Last month, we began a brief summary of some features of the coming kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, looking at its certainty, its commencement, and its character. In this (concluding) article, we will touch on its climax and its continuation.
The Climax of His Kingdom
The reign of our Lord Jesus Christ over this present earth will not go on forever. After 1000 years, as described in Revelation 20:7-15, a series of events will occur in close succession that will result in Satan, his living followers, and the resurrected unrighteous dead being consigned to the lake of fire. The present earth and heavens will be dissolved, and the new heavens and new earth, “wherein dwelleth righteousness,” will be formed (2Peter 3:10-13).
A description of what this will mean as far as the kingdom is concerned is given in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. At that time, He “shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” Every enemy (the last one being death) will have been destroyed. Then, all things having been “put … under His feet,” He will deliver up “the kingdom to God, even the Father” (KJV).
These verses are glorious. Since the entrance of sin in Genesis chapter 3, the world has not been totally in subjection to God. Down the centuries of earth’s history, God’s enemies have always been present and active. The Son of God has been given the work of bringing everything fully, and finally, into complete subjection to God. At this point, that work will have been fully accomplished. Sin, and every enemy, will have been banished forever, with no possibility of any opposition to God ever raising its head again. Having completed the work of redemption and restoration, the Son will present the kingdom to His Father, in the full satisfaction of having done His work completely, and to the eternal delight of His Father.
And thus will begin the “day of God” (2Peter 3:12), in which the Son will not cease to be subject to the Father: “Then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him” (1Cor 15:28, KJV). This in no way implies inferiority, but shows that the distinctions between Divine Persons will continue to exist in eternity. That blessed state of harmony, in which each One has His unique position, and functions in His own role, distinctly, yet in perfect unity, will continue forever. Eternally and unchangeably, God (the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit) will be “all in all” (1Cor 15:28, KJV).
The Continuation of His Kingdom
The statement that “He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father” does not mean that the kingdom will have come to an end or that it is no longer His. Mary was told that “He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33, KJV). John heard great voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15, KJV). Peter speaks of his readers having an entrance “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2Peter 1:11, KJV).
So the kingdom will continue, and will be of the same character as the millennial kingdom: a universal kingdom of righteousness, peace, knowledge of Him, joy, and worship. Indeed, so many are the similarities between millennial and eternal conditions that it is difficult to say with certainty what is being described in Revelation 21:9-22:5: Is it the Millennium, or the eternal state, or both? The fact that good brethren differ on this question is evidence that there is continuity of character between the two.
However, there is no doubt that, great as the kingdom will be in millennial days, it will be even greater thereafter. In the Millennium, there will be people in mortal bodies, and there will still be death (Isa 65:20); in the eternal state “there shall be no more death” (Rev 21:4, KJV). The Millennium will be on an earth marked by the effects of the Fall with millions of bodies lying in it awaiting the resurrection of the unjust, and geological evidence of the flood of Noah’s day; nothing indicative of death or judgment will exist in the “new earth” (Rev 21:1). By the end of the Millennium, there will be many unrighteous people who will rise in rebellion against the King (Rev 20:8); in the new earth there will be only righteousness (2Peter 3:13). The former will last 1000 years; the latter will be forever.
Then, forever, we, His Church, His bride, will be with Him, sharing His glory, enjoying His presence, and delighting in His love. In “the ages to come” God will “shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:7, KJV). What a bright prospect awaits His bride: first, His coming (at the Rapture) to take us to His home; followed by the marriage of the Lamb; then His return to earth for the millennial “marriage supper;” culminating in our eternal dwelling with Him, in an unbreakable union of measureless, unending love. How thankful we are that “Christ … loved the Church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph 5:25, KJV). And truly we can say, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1John 4:19, KJV).
Soon will the Bridegroom come,
His bride from earth to call.
We, glorified with Him, shall reign,
Till God be all in all.
As, amidst all the troubles and trials and tears of this world, we eagerly await those glorious days, we ought ever to keep in mind (and be encouraged and exhorted by) the precious words of 1 Peter 5:10-11: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (KJV).