Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…” (Matt. 6:10).
The New Testament story begins with the startling announcement of the hermit harbinger of Christ: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The coming of this kingdom was the hope of patriarchs and prophets, the theme of ancient sages, and the song of the poets of all ages. Fifteen centuries before Christ, Jacob, with staff in hand, said in benedictions upon Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah…until Shiloh come” (Gen. 49:10). One millennium before Christ, David foretold that God would raise up One to sit on his (David’s) throne, and Peter very definitely affirmed that the prediction was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:29-33). Six hundred years before Christ, Daniel, with the horoscope of future ages before him, depicted the rise and fall of four successive world kingdoms and said, “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom” and it was in the days of the Roman emperors, the last of that succession of kings foretold by Daniel, that the kingdom of Christ began.
The Kingdom Approaching
The kingdom was approaching when John appeared on the scene. He preached that it was “at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Jesus taught his disciples to pray for it to come (Matt. 6: 9). Joseph, the Arimathean, waited for it (Mark 15:43), the penitent thief pleaded to enter it when the Lord should come into possession of it (Luke 23: 42) and the expectant disciples after his resurrection were yet anxious to receive it (Acts 1:8).
The Kingdom Set Up
It is evident and obvious that the kingdom of Christ had not come before the death of Christ, when John preached and when the disciples were taught to pray for it, nor after the death of Christ, while Joseph yet waited for it and the disciples expectantly asked for it. Has it come now? The answer must be affirmative, else there are some invisible beings on earth, near two thousand years old, who have not died. Anticipating his own death, Jesus said to his disciples: “There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). To these same bewildered disciples after his resurrection Jesus said: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1: 8). In the second chapter of Acts these promises are fulfilled. It was Pentecost. The ascended Lord had been enthroned. “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted,” seated at God’s right hand on David’s throne, the Spirit came—the power came—the kingdom came. Prior to this occasion the church, or kingdom, was spoken of in the future tense, as a thing to come, but after Pentecost in the present tense, as an existing thing. For instance, “I will build my church…and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom” (Matt. 16: 18). Jesus before Pentecost; and, “hath translated us into the kingdom” (Col. 1:13) Paul after Pentecost. The fact definitely locates the coming of the kingdom.
The Reigning King
Peter’s star witness that the long expected kingdom had come and that David’s throne, once on earth, is now established in heaven, was David himself. The fulfillment of David’s own prophecy regarding the reign of Christ is the final argument that convinced the Jews, and it surely ought to convince brethren today. Hear David’s own words: “Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven” (Psa. 89:35-37). Again, “The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne” (Psa. 132:11) . Hear now Peter’s conclusion:
Let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ…Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted…he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (Acts 2:29-33).
Thus Peter connected the fulfillment of prophecies regarding Christ on David’s throne with the event of his resurrection and not his second coming. The truth of David’s word, the surety of God’s oath, and the inspiration of Peter are assuredly “staked on the fact” that David’s throne is in heaven and that Christ is on it. The “therefore” of verse 33 is the inspired conclusion that in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ at God’s right hand these prophecies were fulfilled. And the “therefore” of verse 36 is the thrilling climax that “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”