What is the Millennial Kingdom and is it here now? Join us as we discuss the Kingdom and what it means for us now.
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Todd: Hey, Todd here, and you’re listening to the Prophecy Pros Podcast on the Edifi podcast network.
Jeff: Chances are, you’ve probably prayed the Lord’s Prayer at times, and you’ve said, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Well, that’s the kingdom, but have you ever wondered what that kingdom actually is? And is it ever really going to come, or maybe what’s it going to be like? I mean, do you see God sitting on a throne in your head, or do you see images of some future glory filling your mind? Maybe you’ve been led to believe that his kingdom is not a future reality, but maybe it’s right here and now, or could it be all of those things? Todd, so we’re talking about the kingdom of God here. This is a topic that can be a little bit confusing to people because it’s something that we toss around a lot in Christian circles. So, what are some of the ways that people talk about the kingdom of God? In the church, we’ll talk about, like I said, the Lord’s Prayer and that kind of thing. What are some other ways that we talk about the kingdom?
Todd: I think there’s actually a lot of confusion around this, some of it because of picking out different scriptures, but also, people don’t know. Is the kingdom now, is it later? Is the future… What Revelation talks about, the 1000-year reign, is that a literal future kingdom? And as you mentioned, even when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we’re praying, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Well, I assure you, God’s will is not being done on earth right now. I mean, God’s in control, he’s sovereign, but there’s a lot of rebellious people doing some crazy stuff. So, his kingdom is obviously not here, but at the same time, Jesus said, when he had his first Advent, he said, “The kingdom of God is in your midst.”
And even as far back as the Old Testament, God’s kingdom was a prevalent theme. King David prayed, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty. Indeed, everything that is in the heavens and earth, yours is the dominion, O Lord, and you exalt yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all, and in your hand is power and might, and it lies in your hand to make great and strengthen every one.” So, obviously, God’s kingdom, God is ultimately in control and sovereign over everything. But how does that differ from what you and I talk about, is the future millennial kingdom?
Jeff: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s important to establish that, because I think from a theological standpoint, Todd, that’s an issue. God’s sovereignty… we talk about God’s sovereignty… just simply means that he’s in charge, he’s in control. And we talk about that. That is an aspect of his kingdom. I mean, just think about earthly kingdoms, for a moment, that have been on earth. I mean, there’s a king and he rules over his kingdom. Well, as you read from that scripture in 1 Chronicles 29, God is over all. So, I think just establishing that one fact, that… and y’all almost have these other sub-kingdoms or future kingdoms, but just to establish the truth that God is righteously sovereign over all that there is. And there are people throughout the Old Testament that recognize that. And King Nebuchadnezzar, after his debacle episode there in Daniel 4, he says that God’s dominion is an everlasting dominion. His kingdom endures from generation to generation. King Darius later said, “He’s the living God. He endures forever. His kingdom is one which will never be destroyed.” And others, obviously, as you go throughout the Old Testament, you see that. But then you get to Isaiah. When Isaiah starts predicting the Messiah, what he say about the coming Messiah?
Todd: Yeah. I mean, that’s a famous Christmas passage, so to speak, that people are used to hearing, and it’s one that they don’t pay attention to all the details. I mean, I never paid attention to all the details until I started studying Bible prophecy and eschatology, but it says, “A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us,” and we’re used to hearing that part, but we often look over or don’t think about the fact that most people don’t quite understand the second part. It says, “And the government will rest on his shoulders,” and that’s in Isaiah 9:6. So, that sounds like a pretty specific thing, that the government is going to rest on his shoulders.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, at Christmas time, we keep going back to the baby Jesus, and we never talk about the government that he’s going to rule over, that he’s going to establish there, and yet that’s part of the prophecy of the birth of Christ. So, how does that work? I mean, Christ came and when he came to the Jews, I mean, it says he came to his own, his own received him not. But when Jesus came on the scene, as you said earlier, I mean, one of the first things… In fact, I guess the first thing we hear him saying is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So, in what sense, then, what different aspect of the kingdom was he talking to them about?
Todd: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s a great question. And just to back up to one point that I wanted to point out with the Isaiah 9:6 is that often in the Bible, in the Old Testament specifically, we have the mountain peaks of prophecy. So, one verse might have two aspects. In hindsight, we see, “Oh, that’s the first coming and the second coming,” but at the time, they didn’t quite see it. So, when Jewish people used to read this, it was confusing to them. “Wait a minute. A child’s going to be born and the government’s going to be on his shoulders?” Now we understand one was talking about the first Advent, one was talking about the second Advent, but then, yeah. You come to the New Testament, and it’s where Jesus said, like you said, “The kingdom of heaven is in your midst. My kingdom is not of this world.” So, I see why there’s some confusion over the future millennial kingdom, because people are seeing Jesus talk about the kingdom of heaven being in their midst at that time. And I think part of that is, Jesus was building his kingdom one soul at a time as people received him and believed in him. Is that your take as well, Jeff?
