THE KINGDOM FUTURE
By ROBERT GOVETT, M. A.
[This writing can be found in chapter four of the author's book of the same name.]
is like a dissected map of
I propose treating in this chapter three distinct points.
1. THE KINGDOM IS FUTURE.
2. WHEN WILL IT BE?
3. SOME DIFFICULTIES SOLVED THEREBY.
1. THE KINGDOM IS FUTURE.
When Scripture speaks of the Kingdom, it ordinarily means the kingdom in manifestation; and we have already noticed the exceptional texts which tell of the Kingdom in mystery.
1. Daniel's seventh chapter gives us a clear proof of the kingdom's futurity.
He describes four empires, which still deteriorate in quality. The fourth is worse than all, and as the crisis affects it in especial, more details are given concerning it than concerning the others.
Its last king, 'the Little Horn' - blasphemes God, and persecutes to death his saints, unhindered, until the Son of Man in person appears; destroying this God-defying, self-defying one. This, the most intense wickedness that has ever appeared among men, calls down visible vengeance, and destruction by Christ's own arm.
the Saviour hands over to his saints the right and title of temporal
power. "The Ancient of Days came, and judgement was given to the saints of the Most
High, (of the heavenlies)
and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom:"
But at present, and as long as the
Gospel continues, the saints are forbidden to judge, and not allowed to reign.
They rest on mercy; they are not permitted to touch the sword of justice. They cannot do so now without becoming unlike
their heavenly Father, and the Son of God. The empire of the world
is given now to Gentiles, even at times to "the
basest of men." But the
coming is the signal for the saint's reigning; but Jesus cannot come in Gospel
days. Hence the manifest
kingdoms of the Gentiles are to be ended, as the vision of the Great Image
assures us, by a sudden, vehement stroke of the descending Stone, which is
Christ. Not secret long-continued
agency from within, but a momentary blow from without and from above, destroys
the present arrangements of the Gentile empires. After the stroke
(not before it) the
2. Let us take our second witness Matthew 6: 10. "Thy kingdom come!"
Jesus, in the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, sets before us the kingdom as the time of blessedness. "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." All the Beatitudes rest upon this period, as the time when their promised blessings are to be accomplished, in part, or in whole. That is the time when those who have been persecuted* for righteousness' sake, whether those of the Law, or before it, shall receive their reward; especially the prophets; who, as the bearers of God's messages endured so much from the ungodly.
[*Perfect participle. See Greek]
In the close of the fifth chapter Jesus owns the difficulty of His commands; but adds - 'If you do only what the worldly can do, why should you have reward?' verse 46. In the opening of the sixth chapter our Lord directs us, not to desire and seek the applause of men now, but reward from our Father who is in heaven; a reward to be given in the "kingdom of our Father:" 13: 43. And then our Teacher directs us to pray for the coming of this kingdom; a kingdom which is to embrace at once the earth and the heaven.*
Here we may observe, that few as the words are, divine wisdom has put them together, that while they perfectly fall in with the true views of the kingdom they are felt to incommode, and stand in the way of those which are erroneous. Our anti-millenarian brethren pray 'for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom,' or 'for the advancement of it.' Why? Because, according to their ideas, the kingdom is something present; and they refuse to look for it in the future, as any thing different from what it is now. In their view 'tis come; all it needs is enlargement. But Jesus speaks of it as yet future. "Thy kingdom come!" He speaks of it too as the coming, not of His own kingdom, but of His Father's. For though the kingdom of the Son of Man takes place at the same time, yet the kingdom of the Father refers to the heavenly aspect of it; the part possessed by those risen from the dead: 13: 43.
3. Let us take as our next witness THE SUPPER OF THE LORD.
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom:" Matthew 26: 26-29.
these words the Saviour sets apart the bread and wine to be used by His
disciples in memory of His death. The wine is to be to them significant
of "blood;" so long as this
dispensation [age or time prescribed for its
existence] lasts. 'Tis
the blood of the new covenant, shed for those who find they cannot be saved by
the old. And this rite is to be
celebrated by believers of the
We have thus in a part foretold the second point.
2. WHEN IS THIS KINGDOM TO COME?
may regard from three points of view, in reference to 1.
In reference to
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up,
and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to
them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot
forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at
hand. So likewise ye, when ye see
these things come to pass, know ye that the
When Israel - now the dead fig-tree of winter - shall begin again to show signs of life, then will the kingdom of God be known to be near; just as it is known that the summer of nature is near, when the literal fig-tree and other trees begin to sprout.
But wrath and destruction - the terrible thunderstorm of the great day of God - must first cut off sinners out of the earth. "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be over-charged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth:" Luke 21: 34, 35.
will come the deliverance of
"And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they
made ready the passover.
And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with
him. And he said unto them, With desire I have
desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you I
will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the
Saviour, celebrating His last Passover with the twelve, as a Jew among Jews,
tells them of the eagerness with which He had looked forward to that rite, for
it was one of crisis; a milestone on the way to the kingdom. It was the
last He would celebrate, till the Passover should be swallowed up in the
Jesus shall celebrate the Passover anew, and it will have arrived at its height
of significance; for then the
same truth appears from our Lord's words when giving the Passover-cup.
