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


As mankind once more multiplied upon the earth, so again did their wickedness (Gen. 11:1-9). Yet God’s program of bringing his kingdom into the world went forward. This time he called Abraham and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob, into covenant relationship with himself (Gen. 12-15; 17:19; 28:3-4). The covenant with Abraham was a significant step because it was destined to become the basis for both the Old and New Covenants (Ex. 6:2-8; Rom. 4; Gal. 3). Under this covenant God’s revelation concerning his redemptive purposes was greatly expanded (Gen. 12:1-3): (1). God would give to Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan as an eternal inheritance. (2). God would make Abraham into a great nation. (3). Abraham’s name would become great. (4). Blessings and curses would reciprocate upon those who blessed or cursed Abraham and his descendants. (5). Blessing would come through the line of Abraham and overflow into the whole world. Each of those promises became tremendously important to the manner in which God would work to bring his Kingdom into the world. Ultimately it would be the Messiah who would make possible the fulfillment of all those promises (Acts 3:24-26; Rom. 4:16-17).

Abraham’s descendants did grow into a great nation, but they found themselves as slaves in Egypt. However, God had not forgotten his covenant with Abraham (Ex. 2:24) and so delivered them from their captivity “with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment” (Ex. 6:6). On the basis of the Abrahamic covenant God promised they would be his people and he their God (Ex. 6:7). He would lead them into the land he had promised (Ex. 6:8). After their miraculous deliverance from the Egyptian army, the Israelites celebrated through song (Ex. 15:1-21). In the song they pictured God as a victorious warrior king and declared, “The LORD will reign for ever and ever” (Ex. 15:17). For them God was not a deistic Sovereign who was detached from the life of his people. Rather, he was intimately involved with Israel as evidenced by his rescue of them from the hands of the Egyptians.18 At the foot of Mt. Sinai God established a covenant with Israel. He gave them his holy law and declared them to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). They had been specially called of God to be the visible manifestation of the Kingdom of God on earth. Through Israel God would work to bring all peoples unto himself and so fulfill the promise to Abraham that through him all families of the earth would be blessed.


The Kingdom of God In the Historical Books

After Israel became established in the land, not only did she continue to be the manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth, but the eventual line of Davidic kingship became the earthly rulers who administrated the rule of God in Israel. They were granted the right by God “to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel” forever (2 Sam. 13-16; 1 Chron. 28:5-7). As God ruled righteously and justly over all creation, so David and his descendants were to be the righteous rulers of Israel. Of primary importance was the king’s duty to jealously guard the nation’s relationship with God so that they might enjoy the blessings of the land and pass it on to their descendants (1 Chron. 28:8). Abandonment of this responsibility eventually brought God’s discipline, dethroning Israel’s king and exiling the people from the land (2 Chron. 36:9-21).


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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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