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Only the Kingdom Is Unshakable
This will be the final session today in this series which I have entitled “The Good News of the Kingdom.” In my last session I began to deal with the picture that the Bible paints of the transition of the present phase of the kingdom where it is an inner, spiritual kingdom, to the actual answer to the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth”; that is, the transition to the actual establishment of the kingdom of God on earth—which is what you pray for whether you know it or not every time you pray the Lord’s Prayer. If you don’t believe it’s going to happen you should stop praying the prayer because it makes you a hypocrite.
Yesterday I closed by pointing out that the entrance into the kingdom of God is always through a birth. There is no other way into the kingdom. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless you’re born again you can neither see nor enter the kingdom of God.” I think we’re familiar with that truth in regard to individuals but I pointed out yesterday that it’s clearly stated also in regard to Israel as a nation, to all nations, and even to the whole of creation. Paul says in Romans 8:
The whole creation groans in labor pains until now...
There is no way into the kingdom except through a birth. It’s not signing your name on a register or getting a membership card or making a decision, unless that decision produces a birth. Birth is always, I believe, a somewhat painful and messy process. God is not going to tidy it up or clean it up, He’s going to bring forth something.
Now, I want to go on with the process that I had begun which I illustrated by slides on a screen. You show a slide, make a few comments, click, another slide and so on. That’s how I’m going to present this truth, so that I can cover a great area of truth in a comparatively short period of time. But, it will mean that to receive the full impact of it you will have to go over the material for yourself and allow it to penetrate your understanding.
The next thing I want to say is that in the close of this present age good and evil will come to a simultaneous climax. Good will come to a climax but so will evil. This is illustrated and stated in many places in the Scripture, many, many places. We’ll look for a moment at the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. I trust that you are familiar in outline with the parable. You’ll remember that the man had sowed wheat in his field and then it was discovered there were tares and his servant said, “Where did the tares come from?” And answer was an enemy has done this. Then we read the rest of that parable in Matthew 13:28–30:
“He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servant said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up [the tares, the weeds, the unproductive plants]?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
So both are to grow together until the harvest. God is not going to uproot the tares until the harvest comes. Jesus says very clearly the harvest is the end of the age.
If you go now to the interpretation in the same chapter, beginning at verse 37:
He answered and said to them, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world [let’s always remember that, the field is the world], the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of man will send out His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness...”
Notice it’s the setting up of the kingdom.
“...and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Notice this is the setting up of the kingdom. And until the kingdom is actually established the wheat and the tares, the good and the evil, will ripen together.
I think it helps us a lot to see this. The same climatic conditions that ripen the wheat ripen the tares. And that is precisely what is happening all over the world. The wickedness of the human race is ripening with amazing rapidity. Being now 70 years old I can look back 50 years and I can say to myself had anybody described to me what Britain or American or the Western professing Christian world would be like 50 years ahead I couldn’t have believed it. It seems to me, as a matter of fact, that it’s almost as if the tares are ripening faster than the wheat. The flagrant, open wickedness of humanity today, the deliberate cultivation of satanic cults, the deliberate rejection of everything that’s in our inheritance in the Judeo-Christian ethic, that is what? The tares ripening.
And, they’re going to go on ripening until the age closes. But so is the wheat. Which are you? You better make your mind up. There’s only two options, wheat or tares. Wheat is know by the fruit it brings forth.
Let’s look at a few other pictures of this because this is so important. I find that some people seem to be talking and thinking as if we’re gradually going to take over the world for Christ. Brothers and sisters, there’s not a line of scripture that would give any support to that theory. There are many that openly contradict it. Isaiah 60:1–3. I don’t want to be negative, I believe we’re going to do tremendous things for God. I believe we’re going to impact the whole earth, but we’re not going to take over the whole earth. There’s only one person who is going to do that, His name is Jesus. All right. Isaiah 60:1–3:
Arise, shine, for your light is come...
This is spoken to Zion, to the people of God.
...the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples. The Lord shall rise over you and His glory will be seen upon you.
So you understand, darkness is getting darker, light is getting brighter. In the midst of this darkness God’s people will shine forth with His light and with His glory. And, will attract many for it says:
The Gentiles [or the nations] shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
And then we can look again in 2Timothy 3:1–5. I like the way they start:
But know this...
Don’t have any doubts about it. Accept it. It’s settled.
