One of the concepts that is described in Scripture is the idea that there are two primary “ages” – or periods of time – during which people will live. The first of those ages is our current age - i.e., the period of time that we are living in now. The second age is the age to come – i.e., a period of time that will take place, in the future.
There are a number of passage in Scripture that mention both this current age, and the age to come. Here are just a few of them:
Matthew 12:32 (ESV):
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A Witness Unto All Nations
Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
There are about 200 nations in the world today, and there are Christians in every one of these nations. But Jesus was not talking about today’s political entities, nor was he talking about the kingdoms of his day, most of which no longer exist.
The Greek word for nations in this verse is ethnesin, derived from ethne, which is the root of the English word “ethnic.” This word means more than simply “nations” in the political sense. It refers to ethnic and cultural groups – groups of people who share a distinct ethnicity, language, and/or culture. Anthropologists simply call these groups “people groups.”
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A rather intriguing set of passages is contained in Revelation chapter 7. The first eight verses of that chapter refer to a very specific group of individuals. Those individuals are referred to as “servants of God” – and they are subsequently “sealed” by an angel of God. Here are those eight verses:
Revelation 7:1-8 (ESV):
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To understand this term, one must also seek to understand other closely related phrases, like sons of men and children of men. Firstly, all of these terms are applied to mankind in general. These terms indicate the difference between God and the human race. The phrase son of man is the strongest way to distinguish between deity and humanity!
Psalm 115:16 (usage – children of men)
Consider the contrast between God and mankind: God dwells in heaven; man dwells on the earth.
Psalm 145:10 – 13 (usage – sons of men)
Here’s another contrast between God and mankind: God is big, strong, powerful and eternal; man is small, weak and temporal.
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Matthew 22:1-14 ( NASB)
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A number of passages in Scripture indicate that during the “end time” – i.e., the period of time which immediately precedes the end of this age – Israel will be completely alone.
In other words, at that time, no other nations will be willing to assist Israel at all. The following two passages appear to indicate that rather explicitly:
Zechariah 12:1-5 (ESV):
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The Kingdom in the Prophets (Continued)
Jerusalem has been under the control of the Gentiles since the time of Daniel, as illustrated by his visions of the successive Gentile empires. But a time will come when it will be trodden underfoot, and Israel will turn back to God, at which time the Gentile kingdoms will be subdued by God’s Kingdom.
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
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The Kingdom in the Prophets
The promise of land and blessings to Abraham and his descendants was only temporarily fulfilled by the kingdom of Israel. But they did not keep God’s covenant, and so they were divided, the northern kingdom (Israel) being defeated by Assyria and scattered, and the southern kingdom (Judah) being taken captive to Babylon. Yet God had promised to establish David’s throne forever.
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Here’s an interesting little poem from Horatius Bonar that I dug out of a 30 year-old theology notebook. The subject matter is the same as the title – “The Day of the Lord“. Enjoy!
The Day of the Lord
The Day of the Lord it cometh,
It comes like a thief in the night;
It comes when the world is dreaming,
Of safety, and peace and light;
It cometh – the day of sackcloth,
Of Darkness, and storm and fire;
The day of the great avenging,
The day of His burning fire.
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Some have downplayed the significance of the Kingdom because it isn’t mentioned by name as much in the rest of the New Testament, outside of the Synoptic Gospels. But it is mentioned in certain significant passages and tied in with other concepts, using other terminology. The epistles are addressed to people who have already accepted the Gospel of the Kingdom, and now see it from the point of view of “heirs” – a word mentioned quite frequently in the epistles. The promise that Abraham and his seed should be “the heir of the world” (not of “heaven”) is referred to in Romans 4:13-14. And Christians are called heirs in Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29; 4:1,7; Titus 3:7; Hebrews 1:14; James 2:5; I Peter 3:7.
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