Chapter 12: Christ's Glorious Kingdom
by John M. Riddle, England
When the Lord Jesus was here, "the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them: and saith unto Him, ‘All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me’". The Lord Jesus, replied to him "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve’" Matt.4.8-10. However magnificent "the kingdoms of the world" may have seemed from the mountain, the time will come when, "All thy works shall praise Thee O LORD; and Thy saints shall bless Thee. They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power; to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations" Ps.145.10-13.
While these verses certainly anticipate the fulfilment of the prayer, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" Matt.6.10, they have a clear message for the Lord’s people today.
The Witness to the Kingdom - Ps.145.11,12
"They [the saints] shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power; to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom" vv.11,12. Perhaps this includes conversation between the Lord’s people, "They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power", and testimony to others, "to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom", reminding us that the Lord’s people were to talk about the words of God when they sat in their houses, and when they walked by the way, Deut.6.7. In connection with the former we are told that in Malachi’s day, "they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name" Mal.3.16. In connection with the latter, we are told that "they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word" Acts 8.4. We can certainly speak about "His mighty acts" today; there are none greater than the Lord’s death and resurrection. The "exceeding greatness of His power" is displayed in His resurrection and ascension, Eph.1.19-21.
The Character of the Kingdom - v.12
"To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom". Ahasuerus, who "reigned from India even unto Ethiopia", assembled his princes and nobles for a long conference (said to be in preparation for the invasion of Greece), during which he "shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty" Esther.1.1-4! However, the glory and majesty of the Persian empire pales into insignificance when compared with the majesty of the Lord’s eternal kingdom. As then, so now also, no believer need have any embarrassment in speaking about anything connected with the Lord! There is nothing second rate or sub-standard about the kingdom of God. The "greater than Solomon" Matt.12.42, will have a greater and more majestic kingdom than Solomon!
The Permanence of the Kingdom - v.13
"Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations." Compare Dan.2.44, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." Earthly kingdoms based on force, military domination, exploitation and greed have come and gone, but this verse describes God’s everlasting kingdom which will be founded on supreme power, dominion and righteousness, and where love, peace and grace will prevail eternally. In Daniel’s words to Nebuchadnezzar, as quoted above, "it shall stand for ever" Dan.2.44. Then God will say, in the face of world-wide rebellion, "Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion" Ps.2.6, and then "a king shall reign in righteousness" Isa.32.1.
Any consideration of His glorious kingdom should include the following:
- The Glory of the King’s Ancestry
- The Glory of the King’s Advent
- The Glory of the King’s Anointing
- The Glory of the King’s Administration
- The Glory of the King’s Authority
- The Glory of the King’s Arrangements.
THE GLORY OF THE KING’S ANCESTRY
The Lord Jesus was, of course, "of the house and lineage of David" Lk.2.4. He is both "the root and the offspring of David" Rev.22.16, emphasising His Deity and humanity respectively. He is both David’s Lord and David’s son, Matt.22.43-45. Peter told the crowds in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost that David, "being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath unto him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption" Acts 2.30,31. The "oath", v.30, is cited in Ps.132.11, "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; He will not turn from it; of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." This, in turn refers to 2Sam.7.12-16. The fulfilment in the near future concerned Solomon; the fulfilment in the distant future concerned Christ. We know that the Lord Jesus was "made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" Rom.1.3,4. In the words of Gabriel to Mary: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end" Lk.1.32,33. The righteousness of His reign is stressed throughout the prophetic Scriptures, thus: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" Jer.23.5; "In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land" Jer.33.15. The blind Pharisees failed to see what the blind men outside Jericho saw when they cried, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Thou son of David" Matt.20.30,31.
THE GLORY OF THE KING’S ADVENT
The event referred to here is of course, His second advent. The Lord Jesus spoke of this on several occasions. For example, in His Olivet discourse, Matthew chapters 24 and 25, having described terrestrial and celestial disturbances, He said, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven [He is, Himself, ‘the sign’]: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" Matt.24.30. Later in the same discourse, He described the sequel, "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations …" Matt.25.31,32. Before this, the Lord Jesus had told His disciples, "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" Matt.19.28. In describing the return of the "glory of the God of Israel", Ezekiel records that "the earth shined with His glory" Ezek.43.2.