Jeff: Yeah. To me, it’s almost like a dual track here. I mean, on the one hand, he’s letting them know that because the king is among you, the kingdom is around you, and that he is building the kingdom… Because then later he says, “The kingdom of God is within you.” He also said that as well. The second area is that Christ did come to offer the kingdom to the Jews, and they rejected him, which is why we read in Romans 11:25 and 26 that God put Israel on the side burner during the times of the Gentiles, and of course in the end times, he’s going to return to Israel as a nation, and she’s going to repent and call upon him, and then he’s going to establish that millennial kingdom.
But, yeah. So, I think it’s a dual track there. I read a very interesting chapter in a book. I think it’s a book called Discerners. I could check that out, but anyway, it’s a book I was a part of contributing to, but there’s a scholar that you and I both know by the name of Arnold Fruchtenbaum, and he’s a Jewish scholar, and the guy is just brilliant. And he has written some incredible insights on the Gospel of Matthew regarding Jesus’s offer of the kingdom to the Jews. And he traces through the offer of the kingdom and when that offer officially ended for them, and so that’s a fascinating study. If you want to do some additional studies, you look up Arnold Fruchtenbaum on his views on the Jews and [crosstalk 00:07:43]-
Todd: You can say his last name five times fast.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, exactly. It’s like, I think my tongue will get tangled. It’ll get put in knot if I do that too much. I’m always careful how I pronounced that.
Todd: Yeah. So, in a sense, we know God’s sovereign over everything. We know that he saw the church age was there, even though we didn’t see it… now we see it in hindsight… was in the Old Testament. But in a sense, if the Jewish leadership would have responded at that time, technically or legally speaking, he could have instituted the kingdom at his first Advent, in a theological, mind-bending kind of way.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. And again, doctor… His name-
Jeff: Yeah. He goes into that, about, was the offer legitimate because he knew they would reject it? What would have happened had they accepted it? That type of thing. It’s really a fascinating study, but here’s where it gets a little bit even more dicey here, Todd, is because you say, okay, you’ve said God’s kingdom has existed from eternity, because he’s ruling over all. But then you said, then it’s here with Christ. Then you said, it’s going to be in the future. And then you said, it was offered to the Jews. So, you have all these multiple aspects of the kingdom going on right now, but then now, you look at scripture and you see where the Bible says that Satan is the God of this world.
And you recall, during the temptation in Luke chapter four, the devil eats Christ up, shows him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, which is a very interesting concept. You think about the spiritual world, what angels can do, the instant travel times that angels are able to have because they’re spirit beings. Obviously Christ can do that, as well. But anyway, it says he shows them all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and then the devil says, “I will give you all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me and I give it to whomever I wish.” Now, what we do not see in that passage, Todd, is Jesus going, “No, no, no. You can’t give that to me. That didn’t belong to you.” In fact, Christ says of Satan, “He is the ruler of this world.” And many times he says that in John, and then 1 John, he says the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, and then 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan’s the God of this world. So, if he’s the prince of the power of the air, whose kingdom is it? I mean, how does Satan’s kingdom fit into God’s kingdom?
Todd: It’s funny. I write about that a little bit in The Non-Prophet’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare, and it’s really fascinating in that, as we mentioned before, God’s ultimately in control of everything. The devil’s God’s devil, so to speak. He even uses the devil with his free will and all that stuff to accomplish his will, but in some weird legal sense, when man fell, this earth was title deeded, so to speak, to Satan and like you said, he’s the prince of the power of the air. He’s the God of this age. And I find it really interesting… For another book, The Non-Prophet’s Guide to the Book of Revelation, I did some deeper study on the seal judgments, and it’s really… What I found was, and this might’ve actually been, also, some study from Arnold Fruchtenbaum, talking about how the scroll was essentially the title deed to the earth, and Jesus is seen there as the kinsman redeemer who came, who had to be willing to pay the price, able to pay the price, and from the same family. So, that’s the whole reason he came as a person, so that he could redeem us. So, the whole Book of Revelation really is about Jesus reclaiming the earth and then setting up the future millennial kingdom.
