The Spiritual and Physical Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God is the spiritual/earthly realm over which God (Jesus Christ) reigns as King of the entire earth. The phrase occurs 70 times in the New Testament, primarily by Jesus in the Gospels. As you know from my previous article, 70 is a very significant number in the Bible as it represents spiritual and ordinal perfection. Jesus taught his disciples and the Jewish people extensively about this Kingdom. He even sent out 70 disciples into the cities of Judah and Samaria for evangelical and missionary work. Jesus told them: “And heal the sick there, and say to them, The Kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). Another name for this realm is the Kingdom of Heaven, used exclusively by Matthew in his Gospel account. He mentioned the Kingdom of Heaven 33 times and the Kingdom of God four times. 33 is another important biblical number as it is associated with Jesus. Jesus started his ministry at the age of 33 and was crucified in the year AD 33 (more on this later). The word ‘firstfruits’ is mentioned 33 times in the Bible. Jesus is the firstfruits of the dead to be resurrected. “ But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:23). “It is possible that since each of the four Gospels was targeting a different audience, Matthew’s Gospel (to the Jews) used this phrasing to impose a more practical meaning to the term. The Jews didn’t like saying or writing the true name of God. In the Tanakh, YHVH is the personal name of God. This is the ineffable name of the God of Israel. Because it is composed from the four Hebrew letters Yod, Hey, Vav, and Hey, it is also referred to as the “Tetragrammation,” which simply means “the four letters.” Https://hebrew4christians.com Later in time, vowels were added to the name and it became known as Yahweh. Yahweh is most likely an incorrect transliteration since there is no “w” sound in Hebrew. For this reason, Matthew chose to call it the Kingdom of Heaven instead. Basically, it means the same thing – the Kingdom of the God of the Universe. The Kingdom of God consists of two phases. First is the body of believers who are in the world but not of it. It was established at the first coming. Here is how gotquestions.org describes this first phase. “The Kingdom of God is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly submit to God’s authority. Those who defy God’s authority and refuse to submit to Him are not part of the Kingdom of God; in contrast, those who acknowledge the lordship of Christ and gladly surrender to God’s rule in their hearts are part of the Kingdom of God. In this sense, the Kingdom of God is spiritual. Jesus said His Kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), and he preached that repentance is necessary to be a part of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17). That the Kingdom of God can be equated with the sphere of salvation is evident in John 3:5-7, where Jesus says the Kingdom of God must be entered into by being born again.”
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘There it is’, or ‘here it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
This was definitely not the answer the Pharisees was expecting. Jesus was talking about the spiritual phase of the Kingdom of God and not the physical phase. Of course the spiritual Kingdom of God was not within the Pharisees because they didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. The word ‘within’ can also mean “in the midst of,” and the Kingdom (Jesus filled with the Holy Spirit) was in the midst of them.
Some Bible translations (the NIV and CJB for example) offer ‘among’ as an alternate to ‘within’ in verse 21. Jesus was the personification of the spiritual Kingdom and He was standing among them. To the Pharisees, the Kingdom was only among them, but it was not within them. But once the Holy Spirit was given, the Kingdom would be within all believers. At that point, both of these interpretations would become true. The Kingdom of God is within us, even though we are still in the midst of the world. This is the spiritual, or invisible phase of the Kingdom.
The second phase of the Kingdom of God is the one we call the Millennium, where the Lord comes back to assume authority over all the world. Daniel, the faithful prophet of God, described it this way: “And in the days of those kings the God of Heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people (other than Israel). It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). Jesus will rule and reign over his kingdom from Jerusalem. The prophet Habakkuk described life during the Millennium. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Zechariah also described the Lord’s future rule. “And the Lord (Jesus Christ) will be King over the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and His name one” (Zechariah 14:9). Scholarly opinion is divided on the question as to whether Jesus taught that the kingdom had actually arrived during his lifetime. Possibly he recognized in his ministry the signs of its imminence, but he nevertheless looked to the future for its arrival with power. He may well have regarded his own death as the providential condition of its full establishment. Regarding the actual starting point (calendar year) of the first spiritual phase of the Kingdom of God, there are two theories. The first theory is that it began when Jesus began his ministry in the fall of AD 29 or the spring of AD 30. According to Luke 3:1-6, John the Baptist began his ministry in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius began his official reign in the fall of AD 14 after the death of Augustus; so the fifteenth year would be AD 29. It is believed, therefore, that John and Jesus’ ministry began either in the fall of AD 29 or the spring of AD 30 (I believe it was in the spring of