March 2, 2003
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
From Joshua to Samuel Israel's government was a Theocracy, God was their king. But in the days of Samuel the people rebelled and demanded a king like the Gentiles. Then "the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me that I should not reign over them" (1 Sam. 8:7). And make a king they did, for they chose Saul, son of Kish, tall and handsome who forfeited the kingdom through flagrant disobedience. God took the kingdom from the house of Saul and instructed Samuel to anoint David in his place.
As David neared death, God promised, "I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for My name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever" (2 Sam 7:12-13). Thus what Israel demanded in rebellion, God would turn to His own honor and glory.
Israel 's kingdom reached its height in the days of Solomon, David's son, but from there it was all down hill until the king of Babylon conquered Israel , burned Jerusalem , and took many prisoners. After 70 years they were released and a remnant returned to the burned out city and rebuilt its temple and walls. Although still under Gentile supervision and dominion, Judaism was revived and this remnant grew and continued until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As the gospels open, Israel is under the heel of Rome with armies occupying the land of Canaan . Roman currency was throughout the land. Into this pathetic situation, the Lord Jesus came proclaiming "the gospel of the kingdom." With a ministry of miracles without number and prophecies fulfilled to the letter, Israel seemed more embarrassed than interested in the prospect of having God's king on David's throne. Israel 's leaders succeeded in having the Lord put on the cross, which seemed to dash the hopes, even of the faithful. But in resurrection, the Lord instructed the little flock even more for "He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). Little wonder that before His ascent to heaven they asked, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Both King and kingdom are future. (Rev.11:15)
Ivan L. Burgener