Jim Gunter is an excellent Bible student and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. We are happy and honored that he has shared some of his thoughts with us.
Will Jesus Reign “Physically” in Jerusalem?
by Jim Gunter
It is the understanding on the part of many believers that the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus has not yet come, but that it is on the cusp of doing so at anytime now. As I understand this teaching, some believe that Jesus, when He came to earth in the 1st century, that itwas indeed one of the purposes for which He came.However, because He was rejected by most of the Jews, God put the Kingdom on hold, and established the church as a temporary “replacement,” until a later time, which so far, is 2,000 years and counting! This is often referred to as “replacement theology.” So, is this truly the case? Will Jesus, at some point in our future, actually come back to earth, “physically“ and sit and reign on David’s physical throne in Jerusalem?
Please understand that I certainly cast no aspersion on those disciples who have this understanding. I know these dear folks are every bit as sincere as I am, and that they love The Master every bit as much as I do. However, when I consider what the scriptures have to say about Jesus and His Kingdom, I am drawn in an entirely different direction; a direction which suggests that this is not the case at all.
There is an Old Testament account, which from my perspective, strongly suggests that the “kingdom of The Lord Jesus Christ” did in fact come in the 1st century, and also that it is not an “earthly,” “physical” kingdom. So, which of these views is the correct one? I believe we would all agree that since the two views are diametrically opposed to one another, then one of them must of necessity be incorrect!
That old testament account of which I speak is found in Jeremiah 22:28. This prophecy by God’s prophet, Jeremiah, speaks of one of the kings of Judah named “Coniah.” First we learn that he was the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. He was also a man who bears 3 names in the Scriptures:
(1) Coniah—Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 22:24. (2) Jehoiachin—2Kings 24:6; 2 Chronicles 36:8-9.
(3) Jeconiah—1 Chronicles 3:16; Jeremiah 24:1.
Coniah was the last of David’s lineage to be rightful king to reign in Judah. He was eighteen years old when he began to reign [2 Kings 24:8, 12-13], and was evil in the sight of the Lord, even as a lad. He reigned only 3 months and 10 days, after which he was taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. At this time Nebuchadnezzar removed Coniah from the throne and made Mattaniah (Coniah’s uncle) his vassal king [See 2Kings 24:17]. Moreover, Nebuchadnezzar changed Mattaniah’s name to “Zedekiah.” Of course Zedekiah was not rightful heir to the throne in Judah; Nebuchadnezzar made him king; not God. Therefore, this would make Coniah the last of David’s lineage to reign in Judah. This fact, I believe, is of great import, and we’ll see the great significance of that momentarily.
Now please note carefully, what Jeremiah said about this man Coniah:
“Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar? Or is he an undesirable vessel? Why have he and his descendants been hurled out and cast into a land that they had not known? O land, land, land, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord,\’Write this man down childless; a man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah [Jeremiah 22:28-30].’”
Dear friends, did you notice the awesome power of Jeremiah’s prophecy? In my humble opinion, this is really big! Huge! When first reading this passage, at first blush one might sense a seeming contradiction by Jeremiah, because he first speaks of Coniah as being, “childless,” and then immediately follows that by speaking of “his descendants.” So just how can we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory facts about the one man, Coniah? Well, really there actually is a very simple explanation for this. Biologically speaking, Coniah (Jeconiah) was not childless, for both he and his son, Shealtiel (Salathiel) are found in the genealogical record of Messiah Yahshua [See Matthew 1:12]. As a matter of fact, Coniah actually had at least seven sons [See 1Chronicles 3:17-18]!
“So how then could he be considered childless,” someone might ask? Well Jeremiah, himself, explains that for us. Please notice that he prefaces his conclusion in Jeremiah 22:30b with the preposition, “For,” which indicates that what is about to follow will explain his aforementioned declaration of Coniah’s “being written down childless.” Here, once again, is that language that follows in verse 30b:
“(For) no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David, or ruling again in Judah.”
Therefore, from this language, we learn exactly how “Coniah” would be considered “childless.” He would be childless, not in the “literal sense,” but in the sense of his relation to David’s throne in Jerusalem!
Jeremiah as a Prophet of God:
To me, it is truly remarkable what this passage reveals about the Kingdom of Christ! Let us look at those words of Jeremiah again and see if we can glean additional information from his prophecy.
