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Many have asked questions about life in the Kingdom after the second coming of Christ. They are curious as to the changes that will occur between now and then, both in one’s personal life and in the governments of the world. In this issue we will attempt to explore these questions.
Obviously, since we are peering into the future, we know that we seeing through a glass darkly, as it were. The future has no real precedent from the past. We have only glimpses of the future, prophesied through types and shadows and patterns. Yet it is hard to know what a shirt looks like when all you have is a pattern.
The Garden of Eden is the first Kingdom pattern that we see in Scripture. It gives us a picture of harmony between man, animals, and the earth itself. Nonetheless, Eden was given to Adam and Eve as a mini-Kingdom, because the earth was much larger than they could manage. They needed to be fruitful and multiply in order to put all things under their feet, as it were.
They sinned and became mortal before they had time to bring forth children in the image of God. When they finally did have children, they were begotten by seed that was both mortal and corruptible, as 1 Peter 1:23 says. Hence, their children (to the present day) are “like grass” and “like the flower of grass” (1 Peter 1:24), which grows up temporarily and is beautiful for a while, but ultimately it withers, dies, and returns to the ground.
So also is it with human flesh. Because the original pristine pattern proved to be so short-lived, we are given only a glimpse of the purity of Kingdom life.
Again, there is another major difference. Adam and Eve had no history. They were innocent and naïve, having never seen or experienced either good or evil. By knowing no evil, they had no real knowledge of good either, for we know most things by their contrast. It is only from God’s view—He who knows the end from the beginning—that we were told that all of creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:31).
We are told in Gen. 1:26 that Adam was given authority to rule the earth under God’s sovereignty. God did not give man sovereignty, nor did He permit him to do as he pleased or enact laws contrary to the laws of God which expressed His Love-nature.
Adam’s primary purpose is stated in Gen. 2:15,
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
This brief job description includes much more than gardening. The word “cultivate” comes from the Hebrew word avad, “to work, serve.” It is the service of one who exercises divine authority. Adam was not enslaved to the earth until later. Prior to sin, he served that which was under his authority, according to the principle that Jesus set forth in Matt. 20:25, 26,
25 … You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.
A ruler in the Kingdom looks past his authority and focuses upon his responsibility toward those under him. He knows that he was not given sovereignty but authority, and thus he is held accountable to God for his use of power.
Adam was also supposed to “keep” it. The Hebrew word is shamar, “to guard, preserve, to watch in order to keep safe.” Again, this sets forth the guardian’s responsibility for the wellbeing of those under his authority. If we break down this word into its component parts, we see it either as shem-resh or as shama-resh.
If we view the word shamar as deriving from shama, it means “to hear, obey.” Such obedience implies service and connects well with the biblical concept of authority as we saw above.
However, if we derive shamar from the word shem, we get a little different angle. Shem means “name,” having the connotation of being well known (famous). In the context of the story in Genesis, we find God giving Adam the responsibility to name the animals (Gen. 2:19). The power to name was the right to establish identity. So even his children were named, and their identity was thus derived from the “old man” (KJV) or “old self” (NASB), as Paul described it in his writings many years later.
Paul tells us that we are to change our identity from being children of the old man (Adam) to being children of the new man (Christ) through the seed of the living word. He declares us to be His sons, because Adam’s authority to name all things was transferred to Him. So we read in Eph. 3:15,
15 from [ek, “from, out of, by”] whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
In other words, the Father has the power to name all things, and this authority was given to Jesus Christ. Adam had abused this authority and brought death to all, so his authority to name and to pass down his fleshly identity did not end per se but was superseded by One greater, Jesus Christ, “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). Those begotten by the Spirit have a new Father, who gives us His own name.
Hence, as believers in Christ, we have been begotten by the Spirit and are henceforth new creatures. Our identity has been changed legally, for we are no longer sons of the old man of flesh but are now children of God. This is done by the same faith seen in Abraham, who believed and was “assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21).
As children of Abraham by faith, we are each named as one of the stars of heaven, for Gen. 15:5, 6 says,
5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
As children of Abraham, we are among those stars, and thus He has given us new names different from that which our flesh was given at our natural birth. So Psalm 147:4 says,
4 He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.
So also Isaiah 62:2 prophesied, saying,
2 And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will designate.
The prophet says in verse 4 that the old flesh nature was called Forsaken and Desolate, but the new nature will be called Hephzibah (“My delight is in her”) and Beulah (“married”). To rename is to give a new identity that differs from the name that Adam and his fleshly descendants have given to their children in each generation.
