Setting the Table:
The kingdoms (“God” and “Heaven”) are fundamental to dividing scripture correctly, and a failure to do so results in many modern day doctrines that are wrong, divisive and more so, fail to provide a CLEAR understanding to God’s complete time line (past, present and future). The offshoots from the inability to hold to a literal kingdom (Kingdom of Heaven) are seen in the doctrines of “replacement theology”, post-millennialism and a-millennialism.
Again this bears repeating; though we may not separate over such doctrines – this lack of seeing these two kingdoms as different prevent the “right division” of scripture and a “common sense” understanding to the Bible – so grasping this is not non-fundamental, but in essence a necessity.
The Stumbling Block:
There is a simple foundation that is necessary to going forward, and if that is not in place, then the readers surveying of this article will both prove pointless and an exercise in time wasting. The “stumbling block” to understanding the scriptures, is a false view of what the focus of scripture is; and it often times comes in these forms of thought;
- The Bible is about YOU (get over yourself)
- The Bible is about CALVARY (get over yourself)
- The Bible is about SALVATION (get over yourself)
- The Bible is about the CHURCH (get over yourself)
So what is it about then? It’s about “Kingdoms”, it’s about Satan’s attempt to take that which is not his, to remove dominion and authority over that which God has handed down to another man, or that which God Himself is the authority over. That’s ridiculous you say…..
As the facts are presented below and if you choose to not believe them – so be it; but I implore you NOT to continue reading this if you don’t agree that’s its about “Kingdoms” for I’m sure that you the reader would find your time better spent elsewhere; and I mean that with all sincerity and respect to you.
If you unsure however, here is some supporting evidence, if sure, skip this part:
- At some moment of early history, prior to the earth in it’s current state, the LORD GOD created the “anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14) – Satan. He was placed in a role of authority; he was perfect, and his own beauty was his weakness (Ezekiel 28:17). In the multitude of his sin, his hearts desire became that which was not his, but that of the Kingdom of God (the Spiritual Kingdom in Heaven), Isaiah 14:13 says “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God”. Satan at that point desired the Kingdom of God, and like any good King, Jesus Christ, banished Satan and his followers out of Heaven. Right at the outset, before the creation of MAN, Satan, desired and wanted to rule the Kingdom of God. His aims, his schemes, his plans and his goals are always to that end; to rule and to reign that which Christ has the authority over, or that to which Christ has handed authority over to man by way of Kingdom.
- We know biblically the next set of events was that of the creation of man, and Adam was given authority (Genesis 1:28) over the garden “eastward IN Eden”, now known as modern day Iraq. Adam was given full “dominion” and “authority” – ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”. As we know, Satan thwarted this kingdom, over which Adam was head. Not a kingdom you say? Hebrews 2:7 “Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet, he left nothing that is not put under him”
To cut a long story short, we see authority given by God, and we see authority corrupted and taken by ‘force’ by Satan (Please read Matthew 11:12), as he leads the ‘sons of God’ to copulate with the daughters of men (Genesis 6:1-4); as he attempts to corrupt the seed of men to subvert the prophesied literal reign of Christ (Genesis 3:15, that’s not Calvary, that’s the Literal Reign!). Again, we see a new start with Noah, and similar words used, as given by God to Adam; “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered”. But like Adam, Noah was naked and he sinned. The Kingdom of Heaven was now again taken (remember, “heaven” in it’s predominant use in scripture, refers to that which is physical that the LORD created, not heaven where the LORD dwelleth).
Again and again, we see Satan thwart “man” at his attempt to thwart Christ’s foretold literal reign – with the Tower of Babel, with Noah by corruption of seed (angels fornicating with “man”) then with Abraham in his corruption of seed through Ishmael; in Jacob with the promise of a “literal kingdom”, with Moses and the promise but the wickedness of the people; with the reign of King Saul and his failure, with the reign of King David and that promise but thereafter a split in the kingdoms; to which we further see Israel scattered through history; then in 1948 being re-assembled in the physical land-mass (Israel) where Christ is prophesied to return from the East. It is this promise of Christ’s literal reign (the Messiah) – that was the desire then, and is still the desire now of God’s Chosen People (Elect as a Nation) – the Jews. This is satan’s strategy – to do everything in his power to prevent the “literal reign” of Jesus Christ, to hinder his authority – is this not his original sin in challenging the authority of GOD? Is it not also peculiar, that the set of events that soon follow this, is “satan” once and for all being cast into the lake of fire, and defeated – leaving an end to his reign over the earth, but more so an end to his “kingdoms”(Revelation 20:10).
