I travel to all parts of the world as an ambassador (with out political portfolio) for WORLD PEACE. I discuss world problems, evils and world peace with many heads of governments — kings, presidents, prime ministers, and those high in the government, leaders in science, education, commerce and industry. I have not been called, and therefore make no effort, to bring about world peace — but serving as an ambassador of the power that will bring it in our time! Most world leaders are of superior ability. Yet they are utterly unable to abolish world evils or bring about world peace. Many scientists and leaders say that the only hope for world peace is the formation of a supreme WORLD GOVERNMENT, controlling the world's sole military power. Yet in the same breath they admit the utter impossibility of this, claiming that such supreme world power in human hands would enslave us all!
An Amazing Forecast
Few realize it today, but centuries ago a famous personage issued a pronouncement forecasting this very solution. He was hundreds of years ahead of his time, and the world of his day rejected and suppressed the pronouncement. The world soon lost knowledge of his forecast. World leaders would do well to search out that amazing forecast, in the light of present world conditions. I have been privileged to announce to many of the world's "great and near-great" this world's only hope — SURE HOPE — to occur in our time! Few, indeed, know that Jesus Christ came, not as a religious leader on a "soul saving" crusade, but as a pioneer NEWS FORECASTER. No man of historic note has been so completely misrepresented — so utterly misunderstood! He came as a MESSENGER with a MESSAGE from God Almighty to mankind. His message was BIG NEWS — a vital and sensational news ANNOUNCEMENT for the future. It announced world peace. It Was good news for the future, proclaimed as an advance ANNOUNCEMENT OF ASSURED AND CERTAIN WORLD PEACE in OUR TIME. That was Christ's GOSPEL! The very word "gospel" means "good news." And what was that news announcement for our times which was suppressed by first-century enemies? The one official record which the first-century conspirators were unable to suppress — the Holy BIBLE — gives the official answer! "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.... Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:1, 14-15). Believe what gospel — what GOOD NEWS? The good news of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD. But what did He mean — the KINGDOM OF GOD? And how do we know it was suppressed? And if the original and true gospel of Jesus Christ was suppressed, what gospel or gospels were proclaimed to the world to replace it?
The Written Record
To say that the true gospel proclaimed by Christ was sup pressed — was not proclaimed to the world after A.D. 70 for nearly nineteen centuries — is, indeed, a shocking and amazing statement. This same written record the conspirators were not able to destroy confirms it. The Church of God was started the day of Pentecost, A.D. 31 (Acts 2). About twenty years later, the apostle Paul, under inspiration, wrote to the churches in Galatia, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:6-7). The verses following pronounce a double curse on any who would preach any other gospel. To the Corinthian Church the apostle Paul wrote, "I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh [speaking of false preachers] preacheth another Jesus ... or another gospel, which ye have not accepted ..." (II Cor. 11:3-4). And further — verses 13-15: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers, also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness...." To the early Christians at Rome: "for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [back] the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18). The Revised Standard Version has it: "who by their wickedness suppress the truth." The message God sent by Jesus Christ was being held back — suppressed. Then again, even Jesus Christ Himself made it very clear that His gospel the — KINGDOM OF GOD — would be suppressed until our time. His disciples had asked what would be the sign by which we might know when we were at the end of this world (age), just before Christ's return to earth. First He warned them against being deceived. Many would come, He said, in His name, claiming to be the ministers of Christ saying that He — Jesus — was the Christ and at the same time deceiving the many. But when "... this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations This proclaiming of the KINGDOM OF GOD could not be the sign that we are at the end of the age, if it had been proclaimed all along! Just as Christ Himself directly prophesied would happen, many have preached about the person, saying that Jesus was the Christ — preaching about the messenger, but SUPPRESSING His message! But the END TIME is now here. After almost nineteen centuries, that message is now going out WORLDWIDE, by the Worldwide Church of God! Some have preached a "gospel of salvation" (actually a false salvation) and some a "gospel of grace" — turning grace into license to commit sin. Still others have turned to a "social gospel." But Jesus brought from God the Father a vital message announcing the KINGDOM OF GOD! What did He mean — the KINGDOM OF GOD? Isn't it amazing that almost no one in today's world knows?
