Biblical Future Prophecy –Part 4: The Biblical Basis for Belief in a Future Earthly Kingdom of God

[This is the fourth in a series of articles on biblical future prophecy. The material has been adapted from the author’s book, What the Bible Says About the Future, second edition, 2011, by Sam A. Smith. To jump to the next article in this series tap or click here.]

The kingdom of God is one of the central themes of the Bible; some view it as the central theme. In many ways the Bible relates to us that God is the sovereign Lord of creation, though the expression of that kingdom, at least from the human perspective, may take different forms. The kingdom of God encompasses several distinct aspects, which will be examined below.

Aspects of the Kingdom of God

At least three distinct aspects of the kingdom of God are alluded to in the Bible; they are: the universal kingdom, the visible kingdom, and the invisible kingdom. While our present study is concerned primarily with the visible kingdom, and particularly its millennial aspect, it would be helpful to survey all three aspects.

The Universal Aspect of the Kingdom of God

God’s sovereignty over his creation is referred to as his universal kingdom. This concept appears early in Israel’s history and is a frequent theme in the Psalms (cf. 10:16; 29:10; 103:19-22; 145:10-13). The universal kingdom encompasses all of creation, and includes even the ungodly, both human and angelic, for all creation is subject to the sovereign rule of God. David says of this aspect of God’s kingdom:

[Psa. 103:19-22] The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

The Visible Aspect of the Kingdom of God

To the Hebrew mind in the Old Testament, the kingdom of God was his theocratic rule over the nation of Israel. Ultimately this rule was to have its fullest expression in the reign of Messiah, when Israel would be vindicated and exalted, and experience the joy of profuse divine blessing and peace (Isa. 9:6-6; 65:18-25).

Only in the New Testament does the millennial aspect of the visible kingdom come into sharp focus, in contrast to the Old Testament, which made no distinction between the millennium and eternity (cf. Isa. 65:17-25). In the book of Revelation we learn that the earthly kingdom will occur in two phases. The first phase, referred to as the “millennium,” is to occur on the present earth before its re-creation (Rev. 20:4 cf. Rev. 21:1-6). As the name “millennium” suggests, this phase encompasses the first thousand years of the visible kingdom. The second phase of the visible kingdom occurs in what is commonly referred to as “eternity,” which begins with the creation of the new heavens and earth, and the descent of the New Jerusalem to rest upon the earth (Rev. 21:1-22:5).

The Invisible Aspect of the Kingdom of God

The invisible aspect of the kingdom of God refers to God’s rule in the hearts of those yielded to him. This aspect, like the universal aspect, is a present reality. This facet of the kingdom is largely developed in the gospels (cf. Matt. 6:33; 18:1-4; Mk. 9:1; Lk. 17:20-24; Jn. 18:36), but can be found elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g., Col. 1:13). Many Bible interpreters confuse the visible and invisible aspects of the kingdom, and incorrectly view references to the invisible aspect of the kingdom as support for a spiritualized (allegorized) view of the millennium, as found in amillennialism.

It is not uncommon for dispensationalists to distinguish between the kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of God; however, such a distinction is not biblically supported. Of course, the kingdom of Heaven, which is composed of the redeemed, does have an earthly manifestation, and in the present age the kingdom of Heaven is manifested in and through the Church. The parables of Matthew 13 indicate that as the kingdom of Heaven progresses, its visible (outward) manifestation will be corrupted by a growing presence of unredeemed people who profess, but do not possess true faith unto salvation.

The Necessity of a Future Earthly Kingdom

The Old Testament concept of an earthly kingdom emerges first from the Abrahamic Covenant and is expanded upon in the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. These four covenants shape the Old Testament picture of the visible kingdom of God, which as we will see, is inseparably linked to national Israel. A simple analogy may help to illustrate the relationship of these covenant promises to other Old Testament prophecies concerning the kingdom. If we think of the covenants (the Abrahamic, the Land, the Davidic, and the New covenants) as the bold lines of a coloring book determining the shape of the picture, we could think of other prophecies as the colors applied within those lines. The covenant promises form the outline of God’s plan for Israel; other prophecies supply additional details that must be understood within the framework of the covenant promises. Together they form a picture of God’s plan for Israel’s future, which includes blessings for the Gentiles, though the Gentiles should not be viewed as co-inheritors, but as secondary beneficiaries. Since the covenants define the kingdom program for Israel, and in a larger sense, God’s program for future world history, it is important that we begin with an examination of these covenants before looking at the other prophetic passages.

