The Gospel of the Kingdom
THE GREAT SALVATION
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation which assumed a beginning to be spoken by the Lord? (Paul).
The Anglo-Saxon word gospel is euanghelion in the Greek. This is a word compounded of eu, an adverb of quality signifying good; and anghelia, a message delivered in the name of any one: euanghelion, therefore, signifies a good message, which becomes good news to those previously unacquainted with it. It is styled “the gospel of God” because it is a good message emanating from Him. It is also called “the glorious gospel of the blessed God,” because it is a good message of future glory on account of which all that partake in it will call him blessed. It announces a good time coming, when “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea:” for Jehovah sware to Moses, saying, “As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” This is glorious good news from God to every one that believes it.
God’s gospel is styled “the gospel of the kingdom” because he purposes to manifest his glory and blessedness through a kingdom he declares He will set up in the land lying between the Euphrates, Mediterranean, and Nile. The gospel of the kingdom, and the “great salvation spoken of by the Lord,” are the same thing This is evident from the fact, that the Lord Jesus when he began to preach did not make two separate proclamations. Throughout his ministry he preached but one thing, which is variously expressed in the history of his career. Sometimes it is simply styled “the gospel;” at others, “the kingdom of God:” and Peter in recalling the recollection of it to Cornelius’ mind, says, “That Word ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached.” In the previous verse, he reminded him who began to preach this word from Galilee, and speaks of it as a message. His words are, “The Word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all; that word, I say, ye know.”
When we turn to the history “of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, ” we find that when he began to speak the great salvation he commenced preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God in Galilee. The following is the testimony—“Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent; for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand. And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness.” The word sent, the gospel of the kingdom, and the great salvation, it is clear, all began to be preached by Jesus at the same time, and in the same region of country; they must therefore, and can only be, the same thing under different modes of speech. A word sent is a message; that word sent by Jesus Christ constitutes him The Messenger: a messenger sent of God with good news to the children of Israel about a kingdom, which they did not then possess, preaches that kingdom to them as a matter of promise, and therefore of hope; so that the gospel of the kingdom is also styled “the Hope of Israel, ” for which Paul said he was “bound with a chain.”
The kingdom of God is the great salvation, because through that kingdom the blessedness preached to Abraham as the gospel is to come upon all the nations of the earth, and by which they are to be saved from the power of those who destroy them, and to be placed under a righteous administration of divine law. God’s kingdom is to save them; for it is to “grind to powder and bring to an end all kingdoms,” to fill the whole earth as a great mountain, and itself to stand for ever.70 This kingdom can only be set up by overthrowing “the powers that be;” and as there can be no peace and blessedness for the nations until they are broken, the operation which abolishes them establishes the destroying Stone-power, and saves the world with a great and glorious salvation. Who can doubt it when the scriptures say, referring to that era, “The king’s son, O God, shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment; he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace as long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the land. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him, and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the Isles (the British) shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him (being subdued:) all nations shall serve him. His name shall endure for ever; his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and they shall be blessed in him—all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory.”
The kingdom of God founded by Yahweh and his Christ is to establish this great salvation in the earth—a thorough and complete social regeneration of the world. The kingdom is the cause, the great salvation the result of its institution in the land promised to the fathers. But the greatness of the salvation is not restricted to the future generations of the nations only; it comprehends in the magnitude of the deliverance it vouchsafes, the generations of the righteous among the dead from Abel to the coming of Israel’s king in the clouds of heaven in power and great glory. It saves the cloud of witnesses of whom the world was never worthy with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom; and saves the nations from their temporal miseries and degradation with a joyous and glorious redemption of a thousand years. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” as this? Impossible; escape there is for none who are not included in it.
Now, the Bible reveals no other salvation than this—a deliverance of the righteous from “the pit in which there is no water” by a resurrection from the dead; a transformation of the living saints who may be contemporary with the second advent; a restoration of the kingdom again to Israel under the New Covenant; and a redemption of the nations from the social, civil, and spiritual evils which now press so heavily upon them. This is the only salvation of which the gospel treats. It meets the necessities of the world. Humanity needs no other, and therefore none else has been provided. When the salvation has triumphed, it will be the accomplished fact of a thousand years, during which “The ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Him. For the kingdom is the Lord’s; and he the Governor among the nations.”
