Problem of the Kingdom of God

A Systems Analysis Solution

Harold R. Booher, Ph.D.

Copyright 2013 - Harold R. Booher

Chapter 7: Process, Order, and Characteristics of the Kingdom

Review of the Kingdom Problem

We started this book by postulating a question that is extremely important to Christians, but for which Christianity does not seem to have a very good answer. The vast literature on the Kingdom of God seems to agree that the Kingdom is central to the Bible, to the Church and to the Christian’s future.  Yet to this day it is next to impossible to gather any consensus from the literature on what the Kingdom is, where it will be, and when it will appear.  We decided that if this question were to be answered in any systematic way we must assume the Bible contains the answer. God certainly has the ability to communicate with people, and if He is to do so, His message must be in comprehensible human language. The Bible canon contains the only information that has convinced prophets, scholars, and lay people alike over the ages that its author is God.  There are aspects of the Bible that anyone of average intelligence can comprehend and there are aspects that have stumped the greatest minds throughout history. The fact, therefore that God keeps secrets must be accepted as part of His choice of when and to whom He will speak clearly. When Jesus entered the world the first time, many expected the messiah, but few, if any understood the suffering servant concept, although both roles of Christ were prophecies in the Old Testament.  Now the suffering servant prophecies of the Old Testament are clear and fall into the category of things most people can comprehend.

It was as a secret of God that Jesus placed the kingdom of God when he told the disciples why he spoke in parables. It was so that the secrets of the kingdom could be known by them but hidden from the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 13:10-11). So, on the one hand, as any number of scholars point out, the kingdom of God is the theme of the Bible. But on the other hand, God maintains secrets of the kingdom that he reveals to those He chooses. Perhaps as with the suffering servant, there is information in the Bible that could reveal some of the secrets of the kingdom should the reader be open “as the little child” and God choose to let the information speak to him. While we do not have all the information Jesus imparted to the disciples on the kingdom, we do have far more than was presented to the scribes and Pharisees.  For an area as important as the kingdom of God it would appear there should be clues in the Bible as to what the kingdom of God really is and once recognized should be comprehensible to nearly all readers. It is with that background we were able to humbly and systematically approach the question of the kingdom of God.

The vast literature on the kingdom of God provided the scope of the analysis, giving seven candidates frequently offered as views for describing the kingdom. We found that three of these views (heaven, Christ the person, and the organized church) were unreasonable considering the fact they could be eliminated with a simple matrix analysis using the most fundamental Bible facts about the kingdom.  The four remaining views (spiritual, millennial, pre-advent, and dual kingdoms) were stronger candidates so were subjected to a two-step rigorous scriptural and logical analysis. The first analysis step examined all 135 verses in the New Testament that include the term “kingdom of God.”  It evaluated when (near, now, or future) the kingdom was expected to appear and upon its appearing, whether it would be in a spiritual or earthly form. This examination in combination with certain logical questions that could not be answered in favor of the “spiritual within you” kingdom eliminated that view from further consideration.  The second analysis step turned to prophecy to evaluate which of three remaining views (each having an earthly kingdom form in the future) would reconcile eighteen key prophecies bearing on the issue. The prophecy analysis showed that a millennium kingdom by itself could explain only about sixty percent of the prophecies whereas a pre-advent view of the kingdom on earth prior to the millennium would reconcile all eighteen.  One of the earthly kingdom views required dual forms of the kingdom (both spiritual now and a millennial future). However rather than combining the best of two views, the dual forms view merely confounds the kingdom issue by building upon two erroneous concepts. Thus although popular among dispensationalists, it too was eliminated.1 This left the pre-advent kingdom view as the best interpretation of problem prophecy and allowed it in combination with a post-advent millennium to account for all the major kingdom prophecies.  We hypothesize therefore that a pre-advent period or era is required to reconcile scripture, starting sometime in the future and culminating shortly before the second advent of Christ.  

Our systems analysis will now complete the definition of the kingdom by outlining its process, determining the order of kingdom stages, and describing the specific and unique characteristics of the pre-advent kingdom.

