A Literal Kingdom on Earth
Evangelicals often use the phrase One Messiah, two appearances. Although most of the world acknowledges the first appearance—a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger—few realize that this same Jesus will come again as King of kings and Lord of lords to establish a genuine, earthly Kingdom.
First, Jesus will return to rescue an embattled Israel at the conclusion of the seven-year Tribulation, called by the prophet Jeremiah, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). Jesus will again enter human history in visible form and “seek to destroy all the nations [Gentiles; Hebrew, hagoyim] that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:9).
Israel will recognize Him and “shall look upon me [God] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son” (Zech 12:10).
God revealed this advent to the prophet Daniel. In Daniel 2, Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a great image. It represented the Gentile powers that would dominate Israel and her people. In interpreting the vision, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar,
Thou sawest until a stone was cut out without hands [Messiah], which smote the image upon its feet. . . . And in the days of these kings [ten rulers represented by the image’s ten toes] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; . . . but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (Dan. 2:34; 44).
Then, as the rightful heir of King David, Jesus will reign on Earth from Jerusalem. God gave this exact promise to Jesus’ mother, Mary, when the angel Gabriel told her, “and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David” (Lk. 1:32). David’s throne was a literal, earthly reality.
Further confirmation of Messiah’s literal, earthly rule can be found in Isaiah 11, which reveals a measure of its scope and design:
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse [David’s father], and a Branch shall grow out of his roots;…And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears, But with righteousness shall he judge the poor,…and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (vv. 1, 3–4).
Clearly, this is an earthly Kingdom because it contains both poor and wicked people. Yet the King will judge fairly and tolerate no evil. Furthermore, the Jewish people will be the Kingdom’s spiritual leaders when “ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that
God is with you” (Zech. 8:23). Messiah also will assure peace within nature (Isa. 11:6–7). The Old Testament does not reference the duration of the Millennial Kingdom, but the New Testament states it will endure for one thousand years (Rev. 20:4). Those who enter will be the righteous, resurrected dead of all time, plus the believing Tribulation survivors (Rev. 20:4–6). Others who survive the Tribulation but reject Messiah will be taken in judgment (Mt. 25:46). Thus the Millennial Kingdom will be composed of resurrected saints; ordinary human beings; and the glorified, resurrected King of kings and Lord of lords ruling on literal planet Earth.