A Message of Government
Few seem to know, today, that Jesus' MESSAGE was about GOVERNMENT! Few realize that this is NOT the time God is trying to SAVE (spiritually) the world. Few knew Jesus was concerned with GOVERNMENT. Jesus was born to be a KING! Notice, once again, what was prophesied in Isaiah about Christ: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the GOVERNMENT shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, 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 for ever" (Isa. 9:6-7). Notice what was said to his mother Mary: "... the angel Gabriel Was sent from God unto ... Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured.... Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever: and of his KINGDOM there shall be no end" (Luke 1:26-33). When Jesus was on trial for His life before Pilate, He was asked, "Art thou a king then?" Jesus answered, "Thou sayest I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world." But He also said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:37, 36). WHY has the whole world been deceived, not knowing WHY humanity was created and human life existed upon this earth! Again, and again, I ask, WHY are we HERE? WHERE are we GOING? WHAT is the WAY — the WAY TO PEACE, well-being, happiness, abundance? WHY no world PEACE? Why all this world's evils? WHY can't SCIENCE give us the answers? These questions are the MOST IMPORTANT in human life. WHY aren't people concerned? The greatest religion in the world, in number of adherents, is Christianity. People SUPPOSE the Christian religion came out of — is based on — the BIBLE. Then WHY don't the various sects and denominations of traditional Christianity tell us the REAL THEME of the Bible? WHY do they not know the TRUE GOSPEL that Jesus pro claimed? It's all IN THE BIBLE — it's not suppressed THERE! It's plain and clear! It's time someone SHOUTED to lethargic, indifferent, sleeping humanity, WAKE UP!
Is There An Afterlife?
Some fundamentalist denominations of Christianity preach about spiritual salvation — about an afterlife. IS there an afterlife? The truth is PLAIN AND CLEAR in the Bible. And this was clarified in chapter 12. Jesus' gospel was the KINGDOM OF GOD. Does that have anything to do with afterlife — with spiritual salvation? It has everything to do with it. BUT THE WHOLE WORLD IS DECEIVED and ASLEEP! The gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD has to do, basically, with TWO themes — government and spiritual salvation (which some call being "born again"). The previous chapter dealt with being "born again." This chapter deals with GOVERNMENT. But once again, what did Jesus mean THE KINGDOM OF GOD? The truth is not merely surprising — it is shocking — staggering! Yet it is truly GOOD NEWS — the most glorious GOOD NEWS ever to enter human consciousness!
Jesus went everywhere preaching the GOOD NEWS of the KINGDOM OF GOD. He taught in parables about the KINGDOM OF GOD. He sent out seventy men preaching, and commanded them to preach THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Luke 10:9). He sent the apostles, on whom the Church of God was founded, to preach only THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Luke 9:1-2). Isn't it amazing that the world has LOST the knowledge of what it is? The apostle Paul preached THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). Haven't you heard men speak of the Kingdom of God something like this: "By Christians everywhere working together to bring about world peace, tolerance and brotherly love, the Kingdom of God may at last be established in the hearts of men." Because they rejected Christ's gospel 1900 years ago, the world had to supplant something else in its place. They had to invent a counterfeit! So we have heard the Kingdom of God spoken of as merely a pretty platitude — a nice sentiment in human hearts — reducing it to an ethereal, unreal NOTHING! Others have misrepresented that the "CHURCH" is the King dom. Others confuse it with a "millennium." Still others have, earlier in our century, claimed the British Empire is the Kingdom of God. HOW DECEIVED CAN THIS WORLD GET?
