5. The Kingdom
The change in the nature of people suggests that after this event the world would be a very different place. Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 is also consistent with a time when things will change. In this case, some details are given about the time.
Matthew 5:1.: And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. NKJV
Firstly there is a promised Kingdom associated with heaven, so we are looking for a heavenly king to be the ruler. Mourners will be comforted, and “The meek shall inherit the earth”.
Chapter 11 of Isaiah neatly combines the ideas we have seen. It is a prophecy of a future time when a promised ruler will rule over a world at peace.
Isaiah 11:1.: There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 3. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; 4. But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; ... 6. " The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. 7. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. ... 9. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. NKJV
The person referred to as the “Branch” is understood to be referring to a promised Messiah. Christians believe that this Messiah is Jesus, while the Jews believe he is yet to appear. Under the just rule of the Messiah, people are promised peace and prosperity. This fits neatly as the conclusion of Daniel 12, Isaiah 26, and 1 Cor 11.
Many of the prophecies and promises of resurrection are often also speak of difficult times leading up to it. Just as Daniel prophesied about a “time of trouble such as never was”, the book of Timothy speaks of unpleasant times.
2 Tim 3:1.: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3. unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4. traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, NKJV
By connection with other Bible passages, these last times must refer to the last times before the “time of trouble”, the resurrection and establishment of the kingdom. The evidence of these elements in the late 20th century is quite clear. The increase of many of these attributes over the past 50 years has been quite clear.
2 Tim 3:5.: having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! NKJV
2 Tim 3:7.: always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. NKJV
These passages aptly describe the humanist and humanist/christian philosophies that are currently gaining popularity. It is re-assuring that the Bible is consistent and accurate in it's predictions.
Why Listen to this Promise?
Many religions and life philosophies offer promises and hopes. In this sense the Bible may possibly be treated no differently. The differentiation becomes a matter of the value of the promise. This evaluation of this value is comprised of three parts. These are:
- The worth of the promise itself.
- The probability that the promise is true.
- The cost of being part of it.
In the case of resurrection, these could be recast in questions as:
- Why worry about it?
- How do we know?
- What do I need to do?
Just because a promise is given, it is not an indication that the promise is necessarity something that is wanted. The government may promise five years in prison for a committing a crime, but that is not normally something that is wanted. The rewards in the human book of the law are not as good as the rewards in God's book of the law.
The second aspect can be harder to evaluate. This is the probability that the promise is true. With the case of the five years in prison, it is possible to see that the people do indeed receive the promise, but with future promises, it can be harder to evaluate. In this case, it has to rely on the reliability of the source of the promise. In the case of the Bible, it is a question of the reliability of the Bible. In the case of science and humanism, it is a question of the reliability of those philosophies.
All of these potential sources of wisdom are a means of modelling our life and environment. They seek to explain how things work, and give an insight into what is beyond the observed. When trying to evaluate the quality of such a model, it is important to evaluate the prediction ability of a model rather than the explanation value. This is one point where many scientific views break down, because they are simply an explaination of observations.
So the Bible might be harder to prove correct than simple observations, but the potential rewards are also much greater. The authenticity of the Bible is outside the scope of this article, but there are many indicators that may be used.
The final aspect is “The Cost”, or “What do I need to do?” This questions is asked by a jailer in the book of Acts.
Acts 16:30.: And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31. So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." NKJV
So the first step was to form a belief in Jesus, as this was the critical element to salvation. This is the message that Jesus told his disciples to preach.
Mark 16:15.: And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. NKJV
There is a cost to following Jesus, in terms of our present life. This is a cost that many people are not prepared to pay. It means that we are constrained by the code and commandments of God. On the other hand, to those who appreciate it, the benefit far outweighs that cost.
Philippians 3:8.: Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ NKJV
In Christ there are benefits both now and in the future. Even now, accepting the guidance of God through the Bible offers can answer questions and shape our lives for the better. But the real hope is with the return of Jesus, the establishment of his kingdom, peace in the world, and the resurrection of the dead.
The resurrection of the dead is a theme central to the message of the Bible. It is a very important and valuable hope, which can be confirmed simply though the truth of the Bible, and believing in it. The promises of the Bible are so great that they can make all other things appear insignificant. It is the offer of both life and meaning.
Acts 4:10.: "let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11. "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12. "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." NKJV