The Kingdom Process

Jesus used parables to reveal essential features of the kingdom to the disciples. In the last chapter we noted how frequently Jesus used parables of things growing to show the kingdom as a process that starts small and grows to maturity.  Perhaps the most important parable in the Bible is the one by Mark on the growing seed, partly because it appears in Mark, the earliest gospel;2 partly because it appears only in Mark, and given Mark’s short synopsis of the events of Jesus, anything that appears only in Mark, warrants special attention; but most importantly because of its content. Mark 4:26-29 outlines the kingdom process in stages. Once we identify the stages, many features of kingdom detail can be better understood by the stages to which they apply.

Mark 4:26-29 Parable of the stages of the kingdom   The parable reads as follows:
And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground; and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.  But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.(NKJV)

Otis Sellers does an excellent job of interpreting this parable as showing the stages of the pre-advent kingdom.3 Mark’s parable is clearly one of those clues that appears to have been totally overlooked by the modern scholar. Sellers comments, “While it is a parable of superlative importance, it is one of the most neglected, misrepresented, and misinterpreted of all the thirty parables of the New Testament.”4  

A proper title for this parable has eluded most translators. This is because there appears no dominant or central figure in it. Neither the sower, the seed, the ground, the sickle, or the harvest stick out as the main topic.  The kingdom of God is the subject and is being likened to a process of growing which has five stages. That is why we title it “the stages of the kingdom,” rather than something like “the seed growing by itself.” Often this parable is totally lost upon the interpreter simply because she substitutes a wrong subject for the kingdom. It is not the gospel, the church, the Word, or the believer. Pentecost makes a common error by likening the subject of this parable to the Word.

[regarding] the internal characteristics of the kingdom, in [Mark’s parable] … Christ called attention to the way physical seed germinates and grows because of the essential life in the seed.  Similarly, said Jesus, when the new form of the kingdom is introduced by the sowing of the seed of God’s Word, that kingdom will develop by the power in the seed that was sown. In the unfolding kingdom program, the development of the kingdom will not depend on human agency but on the power of the Word as it is proclaimed.5

Although the Word of God is important, this parable is not about the Word, it is about the kingdom – God’s government. We see that a careful analysis of this parable provides far more information when we make it center upon the correct subject.

The opening words of the parable: “as if a man should scatter seed onto the ground,” is simply to set the stage for the kingdom growing in stages.  Someone needs to cast the seed to make the parable work, but it is not important who the sower is at this point. “And should sleep, and rise night and day,” is idiomatic, meaning the sower went about his ordinary affairs, doing nothing more about the seed that was sown.  “And the seed should sprout and grow up, he knows not how,” is still introductory.  The introduction does not fit with Jesus and the gospel, but it does lead to the real topic of the parable.

For the earth yields crops by itself.  This tells us that the kingdom of God is the supernatural work of God and not the product of human actions. The introductory portion makes more sense now that we see the seed of divine government was planted when God predicted it in the Old Testament with such verses as “Thou shall judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations upon earth” (Psa. 67:4).  Sellers points out, “Just as the earth automatically brings forth fruit because of the seed that is placed in it, so will divine government appear and develop because of what God has already done.”6 In fact the analogy is already provided by Isaiah  “For as the earth brings forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are in it to spring forth; so the LORD GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations” (Isa. 61:11).

Stage 1.  First the blade. The blade stage of the kingdom began when God raised Jesus from among the dead. One might notice the similarity in appearance of a blade coming out of the earth and the “tongues like fire” upon the heads of the disciples when the Holy Ghost appeared in the upper room.  The blade stage showed that even though people had done their worst by crucifying His son, God had started a reversal from the rule of man toward the kingdom of God.

Stage 2: Then the head. Grains quickly pass from the blade stage (where they look alike) to the ear stage, where the various grains have distinct characteristics. So it was in the Acts period when the prophesized characteristics began to be visible.7 Peter in his sermon at the beginning of Acts says “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts:2:16). Devote Jews from every nation could understand the apostles speaking “in tongues,” meaning that everyone heard them speak in his own language (Acts 2:6). The long promised kingdom of God was a reality upon the earth, but only in part as declared later by Paul in I Cor. 13:9.  “For now we know in part, and prophesy in part.”  This stage, a foretaste of the kingdom ended at Acts 28:28.

