In this series of studies, I’ve been involved in seeking to understand the nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us in Luke 17:20-21 that God’s Kingdom is a Kingdom ruled from the hearts of men, not from what could be seen and identified by the naked eye. Unfortunately, the scriptural understanding of the Kingdom of God is set in contrast with what is actually being taught by the three predominant groups of eschatology. Premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism all teach that Jesus will one day return to the earth (i.e. his Second Coming) and rule in a physical body from physical Jerusalem on a physical throne in a physical Kingdom.
Israel’s Messiah was to sit on David’s throne and rule in his Kingdom. So, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples on the Feast of Pentecost, Peter rose up to tell the Jewish pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, concerning the Day of the Lord:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. (Joel 2:28-29, 32; emphasis mine)
In the day in which the Messiah would reign and in the days in which the Lord’s Spirit would be poured out, those would be the days of the resurrection and restoration of Israel as seen in Ezekiel’s prophecy:
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD… And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. (Ezekiel 37:12-14, 21-24; emphasis mine)
Notice that this would be the time when the ten tribes of Israel would return to the Lord, and they would be reunited with their brethren, Judah and Benjamin, the southern kingdom. They would be one nation, having one King, the Messiah (David). This would begin to occur when the Lord poured out his Spirit on his people, raising them to life (Ezekiel 37:14; cf. Ephesians 2:1-6). God’s pouring out of his Spirit upon his people should give us the nature of his Kingdom. The people weren’t literally raised out of their graves, but they were given God’s Spirit which raised them from spiritual death. When they understood and received the Gospel, they walked in newness of life. Jesus was their King, but he didn’t reign on earth. The Kingdom had been inaugurated, but no one was able to point to it and say, it is here or over there (cf. Luke 17:20-21).
Peter then pointed out to those listening, that David hadn’t ascended into heaven, but God did raise up Jesus from the dead, and Jesus ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of God—reigning from heaven, and the proof of it all was the outpouring of God’s Spirit as prophesied by Joel the prophet (Acts 2:29-36). Yet, Jesus was not sitting on a physical throne. He didn’t rule in a visible Kingdom. The dead were not visibly raised. Yet the people who believed the Gospel knew they had been changed and could witness to the new life within them (Acts 2:42-47). Yes, the Kingdom of God had been inaugurated, but it wasn’t a physical Kingdom. It was spiritual in nature.