The prophet Daniel, who lived 600 years before Christ, knew that the Kingdom of God was a real kingdom — a government ruling over literal PEOPLE on the earth. Daniel was one of four extraordinary, intelligent and brilliant Jewish lads in the Judean captivity. These four men were stationed in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Chaldean Empire, in training for special responsibilities in the Babylonian government. Daniel was a prophet who had been given special understanding in visions and dreams (Dan. 1:17). Nebuchadnezzar was the first real world ruler. He had conquered a vast empire, including the nation Judah. This king had a dream so impressive it troubled him — moved him to tremendous concern. He demanded that his magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers tell him both what he had dreamed, and what it meant. They could not. They were baffled. Then Daniel was brought before the king. Daniel disclaimed any more human ability to interpret dreams than the Chaldean magicians, "BUT," he said, "there is a GOD in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days" (Dan. 2:28). First, God's purpose was to reveal to this world-ruling human king that there is a GOD in heaven — that GOD IS SUPREME RULER over all nations, governments, and kings — that God RULES THE UNIVERSE! This Chaldean king knew only about the many pagan demon gods. He knew nothing of the true living ALMIGHTY God. Like people and rulers, even today, he did not know that GOD is the living, REAL, active, RULING and GOVERNING PERSONAGE who actually and literally governs the ENTIRE UNIVERSE! The whole purpose of this DREAM was to reveal GOD'S GOVERNMENT — the fact that God RULES — the truth of THE KINGDOM OF GOD — the very thing that is the one and only true GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! And, secondly, to reveal — preserved in writing for us TODAY — what is to happen "in the latter days " — actually within the next two decades — THIS LAST HALF OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY!
For US, Today!
This is no dry, dull, dead writing for a people of 2500 years ago. This is LIVING, TREMENDOUS, BIG NEWS for OUR DAY! It is advance news for us, NOW. News before it happens — of the most colossal event of all earth's history certain to occur in your lifetime — during the very next few years! This is THE TRUE GOSPEL! It is the very gospel Christ preached! It is intended for you and me TODAY! It is vital that you UNDERSTAND! Read, in your own Bible, verses 28 through 35. In his dream, this king had seen a vast statue — larger than any image or statue ever built by man — so tremendous it was terrifying, even in a dream. Its head was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, legs of solid iron, feet a mixture of iron and clay. There was a time element. Nebuchadnezzar had viewed it until a supernatural STONE came from heaven, smashing the statue on its feet. Then the whole of the statue broke into fragments, and was actually blown away by the wind — it disappeared! Then this STONE expanded miraculously and quickly became a great MOUNTAIN — so great it filled the whole earth! What did it mean? Did it have meaning? Yes, because this was God's doing. Unlike ordinary dreams, this one was caused by God to convey the message of God's sovereignty to Nebuchadnezzar — and, because it is part of the written Word of God, to us today — to reveal important facts of the TRUE GOSPEL! "This is the dream," said Daniel (verse 36), "and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king." This, then, is GOD'S interpretation. It is decidedly not Herbert W. Armstrong's interpretation. Men ought never to interpret the Bible. The Bible gives us GOD'S OWN INTERPRETATION! Here it is: "Thou, O king, art a king of kings" — he was the first real WORLD RULER over a world empire! — "... for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory." God was revealing Himself to this human world-dictator as the MOST HIGH Ruler over all. People today, like this Chaldean king, seem never to think of God as a RULER — as the Supreme One who GOVERNS — as the head of GOVERNMENT. The Eternal was revealing Him self through Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar — and through the Bible to you and to me TODAY — as a SOVEREIGN, ALL POWERFUL, GOVERNING GOD who is to be obeyed! "Thou," continued Daniel to this human emperor, "art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another KINGDOM inferior to thee, and another third KINGDOM of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth" (verses 37-39).
What IS a Kingdom?