THE COMING KING
When Jesus stood at Cæsar’s bar Pilate asked him, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” He answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but my kingdom is not from hence now.” Pilate therefore said to him, “Art thou a king then?” Jesus answered, “I was born for this, (eis touto, ) and for this I came into the world, that I might witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said unto him, “What is truth?” Ah, Pilate, thou, like myriads beside thee, knewest not that voice though it was witnessed in thy presence! The truth was confessed74 before thee, but thou didst not understand it, because thou wast not of the truth. Let the reader hear the voice of the king, “I came into the world that I might witness to the truth.” Now hear what he saith in another place, “I am sent to preach the kingdom of God.” He did so. He preached it through the length and breadth of Judea, announcing to the people the kingdom of God, and that he was the king thereof. He filled the land with the sound of his claims to the throne of David as the “born King of the Jews.”76 The people heard him gladly; and, admitting his pretensions to be just, were ready for revolt against Cæsar, and to make him king.
The chief priests became alarmed at the current of the popular mind, and apprehended the interference of the Romans.78 They procured his apprehension at length, and accused him before Pilate of perverting the nation from its allegiance to Cæsar, and affirming that he was King of the Jews.”80 By the passage above quoted, we find Pilate endeavoring to elicit from him the truth of the matter. As if he had said, “They charge you with saying that you are an Anointed One, a king, even the King of the Jews; is this the truth?” Jesus confessed, and denied not; although it was hazardous at the bar of Cæsar, the de facto king of the Jews, to aver that he was himself king by right. His life had been jeopardized thirty-five years and three months before by the inquiry “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” Herod, the reigning king of the Jews, who knew that the nation was expecting the birth of a Son of David who was to reign over them for ever, was alarmed at the intimation that He was actually born.
He saw that the right of David’s Son and the interests of the Herodian dynasty, were inimical. He therefore determined to destroy him, and so secure the kingdom to his own family by the Christ, or Anointed One’s destruction. The same policy was at work at the condemnation of Jesus. Pilate was not only the representative of the Roman Majesty which had superseded the Herodian in Judea; but the conservator of the rights of the reigning Cæsar as King of the Jews. Satisfied that it was mere envy that moved the chief priests to accuse Jesus of treason against the Roman power, his policy was to release him, and to appease their clamor. But the policy of the priests and elders was opposed to this. They saw clearly that if Jesus ascended the throne of David he would permit them to have no share in the honors and emoluments of the State. Hence it was with them, as with Herod, all important to prevent him getting possession of the throne.
They saw Pontius Pilate’s unwillingness to condemn him, and concluded that the only way they could succeed in overcoming it would be to treat him hypothetically as a partaker in the Nazarene treason, and consequently a traitor to Cæsar’s rights which it was his business to conserve. This was their policy. Hence, said they to the Procurator, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar.” This settled the question in Pilate’s mind. Though convinced of the innocence of Jesus, and of their malignity, self-preservation was a stronger law of his nature than justice. He concluded that it was better for Jesus to suffer death, though unworthy of it, than that he should lose his procuratorship, and perhaps his life, for misprison of treason. Had Jesus not confessed the truth, but repudiated all pretensions to the throne of Israel, Pilate could not have condemned him; nay, would not, for there would have existed no ground upon which the priests and elders could have predicated his want of friendship or loyalty to Cæsar. It is true, they said “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” They regarded this as blasphemy; but the Roman law took no cognizance of questions in Jewish theology. It had ceased to be lawful for the Jews to put any man to death; so that however guilty he might have been of blasphemy in saying that he was the Son of God, neither the Jews nor the Roman law could have taken his life on that account. The good confession, therefore, he made before Pilate—“the truth” to which he testified in his presence and for which he was condemned and executed, was not that he was Son of God. Though true, it was not the truth—it was not the ground of his sentence unto death.