His advent in this way will take place, not only in fulfilment of His own words, but in fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy over five hundred years before: "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" Dan.7.13,14.
The title "Son of man" is rather more than a statement of His humanity, although that is most certainly included. It is a statement of His right to reign on earth. This Man has the right to reign, and that right belongs to Him alone. The Jews recognised this title as a statement of Deity: "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy…ye have heard His blasphemy" Matt.26.64,65; "Behold, I [Stephen] see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord" Acts 7.56,57. However, God will reverse the sentence of earth. "The world gave Christ a felon’s gibbet, but God has destined that He should occupy the universal throne."1
- 1 Tatford, F.A. “The Climax of the Ages”. Prophetic Witness Movement International, England, 1971.
Paul refers to the glory of His advent in saying, "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels" telling us that this will be "when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe" 2Thess.1.7,10. At the moment, the Lord Jesus is persecuted in His saints: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Acts 9.4, but then He will be "glorified in His saints".
For further reading on this vast subject, see Zechariah chapter 14, noting that "the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one" v.9, and Rev.19.11-21, noting that He will have "on His vesture and on His thigh, a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’" v.16.
THE GLORY OF THE KING’S ANOINTING
"He will be perfectly equipped for the tremendous task of bringing peace upon earth."2 Isaiah tells us that "the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD" Isa.11.2. The Lord Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit before commencing His public ministry: "He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up … And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor … And He began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears" Lk.4.16-21. Peter referred to His anointing for this purpose in Acts 10.38: "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power" and John the Baptist observed the anointing of the Lord Jesus: "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, ‘Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost’" Jn.1.32,33. However, Isa.11.2 refers to the future ministry of the Holy Spirit in connection with the Lord Jesus, and this is also the case in Heb.1.9: "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." In view of the references to His Kingship, "throne … sceptre … kingdom", the expression "above Thy fellows [companions]" evidently refers to His coming reign, which will be marked by righteousness and joy.
- 2 Young, E,J. “The Book of Isaiah”, 3 Vols. Erdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965.
His reign will be undertaken in the power of the Holy Spirit. The reference here to the three Persons of the Godhead should be noted: "the Spirit of the Lord … Him … the Lord". The reference to seven features of the Holy Spirit in Isa.11.2 explains the expression "the seven Spirits of God" Rev.4.5. Seven is the number of fulness and perfection. The Holy Spirit will "rest upon Him" permanently, not merely come upon Him for temporary ministry. As E.J. Young observes, "Some of these gifts have appeared in individual men individually, but all of them appear together in Immanuel, the Messiah, and all of them serve as a remarkable preparation for fulfilling the duties of the Messianic office."3
- 3 Young, ibid
"The Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding"
This is mental, or selfward. The word "wisdom" indicates His ability to assess a situation and to make the right decision. It will not be "wisdom of words" or "the wisdom of the wise" or "the wisdom of this world" 1Cor.1.17-20. His wisdom is exemplified in Matthew chapter 22, where He dealt with the Herodians, Sadducees and Pharisees in turn. Wise men now oppose each other, whether politicians, economists or academics, but His wisdom will be unopposed and readily acknowledged. The word "understanding" indicates His perception, and insight into the nature of things. It is expressed in the words "He needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man" Jn.2.25.
"The Spirit of Counsel and Might"
This is practical, or manward. Men often possess great mental powers, but have no ability to apply them. They are splendid in intellect, but lack authority. These words emphasise the application of His wisdom and understanding. He is indeed "Counsellor .... the Mighty God" Isa.9.6. His reign will be competent and effective. He will have "the ability to advise, with unerring intelligence, in every situation, no matter how perplexing it may be. He is indeed, too, a very Boaz, for ‘in Him is strength.’ In His hand autocratic rule, so bitterly repudiated just now, would be perfection."4 Isa.50.4 refers to His counsel: "The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary". He is described as, "A prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people" Lk.24.19.
- 4 Jennings, F.C. “Studies in Isaiah”. Loizeaux Brothers, USA, 1982.
