“The concept of the kingdom of God in early Judaism was shaped principally by three factors. At the basis was the OT idea of Yahweh’s eschatological epiphany in judgment to punish the wicked (i.e., Israel’s enemies) and reward the just (i.e., Israel). This was coupled with the idea of God’s reign through his elect messianic king of Davidic descent, bringing in a time of untold bliss for the Jewish people. The second factor was Daniel’s new understanding of the kingdom and its agent as transcendental, heavenly realities and the consequent deliverance of God’s people in primarily dynamic terms. The third factor was the centuries-long Gentile rule over Palestine, which intensified the longing for liberation, national identity and happiness” (Caragounis, 1992, p. 418).
As has been seen in the Hebrew Bible’s expectations of the Messiah birthed out of the belief in the coming Kingdom of God and the promise made to David of a righteous King to rule in God’s Kingdom, the further development of the Messianic idea in the Intertestamental Period adding a transcendent view of the Messiah inspired by the book of Daniel, the picture of the union of the Kingdom of God and the Messiah came together when in Bethlehem, a baby was born to be that point of unity.
Yeshua, the long awaited Messiah, sends out the disciples to proclaim the soon coming of the Kingdom of Heaven,
“As you go, proclaim, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is near,’ heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those afflicted with leprosy, expel demons. You have received without paying, so give without asking payment.” (Matthew 10:7–8, CJB).
With His earthly ministry, Yeshua sends his disciples to share with and add to the proclamation of the Kingdom.
“When Jesus announces that the Kingdom of God has come and is coming, this means that the last act has begun but not yet reached its climax: The last things have come and will come.” (Davies & Allison, 1998, Vol. I Matthew 3:2).
The proclamation of the Kingdom by both Yeshua and the Apostles was a proclamation of God’s reign as Edersheim (1896) wrote:
“A review of many passages on the subject shows that, in the Jewish mind, the expression ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ referred, not so much to any particular period, as in general to the Rule of God—as acknowledged, manifested, and eventually perfected” (Vol. 1, p. 267).
It is in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God as understood to be the rulership of God that will mean a perfected world that was the message of the proclamation of Yeshua and the Apostles and it is the Messiah himself that stands as the one who through His life did the work of making the Kingdom know, through His death and resurrection to make atonement and conquered death that allowed for the perfecting of sinful people and allowing for them to walk in God’s way of righteousness and by His ascension to take His place as King Messiah to allow for the work of the Bilateral Messianic Community to spread the message of the Kingdom to the uttermost parts of the world (Matthew 28:18-20) and then to return in glory to reign over the perfected world as the universally acknowledged Messiah and Lord where the words of Paul will be fulfilled:
“Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow— in heaven, on earth, and under the earth— and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is LORD— to the glory of God the Father.” (Php 2:9–11, CJB).
This series of posts surveyed the development of God as King through the development of the concept of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God in the Hebrew Bible, the further development of the Messianic hope in the Intertestamental years, the revelation of the Messianic hope and the Kingdom of God in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Yeshua and further looking at the issue of the Bilateral Messianic Community and the Kingdom of God in the Apostolic Writings epistles and Revelation. This survey of Scripture and Intertestamental writings has drawn a point of unity of the Kingdom of God concept into the person and work of Yeshua as the Messiah.
For those who missed any parts or would like to read the full series of posts that was a paper that I wrote in 2014, the full paper will be posted tomorrow.
Caragounis, C. C. (1992). Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven. In (J. B. Green & S. McKnight, Eds.) Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Davies, W. D., & Allison, D. C. (1988). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (Vol. 1). Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
Edersheim, A. (1896). The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Vol. 1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.