“Art thou the King of the Jews?” Had Jesus replied, “I am the Son of God,” it would have been an evasion of the question, as every one not judicially blinded must see. If one were to ask another, “Are you a physician?”—would it be answering the question to say “I am the son of my father?” King of the Jews is an official dignity; Son of God personal nativity. Who is the king of the Jews? He that says he is the Son of God, or some other person? To assert that he was God’s Son did not bring Jesus into collision with Cæsar’s rights; but to affirm that he was Christ a king, that is, the Anointed King of the Jews, constituted him at once Cæsar’s rival in Judea.
Though so dangerous a question Jesus did not equivocate, or seek to evade the hazard it involved. When Pilate said “Art thou the King of the Jews?”—he met his question by referring boldly and immediately to the truth about his kingdom. He had been proclaiming this truth from Galilee throughout all Judea to Jerusalem, where he then stood—he had heralded it forth from one end of the land to the other for three years and a half in fulfilment of his mission; for he came into the world to witness to the truth concerning the kingdom of God of which he was the christened or anointed king—and he was then prepared with the full assurance that it would cost him his life, to confess before Pilate that he was the King of the Jews. Pilate so understood him when he said in answer to his question “My kingdom.” Jesus was a Jew, and a Jew could have no claim to any kingdom but that of his own nation. King of the Jewish Nation. Thus Pilate, the Roman soldiers, and the Chief Priests and Scribes, understood him to confess; and therefore the reason of his condemnation to death—the title he assumed—was labelled to his cross in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, “Jesus of Nazareth THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
In suffering death because of his claim to the throne of Israel, Jesus, the Son of God and Son of David, sealed “the gospel of the kingdom,” and the Covenant of that kingdom, with his blood. He was born to be King of Israel, and he suffered death because he maintained his right to the royalty. He was anointed to be king, and as a prophet to preach the gospel, or glad tidings of his reign over the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and the obedient nations of the earth for a thousand years. With him and his apostles, to “preach the kingdom of God” was to “preach the gospel.” There could be no gospel without the kingdom—even this same particular kingdom, this Jewish kingdom in Palestine, than which the living God has caused to be evangelized no other. A gospel of a kingdom or kingdoms beyond the skies—of an everlasting kingdom there for disembodied ghosts, and a present church-kingdom of grace among carnal, scoffing, faithless, professors here—we deliberately, and under pain of eternal damnation if in error, we boldly, conscienciously, and confidently, affirm, that there is no such a gospel to be found in the oracles of God. Such a gospel as this—the popular gospel of the age—was never preached to Jew or Gentile by John, Jesus, or the apostles. The Lord of Israel bore witness to no such gospel before Pilate. He did not testify that he was a king of a sky-kingdom; but king of the Jewish nation upon earth, where alone it exists, or ever will exist. His is the royalty of this nation taking its root in the Covenant made with David, which is everlasting, and can never be annulled; for Jehovah hath declared, “Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His Seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me.”
For three years and a half Jesus fulfilled his mission as prophet to Israel in preaching the gospel of the kingdom. He began, as we have seen, in Galilee soon after his being anointed of God with the Holy Spirit and power. He visited the synagogues, and among them that at Nazareth. Being there on a certain occasion, he read from the sixty-first of Isaiah the words recorded in the fourth of Luke. Alluding to his anointing he read, “The Spirit of Jehovah is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor—to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Jehovah’s anointing him to preach the gospel is equivalent to saying, Jehovah sent him to preach. There is no necessity to prove this. It is obvious. In sending him then to preach the gospel, what was he sent to preach as the basis of the good news to the poor? This question is answered in two places in this chapter; he was sent to preach the acceptable year of the Lord; or, which is the same thing, he was “sent to preach the kingdom of God”—verse 43. Peter told Cornelius that he was sent to preach this word to the children of Israel. Hence it is styled “the Word of the Kingdom” upon the understanding of which men’s salvation is predicated.87 But, why is the gospel of the Kingdom and acceptable year of the Lord, or Age to Come, preached to the poor, rather than to the rich? The reason is, because “God hath chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, to be the Heirs of that Kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him”—“he fills the hungry with good things; and the rich he sends empty away;” because the present life is the season of their enjoyment.
