Chapter 1 - Motive for the Eternal Church
God is sovereign (1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Psalm 33:10-11; 50:1; 66:7; 93:1; 103:19; Isaiah 40:15; Daniel 4:34-35; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 11:17). His sovereignty is an attribute of His nature. It is indicative of supremacy of both position and power.
Concordant with God’s sovereignty, He has absolute control over every aspect of His creation. He does whatever He pleases and no person or plan can alter His intent or obstruct His action (Psalm 33:11; 115:3; 135:6; Isaiah 25:1; 43:13; 46:10; Daniel 4:35; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 4:3b). Therefore, whether by divine directive or permission, all that occurs within the created realm is in agreement with God's eternal plan.
Kingdom of God
Relative to His sovereignty, God possesses fullness of authority (the right to rule) in heaven and on earth. As a consequence, He is the King of Kings (Psalm 5:2; 10:16; 29:10; 84:3; 145:1; Matthew 25:40; 27:11; Mark 15:2; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:15; Revelation 15:3; 17:14). There is no other king, ruler, power or dominion with comparable authority.
The sovereign King of Kings reigns over a kingdom. In the English Bible, the primary words translated into the word “kingdom” are the Old Testament Hebrew malkuth (mal-kooth') (1 Chronicles 11:10; 14:2; Psalm 45:6; 103:19; 145:11-13; Daniel 10:13) and the New Testament Greek basileia (bas-il-i'-ah) (John 3:3-5; Acts 1:3; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 4:20). According to George Eldon Ladd, “The primary meaning of both the Hebrew word malkuth in the Old Testament and of the Greek word basileia in the New Testament is the rank, authority, and sovereignty exercised by a king. A basileia may indeed be a realm over which a sovereign exercises his authority; and it may be the people who belong to that realm and over whom authority is exercised; but these are secondary and derived meanings.”While the kingdom of God may refer to a realm and people, it is foremost indicative of the rank, sovereignty, and authority exercised by God.
God originally populated His eternal kingdom with angelic beings (Job 38:7; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:1-6). They were created holy, immortal, and spiritual (Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 20:36; Hebrews 1:14). The angelic beings were also provided with personal awareness and freedom of will. Therefore, they were given the capability for thought, emotion and choice and the privilege of choosing whether or not to reciprocate the love of their King (Matthew 8:29; Luke 2:13; 8:28-31; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Timothy 2:26; James 2:19; 1 Peter 1:12; Jude 6; Revelation 12:17).
Unlike mankind, God did not create the angels to propagate (Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25). Instead, He made them simultaneously to exist in a vast quantity that never increases or decreases (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 68:17; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 12:22).
The Bible clarifies that the kingdom of God is inhabited by different kinds of angelic beings. They include angels, cherubim and seraphim (Psalm 148:2; Isaiah 6:1-7; 37:16; Ezekiel 1; 10; John 1:51; 1 Corinthians 13:1; Hebrews 9:5).
The angels, cherubim, and seraphim are characterized by ordered equality. Equal in status but ordered by authority, they were anointed to serve in a variety of important roles.
The English word "angel" is translated from the Greek word angelos. It means “messenger” and, by implication, one who is sent to “announce or proclaim.” Referenced 186 times in the New Testament, the angels are representatives of God. He sends them to proclaim His message and fulfill His will and work (Psalm 103:20-21; Daniel 7:10; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 1:14; cf., Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Galatians 4:14; Hebrews 1:7, 14; 13:2; James 2:25). Thus, angels serve as messengers and ministers of God (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:11-20; 26-38; Acts 7:38, 53; Gal. 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Revelation 14:6-11).
The cherubim and seraphim are nearest to God. Therefore, they both have essential roles near the throne of God (Isaiah 6:1-7; Ezekiel 1:26-28; 9:3; 10:1-22).
