Gospel of the Kingdom
by Philip Mauro
THE KINGDOM FORETOLD BY THE PROPHETS
IN the "Reference Bible"
whose teachings we are examining the following is from a note on Matthew
"The phrase 'Kingdom of heaven'
signifies the Messianic earth rule of Jesus Christ, the Son of
David." "It is the Kingdom covenanted to David's seed,
described in the PROPHETS."
I have two brief comments to make upon this
dogmatic statement; first, that not a scrap of evidence is
offered in support of it, and second that it is in flat
contradiction to the great cloud of witnesses whose unanimous testimony
I have cited above.
Then follows a note on the same chapter in
which it is stated that "The Kingdom of heaven" has three
aspects in Matthew, of which the second aspect (b) is in seven
'mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven' to be fulfilled during the present
This statement as to there being
"three aspects" of the one Kingdom; one of these
"aspects" being "in seven mysteries . . . to be fulfilled
in this age," is very confusing. So far as I can see, it is not
only without the slightest support in the Scriptures, but is altogether
Let it be noted, however, that we have here
a clear admission that the Kingdom of heaven does exist during
the present age. It matters not what is meant by the Kingdom's existing
now in one "aspect" and now in another. It does exist now.
Our Lord's prophetic parables in Matthew XIII, in which He foretold
what the Kingdom of heaven which He had announced as at hand, was to be
"like," were too much for the editor's theory. For no one can
close his eyes to the fact that those parables marvelously describe
God's work and His spiritual Kingdom during this present age. Very
well then, how does the case stand upon this admission? Our Lord said
the Kingdom of heaven was at hand, and He told what it would be like;
and the event showed (as the editor here admits) that it was at
hand, and that its likeness is precisely what the Lord said it would be.
If so, what becomes of the basic doctrine of dispensationalism that the
Kingdom of heaven our Lord announced as at hand was withdrawn and
postponed? Manifestly, the editor's admission destroys that notion
The case is very strong; and to realize
this we have only to remember that in the days of Christ the Jews were
occupying their own land and were enjoying a sort of national existence
and a measure of independence. Yet at that time "the Kingdom of
heaven" (whatever it was) had not yet come. Neither was the
earthly kingdom then in existence; nor has it come, up to the
present time. But "the Kingdom of heaven" did come
immediately, even as Christ said it would come; and moreover, it took precisely
the form and "likeness" predicted by the Lord in
His parables. This the editor finds it necessary to admit. But how about
the national existence of Israel, which the editor says is "the
Kingdom of heaven?" What happened to that? So far from anything
coming to pass in the nature of an earthly kingdom as expected by the
Jews, what actually happened was the complete destruction of their city,
temple, and nation, and the scattering of the people throughout the
world, even to this very day. In a word, every vestige of their
national existence was forthwith blotted out.
It is clear, therefore, that the
"Kingdom of heaven," which formed the subject of the Lord's
preaching and teaching, and the earthly kingdom for which the
Jews were and still are looking, are not one and the same, but are
distinct and utterly different the one from the other.
Turning back now to some of the principal
prophecies concerning David, we shall find that while the prophets did
not describe "the Kingdom of God" by name, they did describe
the main features of this era of world-wide blessing to which the name
"Kingdom of God" is given in the New Testament.
We may appropriately begin with the great
prophecy found in Isaiah chapters 7-12. The words "and there shall
come forth a Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out
of his roots" definitely connect this prophecy with the House of
David. (See also Isa. 7:13, 14). We give it the first place in our
examination because it is the first prophecy quoted in the New
Testament. It is therefore a very significant Scripture, both as
determining the nature of the era which began when Christ was born of a
virgin of the house and lineage of David; and also as fixing the
character of Matthew's Gospel. For in the first chapter of Matthew we
have the angel's message concerning the Virgin Mary, in which he said:
"And she shall bring forth a son, and
thou shalt call His Name Jesus: for He shall save His people
from their sins. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which
was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold the1
virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they
shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with
We have here the first statement in New
Testament Scriptures of the purpose for which the Lord the Son of David
was coming into the world. It tells of One about to be born in David's
line Who should "save His people from their sins"--in
other words of the birth of a Saviour. Moreover, and this is the
point we wish to emphasize, it plainly declares that the birth of the
One Who was to save His people from their sins was the fulfilment of
the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Hence there is no room for any
uncertainty as to the meaning of that prophecy. It foretold an era of salvation
for sinners, not of earthly greatness for Israel. It foretold the
coming of the Lord for the express purpose of doing a work whereby His
people were to be saved from their sins. It is therefore a prophecy of
the cross, not of an earthly throne. This is what we find at the very
beginning of Matthew's Gospel (which is commonly disparaged as
"Jewish"), and in connection with the House of David.
