Christ’s Kingdom — Spiritual or Physical?
One of the most erroneous teachings being passed off as truth these days is the doctrine of premillennialism. The premillennialist believes that Jesus will one day rapture all the saints before or during a period of great tribulation on the earth. During this tribulation, an, “Antichrist” will rise to political power and amass great armies that destroy everything in their path. At the end of this seven-year tribulation, the premillennialist believes that Christ will return and lead His armies to victory against the Antichrist at the battle of Armageddon. Christ will then supposedly re-establish the throne of David at Jerusalem (the kingdom of God), where Jesus will reign in peace and harmony for a thousand years.
While this is admittedly an exciting and intriguing doctrine, it simply does not harmonize with what the Bible says. First, the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus will return only once, and that this world will then be consumed in a fervent heat (cf. Heb. 9:28; 2 Thess. 3:9-14). Second, when John uses the term, “antichrist” in his writings, it always refers to an attitude or doctrine, not a specific individual (cf. 1 John 4:1-3). Third, the Bible clearly states that the political throne of David came to an end in Jeremiah’s day. Let’s consider this truth in light of premillennial teaching:
Who was Jehoaichin? — Jeremiah 22 records the fates of four of the last five kings of Judah. You will remember that in prophecy, Judah was the tribe of royalty, the tribe from which the Messiah would emerge (cf. Gen. 49:10). Jehoaichin was the second-to-last king of Judah. He sat on the throne of David a mere three months before being taken captive to Babylon. Notice what is said of him: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Write this man down as childless… none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah’” (Jer. 22:30). Jehoaichin (also called Jeconiah or Coniah) was doomed to live out his days in chains, and Jeremiah prophesied that none of Jeconiah’s descendants would return to a national rule of Judah. The age of political kings from the tribe of Judah saw its end with the captivity of Jehoaichin.
What became of David’s descendants? — God had promised David that his seed would one day give rise to the Messiah (2 Sam. 7:12-13). With the removal of Jehoaichin from power, it looked as if there might be no Messiah after all! In the midst of people’s despair, however, God inspired Jeremiah with one of his most important prophecies: “I will raise to David a BRANCH of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth” (Jer. 23:5). Despite the fact that David’s political throne was no more, God still promised a King for His people!
What kind of King is Jesus? — Matthew 1:11 records that David’s bloodline did indeed continue through Jeconiah until Jesus. Interestingly, although they had the right credentials, Joseph and Mary did not have any political power in Israel (fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy). Joseph was a simple carpenter from an unpopular corner of Israel called Nazareth. Still, Matthew 1 fully demonstrates that Jesus had the credentials to be the kind of political King that David was. Jesus had a different kingdom in mind, however: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). You see, Jesus fully intended to establish a kingdom, but He NEVER intended to claim the literal throne of David and reign on earth, as premillennialism teaches. Those who have obeyed the Lord in faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are, “transferred into the kingdom of the Son” (Col. 1:13). May all men repent, for the kingdom is HERE, and the King is already on His throne! — John Baker