The Bible is many things, and dear to us by margins untold by any man, there is many products to Christ’s work at Calvary, His plan for Israel and the Church; but these are parts to the Bible, they are not the theme of the Bible – rather it’s a book dealing with kingdoms, and their authority.
Why is the Kingdoms not made plain?
I’ve met many men who struggle with understanding the Kingdoms and to be fair, even the author himself has struggled to come to terms with it, but through prayer, support from wise godly men and more especially a peace from God, the matter is settled and hence the desire to share, what is rarely taught, considered or even questioned. In reviewing the Kingdoms, it is obvious to understand why one would take the position of it being the same; the Bible lends itself to almost appearing that way; as they (KoH vs KoG) are used inter-changeably. But we know there are some truths in scripture, some doctrine that is not “made” plain to the intent of sifting the chaff from the wheat. A great example of that is “Election”; to which many would mis-construe by the language of the King James, that God elected individuals prior to salvation prior to creation; but a deeper understanding and study of scripture will reveal (if the readers heart be pure and open); that Election is true; but Election is found IN CHRIST whereby individuals are saved according to God’s foreknowledge. Unsure, reference the past article “Understanding Election”.
The point friend, is that somethings in scripture are not as “plain” as they appear to be, and require a further deeper study and a seeking of God. Perhaps the greatest questions any student of God’s Word can ask is;
- Does the doctrine/truth I see in scripture, speak to the Character and Nature of the God in the Bible?
- What is the impact of the position I believe scripture is teaching? What does it mean as a ripple affect to the rest of scripture?
The Kingdoms dear friend are indeed a mystery, in fact they make up the 12 Mysteries found in our Bibles which are listed below. Remember, a mystery, is simplistically, that which is revealed in part, and that which in part is hidden. We are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1), and sadly this “mysteries” are rarely taught or preached. They are:
- Mystery of the Kingdom of God (Col 1:26)
- Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:11)
- Mystery of God becoming Flesh (1 Timothy 3:16)
- Mystery of Salvation By Faith (Romans 16:15)
- Mystery of Eventual Oneness Of All Created Beings (Ephesians 1:9-10)
- Mystery of Gentiles in the Same Body (Ephesians 3:3)
- Mystery of Christ and His Bride (Ephesians 5:30-32)
- Mystery of the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51)
- Mystery of Iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12)
- Mystery of the Seven Churches (Revelation 1:20)
- Mystery that Israel will be blinded for a while and then restored (Romans 11:25)
- Mystery Babylon (Revelation 17:1-5)
Surveying these list of 12, you will quickly see a list that is true to scripture but more so, truths that more often that not people struggle with, and from which “cults” deviate to form. These “mysteries” though now revealed in scripture, require a little more digging and a little more “kneeling”!
One More Thing
Before we get into the meat of our topic; one more thing, to help make the picture clear and crisp; and that of “Parables”. Many suggest (as I myself was taught); that parables are spiritual allegories (earthly story with a heavenly meaning) – left unto interpretation by application with one predominant truth. That’s partially true. Some also suggest that “parables” were used by Jesus Christ (our LORD and soon to be King) to help the “hearers” understand scripture. Thirdly many suggest that the parables are non-doctrinal, and meant for “application”. All three suggested thoughts are false.
- Firstly, the parables have a common base and a common message. Most parables are based on a man who is in authority, and that man typifies Christ or God. Quote from Eight Kingdoms “There is no parable where the man in authority is anyone other than Deity”.
- The Parables were all used by Jesus Christ to confound the Jews, who now had rejected the “literal kingdom” and thus the LORD made the understanding more difficult.
Matthew 13:10 “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given”
Luke 8:10 “And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand”
- Parables are “doctrinal”
Matthew 7:28 “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine”
Mark 4:2 “And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,….”
Why is this important? Because there are 12 “parables” in Matthew 13-25 have direct application to the Kingdom of Heaven. By understanding them, we can understand the Kingdom of Heaven; the author suggests that a study be made of this for a deeper understanding.
The Kingdom of Heaven and The Kingdom of God is Not The Same
If they are so inter-changeable as we would like them to think how do we get by the fact that the “Kingdom of God” is considered “spiritual”?
Luke 17:20-21 “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you”.
