A Series on the Mysterious Nature
of God's Kingdom
The phrase "kingdom of God" is not found in the Old Testament, and the idea of God as king does not appear in
the wisdom literature, the prophets and much of the historical narratives. The earliest example of the title king
being used of God is in the 8th century B.C., "… For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of host"
From its beginnings as a tribal confederacy, the nation of Israel did not seem to have the
concept of God as king, and while the nation of Israel placed itself under the rule of God, they preferred a human
being as king (Judg 8:22-23;
1 Sam 8:1-9).
It is not until the prophet Nathan pronounces the Davidic Covenant
(2 Sam 7:1-17)
that the idea of God as King is more fully embraced by the nation. This is evidenced by Psalms and later prophets
such a Jeremiah (Jer 46:18;
In contrast to the Egyptian concept of king who is divine in nature, the king of Judah is
the adopted son of God. And the right of David’s hereditary successors to the kingdom of Judah is never called
Yet the basis for the idea that the kingdom of God is the consequence of God’s sovereign rule, unlimited
jurisdiction and realm can be seen at the very beginning in Genesis. God creates man in His own divine image and
gives him command over all creatures (Gen 1:26-30).
Set within Creation, Adam initiates his rule by naming everything created on earth
(Gen 2:18-19). This is significant as ancient Near East cultures
understood the erection of the king’s statue proclaimed his rule and dominion over that geographic area.
Exemplified by Creation, God’s kingdom is timeless and universal, and His sovereignty is absolute and unlimited
in scope. In this context and the creation of man is the understanding that God desires His rule to be acknowledged
in a bond of love, loyalty, spirit and trust (Gen 3:8-11).
However, with his fall, Satan initiated an attempt to usurp and challenge the kingdom of God
As a consequence of persuading Adam and Eve to join him in rebelling against God, fellowship with God was broken,
and sin separated man from God (Rom 5:12).
Despite the Fall, God had a plan to restore sin tainted creation back into the blessings of His kingdom. So
while the nation of Israel did not perceive a kingdom of God, God certainly had one in mind, and the mechanism He
chose was the Divine Covenants. The Divine Covenants served three purposes:
Redemption: redeeming the lost demonstrates His infinite grace and sacrificial love.
Kingdom rule: reclaiming His kingdom reasserts His sovereign authority and demonstrates
that His Kingly authority cannot be challenged.
Judgment: executing judgment to purge earth of the effects of sin demonstrates that sin
and rebellion cannot be observed with indifference.
In examining the Divine Covenants, the Old Testament reveals much about the kingdom of God:
2:15-25) introduces life, fellowship, and food for man and blesses
them to procreate. Blessing Adam and Eve to procreate increases the citizenry of the kingdom of God.
(Gen 3:8-24) introduces the notion of a moral standard in the
kingdom of God.
provides: 1) blessings with food and procreation, 2) a promise not to destroy life by catastrophic flooding and
3) an emphasis on the sanctity of the image of God because of its linkage to capital punishment. God the King is
to be revered.
(Gen 12:1-3, 7;
introduces the term "nation" and implies a political entity defined by culture, ethnicity and / or geography. This
unconditional covenant reveals that through only one nation other nations and people are blessed.
(Ex 19-24; Lev 17-26, Deut 1-28; Josh 24) provides an explicit theocracy; through the Mosaic Covenant, God governs
human beings, and human beings serve God and His covenant. While not political in nature, the covenant served a
priestly function; moral and social laws defined sin and just punishment, and worship laws defined how human beings
could maintain a right relationship with God. Suzerainty Treaties, similar with the Mosaic Covenant, were made
between kings and their vassals.
30:1-10), unconditional and eternal, establishes the importance
of the Promised Land and Jerusalem would later become God’s chosen center of His divine kingship
(1 Kings 11:36;
(2 Sam 7:8-17;
1 Chron 17:8-15)
established a king who sought to bring God’s people (and other nations) under God’s rule as defined by the Mosaic
Covenant; the king was the mediator of the covenant and the means of extending God’s kingdom. Unconditional and
eternal, the Davidic Covenant expands on the Seed aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant. Abraham was promised that the
Messiah will be a descendant of his (Gen 12:2-3);
Jacob passed on his inheritance with the indication that Judah would be the receiver of the Seed
(Gen 49:8-10), and David was promised that the Seed will come
from the House of David.
elaborated on the universal blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. Despite Israel's efforts of obedience or lack of,
the unconditional New Covenant provided a means for salvation and Hebrews refers to Jesus as the "mediator of a
new covenant (Heb 9:15, 22)
Satan’s competing kingdom share attitudes not unlike those found in
Genesis 11:1-9 where there is complete confidence and naïve
optimism about human achievement and effort. In contrast, Divine Covenants establish a basis for God’s kingdom
by introducing His authority, His realm and His subjects. With careful consideration, the Old Testament does
indeed reveal a lot about the kingdom of God.
1. Brown C, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3,
Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, (1979).
2. Brand C, Draper C and England A, eds., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Nashville:
Holman Bible Publishers, (1998).
3. Swindoll CR and Zuck RB, eds., Understanding Christian Theology, Nashville: Thomas
Nelson Publishers, (2003).