The Abrahamic Covenant

The provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant are stated in Genesis 12:1-3,6-7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-14 and 22:15-18. It is important to examine each of these passages in order to understand all of the provisions. Genesis 15:1-12 is of particular interest, since it also includes the account of the solemn ceremony in which God sealed his promises as an unconditional covenant with Abraham (Abram) and his descendants after him, forever.

[Gen. 12:1-3] The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

[Gen. 12:6-7] Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

[Gen. 13:14-17] The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

[Gen. 15:1-21] After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

[Gen. 17:1-14] When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

[Gen. 22:15-18] The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

In these passages God made the following personal promises to Abraham: 1) Abraham’s name would be great (12:2). 2) He would be the father of many nations (17:5). 3) His descendants would be innumerable (13:16; 15:5; 22:17). 4) Kings would come from him (17:6). 5) God would be his God (17:7). 6) The one who blesses Abraham would be blessed, and the one who curses Abraham would be cursed (12:3). 7) The covenant would be a perpetual (eternal) covenant (17:7).

In addition to the personal promises made to Abraham, God also made the following promises to his descendants: 1) They would become a great nation (12:2). 2) They would at some time come to possess the Promised Land forever (17:8). 3) God would be their God (17:8). 4) They would be victorious over their enemies (22:17). 5) God’s covenant would be established with them forever (17:7). While the covenant also includes a blessing for the Gentiles, that they would be blessed through Abraham (12:3; 22:18), it is important to point out that while Gentiles benefit from this covenant, they are not a direct party to the covenant.

The Abrahamic Covenant expressly promises that Abraham’s descendants will come to possess the land God showed to Abraham, and that they will live in that land as recipients of divine favor forever. That these promises have never been forfeited or invalidated is a point that will be considered later; first we will look at the relationships between the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New Covenants.

The Land Covenant

The Land Covenant, so called because it was made with Israel upon their entrance into the Promised Land, is recorded in Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20. Moses indicated its connection to the Abrahamic Covenant when he said:

[Deut. 29:12-13] You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

What God swore to Abraham and subsequently confirmed to Isaac and Jacob, he was prepared to implement as Abraham’s children stood on the verge of their entrance into the land over four hundred years later. This covenant seems to have had two purposes: 1) to ensure that the people understood that their inheritance of the land was the result of the promises previously made to Abraham (29:12-13); and, 2) to clarify the condition under which they could expect to enter into the enjoyment of this promise—the condition being Israel’s continued obedience to God (29:16-29). One of the most interesting features of this covenant is found in 30:1-10; there God indicated that Israel would rebel in the future, and their rebellion would cost them the enjoyment of the covenant blessings such that they would be dispersed from the land, but the covenant itself would not be invalidated; rather, the blessings would be reserved for a generation that would return to him.

[Deut. 30:1-10] When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the LORD and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the LORD your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

The Land Covenant should be seen as a reaffirmation and amplification of the land promises previously made to Abraham, and its perpetual validity is apparent from the language of the covenant.

The Davidic Covenant

The Davidic Covenant is found in 2 Samuel 7:12-17. There God said to David:

[2 Sam. 7:12-17] ”When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”

There are four key provisions of this covenant: 1) David would have a son who would build the house of the Lord (v.13), which was fulfilled in Solomon. 2) While God would correct David’s son, he would never take the throne from him (vv.14-15). 3) God promised that David’s house (i.e., his lineage) would endure forever (v.16). 4) God also promised that the right to the throne of Israel would perpetually remain with David’s line (v.16). While the text of the covenant does not make reference to the Abrahamic Covenant, the connection is apparent since the people that David’s line will perpetually have the right to rule, are the people of promise under the Abrahamic Covenant. The prophet Jeremiah later demonstrated a connection between these two covenants in the following prophecy:

[Jer. 33:25-26] . . . This is what the LORD says, “If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.”

The Davidic Covenant expands upon the national and governmental aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant by stating that the right to the throne of Israel will forever remain with David’s line. This is the reason the New Testament makes the point of establishing that Christ is a descendant of David. [Luke 3:23-38 gives Jesus’ physical line of descent from David through Mary, who was not of the kingly line; and Matthew 1:1-17 gives Jesus’ adoptive genealogy through Joseph, who was of David’s kingly (Solomon-Jeconiah) line. Although the right to inherit the throne of Israel passed through King Jeconiah, had Mary been a descendant of Jeconiah as was Joseph, Jesus would have come under the curse placed on that line in Jeremiah 22:24-30. However, being a descendent of David through another line, the line of Nathan, as well as the legal heir of Joseph, Jesus met all of the qualifications to be the king of Israel, without contracting the curse that God placed on the kingly line during the rule of Jeconiah.]

