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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.
In the last part of Luke 11:2 we are given the second petition in The Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.”
This naturally follows the first petition, because hallowing the name (character) of God is the necessary prerequisite for His Kingdom to be established. Because the Church—and Christians themselves—have not succeeded in duplicating the life of Christ in their walk, they have borne false witness of Christ. Others see their witness and are unimpressed with the God that they claim to worship. Tragically, they reject Christ in most cases, and this delays the coming Kingdom. This will be rectified at the First Resurrection and the transfiguration of the overcomers at the feast of Tabernacles, allowing them to manifest Christ fully to the nations.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Church attempted to convert people by force and fear. Having lost the Sword of the Spirit, they took up the physical sword to extend the power of the Church. They claimed they were extending the Kingdom of God, when, in fact, they were only extending the kingdom of the carnal Church. Because so many did not find the Church so lovable, the Church leaders felt it necessary to rule by fear.
The Reformers in more recent centuries made various improvements, but many carnal practices remained. Most of them retained the teaching of eternal torment which most of the early Church did not believe. (Eternal torment was taught primarily in the Latin Church in the third century; the vast majority of the Greek-speaking Church taught universal reconciliation, as Augustine himself once admitted, until it was finally stamped out by the seventh century.)
In the end, Augustine, the “champion of eternal torment” in the early fifth century, seems to have abandoned his doctrinal position—if not in writing, then by silence. Dr. F. W. Farrar says in his book, The Eternal Hope, page 198,
*Since aion meant “age,” aionios means, properly, “belonging to an age,” or “age-long,” and anyone who asserts that it must mean “endless” defends a position which even Augustine practically abandoned twelve centuries ago.
Augustine was an accomplished Latin lawyer, but he knew virtually nothing of Greek. Church historian, Peter Brown, says in his book, Augustine of Hippo, page 36,
*Augustine’s failure to learn Greek was a momentous casualty of the Late Roman educational system; he will become the only Latin philosopher in antiquity to be virtually ignorant of Greek.
For this reason, when Augustine argued for “eternal” torment, it was necessary for later editors to write a footnote in Augustine’s book, City of God, correcting his error:
*The words “eternal” and “eternity” from Latin aeternus, aeternitas, are related to aevum, which means BOTH “unending time” and “a period of time’; for the second meaning the commoner word is aetas.
Augustine used a Latin translation of the Scripture, where the Greek term aionian had been rendered aeternus, from which we derive our English word “eternal.” The Latin term was perhaps the nearest equivalent at the time, because it was indefinite. It could mean either an unending period of time or a limited period of time. Augustine chose to believe that its meaning was unending, and so as time passed, the Church itself took his word for it and limited its meaning. And so today's definition of “eternity” is an unending period of time, though it was not so limited in the past.
The problem with this teaching of eternal torment is that it identifies God with so many kings and governments who regularly torture dissidents. When Christians present such a God to unbelievers, many of them reject Him, saying, “Why would anyone want to serve a God that tortures people for eternity?”
We ought to present Abba to them, not an impersonal judge or a ruthless king or president who tortures dissidents. The world has had enough of such governmental practice. Torture is not justice, unless the offender has tortured others and is being judged by the “eye for eye” principle. Yet even then, such judgment is not eternal, but aionian. The judgment always fits the crime in biblical justice. And even then, all justice is limited by the law of Jubilee.
For this reason, Paul can boldly tell us that all things will be put under the feet of Christ so that God may be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28; Hebrews 2:8). Not all in some, nor some in all, but “all in all.” Likewise, Paul says, even as Adam’s sin brought all men into condemnation, so also Christ’s righteous act brought “justification of life to all men” (Romans 5:18). He repeats this teaching in 1 Corinthians 15:22-28.
This is truly the “Good News” of the Gospel. In the end, God has the power to win, the love to motivate Him to save the world, and the wisdom to do so without violating His holy character. When the world comes to know Him as Abba, a loving Father who truly cares for His children—even when He must discipline them by His law—then the Kingdom will be close at hand. When the world sees Him as He truly is, then will they join with the saints in singing the Song of the Lamb in Revelation 15:3, 4,
3 … Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. 4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For all the nations will come and worship before Thee; for Thy righteous acts have been revealed.
In other words, the nations will see His love and manner of justice and say, “Who wouldn’t worship such a King? No one else has such wisdom. We have been led in the past by kings who did not love us. Our kings have expected men to die for them, but Jesus came to die for us. Yes, by all means, we will make Him our King of Kings. We will implement His righteous laws among our people.”