Romans 1:7 “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”
1 Corinthians 15:50 “Now this I say, brethren that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”
Obviously, and there is no need to get into (common knowledge); but there is a promised “literal kingdom” all the way from the Old Testament to the New; which is clearly outlined in Matthew and Revelation specifically (1000 year reign of Christ, the Millennium, where the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven will be one). A physical kingdom, where Christ will sit, and reign – this is the Kingdom of Heaven.
However, to say the Kingdoms are the same prior the actual physical reign of Christ, is then to say, the literal and spiritual Kingdom are one through out history; which is then to imply that the Kingdom foretold in the Old Testament and promised to the Jews, had the same message (gospel) that is now preached to the Gentiles or vice versa; which then naturally leads to the belief that the message of gospel has been the same throughout all of the history of man……and this goes on and on, removing dispensational truth in it’s extreme (Jesus died 2000 years ago, message was not the same, the method for atonement definitely is, but not the message), and eventually leading to the understanding that the Church, is the continuation of Israel (only one “people”, the elect, given different names but the remnant of God throughout – which is incorrect). This is both dangerous and a violation of truth found in the King James Bible.
Added to that; why is it that only Matthew makes use of the term “Kingdom of Heaven”? We know this book to be predominantly Jewish focused (as an audience), but also emphasizes on the attribute of Christ as King (whereas Mark focuses on Him as Servant, Luke on Him as Man, and John on Him as Deity -God). Not only that, the rest of the other 3 gospels have a focus on Gentiles as their “audience”.
Further more; there has to be two different Kingdoms, because there is two different messages; at the time of Christ and John the Baptist. The bible clearly records John the Baptist preaching “the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 3:2), and that is all he preached. Note as well, both Kingdoms required “repentance”, but only the Kingdom of God, required “belief” (Mark 1:15). Entrance into the “Kingdom of heaven” was accepting Christ as Messiah and turning from sin to good works; whereas, entrance into the “Kingdom of God”, (is/was) – water birth (physical) and Spirit birth (John 3:3-5).
Jesus preached both “kingdoms” after John the Baptist had been imprisoned; as the Bible goes on to record (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14). Jesus took up the role to offer the kingdom to the Jews and had they received Christ, He would have commenced His reign on earth, and the two kingdoms would have been immediately instituted as “Christ’s kingdom”. However the difference is that Jesus only called the Kingdom of God as the gospel, not Kingdom of Heaven. And after His resurrection, He only dealt with the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Again friend, are these differences in wording and nature just an inter-change of words to reflect the same thing; or is there something that the Holy Spirit desires us to take note off?
Interesting to note again, Jesus commanded the disciples not to preach the Kingdom of Heaven to Gentiles. But it is only the Kingdom of God that is preached by the disciples after Christ’s death.
I do intend writing a second part, Lord willing to deal with the parables and how they relate to each individual kingdom, but these are just a foundation and some thoughts on why the Kingdoms can only be considered – as two different things as opposed to the same thing. It Because both Kingdoms are present at the Millennial, that makes scripture appear to be making them the same.
Why the use of the two so inter-changeably in scripture?
A passing thought, as the author tried to grapple with this truth of the Kingdoms – a question kept popping up ; “Why are there parables found in Matthew and in the other Gospels, where Kingdom of God is inter-changed with Kingdom of Heaven, surely that must mean their the same?”. The author found peace in the following assertion:
- The perspectives of the each man (disciple) was different. Again for Matthew, what he was relating to what Christ said, was in a Jewish context, and what spoke to his heart, was the Jews rejection of their King. To John, he was more caught up with Christ’s power and His deity. Different emphasis, based on personality, and what God desired.
- Secondly, if this Book, our Bibles was formed by the minds of “men” I would most certainly consider both as the same; but it’s not, the book is inspired, it is God-breathed, God-led, God-fed, and God-directed. No word or letter is out of place, but is directly all that God intended it to be.
- Thirdly, if you look at the parables more intently, you will see that there are differences of emphasis in them; they are not verbatim; but make different points, for different purposes – that is. they are applicable to the different Kingdoms. Again, these men didn’t take “liberty” with Jesus Christ’s words, there was something specific that was intended, and given by the Holy Spirit.
I pray this may aid you.
To not read and take in perspective of others is myopic and foolish; and the author has made all final decisions based on a “peace from God” and “illumination from Spirit”; but has heeded both sides, by reading both sides as an additive to the only true source of truth – Scripture. I
Holds To Position of Kingdoms Being The Same:
- Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven: Is there a difference? – Ward Fenley 
- The McCarthur Bible Commentary – John McCarthur 
Holds To Position of Kingdoms Not Being The Same: