His Kingdom Will Be Like…
Do you remember your childhood? If it was like mine, it was a magical time. Summer breeze would swirl over the creek where we played. My brothers and I would run barefoot through the piney woods and climb tall oaks whose branches dipped generously low. We built fort after fort as if an empire was being born. Boyhood was addictive. I could have basked in its glorious intoxication for ages, but at some point I was required to grow into this gangly, ever uglifying mess of a man that I am. Who would want to be an adult after experiencing the wild freedom that comes with childhood?
Although the coming kingdom of God, will be filled with people of all ages, there is hardly a doubt in my mind that it will be marked by a liberation of the human spirit that even youth can’t rival. After all, when speaking about a group of children he said, “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The kingdom is for children. Although it’s inhabitants will live most of their years in bodies that have reached their prime, the exhilaration of the youthful heart will never depart from those to whom the kingdom belongs.
A huge part of understanding Jesus, it knowing what kind of kingdom he will have. So with that, let’s take a look at what Jesus and other prophets have said about the coming kingdom of God.
There will be two kinds of people in the Kingdom of God. There will be Earth-born Mortals and Resurrected Believers. Any believer currently alive, (that’s us) will be resurrected when Jesus returns. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) Resurrected Believers will have specialized bodies, like the one Jesus had after his resurrection. (Philippians 3:21) These bodies will be both physical, and spiritual, but not ghostly. They will be able to eat and drink, be incorruptible, sinless, and immortal. (Luke 24:39-44, 1 Corinthians 15:35-54) They will be capable of the incredible things that Jesus did post-resurrection like appearing, vanishing, and even flying. (John 20:19, Luke 24:31, Acts 1:9-11) It sounds like superhero stuff doesn’t it? Resurrected believers will not marry or be given in marriage, they can never die, and will be like angels in some ways. (Luke 20:34-36, Mark 12:25, Matthew 22:30) So that’s the resurrected believers, but what about the mortals?
The mortal inhabitants of the kingdom will be born and live out their lives on the Earth. Although there is not much information in the Bible, it’s believed that the mortal population of the Kingdom will come from the host of children who died before reaching the age of accountability before the kingdom began. (Matthew 19:14) So these children will finally get their chance. The mortal population will grow rapidly, increasing until their number rivals sand grains on the shores of the sea. (Genesis 22:17, Zechariah 10:8) Although they are technically mortal, they will be able to live many centuries, much like the first inhabitants of Earth as mentioned in Genesis. People born on Earth in the kingdom will live so long that a 100-year-old person will seem like a child. There will be plenty of work for them to do which will be a blissful experience. Although there will likely be all kinds of work to be done, farming and house building will be some of the work available to the Kingdom’s mortal citizens. (Isaiah 65:20-23)
Those who are resurrected with glorified bodies will no longer have to deal with moral imperfections. However, the mortal citizens of the kingdom will be humans in that they will be capable of sin. The mortals will be able to live through the whole millennium that the Kingdom exists, with one caveat. The King will not tolerate his citizens committing capital offenses. If a mortal citizen commits certain crimes, they will be subject to capital punishment, and as far as we can tell this is the only way that mortals can die in the kingdom. (Isaiah 65:20, Matthew 5:22) Since resurrected believers will be sin free, they will not be in danger of this judgment.
The kingdom’s courts will try cases that would not be considered criminal today. Jesus, in speaking about the judicial system of the future kingdom, explains that being angry with a brother will make someone subject to judgment, and calling someone a name like, “fool” will earn that mortal kingdom citizen the death penalty. (Matthew 5:22) The standard in the kingdom will be much higher for moral living, but the mortal citizens, it seems, will be much more capable of living up to that standard. This is likely due to the fact that Satan will be out of the picture during the kingdom, and that there will be swift justice to curb the desire to do evil. Since resurrected believers will be sin free, they will not be in danger of this judgment.