"The Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the LORD"
This is spiritual, or Godward. It describes His relationship with Jehovah, with the meaning, ‘knowledge of the Lord and fear of the Lord’. It is a unique relationship, for "No man knoweth the Son but the Father: neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son" Matt.11.27. He was condemned by the Jews "because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God" Jn.5.18. At first glance, the words "and of the fear of the Lord" might seem inapplicable to the Lord Jesus. However, the expression does not imply a cringing or craven fear but an attitude of devotion. It has been defined by Montague Goodman as being akin to "the attitude of a devoted son to his much loved and honoured father, lest anything should mar the perfect harmony that subsisted between them." Then, as now, He knows the mind and purpose of Jehovah, and will act for His pleasure.
THE GLORY OF THE KING’S ADMINISTRATION
It will be undertaken "in the fear of the LORD: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears" Isa.11.3. To summarise, it will be undertaken:
- In the Fear of the Lord
- With Perfect Knowledge
- In Perfect Righteousness.
In the Fear of the Lord
The anointing of the Spirit of God will"make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord" or "And His delight will be in the fear of Jehovah" (J.N.D.). The word rendered "understanding" (A.V.), or "delight" (J.N.D.), has the idea of scent or smell, and this has given rise to the translation, "the fear of the Lord shall be fragrance to Him" (W.E. Vine). That is, the fear of the Lord will be the very air in which He lives and which He breathes. The Lord Jesus will completely fulfil the requirement which David, in his last words, looked for in a ruler: "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God" 2Sam.23.3.
With Perfect Knowledge
"He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears" v.3. That is, He will not judge by natural means. This emphasises His Divine omniscience. Samuel knew that "the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" 1Sam.16.7. In John chapter 2, the Lord Jesus demonstrated His ability to judge without normal sight and hearing when "many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man" Jn.2.23-25. It has been said that for absolute justice, there must be absolute knowledge.
In Perfect Righteousness
"But with righteousness shall He judge the poor and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth" v.4. M.C. Unger puts it like this, "With absolute equity and righteousness He will judge the poor, so often taken advantage of because they have no money to hire legal help, and reprove (decide in favour of) with equity…the meek (the afflicted) of the earth".5 When Christ reigns, "in mercy shall the throne be established: and He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness" Isa.16.5. This will not be a reign of rigour, but a reign of peace: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" Isa.32.17,18. This refers to the peace and quietness which regenerated Israel will enjoy when Messiah reigns. Hence, for example, the security of old and young in Jerusalem: "There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof" Zech.8.4,5. Compare Isa.65.20. This contrasts with the terrible things that have happened in the past in Jerusalem: "the young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: My virgins and My young men are fallen by the sword" Lam.2.21. See also, for example, Jer.14.16. Zechariah paints a beautiful picture here of old and young without fear in the streets of Jerusalem. The Lord’s presence will make this a reality, Zech.8.3.
- 5 Unger, M.F. “Commentary on the Old Testament”. Moody Press, 1981
THE GLORY OF THE KING’S AUTHORITY
According to Isaiah chapter 11, the King will exercise His authority in three realms.
Over the Wicked
"He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked [one]" v.4. This is cited by Paul in 2Thess.2.8, "And then shall that Wicked [anomos: ‘the lawless one’] be revealed [apokalupto: ‘unveiled’], whom the Lord shall consume [analisko: ‘use up’ or ‘destroy’] with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." When the Lord Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, the Samaritans refused to receive Him, causing the disciples to say, "Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume [analisko] them, even as Elias did?" The Lord Jesus replied: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them" Lk.9.54-56. But Isaiah chapter 11 and 2Thessalonians chapter 2 refer to the end-time, and Divine judgment must fall on His enemies. The same event is described in Rev.19.15-21, "And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations … and the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceedeth out of His mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh."
At His trial, the Lord Jesus "answered nothing" Matt.27.12. Now He speaks. After three and half years of "speaking great things and blasphemies", and having "opened his mouth in blasphemy against God" Rev.13.5,6, "that Wicked", known also as "that man of sin" 2Thess.2.3, will be silenced by the Son of God.
No enemy can stand against the Lord Jesus. This is equally clear in Rev.19.15-21, as quoted above. Isa.34.1-10 and 63.1-6 should also be read in this connection. That "righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins" v.5, suggests, in context, the righteousness of His cause against the enemy, rather than the administration of the kingdom. People speak about a ‘just war’, but there will never be a war comparable to this conflict in terms of justice and righteousness as the conflict described here, and this is supported by the fact that John "saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war" Rev.19.11. The word ‘war’ normally conveys the idea of a lengthy conflict, but this ‘war’ will be over immediately!