In Rev. 2:17 Christ tells the Church that He gives the overcomers “a new name written on the stone, which no one knows but he who receives it.” In other words, He gives them a new identity by the authority originally granted to Adam in the garden.
In Rev. 3:12 this concept is expanded,
12 He who overcomes… I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
We are not given the name of the earthly city, which is fleshly and is associated with the first Adam. Instead, we are given the name of the “new Jerusalem… and My new name.” That is, we are given the new name of Christ, because we are now His children and carry His family name and identity.
In Rev. 22:4 we are told that “His name shall be on their foreheads.” This is a biblical expression referring to us as His place of residence. In earlier times, His name was put upon the tabernacle at Shiloh, and later at Jerusalem (Jer. 7:12, 14).
God’s name and presence was seen departing from the temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 10:18), moving as far as the Mount of Olives (Ezekiel 11:23) until Christ ascended from that spot, taking the glory with Him back to heaven. The glory then returned to a new and living temple ten days later on the day of Pentecost.
From that day onward, His name ceased to be in temples made of wood and stone, for He has now moved to a better residence in a temple made of living stones (1 Pet. 2:5; Eph. 2:21, 22). Each living stone is a temple in itself (1 Cor. 3:16), and hence, He has written His name on our foreheads.
All of this is buried within the Hebrew word shamar, which was part of Adam’s responsibility “to keep” the garden. Adam ultimately failed through sin, but the Last Adam has succeeded in bringing righteousness to the earth. The authority to name has been transferred from Adam to Christ. The power of the old man of flesh has been broken and is being broken, as Abraham’s seed become as numerous as the stars of heaven, and as God calls them all by their new names. These new names establish their identity, purpose, calling, and destiny.
When God told Abraham to look upward and count the stars—if he could do so—He was revealing the divine plan to restore all of creation to Himself. God intended to use Abraham to save untold billions of people—not just the paltry few that hear and believe during their short life span.
Those who lack the vision of the restoration of all things are again called to go outside on a clear night and look at the stars. Most are hidden from view, and so also most of those whom God will restore to Himself are presently hidden by the church’s narrow teaching of the afterlife.
Simply put, they do not believe that God is able to do as He has promised. In other words, they lack Abrahamic faith. Their faith is in the Old Covenant vows of well-intentioned men and women. If salvation itself is based upon the vows of men, then indeed, few (if any) could be saved, for only a few throughout earth-history have ever heard of Jesus.
But if God has the love necessary to vow to save all mankind, the wisdom to devise a plan that will succeed, and the power to carry out His plan, then we may have the same assurance that Abraham had, which was reckoned to him as righteousness.
The apostle Paul compares the two men, Adam and Christ, in Rom. 5:12-21 and again in 1 Cor. 15:44-49. Where Adam failed, Christ succeeded. That means these two men had the same overall calling, though in different contexts.
I believe that Gen. 1:2 suggests a prior civilization that failed for unknown reasons. As a result, “the earth became formless and void.” Adam was not part of that original creation but was formed as part of a new creation. His calling was to restore the earth back to the Creator.
The problem was that when he sinned, he essentially became part of the problem and lost the ability to fulfill his calling. Jesus then came as the Last Adam to succeed where Adam had failed. For this reason, Jesus came to put all things under His feet, and in speaking of the coming Kingdom, Paul says that Christ “must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Cor. 15:25).
This encapsulates the entire plan in a few words. But in order to accomplish this purpose, Christ must first reign. The first week of creation (7,000 years) prepares us for that reign, after which time He claims the entire earth as His and exercises His rightful authority over all rebellious sinners, no longer allowing them the privilege of sin.
This creation week has progressed slowly but steadily toward this goal. One might say that the plan truly began to be implemented when God called Abraham and tasked his children with the job of bringing the rest of creation into subjection to Christ.
Even this phase of the plan developed slowly, for it took centuries for the Israelites to grow into a kingdom. That kingdom was established at Mount Horeb under Moses, but it was formed under the authority of the vows of men, which we know as the Old Covenant (Exodus 19:8). Israel did not keep its vow, and ultimately that kingdom ended in failure.
Nonetheless, the King was born in Bethlehem and paid the penalty for the sin of the world by giving His life at the cross. He was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father until He could make His enemies His footstool (the place to rest His feet). It paints the picture of a man who has worked all day and finally is able to rest and enjoy the fruit of his labor.
The law prophesies of two works of Christ, pictured by the two doves in Lev. 14 and the two goats in Lev. 16. So nearly 2,000 years have again passed before we see the second work of Christ.
