Advances in technology and industry have never been greater.
What was once science fiction is now everyday reality. Material prosperity abounds for millions of people across the Western world. But what about the half of mankind—billions!—who have little or nothing? And what about mankind’s rapid decline in values, morals and CHARACTER—once believed to be the most vital underpinnings of any society?
Is the "human race" equipped, and are its leaders collectively willing,
to solve the greatest challenges of civilization--
or must a greater unseen power intervene?
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Your Kingdom come!” The next thing He instructed was directly related: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” A loving God must SOON send His Kingdom to END man’s failed experiment or there will be no world to receive it!
Jesus Christ’s Return—His “Second Coming”—is central to Christianity.
Billions are waiting for it.
Scoffers deny it.
But those who know anything of
God’s Word know Jesus is returning.
Every indicator suggests His Coming
cannot be far away.
The Bible speaks extensively about how Jesus will establish the Kingdom of God, sometimes called the Kingdom of Heaven.
Few things could be more important.
Jesus Himself plainly described how God’s Kingdom will begin—all the biblical proof throughout the Old and New Testaments of how the Kingdom of God will first arrive.
God’s Kingdom will bring His marvelous way of life to those living in it, which will one day include the whole world. But not at first…
How many comings of Jesus does the Bible describe?
Contrasting verses hold the surprising answer. The prophet Haggai wrote of Jesus’ Return, “Thus says the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations [long understood to be Jesus Christ] shall come…” (2:6-7). Christian masses do desire it, with greater reason every day to hope for it more than the day before because of worldwide character breakdown!
The book of Revelation
speaks of a very different reaction to Jesus’ appearance:
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our LORD, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever…the nations were angry, and Your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged…and [You] should destroy them which destroy the earth” (11:15, 18). A picture of angry nations is incompatible with Haggai.
These passages cannot refer to the same time!
Consider I Corinthians 15:25, which shows something entirely different, saying Christ “must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet.”
You will see plain passages showing Christ first comes and establishes
God’s Kingdom on Earth, using servants that are here.
The establishment of the Kingdom of God is our focus.
No true Christian doubts that Christ is coming. But how He will come--when He is coming (under what conditions)--where He will arrive--why He must come—and how He will ultimately set up His Kingdom?
Mustard Seed Kingdom-
We know Jesus spoke often in parables. In Matthew 13 alone, He presented seven—most very short. Each illustrates aspects of the Kingdom, collectively painting a full picture. The place to start is verse 31: “The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (vs. 31-32).
The mustard seeds Jesus’ audience was familiar with were extremely small—very hard to see. This is why He called them the “least [meaning small in size] of all seeds.”
God’s Kingdom is akin to microscopic when it arrives!
No one focuses on this. It eventually grows into a WORLD GOVERNMENT, becoming the “greatest among herbs”—a “tree”—but it does not start that way. This parable is rarely mentioned.
So there could be no doubt of the Kingdom’s small beginning, the next parable confirms this: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (vs. 33). The Greek word “hid” is egkrupto, meaning concealed in. Think of the modern equivalent--encrypted. Jesus says—literally--
He is bringing an ENCRYPTED KINGDOM.
It is initially hidden but it expands because leaven always spreads.
Jesus underscores this in a third parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field” (vs. 44). “Hid” here comes from krupto, meaning “to conceal by covering.”
Christ’s message is again made clear:
God’s Kingdom starts tiny, hidden—and covered.
One must go and find it!
Yet another parable confirms this: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls” (vs. 45). Rare and precious, naturally occurring pearls are hard to find. “Who, when he had found one pearl of great price [it was hidden and he had to look for it], went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (vs. 45-46). Besides reinforcing the mustard seed and leaven parables, the hid treasure and pearl parables also add focus to the value of entering the Kingdom.
Before looking at the three remaining parables of Matthew 13, realize that every kingdom on Earth today has four necessary components: (1) Land, property or territory—however large or small. There must be clear boundaries establishing the size of the kingdom. (2) A ruler or king leading the government. (3) People—subjects—living within the territory governed. And (4) a system of laws and rules with a basic structure of government.
Despite its size, when the mustard seed Kingdom arrives, it does have all four elements. When Christ repeatedly spoke of the Kingdom being “tiny” and “hidden,” He was referring to the numbers of subjects—which would grow dramatically in the second and third “measures of meal.” Christ’s power and the territory He will govern will be anything but tiny.
It is a literal Kingdom.
Three More Parables-
A fifth parable shows expansion of God’s Kingdom from a small beginning, as well as something else no one seems to notice: “
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea…” (vs. 47). The net starts out empty. Over time it fills with fish of “every kind”—people from all nations. But not all “fish” belong: “When it was full, they drew to shore, sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world [or age, when Christ moves to Jerusalem]: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just[note this!], and shall cast them into the furnace [or oven] of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (vs. 48-50).