The cherubim magnify God through worship and praise. As further evidenced by their symbolic inclusion in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, they represent God and guard the attributes of His nature (Exodus 25:18-22; 26:1; 1 Kings 6:23, 27; Ezekiel 10:1-14). The cherubim are also known to fulfill important tasks for God on earth (Genesis 3:24).
The Bible references the seraphim in only one passage (Isaiah 6:1-7). According to Isaiah, they acted as the agent for his divine purification. However, it is clear from the passage that they also worship God, proclaim His holiness, and declare His sovereignty over the earth.
Fundamentally speaking, there are only two types of governance that exist for the benefit of angelic and human beings. The first is the rule of law. It was initiated to govern the unrighteous (inclusive of all angelic and human beings existing outside of the kingdom of God). The second type of governance for angelic and human beings is the rule of life (zoe). It constitutes the divine means of governance for the righteous (all angelic and human beings who exist within the kingdom of God).
The rule of law is synonymous with the principle of law or the “law of sin and of death.” Reflecting the righteousness of God, it provides a measurable standard of righteousness within the “domain of darkness” (realm of satanic authority) or the fallen heavens and earth (Romans 3:20; 7:7).
God initiated the rule of law on earth for benefit of the unrighteous. Its intent was to reveal sin or the transgression of law and thereby motivate the sinner to seek the Savior. Thus, the Apostle Paul plainly stated, “[the rule of] law was not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane….” (1 Timothy 1:9).
The kingdom of God (realm of divine authority) is not governed according to the rule of law. As indicated, the rule of law was initiated for the unrighteous.
The kingdom of God, however, is populated only with the righteous, both angelic and human (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). While the angelic citizens of the kingdom remain in their original, eternal state of righteousness, the human citizens of the kingdom were graciously made righteous in time through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
It is important to reiterate, all of the citizens of the kingdom of God (realm of divine authority) are righteous. Consequently, there is no unrighteousness to reveal in the kingdom. Thus, the rule of law is unnecessary.
Rather than divine law, the citizens of the kingdom of God are governed by the gracious rule of divine life (zoe) (cf. John 14:6; Acts 3:15; 5:20; Romans 5:10, 17, 21; 7:4-6; 7:10; 8:2; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 4:10-11; 5:4; Colossians 3:3-4; 1 John 5:20). Therefore, they do not relate to God by obedience to the commands and ordinances encompassed in the rule of law (law of sin and of death) but by choice of faith to cooperate with the gracious presence of His indwelling life (zoe) (cf. Romans 1:5; 16:26).
Kingdom of God on Earth
The heavens and earth have not always existed in their present form. “In the beginning,” before the angelic beings, God created the original, eternal heavens and earth to exist within the realm of His kingdom (Genesis 1:1). Rather than “formless and void” or a “domain of darkness,” they were perfectly formed by God, subject to the rule of His life (zoe), and illuminated by the light of His presence (Genesis 1:2; Colossians 1:13; cf., Revelation 21:22-27; 22:5).
God created the original, eternal earth as a habitat for angelic beings. They were arranged in a specific hierarchy to mediate His authority on earth (Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; Colossians 1:16; 2:15; cf. Ephesians 6:12).
Satan was the highest ranking angelic being assigned to the original, eternal earth. He was described as having “the seal of perfection” and being “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). Further, Satan was beautiful and splendorous (Ezekiel 28:17). Therefore, he was possibly the most extraordinary of God’s angelic beings assigned to the original earth.
Satan served God in a distinguished fashion. His splendid attire revealed his role on the original earth. Like the Jewish high priest, he had a breastplate adorned with precious stones (Ezekiel 28:13; cf., Exodus 28:17).
Besides his priestly covering, Satan had what the Bible referred to as “settings and sockets” (Ezekiel 28:13). They were indicative of either the receptacles that held his adorning stones or, as distinguished by other English translations of the Bible, musical instruments. The Hebrew for “settings and sockets” has been translated as “tabrets and pipes” (KJV) and “timbrels and pipes” (NKJV) (tambourines and flutes). The context does not conclusively promote one interpretation over the other.