To understand the two works of Christ, one must have some knowledge of the feasts of the Lord and the fact that there are two sets of feast days each year. The first set includes Passover, Wave-sheaf, and Pentecost, all of which were fulfilled in His first work.
The second set includes Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles, which prophesy of the coming resurrection, repentance, and manifestation of the sons of God. This will mark the start of a new era in which the first group of the sons of God will be raised or changed to immortality and incorruption (1 Cor. 15:51-53), so that the earth may progress into the next stage of the Kingdom.
Whereas the Kingdom has already been within our hearts and among us since the first coming of Christ (Luke 17:21), it must ultimately manifest (become visible) in a greater sense, so that the earth can be reclaimed as His Kingdom. The Kingdom includes all that He owns by right of creation, both heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1). But because it was “sold” on account of Adam’s sin-debt (Matt. 18:25), it all had to be reclaimed in a lawful manner. The law speaks of slaves laboring for six years (Exodus 21:2), and I believe this was prophetic of 6,000 years of Adamic history.
The time has now come for the slaves to be set free, for this appears to coincide with the second coming of Christ and the manifestation of the sons of God, who are the first to be set free on the highest level. Their ministry will begin a whole new era of world evangelism, because they will do “greater works” than even Jesus did (John 14:12).
Since Jesus already did His death work in His first coming, and the overcomers followed in His footsteps after Him, the second work of Christ will end that death work and bring forth a living work. This is set forth in the second dove and the second goat, both of which were not to be killed.
Therefore, the second work of Christ differs from His first work, and the work of the sons of God in the age to come will reflect this change as well. No longer will they be martyred in the likeness of Christ’s own martyrdom. They will live to manifest the presence of Christ in the earth, and a great host of people worldwide will come to know Him.
At the same time, the empires of men, which God had empowered since the fall of Jerusalem in 604 B.C., will find so many of their citizens turning to Christ that whole nations will elect to make Jesus Christ their King (Isaiah 2:2-4). In this way the “stone” (kingdom) will grow until it fills the whole earth (Dan. 2:35).
This growth may start out strong and extensive, but at some point it will reach a point of equilibrium, where the earth will be divided. The Kingdom of Light will rule much of the earth under Jesus Christ, while the “outer darkness” will prevail over the non-Kingdom nations. Hence, anyone in the Kingdom of Light that refuses to abide by the laws of the Kingdom could potentially be cast into outer darkness. (See Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30.)
After a thousand years of Kingdom growth, there will still be nations outside the Kingdom of Light. Their time must end at the Great White Throne judgment, where God lays claim to the rest of the earth. So Satan will be released for a season to induce them to make war against Christ and His Kingdom (Rev. 20:7-9).
Christ is then given lawful cause to fight back and occupy their territory, subjecting their citizens to His rule by force. The rest of the unbelievers are thus claimed among the spoils of war and will be enslaved (subjected to the authority of believers in Christ) so that they may learn righteousness by the example of their Christ-like masters.
At that point, the end of the first week is complete, and the Kingdom will move into its final phase. All of the dead, small and great, will be summoned to the Great White Throne for judgment. Those who have believed in Jesus Christ in the past will be raised to life and given immortality, while those who did not believe will be judged according to their works (John 5:28, 29).
The unbelievers will be subjected to the “fiery law” (Deut. 33:2 KJV). Because all sin is reckoned as a debt, and none of them will be able to pay their debt to the law, they will be “sold” to the overcomers. Believers will then be given authority and charged with the responsibility of teaching them righteousness. Isaiah 26:9 tells us,
9 … For when the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
At the Great White Throne judgment, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess (lit. profess) Christ (Isaiah 45:23, 24; Phil. 2:10, 11). When the glory of God is manifested to them directly, who would not fall to their knees and confess Him? John asks the rhetorical question in Rev. 15:4,
4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For thou alone art holy; for all the nations will come and worship before Thee, for Thy righteous acts have been revealed.
In other words, rather than being forced to bow against their will, Scripture says that all will bow and worship Him once His “righteous acts have been revealed” to them. Most of these will have never heard of Jesus during their lifetime, but once He reveals Himself to them, they will want to worship Him. They will be overwhelmed by His love and the wisdom of the divine plan from the beginning.
This will mark the start of that final Age of Judgment, whose purpose is to teach the bulk of humanity the ways of God and to instill faith in their hearts toward King Jesus. Hence, it will not be a painful experience as so many view the “lake of fire.” Although they will be “under the law,” sentenced to be bondservants of Jesus Christ, they will be happier than ever in their previous lifetime.
Thus, the purpose of God for Adam will be fulfilled in Christ, all things will be under His feet, and Eden will be expanded to include the whole earth.