Notice! This is speaking of KINGDOMS. It is referring to kingdoms that bear rule over the people on earth. It is speaking of GOVERNMENTS! It is not speaking of ethereal sentiments "set up in the hearts of men.'' It is not speaking of churches. It is speaking of the kind of GOVERNMENTS that bear RULE and AUTHORITY over nations of PEOPLE here on earth. It is literal. It is specific. There is no misunderstanding, here, as to what is meant by the word "KINGDOM." There is no misunderstanding the interpretation. GOD gives His own interpretation through the prophet Daniel. The great metallic image represented national and international GOVERNMENTS — real, literal KINGDOMS. It represented a succession of world-ruling governments. First was the head of gold. That represented Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom — the Chaldean Empire. After him — later, in time sequence — was to come a second, then a third KINGDOM "which shall bear RULE over all the earth" — world empire! Then, verse 40, the legs of iron represent a fourth world empire. It was to be strong, even as iron is strong — stronger militarily than its predecessors. Yet, as silver is less valuable than gold, brass than silver, iron than brass, though each metal was progressively harder and stronger, the succession would deteriorate morally and spiritually. The two legs meant the fourth empire would be divided. After the Chaldean Empire came the still larger Persian Empire, then the Greco-Macedonian, and fourth, the Roman Empire. It was divided, with capitals at Rome and Constantinople. Now — verse 44! Read it! Get your Bible. See it with your own eyes in your own Bible. Here, in PLAIN LANGUAGE, is God's explanation of what the KINGDOM OF GOD is: "And in the days of these kings ..." it is here speaking of the ten toes, part of iron and part of brittle clay. This, by connecting the prophecy with Daniel 7, and Revelation 13 and 17, is referring to the new UNITED STATES OF EUROPE which is now forming, out of the European Common Market, before your very eyes! Revelation 17:12 makes plain the detail that it shall be a union of TEN KINGS OR KINGDOMS which (Rev. 17:8) shall resurrect the medieval "holy" ROMAN EMPIRE. So, mark carefully the time element! "In the days of these kings" — in the days of these ten nations or groups of nations that shall, IN OUR TIME, resurrect briefly the Roman Empire — notice what shall happen: "... 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"!
Yes, in OUR TIME!
Now here we have described FOUR universal empires — the only four that ever existed! Revelation 13 and 17 show that, after the fall of the original Roman Empire, there would be ten revivals — SEVEN of which would be ruled over by a Gentile CHURCH — the "daughter" of ancient BABYLON — a church claiming to be Christian, but actually named by God "MYSTERY BABYLON the Great" — or, more plainly, BABYLONIAN MYSTERIES! Six of those have come and gone. The seventh is now forming — the last, final, brief resurrection of the Roman Empire by ten European groups or nations. These are the ten toes of iron and clay mixed. In their days — and they shall last but a very short space, possibly no more than two to three-and-a-half years — shall the GOD OF HEAVEN SET UP A KINGDOM. This, then, shall be THE KINGDOM OF GOD! Compare with Revelation 17. Here is pictured a church. Not a small church — a GREAT church. She rules over "many waters" (verse 1) which are described in verse 15 as different nations speaking different languages. She posed as the Church of GOD — which Scripture says (Eph. 5:23; Rev. 19:7; Matt. 25:1-10, etc.) is the affianced "bride" of CHRIST, to be spiritually MARRIED to Him at His second COMING. But she has committed fornication. How? By having direct political union with HUMAN GOVERNMENTS of THIS WORLD! She "sat on" (Rev. 17:3) all seven of these resurrections of the Roman Empire — called the "Holy Roman Empire." She RULED OVER the human kingdoms — as a common-law and unmarried "wife" ruling her paramour "husband" — a totally unnatural and ungodly relationship. She is, therefore, to "sit on" this last "head of the Beast" — this final resurrection of the "Holy Roman Empire." It will be a union of church and state. It is to endure but a very short time. It is to FIGHT AGAINST CHRIST at HIS SECOND COMING! That will be its END. We see it in process of rising, now. Therefore we are CLOSE to the coming of Christ! We are now very near the END of this world! When Christ comes, He is coming as KING of kings, ruling the whole earth (Rev. 19:11-16), and HIS KINGDOM — the KINGDOM OF GOD — said Daniel, is to CONSUME all these worldly kingdoms. Revelation 11:15 states it in these words: "The kingdoms of this world are become THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST; and He shall reign for ever and ever!" This is THE KINGDOM OF GOD. It is the END of present governments — the governments that rule Russia, China, Japan, Italy, Germany — yes, and even the United States and the British nations. They then shall become the kingdoms — the GOVERNMENTS of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, then KING of kings over the entire earth. This makes completely PLAIN the fact that the KINGDOM OF GOD is a literal GOVERNMENT. Even as the Chaldean Empire was a KINGDOM — even as the Roman Empire was a KINGDOM — so the KINGDOM OF GOD is a government. It is to take over the GOVERNMENT of the NATIONS of the world. Jesus Christ was BORN to be a KING — a RULER! These scriptures tell you PLAINLY that GOD is supreme RULER. They tell you in plainest language that Jesus was born to be a KING — that He is going to RULE ALL NATIONS OF THE EARTH — that His Kingdom shall rule eternally. But all this is only part of the fantastic, amazing, actually SHOCKING TRUTH about the KINGDOM OF GOD. The KINGDOM OF GOD will rule over the peoples and nations of the earth. Yet these mortal peoples and nations will NOT be the Kingdom, not even in the Kingdom of God. They shall be merely RULED OVER BY IT! We still have to learn OF WHAT or OF WHOM it is composed. Can YOU, as an individual, ever become a part of this Kingdom?