If Satan’s “settings and sockets” referred to receptacles for adorning stones, the relevance is not entirely clear. It would appear to be an unnecessary embellishment. Conversely, if “settings and sockets” referred to musical instruments, then Satan was equipped by God to worship Him with song.
Satan was the highest ranking angelic being assigned to the original, eternal earth. He had an anointed position at the throne of God, priestly attire, and musical instruments by which to worship God. Therefore, he likely served God on the original earth in the role of high priest.
As the high priest, Satan would have been allowed intimate access to God. The Bible reveals that he had the elevated privilege of enjoying God in both “Eden, the garden of God” and on the “holy mountain of God” (Ezekiel 28:13, 14). They were specific locations in the kingdom of God where Satan was permitted privileged access to God.
“Eden, the garden of God” was not the same Eden known to Adam and Eve, but the archetypal Eden on the original, eternal earth. Like the subsequent Eden known to Adam and Eve, the original Eden was also associated with the intimate presence of God on earth amid His created beings (cf. Genesis 2:8, 10, 15; Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 36:35). It was a place of fellowship between Satan and his King. Though presently unavailable, Eden will again exist in the future as a place of intimate fellowship between God and His created beings on earth (Isaiah 51:3; cf. Revelation 21:1-22:5).
In contrast to Eden, the “mountain of God” refers to the throne of God in heaven and, by implication, the authoritative rule of God over the earth (Exodus 3:1; 4:27; 18:5; 24:13; 1 Kings 19:8; Psalm 68:15; Ezekiel 28:14, 16). Satan, the high priest of God on the original, eternal earth, was allowed privileged access to the throne or “mountain of God.” His role was described as the “anointed cherub who covers” (Ezekiel 28:14). Covering or overshadowing the throne of God, Satan guarded the attributes of the divine nature on the "mountain of God".
Like Eden, the “mountain of God” is not presently available on earth. However, it will again be accessible in the future (Isaiah 2:2-3; 65:17-25; 66:20).
Despite his privileged position and proximity to God, Satan’s heart became “lifted up” or prideful (Ezekiel 28:17). As a result, he proclaimed: “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Regardless of his position of unparalleled privilege, Satan believed he could attain even greater importance and influence in the kingdom.
Coveting the glory of the King, Satan devised a scheme by which he would challenge Him for His throne. He believed that it would reveal God as vulnerable and thus susceptible to deposition.
Satan presumed that God could not express the attributes of His nature concurrently in an unbiased manner. Specifically, he questioned whether God could demonstrate love and mercy together with justice.
Satan believed the attributes of God mentioned above to be contradictory to one another. He presupposed that if God were to forgive his rebellious scheme lovingly and mercifully, it would necessitate that He compromise justice. Conversely, if God were to punish justly, it would require Him to compromise love and mercy. Misunderstanding the nature of God, Satan was confident that God would choose love and mercy over justice.
Satan believed that the divine neglect of justice would constitute legal compromise. As a result, God would be dishonorable, and His kingdom would be subject to division and, ultimately, co-rule by Satan.
Understanding the potential advantage of co-conspirators, Satan persuaded many angels to join him in his rebellion against God (cf., 12:3-4). By the “abundance” of his unrighteous “trade”(trafficking or conspiring), he convinced about one-third of the angels that his plan would succeed (Ezekiel 28:16, 18; Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 12:3-4). Therefore, they rejected their privilege of citizenship in the kingdom of God and followed his lead (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 12:3-4).
The scheme, perpetrated by Satan and a vast number of the heavenly host, was no minor incident. On the contrary, it constituted a severe affront to the nature of God and a legal challenge to His sovereign rule.
All of God’s judgments are just. He is righteous or morally and ethically perfect. Concordant with His justice, God cannot dismiss unrighteousness within the realm of His presence. It is an affront to His righteous nature and sovereign rule.
All unrighteousness is subject to the perfectly righteous judgment of God. There is no partiality or prejudice with His judgment. On the contrary, relative to His nature, it is absolutely just.