“No man of his descendants will prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah.”
First of all, let us not forget that, Jesus was indeed of the royal lineage or bloodline of Coniah! Now juxtapose that with Jeremiah’s statement that, “no man of Coniah’s descendants would prosper sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah (Jerusalem-jg)!” Please let us consider something for just a moment: If Jesus, who was a descendant of both David and Coniah, is someday going to come back to earth “physically” and reign on David’s throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years (as many disciples today understand), then wouldn’t that present a real problem here with Jeremiah’s prophecy? Surely no disciple of the Lord Jesus would dare to even think that Jeremiah was a false prophet? But folks, based on Jeremiah’s prophecy, it surely seems to me that if Jesus (is) actually going to come back and reign “physically” in Jerusalem, that this would completely nullify Jeremiah’s prophecy, and show him in a very bad light as a prophet! Surely, none of us is prepared to make such a charge so as to say that Jeremiah was a false prophet! So then just how can we reconcile “Christ being King,” and yet not sully the character and reputation of Jeremiah as a true prophet of God?
The Nature of Christ’s Kingdom:
I would like to offer a view which I believe would in no way conflict with the inspired record nor Jeremiah’s prophecy. From the perspective which I view the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus, I see it somewhat different from the view we have been discussing. I personally understand His Kingdom to have already come in the 1st century! In addition to that, I also understand Christ’s Kingdom to be “spiritual“ in its nature, and not “physical.” And if the Kingdom of God, the throne of David, and the rule/reign of Jesus are all “spiritual” in nature, then there is no conflict whatsoever with Jeremiah’s prophecy. In fact, I see them as being in perfect harmony; and oh what beautiful harmony it is! Furthermore, it also clearly shows Jeremiah to be the true prophet of God that he is!
If you would be so kind, I would like to take just a moment and see just what the new covenant scriptures have to say about the kind of Kingdom over which our Lord would reign. I believe that when we resolve that matter, it will become clear as to the nature of His Kingdom, and thus remove any confusion one may have experienced.
In John 18:36, our Master had this to say when asked by Pilate in verse 33 if He was “the King of the Jews”:
“My kingdom is not of this (world). If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is (not of this realm)” (KJV- not from hence).
In Strong’s Concordance, for the word, “world“ (his # 2889), is from the Greek word, “kosmos,” which he defines it as, “the earth, in contrast with Heaven.”
Also, for the word “realm“ (KJV- not from hence), is from the Greek word, “enteuthen,” (his #1782), which he further says is from the Greek word, “enthade,” (his #1759) which he defines as, “here.”
Good folks, I just have to confess to you, that it seems to me that Jesus is clearly declaring that His kingdom is not from here, i.e. not of this earth. In other words, it is not of the earthly, or “physical“ realm, but rather it is of the ethereal, heavenly, or “spiritual” realm! Yes, His throne in not in the old “earthly“ Jerusalem, but in the “new“ Jerusalem; the “heavenly“ Jerusalem [See Hebrews 11:8-10, 16: Hebrews 12:22, 28; Galatians 4:21-26; Revelation 21:1-3].
Then there’s the account in Luke 12:32, where Jesus exhorts those Jews who believed in Him. He says,
·“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”
I think it should be noted here, that these are words Jesus spoke to believing Jews in the 1st century; that they would be given the kingdom. This would also be the elect remnant of Matthew 24:22, 31; Mark 13:20, 27; Luke 21:28; Romans 9: 22; Romams 11:5. In other words, these would be those Jews who accepted their Messiah. I ask you, was Jesus really being honest with these faithful Jews of the 1st century? Are we to think that their Master and His Father would make such a marvelous promise to them, and then allow the wicked, unbelieving Jews to cause Him to go back on His promise to them? May it never be! Oh why can’t we just simply take our Master at His word, and when He says something…believe it?
I would like now to consider something prophesied in Daniel. In Daniel 7:13-14 he says:
“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 (the Father-jg) and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom. That all the people, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His Kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”
I just don’t believe that there is anyone who would not agree that this prophecy describes our Master, who, upon His ascension into Heaven, appears before the Father, where He receives the Kingdom? Would anyone contend that this did not happen?