When Paul was writing about “the great salvation which began to be spoken by the Lord,” he says he was speaking about “the future habitable” (oikoumeneen teen mellousan) which is to be subjected to the Son, and not to angels as it is at present. Speaking of the present habitable, or “civilized” part of the earth, he says, “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” No; if we did, we should see him King over the whole earth. All the kingdoms of the world would be his, and “all nations would serve him.”91 The future habitable subjected to the Son, is the dominion of the acceptable year of the Lord; when the kingdom shall be existent in the plenitude of its glory, ruling over all. Jesus and his brethren, all Sons of God and the Seed of David by adoption through Jesus, though recipients of evil things in their primary existence, will possess the dominion of the future habitable “under the whole heaven,” not above it “beyond the skies.” This is good news to the poor—the gospel Jesus was anointed to preach; the great salvation confirmed by the apostles who heard it preached; and attested of God by signs, wonders, divers miracles, and distributions of the Holy Spirit, manifested through them.
The context of the testimony from which Jesus selected the reading in the synagogue at Nazareth exhibits the glad tidings or gospel of the kingdom he preached to the meek of the children of Israel. It promises them “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of Righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” This series of beautiful antitheses present to us in contrast the present and future states of the poor who receive the gospel of the kingdom. Now, but mourning, heavy-hearted, dust and ashes, in the Age to Come they shall be beauteous and joyous, giving praise and glory to the Lord as immortals only can bestow it. Then with respect to their nation, for the word was primarily sent to Israel, “they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And foreigners shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your ploughmen, and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord; men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.”
Let the inquirer read from the twentieth verse of the fifty-ninth of Isaiah to the end of the sixty-second chapter and he will read the good things promised to Israel, and evangelized in the Word sent to them of God by Jesus Christ. They are but a sample of the good things in store for their nation, which in its future glory is the Sarah, the princess of nations, the married wife, of its Creator. Then “Jehovah will make an everlasting covenant with them. And their Seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offering among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.” This joy and blessedness of the nation is inseparable from the glory of their king. To him under Jehovah they will owe all the peace and happiness they enjoy. The rejoicing will be mutual. The nation will rejoice in its king, and “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall He rejoice over Jerusalem,” the Holy City of his realm. In view of the great deliverance Jehovah bestows upon his king, he that was anointed to preach the gospel to Israel saith, “I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations”—when the righteous dead shall bud and spring forth of the earth to praise and glorify his name.
The Word of the Truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom, though a long title to the message borne by Jesus to the children of Israel, will be easily understood by the inquirer from what has gone before. It imports, the Law and the Testimony that sets forth the Promises which make the message relating to the kingdom good news. Paul says, that “the Hope laid up in heaven” is reported of in the word of the truth of the gospel; and therefore he styles it “the Hope of the Gospel;” and as there is but one true gospel, though many false ones, there is but one true hope, which he terms, “one hope of the calling.” A hope is something in the future, promised but not possessed. The calling is a particular invitation; and the one hope of the calling, the promised thing to the possession of which you are especially invited. This being the meaning of the phrase, and seeing that the hope belongs to the gospel, it follows that the gospel contains an invitation or call to the possession of some particular thing. The one hope of the calling of the gospel—what is it? Paul says, “God hath called you to his kingdom and glory.” Then the kingdom and glory are the hope of the called, that is, of those who accept the invitation. The kingdom and glory are the one hope of their calling. The word which God sent to the children of Israel by Jesus Christ was an invitation to them to possess his kingdom and glory, of which he had said so much in the prophets, upon certain conditions. Jehovah’s kingdom and glory under Messiah’s administration was the great hope of the nation. It was the Hope of Israel, and of Israel alone. No other nation shared with them in this hope. It was the Hope of the Restoration of the Kingdom again to Israel94 under a New and Better Covenant than the Mosaic—the hope of the restitution of all things spoken by the prophets. This is the hope promised to the fathers, and evangelized in the word of the kingdom, and therefore the Gospel’s Hope by which we are saved.96 Expunge this hope from the gospel and it ceases to be gospel; for it is the hope that makes the tidings glad, and the news good; in short, there would be no tidings to report if the hope of the kingdom and glory was suppressed.