The judgment of the devil and his angels did not originate from the mind of a cold-hearted, biased judge. Instead, reflective of the divine nature, it was characterized by selfless love, unfailing mercy, and absolute justice. As a result, the judgment of the devil and his angels served their highest good, was infinitely commensurate with their crime, and absolutely impartial.
Death, Darkness, and Destruction
Relative to their judgment, the devil and his angels experienced separation from God. Therefore, they suffered degeneration of life (zoe) and banishment to a darkened existence outside of the divine kingdom.
God is the source of both eternal life (zoe) and eternal light or spiritual illumination. “…. the Father has life (zoe) in Himself” (John 5:26a; cf., John 3:16; 17:3; 1 John 1:2; 5:11). “God is light” (1 John 1:5). “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (John 1:4a).
Angelic loss of eternal life (zoe) and light occurred by separation from the eternal God. His life (zoe) shared with His creatures is the source of their eternal life (zoe) and light. Thus, separation from God outside of His kingdom is the equivalent of existing in a state of death and darkness (cf. “outer darkness” - Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).
The angelic rebellion not only produced death and darkness but significant destruction. Designed and created by God, the original, eternal earth was perfectly suited for fulfilling His purpose. Isaiah informs, “He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18). However, the angelic rebellion caused the original, eternal earth to become “formless and void” (Genesis 1:2). In other words, it became characterized by waste, ruin, and emptiness.
In addition, the earth became darkened. Thus, “… darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). Darkness in the Bible commonly represents divine judgment.
Congruent with the judgment of God, it is possible to translate Genesis 1:1-2, “Before all else, God created the heavens and the earth. But the earth came to be ruined and despoiled – darkness lay upon the face of the abyss while God's Spirit brooded over the surface of its waters”.
The rebellion of the devil and his angels resulted in death, darkness, and destruction. Not only was Satan and one-third of the angels banished from kingdom citizenship, but the original, eternal earth became uninhabitable.
The divine judgment and sentencing of the devil and his angels was immediate (cf. John 16:11). However, the serving of their sentence was temporarily suspended (Isaiah 24:21-22; Matthew 8:29; Romans 16:20; Revelation 20:10). In plain view of the angelic host, it provided God with the opportunity to vindicate His nature and silence any lasting presumption of vulnerability.
Congruent with the eternal plan of God, He next renovated the original, devastated heavens and earth to suit His purpose (Genesis 1:2-31). As a result, they were no longer “formless and void” but once again accommodative for His creatures.
In agreement with all of the works of God, the renovation lacked nothing. It was perfect. Therefore, He pronounced every aspect of it “good” and His holy angels rejoiced (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31; Job 38:4-7).
While waiting to serve their sentence, God provided the devil and his angels with the opportunity to will and to work on the renovated earth. However, they were not given free reign. Instead, the will and work of the devil and his angels was moderated by God to suit the fulfillment of His eternal purpose and plan (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Romans 8:38; James 4:7; 1 John 5:18).
God did not renovate the heavens and earth to serve as a habitat for spiritual, angelic beings but for a new type of creature; mankind (Genesis 1:26-30). In contrast to the angelic beings, God created humanity with a physical or material body.
The devil and his angels did not fail to notice that God had chosen to replace them in His kingdom with a being that was inferior. Indeed, He replaced the devil and his angels not only by position and authority but also, even more regrettably, as the primary objects of His love and affection. Thus, it is no surprise that the devil and his angels view humanity with intense jealousy and hatred.
Fall of Mankind
Satan was not ignorant. It was quite apparent to him that God had awarded Adam everything he had once valued.
Satan could plainly see that Adam was privileged to experience the utter joy of intimate, shared life fellowship with God. He was also very aware that his own existence had become quite bleak. Not only was it characterized by death, darkness, and loneliness but subordination to God according to the rule of law rather than the intimate rule of life. To make matters worse, the entire angelic host had witnessed the embarrassing transformation.