"Take this, and divide it among yourselves, for I
say unto you, I will no more drink of
the fruit of the vine, till the kingdom of God shall come."
Here again is the same taking of the Nazarite vow,
and the same conclusion is assigned to the period of the vow. Hence, as
Jesus never since that day has drank of the fruit of the vine, it is certain
2. Let us look at the matter with reference to the church. ² The disciples are now called, or invited by God, to enter His future kingdom and its glory: 1 Thessalonians 2: 12. They are to seek that first: Matthew 6: 33.
But the kingdom is only to be enjoyed after our present trial is ended, and after Jesus is come to award to each his due recompense. This we see clearly in the parable of the Pounds. All the while that the nobleman is away, the servants, with the pounds committed to them, are under trial; they are to do business till their Lord arrives. They are not to reign till He reigns; they are not to reign till He has adjudged them worthy of disgrace or reward; nor till He has settled their degrees of honour, as lords of ten cities, or of five.
So again, when the Saviour says -
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven [Greek, 'of the heavens.']; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works:" Matthew 7: 21, 22 -
He shows us, that the kingdom is to come, not in "this day," but in another - "in that day." Nor can any enter into that kingdom, save as permitted by Jesus Himself. For it is evident, that in those words the Lord Jesus takes the place of a judge, deciding, without appeal, on the case of each, as warranted to enter into, or as excluded from, the kingdom in manifestation.
This is confirmed for us still further by 1 Corinthianms 6: 7-11.
"Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye
go to law with one another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be
defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and
defraud, and that to your brethren. Know ye not that the
unrighteous shall not inherit the
the words of rebuke addressed to those in communion at
Paul, speaking of the persecutions endured by the Thessalonian
Christians, says, It is "a
manifest token of the righteous judgement of God, that ye may be counted worthy
Lastly, view the subject from the coming of Jesus.
The kingdom cannot come till the personal return of the Lord; as is shown by
the Sheep and Goats. "When the Son of Man shall come in his
glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him
shall be gathered all the nations", (or,
"all the Gentiles.") As soon as He appears as judge He
passes sentence on these living men, according to their conduct towards
another occasion, Jesus taught His disciples, that it was next to impossible ['hard', Mark 10: 23,24; Luke 18:24] that a rich man should have part in
His millennial kingdom. Great surprise was expressed; but He retained the
sentiment. Peter then desired to know, since their conduct had been the
opposite to that of the rich young man, what reward should be theirs?
Jesus replied - "verily I say to unto you, that ye
which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on
the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve
The kingdom then is not come, till Jesus, as the Son of Man is visibly seated upon His throne; and the twelve tribes restored to their land, are ruled over by the twelve apostles; a thing which can only take place in resurrection.
Let us observe then, how, with this key we can unlock many difficulties, which are shut up against the ordinary interpretation.
3. DIFFICULTIES SOLVED.
1. Take the eleventh chapter of Matthew, verses 11-13.
"Verily I say into you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John."
How now does the ordinary exposition deal with these words of our Lord? If we assume that the kingdom of heaven means the Gospel or the Kingdom in Mystery, it is landed amidst plenty of difficulties, not to say impossibilities, of interpretation.
On this theory, the least in the kingdom of heaven is the lowest disciple under the Gospel.* How then is such a one greater than John? Here many bewilder themselves, in the vain attempt to find a fair and true outlet. It is not true, that the least believer of Gospel times is greater than John the Baptist; either in inspiration; for John was a prophet; or in preaching, for multitudes never preach at all! Nor can it be said they are greater in success of ministry; for John wrought on the hearts of multitudes to their salvation. Nor in clearness of views; for the ideas of many Christians, and of course those of the least of Christians are muddy enough. Nor is it superiority of privileges; for greatness is external and visible, and the privileges of Christians are internal and spiritual.
[* Some would strangely make it signify Jesus the King of kings, lord of the kingdom.]
this perplexity arises from the attempt to acknowledge as the
'John’ (says Jesus) ‘was as great as any born of women,' but there is another and higher birth, which the least of those who partake of the kingdom in glory must experience. There is a birth from the tomb, ordinarily necessary in order to enter the kingdom of glory. And the least of those who enter the kingdom in resurrection will be visibly and manifestly greater than John; greater personally, in knowledge, and power; greater in rule and influence over others; for they will be equal unto the angels, and be the children ['sons'] of God, because they are children ['sons'] of the blessed resurrection (Luke 20: 36.).