Yahweh is the accepted king of Israel, and Israel therefore his nation.98 He formed it for himself, that through it he might show forth his praise. The prophet saith of Israel, “We are thine, O Lord; thou never barest rule over our adversaries; they were not called by thy name.” The kingdom of God is his dominion over this nation. It is therefore a Jewish kingdom. Jehovah never owned any other kingdom upon earth. He acquired the Jewish kingdom by creation; and purposes to obtain possession of all other kingdoms by conquest, because they are mere usurpations, and adversaries of his nation. He intends his kingdom to be ruled by a Vicegerent in his name, whom he styles “My king, ” and by him to subdue the world, so that all thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, may become his. This being accomplished, the Twelve Tribes of Israel will constitute “the first dominion” in actual organized possession of their own country—the kingdom proper. This kingdom will rule over all other nations, which in the aggregate will form the secondary dominion, or empire. Thus a family of nations will be created of which Abraham, then risen from the dead, will be the federal father, and Israel, the First Born.
THE THOUSAND YEARS
This kingdom and dominion which Yahweh and his king are to set up are to exist unchanged for a thousand years, at the end of which things will occur which do not pertain to the gospel of the kingdom, though they affect the kingdom itself. The kingdom is imperishable, and non-transferable from one set of rulers to another—“it shall not be left to another people,” This is an important feature in the gospel. If it could be transferred from hand to hand, then flesh and blood might inherit it; but it cannot be transferred, therefore “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” They who are promoted to the possession of the kingdom at its establishment are to retain its honors, glory, power, and emoluments the whole thousand years, and as long afterwards as it exists, which will be for ever. Can flesh and blood that dies and turns to dust after three-score years and ten possess such a kingdom? Impossible. What then is indispensable to the inheriting of this kingdom? That the Heirs whom God has chosen to possess it be made immortal. This necessity God has promised to fulfil in promising to give them “the kingdom under the whole heaven for ever, even for ever and ever.”
Hence the gospel call to the kingdom and its glory is equally a call to eternal life; and the hope of the kingdom consequently the hope of eternal life and glory, which are all comprehended in “the Hope of the gospel,” which is said to be “laid up in heaven,” and “reserved in heaven,” because He who is to convert the hope into a received gift, is there. “Our life,” says Paul, “is hid with Christ in God. And when Christ our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory”—the life, the glory, and the kingdom, are all bestowed at once: “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.”
“Salvation is of the Jews; ” and this salvation which is very great, is announced through the gospel of God’s Jewish kingdom. The salvation is national or kosmical rather; and individual. The salvation of the world of nations through the kingdom is social, civil, and ecclesiastical or spiritual; and is best perceived by those who comprehend the work of setting up the kingdom. The obstacles to the world’s regeneration must first be removed. These obstacles are “the powers that be.” Israel and the Saints under the Captain of salvation, will abolish them. Their removal being effected, “He will speak peace to the nations,” which they will joyfully accept, and submitting to his terms, will henceforth “rejoice with his people, Israel.
All that Yahweh proposes to bestow on men he intends to impart through this kingdom alone. Hence, if a man obtain the kingdom he obtains every thing; but if he be counted unworthy of it, he gets nothing. Doth he desire eternal life, eternal honor, eternal glory, equality with the angels, wisdom, knowledge, riches, power, and dominion? Let him “seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto him.” What said Jesus to his apostles when Peter asked him what recompense of reward they should have, who had forsaken all and followed him? Did he tell them that when they died their disembodied spirits should be borne aloft on angel’s wings to mansions in the skies? Did he tell them they should meet their friends and children there, and feast, and dance, and sing, enraptured in eternal ecstacy! He abused their reason with no such pagan foolishness as this; but said, “Verily I say to you, that ye who have followed me, shall, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel.” He promised them a joint rulership with himself in a kingdom, and that kingdom God’s kingdom of the Jews. “Ye are they,” said he, “who have continued with me in my trials. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel.”
