It has always been so, yet our day is still one in which nations and kingdoms are overturned and uprooted. Germany we have seen fall twice in a generation. Then besides France, Italy, Spain, Japan and Poland, we have seen the fall of numerous European countries, many under the Red yoke. With the end of the colonial age, we have seen before our eyes kingdoms become extinct, while nations now are dying away, in many ways, it seems, our own among them. Everywhere there are public rebellions, strikes, revolutions, tumults, civil disobedience and anarchy. The most degraded nations are either still sunken in or are returning to gross idolatry. The most exalted nations are gone down into atheism. Satan’s kingdom of darkness aims to destroy the family, to estrange the generations of parents from the generations of children. In education a breach is made by the “new alphabet” and the “new math.” In sociology and economics, there was John Dewey’s “New Society” followed by FDR’s “New Deal,” then JFK’s “New Frontier,” now LBJ’s “Great Society,” and already Romney’s “New America.” In politics the children are wooed by the “New Left”; in philosophy, the “new morality”; in religion, the “new evangelicalism”; among the pleasure seekers, the “new generation”; in the ecclesiastical field, the “new theology,” with its “God-is-dead” idiocy and its paralogical “Christian atheism.” But with these evils we have nothing to do, except to bring them into their proper position before the divine judgment. “The kingdom is the Lord’s; and He is the Governor among the nations (Ps. 22:28).” Once this word of God is understood, we will not waste our time preaching political sermons, for it is not our place, nor do we think that we can set the nations right by “good politics,” or even by what we preach (the Reformed-Faith world-and-life view)! We leave that to God and His King, whom He has set on His holy hill of Zion! Nor think we that we can set our own nation right, even though in and before it we preach the right. No nation is more confused at the moment than ours. It will, therefore, take very much more than politics, or sermons, to put it right. For the ultimate end of nations to the left or going to the left, readMatthew 25:32, 33, 41. But the Lord is the Governor among the nations; He is the Judge of all the earth who will do right, put everything to rights. None of the kingdoms mentioned have ever approached the greatness of the kingdom which Daniel said would be set up in the days of these kings, a kingdom which shall never be destroyed! That is the kingdom of Christ. It shall break in pieces, and consume all those kingdoms, while it shall stand forever.
The term kingdom (basileia), as used in Scripture, has three senses. First, it denotes sovereignty, rather than territory. It refers to the king’s authoritative control, his absolute dominion. This is what is meant in the prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” and of Christ the King that “of His kingdom there is no end,” and that “there was given Him dominion, glory and a kingdom which shall not pass away.” Second, the word denotes the subjects of the kingdom. They are made a kingdom of priests. They are the children of the kingdom. Their character is described (Matt. 5:3, 10; Matt. 19:14; Luke 18:16), and it is said that theirs is the kingdom. They are made partners of His kingdom in the giving of it and the receiving of it by them (Luke 12:32; Heb. 12:28). Third, the word is used figuratively of the effects of the exercise of His sovereignty. This idea is evident where men are said to inherit the kingdom (Matt. 25:34), see it (John 3:3), enter it (John 3:5), seek it (Matt. 6:33), find it and treasure it (Matt. 13:44). The idea is further evidenced where the kingdom is said to consist in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). These are all the effects of the invincible reign of Christ.
The kingdom is Christ’s by nature, as the second Person of the trinity, as God over all, co-equal with the Father and the Spirit, having absolute, intrinsic sovereignty as King of the universe. This dominion is independent, underived, essential and inherently His as the Son of God, the Creator, and as Jehovah. Of the triune Jehovah, of each of the three Persons, it is said, “Thine, O Jehovah, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. Thine is the kingdom, O Jehovah, and Thou art exalted above all (I Chron. 29:11).”
