Receiving a Kingdom which Cannot Be Moved

Jehovah’s “voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” —Hebrews 12:26-28

WE ARE LIVING in what the prophecies of the Bible foretold as a time of shaking. “I will shake all nations,” Haggai prophesied. (Hag. 2:7) Both the symbolic earth and the symbolic heavens are being shaken. (vs. 6) Paul explained that in this foretold time of shaking, much which constitutes man’s world will be removed—everything, indeed, that is mingled with sin and selfishness. He speaks of those things “which cannot be shaken,” and assures us that these will “remain.”—Heb. 12:26,27

The Messianic Kingdom

The things which cannot be shaken are those which pertain to the long-promised kingdom of Christ. In our text Paul mentions that we will receive a kingdom which “cannot be moved.” Various passages of Scripture present the viewpoint of the kingdom having its rightful place in the earth, although we know that its establishment in power and great glory for the blessing of all the families of the earth with peace and life is still future.

In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the wheat is said to represent the children of the kingdom which was sown by Jesus at the beginning of the Gospel Age, and the tares represent the children of the wicked one, Satan. We are told that in the harvest at the end of the age the tares are gathered out of the field, representing the removal from the kingdom of all things which offend and do iniquity. (Matt. 13:37-43) It is then that the righteous ‘shine forth as the sun’ in the kingdom of their Father. The point is, that the tares are removed and destroyed, not the wheat.

In Psalm 46:1-5 we have another prophecy of the time in which we are living, and in this prophecy we see the removal of “mountains,” the roaring of the “sea” and the waves; even “the earth” is removed. But the Lord’s people are given the assurance that he is caring for them: “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved,” is the assurance that is given to them in this prophecy.

Thus while we are in a shaking time, when the very foundations of man’s world continue to crumble, we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved. This, of course, is the long-promised kingdom of the Messiah. We are a very favored people to be receiving such a kingdom.

But what does it mean to be ‘receiving’ the kingdom? Jesus said to his disciples, and to us, that they should seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. (Matt. 6:33) Peter admonished faithfulness in order that we might have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.—II Pet. 1:10,11

The expression “kingdom of our Lord” or “kingdom of Christ,” is used in the Bible from different standpoints. (II Pet. 1:11; Eph. 5:5) Sometimes it refers to the rulership aspect of the messianic kingdom. We believe this is true of Jesus’ admonition to seek first the kingdom. We believe it is also true of the statement in our text which says that we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved. It is true also of Peter’s admonition to seek an abundant entrance into the kingdom.

But there are other references to the kingdom which relate to the blessings to be received by its subjects. One of these is found in Isaiah 2:3. Here the kingdom is symbolically described as a great mountain, and the prophecy reads, “Many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” While we are today receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, the subjects of the coming kingdom are not yet saying, “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.”

The rulers of the kingdom must first be selected from mankind, and prepared for the high position they will occupy in that kingdom. This great work has already required more than six thousand years in the plan of God. There are to be spiritual, invisible rulers in that kingdom, and there are to be its human representatives. Jesus was the first of the spiritual rulers to qualify for this high position. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. But those who, throughout the Gospel Age, have been willing to suffer and to die with him, have also proved worthy to live and reign with him. The work of calling and testing these still continues. There are still those who, through their faithfulness, are receiving the kingdom from this standpoint.

It was the work of selecting the earthly representatives of these spiritual rulers of the kingdom that the Lord was conducting during the ages preceding the First Advent of Jesus. The first of these to qualify was Abel, and probably the last was John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said that, although none born of women was greater than John, the least in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than he. (Matt. 11:11) This does not mean that John the Baptist will not be in the kingdom at all. It simply means that he will not be one of the heavenly, or spiritual, rulers in that kingdom.