This was to be their reward in the Age to Come, (en to Aioni to Erchomeno, ) with Eternal Life. The kingdom therefore was every thing to them. Jesus taught them to pray to the Father, saying, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; deliver us from evil, because the kingdom is thine, the power and the glory for ever.” He instructed them in the mysteries or hidden things of the kingdom; and after he rose from the dead, having opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures, he conversed with them during the forty days preceding his ascension “on the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Under the influence of this divine teaching they became full of the matter. “The Gospel” and “the kingdom” were with them convertible terms. They knew of no gospel without it.
The resurrection was the door of entrance into the kingdom. They desired to rise from the dead that they might possess it; for they knew that if they did not “inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world,” there would be for them neither glory, honor, nor eternal life in the Age to Come. It is therefore not to be wondered at that the last question they should put to the resurrected king of the Jews before his departure from the earth should be to know when He would restore again the kingdom to Israel That it would be restored there was no question; for “the Regeneration, ” or “Restitution of all things, ” was a first principle of Christ’s teaching, and of their own faith and preaching afterwards. What they wanted to know was the time when the restitution of all things belonging to the kingdom of Israel should be accomplished. “Wilt thou not at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” They doubtless thought that the time to favor Zion had certainly then come. They knew that Jesus had been put to death for maintaining that he was “the king of the Jews;” and they saw that God approved his claim to David’s throne in delivering him from the death he had incurred by confessing his rightful claim to the kingdom. Could any time then be more opportune than the then present to call to his aid those “twelve legions of angels,” which he said the Father would give him, and at their head to expel the Romans from Judea, and re-establish Israel’s kingdom under his own rule as the hereditary representative of the House of David, and “King of the Jews?” They were right in expecting the restoration, but they erred in looking for it at that time. All things were not ready. The king was provided, but where was his Household?—where were his body-guards—where were they who were to co-operate with him in the administration of the kingdom, and government of the world? Some say, “they were in their graves, to wit, the fathers or saints who had died under the Law.” “These might have been raised from the dead and associated with Jesus in the kingdom.”
But, it was written in the word, “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.” This is said to the Messiah in a psalm which Paul applies to Jesus. Hence, whatever place his fathers may occupy in the kingdom, they will not be its “princes,” or chiefs, ruling with Jesus as “Prince of princes,” over the nations of the world; besides that, we apprehend, there will not be a sufficient number saved from the generations of Israel previous to the resurrection of the king of the Jews to supply the administrative demands of the kingdom under its new constitution, or covenant. That all things were not ready is represented in the parable of a certain man who made a great supper, and bade many. His object was to have his house filled that his supper might be eaten. He sent invitations to various classes; but though the supper was ready to be partaken of when the first class were invited, the eating of it was deferred until the seats provided were all occupied by guests procured by several subsequent endeavors to obtain them.
THE KING AND KINGDOM
The union of the King of the Jews with the kingdom is the marriage of the king’s son; and the sitting at table in the kingdom—the possession of it—is the eating of the marriage supper in the “certain man’s house. The kingdom is Jehovah’s house into which he invites guests, that they may partake of the good things therein provided. He wills that His house shall be filled by the assembling of all the guests before the supper be eaten. Israel were bidden, being politically “the children of the kingdom.” Jehovah called them by his prophets to the life and glory of his kingdom; but they would not hearken; he invited them by John, but they made light of it; he sent them a message by Jesus, but they killed him; and lastly, he urged the invitation upon them by the apostles and a great company, but “they entreated them spitefully and slew them.” Thus, with comparatively few exceptions, Israel treated Jehovah’s call to his kingdom and glory. His feast of fat things, and wines on the lees well refined, were amply provided, but still there were not sufficient of Israel to occupy the seats. There was still room. The kingdom could not be set up until occupants were provided for the empty places. Seeing therefore that Israel turned a deaf ear to the invitation, the apostles were ordered to go, and call the Gentiles that dwelt in the streets and lanes of the City, and even the highways and hedges of the nations, that the house of the kingdom might be filled with as many as the nature of the case required.
