just before He was taken up into Heaven: “Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)


God is the ultimate ruler over all the earth. “Thus says the LORD: ’Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool.'” (Isaiah 66:1, Acts 7:49)

It has always been so. It is so now. And it will be so for ever.

That was the great lesson learned by King Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, when God dealt with him to break his pride, until he knew the real source of his dominion over his world empire.

“He was driven from among men, ..... until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of men, and sets over it whom he will.” (Daniel 5:21)

That is how it is still, amongst the kingdoms of the earth. In past centuries it has been traditional for kings to maintain authority (and often abuse it) by appealing to what they used to call “The divine right of rulership”.

Paul tells us that claim is valid. (Romans 13:1) However it is also true that God is still the ultimate ruler! And dominion over the kingdoms of men is still awarded to men, “to whosoever God wills”. (Daniel 5:21,)


The real focus of this earthly rule of God is not simply “the earth”. Nor is it Babylon and its successors. Rather, it has always been the people of the nation of Israel, descended from Abraham - not just the flesh and blood descendants, however, but especially those “spiritual descendants” who share his faith in the Gospel promises which God gave to him. “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ ..... And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:26-29)

When Israel first became a nation, God was their King . They were meant to be a kingdom of priests, under God “Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.” (Deut 33:5) and “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. (Exodus 19:6)

This continued for about 400 years, until the elders in Israel came to the prophet Samuel and demanded a human king, like all the other nations. It would seem that at first Samuel must have taken this as a personal rejection. But God quickly made it clear to Samuel, that the real issue was Israel's rejection of the Divine King, by whose mighty power they had become a nation! “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” (1 Sam 8:7)

However, even then God did not abandon them. Whether they acknowledged Him or not, whether they obeyed or disobeyed, ..... for the sake of their ancestors to whom God had made the Gospel promises, He continued His invisible rulership, speaking to them through prophets, calling them back to obedience, blessing them when they were obedient to His laws, and inflicting punishment, when they disobeyed and turned away to worship the idols of the other nations.

This continued until eventually their wickedness became so great that God brought an invading army from Babylon. Their temple was destroyed, and the king and the people were taken into exile as captives.

“Prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of your final punishment, thus says the Lord GOD: Remove the turban, and take off the crown; things shall not remain as they are; exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high. A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it; there shall not be even a trace of it until he comes whose right it is; and to him I will give it.” (Ezekiel 21:25-27)

It took about another 700 years for Ezekiel's prophecy of destruction to come to its final completion, but eventually in AD130, Jewish occupation of Jerusalem was completely ended by the invading Roman armies, and its people were scattered to the four corners of the earth.

But that is not the end of the matter! (Jeremiah 30:11,18-22) God is faithful to His word. And that guarantees the certainty that His covenants with the Jewish fathers will still be kept. (Jeremiah 33:25-26)

And that also guarantees the resurrection , without which those promises cannot be kept for the Jewish Fathers!


Jesus likens the Kingdom in its present condition , to a field with a crop of good seed growing until it is ready to harvest; to a field again, this time containing a crop of both wheat and tares, growing side by side; to a net in which are gathered good fish and bad; to a mustard tree in whose shade even the birds of the air (the devil's agents) find shelter.

The Kingdom will remain in this condition until the “end of the age”, when finally the angels will come to separate the evil from the righteous, gathering out and destroying all causes of sin and all evildoers. (Read the Kingdom parables in Matthew 13)


“In the days of those kings, (the last of this world's rulers over the earthly remnants of Babylonian style kingdoms) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:44)

In future issues of HOUSMAIL, it is planned to discuss just how vitally important all of this background is to a ripe understanding of what is offered in the “Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ”. (Acts 8:12) It is important because no one can ever truly believe what they have never heard! (Romans 10:14-17)

This future Kingdom of God on Earth is an essential non-negotiable element of the Gospel preached by Jesus. It is the promised inheritance of believers in Jesus. (Matthew 5:3,6; Gal 3:26-29) It is the Kingdom of Israel restored, just as Ezekiel prophesied. It now awaits the return from Heaven, of the one whose right it is to sit on the throne of David for ever. (Luke 1:32-33, Acts 1:11;3:21)