Jeff: Yes. In fact, Todd, that, to me, is so powerful, what you just shared, because when you look at Revelation 5, it says that there’s a strong angel who says with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”, and no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or look into it. And if this truly is the title deed to the world and to the nations and to the universe, John says in verse four, “I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book and to look into it,” and to think about that from John’s perspective, for a moment, John’s going, well, if he can’t open it, then [crosstalk 00:12:17]-
Todd: We’re toast.
Jeff: Yeah. Well, the world’s just going to keep lying in the power of the evil one, and our future is not hopeful. But then, “one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.'” I will tell you something, Todd. That fires me up, man. That gives me goosebumps.
Todd: Yep, exactly.
Jeff: I mean, isn’t that cool, that Jesus is the one’s going to take back that kingdom, or that subkingdom of Satan? And even as you were talking a minute ago, I had this image in my mind. It’s like, God’s kingdom on earth, God’s rule over the earth, is like a big backyard and there’s this pit bull that’s been chained to this post in the backyard. He’s there, and he rules over that little circumference that he’s able to run in, but he’s not in charge of the whole yard. And so, Satan is like that pit bull. He’s on a leash. In fact, he’s going to be on a great chain during [inaudible] kingdom, that he’s not going to be able to get out of… But, yeah. So, in that sense, maybe that’s how Satan perhaps fits into this, is that God has sovereignly allowed him to have a certain rule and domain for a period of time. Of course, that ties into God’s purpose for evil and why God allows evil, and that kind of thing that we won’t have time to go into right now, but God’s rightful rule over his creation will be resumed when Satan is finally chained.
Todd: Yeah. That’s amazing, man. That just blows my mind when I think about… Whenever I read that passage and to think about that moment, that just blows my mind. That moment, and the moment when we first stand before the throne and see the 24 elders and all that stuff. It just blows your mind to think we’ll actually be there. But one big question this brings up, the whole topic of the… Especially the millennial kingdom. So, we’ve been talking about God’s kingdom, his overarching… I love how you put it, his overarching kingdom, and then you’ve got smaller spheres that he’s still ultimately in control of, but deeded over for a time period.
But there is a future millennial kingdom, and I think this trips a lot of Christians up, depending on how they interpret scripture, maybe what denomination they came from, maybe what they were taught growing up. For example, I know a lot of believers are taught that we’re in the millennial kingdom right now, that the 1000 years that Revelation talks about is just symbolic in that it’s symbolic of the church age, when Satan is bound. Well, first of all, if Satan’s bound, I hate to see him when he’s loose, because this is a jacked-up place right now.
Todd: But what can we share with, say, a believer who has always wondered about the millennial kingdom, but maybe doubted that it’s a literal future kingdom and doesn’t quite understand the purpose of that kingdom, in terms of how to interpret scripture and why we believe scripture says that it’s a literal 1000-year future reign of Christ on earth? What are some things we can share with them?
Jeff: Well, I think some very positive, encouraging things, Todd, because first of all, how we approach scripture will determine how we end up in our interpretation of scripture. And I liken it to a flight plan on a plane. If your flight plan is off at the very beginning, you’re not going to just miss the runway, dude, you’re going to miss the airport, the city, the state, everything. You’re going to be out in the ocean somewhere. So, you’ve got to have a flight plan, and that’s what Bible study methods, or hermeneutics, it’s called, the interpretation of scripture, that’s what that does for us. And when you look at the Bible with, as Ron Rhodes said, “When the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense, lest you end up with nonsense.” When we take just a plain, literal, historical, grammatical approach to scripture, then you will arrive at a certain interpretation.
Well, as it relates to Revelation, if we don’t look at Revelation as being written in plain, literal language… And granted, there are many symbols in Revelation, and many of them are explained for us within the book, but if we don’t start with that, then quite frankly, any interpretation is legitimate for Revelation. I mean, you’re going to end up way out of the ballpark and with some crazy whacked-out views if you just see Revelation as just being metaphorical or symbolic or some giant parable of good and evil or something like that. But if you look at it as literal, then history really is making sense. Then there will be a literal Antichrist, a literal rebuilt temple, a literal Israel, back in the land. And then when you get to Revelation 20, it talks about a kingdom, and six times in seven verses, it says the word 1000.
Now, John’s not an idiot, and obviously he’s being inspired by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is giving this vision to him. So, you have to ask the question, why did Jesus say 1000, 1000, 1000, six times? Why didn’t he just say, “It’s going to be for a long time,” or for an indefinite period, or it’s just going to be for forever, or whatever? No, there’s a specific number, and numbers are very important in the Bible, especially when they’re repeated six times in seven verses.
Todd: I was going to say, if God says something one time, it’s important. He says it six times, he’s like, “You better pay attention to this.”
Jeff: Yes. It’s like, any good teacher… Your wife’s a teacher. She knows this. Repetition is so key to implanting a thought in someone’s mind or getting the point across. And the other reason, not just to look at the individual passage, but to say, what did God do with all of the other prophecies in the Old Testament? Some contained numbers as well. Some contained places and cities. Well, were those prophecies fulfilled literally in exactly the way they were prophesied? Well, the answer is yes, every single one of them. I mean, Bethlehem was not a metaphor for some other city. It was Bethlehem. And so when we look at the past and we see all of God’s previous prophecies are literally fulfilled exactly as written, why would we not believe that all future prophecies would also be fulfilled in the same manner?
So, for that reason, that’s why we choose this method of interpretation, because it leads us to believe that these prophecies are going to be literally fulfilled, and that means there’s going to be 1000 years of Christ’s reign on the earth. Not 999, not just some indefinite time, but 1000 years, and that’s called the millennial kingdom.
Todd: Yeah. Exactly. And yeah, in the Old Testament, when God said over and over again that Israel was going to be taken captive in Babylon for 70 years, it wound up being 70 years. So, he’s very precise. And like you said, he doesn’t change game plans in the middle of the game. And so, I point people there. And then also, once that’s established, I think it’s important to tell people, “Go back and take a fresh look at Isaiah, for example.” There’s very large chunks of specific prophecies about the future kingdom that definitely have not been fulfilled yet and can only be fulfilled in the future millennial kingdom. So, either you can throw out half of Isaiah and just say, “Oh, that’s just a bunch of poetry,” but then where’s the application? The Bible tells us all scripture is God-breathed and profitable for study and rebuke and correction and all that.
So, if we really believe, like you said, that we can take scripture at face value and God says what he means and means what he says, then we can bank on that these things are literally going to happen in the future. And while that might be hard to believe… I think it’s harder to believe than it is for people to actually… It’s less of an interpretation thing for some people. It’s just so hard to believe that there’s going to be a millennial kingdom here on earth before we go to the eternal state, and all that kind of stuff. And to be honest, the millennial kingdom gets a lot weirder than that when you think about us in our spiritual glorified bodies coming back with Christ and then survivors from the tribulation period entering in their natural bodies. But again, as weird as that is, it lines up with the Old Testament prophecies about the nature of the kingdom and everything that the Bible says about the kingdom.
Jeff: Well, it does. And you and I got a question last week from a listener asking about, “Hey, do you know any good books out there that will help me help persuade other people of the validity of Bible prophecy?” And we had a couple of suggestions given to them, but one of the things, Todd, that we’ve actually already written is this quick reference guide to the end times that has 10 of the most-asked questions about the end times. It’s just a little booklet. It’s just like 64, 67 pages long, but it really is kind of whet your appetite. It’s a great tool to give to people for this very thing. And of course our larger book’s coming out in July. It’s going to answer 100 questions about the end times.
But all that to say is this. When you think about the previous prophecies being fulfilled and you look at these other prophecies about the kingdom being 1000 years, that type of thing, I always tell people, I say, “Look. Hey, the Bible just keeps getting really, really lucky. It’s like, every single time it says something’s going to happen, it happens.” So either yes, the Bible is incredibly lucky, like thousands of times lucky, kind of thing, over the centuries, or it’s really written by God. And there’s only really two options to look at on that kind of thing. These are not fortune cookies that we’re reading here and just making things of history fit into it. These are very specific things that have happened.
So, no, the Bible’s not just rolling snake eyes every time. I mean, God has divinely ordained these things and he’s going to cause [inaudible] the path, because we’re talking about a sovereign God here, a God who is over this great kingdom called the universe, and so he therefore has the power to cause these things to happen. So, yeah, I do believe it’s going to be a literal kingdom, but as we move towards the end here and wrap this thing up about the kingdom, what, Todd, would you say are some ways that we can take part in the kingdom? Obviously we do pray for the kingdom come, thy will be done. We’re talking about the millennial kingdom. This government that rests on Christ’s shoulders, that’s going to be the millennial kingdom, but we’re not there yet. So, in what sense can believers participate? And as people say, talk about building or extending the kingdom of God right now. What are some ways we can do that?
Todd: That’s a great point. I think number one, we can just live for the Lord. God reigns as King in our hearts, so to speak, and where we… I remember distinctly, one time, going on a mission trip to the DR, and my pastor got hit real… At the end of every day, we would unpack what the Lord showed us that day and how we saw God move and stuff like that. And he shared a story where the country is so broken that he got there and he thought, “It is hopeless here. How is our small group making a difference? This is way bigger than we can fix.” And he said as soon as he was praying that and thinking that, he felt the Holy Spirit say, “The kingdom of God is with you. Where you go, you’re taking the kingdom of God with you.” So, in that sense, for sure, we’re salt and light. And that’s what we’re called to do, is bring the kingdom of God as much as we can wherever we can. So, I think that’s a key way of how we do it now, just through our influence, just through our pursuing God and following his ways. I think he’ll bring his kingdom in his way as we await that final kingdom.
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Jeff: I think about even my own conversion. I know you can identify with this as well, is that when Christ was shared with us, we were under the domain of darkness, the domain of another ruler, of ourself, of Satan and sin, and yet when Christ came in, he began to rule in our hearts. And now, in a sense, our hearts are like a kingdom that he’s ruling over. And when believers come together, that’s part of the kingdom of God that is ruling in their midst. And one day, all believers are going to be together in the millennial kingdom, and we’ll get a chance to really be directly under the righteous reign of Jesus Christ. And for us, in that day, we won’t have the sin nature to pull us the other way, which will be an incredible benefit of being in the millennial kingdom. So, really, I think the kingdom of God is something we should celebrate, Todd. It’s something we should pray for. The Bible says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and I think that’s part of that whole prayer, as well. There won’t be that peace there until Christ is reigning from Jerusalem. So, it’s important for us to do that, but also to realize that we can have a part in extending the kingdom of God, and what a privilege to be able to have that kind of treasure in these earthen vessels.
Todd: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Amen. And it should give us hope. I had breakfast with a good friend of mine who moved out of town a few years ago, and a good friend of mine, and he’s faced some really tough health trials. He’s got a rare disease that’s debilitating, and stuff like that. And if you ever think you’re having a bad day, meet with a friend who’s really going through something, who knows the Lord, and see the joy in the Lord that they have, and then it makes your problems seem this small.
But he was sharing a story where he said he was talking to a family member about his trials, and he said he was trying to encourage them, and he happened to look down on the table and he saw one little fleck of pepper. And he said the Lord gave him this. He said, “You see that piece of pepper? That’s like our life right there. You see the rest of this giant table right here? That’s eternity. That’s what we got to look forward to. So, no matter how hard things get here, we have levels of better and better things coming. We get raptured. We get to be with the Lord. We get to serve him and then rule and reign with him in the millennial kingdom. Then we get to go to heaven with him for eternity and just explore the universe and explore the mysteries of God, and it never gets boring. It always gets better.”
So, the more we focus on that… Actually, the end of the last recording you and I did, we were talking about the end of America and how after we shut down recording, we started talking about how we really, as much as we love our country and want to see good things happen, it’s also a time when we can unplug from those things and really focus more on, our citizenship is not here. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we need to keep that front and center in these days in which we live.
Jeff: Absolutely. And it’s just such a comfort to know that God really is in control. I mean, even though it doesn’t look like it at times, heaven’s not panicking. The angels aren’t running around trying to put out a fire somewhere. I mean, God is on his throne. Everything is going according to his plan, and he even uses, amazingly, the sinfulness of our own hearts to drive us to him, and he’ll use everything that’s going on in the world today to somehow give him glory in the end, but God is not panicking. We don’t have to dial 911 for him. He is already ahead of us, taking care of us, and looking out for his prophetic plan that’s going to be fulfilled in the end times.
So, that’s a little bit about the kingdom of God. There’s obviously much more that we could unpack as we get into this thing. But want you guys to continue to send in your questions to us. Go to prophecyprospodcast.com, and you can… Actually, you can also not just send questions, you can also read the transcripts from all of our podcasts. And you may hear something, “Oh, gosh, I want to write that down. I want to copy that and share that with a friend.” Hey, just take them to the website there, or you can copy and paste it, and use things as quotes, that type of thing, if you want to help others understand a little bit more about Bible prophecy.
So, that’s another great benefit our team has put together, and we want to thank Harvest House Publishers for helping us sponsor this podcast and for being behind it. Also, the great team at Unmutable that produces the podcast for us each time, and of course the Edifi network that we’re a part of right now, that’s helping us broadcast this to the world. So, Todd, till next time, we just want to thank our listeners for joining us and for being a part of the Prophecy Pros Podcast.
Todd: That’s right.
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