Luke 17:20-21 “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
“To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.
I have read it in writing, heard it heralded and probably proclaimed it myself; “we must read the Bible literally unless the text indicates otherwise.” An example of an obvious figure of speech would be, Psalm 17:8;”Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Thy wings.” Clearly we are not an apple in God’s eyes and I am pretty sure he doesn’t have wings.
Yet in Revelation we have all different sorts of imagery and strange wordings, are we to take that literally? And what about the things that seem very cut and dry–black and white, Such as, making us a kingdom? Based on some of the other Scripture we read last time, and Jesus’ words recorded by Luke, I believe the text is clearly presented, we are a kingdom. Not a kingdom of this world but a kingdom from heaven. That is to say, we don’t have a land but a Lord. And yes, it is a kingdom made up of both Jews and gentiles. We are a real, literal kingdom, made up of all nations. We, who believe, are the people of God. Paul writes, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'”
Once again, Paul states: “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek.” And, “God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.” And, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants.” And, “Remember you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” And, “The Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” And, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Paul certainly does believe that there is but one people of God, though that’s not what I was taught. Let’s re-read Revelation 1:5-7: “To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.
We don’t have a land and we don’t wear robes and retire at 50 (Leviticus), but we are a kingdom, and a kingdom of all nations, as ironic as that sounds. As Peter also says, “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”
Now, if we take literally John’s claim that we are a kingdom, does this mean we are also to take his next words literally? “To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.”
“BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS…” In The NASB, we know that all-caps indicates an Old Testament quote. But before we search for E, in the CAGED method, let’s quickly notice the C, the immediate context–remembering the genre, author and audience. John writes that God made us a kingdom, proclaims God’s glory then writes, “Amen.” John has concluded one statement and is now switching gears to another. Notice I used a literal and figurative statement in one sentence? The immediate context doesn’t satisfy us either way–if we are to take coming with the clouds literally or figuratively. We must consult our tutor, the O.T. and examine E. Spoiler alert: Prepare to have your mind blown.
Daniel 7:13; “I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
“And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.”
Whaaaaat??? Clouds, dominion, kingdom?
Let your mind rebound… Until next time, many blessings.