Matt 13- Verse 43 calls the harvest the time when the righteous in the Father’s Kingdom “shine forth as the sun.” The Greek means “become resplendent.” Other passages make clear it is at this point many more saints, people who qualified for rule in God’s Kingdom, join Christ and the Father in Jerusalem where He will superimpose His Kingdom over all nations. It will have by then sprouted into the large mustard tree that started from the smallest seed.
The very first parable in Matthew 13 brings yet another perspective, showing those who ultimately succeed in the Kingdom.
Jesus spoke of a sower that cast seed,
with some falling on good ground,
some on stony ground, some where thorns could choke it,
and some falling by the wayside.
As with the wheat and tares, Jesus went on to interpret it for us: “Hear you [or understand] therefore the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one [Satan], and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word [of the Kingdom], and…with joy receives it; yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word [many do not want to hear of the Kingdom], by and by he is offended” (vs. 18-21).
Notice also that
tribulation and persecution
are associated with subjects in the Kingdom!
Yet the rewards will be awesome.
Here is the last category: “He that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word [of the Kingdom], and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirty” (vs. 23). This is the only category of hearer who survives—and these thrive.
God has His Church and this is where
He reveals His truth.
The “Little Flock”
Jesus used a fascinating term to describe a group that would be the
early administrators in His tiny Kingdom.
Like the Kingdom itself, this group will not be large to start.
In Luke 12, Jesus instructed His servants to “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (vs. 32). “Little” is mikrosin the Greek.
It is a micro-flock that takes a tiny Kingdom--
how logical and easy to understand!
Another parable in Luke 19 describes a nobleman (Christ) who went to a far country (heaven) to “get for himself a kingdom” (vs. 12).
This parable carries an extraordinary message for every true Christian.
It describes a judgment, a reckoning, that comes immediately to a group of “servants” upon Christ’s arrival bringing His small Kingdom.
Notice: “…when He was returned [from heaven], having received the kingdom, then He commanded these servants to be called unto Him, to whom He had given the money, that He might know how much every man had gained by trading” (vs. 15).
Some servants had passed God’s test, others failed it.
Reading the whole account reveals that those who succeed are placed over cities on Earth (not yet the entire Earth) in the initial phase of the Kingdom.
God has been working with people all over the world,
preparing them for leadership positions
in the initial phase of the Kingdom.
Only after a reckoning of past performance before Christ’s judgment seat (Rom. 14:10; II Cor. 5:10) will these specially called and trained servants be permitted to rule.
Matthew 25 contains a related account, in which some are told, “Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord” (vs. 21). The “joy of the Lord” involves what is the
first phase of salvation
as well as receiving a part in governing what will be a fast growing Kingdom—a role with the purpose of helping others enter the Kingdom
during its first short phase,
so that they also can qualify to rule at a point a little later.
Anyone desiring to come into and under the Kingdom will have opportunity.
Christ as King Jesus Christ, as King of the mustard seed Kingdom, also Himself starts “small” in how He manifests Himself in the phase leading up to His rule.
The account of Christ’s ascension to heaven holds an eye-opening clue. The apostles asked the question: “LORD, will You at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). After His answer it adds, “While they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel” (vs. 9-10). These two men, actually angels, asked, “…Why stand you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus [a man, not a Spirit Being in glorified form], which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (vs. 11).
The phrase “this same” in reference to Jesus is an all-important KEY.
The angels were emphasizing that Jesus would return in the identical human form He had when He ascended.
It is not surprising then that Christ is so often called “the Son of Man.”
This is because He intends to continue (initially) His first-century form when He returns.
The prophet Jeremiah described Christ in His expanding Kingdom by an unusual name, while also calling Him its King: “Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In His days [at a point, but not right away]
Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely:
and this is His name whereby He shall be called,
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (23:5-6).
The Hebrew for “Branch” is sprout.
Like mustard seeds, sprouts are also tiny to begin.
This “sprout” depiction is completely incompatible with an all-powerful Jesus Christ returning in glorified form.
Ten chapters later Jeremiah adds more,
confirming something crucial about sprouts:
“I [will] cause the Branch [sprout] of righteousness to grow up unto David; and He shall execute judgment and righteousness…” (33:15).
The Hebrew “grow up” is simply the verb form of sprout. God is saying, literally, He will cause the sprout to sprout.
Ponder the enormity of what we are being told.
Jesus’ role will grow from small to large.
Both accounts in Jeremiah tie the “Branch” to King David.
