“I Appoint Unto You a Kingdom”

“I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may … sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” —Luke 22:28,29

THESE words were spoken by Jesus to his apostles on the night of the Last Supper, after commemoration of the Passover had ended. They are not found in any of the other three Gospel accounts; but we do find in the Gospels of Luke and John, that our Lord spoke quite at length with the twelve after the conclusion of supper.

The words of our theme scripture assure us that Jesus had the authority to promise his disciples appointment to positions of rulership in his kingdom. His authorization came from God; and the Old Testament confirmed this fact over and over again. We will take a look at some of the scriptures which supported Jesus in this conviction, and which he then imparted to his apostles as reinforcement of their faith in him, his coming kingdom, and their share in it.

Jesus was aware of the fact that when he would be taken from them, a matter of only a few hours away, they would be very perplexed as to whether there was actually to be a kingdom, after all, or whether they had followed “cunningly devised fables.” (II Pet. 1:16) And so, in the last few hours of his earthly time with them, Jesus spoke comforting words which they would remember after his departure and would comprehend when they had received the Holy Spirit. They would constitute just the comfort and strength which they would need to reaffirm their faith.

Jesus emphasized what had been she focus of his ministry during his entire lifetime of service on earth—“The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He knew his faithful disciples had a firm hold on the hope of the long-promised Messianic kingdom, and he knew they were certain that they would be associated with Jesus as rulers in his kingdom. (Matt. 20:21) Yet he also recognized that their very limited knowledge of what that hope actually embodied could be damaged or diminished when he suddenly left them under such trying circumstances. How could there be a kingdom when the king was gone—arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced, crucified until dead, and buried in a tomb? Jesus’ concern was that they should continue to be completely convinced that their hope was indeed a valid one. “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father has appointed unto me.”

Two thousand years later, this hope is still valid! Each passing year we should remember the words of our Master, and recall how this hope must be uppermost in our minds. The whole purpose of the Lord having called us, revealing unto us the truth—the knowledge of his plan, is that we might share with him in a kingdom which he has appointed unto us. Jesus’ ministry did not end with his death; it has continued to effectively reach each one he desires to call to be his disciple. His ministry has continued right down to our day. As we study the record of our Master’s teaching in God’s Word, we find it means as much to us today as it did to his followers when he spoke the words directly to them so long ago: “I appoint unto you a kingdom.”

Jesus was moved to assert in this statement the authority which he had received from the Scriptures themselves, confirming the fact that he was indeed a king, and would indeed have a kingdom, and would indeed share that kingship with his faithful followers. He was fully aware, however, as he began his ministry, that his kingdom would not actually be established on earth until nearly two thousand years down the course of history.

Jesus had learned something about this from the words of the Prophet Isaiah, who wrote: “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”—Isa. 9:1,2

As recorded in Matthew the fourth chapter, verses 12-17, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. “Jesus … departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, The land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus went to Capernaum, near Zebulun and Naphtali, upon the commencement of his ministry. After finding no hearing ears in that place, our Lord’s words concerning this city were, “Thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.” ‘Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” (Luke 10:15,11) This was only a small beginning of “light” shed abroad on those unresponding cities so long ago, which was largely ignored by those upon whom it shone.

But this very same light will eventually become so great that it will even reach down into the grave, touching those who sit “in the shadow of death!” When the light reaches its full magnitude, it will not be ignored or overlooked! Jesus knew that this insignificant beginning of his work would one day eventuate in enlightening every man who entered the world—it would result in the establishment of the kingdom here on earth.

There has never been a light shining so brightly in the world until this time! But this prophecy assures us that it is ‘yea and amen’ in Christ Jesus! “They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them bath light shined!” So certain was the prophet of this, that he spoke in the present tense, as if it were actually an accomplished fact! The resurrection of the dead, mentioned in these symbolic terms, has its very foundation in the fact that Jesus did accomplish the beginning of the work of reconciliation between God and man at the time of his first advent, by offering his life as a ransom for all.