Now please consider this: We are all quite aware of the fact that Jesus, on many, many occasions spoke to the people in parables. His disciples asked Him why He spoke in parables. He said to them,
“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”
In Luke 19:11-27 we read one of those very important parables. When Jesus spoke this parable, it was on the occasion where He was about to enter Jerusalem, where His enemies, the unbelieving Jews (especially the rulers among the Jews; the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and chief priests) were all supposing that the kingdom of God was going to immediately appea
r. And so not only was this parable concerning His kingdom, but this brood of vipers were truly in the cross-hairs of this parable! Here’s what Jesus said of them beginning in verse 12,
·“A certain nobleman (Messiah Jesus-jg) went to a distant country (Heaven, to appear before the Father-jg) to receive a kingdom for Himself, and then return (His coming in 70 A.D.-jg). And He called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ But His citizens (unbelieving Jews-jg) hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ And it came about that when He returned, after receiving the kingdom, He ordered that these slaves, to whom He had given the money, be called to Him in order that He might know what business they had done. And the first appeared, saying ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Your mina, Master, has made five minas.’ And He said to him, also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ And another came saying, ‘Master, behold your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow,’ He said to him, ‘By your words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Then why did you not put the money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’ And he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ ‘I tell you, that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine (unbelieving Jews-jg), who did not want to me to reign over them (unbelieving Jews)-jg, bring them here and slay them in my presence (the judgment on Jerusalem, the temple, and Jewish nation in 70 A.D.-jg).’”
I believe it’s clear in this parable that it speaks of Jesus receiving His kingdom when He appeared before His Father in Heaven, just as Daniel had described. I believe it’s also very clear, that unlike the thinking on the part of many disciples, in this parable God does not put the kingdom on hold just because of the disbelief on the part of most of the Jews. Surely, we are not to think that the 1st century unbelieving Jews were so powerful as to thwart the very plans of our Father and His Son! I would ask you to please consider this also: If the Kingdom is not here because God “failed” in the 1st century, what is there to assure us that He wouldn’t fail in the future? Heaven forbid that we should even mention “God” and “failure” in the same breath! But no! God did not put the kingdom on hold. Jesus says very clearly in verse 15, “that He returned after receiving the Kingdom.” And just what did He do upon His return? The record states very clearly, “He judged and destroyed them, the city, the temple and their nation!” Folks, could this King’s return, judgment, and destruction of those who clamored, “We do not want this man to reign over us,” be any other than that of our Master when He judged Jerusalem and the Jewish nation in 70 A.D?
Please notice in this same chapter, in verses 41-44, what our Master says further concerning the city of Jerusalem, as He literally wept over it, and see just how well this comports with the parable we just read. Here Luke writes:
“And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
I would like to close this little piece with the words of Peter on the Day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. In Acts 2:25-33, Peter quotes a prophecy by David from Psalm 16:8-11, and then immediately tells his 1st century Jewish audience what that prophecy meant. The prophecy reads,
·“For David says of Him, ‘I was always beholding the Lord in My presence; for He is at My right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore My heart was glad and My tongue exulted; moreover My flesh also will abide in Hope; because Thou wilt not abandon My soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. Thou hast made known to Me the ways of life; Thou wilt make Me full of gladness with Thy presence.’ Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to Him with an oath, to seat one of His descendants upon his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore, having been exalted to the right hand of God and having received from the Father promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to My Lord, sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for they feet. Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ (anointed one)—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Surely, Peter is quite straight-forward in his assurance to these Jews, that it had been prophesied by David, that the Holy Sprit had promised him that one of His descendants would be raised up to “sit on His throne.” And Peter says that this promise was a, “looking ahead to the resurrection of Christ“; that it was then that He (Jesus) ascended to the right hand of the Father as both Lord and Christ. I really don’t see where scripture could be more specific and clear, do you? Yes, Folks, the scriptures are quite clear that Jesus, upon His resurrection and ascension, was brought before the Father, and given a Kingdom. Peter in his discourse on Pentecost proves, with the use of a Psalm of David, that Jesus was then at the right hand o
f the Father, on David’s throne. Of course, it’s entirely up to us as to whether we want to believe it or not. He allows us to freely make that choice!
Please let me say that I truly appreciate your kindness and patience in considering these things with me. And I hope that you will give them careful thought in light of scriptures. Then judge for yourself if they are consistent with our Father’s word. May the Lord richly bless you all with His grace and peace.
Yours in Him,