Notice another prophecy about Christ from the angel Gabriel to Mary: “He [Christ] shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the LORD God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
At His mustard seed coming—actually His revealing in Luke 17:30—Christ sits on King David’s throne before later assuming His own throne in Jerusalem (when David comes up to receive the vacated throne Jesus had just occupied).
From “His Place”Powerfully confirming Jeremiah, Zechariah 6 also pictures growth toward worldwide rule. This verse is perhaps the most plain of those speaking about Christ as a Branch: “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the MAN [again, not a Spirit Being in glorified form] whose name is the Branch [sprout]; and He shall grow up[sprout] out of His place [where He resided away from Jerusalem], and He shall build the temple of the LORD: even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne [at a later time]; and He shall be a priest upon His throne…” (vs. 12-13). This last part obviously involves Christ ruling in glory from a physical temple.
Zechariah 6:12 pictures Christ growing out of an undisclosed location—“His place”—to build two temples.
The first half of the verse describes building the spiritual Temple, which we will see is the Church. This fits perfectly with Malachi 3:1, which describes Christ returning to Earth to His Temple.
Notice: “Behold, I will send My messenger,
and he shall prepare the way before Me:
and the LORD, whom you seek,
shall suddenly come to His temple,
even the Messenger of the covenant,
whom you delight in:
behold, He shall come, says the LORD of hosts.”
This cannot be a physical temple in Jerusalem because none exists there today. The Jews do not even occupy the Temple Mount!
Notice that Malachi says Christ coming to His Temple
means to a people who seek and desire Him.
The apostle Paul defined this Temple as the Church: “Know you not that you [the Church—God’s people] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy;
for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (I Cor. 3:16-17). (Also see I Corinthians 6:19-20.) Here’s how the apostle Peter describes true Christians: “You also, as lively [meaning living] stones,
are built up a spiritual house, [a] holy priesthood,
to offer up spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 2:5).
It is living-stones (human beings) that collectively form the spiritual “temple of God.”
Where the Kingdom Begins:
The almost universally believed destination of Christ’s Return is Jerusalem.
But is this what God’s Word says?
Christ will of course ultimately rule from there—countless scriptures show this—but is this where His tiny mustard seed Kingdom begins? Does His first-century coming provide a clue?
Notice Mary lived in “a city of Galilee, named Nazareth” (Luke 1:26). This is where Jesus was conceived and where He later grew up—well north of Jerusalem!
Far from a prominent city, Nazareth was scoffed at as a kind of dead-end backwater by Jerusalemites.
After Jesus called Peter,
He then called Philip who reported to Nathaniel that
they had found Christ.
Not convinced, Nathaniel asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
Clearly Christ’s first-century coming was to an unexpected place.
His arrival shocked and confused the masses: “Others said, this is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?” (7:41).
Both Nazareth and Galilee were looked down on by the elites of Jesus’ day.
Christ started His ministry
away from Jerusalem—a pattern we will see holds.
Certain passages prove Christ relocates to Zion,
and these provide clues about which nation He will come to.
A prophecy for our time—found in Numbers 24. The prophet Balaam foretold, “In the latter days…there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre [Ruler] shall rise out of Israel [not Judah]…Out of Jacob shall come He that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remains of the city [this is Jerusalem]” (vs. 14, 17, 19).
Called the “Star” here, other passages describe Christ as the “Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2), “Day Star” (II Pet. 1:19) and the “Bright and Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16). He brings His dominion—His rule!--
to Jerusalem and
Judah from a different modern nation of Jacob (Israel).
This cannot merely be referencing Christ’s birth lineage because He was born of Judah, and in Judea. In fact, the very first reference to “the Jews” in the Bible shows them at war with Israel (II Kgs. 16:1-6)!
The modern Mideast nation called Israel is in fact Judah,
with the democratic, English-speaking nations of the West identified as the descendants of the rest of the tribes of ancient Israel. Jesus Christ first comes to one of these countries, Not Judah.
Genesis 49 further clarifies to which of the remaining 11 tribes Christ initially comes. Notice verses 22-24, all of which describe Joseph: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence [Joseph!] is the shepherd, the stone of Israel).” Jesus Christ, indisputably the “Shepherd” and “Stone of Israel,” is foretold to return to, and be stationed in, Joseph—not Judah.
A Coming City
We saw earlier that a Kingdom contains four elements—land, a king, subjects and law. Of course, the territory would also contain a structure from which to rule. Does Christ build all of this upon arrival—or does He bring it with Him?
The same disciples who asked about Christ’s Return in Acts 1 would have heard Him explain the following from John 14:
“Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house [Greek: residence or abode] are many mansions [Greek: residences]: if it were not so, I would have told you…” (vs. 1-2).