Stage 3. After that the full grain in the head.  Sellers notes that this is the stage when the farmer will have every grain of wheat or corn he is going to get.  Each grain must develop before the process is complete, but there will be no new grains after this stage.  When the pre-advent kingdom resumes, God will break His silence and assume sovereignty in such a way that all people on earth at the time will be fully aware that God is the new ruler.  “This will be the manifest kingdom of God.  When it comes it will be complete and universal.”8

Stage 4: But when the grain ripens  The process continues through the growing season which may be several months while the grain ripens.  This period can be influenced primarily by nature, but the farmer can aid with water and clearing out weeds. In the case of God’s government this period has the perfect farmer in charge making sure that the grain has every opportunity to reach maturity.  The ripened grain is the results of God long period (500 years?) of government and represents the mature sons of God who have learned well His lessons. They are the referred to as the righteous who shine forth in the kingdom of their Father in Matthew’s parable of the tares (13:43).

Stage 5: Immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.  This is the final stage of the kingdom covered by Mark’s parable.  The harvest consists of those who have matured in the pre-advent kingdom and are fully ready to become subjects of the kingdom when Christ assumes rule on earth for 1000 years.  This is the harvest anticipated by Paul in I Thess. 2:19 and Jesus in Matt. 13:43.  This is also the time when those tares that slipped into the wheat field are separated out, as at that time they will be clearly distinguishable from the wheat.

Many of the other parables are helpful for understanding the kingdom of God. Especially important are the parables that Jesus told the disciples were for them to understand the “secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11).  The parable of the tares is discussed in Chapter 6 and the others are analyzed in Appendix C.  Also once we appreciate that most of scripture is referring to the pre-advent dispensation, a number of titles other than kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven), can be recognized as applying to the pre-advent kingdom.  The various “days” calling out unique periods of time, for example, distinguish the pre-advent kingdom (the “day of Christ”) from “man’s day,” the “day of the Lord,” and the “day of God.” Accordingly, the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6, 2:16) and ten other kingdom titles are also covered in Appendix C.

The Kingdom Order and Boundaries.

Five Historical Periods

Figure 7.1 outlines five historical periods related to the kingdom of God. This illustrates both the order of the kingdom stages prior to the millennium and the boundaries signaling the start and stop of these unique periods in God’s kingdom plan.  The Old Testament reflects the first period where it promises that the kingdom of God will appear on earth and highlights the central role the nation Israel will play when it becomes a reality. 


Figure 7.1 Stages of the Kingdom of God

The second period comprises the thirty-three years when Christ was on earth. The last Figure 7.1. The Stages of the Kingdom of God
three years of this period are most relevant as he heralded the “kingdom at hand.”  Christ’s message during this period was directed almost solely toward Israelites.9

The third period is the blade and ear stages of Mark’s parable (4:26-29) and is in fact the start of the kingdom on earth.  The kingdom started in the Acts period, but as Jesus indicated with the leaven and the mustard seed parables, it started very small. The start of the kingdom was in Palestine in the vicinity of the apostles around Jerusalem. It spread as far as the first Christians could walk, and when it was interrupted at the end of the Acts period some thirty-three years later, the only visible benefits of the kingdom (as far as power over health and the environment and receiving special gifts from God) were experienced entirely by Israelites.

The fourth historical period is unique from the other four, in that it is silent about the kingdom, both in word and action.  This is the current period, the period of grace and faith, when the process of the kingdom of God has been interrupted. Paul’s epistles written during this period are especially helpful for understanding the differences between the third and fourth periods.  Of major importance is that whatever benefits

Figure 7.1. The Stages of the Kingdom of God

The second period comprises the thirty-three years when Christ was on earth. The last three years of this period are most relevant as he heralded the “kingdom at hand.”  Christ’s message during this period was directed almost solely toward Israelites.9

The third period is the blade and ear stages of Mark’s parable (4:26-29) and is in fact the start of the kingdom on earth.  The kingdom started in the Acts period, but as Jesus indicated with the leaven and the mustard seed parables, it started very small. The start of the kingdom was in Palestine in the vicinity of the apostles around Jerusalem. It spread as far as the first Christians could walk, and when it was interrupted at the end of the Acts period some thirty-three years later, the only visible benefits of the kingdom (as far as power over health and the environment and receiving special gifts from God) were experienced entirely by Israelites.

The fourth historical period is unique from the other four, in that it is silent about the kingdom, both in word and action.  This is the current period, the period of grace and faith, when the process of the kingdom of God has been interrupted. Paul’s epistles written during this period are especially helpful for understanding the differences between the third and fourth periods.  Of major importance is that whatever benefits accrue during this period of grace they are the same for both Jews and all other people.

