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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Thirteenth (Strangers)

Have you ever traveled to a different country? What about to a different state? Maybe just a vastly different part of the state you live in? Wherever you traveled, did you feel like a stranger? Did you feel out of place? Were there customs you were not...accustomed to? What about just words or phrases that you hadn't heard before or weren't used to? It can feel quite isolating to be in an unfamiliar place or surrounded by unfamiliar people.

We may have touched on this previously, but there is a belief out there that the kingdom of heaven Jesus was proclaiming is already here and that it's growing and will eventually develop into its full fruition on earth, at which time Jesus will return. The belief is that some, if not all, of the prophecy of Revelation has been fulfilled and the thousand year binding of Satan and reigning of Christ and the saints is in progress (Revelation 20:2, 4). The latter portion hinges on the belief that the thousand years is a figurative number, rather than a literal thousand year reign.

In one view, a justification is made that because Yeshua dealt with sin during His first coming (Hebrews 9:28), at His second coming there will be no sinners for Him to "deal with." This view states that Jesus reigning until all enemies are put under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25) means He will only return when the last person to be saved receives salvation (by accepting Yeshua Ha Mashiach as their Lord). Subsequently, upon His return, all remaining unsaved persons will be destroyed (hence completing the task of putting all enemies under His feet).

The view that the kingdom of heaven is currently reigning on earth and there will be no reigning of Christ on earth before the new heaven and new earth doesn't quite add up for a few reasons. First, it requires a completely figurative view of Jesus' return as seen by John in Revelation 19. Heaven opening and Jesus coming down on a white horse in righteousness and making war, ultimately slaying the armies of the beast and the kings of the earth, would have to be some figurative language because if there is no millennial reign of Christ on earth He would have to come and destroy all mankind, not just the armies.

Additionally, you would have to assume that the binding of Satan happens before Yeshua's return (as I said, the belief is that he is currently bound, and that binding began when Jesus rose from the dead). However, the beast (to whom Satan gave his power in Revelation 13:2) and false prophet are thrown into fire when Jesus returns, so how could Satan give his power if he was already bound?

The other, more obvious, reason the kingdom of heaven reigning on earth right now doesn't make sense is what we see happening in the world today. If Yeshua's kingdom is currently reigning, and there is no earthly reign in our future, then all of the Old Testament prophecies regarding His reign must already be fulfilled, or becoming fulfilled (if you believe His kingdom is coming to fruition gradually). As a result, prophecies stating He will rule from Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-5) have to be attributed to Him ruling from New Jerusalem which is currently still in heaven (Revelation 21:2).

If you look at prophecies like that in Micah though, you'll see things like people flowing to the house of the LORD at the top of the mountains, nations (types of people, not countries) coming to the top of those mountains, even nations being rebuked so forcefully that they transform their weapons into farming implements. Not only do I not see this happening right now, I see the opposite. I see people and countries devolving rather than improving. Financial systems are getting worse, we're on the brink of a war that will encompass the world, and people are rioting, promoting evil, and spreading fear in an effort to control the masses.

So where did this belief go wrong? Where did it stop being truth and start being deception? As you read through Hebrews 9, you'll see that the whole point of this chapter is to correlate what Israel performed with sacrifices as a part of the Law with what Jesus did when He rose. He does not have to stay in heaven in the presence of God as our High Priest until the last person is saved, because His sacrifice was once and for all (Hebrews 9:7, 25,26). The Hebrews writer makes it a point to say unlike the earthly priests, Jesus entering the Most Holy Place was only required once because it was the perfect sacrifice.

So, we see that Yeshua doesn't need to remain in the temple of Yehovah until the last person receives salvation. What about the part where He reigns until all enemies are put under His feet? This comes from a very common error in scriptural interpretation. The error is assuming that just because separate events are written all in one sentence, or one verse, or even one paragraph, it means those events occur directly sequential to each other.

The verses in 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:23-24) list Jesus' resurrection, return, putting down all rule and all authority and power, the end, and delivering up His kingdom to God. All these are listed together and one right after each other, so naturally it's easy to assume they will occur right after each other. However, as we read, the verse talk about Christ's resurrection and then immediately His people resurrecting at His coming. Clearly, His second coming hasn't occurred yet, and His resurrection occurred about 2000 years ago, so already we know there's a gap between those two things that are listed right after each other.

The next event listed is "the end," which is His delivering His kingdom to God. Why then would there not be a gap between the resurrection of Yeshua's saved, which is at His second coming, and the end? Why is it so hard to believe that the thousand year reign John wrote in Revelation is not a literal reign? Just because it hasn't happened yet?

You see, Jesus sitting at the right hand of God until His enemies are made His footstool (Psalm 110:1, Hebrews 10:12-13) does not mean He is required to literally sit at God's right hand and not move. If that were the case, how could He have appeared to the disciples after He rose? This statement "sit at my right hand" is a statement of the position Jesus was given, as God's "right hand man." God gave Him authority over all things, and as a result made all things His subjects (Ephesians 1:22, Hebrews 2:8).

Do not be confused though. Just because all of creation is under His subjection doesn't mean all enemies are under His feet or that all have pledged their allegiance to Him. The world is still in a state of rebellion that started by Adam and Eve's rebellion against God. As a perfect example, and one close to home, the thirteen colonies of America were originally subjects of the King of England. The rebellion against the crown occurred, and as a result the people no longer followed the laws of the king.

Now, there are subjects of the King of England currently in the United States. Their loyalty is to him, but they are living and working in the US. They are strangers in a strange land. The same is true of believers in Yeshua. Their loyalty is to Him, but they live and work in the world. While the US will likely not become subject to the King of England again in the future, we know that the world will most definitely become subject to King Yeshua in the future because we can read all the prophecies about His reign.

Yeshua is most definitely reigning in heaven, just like the King of England was reigning across the pond during the rebellion, and because of His reign we have spiritual authority on earth from Him. But, there will never be a point where all the nations worship Him, unless He is physically here reigning. If you don't believe me, just look at Israel. They devolved into dishonesty, bribery, and perversion of justice and eventually demanded that they needed an earthly king like all the other worldly nations, thereby rejecting God (1 Samuel 8:1-8). They wanted a ruler they could physically see.

We also know that God desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4), so it makes perfect sense that rather than destroy all unsaved upon His return, Jesus will instead rule over them to give them an opportunity to give their loyalty to Him. This is where the prophecy of Micah comes in and the putting of enemies under His feet starts to come to completion. The final enemy is death, of course, and he is clearly destroyed at the final judgment after Christ's earthly reign (Revelation 20:14) and when Jesus hands the kingdom over to God as prophesied in 1 Corinthians 15:24.

So, while we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, with loyalty to Jesus as King (Philippians 3:20), we currently are strangers in the world and are charged with not only maintaining our separation from it (James 1:27) but getting more individuals to join our kingdom (Matthew 28:19-20). Look forward to when our Yeshua comes on His white horse to rule all people with a rod of iron! Maranatha!

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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