Kingdom of God

Will the Kingdom Be Postponed Again?

Will the Kingdom Be Postponed…Again? Don K. Preston D. Div Anyone familiar with dispensationalism knows that the one of the pillars of that theology is the claim that Jesus came to establish the kingdom and that he truly offered the kingdom to Israel. However, “The Kingdom is contingent on Israel’s acceptance of its King. Because even after his resurrection, that nation refused Him, it became impossible to establish the kingdom (Acts 3:18-26). In fact, the tribulation period did not come; if it had,, the promise of the soon coming of the Son of Man would have been a great comfort to the apostles.” (Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, End Times Controversy, (Eugene, Or. Harvest House, 2003)85). We could multiply this kind of quote many times over, but it is not necessary. The indisputable fact is that according to the dispensational view of eschatology, due to Jewish unbelief and rejection of the gospel of the kingdom, the kingdom was postponed. We need now to take note of a critical text. In Matthew 10:16-23 Jesus made a prediction that continues to confound interpreters who fail to consider the preterist paradigm: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” Here is something you need to know about this passage, from the dispensational perspective. Millennialists apply this passage to the seven year tribulation period, after the rapture has removed the church from the earth. (The rapture doctrine is a theological invention without merit, however. See my Leaving the Rapture Behind, and my We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings, books for a refutation. The books are available from this website). Ice and LaHaye claim that in Matthew 10 Jesus is, “not referring to Christians in the current Christian age” who preach the gospel and are persecuted. Instead, “the disciples are viewed in this chapter (Matthew 10,dkp) as representatives, not of us Christians now, but of future godly Jews.” Ice and LaHaye mean by “future godly Jews” that Matthew 10 is referring to the seven year tribulation period in which Jews who are believers in Christ begin to proclaim the nearness of the kingdom. (Would not the fact that they “godly Jews” i.e. believers in Christ not make them Christians, i.e. members of the body of Christ, the church??) This scenario raises a serious question: When the kingdom was announced as near by John the Baptizer, Jesus and his disciples, the Jewish rejection of that message supposedly made it “impossible” for Christ to establish the kingdom. Again, this is fundamental to dispensationalism. With that in mind, look again at the Jewish response to the proclamation of the nearness of the kingdom in Matthew 10: “But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” Is this the glad reception of the kingdom message? Is this the repentance necessary for the establishment of the kingdom? Is this not, in fact, a description of the very kind of obstinate, persecutorial unbelief that the dispensationalist say led to the postponement of the kingdom in the first century? It cannot be doubted that this is Jewish persecution of the preachers of the gospel. There can be no denial that this is the rejection of the kingdom. So, here is the question: If Jewish unbelief, failure to repent and persecution of Jesus’ disciples made it impossible for Jesus to establish the kingdom, when he came to establish that kingdom, what is there about the unbelief, failure to repent, and persecution of his disciples as described in Matthew 10 that will (supposedly) make it possible for him to establish the kingdom the second time around? The Jews did not accept the kingdom offer the first time. The Jews in Matthew 10 do not accept the kingdom offer. The Jews did not repent in the first century. The Jews in Matthew 10 do not repent. The Jews in the first century persecuted the disciples of Jesus (godly Jews–believers in Messiah!) . The Jews in Matthew 10 persecute the disciples of Jesus (godly Jews–believers in Messiah!) That Jewish unbelief, refusal to repent and persecution of the disciples forced God to alter His plans and postpone the kingdom, we are told. But again, since Matthew 10 describes the exact same scenario that the dispensationalists say led to the postponement of the kingdom the first time around, they must explain why that identical rebellious attitude will not force God to postpone the kingdom the second time. However, the fact of scripture is that God said He would not postpone His kingdom plans, and knew full well that His Son would be rejected all along. Consider the following: 1.) Psalms 2:4– In this great Messianic kingdom prophecy, YHVH foretold the rejection of His son. But, He said He would laugh at the efforts of man to thwart His plan to enthrone the king! This is important because it was man’s efforts to thwart God’s plan to enthrone His Son that is under consideration: “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us” (v. 3) Thus, God foreknew man’s rebellion and rejection of Jesus– He predicted it! God knew that man would reject the kingdom offer. Yet, He laughed at mans attempt to thwart the kingdom plan by crucifying Jesus. Now, given the fact that God predicted the rejection of His own Son, and man’s attempt to thwart His kingdom plan, notice “Yet have I set my king on my holy hill Zion.” Hang onto that “Yet” for it shows God’s will and determination to accomplish His purpose in spite of man’s unbelief. 