Know this, that in the last days...
And you can’t get any later than the last days, can you? I mean, that’s it.
In the last days perilous times will come; for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despises of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
You could read through that list and ask yourself at leisure how many of these character traits do we see in contemporary culture? There are eighteen moral and ethical blemishes listed there and it’s interesting how they begin and end. They begin with lover of self and love of money, and they end with love of pleasure. For my part, I couldn’t think of three features that better describe the culture that we’re familiar with around us today. Love of self, love of money, love of pleasure.
You see, I believe it’s a fact in the natural and in the spiritual that corruption is irreversible. Once corruption sets in, say in a fruit, you can arrest it, you can delay it, you can preserve it but you cannot reverse it. Ultimately it will take its course. I believe the same is true in the spiritual and in the moral. Corruption is irreversible. The key word that describes man’s unregenerate, fallen nature is corrupt. It’s the distinctive word. And the process of corruption cannot be reverses, it must take its course. Therefore, God never tries to reverse it. God’s solution is a new creation. The old things have passed away, all things have become new. But where there is no new creation, where men reject the new creation, then the process of corruption must continue and come to a climax. That’s the tares ripening to the full.
Now you could say to yourself as you think of that list, “Well, of course, that’s the ungodly people, the people of the world, the wicked people.” But you see, the next verse speaking about these people says:
They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
These are religious people. They have religion but they don’t have the power of God.
I was talking to Brother Bruce about ways of helping people and I said we develop techniques, we know what questions to ask, how to analyze people’s backgrounds and situations; but remember, a technique doesn’t do it. It takes supernatural power to do it. If you rely on a technique you’ll get all that a technique can do and no more. Lots of people have got all the language but they don’t have the power. Remember what we said about the kingdom of God, 1Corinthians 4:20?
The kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
That’s right. And then it says about such people:
From such people turn away.
I leave you to determine what that means.
The same chapter, verse 13, it says:
But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
You know the most deceptive people are those who are deceived themselves because they really believe their own deception. They say that a confirmed, pathological liar can pass any lie detector test, even when he’s lying, because he doesn’t know he’s lying. You understand? He really believes his lies. It’s an interesting word there, evil men and impostors. What do you have in the NIV for impostors? Does somebody have the NIV? You have impostors. What does the NASB have? Impostors. Well, it’s an interesting word because literally its original meaning is an enchanter. It’s an occult word. Really, it’s speaking about the practitioners of the occult. Wicked men and occult practitioners will get worse and worse. There is no improvement for them. Those who reject the grace of God and the new birth are inevitably doomed to get worse.
I think about a peach. You can look at it, it looks so beautiful. It’s got that lovely fur on its skin, but it’s got corruption in it. You know that. All fruit on earth is corrupt since man’s fall. Now, you can keep it on a shelf and it’ll rot very quickly. There’s one way you can delay corruption, what’s that? Put it in the refrigerator. To me that’s religion. Religion is the refrigerator, see? You can delay the manifestation of corruption but you can’t reverse the process. Only the new birth can bring an end to corruption and start a new kind of life.
And then in Revelation 22, right at the end of the Bible. Revelation 22:10–12, these are the words of Jesus, I believe.
And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book [Revelation], for the time is at hand.”
What time? The time of fulfillment.
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly. My reward is with me, to give everyone according to his works.”
This is immediately prior to the return of the Lord. He says, “I am coming quickly.” What’s the condition? Some are righteous, some are holy, some are unrighteous and some are wicked. The amazing thing is the Lord says let the righteous be still more righteous, let the holy be still more holy, but let the unrighteous be still more unrighteous and let the wicked be still more wicked. He doesn’t say everybody is going to become righteous. He says decide where you are. If you’re unrighteous and wicked, live it up because you don’t have long. That’s an amazing thing, it astonishes me that the Lord Himself would say, “He’s wicked, let him be still more wicked.”
I think in a sense the Lord is less opposed to the wicked than He is to the hypocrite. I had an experience years back as a soldier in the British army in the Sudan, traveling by train from Khartoum northwards. Because I was in the military I had a compartment to myself, no civilian was allowed in it. We stopped at a railway junction on the way up, I think it was called Achbarra. If you’ve never been in the Third World you can’t picture this, but the whole platform was full of living creatures: men, women, boys, girls, nursing infants, old men, camels, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens. There was just one mass of living creatures. I looked out and I said to myself casually, “I wonder what God thinks about all these people?” I didn’t expect an answer but I got an immediate answer. “Some weak, some foolish, some proud, some wicked, and some exceeding precious.” I can never improve on that classification. If you consider the reasons why people don’t turn to the Lord, there they are, weak, foolish, proud, wicked. But in the midst of all that some exceeding precious, ordained to everlasting life.
