God's End Game - Part 37
Series: God's End Game
September 08, 2019
You can’t discuss the doctrine of last things, you can’t figure out the end of God’s End Game, without first tackling a key teaching in the Bible, the kingdom of God.
We’re all familiar with the idea, but I bet most of us would be hard pressed to define it, to explain it effectively. So this morning I want to ask and answer two questions about the kingdom of God, AKA the kingdom of heaven found in the Bible.
The first is…
What is the kingdom of God?
To answer that we have to go back to a place we’ve already been in this series, back to the beginning of all things found in the book of Genesis. How many times have we done that?!
Genesis 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
I didn’t explain it this way at the time, but when you study the beginning you discover God did more than create all there is from nothing, he also set up his kingdom on earth.
Eden wasn’t just a garden, it was the dwelling place of God (and most likely a mountain) from which God ruled over creation, his kingdom. So, in the beginning, heaven and earth were literally brought together with God establishing his presence and rule on earth. Keep that in mind as we near the end of the end.
When God brought us into the picture, he gave us “dominion” over his creation…
Genesis 1:28 (ESV) — 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Giving us dominion was in a way allowing us to rule with him, under his authority, as part of the kingdom he established. But, and this something they don’t even probably teach you in seminary, there were other created beings charged with authority in God’s kingdom. Look at…
Psalm 82:1 (ESV) — 1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
The idea of a divine council is foreign to us, but in ancient Near Eastern thought it was a given. Practically every culture saw its gods as part of a pantheon of gods with one god having highest authority.
Even the ancient Israelite’s saw things that way, but what made them different than everybody else is Yahweh God wasn’t just a god but the one true God, who ruled over all divine beings. He had no match because all things, all beings, had been created by him.
This idea of God’s divine council is seen in 1 Kings 22 where the prophet Micaiah said…
1 Kings 22:19 (ESV) — 19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;
This host of heaven were divine beings, again created by God and thus inferior to him, who served on a council and were also known as the Sons of God.
God set the nations according to the number of these sons of God…
Deuteronomy 32:8 (ESV) — 8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind [most likely the tower of Babel], he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
Some translations will say “Sons of Israel” here, but the best translations, using the manuscripts found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, use “sons of God.” This ties directly into an encounter Daniel had with the angel Gabriel, the same angel sent to tell Mary about the birth of her son, Jesus…
Daniel 10:10–14 (ESV) — 10 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”
There we observe some of these sons of God, these members of his council, AKA princes, working against against God. Which means some of them must have rebelled. And that they did. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
Some of these sons of God are found in Genesis 6…
Genesis 6:1–4 (ESV) — 1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
We also see sons of God serving on a divine council still in session to spite some of them rebelling in Job 1…
Job 1:6–7 (ESV) — 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
Our minds are blowing right now. Satan was evidently on this divine council and still had access to God. I spent some time explaining that, or trying to, in our series on Job.
If I’m not careful, I’m going to be guilty of something I’ve condemned in others: getting so focused on the details I miss the big picture. I know our brains are on fire, and we want to explore this more but we must to move on. This will be one of AMA studies this fall.
For now let’s stay on track. Back to satan. We know he was in the garden in the beginning. We know he’s the evil, rebellious, angel who tempted Eve. But what we probably didn’t know is that he was most likely part of a divine council originally tasked with helping God rule over all creation, along with us.
But after the fall, Satan, along with those other rebellious divine beings, sought to set up his own world order, his own kingdom, one of suffering and pain and bondage and godlessness and utter hostility against the good and perfect kingdom of God.
That sounds off, blasphemous maybe, but when Jesus was preparing the disciples for his departure in John 14 he said…
John 14:30 (ESV) — 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,
There’s only one being he could be referring to. John the apostle wrote in his first letter…
1 John 5:19 (ESV) — 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth…
2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (ESV) — 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Lest you think I have demoted our sovereign God in any way, know this: God is the God of this world with a big “G.” Satan is the god of this world with a little “g.” Satan wouldn’t be the little “g” god if the big “G" God didn’t let him. His kingdom could have never been overcome if he hadn’t allowed it.
That’s why, when I talk about what happened in the garden, I’m always careful to say it appeared as if satan won, as if these wicked, rebellious, divine beings had actually succeeded in overcoming God.
One more thing before we move on. Paul had all this divine council stuff in mind when he wrote…
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) — 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Spiritual warfare happens everyday in an unseen realm where these rebellious divine beings have set up this dark kingdom in opposition to God.
Let’s go back to where started in trying to figure out what the kingdom of God is. The kingdom of God is his rule over all creation along with human and divine beings. But the devil and those rebellious angelic beings messed that up and formed their own.
You can’t comprehend the end without grasping this truth. The doctrine of last things doesn’t make sense unless we see it as part of that bigger picture.
If the coming Jesus is the major play in God’s end game, then restoring his kingdom with Jesus on the throne is the main purpose of God’s end game.
When we think of the end times we focus on the rapture and God taking us away to heaven, sparing us the tribulation. We make the last things about us. But it isn’t. It’s God setting up his kingdom for real and for good, crushing the god of this world and all his minions declaring with unwavering confidence: I WIN.
It’s God showing the devil who’s boss. It’s ultimately Jesus taking his place on an earthly throne as ruler of all things earth forever.
We have an idea of what God’s kingdom is and maybe an inkling of how it fits in to the last things but, and here’s the kicker, when is it?
When is it?
Why would you ask that, Pastor Brad. You just said the kingdom of God would be restored in The End. So it hasn’t happened yet. Are you losing it?
I do walk into a room and forget what I came in their for, which would worry me except I’ve been doing that all my life.
Jesus did say in Mark’s gospel…
Mark 1:15 (ESV) — 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Not only was it at hand, it had also come or arrived according to Jesus…
Matthew 12:22–28 (ESV) — 22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Ah, so the with the coming of Jesus the kingdom of God had come, had been restored. So you are losing it.
But wait a minute. The night of the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the celebration of the Lord’s Supper he said…
Luke 22:18 (ESV) — 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
Burn. I’m not losing it.
So has it come or has it not?
Last week I talked about how the End has already come in a way. The last days began with the coming of Jesus. He is himself the embodiment of the beginning and end of all things as the Alpha and Omega. It was through him and for him all things were created and in him and through him all things will come to and end and be remade.
What Jesus did on the cross and what he accomplished by rising from the grave are so sure, so mighty, so complete, so settled you might as well say the end already happened in the middle.
It’s the same way with the kingdom of God. With the coming of Jesus, his incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, the kingdom has both now and not yet arrived.
That’s a super important principle in making sense of the end times in general. So much of the prophecy surrounding it is both now and not yet, just as it was in the OT with prophecies concerning Jesus and God’s plans for Israel.
Conclusion: As we close, remember you can’t deal with God’s End Game plan without dealing with the doctrine of last things. And according to our theology book…
The doctrine of the last things describes the final outworking of God’s purposes and activity, as well as human and angelic destiny, at the end of the present age and the dawning of the age to come.
I feel confident saying that a critical piece of the last things puzzle is seeing how the kingdom of God fits into all of it.
God has established and will establish his kingdom on the earth and in the end, when the resurrection happens, on the last day, we will see Jesus installed as King of all Kings ruling over all there is, and we will rule with him!
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
That’s more relevant now than 2,000 years ago because we are closer to the not yet than we’ve ever been.
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