The human representatives of the kingdom, who were the Lord’s faithful servants of past ages, are described as those who will be “princes in all the earth.” Rotherham says “rulers.” (Ps. 45:16) Jesus prophesied that the people would come from all parts of the earth and sit down with these Ancient Worthies to be taught by them. (Matt. 8:11; Luke 13:28,29) In the 11th chapter of Hebrews, Paul mentions a number of these faithful men and women of old, and tells of their steadfast loyalty to the Lord under the most difficult circumstances. He explains that, despite their great faith, God has provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.—Heb. 11:35,39,40

The ‘better thing’ which the Lord has provided for the followers of Jesus during the present age, is their spiritual reward, and the privilege of living and reigning with Christ a thousand years. (Rom. 2:7; Rev. 20:6) It is through faithfulness to the terms of this ‘heavenly calling’ that we will receive this rulership position in the kingdom. (Heb. 3:1) Meanwhile we rejoice in prospect of the blessings which the Lord has promised to shower upon the world through these rulers of the kingdom.

The two rulership phases of the kingdom are portrayed in Micah 4:1,2 as the “mountain of the Lord” which is to be established upon the “top of the mountains.” This mountain of the Lord also is referred to as “Zion,” and “Jerusalem.” (vs. 2) We think that in this prophecy the spiritual phase of the ruling aspect of the kingdom is symbolized by Zion, and the earthly phase by Jerusalem. The law of the Lord will go forth from Zion—that is, from Jesus and his faithful followers, glorified and enthroned as the spiritual rulers of the kingdom; and the word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem—the earthly rulership aspect of the kingdom. The expression, ‘word of the Lord’ would seem to mean the interpretation and application of the ‘law’, which shall go forth from symbolic Zion.

The Kingdom’s Blessings

And what wonderful blessings will reach the people through this arrangement of the Messianic kingdom! Micah’s prophecy speaks of learning the Lord’s ways, of ‘beating swords into plowshares’, and assures us that ‘none will make afraid’. There will be economic security for all—symbolized by ‘dwelling under vine and fig tree’. Truly the blessings of the kingdom will be rich for all who become its faithful subjects!

In Isaiah 25:6-9 the kingdom is again symbolically described as a “mountain.” Here we are informed that in this mountain the Lord will make unto all people—the subjects of the kingdom—“a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” We are also assured that in this symbolic mountain the Lord will “swallow up death in victory,” and that “the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.”

These are among the blessings which will be made available for the subjects of the kingdom. These blessings will probably not become available during 1993. No, they must wait until the final member of the rulership phase of the kingdom has completed his course, and it is from this standpoint that we are now receiving the kingdom. The plan of God cannot fail. All human plans and works are failing, being shaken by the winds of selfish strife. But the kingdom we are receiving cannot be moved, for God is in the midst of those who compose this kingdom class, and he is more powerful than all the enemies which might be arrayed against them.

How Received

What is involved in our now “receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved”? Paul answers this question in our text, saying, “Let us have grace [Margin, “hold fast”] whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” The thought is clear. The Lord is giving us this high position in the kingdom—but not unconditionally. There are certain terms attached to the receiving of this marvelous gift, and on our part, it is the meeting of these terms that is involved in our receiving the kingdom.

This is just another way of saying that we need to make our ‘calling and election sure’. On our part, the process of receiving the kingdom calls for faithfulness to the divine will—faithfulness to all the details of his will he has revealed to us. We cannot know with any degree of certainty what trials and testings lie ahead, but we know that if we hold fast and depend upon the grace of God, and are wholly devoted to the doing of his will, we will be in a position to receive that kingdom which will soon remedy all earth’s ills.

We know that the Lord will continue to work in and through us to do his good pleasure so far as our relationship to him is concerned. We do not know how rapidly Satan’s world will continue to deteriorate, but we do “know that all things” will “work together for good to them that love God,” and “who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) Thus we can press forward with confidence, knowing that while all the world may deride our choice, it matters not, for we have accepted a .call to glory, honor, and immortality, and to a position in that kingdom of divine promise which soon will be established for the blessing of all the families of the earth.—Rom. 2:7; Rev. 5:10

And what are the terms of our calling? What must we do in order to continue receiving the kingdom which cannot be moved? First of all we must deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow the Master. Denial of self implies being emptied of self, and filled with the Holy Spirit of love. The meeting of this condition, immediately places us in a position contrary to the world. It means that all we do will be done not for ourselves but for the Lord, for his people, and for his cause. From the human standpoint we might wish to take sides in some of the world’s controversies, but the terms of our receiving the kingdom which cannot be moved do not allow this. We will continue to be in the world, but not of it.