The fifth historical period of particular interest as the dispensation of grace draws to an end is the manifest kingdom of God.  It is this period all peoples of the earth await as God’s next great revelation.  Each of the periods is separated from the next by a boundary event. There are five boundary events that are significant to God’s kingdom plan


Boundary 1- The birth of Christ. The critical event separating the Old Testament Period from the next great historical period is the birth of Christ.  The kingdom that was promised in the Old Testament starts to be displayed and heralded immediately upon the day of Jesus’ birth. The angel of God said to the shepherds “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). When we recall that Christ in Greek is the same word as Messiah in Hebrew, it is clear that it is the kingdom of the Old Testament that is being heralded in the Gospels. During his ministry on earth Jesus’ miracles of healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils, and feeding the hungry were not only credentials of the Messiah, but provide us with a historical record of what people might expect to experience under the kingdom of God.

Boundary 2 - The resurrection and ascension of Christ.  Heaven’s government began immediately with the resurrection of Jesus. This is attested to by Matthew who reports “many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many (27:52-53). Throughout the Acts period the kingdom was in progress. With the ascension of Christ into Heaven, the divinely out-called (ekklesia) and commissioned (apostello) apostles began to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God. Their power came directly from God and as such they were able to produce signs and miracles to confirm their spoken message.  They were inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit to take this good news throughout Jerusalem and lands where Israelites were scattered (Acts 1:8). For the first eight years after Pentecost the gospel was to the Jew only.10 From then on others could hear the gospel, but it was always to the Jew first and only from Paul (Acts 13:46; Rom 1:16; Acts 17:1,2).11 Paul warns the non-Jewish believers that they are secondary grafts of the “olive tree” and depend on the natural root of Israel (Rom. 11:18).

Boundary 3 – Acts 28-28 – Paul’s salvation announcement to all nations.  Sellers hypothesized that the kingdom process was punctuated by the dispensation of grace that started after completion of the blade and ear stages of Mark 4:26-29.  It was his conviction that the boundary between the kingdom ear stage and the beginning of the current dispensation of grace occurred with Paul’s announcement at Acts 28:28.12 This verse comes at the end of Paul’s conversations with the leaders of the Jews in Rome. Paul had been explaining and testifying of the kingdom of God, and attempting to persuade them “concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.” Some of the Jewish leaders were persuaded and some disbelieved. Paul then quotes Isaiah (6:9-10) and concludes by making his famous pronouncement “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” 

It was recognized well before Sellers that something significant happened at Acts 28:28. Sir Robert Anderson mentioned in his book, The Silence of God, published in 1897, that, “The Pentecostal dispensation is brought to a close by the promulgation of the solemn decree, ‘The salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles.’”13 Sellers points out that “If Paul’s words in this passage (Acts 28-28) mark the dispensational boundary line, if they mark a new method of divine dealing with mankind, then the change that took place, or at least the most important feature of that change, must be epitomized in these words. In this passage there has to be a declaration of something that was not true before, but became true from that moment on.”14

A thorough discussion of this critical boundary to answer the question “what was the change that took place at Acts 28:28?” will be made in a future book; but for now we can assume that before this announcement the kingdom was being incorporated throughout the nation Israel, but after the announcement something special concerning salvation was to go to the nations (gentiles) which disrupted the kingdom program. Sellers taught that that the Greek word translated “salvation” is an adjective. To complete a meaningful sentence requires a noun be supplied based on the context. Sellers’ studies of this critical verse conclude that it was a “salvation-bringing message” that was being sent to the nations. This message was a written one and was in fact the gospel of John.  In follow-up epistles after Acts 29:28 Paul announced that all the nations were now under a new administration with respect to God – one of grace. The characteristics of the new administration will be found only in those epistles of Paul written after Acts 28:28. 