The entire ordeal was exceedingly difficult for Satan to endure. His prideful self-preoccupation made it truly intolerable.
Motivated by anger and jealousy, Satan devised a new scheme by which he hoped to defend his rebellion against God. He believed it would show that the judgment of God was unjust and therefore, he would be exonerated.
As indicated, Satan was not ignorant about the activities of God on the renovated earth. He knew that God had forewarned Adam and his “helper,” Eve, not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Convinced he could use the information for his own benefit, it became foundational to his scheme.
In the guise of a serpent, Satan manipulated Eve into questioning God's command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. His fundamental intent was to plant seeds of doubt about the authority of God.
Carefully manipulated by Satan, Eve chose to believe Satan’s lie, doubted God, and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As forewarned, she suffered separation from God, immediate spiritual death, and consequently, began the long slow decline to physical death.
By her fallen countenance alone, Eve’s death was unmistakable to Adam. However, it was made even more apparent by her fallen behavior.
Satan’s deception and Eve’s transformation forced Adam to make a difficult choice. He could reject his beloved bride and allow her to experience her appointed destiny without him. It would be both lonely and heart-wrenching. Conversely, Adam could choose to remain in union with Eve by eating from the prohibited tree and joining her in a state of separation from God. Fundamentally, the satanic scheme forced Adam to choose between God and His beloved Eve.
Eve was the one of whom Adam had stated with great excitement, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). No other earthly being could be to him what she had become. Therefore, choosing to value Eve more than God, Adam willingly ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Eve’s choice to disobey God was the result of satanic deception (1 Timothy 2:14). Thus, she was not fully cognizant of the repercussions of her choice. In contrast, Adam willfully rebelled. He made a conscious choice to disobey God.
By his deception of Eve, Satan manipulated Adam into eating from the forbidden tree. Although manipulated, the evidence suggests that both willingly disobeyed God.
Eve wanted to be “like God” and Adam wanted to be with Eve. It was the desire of their heart. As a result, God lovingly allowed them to experience separation from His presence and banishment from His kingdom. Thus, Adam and Eve were no longer righteous citizens of the kingdom governed in accordance with the intimacy of shared life. Instead, they became self-governed rebels.
Abdication of Authority
By the success of his scheme, Satan demonstrated legal superiority over Adam. As a result, he regained the legal right to rule over the earth and its fallen inhabitants.
The New Testament corroborates. When tempting Christ in the desert, Satan said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:6). “Handed over”; “delivered” (KJV); “given” (NIV); are translated from the Greek word paradidomi. It “designates the act whereby something or someone is transferred into the possession of another.” Satan could not have made the offer to Christ had he not possessed at least some of the authority necessary to rule over the earth.
Satan regained the legal right to rule the earth when Adam abdicated it. He willingly traded his God-given authority over the planet for a future with Eve.
Judgment of the Earth
Relative to his misrepresentation of the renovated earth and abdication of his priestly authority, Adam experienced divine judgment. In addition, the appointed domain of his rule, the renovated earth, was also subjected to judgment. Thus, the renovated earth, condemned like the original earth before it, was radically transformed into a fallen state. Separated from God, it became characterized by degeneration and darkness (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:19-21; Colossians 1:13).
Ruler of this World
By his deceptive scheme and Adam’s subsequent abdication, Satan regained some of his previous status and authority. Therefore, he presently and temporarily holds the legal titles of “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31) and “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). According to the Apostle John, “…. the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). However, Satan's present status and authority related to the renovated, fallen earth is a distant shadow of the former glory he once enjoyed. Rather than ruling the pristine, original earth, he now presides over a “domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).
The plan of God to address the death, darkness, and destruction caused by His creatures was not simply a reactionary response. On the contrary, by foreknowledge, it was congruent with a predetermined plan.
