We were recently looking at 1 Cor 15 and came across the words: “Flesh and Blood Shall Not Inherit the Kingdom.” You may have touched on this before, but I could use a little input on that in regards to the anticipated restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. Do you see my dilemma? or should I elaborate?
The passage on flesh and blood is about the necessity of change before the kingdom of God can be inherited in its final perfection. The kingdom is here in one sense. It is right now, peace, righteousness, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We have already been translated into the kingdom of His dear Son. The kingdom that was already here all throughout the OT (Ps 103:19; 145:13; Dan 4:34) was ‘at hand’ and present in the preaching of Christ. It came in power with the revelation of Christ. The kingdom came and was present in mighty signs in the ministry of Jesus (Lk 11:20). After the tribulation, it will come at the seventh trumpet (Rev 11:15). “In the days of these kings (the ten kings that unite their strength with the beast) will the God of heaven set up a kingdom …” (Dan 2:44; 7:13-14). Still, this is not the final perfection, as the fullness of the kingdom and the final destruction of death does not come until after Christ has reigned over the earth for a thousand years.
All this is to say, the millennial earth, though the setting of the greatest expression of the kingdom of God on earth, since the miracle of Christ’s resurrection, is not rightly called the kingdom of God. It is a stage in the progress of the kingdom. It is an expression of the kingdom, but it is not the perfection of the kingdom. To inherit the kingdom in its perfection, one must be changed. One must put on immortality. This is the final glorified state of the spirits of just men made perfect. It is the resurrection of the body.
At the end of the tribulation, a surviving remnant of Jews are saved in one day. If we interpret the scripture in its plain and literal sense, it is apparent that these repentant Jewish survivors of the great tribulation are not raptured, but go into the millennial age in natural bodies. They are full of the Spirit, but they build houses, have children, witness to the nations of God’s good news, and many other specified functions and activities too many to mention.
So at the same last trumpet, two things are happening, the penitent remnant of Israel are looking upon Him whom they pierced, and becoming, in that instant of time, a born again nation with a fully saved population (Isa 4:3; 60:21; Jer 31:34). At the same moment that the surviving Jewish remnant is being saved at the revelation of Jesus, all who are already “in Christ” are instantaneously translated into glorified immortality. This happens at the last trump, which we see at the end of the tribulation (compare Isa 27:13 with Mt 24:31; 1Cor 15:52; Rev 10:7; 11:15-18).
This means that all who are not raptured or destroyed at Christ’s return go into the millennium in natural bodies. This brings the question, what happens to those who were either not saved until after the rapture, or that were saved sometime later during the millennium?
The answer has to be the “second resurrection. All who are not included in the “first resurrection” (Rev 20:4) will be raised at the end of the millennium (Rev 20:13). And while only the unjust are specifically mentioned, the rule that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom, together with the certain knowledge that many will be saved during the millennial age (Isa 2:3; 49:22; 60:5, 9; 66:19-20; Zech 2:11; 8::23; Ro 11:12, 15) makes it necessary to infer that all who will be saved after the rapture MUST be raised at the second resurrection.
This, of course, leaves the question of where will the glorified, resurrected redeemed be in relation to the saints of Israel and all that will be saved during the millennium. Will they co-habit the same space? Will mortals dwell with glorified immortals in the same physical location and discourse with one another as naturally as mortals do now? That does not seem to be how the scriptures depict life in the millennium.
It is a difficult question, but I think when all the relevant scriptures are duly compared and considered, it seems a possible solution might be to consider that the glorified redeemed rule from a transcendent realm that will not be immediately visible to mortals. In this way, the glorified redeemed can exercise rule over the five or ten cities at once, just as principalities and powers exercise their rule over cities and nations now.
Of course, the glorified redeemed are not angels, but they are “like” the angels, and like the angels, even though their bodies have been changed and glorified, they now know even as they are known, and can continually behold the face of Jesus, without all the kinds of diversions that confront even Spirit filled mortals. In this capacity, they will be able to perfectly mediate in the administration of the king’s rule over Israel and the nations, much, I believe, like the angels do now, even as the risen Jesus, certainly with His glorified body well intact, is able to be to us a “quickening spirit.”
In this way, the “spirits of just men made perfect” will exercise a quickening influence and authority over cities during the millennium, but I believe this will be done from heavenly realms that will not be immediately visible to mortals, as they go about to carry on daily functions under the rule of Christ. A world evangelism will go out from Jerusalem, but this will not be conducted by the saints in glory, but by Spirit filled Jews, and, of course, the body of Christ will exist wherever Jew or gentile is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Now that you have gone and gotten yourselves into one of the most difficult and controversial questions of prophecy, it looks like you’ll have your homework cut out for you for a while :-)