The important change as far as the Jewish leaders were concerned was that the manner of dealing with mankind would be equal for all nations. Israel would not be unique or foremost in the oracles received from God or in His dealings with mankind.  We see in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians15 that the nations are to be “fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ” (Eph. 3:6).16  Also the fact that the kingdom process had been suspended is reflected in Paul’s letter to the Philippians where he states (1:6, as translated by Sellers) “Having come to this settled and firm persuasion concerning this very thing, namely that the One having begun a good work in you will be suspending it until the day of Christ Jesus.”17 

Boundary 4 – The epiphaneia of Christ.  The transition from the current period of the grace of God to the start of the manifest kingdom is one of the most poorly understood concepts of Christianity.  For nearly 2000 years people have been awaiting the major events that were promised in the Old Testament, heralded by Jesus, and demonstrated in part during the Acts. Obviously no one knows when (and given the length of time, may wonder if ever) this period of grace will end and the kingdom resume.  There is nothing outside the Bible to indicate why we should believe the kingdom should ever come. That is why so many have adopted the non-Biblical belief that the kingdom is somewhere else, within us as a body of Christians, or in heaven after we die, perhaps. Most of those who do still believe the kingdom will eventually appear on earth attempt to read into current events such things as world hunger, earthquakes and wars as signs of the coming kingdom. Their problem is that they expect things to first get much worse with a tribulation period that will all but destroy the world and everyone on it, except those who are “raptured out.”  Only then will the real kingdom appear.  We can only ask “who will be around and what will be left of the earth for the few to enjoy, under such a concept?”

But if we trust that the Bible is the Word of God and that the kingdom will come on earth with characteristics to be hoped for rather than feared, then there are some important indications provided in the Bible for marking a sharp boundary between this and the next dispensation. 

The period of grace will end at the same time the third stage of the kingdom (full grain in the head) resumes with an epiphaneia (a blazing forth). “Jesus Christ sets the order for the living and the dead at his blazing forth (epiphaneia) even His kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1) and we await “the blazing forth (epiphaneia) of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).”18 There are great changes on earth to glean from the Bible associated with the epiphaneia of the Lord as He assumes sovereignty over the earth. The following are just a few examples of the dramatic and universal nature of God introducing His manifest kingdom.

1. God will end His silence.  God will speak from Heaven and enlighten the world (Psa. 85:8; 11; 97:4,6; John 16:7-11).  He will pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:17); and all people shall know him, from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34).   

2. God will introduce Christ as king and ruler of the universe.  Taking the declaration of God “that to Me every knee shall bow” from Isaiah (45:22-23) as applying to Christ, Paul decrees “Therefore God also has exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father” (Phil 2:9-11).

3. Peace and plenty upon the earth.  The earth will respond favorably and increase its yield as the curses are removed (Isa. 41:17-20; Psa. 67:6; Isa. 55:13). Wars will cease and man will not learn war anymore (Psa. 46: 8-10; Isa. 2:4). Israel will be an especially peaceful nation and land of productive crops (Ezek 36:33-35; 34:27-30).

4. Dramatic physical change in individuals.  Just as Jesus had a new body upon resurrection, so every living individual and those raised from the dead will “in the twinkling of an eye” experience a dramatic physical change (I Cor. 15:51). Ribbons describes this change as “The gift of a perfect healthy body, a Spirit enlightened intellect enabling each individual to stand in judgment (Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10), totally cognizant of where [he stands] in relationship to the glory of God.”19

5. Evil will be stopped in its tracks.  The Bible predicts that evil will continue to grow until God intervenes.  “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19). As a result, the strength of evil and wicked men will be broken, (Ps. 10:15); God will stop the mouth of all iniquity (Ps. 107.42); evil-doers will be cut off (Ps. 37:9-10); and God’s arrow of truth will wound the workers of iniquity (Ps. 64:7).

Boundary 5: Restraints are lifted.  After a long period of people learning righteousness, God will remove the restraints that have kept some people from returning to evil ways. (2 Thess. 2:6,7; Rev. 3:10).  From the parable of the wheat and the tares, we also see that Satan has been able to sow some of his tares in the wheat field, such that it will difficult to distinguish the sons of Satan - those who pretend to learn righteousness - from those who are mature sons of God. One overriding reason for removing restraints is God’s gracious character. As demonstrated by His administration of grace, God wishes people to freely choose to be of His flock, rather than doing so out of fear of punishment. Ideally God prefers a condition of free will where people will chose to do the right thing. Once the restraints are lifted the first phase of the kingdom of God will begin to change. The Bible is not clear on how long the testing period will last once the restraints are lifted, but there will be at least 7 years for the tribulation period, before the start of the millennium, which will comprise the second phase of the kingdom. The pre-advent phase of the kingdom will be completed with the second coming of Christ.