Isaiah goes on to tell of the sweeping changes that will take place in the world as a result of that very tiny, dim light which first shone in Naphtali and in the land of Zebulun, when it has grown into a powerful sun with “healing in its wings.” (Mal. 5:2): “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and [not—this word is spurious] increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For thou bast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.”—Isa. 9:3,4

In Genesis, God told his new, earthly creation to “multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Gen. 1:28) Throughout the centuries of man’s history, he has indeed multiplied, until today the world’s population stands at approximately four billion, and mankind is greatly concerned about the ‘population explosion’! But, when the resurrection of the dead occurs, the nations will be even more greatly multiplied, many times over! Today, our rapidly expanding population is at the root of many of the insolvable problems facing the world. But, Isaiah assures us that the resurrection of billions more will not present a problem. The Lord will be able to turn this miraculous happening into a blessing—he will “increase the joy!” It will be as the “joy of harvest!” Harvesttime is when the husbandman reaps the rewards of his toil during the planting season! The kingdom will be a harvesttime of joy, to the world of mankind, as well as to the Lord! These words are a beautiful expression of the abundance of the kingdom: abundance of all the good things which the earth can produce; abundance of peace and happiness; abundance of health and life! The earth will yield her increase along all lines, to maintain its population with joy.

The prophecy continues: “Thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the days of Midian.” (vs. 4) The reference to ‘the oppressor’ is an allusion to the great Adversary; whose influence over the world has kept mankind yoked in his miserable harness, directing the minds of men in his evil ways for the entire period of the permission of evil. This reign of terror will be ended—destroyed forever by Christ, who will break his “burden.”—Rev. 20:1-3

The allusion to Midian is very significant when we remember how Gideon broke the yoke of the Midianites. Not a single sword was raised against the enemy. Gideon used peaceful means to route the foe, as directed by the Lord. His small band of 300 men, surrounding the camp of their enemy at night, had lights hidden under pitchers which they held in their left hands; the pitchers were to be broken at Gideon’s command, revealing the lights; trumpets, held in their right hands, sounded simultaneously with the breaking of the pitchers; and, at the same time, a loud shout was to go up, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!” “And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled!” (Judg. 7:20,21) How simply the Lord will, with light and truth, destroy the yoke of the great oppressor, Satan!

When the rod of the oppressor is destroyed, sweeping changes will take place in the world! And it is interesting how Isaiah explains that all this will take place because of the small beginning of Jesus’ ministry at the first advent. It will expand and grow, and explode into the final great result which God purposes! Isaiah’s words are: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: [the work of the first advent, followed by the work of the second advent] and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this!”—Isa. 9:6,7

Yes, our Lord Jesus had the assurance that God had appointed unto him a kingdom! He had God’s sure word of prophecy that he would be a wonderful counselor to the nations. No longer would he be simply another voice in the wind, a powerless man among a dying race! But when his kingdom is established in power and great glory all the world will hear him and heed him; they will listen to his counsel as if he were an honored father, and by following it they will receive everlasting life.

What a great impetus this prophetic knowledge must have been to Jesus as he began his ministry! Immediately the Adversary tried to shake our Lord’s faith in God’s plan. In one of his temptations, Satan offered another route by which Jesus could avoid the pain, suffering and death he knew was connected with the path that lay before him. “The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”—Matt. 4:8,9

Jesus stood head and shoulders, mentally and physically, above any other man in the world of his day. He was far superior to all the dying human beings around him. Satan tempted him with the idea that all he would have to do is to exert himself a little, use some of the wonderful capabilities which he possessed, and the world would fall down at his feet. He could have given the world electric lights 2,000 years ago! He could have given them automobiles. His mind understood all the intricacies of the universal laws of matter—all the scientific, medical, and mechanical progress we have in the world now, he could have brought to the people of his day if he had so desired. Satan offered him an alternative means of blessing the world!

But the Lord was not interested in bowing down to the Adversary, or in bettering the Adversary’s world. He knew God’s plan was the best way, a way to life, and in the eternal interest of all. Satan’s offer to appoint Jesus his kingdom, was of no interest to Jesus.

Another prophecy we would like to consider concerning the kingdom which Jesus was interested in, is recorded in the Book of Daniel. Here was additional strong authority by which Jesus could assure his disciples that he would one day appoint unto them a kingdom. “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man [our Lord Jesus] came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”—Dan. 7:12,13

Jesus knew from these prophetic words of Daniel, that he would not occupy this position of rulership in the promised kingdom alone. Verses 21 and 22, in explanation of the foregoing text, verify this: “I beheld … until the Ancient of days came [Jehovah], and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” One of the foremost of Jesus’ missions in coming to earth was for the specific purpose of preparing the saints, to whom he would appoint a kingdom! “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him!”

However, his faithful disciples and apostles were unaware then that the kingdom in which Jesus promised them positions as associate rulers was to be a spiritual kingdom! After Pentecost, when their eyes were opened more fully to God’s great plan of the ages, and how they fitted into it, these truths were revealed to them. But now, just a few hours before the one they had fixed their hopes upon was to be murderously slain, Jesus wanted to lay up for them as much encouragement and reassurance as they would need to carry them through the dark days ahead. Instead of thinking of himself, and his needs at that hour, he was concerned about his dear followers—how to comfort them in their deep loss of himself.