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" Gen.1.26. Edenic conditions will be restored when the King reigns. All things will be reconciled, "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace by the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" Col.1.19,20. In the context of Colossians chapter 1, "all things" refers particularly to creation. His authority will be felt throughout creation. As Young observes: "‘The bear ... acts no longer as a bear but as a domestic animal, in that it grazes and does so in the company with the cow ... Likewise the lion, losing his lion nature, pastures like an ox, eating the straw which sledges have cut to make it suitable for the tame beasts."6
- 6 Young, ibid
The glorious kingdom of Christ will affect the entire creation, including agriculture. The prophets have so much to tell us in this respect. Productivity will be at an all-time high. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine [new wine], and all the hills shall melt" Amos 9.13. Isaiah tells us that "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing" 35.1,2, and the Palmist follows suit: "There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth" Ps.72.16, or as J.N.D., "There shall be abundance of corn [handfuls] in the earth, upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall bloom like the herb of the earth." Barrenness will be abolished. Even the most inhospitable places will be fruitful. Clarke puts it like this, "The terraced cornfields stretch right to the hilltops, which are usually rocky and bare - a picture of extraordinary fertility".7 This awaits "the manifestation of the sons of God" Rom.8.19, and until this takes place "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" v.22.
- 7 Clarke, A.G. “Analytical Studies in the Psalms.” John Ritchie Ltd. Kilmarnock, 1967.
However, as noted above, Amos states, "the plowman shall overtake the reaper". This has been nicely explained by Motyer: "The terms of his vision are plain: the earth will yield a lavish and spontaneous abundance. It will be so lavish that the time available will not suffice to gather in either the corn crops or the vintage. In each case the sower of seed for the next crop will find the reaper of the last crop still at work. The abundance will be so lavish that it will seem as if the very mountains and hills are themselves oozing with sweet wine."8 All this will take place without liberal applications of fertiliser and modern pesticides! It is all part of the reconciliation of "all things". The curse pronounced by God on the earth at the Fall, Gen.3.17-19, will be reversed. See also Jer.31.12. It will then be said, "This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden" Ezek.36.35.
- 8 Motyer, J.A. “The Day of the Lion”. Inter Varsity Press, London, 1974
Over the World
Universal authority will be exercised from Zion, and the importance of ‘the city of David’ is clearly described in Isaiah chapter 2, where we should notice:
Her Spiritual Position: This is emphasised by the fact that it is called the "mountain of the Lord’s house"v.2,rather than "Zion" or "Jerusalem". Its spiritual strength will derive from the presence of the Lord: "and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there"Ezek.48.35. It will be recognised as "the city of the great King" Ps.48.2.
Her Geographical Position: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills" v.2. Its physical elevation will answer to its spiritual elevation. Zechariah chapter 14 describes the geographical and geological changes that will take place to make this possible. At present, Jerusalem is not "established in the top of the mountains", but that will change when Messiah returns to the mount of Olives. At that time, the mount of Olives will divide north and south, with rivers running east to the Dead Sea, and west to the Mediterranean respectively. "All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it [Jerusalem] shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place" Zech.14.10; or "All the land from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem shall be turned as the Arabah" (J.N.D.). This refers to the deep rift running from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley, through the Dead Sea, to the Gulf of Aquaba. It is the deepest depression on the surface of the earth. At present, the area is occupied by the ‘hill country’ of Judah. Nevertheless, that too is going to change. The ‘hill country’ will be depressed like the Arabah, leaving Jerusalem as an unrivalled elevation.
Her International Position: "And all nations shall flow unto it" v.2. Prior to this, God will gather "all nations against Jerusalem to battle" Zech.14.2. W.E.Vine explains the words "shall flow into it": "a metaphor from the peaceful flowing of a river, in contrast to the tossings of the sea of national strife and upheaval."9 This is in sharp contrast to the situation described in Isa.1.8, "And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city." In Isaiah chapter 1 she is isolated and besieged by enemies, but in chapter 2, she is the centre of attraction and surrounded, not by enemies, but by admiring pilgrims from all over the world! These pilgrims from afar will not come with a formal worship, as described in Isa.1.10-15, but like the queen of Sheba, as seekers after truth desiring to be taught. This is amplified in later passages in the prophecy of Isaiah, of which the following is an example: "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" Isa.60.3.