A little after that journey when I got to where I was going to on the shores of the Red Sea I had the privilege of leading a Moslem Sudani to the Lord. No missionaries were allowed in that area, it was so totally Moslem. But you see, a humble corporal in the Royal Army Medical Corps they didn’t bother about. I can’t go into that story, his name was Ali. But when he got saved the whole hospital where I worked knew about it. People would stop me and say, “What happened to your friend Ali?” I would say, “He got saved.” They’d say, “What’s that?” And I would say, “Let me tell you.” The medical officer in charge of the whole hospital sent for me and said, “What happened to your friend Ali?” I said, “He got saved.” And he asked me what that was, I told him. I regret to say I don’t think he accepted what I said.
But you see, we’ve got to make allowance for the fact that the wicked are wicked. God is so realistic. You understand? Sometimes we’re sentimental. Where was it recently that I was hearing somebody say—in the intercessors conference in Belfast—the Lord said, “Most of my people are much too sentimental.” I thought that’s the truth. We don’t face real facts about people.
All right. That was the statement that good and evil will come to a simultaneous climax.
The next one is that the birth pangs are to be intense and world wide. I’d like to borrow an NIV from somebody to read this. Does somebody close at hand got an NIV? Yes, thank you. Thank you very much. We’re going to read part of Isaiah 24. I’ve chosen to read the NIV because I think it’s so vivid. This entire prophecy of this chapter deals with the turmoil, the confusion, the upheaval and the destruction that will take place all over the earth immediately prior to the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom on earth. We can’t read it all but I’ll read the first six verses.
See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; He will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants. It will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor.
In other words, there’ll be no section of humanity exempted from this.
The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The Lord has spoken this word. The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant.
You need to sit and meditate on that statement. That’s spiritual pollution. We’re very busy with material pollution, this is spiritual pollution. People have gone against every righteous ordinance and requirement of God.
The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse consumes the earth; it’s people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.
We’ll go on now to verse 17 and we’ll read from verse 17 through to the end.
Terror and pit and snare await you, O people of the earth. Whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into a pit; whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare. The floodgates of the heavens are open, the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; [What language!] so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again.
See the key word there? Rebellion, that’s right. That’s the essential problem.
In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above [that’s Satan’s kingdom in the heavenlies that we spoke about briefly] and the kings on the earth below [that are in confederation with Satan’s kingdom]. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days.
Now we come to the climax and you cannot disassociate this climax from what is gone immediately before it. The climax is the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom.
The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders gloriously.
What’s that? That’s the setting up of the Lord’s kingdom. And the light and the glory will be so tremendous that the moon and the sun will feel ashamed. Do you understand? We’ve seen another prophecy to that effect. But you see, what immediately precedes the setting up of the Lord’s kingdom? It is not increasing peace or greater order, or progressive civilization; it’s turmoil, chaos and a tremendous judgmental visitation of God on the earth. Let’s never forget the Lord is not only a Savior, He is a Judge. A just God and a Savior. One or the other. Those that reject His salvation must receive His judgment.
All right. I call that the birth pangs of earth, that chapter that we read. The next statement I want to make, this is a click now on a new—the climax will be very sudden. Luke 17. I’d just like to ask you a question. That passage that I read, you must decide this, do you think there’s any way to make that metaphorical? I mean, I could not stand on my head and make that metaphorical. Just my simple knowledge of the English language and my sensitivity to language leaves no alternative but it says exactly what’s going to really happen. Literally happen, if you want that word, which I object to. Luke 17, beginning at verse 24, these are the words of Jesus:
For as the lightning, that flashes out of one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so also the Son of man will be in His day.
Do you get any warning when lightning flashes? No. The warning comes afterwards, doesn’t it? This is the thunder. But Jesus says when the Son of man appears He’s going to come like a lightning flash.
But first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
What is the Lord saying? That everybody was going about business as usual, doing everything they normally did, without anticipating any sudden change. But when it came it was sudden, unexpected and total. Both passages emphasize God’s judgment destroyed them all.