With this clear light it is easy to see
many details in Isaiah's prophecy--especially in chapters 11 and
12--which are fulfilled in this present age. Verse 10 of chapter 11 is
"And in that day there shall be a Root
of Jesse which shall stand for an ensign of the people: to it (or to
Him) shall the Gentiles seek, and His rest shall be
Here is a distinct promise of salvation for
"Gentiles" through this "Root of Jesse." And not
only so, but this very verse is quoted by Paul in Romans 15:12, who thus
definitely links his gospel with that announced in the first chapter of
Matthew. The way the verse is quoted by Paul, and the meaning thereby
assigned to it by the Holy Spirit, is remarkable and illuminating. This
is the quotation:
"And again Esaias saith, There shall be
a Root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the
Gentiles,' in Him shall the Gentiles trust."
Here is a Kingdom-promise indeed. It tells of
One Who should "rise to reign." But the Kingdom here
foretold is the very opposite of the Kingdom expected by the Jews; for
the passage, as thus divinely interpreted, had reference to One Who was
to "reign over the Gentiles," and in Whom the Gentiles
should trust (or have hope).
This portion of Isaiah is again quoted by
Matthew at chapter 4:14-16, the quotation being from Isaiah 9:1, 2.
There we find the foretelling of Christ's ministry, which was to begin
in "Galilee of the Gentiles" (a very significant
statement); and also of the nature of His ministry, which was to
be the giving of light (and by implication life also) to them
that "sat in darkness" and in "the region and
shadow of death." These are words of the clearest
gospel-significance, words which are so well understood that we need not
dwell upon them. It surely goes a long way toward settling the disputed
question of the character of Matthew's Gospel, that the prophecies cited
at the very beginning of that Gospel, and declared to have been
"fulfilled"--the one at the birth of Christ and the
other at the commencement of His ministry--have nothing whatever
to do with an earthly kingdom and everything to do with salvation for
the whole world.
But we have also, in the passage last
quoted (Mat. 4:14-16), a bit of evidence of the most definite and
conclusive character as to the precise nature of the "Kingdom"
which the Lord was then announcing as "at hand." For in what
way and in what sense did the Lord "fulfil" the promise of
bringing light and life to "Galilee of the Gentiles"?
Verse 17 tells us plainly that He fulfilled it by proclaiming the
message: "Repent ye, for the Kingdom of heaven is at
hand." That message therefore had no reference at all to the
earthly kingdom; for the Holy Spirit here testifies that it announced
the era of promised blessing to the Gentiles. Thus it clearly
appears that the prophecy of light to the Gentiles is fulfilled in the
Kingdom of heaven.
Another surpassingly important prophecy
connected with David is the Second Psalm (a Psalm of David). This great
prophecy is distinguished by the fact that it speaks of God's Christ ("My
Anointed"), of God's Son, and of God's King. It would
require a volume to point out in detail the bearings of this Psalm. But
for present purposes we need not dwell long upon it. To begin with, the
subject of an earthly kingdom is conspicuous only by its absence. The
first part (the opposition of earth's rulers and peoples) was fulfilled
in the crucifixion of Christ (Acts 4:25-28). The words "Thou art My
Son" were spoken by the Father at the Lord's baptism, where His
death and resurrection were figured, and where He received the anointing
of the Holy Spirit for His ministry. Moreover, Paul explains that God
fulfilled His promise to the fathers, "in that He bath raised up
Jesus again; as it is also written in the Second Psalm, Thou art My
Son; this day have I begotten Thee." This shows that the Second
Psalm was a prophecy to be fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ. Furthermore,
we have in the last verse of the Psalm the unmistakable gospel-promise:
"Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."
This is the prayer of David the son of
Jesse. It contains distinct promises concerning the Kingdom of David's
promised Son. But it is plain that the prophecy has not to do with an
earthly kingdom. For in verse 6 there is an evident reference to the
first coming of Christ; for it speaks of the "rain" (the
pouring out of the Holy Spirit) and the "showers" of blessing.
The references to ''righteousness and peace'' in this part of the Psalm
point to the Kingdom of God as it now is (Rom. 14:17). The words
"And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him
blessed" (v. 17), point also to this present era, during which
the gospel is being preached to all nations in obedience to Matthew
28:19 while verses 8-11 declaring the extent of His dominion "to
the ends of the earth," indicate the universal Kingdom of glory
that is yet to come.