Distinct Characteristics of Kingdom Stages

Within the boundaries of the different kingdom stages we find very different characteristics.  We see that the Bible supports four distinct characteristic groupings that define four different dispensations.

1. Acts period from resurrection of Christ until Acts 28:28
            a. God speaks through the apostles
            b. The apostles could perform miracles
            c. The apostles (and the Holy Spirit) could and did administer justice
d. The primary audience of the kingdom was Israel.
2. Administration of Grace
            a. God is silent
            b. God does not reward good or punish evil
            c. All nations are treated equally before God
            d. No group or individuals have authority to speak for God
            e. Free will to believe/not believe in God and live one’s life for good or evil.
3. Pre-advent kingdom (Day of Christ)
            a. God communicates with everyone
            b. All people learn righteousness
            c. Wars cease
            d. Nature is controlled
            e. All individuals experience good health
            f. Israel is restored to its land and plays central role in world government.
            g. God administers justice to nations and to individuals throughout the world
4. Millennium (Day of the Lord)
            a. Jesus is personally present on earth and rules
            b. The benefits of the pre-advent kingdom continue

The Lost Kingdom Dispensation

We are now finally ready to assign the main characteristics of the kingdom of God to one special period in the future -- which we now see is a pre-advent administration.  Many of the unique features have already been discussed in our attempt to narrow the kingdom views in previous chapters and in defining the boundaries for the kingdom stages above. Originally our study assumed certain prophetic features could be assigned either to a pre-advent kingdom or to the millennium.  But once it has been determined that a pre-advent kingdom phase is required to fulfill all the major predictions, then most of these features must be assigned to the pre-advent kingdom, since it appears first in the kingdom phases.  For example, it was possible to conceive of “Elijah coming first to set things right” at the beginning of the millennium. But if a pre-advent kingdom is a reality, then Elijah must appear at that time. Once he has appeared, it would be illogical for him to appear again in the millennium to set things right. And even if he did, it would not be a significant sign, as was his first appearance.  Similarly regarding the beating of swords into plowshares, this prediction could have been assigned either to a pre-advent kingdom or the millennium during the logical analysis, but now that we expect a pre-advent kingdom, we should also expect this prediction to be fulfilled at its beginning.

Table 6.2 is therefore modified as shown in Table 7.1 which outlines the fundamental characteristics of the next kingdom phase – the pre-advent kingdom and the millennial phase of the kingdom.  Of seventeen characteristics that could be assigned to a future kingdom on earth, fully fifteen of them occur during the next kingdom phase.20 Ten of the characteristics would not occur in the millennium, since they would have been fully accomplished in the pre-advent phase.

Once we fully appreciate that the next kingdom phase could not be the millennium, we see that the Bible provides very few specifics concerning the millennial period of the kingdom.   The Bible is specific about only three features21 that apply to the millennium,

  1. Jesus personally ruling on earth.
  2. duration of 1000 years, and

3.   resurrections of martyrs.

Although not specified, we can assume four other features will be continued into the millennium. These are:

  1. All nations governed by God (through Jesus on earth)
  2. Continuing peace on earth,
  3. Good health, and
  4. A perfect natural environment. 

Two other features of the pre-advent phase are more difficult to assume they will continue into the millennium.
A. God’s educational program (in the sense of producing mature righteous individuals) seems to be completed with the harvest stage prior to the second coming.  One imagines there is always more to learn from God, but we know nothing about what that might consist of in the millennium.

B.  Also for most of the period the pre-advent phase will have restraints to prevent evil from flourishing. This will greatly limit the degree of free will that God allowed during the grace period. But since grace is such an important characteristic of God it might be possible that He would again grant a great amount of free will during the millennium for individuals who had already established their love for righteousness.

Table 7.1.  Characteristics of the Kingdom of God



Pre-Advent Dispensation



1 Nations governed by God.


Yes, continuing

Israel restored



2.  (a. regathered)



3.  (b. temple rebuilt)



4.  (c. David is king)



5. Elijah returns



6. Peace on Earth – end of wars


Yes, continuing

7. Good health for all participants


Yes, continuing

8. Environmental changes, Natural disasters eliminated


Yes, continuing

9. Educational program



10. Administration of justice rather than grace



11. Participants include the living and the dead



12. Some wicked will hide among the righteous


No, eliminated before second coming

13. Duration

500 years?