You know, Paul says, “Behold therefore the goodness and the severity of God.” Those are like the two sides of a coin. If you efface one side of a coin it’s worthless. To speak only to people about the goodness of God and never speak about His severity is dishonest. It’s deceiving people. I’m afraid there are millions and millions of churchgoers that are being deceived. They’ve never been acquainted with the real facts. Turn to 1Thessalonians 5, in the same theme. The previous chapter, chapter 4, ends with the statement:
The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel...
Remember, the chapter break is put in by the translators. We read straight on:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night; for when they say [the people of the world], “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant women, and they shall not escape.
What are the two things that the world’s most concerned with today? I would say peace and safety. Paul says just the time they think they’ve got it made this will hit them.
And you see again the picture of labor pains there, part of the birth process.
The next thing I want to say is that the kingdom of God will be imposed upon this earth by force. Daniel 2. If you don’t know Daniel it’s going to take too long to explain this, but this is the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in which he saw this great image: the head of gold, shoulders and arms and chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of mixed iron and clay. What does that say for our theory of evolution? That everything’s getting better. Notice, it started at the head and worked down to the feet. It was not going upwards, it was going downwards. It started with the most precious metal, gold, and every succeeding metal was less precious. It comes to a most difficult to conceive mixture of iron and porcelain in the feet. That’s God’s comment on the theory of evolution, understand—which I never could believe. Even when I was a philosopher and completely detached from religion, there were so many inconsistencies in that theory I never could accept them. Thank God. That was one of God’s mercies to me. Even in my sin I retained a little sense.
Daniel 2, this is the interpretation of the dream. In the dream a stone cut without hands fell upon the image, smashed it to pieces. The stone became a mountain that filled the earth. That doesn’t sound like a gentle takeover, does it? It smashes everything to pieces, grinds it into dust and scatters it irretrievably. This is the interpretation, verse 44:
In the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people. It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
If you can interpret that as a gradual, peaceful process of the earth being taken over by the church, brothers, you might as well stand on your head.
Revelation 19:11, we will not have time to read this, this is a rather lengthy passage. We’ll just glance at it. Revelation 19:
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
Who was the one on the white horse? Jesus. You notice what He does? He judges and makes war.
His eyes were like a flame of fire...
The armies in heaven clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
That doesn’t sound like peace to me.
He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Then we look a little further on, verse 19:
I saw the beast [the antichrist]. The kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
Can you understand that there’ll be a time when the leaders of the human race will deliberately make war with Almighty God, knowing who He is? Can you conceive of that? That’s the essence of rebellion. That’s the power at work.
Then the beast [the antichrist] was captured, with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
That sounds to me like all out war. That’s what I believe it will be.
Now, the kingdom is to be established by judgment. Isaiah 9:7, we looked at that, that was our first scripture. We’ll look back for a moment. Isaiah 9:7, the promise of the Messiah:
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom to order and establish it with judgment and justice.
Notice it is to be established with judgment. There are many pictures in the Bible of the judgment process that will preceded the setting up of the kingdom. We’ll look only at two. One in Joel 3:1–2:
For behold, in those days and at that time when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem...
Notice it’s the time of the regathering of the Jewish people in their own land.
...I will also gather all nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshophat...
Jehoshophat means the Lord judges.
...and I [God is speaking] will enter into judgment with them there on account of my people, my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, they have divided up my land.
Notice two things: God is going to enter into judgment with the nations. What’s He’s going to judge them about? What’s He going to deal with them about? The way they have treated Israel and their land. You notice it says “divided up my land”? What’s the modern political word for dividing up the land that we use so continually? Partition, that’s right. God is opposed to partition. Alas, but the people mainly responsible are the British. Winston Churchill did that in 1922. He took the entire land of Palestine and with one stroke of his pen he cut off 76% and made it an Arab state east of the Jordan in which Jews are not permitted to live. The remaining area about which there’s so much conflict today is only 24% of the total area that was set apart to be formed into a Jewish national home. See how very up to date this is?
You say that’s the Old Testament, Brother Prince. Yes, it is but let’s look at the New, the words of Jesus. Matthew 25. You can understand that I feel rather intensely about these things. It seems to me there’s almost a deliberate desire to be ignorant on the part of God’s people, they don’t want to face the facts. Matthew 25:31 and following. This is the last public discourse of Jesus. This is His final discourse, and it’s not a parable. A lot of people talk about it as a parable, it isn’t, it’s a prophecy. It says:
When the Son of man comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats.
