"Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28)
The writer here has given us a comparison of the old covenant under Moses and the new covenant under Jesus. The old covenant was inferior to the new in that it did not take away sin, for there was the necessity of coming again and again to offer up the sacrifices. Also the old covenant was God's method of introducing and pointing forward to one which would endure. This is what we wish to dwell upon in this message.
Turn to the book of Daniel, chapter 2 for Daniel's interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. As Daniel explains the dream, he tells of the four great kingdoms of the earth, beginning with the kingdom of Babylon and going on down to the Roman government. Verses 40 through 43 show the divisions in this fourth kingdom. In verse 44 we read, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall not be left to her people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever."
Back in verses 34 and 35, this fifth kingdom is referred to as "a stone, cut out without hands" and as "smiting the image" and as "becoming a great mountain filling the whole earth." That this is a spiritual kingdom, there can be no doubt as it is said to be a stone cut out without hands. See in 2 Corinthians 5:1 the reference to "a house not made with hands" meaning a spiritual building. Also, Jesus is referred to in both the old and new testaments as a stone.
Again in Daniel, chapter 7, referring to Daniel's visions of the four beasts, we read in verse 14, "And there was given him dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all people, 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." This must be a spiritual kingdom, as all earthly kingdoms must at some time pass away or give way to some other, regardless as the who the ruler may be.
To apply this Scripture to some future time as to it's coming, is pure folly and to our own hurt and confusion. Many have done so and are doing so and have almost, if not altogether, destroyed the faith of the saints and taken away the very weapons with which they were to do battle with the kingdom of darkness and error. This is a strong statement I know, but true nevertheless. More will be said on this line later.
That the New Testament carries this same line of thought, there is no doubt, if we would rightly divide the word of truth. Jesus gave in Matthew 13, several parables relating to the kingdom of heave, two of which we will mention. First, the parable of the grain of mustard seed, verses 31 and 32. He likens the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard seed which, when it is planted, grows into a tree and provides a dwelling place for the birds. Then he likens the kingdom of heaven to leaven which is hid in the meal until it leavens the whole. Both of these represent two small and insignificant things as to their beginning, but as to their growth or influence they become great. See Adam Clarke's Commentary on these two parables, especially regarding the parable of the leaven.
Jesus makes it plain that this is a spiritual kingdom in His statement to Pilate in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world." Paul, in Romans 14:17 says, "For the kingdom of God is not meant and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."
Paul also makes it clear in Colossians 1:13 that this kingdom is here now in this present age.
Jesus, in John 3, makes it clear that we must be born again to see the kingdom and to enter into it. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 of those who shall not inherit this kingdom and also makes reference again in Galatians 5:19-21. Again these make it plain that this kingdom is of a spiritual nature, for these passages infer that there must be a change in man's nature in order for him to become a part of this kingdom.
Jesus said in Luke 17:20-21, "the kingdom of God cometh not with observation (that is, outward show). Neither shall they say lo here! or lo there! For behold the kingdom of God is with (or among) you.
It is obvious to me that this method of interpreting the subject of the kingdom is the most reasonable and logical and leaves less questions than all others. To make the kingdom appear at a future time with thrones and offices and rulers who must use force to cause people to submit to Christ is to say that God's method for converting the world is not effective, that the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel is powerless, and that the blood of Christ was shed in vain. To look for and preach that we are coming back and will be mayors or governors of cities and states, is to take a purely materialistic approach to the kingdom and reduces it to the worldly level.
It might be well to mention at this point the Scripture upon which the above is based and give the correct meaning. First of all the advocates of a future rule use the reference in Revelation 1:26-27 and 19:15, both of which speak of ruling with a rod of iron. If these could be literally interpreted, there would be grounds to believe in a future kingdom as advocated. However, there is a spiritual meaning which must be placed on these references and they must be understood in the light of what we have already said about the everlasting kingdom. This rod of iron by which Christ is said to rule must be the rule of love and the sharp sword mentioned as going out of his mouth is the word of God, elsewhere mentioned as the sword of the Spirit. We all know there cannot be a literal sword going out of His mouth, in Revelation 19:15, and if we place a literal meaning on the rule with a rod of iron in the same verse, we must place a literal meaning on the entire verse. See also Psalm 2 in reference to this.
I do not believe that those who advocate a future kingdom and a failure of the present system do so to deliberately mislead their people. I do trust that God might help them to think upon this and to see their error and salvage what they might otherwise lose.
There remains one more unanswered question up to this point; that being of how or where does the doctrine of a future kingdom find a foundation, if any.
We purpose to answer that by referring again to Daniel and a statement made earlier. Daniel made it clear that this kingdom which would consume all other kingdoms, would begin to do so at a certain time (2:44). The date was not set in this passage, but later Daniel had a vision in which God revealed to him more clearly the time in which this was to be fulfilled. It is this specific passage which is the key to all the confusion and error regarding the kingdom today. Remove the difficulty here and all the error must flee.
In Daniel 9, God reveals to Daniel a vision which covers a period of 490 years, beginning at the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and ending with the coming of Christ in His office to establish the kingdom. If you follow the modern advocates of beasts, anti-christs, future kingdoms and so forth, they all have lost the last week (or seven years) of this vision and use this missing week to be a time of tribulation, a setting up of a temple, and reign of terror by "anti-christ." The fact of the matter is, that the week was not lost and God was right on schedule.
Bear with me as I quote Clarke on verse 15. "The foregoing events being all accomplished by Jesus Christ, they of course determine the prophecy to him. And if we reckon back four hundred and ninety years, we shall find the time of the going forth of this command."
"Most learned men agree that the death of Christ happened at the passover in the month Nisan, in the 4746th year of the Julian period. Four hundred and ninety years, leads us directly to the month Nisan, in the 4256th year of the same period, the very month and year in which Ezra had his commission from Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia (see Ezra 7:9), to restore and rebuild Jerusalem."
Also I would refer you to Fletcher's Works (4:47-48), for an account which he gives regarding the supernatural darkness at the death of Christ. The same dates referred to above are here given.
With this before us, we can readily see that Paul was correct, when he says in Galatians 4:4, "When the fullness of times was come...." See also Mark 1:14-15.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations, and then shall the end come."
It appears from this, as well as the context from which our text verse is taken, that it is through the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom that men are to be saved (see Ephesians 1:9-10) and to fail to heed this gospel is but to do so to our own loss.
When we arm ourselves with the above Scriptures and place Daniel's prophecy in the proper light, we have the means of encouraging the faith of ourselves and those who hear us and the grounds to expect revival and a gathering in of Gentiles, and also Jews, into a kingdom which will never be moved.