Can Be Entered!
In Jesus' day, the religious leaders knew He was a teacher sent from God with GOD'S TRUTH. They branded Him a false prophet, heretic, and seditionist. Yet they knew His was the voice of GOD! One of them, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, occupying an office of authority over the Jews, came secretly by night to see Jesus. In chapter 12 one phase of Nicodemus's night visit with Jesus was covered; but now, MORE! "Rabbi," said this Pharisee, "we know that thou art a teacher come from God" (John 3:2). Yes, we Pharisees, he said, know that! He did not say "I know it." He said "WE know" — we Pharisees! They knew He spoke the TRUTH — yet they not only rejected it, they crucified Him! But Jesus hewed straight to the line! He told Nicodemus about THE KINGDOM OF GOD. He told him some things you need to UNDERSTAND! Notice! "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Yes, notice! The Kingdom of God is something that CAN be seen, but only by those who have been "born again." It is something others cannot see! Read it in chapter 12, or request our free booklet "Just What Do You Mean — Born Again?" But what about the CHURCH? Can carnal people who make no claim to having been "born again" SEE a CHURCH? Of course! But they cannot see the Kingdom of God! So SAID JESUS! Then, if you believe Jesus, the CHURCH cannot be the Kingdom of God! Notice further: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (verse 5). The Kingdom of God is something that can be entered into — BUT, only those "born of water and of the Spirit" can enter into it! Notice further! In the resurrection chapter of the Bible, we read: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (I Cor. 15:50). The Kingdom of God is something no human, of flesh and blood, can enter or inherit! Now do flesh and blood people enter into the CHURCH? If so, then the Kingdom of God cannot be the CHURCH — for the Kingdom of God is something flesh and blood humans cannot enter into! What do you think the "Church" is? Is it the building? Flesh and blood people can and do enter buildings and cathedrals called "churches." Is it the converted PEOPLE? Flesh and blood people can and DO enter into the membership of any group of PEOPLE that may call itself the Church. But flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of GOD — so the CHURCH is not the Kingdom of God!
In Men's Hearts?
Now some think the Kingdom of God is some ethereal sentimental feeling or something set up in men's hearts. If so, then the Kingdom of God enters into mortal man. But these plain scriptures say that it is men after they are no longer flesh and blood — but resurrected into Spirit-composed bodies — who can enter into the Kingdom of God. It does not enter into men. Men enter into it — after they are resurrected in glory — after they are no longer "flesh and blood." Is it the "god within you"? Absolutely not. It is not something that was born inside of man, or that has ever entered into man. It is something man may enter after he is "born again." What about the British Empire? Well, I have been pretty well over the British Isles, Canada and Australia — and all of the multi-thousands I have seen there were flesh-and-blood humans. They did enter the British Empire — no longer extant — but they cannot enter the Kingdom of God, in their present flesh-and-blood life. So the British Empire cannot be the Kingdom of God. But, someone misunderstanding the Scripture may ask, "Didn't Jesus Himself say that the Kingdom of God is 'within you'? " In the seventeenth chapter of Luke, verse 21, King James translation, is a MISTRANSLATION which has led some to suppose the Kingdom of God is some thought or feeling or sentiment within man.
