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The Kingdom of God As Scripture’s Central Theme: A New Approach to Biblical Theology, Part 1

 

Aside from biblical proof, there is also historical proof of Israel’s divine election, even within our own time. The establishment of Israel as a sovereign nation in May 1948 was an absolute miracle. The growth of the Messianic Jewish movement in recent years is significant. Jews are embracing Jesus as their Messiah in greater and greater numbers. God is not yet finished with Israel. In fact his greater work with Israel has not yet begun (Romans 11:25-27), but when it does Gentiles will reap even greater blessings, for “if their transgression means riches to the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring” (Romans 11:12, NIV).

 

The Millennium and New Creation

For Kingdom Theology, the Millennium is another step in the program of God under the New Covenant as he works toward the full coming of his Kingdom on earth. In that age believers will reign and rule with Christ on earth in a manner that is not realized in the present age (Rev. 2:26-27; 5:10; 19:15-16; 20:4). A restored and redeemed Israel plays a prominent role in that rule (Isa 2:2-4; 11:1-10; 14:1-2; Zech. 8:20-23; Acts 1:6-7).

However, the goal of biblical eschatology is not the Millennium, although it is an important step, but rather it is the full realization of the Kingdom of God on earth in the New Creation. For some reason we tend to stop our eschatology with the millennium as if the eternal state is somehow totally cut off from and has no relationship to this present creation. The redemption of the cosmos is also part of God’s program: Romans 8:19-21 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (NIV)

The New Heavens and New Earth of Revelation 21 & 22 are not the beginning of a new age that is wholly unlike and unrelated to the present, but is the final redemptive work of God in bringing newness to all of his creation. In other words, the final step in the coming of God’s Kingdom under the New Covenant is the creation of the New Heavens and Earth. As we will continue to live but in resurrected bodies, the heavens and the earth will also continue but in their renewed forms. Living on this earth in our renewed bodies we will again be given the opportunity to fulfill our original creation mandate of ruling over the earth as God’s images. It is this period of time to which the Old and New Testaments look in eager anticipation.

The Bible has much more to say about the final state of God’s Kingdom than we often realize, because much of what we usually pour into the Millennium properly belongs to the New Creation. While the Millennial fulfillment of God’s Kingdom is only partial and anticipatory of the New Creation, the New Heavens and the New Earth is the final fulfillment of those Old Testament prophecies that speak of the future age of the Kingdom. The New Creation passages of Revelation 21 and 22 contain strong allusions to and quotes from Old Testament passages that speak of the age of the Kingdom.14 In fact, the bulk of Revelation 21 & 22 can be reconstructed from messianic passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel, demonstrating that the true fulfillment of those passages is found in the New Creation.15 God’s promises to Israel of land, temple, worship, etc., will be eternally realized on the new earth. Thus, believing Israel will live on the new earth in the promised land forever, enjoying the fulfillment of the covenant promises for which they have long waited (Ezek. 48:31-34; Rev. 21:12-13). Believing Gentiles will enjoy the eternal blessings as well, as they share with Israel in those covenant promises (Isa. 60:3,5; Rev. 21:24-26). And so God will forever tabernacle with his people in that new creation (Rev. 21:3).

 

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 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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