Recently, I’ve embarked on a study in short segments that concern the nature of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus came upon the scene preaching that the Kingdom of God was near, was he referring to a physical Kingdom or a spiritual Kingdom? That is, when Jesus would begin to reign as the Messiah, did he intend to reign on a physical throne, in physical Jerusalem, in a physical body in, for all intents and purposes, what amounted to a physical Kingdom? Certainly, this was the kind of kingdom over which David reigned, and Jesus was prophesied to rule on David’s throne, but did God intend for us to understand that he would rule literally from a physical throne?
It is the eschatology of all three futurist camps (premillennial; postmillennial and amillennial) who look forward to Jesus’ Second Coming, that he would reign in physical Jerusalem on David’s physical throne, in Jesus’ own physical body (i.e. that was crucified and rose from the dead) in what amounts to a physical Kingdom, similar to that of David and Solomon. Therefore, at least according to the futurists, the nature of the Kingdom of God is physical. What should we say of these things? Notice what Peter says:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:9-13 – emphasis mine)
Peter told his readers in Asia Minor that they were presently (at the time of Peter’s writing) receiving the end of their faith—i.e. they were then receiving their salvation. What salvation was that? Well, according to Peter, the Old Testament prophets sought to understand what sort of salvation that would be and when it would come. It was told them that they prophesied not to their generation but to the first century generation—the time of the last days of the Jewish nation.
Therefore, Peter was speaking of the very time the futurists tell us the physical Kingdom of God should appear. The Old Testament prophets foretold it, and it was to arrive in the last days, which Peter concludes were the days in which he lived. But, do the futurists and Peter have the same sort of Kingdom in mind? That is, does the physical Kingdom of the futurists meet the characteristics or the nature of the Kingdom to which Peter pointed?
Speaking of the ten northern tribes of Israel, the prophet Hosea recorded God divorcing them, i.e. God severed his relationship with them, due to their playing the harlot, thus, breaking their covenant with him. Hosea says this concerning the last days:
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 3:4-5)
The scriptures say that Israel would go many days without a king, a priesthood and a means of worshiping God, but in the latter days they would repent and seek the Lord and David (the Messiah) their King. Remember, the latter days have to do with Israel, not the whole world. It was Israel’s last days, not the last days of mankind. This puts us in the first century AD.
How would Peter characterize these latter or last days (1Peter 1:5, 20)? Notice what he says in the second chapter of his epistle:
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
He addressed his readers as ‘living stones’ who were being built up a spiritual House (i.e. a spiritual Temple). He called them a ‘holy priesthood’ that offered up spiritual sacrifices. In what context, then, should we look for a physical Kingdom? If Peter described a spiritual Temple, where would that contextually fit in the Kingdom? Would we find it in heavenly (spiritual) Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-3)? If heavenly Jerusalem is scattered all over the world (i.e. the Church is found all over the world), where could we find a physical throne in such a spiritual city? If a physical throne cannot fit into the context of this spiritual city, how would the physical body of Jesus reign, while sitting upon such a spiritual throne in a spiritual city. In other words, how could Jesus, in a physical body reign in a spiritual city that is scattered all over the world? How would the eschatology of all futurists’ views of Jesus’ Second Coming fit into this concept of a spiritual Kingdom of God?