In Hearts of Pharisees?
Let's take a good look at this. First realize, if it does say that, it is contradicted by all the other scriptures I am giving you. If the Bible does contradict itself, you can't believe it anyway — so then it still would prove nothing. First, to whom is Jesus speaking? Read it! "And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, the kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21). He was speaking to the unconverted, carnal, hypocritical, lying Pharisees. Notice, "He answered them, and said." It was the Pharisees who asked Him the question. Were they in the CHURCH? No, never! If one thinks the Kingdom is the CHURCH — and the Kingdom was "within" the Pharisees — was THE CHURCH within the Pharisees? Such an assumption is rather ridiculous, now, isn't it? Notice again, precisely WHAT JESUS SAID. Remember the CHURCH had not yet been set up. Jesus did not say "the Kingdom of God shall be set up in your hearts." He said none of the things people interpret into this verse. He said to the Pharisees "the Kingdom of God IS" — present tense is, NOW! Whatever He was saying the Kingdom of God is, He made it present tense, not future. Luke wrote these words, originally, in the Greek language. The Greek words he wrote were translated into the English words "within you." But, if you have a Bible with the marginal references, you will notice that this is alternately rendered "in the midst of you," or "among you. "The context indicates that this indeed is the better translation. If your Bible is a Moffatt translation, you will notice that the translation recognized that Jesus was talking of His reign or rule, at the head of government. This is the Moffatt translation of the same verse: "He answered them, 'The Reign of God is not coming as you hope to catch sight of it; no one will say, "Here it is" or "There it is," for the Reign of GOD IS NOW IN YOUR MIDST.'" The Revised Standard Version renders it "the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.'' All these translations render it present tense. Jesus was not talking about a church soon to be organized. He was not talking about sentiments in the mind or heart. He was talking about His REIGN, as the Messiah! The Pharisees were not asking Him about a church. They knew nothing of any New Testament Church soon to be started. They were not asking about a pretty sentiment. They knew, from the prophecies of Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and others, that their Messiah was to come. They overlooked completely the prophecies of His first appearing as the "Lamb of God," to be slain for the sins of humanity — being born as a babe, growing up, being rejected and despised by them, as recorded in Isaiah 53. They looked only to the prophecies of His second coming as the all-conquering and ruling KING. This the Pharisees anticipated as the Kingdom of God.
Jesus set them straight. He explained that it would not be a local or limited kingdom for the Jews only. It would not be merely one of many human and visible kingdoms which men could point out or see, and say, "This is it, here"; or "that is the Kingdom, over there." But He, Himself, was born to be the KING of that Kingdom, as He plainly told Pilate (John 18:36-37). The Bible uses the terms "king" and "kingdom" interchangeably (see Daniel 7:17-18, 23). The KING of the future Kingdom was, then and there, standing in the midst of them. And in the language in which He spoke to them, that is precisely what He said — as the marginal rendering and other translations state. Jesus went on, in the following verses, to describe His second coming, when the Kingdom of God shall rule ALL THE EARTH. In Luke 17:24 He refers to lightning flashing, just as in Matthew 24:27, describing His Second Coming to RULE the whole world. Verse 26 — as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when Christ comes in power and glory as world Ruler. Verse 30 — the day when He is revealed. Plainly, Jesus was not saying that the Kingdom of God was within those Christ-hating, hypocritical Pharisees. Nor was He saying that the Church would be the Kingdom. Now continue with the other scriptures, and it becomes very PLAIN! Jesus distinctly said that those Pharisees would not be in the Kingdom of God. To them, He said: "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye [you Pharisees] shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:28-29). The Kingdom of God is something men shall ENTER — at the resurrection of the just! Yet Abraham is not there yet (see Heb. 11:13, 39-40).
