Serving an international readership with the Old Jerusalem Gospel via the Internet.
Home | Current Issue | Archives | Lauds | Links | churches of Christ
Plan of Salvation | Correspondence Course | Daily Bible Reading | Contact Us

 Vol. 4, No. 5 

May, 2002

~ Page 12 ~

Three Kingdoms

By Hugo McCord

Hugo McCord An acquaintance with three kingdoms, earthly, spiritual and heavenly, is enlightening.

I. An Earthly Kingdom

At Hebron, after the death of King Saul, "the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah" (2 Samuel 2:4). "In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty three years over all Israel and Judah" (2 Samuel 5:5).

I am certain many godly men and women have been, and are today, "after [God's] own heart," though in Scripture only one is recorded: "I [God] have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all of my wishes" (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). God swore to David that he would "set one of his descendants on his throne" (2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:34-37; Acts 2:30), saying, "From the fruit of your body will I set [one] upon your throne" (Psalm 132:11).

II. The Spiritual Kingdom

In "the fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4), an angel appeared to Mary, "a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David" (Luke 1:26-27). Mary also was of the house of David, being the daughter of Eli (TALMUD, Bava Bathra, sec. 110 a), whose fathers descended from David through his son Nathan (Luke 3:23:31). To that surprised virgin the angel said: You will become pregnant and bear a son, and you will call his name Jesus. He will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of David his father. He will reign forever over Jacob's house, and there will be no end of his kingdom (Luke 1:31-33).

Whereas Mary's ancestry goes back to David by way of his son Nathan (Luke 3:31), Joseph's ancestry goes back to David by way of his son Solomon (Matthew 1:6). None of Joseph's blood came into Jesus, but Joseph was in the royal line of David's descendants. Consequently, Joseph (Jesus' stepfather) was "of the house of David" (Luke 1:27), and, being the legal father of Jesus (Luke 3:23), Jesus thus became eligible for the Lord God to "give to him the throne of David his father" (Luke 1:32). Thus in two ways, by royal descent and by blood, Jesus was qualified to sit on David's throne.

As the prospective king of David's kingdom, Jesus was determined to change it from a physical kingdom to a spiritual kingdom. On one occasion, when "Jesus saw that" loving disciples "were about to come and seize him, to make him a king," he left them and went "into a mountain alone" (John 6:14-15). Though he "was born to king" and had "come into the world for this purpose," he made it clear to Governor Pilate that:

"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but my kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

Though Jesus was raised from the dead to sit on David's "throne" (Acts 2:30), he was not crowned as king until he had returned to heaven, where God figuratively "anointed" him as king "with the oil of gladness" (Hebrews 1:8). In his first executive act, on the "day of Pentecost" (Acts 2:1-4, May 28, A.D. 30), the Father "in my name" (said Jesus, John 14:26; 15:26; Matthew 3:11) baptized his apostles in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8), making them "ambassadors" of the new King (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Jesus' ambassadors, speaking by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), led eager listeners to be "born of water and Spirit" (John 3:5) by faith, repentance and baptism (Acts 2:36-38), making them citizens (Philippians 3:20) in "the kingdom of" the Father's "beloved Son" (Colossians 1:13).

Those who obey the King's ambassadors (Matthew 18:18; Hebrews 5:9) not only have entered the Son's kingdom (Colossians 1:13), but, surprisingly, (1) the kingdom has entered each Christian (Luke 17:21), and (2) the King himself has entered each Christian (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27), and (3) each Christian becomes a personal possessor of the kingdom, for "the kingdom is theirs" (Matthew 5:3, 10).

The kingdom comes not "by observation" (Luke 17:20). It enters "inside of" (entos, "within") each obedient sinner (Luke 17:21; Romans 3:23; Hebrews 5:9), invisible even by X-ray machines. The results of Jesus' invisible kingdom living inside a person become visible, but the changes that occur in that person's heart are invisible: "so is everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).

Each Christian knows that the Lord's kingdom is inside of him, and that the kingdom is his possession, and that King Jesus lives in him, but he does not know that fact by his feelings. The kingdom is completely non-physical, consisting only of mental and spiritual qualities, "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit," not "food and drink" (Romans 14:17). "Foods for the stomach, and the stomach for foods, but God will do away with both" (1 Corinthians 6:13).

The spiritual kingdom of Jesus, being wholly internal, is alive in the heart of each Christian (the heart is his mind: as one "thinks in his heart, so is he," Proverbs 23:7). As a result, a spiritual Christian controls his thinking to:

"as many things as are true, as many things as are honorable, as many things as are right, as many things as are pure, as many things as are lovely, and as many things as are of good report. If there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

III. The Heavenly Kingdom

Just as the souls ("spiritual" bodies, 1 Corinthians 15:44) of obedient sinners after baptism enter the spiritual kingdom (John 3:5), so the souls of "faithful" Christians (Revelation 2:10) on judgment day (Matthew 24:36; 2 Corinthians 5:10) "enter" the heavenly kingdom (Acts 14:22).

Similarly, just as the souls of obedient sinners after baptism become owners of the spiritual kingdom in their hearts (Matthew 5:3), so the souls of "faithful" Christians (Revelation 2:10) on judgment day "inherit" the heavenly kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9; 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5).

They themselves figuratively become kings and queens wearing crowns of "righteousness," crowns of "life" (2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 2:10) and with "God" and "the Lamb" they "shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 22:3-5).

Conditions of Use