Being emptied of self, and filled with the Spirit of the Lord means that the fruits of the Spirit—love, peace, joy, gentleness, etc.—will manifest themselves in our daily dealings with one another in both the church and the world. Having denied self, we will not be seeking our own, but will gladly continue to sacrifice those things which might be ‘our rights’ in order that others might be blessed. This will not be easy in a selfish, sinful world, but it is one of the ways in which we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved.

Another of the terms of receiving the kingdom was expressed by Jesus when he said we should love one another as he loved us. (John 13:34; 15:12) Later, John explained what this means: that it called for the laying down of our lives for the brethren. (I John 3:16) Many in the world will lay down their lives for one cause or another. Today this is seen on the ‘battlefields’ of one or more of the internal conflicts now raging in various parts of the earth—Bosnia, South Africa, Somalia, Ireland and the Middle East, etc.

The world will continue to pursue its aims, and many will sincerely give their lives in the service which they believe to be right. But we are enlisted in the greatest of all causes. It is the means through which God has promised to establish a powerful government in the earth to provide blessings for the people which they are unable to secure for themselves. And it is a position of rulership in this kingdom that we will continue to receive if we are faithful in sacrificing our all in ways directed by the Lord.

So we will continue to lay down our lives for the brethren. One of the means by which the grace of God is working on our behalf is through the brethren. The brethren are laying down their lives for us. Let us be faithful in this cooperative work whereby all the true followers of the kingdom are being prepared for their places in the kingdom.

We are also laying down our lives for the people as a whole. Paul refers to this as a baptism for the dead. (I Cor. 15:29) This is because we are joint-sacrificers with Jesus, who laid down his life to redeem mankind from sin and death. The redemption of the world is not involved in our sacrifice, but nevertheless it is on behalf of the world, for if we prove our willingness thus to die we will have a share in the blessing of mankind with peace, health, and life. This is the way the merit of Christ’s sacrifice will reach the world through those who are now receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved.

What this means is that we are dying for a cause, the Messianic cause, the cause of the great Creator, a cause which cannot fail. Millions of people will experience disappointments throughout the coming years before the actual establishment of Christ’s kingdom. Their plans and schemes and efforts will crumble before them. Where they hoped to find light, they will stumble on in darkness. But not so with those who are receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved. We will know that every evidence of the failure of man will be but an added assurance that the kingdom of the Lord is near, so we will lift up our heads and rejoice.—Luke 21:28

We will not rejoice because the world is suffering. But we will rejoice in the added evidence that all suffering is soon to be brought to an end through the agencies of the kingdom which we are receiving. So, no matter what the near future holds for the world, we know that for us it will continue to mean the blessing of the Lord, that blessing which maketh rich, and to which no sorrow is added. (Prov. 10:22) Thus we can look ahead with confidence, because by the Lord’s grace we will have fulfilled some more of the conditions upon which we may hope to share in that kingdom’s rulership.

Proclaiming this Hope

It would seem that there are yet many developments to take place in the world before the kingdom of Christ will be manifested for the blessing of the people. But we can proclaim to the people, as we have opportunity, that we are living in the last days of the reign of sin and death, and that the kingdom of the Messiah is near, yea, even at the door. Bearing witness to the Gospel of the kingdom is one of the ways in which we have the opportunity of proving our worthiness to continue receiving that kingdom which cannot be moved.

Truly, then, the prospect for the consecrated people of God is a bright one. We see, and to some extent experience, the troubles which are upon the world, but by the eye of faith we see through and beyond these chaotic conditions to the establishment of the kingdom—the kingdom in which we have been promised joint-heirship with Christ. The hope of sharing with Jesus in the rulership of this kingdom is a joy set before us which gives us courage to endure the light afflictions of the present, knowing of the eternal weight of joy and glory that will follow.—II Cor. 4:17,18, I Pet. 1:3-5

But let us remember that in order to continue receiving our position in the kingdom, daily faithfulness to all the terms of our covenant of sacrifice with the Lord is necessary. But we can rejoice that the grace of the Lord is promised to the faithful. And, by the grace of the Lord, we will continue to serve him faithfully with reverence and godly fear, until we hear that much longed for, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”—Matt. 25:21,23

Dawn Bible Students Association
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