The kingdom is also Christ’s as bestowed on Him by the Father, delegated to Him as the Mediator. As Man, all things absolutely have been put under His feet, except for the triune Father, who put all things under Him (I Cor. 15:27). He left nothing that is not put under Him (Heb. 2:8). He is appointed Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), so that this kingdom is universal in extent. Its King has absolute sovereignty over the universe. All authority in heaven and earth was given Him; He has authority over all flesh (Matt. 28:18; John 17:2). Out from the eternal counsel of God He speaks as He is viewed within the decree of the covenant and the decree of the incarnation, “By Me kings reign and princes decree justice, by Me princes rule and nobles, and all the judges of the earth (Prov. 8:15f).” So that He is King of angels (Heb. 1:6), King of saints (Rev. 15:3), King of providence (Heb. 1:3), King of kings, Lord of lords and the Ruler of the kings of the earth.
The subjects of Christ’s kingdom are His people. The substance of the kingdom is the holy seed (Is. 6:13), which seed shall serve Him in the kingdom. He shall see His seed; He shall call God’s seed. “I will bring Thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west, I will say to the north, ‘Give up!’ and to the south ‘Keep not back! Bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth, every one called by My name’ (Is. 43:6).” It is a kingdom of sons and daughters. It is a possession of nations to the uttermost reaches of the earth (Ps. 2:8). The saints shall possess the kingdom (Deut. 7:18). The righteous are in this kingdom, shining as the sun (Matt. 13:43). The blessed inherit the kingdom (Matt. 25:34). The subjects of the kingdom are numberless and deathless. They are first seen numbered as one hundred forty-four thousand, representing the whole number of the elect within the Israel of God. They next appear as a multitude “that no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples and tongues, which stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes (Rev. 7).”
The character of the kingdom is spiritual, since it is “not of this world” (John 18:36), not an earthly, but a “heavenly kingdom (II Tim. 4:18).” It is the kingdom of heaven. It comes not with outward show; it is “within you (Luke 17:20).” It is a kingdom of righteousness (Rom. 14:17). The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9). Christ’s throne is as spiritual as His Father’s (Rev. 3:21). His scepter is “a scepter of righteousness (Heb. 1:8).” His weapons are not carnal, but the weapons of truth, righteousness, peace, faith and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:13-17).
This is a true kingdom. It is no republic, much less, a democracy, but an absolute monarchy. The King is a benevolent Despot (Rev. 6:10, Gk.). He elects His subjects, not the subjects their Sovereign. Useless, confused and ignorant philosophizings and wranglings over civil rights there are not in this kingdom. The moralization of human rights which now churns all the world’s political bodies into pandemoniums has no place in Christ’s kingdom. Instead, the exalted doctrine of the whole duty of man prevails, binding the hearts of its citizenry in homage to the throne of the Prince of Peace and in harmony with their own happiness.
The rule of Christ is in every realm of nature, providence and human life, causing all the outworkings of history, controlling the tumults of the peoples, the movements of nations, the rise and decline of civilizations, the acts of scientific, political and religious organizations, making all these to subserve the cause of His kingdom, its coming, advance, extension and perfection. Mainly, the kingdom comes in the epochs of redemption: the giving of the law, the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, reign at God’s right hand, and His final, visible coming in glory.
Christ’s kingdom of glory shall have in it only the redeemed, for the Lord will gather out of it everything that offends. “There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” This final aspect of the kingdom shall come about cataclysmically. The kingdom has both a present gradual and a future catastrophic realization. The former aspect has been denied by ultraeschatologists, the latter by the Modernist school. The former has been perverted by the Modernist school, holding that the present kingdom will almost imperceptibly develop into the future kingdom. According to this idea, the kingdom is a one-world church union of all denominations interacting and cooperating on the principle of love. But he principle of love does not, as Modern thought, detheologize the conception of the kingdom, making its realization not the redemptive work of God, but the ethical processes and socialistic activity of man. This makes man the realizer of the kingdom, which is so opposite to the thinking of Jesus that He almost never represented himself as the realizer of His own kingdom, but that its present (Matt. 12:28; Luke 19:12, 15; Col. 1:13) and final realization (cp. Luke 22:30 with Matt. 26:29) are God’s. When the final kingdom of glory shall come, the seat of it will be the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 22:1) and will be located in the New Heavens and New Earth!