Though the materials of the House were all ready at the resurrection of the King of the Jews, it will be perceived from what hath gone before, that the Household had still to be formed. Till this had been formed and reconciled the kingdom could not be established. It was the work of the apostles and others to collect this household together—to call out from Israel and the nations a people numerous enough to fill all the official places of a kingdom that is to rule all the nations, languages, and tribes of the earth. The time was not yet come, then, to “restore the kingdom again to Israel” before the ascension. A long time was to elapse before the restitution to afford scope for the work of separating the Heirs of the Kingdom from the undistinguished multitude of the world. The King of Israel directed the attention of his ambassadors to this work instead of gratifying their curiosity about the time of the restoration, which the Father had not thought proper to reveal to them, He told them “they should be witnesses for him.” They should receive power after that the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Thus qualified, they would have to demonstrate that God had raised him from the dead; that He was the man ordained of Jehovah to rule the world in righteousness, as the prophets had of old declared: and to proclaim the conditions upon which both Jews and Gentiles might inherit with him the kingdom and eternal glory.
What we have said may be regarded as an outline of the great salvation as exhibited in the gospel of the kingdom of God. It can hardly be regarded as anything more, seeing that the Bible as a whole is the Book of the Kingdom, and therefore an exhibition of the gospel in detail. The details of the gospel are set forth under certain heads, summarily styled “the things of the kingdom.” The country where the kingdom is to be established occupies a distinguished place among “the things.” A great deal is said about it of a highly important and interesting character. Indeed, the testimony concerning the territory and throne of the kingdom are so intimately connected with the gospel, that a person cannot believe the gospel and be ignorant of it; for the territory and throne are principal subjects of the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the covenant made with David. These are “the covenants of promise” which the ignorant, and consequently unbelieving, are “strangers from.” It is useless to talk about believing the gospel, and at the same time to be ignorant of these and of their true import; for they contain the gospel as we have shown abundantly in Elpis Israel. They define not only the locality and throne of the kingdom, but its subjects, the line of its king’s descent, his humiliation and exaltation, &c., the duration of the kingdom, the contemporary blessedness of all nations, and so-forth. But we cannot particularize every thing here. He that studies the word will find the things of the kingdom shining forth from the writings of all the prophets and apostles. The more he understands the more he will see. We will only add here at present that they teach that the territory of the kingdom of the heavens is the land in which Abraham dwelt with Isaac and Jacob, and tended his flocks and herds; the subjects of the kingdom, Abraham’s descendants in the line of Isaac and Jacob; the King, one of his seed, the antitype of Isaac when he died and rose again “in a figure;” the throne, David’s in Zion and Jerusalem; the empire, all the nations of the earth in a state of blessedness; the duration of the kingdom, like its king “for ever.”
The heaven that the gospel proclaims is a heavenly kingdom upon the earth. The kingdom is heavenly, because it is created and established by the God of heaven, and ruled by a King from heaven, and destined to rule “the heavens,” or kingdoms of the world. Because it is God’s kingdom it is sometimes styled a Theocracy—a government under the immediate direction of God. The kingdom of Israel was a theocracy, and the gospel kingdom is that theocracy restored under a constitution so amended as to be styled “a new and better covenant.” Under the old theocracy the rulers and the ruled were all flesh and blood, and therefore mortal; but under the Restored Theocracy the members of the government and the peers of the realm, with the King, will be immortal, while the people both of Israel and the Nations will be subject to death until death shall be abolished at the end of the thousand years.
It is to be hoped that the reader hath now a distinct conception of the future constitution of the world exhibited in the gospel of the kingdom. “The world to come” of which it treats is that system or arrangement of things upon the earth which subsists uninterruptedly for a thousand years after the restoration of the kingdom and throne of David. The gospel of the kingdom relates not to the constitution of things which shall obtain upon the earth after the thousand years have passed away. That is another world—a post-millennial kosmos, or arrangement of things, to be treated of in that Word yet to go forth from Jerusalem, when the Law shall proceed from Zion at the commencement of the thousand years. The Millennial Kingdom is the gospel kingdom, and the gospel hope; that which follows after pertains to the faithful who shall be born in the Age to Come.
Herald of the Kingdom” (Vol. 2, pp. 25–33)