Daniel 6:26-29 (NIV 25-28)
Do you want to inherit the kingdom of God?
Observe the following verses:
"Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:"
"May you prosper greatly!"
"I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions"
"So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian"
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When you compare with the Aramaic from the original Bible then you can see a very good translation to English. "May you prosper greatly" is the rendering of "shelamekhón yisgé" where "shelam" is "peace" - as Hebrew "shalom" - but this "peace" - as in Hebrew - includes welfare, prosperity, health, etc. So "may you prosper greatly" is as proper as the literal "peace be multiplied to you all".
In this decree, the king favors the God of Daniel, declaring Him living and eternal, and His kingdom as an eternal kingdom, too. The last verse is not a part of the decree, but the historical note that Daniel lived in prosperity under Darius' reign (which ruled as a vasall king of Cyrus, which means both reigns are one and the same for Daniel)
Why is so meaningful this acknowledgement to the God of Daniel, coming from Darius the Mede?
Let me remind you that this story took place 539 BC.
Nowadays, God (Yahwe, "I am", the God of the Bible) is God for Jews and Christians, which are more than 2,5 billions. And circa 2,5 millions practise Zoroastrianism (they believe that God is "Ahuru Mazda", a name which aproximately means "Wise Lord") The number of Zoroastrians is smaller than Jamaica's population, but the number of Jews and Christians is more than two times the total population of the Americas, both North and South.
Now, in 539 BC, Yahwe was God for 30 000 Jews who believed in Our Lord, Christianity wasn't born yet, and Ahuru Mazda was "God" for kind of 50 millions from Babylonia to India. Our God was God for a few thousand Jews in the Babylonian captivity, and Ahuru Mazda was the god of the Persian Empire.
The miraculous sign of Daniel's salvation in the lion's den was the reason of the king's decree. For a deeper understanding of this, let us remember that Zoroastrians don't believe in an Almighty God. Their Ahuru Mazda is not Omnipotent, but He uses and needs human beings to defeat Satan (called "Angra Mainyu" in their religion) Their spiritual war between good and evil takes place only among humans. It makes clear the reason why the king couldn't sleep well that night: in the lion's den, where the prophet was, Darius' god Ahuru Mazda wasn't able to do something for him. Imagine the feelings of Darius when he saw that the God of the Jews had control, even over lions!
The touch of the Spirit of God shows the difference between the real God and the idols, between holiness and sin, between worship and idolatry. We don't know that Darius converted to Judaism. But his praises to the God of Israel were followed by a prophecy about the kingdom of this Almighty God, which he called "living God" and "eternal".
There's a strong connection between prophecy and praise in the Word of God. Observe the prophecy that Samuel gave Saul on that day he anointed him as Israel's king:
1 Samuel 10:5-7
"After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you"
This procession of prophets were praising the Lord with music. When Saul met them in praise, the Holy Spirit came upon him, exactly as Samuel had prophesied to him.
In the book of Psalms we find exhortations to praise God. Praise brings deliverance and unbinds the spirit of prophecy. King David, who was a real adorer and was always singing praises to the Lord - "Psalms" is a book of praises - received often his powerful prophecies when he was praising. Observe the following scriptures:
"Sing the praises of the Lord,
you his faithful people;
praise his holy name" (PRAISE)
"For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning" (PROPHECY)
Psalms 50:23 (KJV)
"Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God"
This idea of the original Hebrew is conveyed in a better way by KJV's translation. Praises are in some way a "sacrifice" we bring before God. To "order our conversation aright" includes praises to God, to honor Him with praise. Then He makes known to us His salvation.
"Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage" (PRAISE)
"As they pass through the Valley of Baka ["Baka" means "weeping"],
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion" (PROPHECY)
"With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord;
in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him" (PRAISE)
"For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save their lives from those who would condemn them"
"Praise the Lord. [Hebrew "Hallelujah"]
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!" (PRAISE)
"The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds" (PROPHECY)
There is a way to prophesy, to receive words from God about that which is, was and will be, to know God's heart, and this way begins with praises. Praise is a source of power, which enables our spirit to receive the Word of God. If you pray to some god who's not worthy to be praised, it is in vain. If you read your Bible without this feeling, "GOD IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED", it will be to no avail.