Saviour then observes, that a new dispensation came in
with John's proclamation; the preaching of the kingdom of glory began, and God
2. Take, as a second example, the difficult passage, Matthew 16: 13-28.
this our Lord, after long patience, and sending out His disciples to warn and
Jesus is not then, as it is commonly said, speaking of Peter's opening the door of faith to the Jews, to the Samaritans, and to the Gentiles. For that was neither binding or loosing; much less did he first begin by binding. But in the case of the incestuous, it was first binding, then loosing. Moreover, Jesus had spoken in the previous verse of the building of the church. And after Paul has laid down the offences for which any are to be put out from church-fellowship, (1 Corinthians 5,) in the next chapter he adds, that the same offences will also exclude from "THE KINGDOM OF GOD:" 1 Corinthians 6.
then proceeds to lay down his Jewish title of "the
3. As our third passage of difficulty, let us take Matthew 20: 20-28.
"Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many".
The answer of our Lord to the petition of the mother of James and John for a right hand and a left hand seat in His kingdom is understood to signify - that there was in reality no such thing as they asked for. "Ye know not what ye are asking for." 'Was not this a rebuke of their carnal expectations of a visible kingdom on earth?'
we might have thought, had the words stood
alone. But they do not; and the context with other passages shows, that there is such posts
as the 'Sons of Thunder' desired; and such a
kingdom as they looked for. What had the Saviour in a previous
chapter said? "In the regeneration when the
Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
But the context also bears witness, that the Saviour's words are no rebuke of 'carnal apprehensions of His kingdom.' He declares, (verse 23,) that these posts for which they applied were already bespoken; and that in appointing His apostles and others to such elevations in His realm, He would only follow His Father's good pleasure and arrangement.
What was the Saviour's meaning then in those words - "Ye know not what ye ask?" They are most clearly expounded for us by the words which follow. "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" As though the Lord had said - 'O James and John, you are expecting, that as soon as I arrive at Jerusalem I shall take the kingdom; and that then you will step upon your thrones. But know, that ere the crown glitters on my brow, the cross must intervene. Ere I take my throne I must go up on high, and a dreary interval of patient suffering must be endured by my disciples. This is part of my Father's plan - that they WHO WISH TO REIGN MUST FIRST JOINTLY SUFFER WITH ME. And the degrees of glory in my millennial reign WILL BE METED OUT IN PROPORTION TO SUFFERINGS ENDURED FOR MY SAKE. In asking, therefore, for the principal thrones YOU ARE ASKING ALSO FOR PRE-EMINENCE OF SUFFERING. This you do not see; and so you know not what you are asking for. If you saw this, in your present mind, you would not dream of asking for such heights of glory.' But they declare their readiness to endure, and the Saviour assures them they should. But still the posts they coveted were not to be won, as among men, by urgency of petition, and by being first in the field. The Father would assign them in accordance with His righteous principle; and Jesus would bestow agreeably with the Father's decision.
The request of the two created great indignation among the remaining ten of the disciples. But the Saviour takes occasion thence to teach us all a lesson of deepest moment. The twelve were to be enthroned, as He had promised; but their ambition was to take an opposite form to that exhibited by the ambitious and the great of the world. The great of the world issue commands, and are waited upon by those beneath them. The ambitious strive to thrust others aside, as standing in their way; and covet titles of beneficence without doing the work of kindness. But among the disciples of Jesus so it is not to be. If any were ambitious, they were to learn, that glory and lofty posts in the kingdom to come, may be attained only through HUMILITY and LOWLY SERVICE to others. "Whosoever wishes to be great among you let him be your servant." In this Jesus was to be their example. He had taken the place of service to others instead of authority over them. He was about to offer up His life, in order to ransom others. Wherefore the Father will exalt Him above every name in the Age to come. They, then, who wish to be great in the coming kingdom may attain to it, if they will seek for glory by the two channels which the Saviour here indicates, 1. SUFFERING: and 2. SERVICE.
4. Some find a difficulty in those words so oft repeated -"the kingdom of heaven is at hand:" Matthew 3: 2; 4: 17; 10: 7. 'Does it not follow from this, that we must understand that the Gospel or the church is the promised kingdom? since that is what followed soon after, while the manifested kingdom of which you speak has not come for ages. Is it not clear, then, that fact has proved what is the meaning of 'the kingdom of heaven?’''
this I reply - 'No!' The expression, more exactly translated, is - 'The kingdom of heaven hath
drawn near.' Had
The difficulty of this passage may then be illustrated by previous examples taken from their nation.
brought the tribes close to the land of promise, and said to them 'The land is before you; enter in.' But they drew back in
fear and unbelief. 'the giants'; how could
they overcome them? The cities fenced up
to heaven! How could they storm
destruction to attempt it!' And so the Lord dealt with them
according to their unbelief, and the possession of the land was put off forty
kingdom then did draw near; but, through the unbelief and rebellion of
may add, that in Luke 10: 9,11,
the expression is better given, "The
Take as a fifth example, Acts 14: 22.
Paul and Barnabas visited several of the cities of Asia,"Confirming the souls of
the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must, through much tribulation enter into
here is a sense of the '
turns on our acceptance of this testimony. This glory is not for those
who disbelieve it. For what says the Saviour? "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever
shall not receive the