Christ is telling us to believe whatever He is about to say—no matter how unbelievable it may seem!
Continuing, “…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I WILL COME AGAIN,
and receive you unto Myself;
that where I am, there you may be also”
This is Jesus Christ coming from heaven
to His people,
not the other way around.
The Greek word translated “place” is topos, from which comes the word topography. The word can also be translated “a spot or locality.” Christ spoke of bringing this already prepared place.
Revelation 22 pictures a coming city. Christ’s Return is the context: “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be [this is an element of the reckoning or judgment described earlier].
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
Next is a very distinct description of the city’s setting: “For without are dogs [false prophets and ministers], and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie” (vs. 12-15).
This passage is also connected to Christ being the offspring [Branch] of King David’s lineage: “I Jesus have sent My angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star” (vs. 16).
This “city” cannot be “New Jerusalem,” established at the outset of Christ’s later 1,000-year rule. All who oppose God—every person on Earth who took the Mark of the Beast—will be executed before the arrival of that city. So the above categories of people could not be “without”—meaning outside it. Just think of the devil being bound at this time. This makes impossible that there could be even one sorcerer anywhere on Earth. The same with false prophets and idolaters. Also, since the devil is the “father of murder and lies” (John 8:44), there will be no murder and love of lying.
All through Revelation 21 and chapter 22 verse 5, John records Christ’s message about the awesome New Jerusalem that will come to Earth at the start of Christ’s later Millennial reign.
At the very end of Revelation 22, God does briefly reference again
New Jerusalem, calling it the “holy city.”
“Marvelous Work and Wonder
”Prior to the mustard seed Kingdom, vast numbers will come to know these Bible truths in what God, through the prophet Habakkuk, calls a “marvelous Work.”
Notice: “Behold you among the [nations], and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which you will not believe, though it be told you” (1:5). In Scripture, a “Work” represents God’s servants’ teaching and warning all who will listen.
Will you believe advance report of this Work?
The prophet Isaiah powerfully underscores what Habakkuk foretold: “Behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder [a miracle]: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (29:14).
Paul also cited Habakkuk in the book of Acts, altering it slightly: “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets [Habakkuk]; Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you” (13:40-41).
This means we should expect a gigantic, Earth-rattling Work
to precede the Kingdom of God—one so far-reaching it will
stagger the mind—one that cannot be
fully comprehended until it’s seen--
that upon hearing of it most won’t believe it!
Many are surprised to learn that the Bible calls Satan “the god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4),
who has through history “deceived the nations” (Rev. 20:3).
In Matthew 4, the devil claimed ownership of “all the kingdoms of the world” (vs. 8)—a fact Christ did not dispute.
Satan seeks to counterfeit everything.
Look what immediately follows the “marvelous work and wonder” and precedes the Kingdom of God.
Paul records, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come,
except there come a falling away first,
and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (vs. 3). The apostle John called this man the “antichrist” (I John 2:18).
The same passage goes on to show the source—and extent—of his power: “…whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (II Thes. 2:9). He brings the FULL POWER of the devil to bear—something akin to what Job experienced, but that the world collectively has never even begun to imagine!
This man will tower over the world at his coming. He claims to be God: “…He as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (vs. 4). This man’s reach (and many verses show that there are two other men who work alongside and under him) extends beyond Christianity—he “opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped” (vs. 4)—every religion on Earth!
The first phase of God’s Kingdom will begin the day this man’s reign ends. Returning to II Thessalonians, “…the LORD shall consume [him] with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy [him] with the brightness of His coming” (2:8).
Christ first comes to His people—His Temple.
The Kingdom of Israel is initially led by a little flock under Christ. He will at first hide His presence by being sprout-like.
The Kingdom will grow in number of subjects before Christ transfers a ready-to-be greatly expanded WORLD GOVERNMENT to Jerusalem. From there He will rule all nations with a larger group of saints coming from His by then much larger flock.
If you are surprised, even shocked, at the simple truths within Jesus’ parables, He designed them to confuse those He was not calling. Here’s what Jesus said: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed…” (Matt. 13:13-15). The masses choose to close their eyes to the truth of the Bible. Parables keep them from understanding what they don’t want to hear.
Matthew added, “All these things spoke Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spoke He not unto them…saying, I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (13:34-35).
Jesus’ plain words— are now revealed and understood in our time.
God has been waiting for thousands of years to establish His Kingdom on an Earth that desperately needs it.
You’ve heard word of the Kingdom before it comes.
There is great advantage in this!
Christ is today preparing a
in advance of its arrival to rule under Him.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ built His Church—the true Church—the onlyone He built. Will you take hold of life-changing TRUTH?