Do you believe, as is being taught in many charismatic circles, that the Church is going to bring about the kingdom reign with Jesus’ return? There are many that think that it is the church that is going to bring in the Kingdom on this earth, so that God’s glory will be seen and experienced by all mankind, and that then Jesus will return. Is that your thinking also?
Whatever our view concerning the role of human agency in the bringing in of the kingdom, we will need to square our view with a couple of much neglected verses that should be carefully considered in their contexts. They are: Isa 59:16 and Isa 63:5. The setting is clearly the post-tribulational deliverance of Israel, i,e., the eschatological Day of the Lord. In both places, the Lord is deliberate in His emphasis. “The day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come” (Isa 63:4), not because of the will of man, or because of anything in man, but because it is time. This is not to say that the timing of God is not in concert with the intercession of the church, but that the church’s intercession is not the initiating cause.
He will work in and through the church, but God is jealous that none imagine that His purpose waits upon man.
“Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come” (Ps 102:13). “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Ps 110:3). “But when it pleased God … to reveal His Son in me …” (Gal 1:15-16).
The time will not be determined by the church, but by the sovereign predetermination of God.
“For yet the end shall be for the time appointed …” (Dan 11:27) … even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed (Dan 11:35) … till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done” (Dan 11:36).
The corporate servant that God will use as a kind of mid-wife in Israel’s salvation, will be a body that has been emptied of presumption. It will not see itself as the source or cause of God’s saving action, but as privileged participants in the circle of grace (Ro 11:36). This is not splitting hairs; it is a repudiation of divine dependency on anything that has its source in man. God is very jealous for this all important distinction.
God Himself is the author of this paradox. What is He saying here? It is certainly clear that the tribulation church will be an intercessory and travailing people that will accomplish great break-through in heaven and power and victory on earth (Dan 11:32-33; Rev 11:3; 12:10). However, the form that this victory will take is a matter of great difference with what is envisioned by the advocates of ‘kingdom now’ or ‘dominion theology’.
The zeal of the church does not cause the kingdom to come, but the kingdom coming causes great zeal in the church. The manifest fulfillment of the events of the last seven years will be used of God to awaken and straighten the church to a final martyr witness of obedience unto death (Rev 12:10). Truly, another will gird the church and take her where should would not have wished (Jn 21:18).
In the same way that Michael came to the help of Daniel in response to his prayer and deep self abasement, we believe that it is through the church’s intercessory travail that Michael will prevail to cast down Satan (Rev 12:7-8). As I have shown elsewhere, this event is necessary to reveal the mystery of iniquity, which is the incarnation of Satan (the ‘seed of the serpent’) in the final ‘man of sin’.
This event begins the tribulation (Satan’s short time; Rev 12:12), which must come to “finish the mystery of God” at the last trump (compare Rev 10:7; 11:15 with Mt 24:31; 1Cor 15:52). Paul is clear in showing that Christ cannot come until this happens first (2Thes 2:3, 7-8). The early church had no thought of Christ’s return apart from these specific and recognizable preliminary events / signs.
So what does it mean to enter or bring in the kingdom? Whatever it means, it must take into account the principle of tribulation, as Paul was always careful to exhort the disciples “that we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Not only tribulation as a general principle of the believing life, but as a definite time that the church is appointed to endure, along with Israel, at the end of the age.
Tribulation purifies, because it empties us of our ‘power’ (confidence in self). The principle at work in Jacob’s wrestling with the Angel is a pattern for both Israel and the church. The scripture says, “when He sees that their power is gone …” (Deut 32:36), and “when He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Dan 12:7). It is Jacob’s power that must be broken in order for the kingdom to come. It is the same for the church. The kingdom comes to a broken and contrite people who have been brought by God to the end of their own power. “For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he” (Jer 31:11). Crisis reveals the remains of self sufficiency and unbelief, and so casts the believer in greater dependency on the Lord. “We through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God.”
Significantly, the church is translated and Jacob is saved at the end of great tribulation. There is a profound principle here. The kingdom comes at the last trumpet when Christ returns to destroy the Antichrist (2Thes 2:8), translate the church (1Cor 15:52) and deliver the penitent remnant of Jacob (Isa 59:21; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1-2; Ro 11:26). So it is not the church, but Christ Himself that brings in the kingdom. The church must endure with patience until the time appointed of the Father.
The saints posses the kingdom only AFTER they have first been “worn out” and “overcome” by the Antichrist in the final persecution of the 3 1/2 years (Dan 7:21-22, 25; Rev 6:10-11; 13:5, 7). Paradoxically, the saints that are being overcome are also overcoming and going from strength to strength, as “the people that know their God will be strong and do exploits, instruct many, and turn many to righteousness, loving not their lives unto death (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3; Rev 12:10). It is through the utter weakness of the end time church that a multitude that no man can number (Rev 7:9) will come out of “the tribulation, the great one” (literal translation of Rev 7:14). This implies the greatest harvest of souls the world has ever seen.
I believe the last 3 1/2 years will see the godly remnant come into a corporate fullness that will parallel the Lord’s ministry of 3 1/2 years. The glory of God in the church has always taken “the form of a servant”. When this fullness comes to a people in great tribulation, God will be able to say of them what He said of His preeminent Servant Son, “Behold My Servant!”
Yours in the Beloved, Reggie