[From the authors
book The Greatness of the Kingdom pp. 170-177. Photograph:
Thy kingdom come ... in earth, as it is in heaven. - Matt. 6: 10
Centuries before the first Christian disciples were taught to pray, Thy kingdom come, this petition had been often upon the hearts of godly men and women in Old Testament days. In fact, apart from the great prophecies of the Old Testament, there could have been no basis or inspiration for such a prayer. For in this hope for the coming of the Kingdom were gathered all the best and highest aspirations of that elect people, who historically had been made the channel of divine revelation. It was in the spirit of the Old Testament prophets, therefore, that the ancient petition was laid in a new way upon the lips of the men who by grace would become members of the royal family of the Mediatorial King. To them He said, Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil (Matt. 5: 17). And later when His chosen apostle to the Gentiles had been brought before King Agrippa to answer the charge of apostasy from Old Testament revelation, his reply was, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come (Acts 26: 22). Whatever light has been shed upon the coming of Gods Kingdom, in its original source, has come from the prophets of the Old Testament.
1. The Time of Its Coming
The vision is yet for an appointed time ... though it tarry,
wait for it; because it will surely come. - Hab. 2:3
a. The Chronological Question
This was not born out of mere curiosity. Considering the dark background of divine judgment on the historical kingdom, over against the glowing promises of better things to come, it is not surprising that the words How long? were often on the lips of the people of God. The prophet Isaiah, with hopes for his nation revived by reason of the magnificent accomplishments of King Uzziah, had seen these hopes fail when the king was suddenly struck down by the wrath of God (2 Chron. 26: 20-21). And as if this blow were not enough, In the year that king Uzziah died (Isa. 6: 1 ) there was laid upon the prophet a terrible commission: to proclaim against his own nation a further judgment of spiritual blindness and estrangement from God. And although Isaiahs submission is unreserved Here am I; send me - we cannot fail to sense the heaviness of his heart in his cry, LORD, how long? (6: 8-11).
Yet this was not a cry of despair, but rather an expression of
unyielding hope on the part of one who knew that ahead somewhere down the long
corridors of time there would surely be
b. The Appointed Time
On the one hand, in Old Testament prophecy, sometimes it seems that the coming of the Kingdom must be very near at hand. Haggai says it will come in a little while (2: 6-9). And Isaiah specifies the extension of time as a very little while (29: 17-18). But other predictions indicate that the Kingdom is far distant in the future, after the lapse of many days (Hos. 3: 43), and in the last days (Isa. 2: 2). The proper reconciliation of these forecasts, doubtless, may he found in the difference between the divine Mind and mans ideas. For our many days may be only a very little while to that eternal God in whose sight a thousand years are but as yesterday when it is past (Ps. 90: 4).
But the time of the coming Kingdom is lifted out of the realm
of total ambiguity in other prophetic utterances. Speaking in the midst of national affliction,
the psalmist is confident that
c. The Intervening Events
In looking forward to the establishment of the coming Kingdom, the prophets agree that this grand event will follow certain preliminary circumstances and conditions, which will be rather fully discussed later in the next chapter (XVI). It will he sufficient here to notice that the Kingdom will not come until after a period of complete devastation in the land of Palestine (Isa. 6: 11-12; 32: 13-18); until after a period of world-wide dispersion of the nation of Israel (Amos 9: 8-10); until after a prolonged period when Israel will be without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice (Hos. 3: 4-5); until after a long succession of four world empires culminating in a world dictator whose terrible persecution will mark the end of Jewish suffering (Dan. 7: 17-27); and until after a resurrection of godly Israelites (Dan. 12: 1-3). The totality of these events, even apart from others yet to be mentioned, cannot he equated with anything in the known history of the world.
d. The Kings Arrival Is Dated
When we come to the visions of the Book of Daniel, the
prophetic calendar becomes more specific, actually now a matter of historical
chronology. Standing near the end of
seventy years of Babylonian captivity foretold by Jeremiah (Dan. 9:
1-2; Jer. 25: 12), Daniel prayed for light as to the
future of his people and city in relation to the coming Kingdom (9: 16-19). The answer came swiftly by the hand of the
angel Gabriel: Severity weeks (of years) are determined upon
* Against the argument that this commandment was wholly of God, and therefore either uncertain or unascertainable in exact time, Keil has well said that the going forth of the commandment to restore, etc., must be a factum coming into visibility, the time of which could without difficulty be known - a word from God regarding the restoration of Jerusalem, which went forth by means of a man at a definite time, and received an observable historical execution (Commentary on Daniel [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., reprint, 19491, p. 352). This view is supported by James Strong against Otto Zockler in Langes Commentary, in loc.
