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The Kingdom of God As Scripture’s Central Theme: A New Approach to Biblical Theology, Part 2


Editor Introduction to The Kingdom of God As Scripture’s Central Theme

Part 1 of The Kingdom of God As Scripture’s Central Theme

Editors Introduction: This is part 2 of David Burns’ proposal that the Kingdom of God is the central unifying theme of Scripture. First published in two parts in the print version of Pneuma Review in 2001, we invite all readers to continue the conversation now that it has been brought online. Please leave your comments under the article.


The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

The Kingdom of God is at the heart of the Old Testament. Throughout its pages God is presented as the undisputed Sovereign who reigns over all he has created and who administers the rule of his Kingdom through covenant. In our brief survey we will show how the Kingdom of God developed in the Old Testament and focus on texts that speak of his kingship. From there we will move on to discuss the coming of the Kingdom under the New Covenant.


The Kingdom of God in the Pentateuch (Torah)

The Kingdom as realized by the Old Testament is only in types and shadows. It awaits the New Covenant under which the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness.

In Genesis 1-3 we find that God created man and placed him in what appears to be a covenant relationship with himself. Under covenant Adam and Eve had special responsibilities. Created in God’s own image, they were commanded to “fill the earth” and to “rule” over it (Gen. 1:26, 28). In obeying that mandate they would act as God’s kingdom representatives upon earth. In ancient times kings placed images of themselves in a territory to remind their subjects to whom they owed their allegiance. In a similar manner God as king placed his image upon the earth to represent himself. If mankind ruled over creation in a holy and just manner they would be reflective of God their king and so fulfill their role as image.17 In so doing they would reap the blessings of the covenant relationship by being granted continual life in the presence of God as represented by the tree of life (Gen. 3:22). However, man chose the way of disobedience. As a result God brought down upon humanity the curses of the covenant (Gen. 3:14-19). Yet, in the midst of curse there was hope for restoration. The serpent’s head would one day be crushed by a descendant of Eve (Gen. 3:15). Thus begins the history of redemption. All the covenants that follow—the Noahic, Abrahamic, and Mosaic, Davidic, and New—become steps toward the re-establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth.

The fall of man in the garden led to evil becoming rampant (Gen. 6:1-5,11-12). The great flood of Noah’s day effectively reduced evil in the world by destroying all life. Yet God assured the advancement of his Kingdom by delivering the righteous Noah, his family, and two of every creature safely through the flood (Gen. 6-9). They became the recipients of another covenant wherein God promised to never again flood the earth (Gen. 9:11). The Noahic Covenant was essentially the Adamic Covenant reformulated to fit a sinful world. The creation mandate of multiplying and ruling is restated (Gen. 9:1-2), but the rule of man now has an element of dread for the creatures (Gen. 9:2). In fact man’s entire role as “image” is in jeopardy due to his failure as God’s representative on earth. Thus the sacredness of that image must be protected by placing a just penalty upon any living being that would take its life (Gen. 9:5-6).


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Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2001

About the Author: David D. Burns, M. Div. served as a pastor for seven years. He presently attends a nondenominational charismatic church and is the father of five home-schooled children, one of which has graduated and is attending college. He has worked over 16 years developing his Kingdom of God Theology and has taught it on several occasions. He is available to do seminars in churches.

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