That’s the same scene, all the nations will be gathered before Him and He will divide them into two categories. The sheep on His right hands, accepted; the goats on His left hand, rejected.
He will set the sheep on His right hand but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand [the sheep nations], “Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Notice what the issue is? Which nations will be admitted to the kingdom and which nations will be excluded from the kingdom. What is the basis of their treatment? You’re familiar, I’m sure, with this discourse. What is the basis for which they were either accepted or rejected? The way they had treated who? The brothers of Jesus, that’s right. You see, it’s exactly in line with Joel 3:1–2.
Brothers and sisters, if we’re going to make disciples of the nations, one thing we need to tell them is the basis on which they will be judged. Surely they need to know that. It’s very, very clear, there’s no ambiguity about it at all.
In resisting God’s purposes for Israel they’re resisting God. And He’s almighty. If you want to know more about that, I can recommend my book, The Last Word on the Middle East. At least it contains the information.
Now, you may be getting a little nervous at this point. Well, Brother Prince is painting a terrible picture of what’s coming on the earth. I believe it is a terrible picture. But, for those who are in Christ and in His kingdom there is no terror.
Let’s turn now to Hebrews 12:25 and following:
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks, for if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth [that’s when He spoke from Mt. Sinai through Moses], much more shall we not escape [we Christians] if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth. [There was an earthquake.] But now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth but also heaven.”
That’s a startling statement, isn’t it? This earthquake that was pictured in Isaiah 24 is not merely going to shake the earth, it’s going to shake the heavens. You remember Jesus said in Matthew 24 the powers of heavens shall be shaken? There’s a tremendous consistency in the Bible’s picture of this period.
Now this phrase, yet once more, indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken as of things that are made that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. What is the thing that cannot be shaken? The kingdom of God.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace [or let us give thanks] by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fears, for our God is a consuming fire.
There is nothing to worry about if you are truly established in the kingdom of God. Everything around you will be shaken. The earth will be shaken, the sky will be shaken, but the kingdom of God is unshakable. Does that console you? You better be sure you’re right in it. You better know where you are. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. All the Old Testament prophecies really are summed up in that one statement. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Some of you look gloomy. I don’t feel the least bit gloomy about it. I know where my roots are. I know, as Paul said, in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. Do you know the key word there? Commitment. Are you committed? That’s the issue. The kingdom is for the committed.
All right. Now I’d like to give you just a few quick glimpses of the kingdom when it’s established. We’ll turn, first of all, to Zechariah 14. You’ll see this chapter opens with a description of an assault by all nations on the city of Jerusalem. I point out in my book, The Last Word, that with the present political situation, that could happen within a few weeks from any given starting point. I’m not saying it will but the situation is such that it could. Basically, all the ingredients are there. However, we’ll go on in verse 5 that says:
The Lord will come with all His holy ones...
That’s the personal return of Jesus. Where’s He coming to? Come on now, the Mount of Olives, that’s right. Where did He go from? The Mount of Olives. The angel said, “This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as you’ve seen Him go.” He went in clouds, He went from the Mount of Olives; He’s coming in clouds, He’s coming to the Mount of Olives and it’s going to create an earthquake.
It was my privilege for the last year of my military service to live in that exact spot that’s described there, on the Mount of Olives. I’ll tell you, the description is so vivid, so exact, you could not refer it to any other place on earth. There is no way you could make this metaphorical. It’s either true or it’s false but in between there is nothing. I believe it’s true.
Now let’s look at what happens when the kingdom is established. I’m going to ask for the NIV again, please. Thank you, find Zechariah 14:8–9 for me, please. Would you do that?
And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea [the Dead Sea], and half of them toward western sea [that’s the Mediterranean]; in both summer and winter it shall occur.
The interesting thing is that up to this time Jerusalem has never had its own water supply. It has always been dependent either on rain caught on the roofs and stored in tanks or on water piped into the city. Are we there? Can I get the next verse? The thing is this says it so well I didn’t want to mess it up. Zechariah 14:9. I’ll read 8 in this version and then 9:
On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea [that is the Dead Sea], half to the western sea [the Mediterranean]; in summer and in winter.