2.) Psalms 89:34-37 – “My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” So, God would not alter His plans to enthrone Messiah on David’s throne. Is timing a part of the plan for that enthronement and kingdom? Daniel 9 certainly indicates that it was. If the timing is a vital part of the program, and if the timing is altered, then the kingdom plan was altered and God broke His word! No amount of semantics or sophistry can alter (pun intended) the facts. Christ said the time for the establishment of the kingdom had come. He said the kingdom was near. If then, the kingdom was supposed to be established in the first century, but wasn’t, then God did in fact alter His plans, and that means that Daniel 9– which gave the time for the establishment of the kingdom – failed! God would not, an
d could not alter the time for the establishment of the kingdom. He made a vow to that extent. Millennialism says God altered what He promised not to alter. 3.) Isaiah 42:5f – “He shall not fail nor be discouraged until He has established justice and judgment in the earth.” So, scripture affirms that Jesus came into this world to become king (John 18:35). He came to establish the kingdom. Yet, millennialism says he could not do what he came to do, at the time he came to do it. Again, no amount of verbal gymnastics can alter the facts: If (since) Jesus came with a mission, and since he did not do it per the millennialists, then the prophecy of Isaiah 42– which said that he would not fail – was a false prophecy, for he did fail to do what he came to do, at the time appointed for him to fulfill his mission. 4.) Luke 10:9-12– “Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you. But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Notice that Jesus describes the mission of the seventy as the mission to proclaim “the kingdom of God has drawn near.” (Now, we know that this mission belonged to the first century disciples because we know that they returned from that mission. See verse 16f). Yet, Jesus warned them that their message of the kingdom would not be accepted. When the message of the kingdom was rejected, the disciples were to say, “Nevertheless, the kingdom has drawn near.” Just as in Psalms 2 where God foretold the rejection of His Son, here Jesus foretold the rejection of the kingdom message. In spite of– and in full anticipation of that rejection – Jesus told his disciples to tell the unbelievers, “Nevertheless, the kingdom has drawn nigh!” Do you catch the power of that “nevertheless”? It says in spite of your unbelief and rebellion, God will keep His word. Your unbelief will not prevent fulfillment and will not alter fulfillment. Messiah and His Father will laugh at your rebellion! 5.) Romans 3:3– “What if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true, and every man a liar.” Does man’s unbelief thwart God’s plans? Does man’s rebellion alter God’s plans? Does man’s refusal to accept God’s offers mean that God’s purposes are defeated? Paul said “Certainly not!” So, if Paul asked the question about whether man’s unbelief could make God’s purposes fail, and if Paul says that man’s rebellion cannot cause God to falter, upon what basis does modern man claim that Jesus came to do the Father’s will, at the time the Father determined to send him, and yet, man’s unbelief supposedly made the faithfulness of God of none effect? His Son had to return to heaven to await another “just the right time”! The dispensational view, believed by many wonderful, loving people, is a doctrine that impugns God’s sovereignty. It says that Jesus failed, when Scripture says he would not fail. It says that God altered His plan, when God said He would not alter His plan. Finally, as initially suggested, the idea that Jewish unbelief made it impossible for God to establish the kingdom, actually – in light of the dispensational interpretation of Matthew 10 – demands that God will be forced, once again, to postpone the kingdom. Matthew 10 predicted the rejection of the kingdom, the kingdom messengers and the persecution of the messengers. Since those are the reasons for the first postponement, (we are told) millennialists have laid the groundwork for a second postponement. The doctrine of a postponed kingdom cannot be defended scripturally.

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