The New Covenant

The prophecy of the New Covenant is found in Jeremiah 31:31-34. There Jeremiah prophesied:

[Jer. 31:31-34] ”The time is coming,” declares the LORD, ”when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, Know the LORD, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. ”For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Through Jeremiah, God promised that he will someday establish a new covenant with Israel, a covenant by which he will write his laws on their hearts (v.33)—probably a reference to the giving of the Holy Spirit. The result will be that all Israel will know the LORD (v.34). While the implementation of this covenant is dependent upon the work of Christ on the cross, that work does not in itself fulfill this promise, for it has not yet resulted in the conversion of Israel. Therefore, we must conclude that the New Covenant, while presently in force and enjoyed by the Church (as a wild olive branch, cf. Rom. 11:7-36), is yet to have its effect on the nation of Israel. The New Covenant reveals the nature of the special relationship that Israel is to have with God. Gentiles are not left out, since they too are to be blessed under the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3; 22:18).

The Unconditional Nature of the Covenants

It is important to recognize that the Abrahamic Covenant, as well as the other three covenants, are unconditional in nature. This does not mean that there is no condition to be met in order for them to be fulfilled; the fulfillment is clearly conditioned upon faith. Rather, their unconditional nature refers to the fact that Israel’s disobedience, both past and present, has not, indeed cannot invalidate these covenants, because their continuance was never linked to Israel’s faithfulness, only the enjoyment of their blessings was conditioned upon faith. Though generations of Abraham’s descendants have turned from God, yet God maintains his covenanted promises, ready to fulfill them to an elect generation who turn in faith to their true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

When the unconditional nature of these covenants is understood, it is apparent that whatever partial benefits Israel may have enjoyed historically as a result of these covenants, in no sense can it be said that they have been fulfilled. The position of covenant theology, which generally sees no place for the fulfillment of these covenants in the future, is that their continuance was conditioned upon Israel’s faith; and since Israel broke faith with God, manifested ultimately in the rejection of their Messiah, these covenants have been invalidated as far as Israel is concerned, and the promised blessings have, in some higher spiritual sense, been transferred to the Church.

There are at least three reasons for believing that God has not abandoned his covenant with Abraham. 1) The form of the covenant given in Genesis 15:9-21 is that of an unconditional, or unilateral covenant, in which all of the responsibility for the fulfillment rests solely with one party, in this case with God. The scene in Genesis 15:1-21 in which Abraham divided various animals, and God, depicted by a great smoking furnace, passed between the divided pieces, is a picture of the ratification of the Abrahamic Covenant, equivalent to the signing of a treaty. The fact that only God passed between the divided pieces is significant. Normally in a suzerainty-vassal treaty such as this both parties would pass between the pieces together, indicating their mutual obligation to keep the conditions of the covenant. That God alone passed between the pieces is indicative that the covenant obligations rest solely upon him. In other words, it was not up to Abraham or his descendants to do anything to validate this covenant. Of course no individual or generation could enter into the blessings of the covenant apart from faith (Gen. 17:13-14). Nevertheless, faithlessness on the part of an individual, or an entire generation, could not invalidate the covenant; such faithlessness would merely exclude that individual or generation from the blessings of the covenant. In other words, the validity of the covenant, and the enjoyment of its provisions by a specific set of people, are two entirely distinct issues. God rejected those who rejected the covenant relationship, but he did not reject the covenant itself. If a generation of Abraham’s descendants should arise that will accept the covenant relationship by faith, they will have the covenant fulfilled to them. 2) Even though Abraham’s descendants were disobedient and fell into idolatry, subsequent statements made in scripture indicate that their disobedience had not invalidated the covenant. For example, the Abrahamic Covenant was invoked in 1 Chronicles 16:16-18 a thousand years after it was made; during much of the intervening time Israel had lived in idolatry, yet the covenant, as seen from the perspective of this passage, was perpetually valid, needing only to be appropriated by faith. The psalmist in Psalm 105:8-11 said:

[Psa. 105:8-11] He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”

Given what we know of Israel’s early history, if disobedience or the lack of faith could invalidate the Abrahamic Covenant it surely would not have survived the first one thousand years of Israel’s history. Need we recount the almost continual apostasy of the nation? 3) The Land, Davidic, and New Covenants are also indicated as being unconditional and eternal covenants. Concerning the unconditional nature of the Davidic Covenant, God, through the psalmist, said in Psalm 89: [Psa. 89:28-37] “I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure. If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness and I will not lie to David that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.”

