In this series of studies, I’ve been investigating the nature of the Kingdom of God. Many Christians believe and would affirm that Jesus will one day come out of heaven in a physical (visible) body and reign over a physical Kingdom, which would be headquartered in physical Jerusalem. Of course, I have been taking issue with that point of view in this series of studies. I have been saying that Jesus has already returned, and has already set up his Kingdom, and all this occurred in 70 AD, when he came in the clouds, as he promised to do (Matthew 26:64), and judged Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple located there. Thus, and at that time, Jesus officially ended the Old Covenant and officially established the New with restored Israel. Therefore, since no one actually saw Jesus in a physical, visible form come out of the sky on a cloud, his coming or parousia (G3952—Matthew 24:3) must have been spiritual.
I would like to consider that time in the first century AD when Jesus would come to establish his Kingdom with restored Israel as promised in Ezekiel:
And David My servant shall be King over them. And there shall be one Shepherd to all of them. And they shall walk in My judgments, and obey My Laws, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, the land in which your fathers have lived. And they shall dwell in it, even they and their sons, and the sons of their sons forever. And My servant David shall be their ruler forever. And I will cut a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. And My tabernacle shall be with them. Yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the nations shall know that I Jehovah sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in their midst forever. (Ezekiel 37:24-28)
No disciple of Jesus would deny that this scripture refers to the Messiah (David’s descendant). He is the Shepherd who was promised to reign over restored Israel – i.e. when God would rejoin the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. The Messiah would bring them into their land and place his Sanctuary / Tabernacle among them forever. The futurists would say this has not yet occurred, but it will occur when Jesus returns at his Second Coming. I am saying Jesus has already done this, but it was a spiritual work that remains to this day.
The same language is used in Isaiah 49:8-26. They find themselves in a hopeless state, believing the Lord had forsaken them (Isaiah 49:14). When the Lord calls to gather them, however, their original homeland is too narrow for them and their children (Isaiah 49:19-20).Therefore, the Messiah (Isaiah 49:8) brings them to his pasture and gives them water to quench their thirst, just as a shepherd would do (Isaiah 49:8-10).
So, here we have the motif of a redeeming Shepherd (Isaiah 49:9) leading his sheep (people), telling them he will protect them from their enemies, and all the nations will know that the Lord, the mighty one of Jacob is their Redeemer and Savior (Isaiah 49:25-26). In the Gospel of John we find Jesus saying he is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14). The theme of uniting two folds is also there (John 10:16), and this has to do with Ezekiel’s two sticks, the restoring of the whole House of Israel under one King (Ezekiel 37:16-22).
Was Jesus at that time seeking to unite Jerusalem with the scattered tribes of Israel? Did he even hint that he intended to restore the physical nation of twelve tribes into one united kingdom (John 8:23; cf. John 18:36)? Nevertheless, God caused Caiaphas, the reigning high priest at that time, to prophesy of Jesus, saying it was expedient for Jesus to die for the nation, but the text continues with “…not for that nation only, but also that He should gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:50-52).
Certainly, Jesus’ death was fulfilled a short time later. Was the rest of the prophecy fulfilled in that generation? If not, why not? Jesus sent out his Apostles, telling them to go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel (i.e. the 10 tribes of the northern kingdom). They were not to go to the gentiles or the Samaritans, but to gather Israel together through the Gospel (Matthew 10:5-7), and they would not have gone over all the cities of Israel until the Son of Man would come (Matthew 10:23).
To demand a physical rejoining of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah would deny the success of Apostles’ ministry. Jesus sent **them** out to preach the Gospel to the whole House of Israel, and **they** (the Apostles) would not have gone over all the cities until the Son of Man (the Messiah—Jesus) comes. Jesus came in 70 AD and judged Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in the person of Titus the Roman general. That is the only coming of Jesus that could have occurred during the Apostles’ ministry. Either they were successful or they weren’t. But, if they succeeded, it was a spiritual matter, because the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were never physically joined to make one geopolitical nation. Yet, spiritually, Jesus, the Messiah reigns over both the scattered Jews of Judea and the scattered House of Israel, and in him they have had the promises fulfilled.