Jesus will rule and administer his government from Jerusalem, which will be the most important place on Earth. In fact, Jews will be international celebrities because of their knowledge and proximity to God and the King of Kings. When they travel, crowds will request an invitation to come with them to Jerusalem. People of all nations and languages will clamber and cling to Jews because they have heard that God is with them. Jesus, the High King, will not only rule but also teach from Jerusalem. His teaching will be broadcast throughout the world. He will settle international disputes, have weapons melted down to make farming tools, and stop all military training because there will be no more war. (Isaiah 2:2-4, Zechariah 8:23)
Jerusalem will be a place of bliss and even partying. There will not be weeping in the capital, and the Lord will find great joy in his people there. The capital will bustle with incredible happiness and exuberant activity. The hill of Zion, the original hill that king David built his city upon, will be the center of all political and worshipful activity. People of all nationalities will make plans to visit Jerusalem, the temple, and to learn from the great teacher, King Jesus. (Isaiah 65:17-19, Micah 4:2-3)
Near the beginning of the kingdom’s inauguration, there will be a very important event. Resurrected believers (that’s us) who were faithful in their mortal lives (that’s now) will be appointed and rewarded with government offices by the King. This will happen at a ceremony called the Judgement seat of Christ. The positions that believers are appointed to is also Jesus’ way of rewarding those who have been faithful. (2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, Matthew 16:27, Romans 14:12, Ephesians 6:8, Luke 19:11-27, Matthew 25:14-30, Hebrews 11:24-26, Revelation 22:12)
His government will continually be growing (Isaiah 9:6-9) and will be manned by those he entrusts with positions of power and leadership. (2 Timothy 2:12) What will those positions be like? Under High-King Jesus there will be subordinate kings of nations and under those kings Judges and counselors. (Isaiah 1:26) The Bible also mentions officers and magistrates, (Isaiah 60:17) regional rulers with various sizes of governorships, (Luke 19:17) shepherds, which seem to be a type of wisdom teacher, (Jeremiah 3:15) and priests. (Revelation 5:10) To be sure, there will be many more positions appointed by the King of King, but these are the ones mentioned in scripture. These positions of leadership will be focused on leading, guiding, and governing the mortal inhabitants of the kingdom. The higher the position a resurrected believer is appointed to, the closer he or she will be to the King of Kings, Jesus. So a king will be closer to Christ than a judge, and a judge will be closer to Christ than an officer. These positions and the corresponding rewards given to resurrected believers are Christ-centered, not self-centered. There are those who have said that it is selfish to be motivated by reward, but on the contrary, the Bible offers these Christ-centered rewards as motivation to live faithfully now. (Revelation 20:12, Matthew 6:19-20, Hebrews 11:26, 2 John 1:8)
There are a couple of examples of specifics mentioned by Jesus when he says that a ‘faithful’ and ‘good servant’ will rule over ten cities, and another moderately faithful servant will rule over five cities. There are also unfaithful servants who will not be assigned even a single city and will miss out on rewards and political office altogether. (1 Corinthians 3:15, Luke 19:17) Another example is King David who will be resurrected to be the governing ruler of Israel under King of Kings, Jesus. (Jeremiah 30:9) The 12 Apostles will be Judges under David. (Matthew 19:28)
This is why it’s so important for us to be faithful now. Believers who faithfully finish strong can look forward to amazing opportunity and responsibility in the kingdom. Believers who live out their current lives as lazy and unfaithful to Christ will be left out of this amazing opportunity to work with the high king in his government administration. Unfaithfulness doesn’t jeopardize a believers eternal salvation, but it does make kingdom rulership and reward very unlikely. (1 Corinthians 3:15)
There will be other nations apart from Israel that pay homage and tribute to Jesus in Jerusalem and are subject to him as High King. They will have peaceful diplomacy with Jerusalem, as the gates of the capital will never shut out the other nations of the world. Those countries will bring their tribute and worship to the High King in grand processionals. (Isaiah 60:12)
However, if any nation isn’t loyal to Jesus, and refuses to serve him as ruler, their nation will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12) How? Not by war, or by attrition, or economic sanctions, but by climate control on a massive scale. If a country or people group doesn’t send a delegation to worship the King and celebrate the holy days then their nation will be deprived of rain. (Zechariah 14:16-18)
Apart from the rare nation who refuses to the give their allegiance to the King of Kings, there will be peace and prosperity throughout the Kingdom. Places that can’t produce a single plant now, will spring up with edibles. The mountains will be so covered with vineyards that they will virtually drip with wine, and the valleys will be so full of pastures that no animal will go hungry. The Earth is going to blossom with such abundance that hunger will be a distant memory. Most conflicts in the modern world come down to limited resources, usually having to do with a lack arable land. However, things will grow so fast and plentiful in the kingdom that as soon as the harvest comes in, the fields will be ready for the plow and seed once more. As soon as the grapes have been picked and threshed for wine, the vineyard will bloom with another crop. Plant life will thrive and produce with incredible quantity and quality year round. (Isaiah 35:1-2, 30:23, Joel 2:22-27, 3:8, Ezekiel 34:26) The Bible tells us that even the deserts and wildernesses will become lush and productive land. (Isaiah 51:3, 35:1, 29:17)
The inanimate Earth is not the only thing that will undergo a massive transformation. Predator animals will no longer hunt, kill and eat prey but will be vegetarians. Animals will no longer pose any danger to people, nor will they be fearful either. In fact, toddlers and infants will be able to play with wolves, bears, lions, leopards and cobras without harm. (Isaiah 11:6-8, 65:25) Mankind will have dominion over the Earth in the way that he was supposed to originally. The kingdom will last for 1000 years.
Do you want to be there? Wouldn’t you like to live in that empire of peace and prosperity? The most important question that we could ask is, “How do I get into the Kingdom of God?”
Did you know that the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, is in a section that answers that exact question. Jesus opened the discussion in chapter three this way, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Needless to say, this was a bit mysterious to the person Jesus was talking to. So Jesus went on to explain what was required to enter the Kingdom by saying, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
This famous and often quoted verse is the key to kingdom entrance. Jesus, in explaining how to be born into this new eternal life, gives one condition. There is only one thing that a person must do to be allowed eternal citizenship in the Kingdom of God. What is that one condition? Believe in Him [Jesus]. If someone believes in Jesus for eternal life, then they will be resurrected and thereafter never die. (John 5:24, 11:25-27) Although many have claimed that works must accompany salvation to prove the believer is saved, Jesus said simply, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)
So, if you believe that Jesus can and will give you everlasting life, even before you could ask him, you have it. You have it because you believe in him for it. You can secure your citizenship in the Kingdom right now by believing in him for everlasting life. If you have believed in Jesus, then you have a promise from the King of that realm, that you have everlasting life. How long will that life last? Forever. There is no one powerful enough to take that everlasting life away because it was given to you by the King.
Now you have the opportunity to build up rewards in that kingdom by obedience to Christ. Jesus even commanded it when he said, “store up treasure in heaven.”