1000 years

14. Plowshares into swords


No, unless some minor implements left from tribulation period

15. Christ rule from Heaven


No, rule on earth

16. Matthew’s last days –tribulation

Yes, at end of period

No, but just before period

17. Paul’s “last days”

No, at end of dispensation of grace


18. Jesus personal presence




As we await the next move on the part of God with respect to this world we live in, we can expect He Himself will be the judge of all people and He Himself will govern all the nations on earth.  Otis Sellers summarized this great happening.

God’s next move is to assume sovereignty over this earth, all men upon it (the living) and all men in it (the dead). This will be accomplished by God speaking in heaven, by a revelation of His glory to all flesh, and by causing His judgments to be heard from Heaven.  Jesus Christ will blaze forth (His epiphaneia) in all His glory, and this will result in the manifest kingdom (government) of God becoming a reality upon the earth. This is what we are asking for when we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”22

Considering that this next move will resume the kingdom process where it left off at Acts 28:28 we can expect an orderly process that will first be evident with the nation Israel.  The living Israelites must start to be gathered from around the earth. “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered and I will give you the land of Israel”(Ezek 11:17). Many of the dead, especially those like David and Elijah will be resurrected, the temple rebuilt, and David returned to the throne as King of Israel.  Elijah will be commissioned to lead such tasks as determining the boundaries of the land God promised to Abraham and the tribes of Israel, identifying the Aaronic family and divisions of the tribe of Levi, restoring the judges and counselors (Isa. 1:26), identifying historical sites, and restoring proper observance of the feasts.

The entire world should become aware of the changes starting to flow from God earthward, as indicated by changes in the environment, elimination of natural disasters, the physical changes in the bodies and minds of the living, and requirements for all nations to disarm.  Very quickly people should be aware of the spirit of God working within them persuading them to learn about God from Him directly. As Jesus told the Pharisees, when the kingdom comes, there will be no special need to go anywhere or observe a special event. “The kingdom of God does not come with observation … the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).   Loved ones among the dead will start to be resurrected in an orderly fashion all over the earth.  The earth will become far more productive as God’s curses are lifted.

Although we pray for God’s kingdom to come, when it comes it is difficult to imagine how different will be the kinds of activities possible when there is no war, no sickness, no major adversities, and the freedom to learn God’s ways.  What will be the function of science and technology in such a world?  Will we return to an agricultural economy?  If the natural world is no longer survival of the fittest, will we all be vegetarians? Will there be families and new children produced in God’s kingdom? Will we all look and feel 25 years of age? What aspects of the current world will be historically preserved? Will the great art and literature of the past be preserved in the kingdom’s museums and libraries? The Bible purposely does not discuss the specifics of such a world. Given God’s love of free will, perhaps He will allow the development of a society with many freedoms to choose interests, work, artistic skills, and personal relationships that one might ideally conceive in the present world, but without the internal and external burdens laid upon us in a fallen world.  Whatever God has in store for us it appears it will be a glorious time to be alive on this earth. God speed the day.


This book on the kingdom of God presents an argument that attempts to resolve the questions about what, where, and when is the kingdom of God.

What and Where is the Kingdom of God?   The kingdom of God is not the church. It is not the body of Christians. It is not something spiritual within us. It is not Christ. It is not in heaven. It is God’s government on earth, which is filled with a realm of people who have human bodies. The nation Israel plays a central role in administering God’s government. This government assures its subjects perfect health and environment, justice, and peace. Those who make it into the kingdom on earth are saved, and those who do not we are unsure of their ultimate future. Christ and the apostles consistently taught that while the death and resurrection of Christ made salvation possible for anyone, not everyone would enter into the kingdom. The criterion for exclusion is not for us to judge, but the one guarantee of inclusion is to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing … have life through his name” (John 20:31). An especially important characteristic of this period is its educational program, where God patiently and slowly educates all people in His ways.

When will it occur? It started with the resurrection and ascension of Christ, grew into infancy during the Acts period, was suspended to allow a special period of grace in which the church now operates, and will resume in the future. When it resumes, it will fulfill nearly all of the major prophecies promised in the Old Testament, heralded by Jesus, and started in part during the Acts period.  This phase of the kingdom will be prior to the second coming and comprise a relatively long period before the tribulation.  When Christ does return to earth, the millennium will start a second phase of the kingdom, about which relatively little is written in the Bible. 



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