Was the Kingdom of God Postponed?
I find it remarkable how the understanding of the kingdom of God described above (in the first article) has flourished over the past hundred and fifty years or so, and especially in the past hundred years! It seems that it got its greatest boost from the advent of the Scofield Bible by Mr. Cyrus Ingersoll Scofield in 1908, an avid Zionist, and a zealous promoter of the dispensational, pre-millennial view. Quite effective in this endeavor were his copious pre-millennial, dispensational notes and commentary right along with, and in many cases, even inserted into the text of the King James Bible.
Strangely enough, it seems that many disciples accepted his notes and commentary almost to as great a degree as they did the inspired text. Because of this factor, this teaching spread rapidly among disciples of the 20th century. An enormous number of these Bibles have been sold over the years, evidenced by the fact that it is now in its 7th or 8th edition. Incorporated into this dispensational, pre-millennial view was Mr. Scofield’s belief of a future “rapture” of the saints; a teaching of recent origin based on John N. Darby’s interpretation of 1 Thes. 4:13-18, back around the year 1830. Consequently, this view of a future “rapture,” being now a part of Mr. Scofield’s bible, has garnered the support of many in Christendom, where such had not been the case before.
At this point, because this is such an important subject, coupled with the fact that it is also the understanding of so many disciples, I believe it to be well worth our time and effort to examine it and see if it enjoys the support of our Father’s word we will examine it enough so as to reach a fair and informed conclusion as to its validity! From the outset, I want to say that I believe the Scriptures do serve as their own best commentary as well as their own best interpreter. I think you will agree with me, that it really doesn’t matter what I may think about any particular bible matter, because if it doesn’t measure up to the standard—our Father’s Word—then it counts for nothing. As Paul said in Rom. 3:4, “…let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…” In other words, if I say one thing about some matter, but our Father’s Word says something different; well, let’s just say it‘s “strike three“ for me, O. K?
Does the NT Teach the Postponement of the Kingdom of God?
One new testament passage that is often offered in support of the idea that God delayed the establishment of Christ’s kingdom is Rom. 11:25-26. Here, Paul said:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uniformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. and thus all Israel will be saved: just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
Many who support the “replacement theology” concept look at this passage and conclude that every descendant of Jacob will “all” one day, repent, accept Jesus as their Messiah and be saved. They tend to believe this concept to such a degree that they even refrain from putting forth any effort to evangelize the Jews! They seem to reason that since they (the Jews) are all going to be saved anyway, then there is simply no need to try and convert them to the Messiah. They reject the idea that the kingdom of God has been established, thus, there is no need to bring the Jews into what has been done!
But let me say this; whatever Paul meant by the phrase, “…and thus all Israel will be saved,” he directly ties that statement to the coming in of what he calls, “the fullness of the Gentiles.” I don’t know what you might think about this matter, but personally, I have come to understand Paul’s use of “gentiles” in this context, to be speaking in particular of the remnant from the descendants of the house of Israel (ten northern tribes) who became Gentiles after the Assyrian captivity and Diaspora of 721 B. C. And if you would bear with me I would like to explain how I came to that conclusion.
Please notice in that same verse (Romans 11:25), that Paul spoke of a ”mystery,” which he now reveals to the disciples at Rome. A mystery, as it is used here, simply means something which before had been hidden. Paul explains this great mystery. He says the mystery was that “a partial hardening (hardening in part–KJV) has happened to ’Israel (the twelve tribes-jg), until the fullness of the gentiles has come in.”
I now call your attention to the expression, “in part/partial” in verse 25. Folks, I believe it is imperative that we have a correct understanding of exactly to whom it is that Paul has reference in his use of the term, “partial” as it relates to this mystery hardening that had happened. First, his use of “Israel” in this context, is used in the broader sense (as I have indicated in bold print in parenthesis) speaks of the twelve tribes. However, within that larger context is the matter of the “partial hardening” of which Paul speaks. Here, he is speaking of a “section or part” of the twelve tribes. Regarding this term “partial,” notice what James Strong says. Under his # 3313, he says that the Greek word for “part” here is “miros” (pronounced “meros”). He says that it comes from a primary word “meiromai,” which means: “a section; a division or share; a piece.” I believe this somewhat simplifies Paul’s meaning of the term “in part,” as it pertains to Israel here. Therefore, in this context, Paul is saying that a “section, division, piece, or part” of the twelve tribes, had been hardened, “until the fullness of the gentiles has come in.” In order to remain true to the context, I understand this piece or part of Israel that had been hardened, to be none other than the unbelieving Jews of the house of Judah. This also comports with Paul’s olive tree analogy of verses 16-24. We’ll have more to say on that a little bit later. And so this was what Paul describes as a mystery. For it had been prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 6:10 where God, speaking of Judah, said: “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
Yes, this is the mystery, of which Paul speaks. In the days of Isaiah, this plan of God was hidden from the understanding of those who heard it. In fact, it remained hidden until Paul’s day. And now the time had come for it to be revealed and fulfilled. Hear his words in Acts 28:25-28 to a group of unbelieving Jews to whom he spoke upon his arrival at Rome, where he quotes Isaiah’s prophecy:
“…The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers; ‘Go to this people and say, You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I should heal them. Let it be known to you (unbelieving Jews -jg) therefore, that this salvation of God has been sent to the gentiles; they will also listen.”
Be sure to get a copy of Don K. Preston’s book, Seal Up Vision and Prophecy, for an in-depth examination of the issue of the postponement of the kingdom of God. This book shows, in a very effective manner, that that God knew beforehand (He predicted it) the Jewish unbelief and said that Israel’s unbelief would not, and could not thwart His purpose.