When travelling in a plane, we usually believe that the aircraft is well constructed, and that the pilot is a capable one. When the physician gives us his diagnosis and propose a regimen, he is believing it is right, according to his knowledge. The engineers believe that their calculations are correct, and they design their structure so that it will not fail. The testimony of this "dependable" quality in aviation, medicine or engineering gives us certainty about flying, going to the hospital or crossing a bridge, believing that our lives are save.
The God of Israel has left testimonies about His power among us, very superior to the testimony of human knowledge. Innumerable miracles and wonders have been experienced by millions of persons in mankind's history, because they trusted God and believed on Him. Daniel's salvation from the lion's den is a good example, which made the king praise the God of Daniel and even prophecy about this powerful God.
Observe the kings prophecy: "...he is the living God...He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth"
As we have seen before, in Zoroastrianism God is not an omnipotent God, but He is only the spirit working in good people whereas Satan (Angra Mainyu) is working in bad people. The conflict of good versus evil occurs only among human beings.
King Darius experienced a TRANSCENDENT and SOVEREIGN God. It is a fact that God is Spirit, that He abides on human beings and He inspires human beings to do His will on earth. But He is not limited because of us, meaning He doesn't depend on our collaboration to do His will on earth. He does His will on human beings, on animals, on plants, on objects, on the planet itself, on the sun and the moon, through all the universe. His will "transcends" our will, as His existence transcends our own. And He is not stopped by human oposition. Maybe He leads His opponents to repentance - as He did with the apostle Paul and Jonah the prophet - or maybe He replaces them by another one who's willing to do God's will - as He did with king Saul, raising young David in his place. But God does His will.
God has prophesied from centuries ago Satan's defeat. Not only those daily events when we see that Satan is defeated and God's will is done "on earth, as it is in heaven", but that final event at the end of times, when Satan will be cast in the lake of fire by God's hand, and all persons on earth will do God's will all the time.
Because God is an Almighty God and a Trascendent one, the people of Israel is living and thriving in the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Several Empires among the most powerful we have seen on earth tried to bring them to an end, but they couldn't. They survived after Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome and a 2000 years long exile, under persecution of the medieval church, which controlled all of the western world as it was then. During all these years, they didn't dissapear, but survived and even prospered. Nowadays they are persecuted by terrorists and even by Muslim governments - let's remmeber that Islam has more than 1,6 billion followers. Most of them don't recognise the right of the Jewish state to exist, and they do conspire to obliterate it. But the Jews survive and even prosper. They are a proof and testimony of God's power.
King Darius also prophesied, "...he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end"
There is a feature of the Kingdom of God that the king saw, inspired by the Spirit of God, and which many ignore even today because of wrong doctrines that Satan has brought among us in order to steal our blessing. If you read Daniel 2:34-35 in this site, you can see there those special features that show the Kingdom to come. We recommend that reading - obviously, we will not repeat here the same message - and want to point that even when Our Lord spoke often of the Kingdom of God ALREADY among us, as a spiritual one, He spoke also about a coming kingdom, that would come WHEN HE COMES BACK. This is also treated under Daniel 2:44-45 in this site.
In Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel chapter two, we see this kingdom as a "huge mountain that filled the whole earth". The interpretation that Daniel gave to the king about his dream was that this mount was the eternal kingdom, which "will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people" and which "will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever". Observe how Daniel's prophecy and king Darius' one use a similar depiction, how they match each other.
The Kingdom of God is an issue largely treated in the Bible, both in the Old and in the New Testament. The following passages are messages TO ISRAEL dealing with the coming Kingdom of God:
"This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:"
"In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths"
"The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord"
This Kingdom of God - where the law and the Word of God are one and the same thing - will go out FROM JERUSALEM. Peoples will go to the temple of the God of JACOB (this is noteworthy, because Jacob is never a type of the church in prophetical thinking. Jacob is a type of sinner and cheater, and Israel - the name God gave him when He defeated him - is the type of the converted sinner, who repented and came to God) There is an implication of this passage: the God which mankind will worship on eternity is Yahwe, the great "I am". There is not a "God of the OT" and another "God of the NT". God is One and the same for Jews and Christians.
"See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more"
"Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain", says the Lord"
This passage about the Millennium has special addressees (as many other promises of restoration in the book of Isaiah) which are "Jerusalem and its people", that God calls "my people". The Jews are called here "a people blessed by the Lord", and "my people". This awesome blessing has reached us Gentiles because of our faith in the God of Israel. Not because of a church which substitutes Israel, but because of a church which is grafted in Israel (Romans 11:17-18) as God's people. This passage in Isaiah is in a chapter dealing with godless and idolatrous Jews versus faithful and devout Jews. If anyone is taking this passage to talk about the church, the "spiritual Israel", then the only application is to godless and idolatrous Christians versus faithful and devout Christians, NEVER to "Christians versus Jews". There are both faithful and impious Jews, and there are both faithful Christians, and impious to which Jesus Christ will say, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"
Other prophets took in their message the significance of Israel in God's eternal kingdom. Observe what Jeremiah and Ezekiel say about the Jewish people:
"The days are coming", declares the Lord,
"when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them",
declares the Lord"
"This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time", declares the Lord.
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, 'Know the Lord',
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the Lord.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more"
"For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God"
Both passages deal with ISRAEL. The church was never led out from Egypt, or broke the covenant God gave to Moses which is not with the church but with Israel. Furthermore, the church has never been "scattered among the nations" and supposed to be "gathered to abide in Jerusalem". Both passages are dealing with an issue that antisemites twist in their interpretations, to make it only a prerogative of the church: the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the believers.
This double promise of God, to send His Spirit to dwell in the hearts of the Jewish believers, is exactly what happened with those 120 Jews who were filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the day the church of Jesus Christ was born. It was the first time the promise was fulfilled. And the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in a person's heart has an implication, it is the "owner's mark" of God on the person, it is the "deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession" (Ephesians 1:14; compare 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5)
This "deposit" comes from Greek "arrabón" which means the first payment of a larger quantity of money - for instance, when you buy a house or a car. It is a guarantee that you will pay the rest, and it is usually bigger than the monthly payments that follow. The "redemption" is to buy free the slaves of sin - we - as God has done. When we receive the Spirit of God, He has paid that deposit, the first payment of the price of our freedom. And those passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel show us that God would pay the same deposit for Jews than for Christians, filling them with the same Holy Spirit. The purpose is not hard to understand: both Jews and Christians will be sharing the same blessing on eternity with God, we have been "bought" as God's own, we have been redeemed from sin, saved from Satan's rule and prepared to serve under Jesus' rule for ever and ever. Because God doesn't show favoritism (James 2) to some believers. He doesn't have a paradise for Jews and another for Christians.
Observe another passage in Zechariah 9:9-10:
"Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth"
The Kingdom of God in Zechariah is:
- prophesied for "Daughter Zion" or "Daughter Jerusalem" (both terms meaning the Jewish people)
- brought by Jesus Christ, the "King of Israel" who entered Jerusalem "lowly and riding on a donkey"
- "from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth". The Messiah comes to reign over Zion, that is in Israel, but also over the whole earth
- a kingdom of universal peace. He will "proclaim peace to the nations" and "destroy bows" (peace will come to this planet)
All verses we have seen before deal about the coming Millennial Kingdom which will come, FOR ISRAEL. All these promises are for Israel, the people of God in the OT, and it is impossible to "spiritualize" them so that they apply to the church and not to Israel, as supersessionism does. That satanical doctrine should mean that the prophets in Israel were comforting and exhorting Israel's people by speaking to them about the future blessings God had prepare to other peoples, which is an absurdity.
When somebody receives a prophecy as comfort or exhortation, it is obvious that the prophecy is for the addressee. If the prophecy apply to other believers - as it happens all the time - it occurs AFTER the recipient. It is a "parallel truth" or an "enhanced truth", NEVER "the truth replacing lie". A "sensus plenior" or "deeper meaning" in prophecy never implies that the original meaning is false, but that the prophecy has more than that the original receiver - and even the prophet himself - can understand, and that the prophecy can apply for other addressees - but never rejecting the original ones.
The first question we make ourselves to understand any command, any promise, prophecy, any Word of God in principle, is "what did it mean FOR THE ORIGINAL RECIPIENTS?" The New International Version - which is the rendering to English that we use in this site all the time - was precisely conceived with an emphasis in translating "that which the original addressees understood" in the Scriptures when they read them. That's why NIV is not a literal translation from Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek sometimes. When it is not literally translated, the idea behind the change is that we shall read the Scripture and understand it as the original recipients did.
The reason that we can apply to the church some promises given originally to Israel is not that "Israel has been rejected" (Romans 11:1) and "replaced by the church". Israel has been TEMPORARILY rejected (Romans 11:15, 25) and under God's discipline for 2000 years, and will be restored - as a matter of fact, it is being restored nowadays - in order to inherit those promises (Romans 11:26-27) The church inherits those promises BECAUSE the church is grafted in Israel. The one nurturing the church, the "cultivated olive tree", is Israel, and not vice versa (Romans 11:17-24)
The legitimacy of the New Testament is the Old Testament, and not vice versa. The legitimacy of the man Jesus Christ is that He is the Messiah promised to Israel, and not vice versa. The legitimacy of the Gentiles to become people of God is that through a Jew, Jesus Christ the Son of God, we are grafted in Israel, and not vice versa.
Israel is God's people, with a special covenant of God for them, and the Jews don't need the church at all in order to see this covenant fulfilled. They need their Messiah, Our Lord Jesus Christ. The church is the people of God also, with a special covenant of God for her, BECAUSE she was grafted in Israel, the people of God, the Jews, on the basis that "theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen" (Romans 9:4-5)
Israel is God's people, with or without church. The church is God's people because we received Israel's Messiah, we know and follow Israel's God, and we are grafted in Israel, which makes us heirs of the same blessings God made to Israel from BC times. The Kingdom of God is a blessing that was promised to Israel before the existence of the church.
Observe some passages about the kingdom of God in the NT:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth"
This is the song of the 24 elders (who represent Israel + the church, the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles, as we can read in Rev 21:12-14) proclaiming that they "will reign on earth". It is obvious that Israel and the church are together on eternity.
"And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time"
"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years"
This is the basic Scripture in the New Testament about the Millennium. Observe the evidence of that kingdom here and its characteristics:
- Satan is bound so that he will be kept "from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended". The Millennium is always seen in the Scriptures as a time of universal peace. But peace should be impossible if Satan is deceiving nations, as it is happening now, and as it has been happening since many centuries ago (that's why wars exist) It is obvious that this time hasn't come yet.
- "Save" ones will raise from the dead, "come to life", BEFORE the Millennium, and they will reign a thousand years with Christ. In this resurrection are the church (John 5:29, 1 Thess 4:14) and Israel (Daniel 12:1-2)
- "Condemned" ones come to life AFTER the Millennium and go to hell. In this second resurrection are people from both the church and Israel included (Daniel 12:1-2, John 5:29) It is noteworthy in Rev 20:4-6, where we read about this two resurrection events, that in those "thrones" are the 24 elders, "those who had been given authority to judge" (compare Rev 4:4) "To judge" means "to govern" in the Word - that's why the book of "Judges" is about Israel's leaders - and "elders" are the members of the Sanhedrin, or of the curch's Council in the New Testament).
An important note about this Millennium or Kingdom of God is that it comes to earth because of Jesus Christ Our Lord, Israel's Messiah. That's why Revelation 20 follows the chapter of the Second Coming. This event shall take place when the Jews are no longer scattered among the nations and when Jerusalem is no longer "trampled on" by the Gentiles and the "times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24)
Observe this passage with the prophecy of the Second Coming:
"Then they gathered around him and asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
"He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth"
"After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight"
"They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee", they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven"
The question of the disciples was, should Christ restore the kingdom to Israel? (at a time when Israel was under Roman authority) The answer of the Lord doesn't mean that the question is a non legitimate one, but that it will happen, and the time is known only by God the Father. Their task was to testify about Jesus in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth, when the Holy Spirit came upon them. It is obvious that the Kingdom will be restored TO ISRAEL, and that this Kingdom will encompass the whole earth (it is the Kingdom of God with Israel's Messiah as its King) The Lord understood the question as, "when will you restore the kingdom to Israel?" and his answer shows that it was obvious for Him that "the law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem".
The satanical lie about the Kingdom of God and Israel role in it was not a mainstream doctrine of the church in the first three centuries (see NOTE at the end) We can rather see that the right exegesis of Revelation continued for a long time in the disciples of John - the one who wrote the book.
It was after the legitimacy or Christianity as the Empire's main religion that amillennialism appeared (with Augustine of Hippo) It is the doctrine that the Millennium is not a special period when Jesus governs on earth both secularly and religiously. In amillennialism, the "Millennium" is interpreted as a symbolic word which means the spiritual Kingdom of God in the believers which came on Pentecost, regarding any literal significance of a real physical kingdom as false. How did Agustine managed to explain that "Satan is bound" - something that has not happened even among believers, who are deceived also - or that the first resurrection had already occurred, that's something we don't know. But it is not our theological task to justify lies. There is a Millennium which Augustine never saw:
1 Corinthians 15:50-53
"I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality"
There is actually a kingdom of God, a spiritual one which is already on earth and where Christians preach the gospel. But in this spiritual kingdom, WE HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED RESURRECTION yet. We will die, in the same way that the ungodly ones do. These bodies we have now, in which we live now, CAN NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. That's why we "will be raised imperishable" as Our Lord did, in order to inherit the Kingdom of God. We HAVE TO come to life and we HAVE TO be changed in imperishable in order to enter the Kingdom of God. NOT the spiritual kingdom which now exists, but the eternal physical one which is to come.
Observe this coming Kingdom in the mind of Our Lord Jesus Christ:
"There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out"
In the Kingdom of God that Our Lord was talking about were the fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But there were also ALL the prophets (Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Nehemiah, Zechariah and ALL others)
To understand the significance of the prophets of the OT to the church on eternity, it is necessary to see them in the same context that Our Lord and His apostles did. They considered the OT as "the Scriptures" and the words these men spoke or wrote as "Word of God". They didn't make a difference between OT and NT concerning the attribute "Word of God". Maybe because there was no NT in the time of Our Lord? The Bible of Jesus Christ was the Old Testament only!
In the Kingdom of God the final judgement will take place, and also the so called "bema" judgement, where the believers will be rewarded. Observe 2 Timothy 4:1-2:
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction"
The "living and dead" are NOT judged now on earth. That's why you can see prosperity among ungodly and evil people, which tormented Asaph in Ps 73, and holy believers who are persecuted and even get killed because of their faith. And that's also why we don't hear in the news that somebody rose from the dead, was judged and sent to hell. But the apostle Paul was encouraging Timothy his disciple to preach and teach the Word of God in the confidence that Jesus will come back, will manifest himself, will bring the Kingdom of God on earth and will judge living and dead in His manifestation.
As impossible as it is to deny to Israel the eternal blessing God promised to them, so is to deny that there is a Millennium coming, a physical Kingdom of God on earth. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 we read:
"All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering"
"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you"
That "right judgment of God" Paul is talking about is evidenced in the fact that the believers, even when going through trials and conflicts on earth, will be "counted worthy of the kingdom of God", because of their faith. But those who don't know God and don't obey the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ will be judged ("everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord") Both the reward and the punishment - the "living and dead trial" - take place "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels".
The Kingdom of God has not yet come to earth in its real, physical form, as a Millennium where Jesus is ruling all nations with an iron scepter. We live in difficult times, when evil is growing more and more. A society which has turned its back to God can only be guided by its fleshly desires, because it has rejected the Holy Spirit, the giver of life. And this situation has a fatal end. Observe Galatians 5:19-21:
"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God"
This "acts of the flesh" are in other words "sin", and their outcome is that those who engage on them go to hell. They will not "inherit the Kingdom of God". Similar warnings can be seen in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10 or Ephesians 5:5. The good news are that even when you have been or are living in this condition, you can yet inherit the Kingdom of God NOW. God so loved this world that He sent His Only Son to die for us sinners. God sent Jesus to the cross for the sexually immoral ones, impure ones, debauchers, idolaters, sorcerers, hatrers, jealous ones... People practising that kind of things will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but Jesus Christ came to clean them from all this and give them the power to be free from these things.