**See my Daniels Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (7th ed.;
e. The Kingdoms Establishment Is Left Undated
From the prophecy of the seventy weeks itself (Dan. 9: 24-27), even when read apart from the
light of New Testament history, interpreters should have been cautioned against
any dogmatic attempt to identify chronologically the establishment of the
Kingdom with the initial arrival of its King. Certain features of the prophecy are
definitely opposed to any such identification. For instance, when the King arrives, according
to verse 26, He will be cut off and shall
(ASV).* Certainly, the meaning of shall have nothing must be limited by the context: that
is, the Messianic King will have none of the blessings named in verse 24, for these attach specifically to
Daniels historic people and city when the Kingdom shall have been established on earth in accordance with
other Old Testament predictions. And it should be carefully observed that, in
the literary sequence of the prophecy, both the cutting off of the King and a
subsequent destruction of
* This rendering is supported by Hengstenberg, Barnes, Ellicott, et al.
** For the best discussion of this
prophecy, see The Coming Prince by Sir
Robert Anderson (11th ed.;
2. The Manner of the Kingdoms Coming
Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool. ... The Lord at thy right hand will strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He will judge among the nations, He will fill the places with dead bodies; He will strike through the head in many countries. - Ps. 110: 1, 5, 6, ASV
a. It Will Be Sudden and Catastrophic
There is a current and popular idea that the coming of the
h. It Will Be Supernatural
During the present age the control of Gods
It is especially in connection with the coming of Gods
Kingdom on earth that the prophets speak of the arm of God, which will then be made bare and stretched out. In that coming day when men shall say to
In sharp contrast to these overwhelming manifestations of
supernatural power at the establishment of the
c. It Will Be Tangible
In the day of the coming Kingdom, it will not be necessary to
write endless volumes on Christian evidences
and apologetics. Debates on the existence of God will become
absurd and obsolete, suited only to be classed with arguments over the
existence of sunlight. Eschatological
systems which define the
The same prophet who, writing by divine inspiration, solemnly affirms, In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne (Isa. 6: 1), also declares that at the coming Kingdom Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty (33: 17): For those who may be inclined to limit these texts to subjectively perceived visions, the parallel of Isaiah 53: 2 may he cited. For the latter passage refers to the first coming of the King in humiliation, asserting what has already been historically fulfilled, When we shall see him, there is no beauty* that we should desire him. Here there can be no question about literality, for the men who saw Him failed to see anything desirable in Him. Hence, the aspect of spirituality is excluded. Likewise, the eyes of all, even of the unsaved, shall see the King when He comes to establish His glorious Kingdom on earth.
* The Hebrew words rendered beauty in Isa. 33: 17 and 53: 2 are different, but that does not affect the argument. Both imply visibility.
It is true that Daniel speaks of the coming of the Kingdom as a stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands (2: 34, 45). But in the symbolic dream of the Babylonian king, as confirmed by the prophet, the stone was seen; the cutting act was seen; also its fall and the consequent destruction of the image. The words without hands are intended to indicate the supernatural origin of both the King and His Kingdom. Although tangible to men, no human or natural means have any part in the ushering in of this Kingdom.
The coming of the Kingdom, attended by a supernaturalism fully tangible to all, will put an end to the rationalistic taunts of men like G. E. Lessing who once wrote, I do not deny at all that prophecies were fulfilled in Christ; I do not deny at all that Christ wrought miracles; but I do deny that these miracles, since their truth has altogether ceased to be evinced by miracles which are still accessible today, since there exist nothing but accounts of miracles (no matter how un-denied, how undeniable, they may be supposed to be), can or ought to bind me to the least faith in any other teachings of Christ.*
* Quoted by B. B. Warfield in his Cbristology and Criticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1929), p. 319.