So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand (Luke 21:31).
A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM
First, the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom until the time of the “catching away” of the bride of Christ. It is a kingdom not easily detected but can be found by those who really search. The kingdom is somewhat underground compared to the time when it will be revealed with all its power and glory reflecting the true glory of its King.
The spiritual kingdom will one day be not only a spiritual one but also a physical kingdom. This has always been important to the Hebrews, as well as to many others who compare all things with a materialistic measuring rule. The Hebrews will one day see their great hope materialize, but before this happens they will again endure much suffering.
The lesson that their first king (Saul) never seemed to master is still to be learned by the majority who come after him. This truth was pointed out by Samuel; to obey is better than sacrifice. The Jews as a nation have refused the King of the kingdom. They heard not the voice of their Shepherd, so they must fight alone against the wolves.
The best route to the physical kingdom of God is the “high road.” Some hope to take the earthly route, believing things will get better until a new age will dawn. Today it requires a great amount of faith to believe that the world is progressing toward a great, bright day. The same amount of faith applied toward the truth would produce lasting joy instead of delusion.
The way to a physical kingdom is the spiritual path. The Hebrews have already predetermined the path they will take by rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. Yes, they will eventually find an earthly kingdom, but the price for disobedience will be costly.
Earlier we quoted this verse, for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17). The spiritual path is not only easier, but it also offers such side benefits as righteousness, peace, and joy. Peace is better than war, joy is more exciting than sorrow, and righteousness is a better life than wickedness and a careless existence. As we invest in our eternal reward, we also discover some jewels along the way, which make the dressing room (this earth) a pleasant time, well spent, and enjoyed.
The text of this chapter, stated in Luke 21:31, is part of the parable of the fig tree that Jesus gave to make us aware of the signs of the last days and the return of the King. We are now living in the times of the Gentiles. For thousands of years, the Gentiles have ruled the kingdoms of this earth while the Jews have had only partial control over Jerusalem since the Six-Day War. An Arab flag still flies over the
Dome of the Rock today, which is the site of the former Temple. There are still many rules and regulations imposed on Israel by the United Nations, as well as by the USA. Israel is not completely sovereign but will under God’s direction someday rule the earth.
THE TIMES OF THE JEWS AND GENTILES
The times of the Gentiles will soon be fulfilled. The Jews now have part of their God-given inheritance, but they will lose control during the great tribulation. The time of the Gentiles is not yet over though we see that the unsure foundation on which the kingdoms of this earth have been built is doomed. They will continue to reach a state of deterioration until finally they crumble when the Rock smites the feet of the great giant.
Nations will continue to rise against nations, in spite of the United Nations and all their police forces. The trouble spots of the world are Israel and the Arab nations, and they will continue to drain the resources of the western nations. After Israel is deceived by the false Christ and feels the vengeance of the whole world gathered to annihilate her, she will discover an old friend who has not forgotten His promises even though she has in the past forgotten Him.
THE FIG TREE
The fig tree of Israel is budding, which will produce a false hope that all is well in the land of promise, but the budding is a sign that summer is soon to arrive. The fig fruit precedes the leaves, but usually they do not ripen until late summer (August). The budding of Israel is not a sign that she will increase to the point of full restoration. When summer comes, the green fruit will turn dark and will dry. Israel must go through the furnace before she is a sweet delicacy.
Israel is not to enter the kingdom of God by her own merits; she must first be humbled and realize her only salvation is God. Israel has seen progress since she became a nation, but instead of building her future on her present foundation, she must see this crumble as she is brought low. In days of anguish, she will fear for her life and hide, such as the fruit becomes hard to see when the leaves appear the same color as the fruit. She will undergo a change that turns the unripe and hard fruit into a sweet, tasty, and desirable treasure that God will display to the world.
During the thousand years of peace that follow Israel’s humility and return to her God, the Jews will reign in their former glory with Jesus as the only King who will sit on the royal throne of David.
The only everlasting King who will reign over the Jews will be the same King who was at first discarded. When He is the head of the cornerstone, the rest of the building can be built. With all the promises given to the Jews about their future, we must be careful to divide rightly the Word of truth to understand that our entrance into the kingdom of God is by the new birth.
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Also, Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
The kingdom of God for the Jews is still a few years away although the alignment of nations against Israel is becoming more clearly defined daily. The kingdom of God for the Gentiles and converted Jews started with the new birth, as Jesus proclaimed to Nicodemus in the previous verse. It starts with being born of water (baptism in the name of our King by immersion in a watery grave), which follows repentance. Repentance and baptism in Jesus’ name blot out our sins, and we become candidates for the Holy Ghost. When the baptism is complete (baptized with water and baptized in the Holy Ghost), we are born into the spiritual kingdom of God. We are no longer children of this world; we are children of the King. Our hope is for our King and Father to return for His children.
How near are we to the rapture or catching away of Jesus’ bride? It could be today; it might be tomorrow. There are so many signs that Jesus will soon return for His church that another book could be written on the signs pointing to His soon return. Even the doubters are a sign of His soon return. There shall come in the last day’s scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (II Peter 3:3-4).
One possible reason Jesus has not yet come is that the church has awakened and is reaching souls. It is in the middle of the harvest season after many years of planting, cultivating, and caring for the lost.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). Jesus is not quick to judge, but He is still extending His arm to help us to gather the harvest. It is not God’s will that even one should perish.
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4). No one knows how long He will tarry even though some have made their wild guesses that are harmful to the church.
The seemingly long wait since the promise was originally given of His return for His bride is not because He is not anxious to carry His bride away. God also calculates time different than we do. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (II Peter 3:8).
God has given us a timetable of the events that will happen before His coming, but He has not given to any man actual dates. Some have twisted what God said concerning this. Jesus told His disciples, Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matthew 25:13). Men who wished to set a date for various reasons have stated that Jesus did not say that men would not know the year or month, just the day and hour. This type of teaching is destructive and self-aggrandizing.
The Book of Revelation is divided into divisions, and each division is numbered and divided. Jesus gave us a road map so we can track where we are by the events described. If we take from the division of the trumpets one of the numbered happenings and then mix it with a happening in the vials, the road map is destroyed. To scramble God’s given order is to question His wisdom. In my own mind, I believe this just brings confusion and opens the door to questioning many other things written in the Word.
To read a news item and then go to find a place for it in the Book of Revelation or in the other prophecies lead to the scrambling of God’s given order that He gave John. The Bible should be our source of prophetic information.
Not all things in the Bible were written to take place during our life span. As far as I know, all the Word of God has been written, and we cannot add or detract from it. Modern-day, so-called prophets who take liberty to revise, scramble, and use the Word for their own purposes are on dangerous ground, and time will reveal them as the false prophets they are.
Excerpted from: “The King and His Kingdom” By: Jack Tanner. Copyright 2009
This material has been copyrighted and may be used for study and research purposes only.