Has Not Yet Appeared
But one may ask, did not Jesus Christ say the Kingdom of God was "at hand"? Yes, we quoted this, from Mark 1:15. This naturally led some to mistake what He said, and what He meant, and assume the Kingdom of God was established and set up during Jesus' ministry. Thus some supposed it was the Church. But Jesus did not say the Kingdom of God had been established. It was now being preached (Luke 16:16). He did not say it was already here. Jesus, Himself, corrected this false notion. Jesus "added and spake a parable ... because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear (Luke 19:11). WHY did Jesus speak this parable? Because some, even then, mistakenly thought the Kingdom should immediately appear — because some thought it would be THE CHURCH! Now continue: "He said, therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return" (verse 12). Christ is that "nobleman." He is speaking of His ascension to the throne of God His Father, in heaven. Notice, He went there to be given rulership of the Kingdom — to receive the Kingdom. Notice, too, He is to return, when He has received it! He has not yet returned! Other scriptures explain this. We will turn to them a little later. Continuing the parable, spoken because some thought the Kingdom of God was immediately, then, in the first century, to appear: "And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading" (verse 15). When Christ returns, we shall all be called before the judgment seat of Christ — to give account! Now notice in verse 17, the one who had gained ten pounds is given authority to RULE CITIES — "have thou authority over ten cities"! To the one who had gained five pounds, he said, "Be thou also over five cities." This is speaking of the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST — and of His delegating authority to rule to saints converted during this Christian era, between Christ's first and second appearings on earth. This parable, then, was spoken to make clear to us that the Kingdom of God is a literal GOVERNMENT, to be set up AT CHRIST'S SECOND COMING — and not before! The CHURCH, then, cannot be the Kingdom of God. But the true Church of God is to be changed, by a resurrection and instantaneous change from mortal to immortal, INTO the Kingdom of God. The Church, when all its members have been changed to immortality, shall BECOME the Kingdom of God. But it is not, now, the Kingdom!
Saints to Rule
Now read the description of Christ's actual receiving authority to RULE the Kingdom. He is the nobleman who went to heaven to receive this kingship, and to return. We have already seen how the prophet Daniel recorded the setting up of the Kingdom of God — at Christ's coming — to consume all present national governments on earth, and set up the world-ruling Kingdom of God. This was recorded in the second chapter. Notice now chapter seven: "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man [Christ] came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him" (verse 13). Jesus continually referred to Him self as the "Son of man" — all through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Christ ascended to heaven in clouds (Acts 1:9). He ascended to the very throne of God in heaven (Mark 16:19). Now continue: "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. 7:14). That is plain! Christ ascended to the throne of God in heaven. God is sovereign over the entire universe. This vision shows God Almighty, Father of the resurrected living Christ, conferring on Christ dominion. Dominion means sovereign or supreme ruling authority. Also given to Him was "a king dom." Where is that Kingdom to be? It says "a kingdom that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him." The people, and the nations speaking different languages, are here on earth. He is given dominion over ALL NATIONS — the whole world!
Important Word "UNTIL"
Now will you read, in your own Bible, Acts 3:21? It says the heavens have received Jesus Christ UNTIL — not permanently, just until a certain time. Until when? Until the times of RESTITUTION of all things. Restitution means restoration to a former state or condition. It is speaking of restoring God's laws, God's government — of restoring happiness and universal PEACE. In this seventh chapter of Daniel, the prophet had experienced a dream, and visions. He had seen four wild animals. Notice verse 16; the interpretation begins verse 17. This is GOD'S inspired interpretation — not mine: "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the KINGDOM, and possess the kingdom forever, even for ever and ever" (Dan. 7:17-18). Notice it! Not only is Christ to rule — but the saints — that is, converted true Christians — those begotten as sons of God — are to take and possess the Kingdom! They are to rule under, and with Christ! In the New Testament it is recorded that converted saints are co-heirs with Christ! In this same seventh chapter, Daniel explained another power. The fourth beast of his dream — the fourth empire (the Roman Empire) — was pictured as an animal having ten horns, explained here and in Revelation 13 and Revelation 17 as ten revivals or resurrections of the Roman Empire, after its original fall in A.D. 476. But among them — after A.D. 476 — arose another little horn — a religious kingdom, actually ruling over the last seven of the other ''horns'' or revived Roman kingdoms (verse 20). Now read about this "little horn" — the religious kingdom — verse 21: "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, UNTIL [note, another "UNTIL"] the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." The saints — then no longer human flesh and blood, but immortal — are to possess the Kingdom, at the Second Coming of Christ! Jesus Christ makes that plain. It is Christ who is speaking in Revelation 3:21, and 2:26-27: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.'' The Father's throne is in heaven — where Jesus Christ is now; but Christ's throne, in which the saints shall sit with Him, is the throne of David, in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32). Further: "And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron."