That’s a kind of miracle in Israel, you don’t realize what that means until you know that from basically April to October there’s no rain at all in that country. This is the punch line:
The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord and His name the only one.
I love that. The Lord will be king over the all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord and His name the only one. Thank you, I appreciate the loan.
All right. Let’s look at just a few other Scriptures. Isaiah 2:2–4, which is repeated in Micah 4 but we’ll look in Isaiah. Isaiah 2:2–4:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days [notice this is pinpointed] that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow to it.
In Hebrew the “hire hab-eye-it” [phonetic], the mountain of the house, is a very familiar phrase. It means the mountain on which the temple stands. At the present time it is lower than the Mount of Olives to the east, lower than Nebe Samaweel[phonetic] to the northwest. There are other higher mountains around. But I understand that in the upheaval that takes place when the Lord comes, this mountain will be lifted up above the surrounding mountains because it’s the mountain on which the house of the Lord will stand. Do you understand?
All nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He, the Lord, shall judge between the nations...”
Notice another prophecy of His judgment of the nations?
...shall rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Jerusalem with the temple will be the center of all nations: their center for worship, their center for justice and administration, and that will establish peace. Nothing else will do it.
And then I’d like to turn to Psalm 72 which is one of the most beautiful psalms, which is a picture of the King and His kingdom when it’s established. We’ll read maybe the first fourteen verses. I want you to notice three or four things that go together in this picture: righteousness, peace and justice for the oppressed. The continuing emphasis of this psalm is that at last the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden will find some ruler who really cares for them. I don’t believe that’s going to happen until Jesus comes. At the present moment they say the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
Give the king your judgments, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s son.
He will judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills by righteousness.
He will bring justice to the poor of the people, He will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor.
I don’t think we realize what a passionate concern God has for social justice.
They shall fear you as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; like showers that water the earth.
In his days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace until the moon is no more.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river [the Euphrates] to the ends of the earth.
Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before him; and his enemies will lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Sebar will offer gifts.
Yes, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him.
For he will deliver the needy when he cries; the poor also, and him who has no helper.
He will spare the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy.
He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
Now, we have seen already that the administrators of this kingdom will be the people who’ve been trained in kingdom principles in this present phase. You remember, we saw a number of Scriptures about that. Together with them will be the saved remnant of Israel. Let’s look at that in one scripture, Isaiah 61:4–6:
And they [the returned Israelites] shall rebuild the old ruins. They shall raise up the former desolations. They shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.
That’s being fulfilled today. There are at least ten biblical ruin sites that have been rebuilt in the last twenty years by Jerusalem. One of the largest is right outside our back window, it’s called Giloh, just west of Bethlehem, which was the city of Ahitophel, if you can remember who Ahitophel was. I just mention that because this is very, very current.
Going back to what I was reading, verse 5:
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowman and your vinedressers.
That’s addressed to Israel. You won’t any longer be engaged in cultivating the soil. What will you be doing?
But you shall be named the priests of the Lord. Men shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles and in their glory you shall boast.
You remember I pointed out to you God’s original purpose for Israel was that they should be what? A kingdom of priests. All right. Here it is to be fulfilled. Do you understand? Maybe it’s taken about 3500 years or more but God has never given up on that original plan. He never does. When He says it’s going to happen it will happen. Time is of very little consequence to God. A thousand years in His sight are as one day, that’s right. Or, as a watch in the night. You know, a watch in the night is only three hours. So that means a day with him is eight thousand years! That’s a little mathematics. If you don’t follow that just try it out on your computer. I don’t have a computer.
All right. Now, what is our response to this? I would like to read just one passage in Isaiah 40:3. You know, we sing a beautiful song, “I see a king standing on the mountain, and he says, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord.’” How many of us are really doing that? It’s so easy to sing it, it sounds pretty. But what about doing it? Isaiah 40:3:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’”
I would say as far as Ruth and I are concerned, that’s our passionate commitment, is to prepare the way of the Lord. We believe He’s coming soon. How soon we don’t know. We are eagerly anticipating His return. We are seeking to prepare His way. Two specific things that we are trying to do, number one, proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to all nations because the end cannot come until that has been done, and number two, prepare the hearts of God’s people Israel that they may be ready to welcome their Messiah, for He told them when He left them, “You will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.’”