And so, Jesus, knowing how difficult the next few days would be, spoke these words: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”—John 14:1-3

In this chapter Jesus was speaking principally of his sending the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and disciples at Pentecost. This becomes evident in the sixteenth verse through the twenty-seventh verse. He said, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter [during his lifetime on earth, he was their Comforter], that he [it] may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom [which] the world cannot receive, because it seeth him [it] not, neither knoweth him [it]: but ye know him [it]; for he [it] dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you!” The Greek word translated comforter is paracletus, which means ‘intercessor’ or ‘one who speaks for another’.

This is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the followers of Jesus. Throughout the Gospel Age, the Holy Spirit has guided, directed, and comforted Christians in the stead of our Lord Jesus, who cannot be with them personally in the flesh. Since this work is paramount in the Gospel Age—the calling out of those to whom Jesus would one day appoint a kingdom—it is imperative that they would have the Comforter with them as Jesus’ representative, working out his purpose in their lives.

The Book of Revelation also gives us a substantiating picture of how involved our Lord is with his church during the long period of the Gospel Age, and how the Holy Spirit is his representative or paracletus. In the first chapter the church is likened unto “seven golden candlesticks,” and, we are told that “in the midst of the seven candlesticks [stands] one like unto the Son of man. … His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire: and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.”—vss. 13-16

A few verses later we are given interpretations of several of the otherwise hard-to-understand symbolic expressions. We realize that our resurrected Lord Jesus is pictured here as the one in the midst of the candlesticks because of the descriptive words: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen.” (vs 18) A candlestick is an instrument for dispensing light. It is not a large, powerful illuminator such as the sun. And so it well pictures the church’s role in this age, and its insignificant effect upon the world. Despite the feeble light it sheds, it is of utmost interest and importance to the Son of man, who walks in its midst and tends it. As he was the light of the dark world, so are we, his followers.—John 1:7-12; Matt. 5:14

Again, in verse 20, we are told: “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Jesus is our great high priest, walking in our midst, responsible for seeing that the candlesticks (representing the complete history of the church throughout the age) were maintained, and that the holy oil (picturing the Holy Spirit) was replenished in the lamps.

Beginning in Revelation 2, we find records of Jesus’ personal letters to each of the seven churches. In the opening verse of each letter he identifies himself in a unique manner as the one who is powerfully able to accomplish his work in his people: “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” (vs 1) “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.” (vs. 8) “To the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” (vs. 12) “Unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.” (vs. 18) “Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.” (Rev. 3:1) “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” (vs. 7) “To the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.—vs. 14

And at the close of each message Jesus said, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (vs. 7; 11,17,29, etc.) The Holy Spirit is the agency of our Lord by which the church during the Gospel Age is kept safely through the multitude of portenteous, faith-trying experiences outlined in the Book of Revelation. Some of these testings involved weaknesses of the flesh, as they erupt into problems within the church. The world intruded itself into the church, causing troubles. And certainly the Adversary had a hand in the history of the church and growth of the great Antichrist system which persecuted the true members of Christ’s body.

The three enemies of the Christian—the world, the flesh, and the Devil—have been actively at work during the past two thousand years beginning with the first advent of our Lord, just as was predicted. But our great High Priest has been tenderly caring for all the needs of the candlesticks—keeping them trimmed and burning.

It is also the Holy Spirit of truth which leads us into all truth. (John 14:17,26) The Holy Spirit is the means by which the wonderful promises are held out to the faithful disciples of Jesus, those who “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goest.” (Rev. 14: 4) Some of the most precious and inspiring promises are given to us in and through the workings of the Holy Spirit on the mind of John the Revelator. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7) “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”—vs. 10

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (vs. 17) “To him that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: [I appoint unto you a kingdom!] and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: [All unrighteousness and evil will be completely destroyed during that Messianic kingdom of our Lord.] even as I received of my Father. I will give him the morning star.”—vss. 26-28

The now obscure hope of the millennial morning will then be grandly realized. The small, shimmering flicker from the candlesticks will become a bright sun which will shine for the healing of the nations. And when the thousand years are ended “there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle [the light of the Gospel Age], neither light of the sun [the greater light of the Millennial Age]; for the Lord God giveth them light [when all is restored]: and they shall reign forever and ever.”—Rev. 22:2-5

Let us lay hold on the wonderful promises which our Lord, through the Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts to claim: “I appoint unto you a kingdom!”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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