Can't Know the TIME
After His resurrection, on the Mount of Olives at the very hour of His ascension to heaven, Jesus was explaining to His disciples how they would receive the inspiring God-begetting POWER of the Holy Spirit on the approaching day of Pentecost. His disciples wanted to know whether the Kingdom of God was to be set up at that time! The CHURCH was established on that imminent day of Pentecost. Was that CHURCH, then, to be the setting up of the Kingdom? "Lord," they asked, "wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus again made plain that the Church is not the Kingdom. "And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost [Spirit] is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight" (Acts 1:7-9). The commission He had given the CHURCH was to preach His gospel to all the world. They were to receive the Holy Spirit, begetting them as saints — as Christians — putting them into God's CHURCH. This would infuse them with the power to carry out the mission of the Church. But it was NOT the setting up of the Kingdom of God. Of that they were not to know the time. Just what did Jesus mean, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons"? He explained it another time. It is recorded in Matthew 24:36: There He was speaking of the end of this world, and His Second Coming: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." He was speaking of His Second Coming and the setting up of the Kingdom, the time of which no man knows, but only the Father. However, though we do not, even now, know the day or the hour, we do know, from God's prophecies, that it is today very near! Notice this, in Luke 21:25-32: He had been foretelling the world events, right now beginning, leading to "distress of nations" in world troubles and world wars, "with perplexity" — "men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" — world trouble such as never before experienced. "When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." So all signs show we are in the very last generation of this present evil world.
The Two Fateful Alternatives
This world trouble began in 1914, with World War I. There was a recess from 1918 until 1939. We are in a second recess now. But now at last we have nuclear energy. We have hydrogen bombs stockpiled in such power and volume that they could blast all human life off this planet several times over. There are other destructive weapons today in existence, any of which could erase humanity from the earth. Today world-famous scientists say only a super world government can prevent world cosmocide. Yet MEN cannot and will not get together to form such a world-ruling government. It's time we face the hard, cold, realistic FACT: humanity has two alternatives: either there is an Almighty, all-powerful GOD who is about to step in and set up THE KINGDOM OF GOD to rule all nations with supernatural and supra-national FORCE to bring us PEACE — or else all human life will be obliterated (Matt. 24:22). But the recent "recess" will soon erupt into nuclear World War III — called, in biblical prophecy the "Great Tribulation" (Matt. 24:21-22). But God will cut short that final supreme world trouble, and send Christ again to earth as KING of kings, LORD of lords — to restore God's government by the world-ruling KINGDOM OF GOD!
THIS BOOK IS PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE BY THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST. It is made possible by the voluntary, freely given tithes and offerings of the membership of the Church and others who have elected to support the work of the Church. Contributions are welcomed and gratefully accepted. Those who wish to voluntarily aid and support this worldwide Work of God are gladly welcomed as co-workers in this major effort to preach the gospel to all nations. HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG, recognized and respected by leaders in government, industry and education around the world, is pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God. He is editor-in-chief of The PLAIN TRUTH magazine, which he founded in 1934. In 1947 Mr. Armstrong founded Ambassador College, now with two campuses, in Pasadena, California, and Big Sandy, Texas. He is also founder and chairman of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, known for its cultural, charitable and humanitarian activities. Herbert Armstrong has visited more than 70 countries proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and he has been highly honored by heads of state in such critical and diverse areas as Japan, India, Black and South Africa, China, Israel and Egypt. Now in his nineties, Mr. Armstrong continues to work tirelessly, writing, and broadcasting and preaching the good news that God will intervene to save mankind in this generation! He is also the author of the book, "The Wonderful World Tomorrow — What It Will Be Like," advance good news of a utopia humanity won't bring about.