Do you want to inherit the Kingdom of God? There is a single decission to make: to acknowledge before Jesus Christ your sinful condition. He came to save you and to give you eternal life. He came to pardon your sins. He came to make you "holy" and take away from you the "sinner's" destination. He came to bring life, that you'll have "life to the full". In the same way he rose from the dead and was taken in heaven, He promised a resurrection and eternal blessing to those who believe in Him. The only thing you need is a prayer:
"Thank you, Lord Jesus, for you came to help me. Thank you for you came to set me free from sin. I acknowledge before you that I have sinned, and I'm not worthy to come before you, but I come trusting your word and your mercy. Forgive my sins, receive me in your kingdom, be my Lord and Savior. Lead me with your Holy Spirit and your Word. Amen"
May the Lord bless you! In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!
Premillennialism was preponderant to the so called Church Fathers at the beginning of the first Millennium after Christ: Papias (+150 AD) Irenaeus of Lyons (+202 AD), Justin Martyr (+168 AD), Tertulian (+220 AD), Hyppolitus of Rome (+235 AD), Sextus Julius Africanus (+240 AD) It is remarkable that Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna (+167 AD) who had been in turn a disciple of the apostle John, the same who wrote the book of Revelation. Other disciple of John was Papias, and Hyppolitus was a disciple of Irenaeus. The idea is a whole school of prophets descending from John WITH THE SAME EXEGESIS of the author of the book of Revelation. That's why in its three first centuries, that line of Church Fathers beginning with John had the same eschatological vision, Premillennialism. All of them believed that the Millennium was real, and that Jesus should come back and reign over the whole world in that Millennium or Kingdom of God.
With Origen's exception (+254 AD) who was against Premillennialism, it was the most accepted doctrine about the Millennium until Augustine of Hippo (+430 AD) who invented Amillennialism, mixing prophecies about the Millennium, or the physical Kingdom of God TO COME with the idea of the EXISTING Kingdom of God (the spiritual one) Many explain this change with the change of position of the Church in the Roman Empire, when it was adopted by Constantine and became official religion.
Origen's Amillennialism was not developed as a doctrine. He rejected Premillennialism because of his idea of "apocatastasis" or universal salvation, a false doctrine which has been rejected as heretical by the Church through its whole history - that's why Origen is not canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. But Augustine's Amillennialism has been accepted by many and - unfortunately - even nowadays is a false doctrine living among many so called Christians.
The exegesis which leads to Premillennialism is the same one that Jesus and the apostles used to interpret the Scriptures, and it was defended by Augustine to some extent. The problem is that he has a reputation to have excellent exegetic rules but to not use them, and rely only in his imagination. Christ's exegesis is called "grammatical-historical" and some times - improperly - "literal". It is not literal because it recognises the difference between literal language and symbolical, figurative, allegorical, etc. and interprets each passage according to its intention.
Postmillennialism is another false doctrine which opposes the Biblical prophecy. It is the idea that the Second Coming of Christ will take place AFTER the Millennium, when the Church has converted the whole world to Christianity by preaching the gospel. Like Amillennialism, Postmillennialism promotes the idea that the church will bring to this world the eternal Kingdom of God, which means that the church will be superior to secular governments. This contradicts openly all prophecies for the last times and all commandments of the apostles and the Lord himself about the relationship of the Christians with their governments (including non-Christian governments) That kind of government of God above every human institution - where the concept "secular" will disappear, and the whole earth will be a Kingdom where the law and the Word of God will be one and the same, coming from Jerusalem - will come to this world ONLY when Jesus comes back and Satan is bound. Concerning these times we are living now - and until Jesus comes - the Bible teaches us that "the whole world is under the control of the evil one" (1 John 5:19)