According to eternal plan, God chose beforehand to restore His kingdom on earth and repopulate it with willing subjects. His work of restoration and repopulation has been in perfect agreement with the attributes of His nature. Consequently, it has been the fruit of selfless love, unfailing mercy, and absolute justice demonstrated in a concurrent and unbiased manner.
The Messiah or Christ was foundational to the eternal plan of God to restore and repopulate His kingdom. The Father anointed the Christ as the Savior of the world (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 4:14). He promised His arrival on the earth immediately after the fall of mankind (Genesis 3:15).
The identity of the Christ is revealed by more than three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament and by specific name in the New Testament. Further, the Messiah or Christ is identified explicitly in the Bible as Jesus the Nazarene (cf. Matthew 1:1; Acts 2:22-24).
The Father sent Jesus the Christ to the renovated, fallen earth in the fullness of time. He was God incarnated in human flesh.
The incarnate Christ possessed both fullness of deity and fullness of humanity (John 1:1, 14, 18; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 2:9). Therefore, He was uniquely qualified to represent both God to man and man to God.
Fully God, Jesus possessed absolute authority. Thus, He had the ability to exercise divine authority while on earth. However, while in human flesh, Jesus “emptied Himself” of His divine authority. As a result, He chose not to act according to His own will or exercise His own authority (Philippians 2:7a).
Instead, Jesus took “the form of a bond-servant,” one without authority, and lived His earthly life in perfect dependence on His indwelling, heavenly Father (Philippians 2:7b). Through the authority and power of the indwelling Father, He performed miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons. Though fully God, Jesus freely emptied Himself of His divine authority and lived an earthly life and ministry of radical dependence.
Entirely dependent on the indwelling Father, Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). By His crucifixion, He paid the penalty for the sin of all mankind and, thus, provided the means for the divine forgiveness of human sin (John 1:29; 4:42; 1 John 2:2; 4:14). His death satisfied the purpose He intended. Therefore, there is no need for additional sacrifice for human sin (Hebrews 9:26; 10:12).
As stipulated by the Eternal Covenant, Jesus the Christ conquered sin and death and as promised was resurrected by the Father (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; 10:45; John 2:18-22; 11:25-26; Romans 1:4-5; 1 Peter 1:3). His resurrection showed the Father’s approval of Jesus’ sacrifice, validated the truth of Jesus’ earthly message, and provided the means for fallen man to receive justification from sin. Further, it opened the door to mankind for the possibility of resurrection to a union of eternal life (zoe) with God, the requirement for citizenship in His eternal kingdom.
In harmony with His eternal plan, God provided the means to restore His kingdom on earth and repopulate it with willing citizens. To the bewilderment of the devil and his angels, it constituted a perfect demonstration of selfless love, unfailing mercy, and absolute justice.
Longing of the Angels
The holy angels have observed the redemptive work of God on the renovated, fallen earth with great interest and curiosity (Job 1:1-2:13; Luke 15:10; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 11:10; Ephesians 3:8-10; 6:12; 1 Timothy 3:16; 5:21; 1 Peter 1:12). That God would restore His kingdom on earth and repopulate it with willing citizens by His death and resurrection had been a complete mystery (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9; 3:4; 6:19; Colossians 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3). Once unveiled, however, they recognized it was a perfect demonstration of the love, mercy, and justice of God. As a result, it became a point of awe and wonder.
Despite the rebellion and destructiveness of His creatures, God has promised the future regeneration of the earth. It is congruent with His eternal plan to vindicate His nature in heaven and on earth.
