The phrase “kingdom of God” is not found in the Old Testament although the concept regarding God’s Kingdom is written in every Old Testament book. Jesus, however, used the phrase often and the metaphorical equivalent “kingdom of Heaven,” in which “heaven” represents God. Jesus either coined the phrase or more likely, it was commonly used in his day as people understood its meaning without explanation. Jesus’ teachings reveal his comprehensive understanding of the Old Testament with a special emphasis on the Book of Isaiah regarding the subject of the Kingdom. This article will focus on the Kingdom of God from the book of Isaiah.
The Kingdom of God is both a future event and a present reality. When Jesus was on earth, God’s reign was partly inaugurated, but its ultimate consummation remains a future event when he returns. We are living in the time between the times of the inauguration and consummation of the reign of God. Therefore, the “Kingdom” refers both to the present beginning stage and to the much bigger dramatic overcoming in the future.
Jesus said that no one knows when the Kingdom will come in the full future sense. His emphasis was not to know the timing, but to be ready for it. Focused attention on “when” the Kingdom comes and not on what its characteristics are may cause neglect regarding the practices that prepare for it. Wrong focus can result in fruitless academic debate or fatalistic speculation rather than faithful participation.
Isaiah (more than any other prophet) wrote about the Messiah and the coming Kingdom. When reading Isaiah and other Old Testament prophecy, it is important to acknowledge that often no distinction is given regarding the time between the Messiah’s first and his second coming. The Apostle Paul reveals in the New Testament that this time frame between the inauguration and consummation was keep secret by God so that His plan would not be interrupted. Therefore, some sections of Scripture may talk about the Messiah’s birth or his earthy ministry followed immediately about his reigning as King in the Kingdom of God when he returns as if it were one concurrent event.
Another point to consider as we embark on our study is that Isaiah emphasizes significant aspects of God’s reign on earth by using redundancy. We see particularly the following − deliverance or salvation occurs 17 times; righteousness or justice occurs 16; peace 14; joy 12; God’s presence as Spirit or light 9; return from exile 9, and healing 7. As we review Isaiah in this and subsequent articles, these promises will stand out.
Isaiah 9:1 - But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.
Shortly before this prophecy, the Assyrians conquered Israel, and their king Tiglath-pileser deported many of the inhabitants of the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (2 Ki 15:29). Many Gentiles where relocated to this region so the population eventually became a mixture of Israelites and heathens. Hence, arose the contempt for Zebulun and Naphtali on the part of the southern Jews of purer blood (John 1:46; 7:52). The same region which was so darkened once, shall be among the first to receive Messiah’s light (Matthew 4:13-16). It was in despised Galilee that he first and most publicly exercised his ministry; from it were most of his apostles (Acts 2:7). When Jesus walked the earth, the gloom, anguish, and contempt of this region was diminished, and when he returns, it will be eliminated forever more.
2 - The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.
Indeed, with Jesus there was great light and even more so when he returns.
3 - You shall multiply the nation, you shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
When the Kingdom fully comes, Israel will enjoy the national enlargement promise with Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. Gladness and joy will replace gloom and anguish for they will be in the presence of Yahweh forever more.
4 - For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.
The mind picture of two beasts of burden yoked together with a wooden harness denotes slavery, bondage, and gruesome uncompensated labor imposed by a conquering enemy. All the enemies will be destroyed as they were at the battle of Midian when Gideon and 300 men totally annihilated tens of thousands by the hand of Yahweh (Judges 7 and 8). The great battle at the end of the age will eliminate all the enemies of God.
5 - For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
In that glorious day, there will be no more war, talk of war, soldiers or effects of war, for the world will be filled with the peace of God.
6 - For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
This is a verse that jumps from the birth of Christ all the way to the time yet future when he reigns as King of the world. In that day, he will have a new name (Revelation 3:12;19:11 and 12) that will include - Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Today, while Jesus is in heaven, we enjoy the benefit of the holy spirit which is our counselor, but in that day, our Lord will be here on earth as the Wonderful Counselor. Imagine a head of state with the spiritual abilities that qualify him to be the world’s counselor!
He will also be called “mighty god.” Yahweh is called God thousands of times throughout the Scriptures clearly designating Him as “the” God of all. However, others are also referred to as gods (small letter g) such as judges (Exodus 21:5 and 6; Moses (Exodus 4:16; 7:1); false gods (Exodus 18:10 and 11); and angels (Psalm 8:10 and 11). Satan is called the god of this age in 1 Corinthians 4:4; however, in the time to come, Jesus will be the god of the age. This designation does not make him identical with Yahweh, Almighty God nor does it place him as a member of the nonbiblical triune godhead.
For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,
yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 1 Corinthians 8:5-6
When Jesus prepared the disciples for his departure to heaven, he spoke of the holy spirit that he would send to father them (John 14:18). While with them, he fathered them; after his ascension, he would still father them through the spirit. As a young Christian, I was blessed to have an older Christian mentor me. He fathered me in the faith. Now that I am older, I have been blessed to father others along the way. When Jesus returns, he will father those of faith in the Kingdom. Obviously, Jesus the Son of God is not God the Father. The following verses among hundreds make clear the relationship that Jesus has to Yahweh his Father.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…
I do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory…. Ephesians 1:3, 16-17
Jesus will also be called Prince of Peace. Today, Satan is called the prince of the power of the air, the one working in sons of disobedience as their prince. He fathers them. In the age to come, Jesus will serve as Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:7 - There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
When King Jesus the Christ rules in the Kingdom of God, then righteousness and justice will prevail worldwide. Oh glorious day! With the consummation of the Kingdom, gloom, anguish, and contempt will no longer be. Darkness will be swallowed up with light. Israel’s nation will enlarge with gladness and joy abounding. Supernatural deliverance from all enemies and oppression will eliminate war forever. Jesus will serve as King of the Kingdom on behalf of Yahweh and as such will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.