Almost four hundred years later on the eve of Israel’s expulsion from the Land because of rampant idolatry, God spoke these words through Jeremiah:

[Jer. 33:20-22] This is what the LORD says: “If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.”

Both the nature of these covenants and subsequent biblical statements reflecting on them indicate they were made unconditionally; meaning they have not been invalidated by Israel’s past unbelief, and that God intends to fulfill them through his sovereign election of a future generation (Jer. 31:31-37).

The Implications of the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New Covenants

 The Abrahamic Covenant, which promises the descendants of Abraham a land forever, has neither been invalidated nor fulfilled; thus, the fulfillment of these promises must occur in the future. The connection between the Abrahamic Covenant and the subsequent prophetic descriptions of the kingdom (e.g., Isa. 11:4-10; 35:5-10; 60:1-22; 65:17-25; Ezek. 34:25-31; Joel 2:21-27; 3:18-21) leaves no doubt that the Abrahamic Covenant is the basis of the kingdom promises to Israel.

The Land Covenant repeats the land provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant and further expands upon the basis for Israel’s enjoyment of this promise—which is faith and faithfulness. In this covenant, God foresaw Israel’s disobedience and dispersion (Deut. 30:1-8) and promised their restoration upon a return to faith in him. Of course, Israel’s ultimate return to the Lord can only occur as a result of inward spiritual conversion.

The Davidic Covenant is an expansion upon the national aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant, in that it specifies that David’s house is to have a perpetual right to the throne of Israel. The promise requires that when the kingdom prophecies are fulfilled, a member of David’s house must rule over Israel. This will ultimately be fulfilled in the person of David’s Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah (Isa. 9:6-7, cf. Lk. 2:11).

The prophecy of the New Covenant specifies how God intends to bring about the implementation of the Abrahamic Covenant—by genuine spiritual renewal on the part of Abraham’s descendants. It would not be reasonable to suppose that a non-elect, unregenerate people could live in a state of perpetual blessing and special divine relationship as envisioned in the Abrahamic Covenant. Therefore, before God can fulfill his promises to Abraham he must raise up an elect generation of Jews who will respond to his offer of salvation. It is important to recognize that election is at the heart of Israel’s conversion, for if salvation ultimately depended upon man, the fulfillment of these promises could never be anything more than a remote prospect. Yet God intends, by his sovereign choice, to bring spiritual life to Israel so that his covenanted promises can be infallibly brought to pass.

In summary, God intends to regather Abraham’s children, breathe spiritual life into them and plant them securely in their land, with David’s Son, their Messiah, ruling over them. The implementation of this program will necessitate a partial regathering of Israel 60:1-22; 65:17-25; Ezek. 34:25-31; Joel 2:21-27; 3:18-21) leaves no doubt that the Abrahamic Covenant is the basis of the kingdom promises to Israel.

The Land Covenant repeats the land provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant and further expands upon the basis for Israel’s enjoyment of this promise—which is faith and faithfulness. In this covenant, God foresaw Israel’s disobedience and dispersion (Deut. 30:1-8) and promised their restoration upon a return to faith in him. Of course, Israel’s ultimate return to the Lord can only occur as a result of inward spiritual conversion.

The Davidic Covenant is an expansion upon the national aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant, in that it specifies that David’s house is to have a perpetual right to the throne of Israel. The promise requires that when the kingdom prophecies are fulfilled, a member of David’s house must rule over Israel. This will ultimately be fulfilled in the person of David’s Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah (Isa. 9:6-7, cf. Lk. 2:11).

The prophecy of the New Covenant specifies how God intends to bring about the implementation of the Abrahamic Covenant—by genuine spiritual renewal on the part of Abraham’s descendants.

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(Adapted in 2017 from What the Bible Says About the Future, by Sam A. Smith. Click or tap for the print edition, [350 pages] or the e-book edition [233 pages-abridged], illustrated Unless otherwise indicated all scripture is taken from the New International Version of the Bible..)

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