AD 30, as that would be the time for baptizing the converts). There are three definite mentions of Jesus observing the Passover feast in the gospel of John: John 2:13, John 6:4, and John 11:55-57. This would account for two years of ministry, which puts us at AD 32. Many scholars suspect there was another Passover that wasn’t recorded (but implied) in the synoptic gospels, or perhaps the “feast” mentioned in John 5:1 was the fourth one. If this is the case, Jesus was crucified in the year AD 33. For more proof, see: Seven Famous Passovers in Scripture: Part 1 :: By Randy Nettles - Rapture Ready Jesus said that his miracles were evidence that the Kingdom of God had come upon the Jews. “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). Another fascinating scripture is found in Luke 9:27 when Jesus was talking with his disciples concerning his upcoming death. “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Kingdom of God.” Eight days later, Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lighting. These three disciples got a taste of the future Kingdom of God when Jesus was transfigured in glorious form before them. He was seen talking with Moses and Elijah (who also were in a glorious form similar to Jesus’) regarding his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem (Luke 9:28-31). The second theory is that the Kingdom of God started with the death and resurrection of Jesus in AD 33. After Jesus’ resurrection, he spent 40 more days on the earth before ascending back to heaven and the Father. During this time, He spoke often with his apostles of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Ten days later, on the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’ disciples and the Church was conceived. Many scholars believe the spiritual Kingdom of God began at this time, when the Holy Spirit began indwelling believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah). So, you might be asking yourself, “What difference does it make when the Kingdom of God began?” I believe Hosea 6:2-3 is a prophetic passage regarding the return of Jesus Christ to establish his Millennium Kingdom of God. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the latter and former rain to the earth.” The latter rain appears in the spring time in Israel, thus representing Jesus’ 1st advent. The former rain appears in the fall time in Israel, thus representing Jesus’ 2nd advent. Peter said that a day to the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. (2 Peter 3:8). So, two days to the Lord would be 2000 years for us mere humans. Therefore, if the Lord returns 2,000 years from the first part (spiritual) of the Kingdom of God, it definitely matters when this kingdom began. It either began in AD 29/30 during Jesus’ ministry or at Jesus’ death and resurrection (and the conception of the Church) in AD 33. If it began in AD 30, then 2000 years later would place the 2nd advent and start of the Millennium Kingdom in AD 2030. This would place the start of the Tribulation 7 years earlier in 2023 and the pre-tribulation Rapture in 2022 or 2023. If the Kingdom of God began in AD 33, then 2000 years later would place the 2nd advent and start of the Millennium Kingdom in 2033. This would place the start of the Tribulation in 2026 and the pre-tribulation Rapture could occur as early as 2022 or as late as 2026. IN THE MIDST OF DANIEL’S 70TH SEVEN I wrote about the timing and duration of the first part (69 sevens) of Daniel’s prophecy of 70 sevens in my last article, Jeremiah and Daniel's Prophetic Calendar :: By Randy Nettles - Rapture Ready, so now we will discuss the last 7 years. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27). The prophet Daniel is clearly referring to the last 7 years (one week/seven) on earth before Jesus’ 2nd Coming to the earth. This time period is known as the Tribulation and/or Jacob’s Trouble. Numerous Old Testament prophets referred to it as the Day of the Lord. Does the term “in the midst” (in the KJV and many other translations) mean the exact middle or could it mean near the middle? There are 269 times in the Old Testament that use this terminology. Very few of them refer to the exact middle. Most of them are in reference to a close proximity to the middle or center. As mentioned in my last article, Daniel is using the same prophetic calendar used by Jeremiah in determining the 70 years of desolations for Judah and Jerusalem. In this calendar, one year is equal to 360 days. If the first part (69 sevens – 483 years) of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:25-26) used the prophetic calendar of 360 days per year, then the last 7 years must use it as well. You can not start and end it on the same date of the Jewish calendar (such as Tishri 1 to Tishri 1 or Nisan 10 to Nisan 10) as there would be approximately 2541 days in a 7 year time frame. The duration of Daniel 9:27 is for 7 calendar years of 360 days for a total of 2,520 days. The in the midst event of Daniel 9:27 is known as the Abomination of Desolation and is described in Daniel 12:11 and Revelation 13:14-15. Most Bible experts believe the A.O.D. will occur exactly 1,260 days after the start of Jacob’s Trouble. But what if instead it begins 1,230 days after the start of the Tribulation? Isn’t that also in the midst of 2,520 days? It’s similar in meaning to the word ‘about’ as in Luke 3:23, “Now Jesus himself began his ministry when he was about thirty years of age.” If Jesus was born in the fall of 5 BC ( it could have been 4 BC), he would have been 33.5 years old in AD 30, when he started his ministry. Is that not about 30 years of age? Daniel 12:11 gives the duration of the last part (3.5 years) of the Tribulation, from the A.O.D. to the end of the 7-year Tribulation. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Daniel 12:11). Have you ever wondered why Daniel 12:11 is for 1,290 days instead of 1,260 days? Because of this verse, it is reasonable to assume that the first part of the prophecy is for 1,230 days and the last part is for 1,290 days. In other words, the Abomination of Desolation will occur in the midst of the 2,520 days of the Tribulation, but not necessarily the exact middle. There are two theories on the duration of the two parts of the Tribulation. Let us look at these as Theory 1 (1,260–1,260 days) and Theory 2 (1,230–1,290 days). Theory 1 starts 30 days before theory 2 does. Both theories have the same date for the in the midst event known as the Abomination of Desolation. Theory 1 ends 30 days earlier than Theory 2. Both theories agree that The Tribulation will last for 2,520 days. Theory 1 is similar to Theory 2 in that they both believe that the Anti-Christ’s total power over the Tribulation saints and the Jewish people will last for exactly 1,260 days or forty-two months (Revelation 13:5-7). Both theories believe that after the Abomination of Desolation, the remnant of Israel will flee into the wilderness of Jordan (Petra) where God will supernaturally protect them and sustain them for 1,260 days (Revelation 12:6). Both theories agree that after the seals, trumpets, and vials judgments from God, Jesus Christ returns on a future Feast of Trumpets day at the battle of Armageddon, fulfilling the 5th Feast of the Lord. Daniel’s 70th seven ends there with theory 1 and does not really address Jesus fulfilling the 6th and 7th Feasts of the Lord. They occur after the Tribulation is officially over (7 years or 2,520 days). With Theory 2, the end of the Tribulation does not end with the battle of Armageddon, but rather 30 days later. This takes into account enough time for the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles to be fulfilled by Jesus after his return to the Earth on Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah. The Feast of Tabernacles lasts for eight days until Tishri 22. Eight days later the Millennium Kingdom of God (Jesus Christ) will commence. According to Daniel 9:24, the end of the 70th seven/Jacob’s Trouble will not occur until six things happen: 1) to finish the transgression, 2) to make an end of sin, 3) to make reconciliation for iniquity, 4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, 5) to seal up the vision and prophecy, 6) to anoint the most Holy. With Theory 1, there is no time for all of this to happen if the Tribulation is over when Jesus returns at Armageddon. With Theory 2, there is sufficient time for the before-mentioned six results to occur. Also, there will still be enough time for Jesus to fulfill the prophecies of Matthew 24:30-31 as well as Matthew 25:31-46. THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS TO THE EARTH In establishing timelines for both of these theories, there is only one factor that must be met: the date that Jesus returns to the earth will be on a future Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah day. Most Bible eschatologists agree the date on the Jewish calendar for the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, at the Battle of Armageddon, will occur on Rosh Hashanah (Tishri 1 on the Jewish calendar) in some future year. Because the Feast of Trumpets occurs on a new/crescent moon of fall, when there is only a sliver of the moon that can be seen (and sometimes under cloud cover), it is difficult to pinpoint the exact hour (and thus day) it appears. In olden times in Israel, there had to be two reliable witnesses that both agreed upon when they saw the moon appear. This is why Trumpets (Tishri 1 - 1st day of the 7th month) was the Feast where “no man knew the day or the hour of its beginning.” “In his Olivet discourse, Jesus told his disciples, “But of that day or hour, no man knows, no, not the angels in heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:36-37). Throughout the history of the Hebrew people, trumpets always were sounded when a Jewish king entered into the battle arena. It will not be different this time as well, only the trumpets will be of a heavenly origin announcing the King of kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ heavenly army consisting of resurrected and translated saints and His heavenly host, the angels, will accompany King Jesus to the earth. The 5th Feast of the Lord, known as Trumpets, is the next one in line to be fulfilled by Jesus, as the first four (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost) were fulfilled by Him during His 1st advent in 33 BC. Most scholars believe Pentecost was fulfilled by Jesus sending the Holy Spirit to his followers 50 days after His resurrection (Nisan 17) on Sivan 7 of the same year, thus starting the Church Age. So, whether you believe Jesus will return (2nd Coming) in AD 2030 or 2033 (or some other year), the first thing you need to do is find the date for Tishri 1 on the Jewish calendar. This is the date for Jesus’ return at the battle of Armageddon. 30 days later (1290 days after the A.O. D.), on Heshvan 1, will be the official end of the Tribulation (Jacob’s Trouble, Daniel’s 70th week) and the beginning of the Millennium Kingdom of God (Jesus Christ). The next step is to find the “ in the midst” event known as the anti-Christ’s Abomination of Desolation. To find this date, subtract 1260 days from the Tishri 1 date. To find the start of the Tribulation, you must deduct 1230 days from the A.O.D date. From this starting date to the end of the Tribulation is 2520 days. Regardless of which 7 years you like for the timing of the Tribulation, we know it’s getting close. We also know when Jesus returns He will fulfill the remaining 3 Feasts of the Lord. Thus He will have fulfilled all 7 Feasts of His while fulfilling the last 7 of the 70th seven of Daniel’s prophecy. Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus. Randy Nettles