- 9 Vine, W.E. “Isaiah, Prophecies, Promises, Warnings.” Oliphants Ltd, London, 1946.
Her Educational Position. It is an authoritative position. "And many people shall go and say, ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem’" v.3. There will be an evident desire to learn and a will to obey. The words, "and many people shall say" (not ‘all people shall say’) could intimate that there will be exceptions. If so, it is explained by Zech.14.16-19. Even then, there will be some who "forsake the assembling of themselves together" Heb.10.25.
Her Governmental Position: "And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" v.4. The United Nations will be redundant then, and there will be no question of calling on unwilling nations to respect its resolutions to abandon warlike activities. Ps.2.9 makes it clear that no resistance will be permitted: "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron".
It will be a universal kingdom: "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" v.9. Vine explains the latter expression as: it "signifies the covering of the bed of the ocean by its waters, a symbol of the depth and fulness (i.e. there will be nothing superficial about His reign) of the experimental knowledge of Jehovah."10
The Psalmist tells us that "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him" Ps.72.8-11.
This envisages a kingdom vastly larger than Solomon’s kingdom. The extent of His kingdom and reign is universal: it is "from sea to sea" and "unto the ends of the earth" v.8, and includes "all kings" and "all nations" v.11. Notice that "He shall have dominion", reminding us that He will "put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet" 1Cor.15.24,25.
Whilst there can be no doubt that these verses emphasise the global extent of the kingdom, there are some interesting geographical pointers:
"From the river unto the ends of the earth": this takes us eastward. The expression "the river" refers to the Euphrates. The land promised to Abraham was "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" Gen.15.18, but the kingdom described here is vastly greater.
"They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him". The reference to the "wilderness" takes us southward, and refers to the warlike and stubborn nomadic tribes who hate bowing down to anybody!
"The kings of Tarshish … shall bring presents": this takes us westwards. Tarshish has been variously explained. Some commentators understand the name as a general designation for ships plying their trade, but it seems more likely that it is a place name, with suggestions ranging from Cilicia to India. Tartessos in Spain and a district near Tunis in North Africa, seem more likely candidates. It seems rather unlikely that Jonah was going to India!
"The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents". This takes us everywhere! The expression, "the isles", is amplified in Gen.10.5, "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations". The world will wait for Divine commands and Divine directions. The expression "Surely the isles shall wait for Me" Isa.60.9, indicates "that the far off nations of the world will act under God’s decree and direction, and Gentile activity will be exercised in these matters, not by way merely of a political scheme, but with the definite objective of honouring the Lord."11 At the end-time, "men shall worship Him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen" Zeph.2.11.
- 11 Vine, ibid
The reference to "Sheba and Seba" takes us south and south-west respectively. Whilst "Sheba" was a grandson of Cush, Gen.10.7, it seems more likely that this refers to a grandson of Abraham. According to Gen.25.1-4, Midian, Ephah and Sheba were descendants of Abraham by Keturah. Keturah bore Abraham six sons, including Midian and Jokshan. Midian begat, amongst others, Ephah; Jokshan begat, amongst others, Sheba. Sheba was evidently a district in Arabia and is probably what is known today as Yemen. According to Isa.60.6, "The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD."
Seba evidently refers to Ethiopia, a nation springing from Cush: "and the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah" Gen.10.7. See also Isa.43.3: "I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee".
One thing is clear: these all-embracing verses were never fulfilled by Solomon! The words "bring presents" mean ‘offer gifts’. They do not refer to tribute, but to a religious offering, implying recognition of the Deity of the Messiah. The entire Gentile world will be involved. "Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him" Ps.72.11. Isaiah enlarges the picture: "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" Isa.60.3; "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory" Isa.62.2. When "the dayspring from on high" Lk.1.78, came to earth two thousand years ago, kings came to worship Him. They were the forerunners of many more who will come when the "Redeemer" returns to Zion, Isa.59.20. They will not come to worship the "King of the Jews" in His infancy, Matt.2.2, but the "King of kings" in His majesty, Rev.17.14.
