As God made man in three dimensions – spirit, soul and body – so has He designed the Kingdom of God. After Yeshua (Jesus) was raised from the dead, He spent forty days with His disciples in an intensive teaching program, “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). In the discussion that follows, we see the three dimensions, like three photographs, laid one over the other in a “triple-exposure” montage. To understand the kingdom we must see how these three fit together into an integral whole.
I – God’s Dwelling-place
In the first area of priority, Yeshua said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8). This instruction was then realized in the next chapter where the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Shavuot). The meaning of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is of paramount importance to the whole plan of the Bible. When God made Adam out of the dust of the earth, He “breathed” into him of His own spirit (Genesis 2:7). The very purpose for which God made the human race was to dwell in them. The spiritual God made a race of earthly creatures so that He could come inside of them as His own habitation.
The Temple building had a symbolic meaning concerning our destiny to become the dwelling place of God. Ultimately God expresses and manifests Himself through inhabiting His people. It is like a man who built a house for himself and then moved in to dwell there. Any understanding of the kingdom of God without the Spirit of God living inside us, would miss the central aspect of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is essentially God dwelling inside the human race. Anywhere people are filled with the Spirit of God, the kingdom of God exists. The word for “tabernacle” in Hebrew, mishkan, means dwelling place. In modern Hebrew, the words for neighborhood, house mortgage and housing project, all come from the same root.
II – Noah’s Rainbow
Secondly, Yeshua instructed His disciples to “be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is the great commission to bring the gospel into all the world. However world evangelism is the means, not the goal. There can be no kingdom if there are no citizens in that kingdom, and people cannot enter the kingdom without having their sins forgiven. We must preach the gospel everywhere in order to prevent people from going to hell and to populate the kingdom of God. God envisions a world full of people of every race and tongue (Revelation 5:9, 7:9), living together in harmony. The Messiah’s sacrifice reconciles us first to God and then to one another.
Racism is inherently contradictory to the purpose of the kingdom of God. Racial reconciliation (unity with diversity) is an expression and realization of God’s dream. For this reason, God chose the rainbow to be the sign of His covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:16). The international community of faith (the true “Church”) is by its very nature just that: international. God does not want every nation to be the same; He wants to remove the strife between us. The rainbow has many different colors that are blended together in a beautiful harmony. That is the artistry of God. God works not with paint and canvas, but with the hearts of human beings. This international harmony is an essential part of the kingdom of God.
III – David’s Kingdom
The disciples’ first response to Yeshua’s teachings about the kingdom was to ask the question, “Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Some Christians incorrectly believe that Yeshua said that He would not restore the kingdom to Israel. However His answer was that He would not restore the kingdom to Israel at that time (verse 7). By saying that He would not restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, He was unquestionably affirming His commitment that He would restore the kingdom to Israel at another time. Yeshua thus changed the chronology of Israel’s restoration, not its validity. He reversed the order, but not the essence.
The disciples had in mind the prophecies given to David – that his kingdom would last forever and eventually encompass the entire world (II Samuel 7:14, Isaiah 9:7; 11:1). The indwelling of God’s Spirit and the multinational harmony of the kingdom of God eventually have to find their expression in a real life human society in which God is the architect and governor (Hebrews 11:10). This third aspect is the earthly fulfillment of the kingdom. It will take place at a certain point of time and space, where the history of man will intersect with the promises of God. It has not yet been fulfilled, but it is in the process of development.
The word “kingdom” means a government led by a king. God’s kingdom has a king, who is Yeshua. It exists in our heart, but it will also come to pass as a perfect world, a righteous society, an international empire with Jerusalem as its capital and Yeshua as its monarch. Yeshua did not come to do away with the kingdom of David, but to enlarge and expand its dimensions. He added to David’s kingdom all the nations of the world (Isaiah 49:6). He added to David’s kingdom eternal life and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 55:3). David’s kingdom is one of the three dimensions of the kingdom of God.
God’s Kingdom on Earth
When we integrate these three dimensions – the Dwelling Place, the Rainbow, and the kingdom of David – we can see the full picture of the kingdom of God. To remove any one of these is to eliminate the spirit or soul or body of the kingdom. All three have validity. They all come into their New Covenant fulfillment through Yeshua the Messiah. First comes the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then world evangelism, and finally, kingdom restoration in Israel. Thank God, the first seeds of revival in Israel are already beginning to take place (Romans 11:26). Some people have difficulty understanding that the kingdom of God has an earthly fulfillment. Yet the Lord’s prayer states that the kingdom is for God’s will to be done on earth, in the same way that it is done in heaven (Matthew 6:11). The plan of God has always been, from before the foundation of the world, to unite all that is in heaven and earth (Ephesians 1:10). At the time of the resurrection, not only will human beings receive new bodies, planet earth will also be renewed: “The creation itself will also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
What an encouraging promise – animals and plants, rocks and streams will also be redeemed. Heaven and earth will be joined; God will live among men; Eden will be restored; and everything will be perfect.