According to plan, the kingdom of God will be visibly manifested on the regenerated earth in the future (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13). It will accommodate the immediate, visible reign of Christ on earth and allow for the vindication of the divine nature through the restoration of the nation of Israel. As revealed throughout the Old Testament, the restoration of Israel to the covenant plan of God and kingdom citizenship has long been their national hope (cf. Psalm 24:1-10; 89: 3-4, 29, 34-37; Isaiah 1:26-27; 4:2-6; 9:6-7; 16:5; 27:12-13; 29:22-24; 30:18-26; 32:16-20; 33:20-24; 35:1-10; 43:5-7; 44:1-5, 21-23; 45:17; 51:3; 52:1-10; 55:12-13; 56:6-8; 60:1-14; 61:10-11; 62:1-12; Jeremiah 3:8, 17; 16:14-15; 31:1-40; 50:19-20; Ezekiel 11:14-20; 17:22-24; 20:40-41; 28:25-26; 34:25-31; 36:8-15, 24-38; 37:1-25; 40:1-43:27; 44:1-46:24; 47:1-48:35; Hosea 1:10-2:1; 14:4-8; Joel 2:18-32; 3:17-18; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:1-8; 7:18-20; Zephaniah 3:9-20; Zechariah 8:1-8; 10:8-12; 14:9-11).
The divine regeneration of the earth will first necessitate the judgment of the degenerated earth. “….the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the [degenerated] heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the [degenerated] earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:7, 10). The fire of divine judgment will destroy every trace of angelic and human rebellion related to the degenerated heavens and earth.
After the fiery destruction of the degenerated earth, God will regenerate the earth in temporal form. “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13; cf. Matthew 19:28). The newly regenerated heavens and earth will be suitable to accommodate the reign of Christ over the earthly nation of Israel.
God will then manifest His kingdom on earth with the return of Messiah Jesus (cf. Psalm 2:6-9; Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-12:6; Jeremiah 23:3-8; 33:9-26; Matthew 25:31-34; 2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 19:11-20:6). He will arrive on the regenerated earth and reign as King over the nation of Israel for one thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6). Providing a perfect demonstration of selfless love, unfailing mercy, and absolute justice through the restored nation of Israel, His reign on earth will vindicate the nature of God decisively.
At the end of the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth, God will re-create the heavens and earth. The Apostle John states, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (Revelation 21:1). Eternal in form, the re-created heavens and earth will be suitable for existence within the eternal kingdom of God. They will accommodate the eternal God in the midst of all who have placed their faith in Jesus the Christ, Jew and Gentile alike. Thus, the faithful redeemed will forever enjoy the eternal, ever-present reality of the unhindered fullness of life shared with God.
New Testament Church
God created the devil and his angels in a state of holiness under the rule of divine life (zoe). Relative to their original status in the kingdom of God and subsequent choice to reject God, they have no hope of redemption or restoration to shared life with God or citizenship in His kingdom.
In contrast, mankind begins existence outside of the kingdom of God in a fallen state under the rule of law (law of sin and of death). Therefore, he is entirely unworthy of redemption.
Congruent with the stipulations of the Eternal Covenant, God has graciously chosen to provide mankind with the opportunity for restoration to kingdom life. By faith alone, the restoration is gloriously inclusive of justification from all sin, exultation in the amazing privilege of shared life, and the great enjoyment of new citizenship under the intimate rule of divine life (zoe).
During this present age, the distinct church of the New Testament is the chosen instrument of God to repopulate His kingdom with willing human citizens. According to the Apostle Paul, it is an assembly of God’s chosen people in one spiritual body; an intimate, shared life community united and quickened by the indwelling Spirit of God (Acts 2:42-47; 8:3; 12:12; 17:1-9; Romans 12:5; 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:13-27; 16:19; Ephesians 1:23; 2:16; 3:6; 4:4; 4:12,16; 5:18; 23; 5:30; Colossians 1:24; 2:19; 3:15; 18:5-11; 20:20; 21:7-10; Philemon 2; cf. 2 John 10). The Apostle Peter adds that the New Testament church is “… a spiritual house for a holy priesthood” that consists of “… a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession….” (1 Peter 2:5; 2:9a).
The selfless love, unfailing mercy, and absolute justice of God provided the motive for the repopulation of the kingdom of God. The banishment of the angels from the kingdom established the need. During this present age, the New Testament church is the divinely chosen instrument for the repopulation.
© 2018 James Hiatt