The offering of "presents" and "gifts" reminds us again of the "wise men from the east" bearing gifts of "gold, and frankincense, and myrrh" Matt.2.1,11. According to Rev.15.4, heaven will resound with the song, "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee". Worshippers today "offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" 1Pet.2.5.
THE GLORY OF THE KING’S ARRANGEMENTS
The latter part of Ezekiel chapter 37, which brings us to the end of a series of chapters (chs.34-37) describing various aspects of Christ’s glorious kingdom, sets out different features of the coming unity of God’s people which, when taken together, make an excellent object lesson for every assembly of God’s people today.
They Would Be One Nation
As noted, "they shall be one in Mine hand" v.19; "I will make them one nation in the land" v.22. None will be left elsewhere, Ezek.39.28. The past animosity between Ephraim and Judah will no longer exist. Psalm 133 will then be fulfilled so far as national life is concerned, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" v.1. The unity of the nation will be brought about by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, "I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments and do them" Ezek.36.27.
Not only will there be no more division; there will be no more dispersion. "I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them" Zech.10.10. The regathering of God’s earthly people will not be accomplished by political expediency, or by military might, but by Divine power. See, for example, "Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee...I will lift up Mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up My standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers" Isa.49.18-23. This is not at variance with the Lord’s description of the regathering, "And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" Matt.24.31. The exiles will be gathered by Divine power, but Gentiles will be the vehicle through which it will be accomplished.
They Would Recognise One Authority
"One king shall be king to them all" Ezek.37.22. The king is identified: "David My servant shall be king over them … My servant David shall be their prince for ever" vv.24,25. When the division took place, after the death of Solomon, there were two kings: Rehoboam presided over Judah, and Jeroboam presided over Israel. It was a case of divided loyalties. This will not be the case in the millennium. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be" Gen.49.10.
They Would Worship One God
In the past they had worshipped false gods. "Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God" v.23. Comparable words are found in Ezek.36.25,28, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you…ye shall be My people, and I will be your God".
They Would Follow One Shepherd
"And David My servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them" Ezek.37.24. This re-introduces the theme of Ezekiel chapter 34: "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David; He shall feed them, and He shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them" vv.23,24. This chapter names David as the coming shepherd, v.23, as well as prince, v.24, and this double description is repeated here, 37.24,25.
They Would Enjoy One Inheritance
Permanent possession of their inheritance is assured since the nation will live under the reign of God’s appointed monarch, "And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever" Ezek.37.25. No conditions, with appropriate warnings, are made, for the simple reason that then they will be unnecessary!
They Would Gather Around One Place
It is called "My sanctuary" Ezek.37.26. "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them (see also 36.37,38) and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people (see also 37.23; 36.28). And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore" vv.26-28. The covenant will be "everlasting" v.26, and the "sanctuary" will be in the midst of them for evermore" vv.26,28. We should also notice the following:
"I will make a covenant of peace with them" v.26: The implications of this "covenant of peace" become clear in Ezekiel chapters 38,39.
"The heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel" Ezek.37.28. This is developed in the next two chapters: see 38.23; 39.21-29. Mic.5.5 is relevant here, "And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men."
"I will…set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore" Ezek.37.26: This is developed in great detail in Ezekiel chapters 40-48. See particularly 40.9, "the sanctuary shall be in the midst of it [the land]."
The world is yet to see the purpose of God for Israel completely and gloriously achieved, and once attained, it will never be rescinded and never be overthrown. The New Testament tells us that "unto the angels hath He not put in subjectionthe world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? … Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet … But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour" Heb.2.5,6,8,9. God has determined that man should be king of creation, and nothing can thwart His design. God’s purpose for man will be fulfilled in the perfect Man, Whose name is "Jesus" Heb.2.9, of Whom Nathanael said, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel" Jn.1.49. Well might we sing:
- Ye servants of God,
- Your Master proclaim,
- And publish abroad
- His wonderful Name;
- The Name all-victorious
- Of Jesus extol;
- His kingdom is glorious,
- And rules over all.
- (Charles Wesley)