Although the Song of the Lamb directly quotes Psalm 86:8-10, the general message seems to come from Psalm 67, which is a prayer of David. He had the revelation of the Universal Kingdom of God that will fill the whole earth. It begins in Psalm 67:1,
1 God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us—[Selah.]
This is a prayer that our face would be glorified even as Moses’ face shone with the light at his transfiguration on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29). This was a Tabernacles experience, which we too will experience as overcomers at the proper time.
2 That Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation [Yeshua] among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; let all the peoples praise Thee. 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for Thou wilt judge the peoples with uprightness, and guide the nations on the earth. [Selah.]
Here we see that the nations will rejoice and be glad when God judges the people. If God’s judgments were unjust or excessive, they would not rejoice. But because God’s judgments are corrective, restorative, and limited, they have reason to rejoice.
5 Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; let all the peoples praise Thee. 6 The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. 7 God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear [reverence, hallow] Him.
The blessing of Abraham was designed to bless “us” in order that we might be stewards of that blessing and bless all nations on the earth. David said nothing about the earth or the nations being destroyed as “enemies.” He saw salvation (Heb., Yeshua-Jesus) coming to all the nations. He saw all things put under the feet of Christ, that is, under His dominion. He saw the Kingdom coming in the end, where Jesus Christ rules all nations as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, even as John saw in Revelation 11:15,
15 … The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever [“the ages of the ages”—The Emphatic Diaglott].
The prophet Daniel also saw the coming Kingdom. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which Daniel interpreted, he saw a great image that represented the kingdoms of this world. At the end of time, a “stone” was cut out of the mountain without human hands, and it smote the image on its feet, grinding it into powder (Daniel 2:34, 35). The stone then grew until it filled the whole earth.
This is the Kingdom of God. Jesus said to pray for the fulfillment of this prophecy when he said, “Thy Kingdom come.”
Keep in mind that the Kingdom of God has been “coming” for a long time in the sense that it has been developing since the beginning. It was never really lost completely, but usurpers beginning with Nimrod took the dominion from Noah and Shem, who were the rightful kings of the earth. When Israel conquered Canaan, they set up the Kingdom of God under the Old Covenant.
But that kingdom rebelled against God, and its kings, like Nimrod, usurped authority and ruled by their own laws, rather than as stewards of God’s throne. So God sold them to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, followed by Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Little Horn Church until the time would arrive for the Stone Kingdom to arise.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom of God has been within us, burning within the hearts of men who have kept the Kingdom vision alive. Throughout the ages, Kingdom citizens and rulers have been called and trained for divine service. The Great Commission has been a call to repentance, a new way of thinking, a new goal to work for. That goal is to crown Christ King of Heaven and Earth, not only by right of creation, but by right of redemption.
We read in John 1:2, 3,
2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
What exactly was created by Christ at the beginning? Genesis 1:1 says it is both “the heavens and the earth.” This defines the territory (or dominion) of the Kingdom of God. One cannot limit His Kingdom to one or the other. At the present time, the conditions of the Kingdom are perfect and complete only in the heavens—specifically, the third heavens, wherein God dwells. The earth remains the problem, along with the second heavens, wherein is the realm of spiritual warfare.
Jesus thus says to pray “Thy Kingdom come,” and this is explained further in the longer version in Matthew 6:10,
10 Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
When His Kingdom comes, His will shall be done on earth as in heaven today. The goal is to see the will of God performed and fulfilled on earth as in heaven. In other words, the earth is not to be abandoned or destroyed, but annexed by the heavenly invasion.
Meanwhile, the barrier or obstacle between heaven and earth is the second heaven, where the spiritual warfare is ongoing according to earth time. That heaven must be cleared of its opposition in order for the New Jerusalem to descend as a bride to the earth, as Revelation 21:2 says,
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
The next verse shows the results of this, for then God will dwell with (and in) His people, and Jesus will then be known by His prophetic name, Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). As “Jesus,” He is the Savior of all men and all nations, but as “Immanuel,” He is the indwelling Christ, who is coming to full manifestation through the feast of Tabernacles.
The end of all things will come at the time of the Jubilee, applied on a creation level, where a day or year is as a thousand years. In this case, I believe, it will come at the 49,000 year point of human history. We are currently nearing the end of the first “week” and will be celebrating the first Great Sabbath for the next thousand years. Seven such Sabbaths should bring us to the end of 49,000 years when the Jubilee will be declared, and the rest of humanity will be fully released into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.