This Psalm is specially pertinent in that
it records the Lord's covenant and oath to David in these words:
"I have made a covenant with My chosen,
I have sworn unto David My servant; Thy seed will I establish forever,
and build up thy throne to all generations: Selah" (verses 3, 4).
"My covenant will I nor break, nor
alter the thing that is gone out of My lips. 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" (verses 34-36).
The Psalm is written to celebrate "the Mercies
of the Lord;" and its scope cannot be fully appreciated without
a comprehension of what is meant by "the sure mercies of
David," a subject too large to be entered upon now. It must
suffice at this point to say that "the sure mercies of David"
embrace the blessings of the gospel, and chiefly the forgiveness of
sins.2 But it is clear enough upon merely reading
the Psalm that its subject is not the Jewish kingdom. Christ's
"throne," which is prominently mentioned in it, is manifestly
a throne of vastly greater dignity and glory than that of David or
Moreover, we find in this prophetic Psalm
references to various subjects not in any way connected with the earthly
nation. It is promised that the heavens shall praise the wonders of the
Lord (v. 5), suggesting the exaltation of the crucified and risen One to
the highest heavens. The reference to "the congregation of the
saints" (v. 5), and the statement "God is greatly to be feared
in the assembly of saints," have an obvious application to this
present age. It is, moreover, impossible to mistake the significance of
"Mercy and truth shall go before Thy
face. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound, they
shall walk, 0 Lord, in the light of Thy countenance. In Thy
Name shall they rejoice all the day; and in Thy righteousness shall
they be exalted" (v. 14-16).
Finally, verses 38-45 contain suggestions of
the cutting off of David's line in the death of Christ. Verse 45 is very
clear: "The days of His youth hast Thou shortened: Thou hast
covered Him with shame, Selah." Then there are in verse 48
questions which are very significant in connection with the resurrection
of Christ: "What man is he that liveth and shall not see death?
Shall He deliver His soul from the hand of the grave? Selah."
This and other Scriptures, written of
Christ as Son of David, indicate a fact which is made very clear
in the gospel-preaching of both Peter and Paul, namely, that God's
promises concerning the Son of David were to be fulfilled in
resurrection. And this is the very essence of Paul's gospel, as
appears by those remarkable words: "Remember Jesus Christ of the
Seed of David raised from the dead according to my gospel" (2 Tim.
THE PROPHECIES OF JEREMIAH
The prophecies of Jeremiah are specially
significant because spoken at the time when judgment was about to fall
upon the people of Judah, and upon the occupants of the throne of David.
We shall not attempt anything like an exposition of the many prophetic
utterances from the lips of Jeremiah that have a bearing upon our
subject. But we can, in a few words, call attention to certain things
which fully bear out what we are seeking to show in this chapter.
In Jeremiah 23:5-8, we read:
"Behold the days come, saith the Lord,
that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall
reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the
This is doubtless one of the prophecies
referred to by Peter in Acts 3:24; and we can see at a glance that the
language strikingly corresponds with Peter's words in Acts 2:30, and
Paul's in Acts 13:23, 33. Here we have a brief outline of "these
days" of the Gospel, beginning with the coming of the
"righteous Branch" of the house of David ("Jesus Christ
the Righteous"). Manifestly this prophecy excludes the idea of an
earthly kingdom during "the days" spoken of. It demands that
the Righteous Branch of David should be a King and should reign
and prosper, and should execute judgement and justice in the
earth. In other words, it demands just what is fulfilled in the
present Kingdom of heaven. The period to which the fulfilment of
this prophecy belongs is definitely fixed by the title "THE LORD
OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS"; for it is during this present era of grace
that the Lord is specially revealed as the righteousness of His people.
(1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; etc.)
The significance of this prophecy is
intensified by that recorded in Chapter 33:15-26, beginning with the
"In those days and at that time will I
cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and He
shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land (or earth)."
These words point clearly to the incarnation
of the Lord, and to what was to follow. The "days" of
which the prophet is here speaking were the days of "the new
covenant" under which sins were to be forgiven and the laws of God
were to be written in the hearts of His people. (Jer. 31:31-34).
The period to which the fulfilment of this prophecy belongs is fixed in
the most definite way by the words of the Lord in instituting His
Supper, when He gave the cup to His disciples and said: "This is My
blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of
sins" (Mat. 26:28). The whole of chapters 31, 32, 33 of Jeremiah
should be attentively read.
Coming now to the portion to which we are
specially calling attention, we find in verses 17 and 18 (chap. 33)
"For thus saith the Lord, David shall
never want a man" (or literally there shall not be cut
off from David a man, see margin) "to sit upon the throne of
the house of Israel; neither shall the priests the Levites want a
man before Me to offer burnt offerings and to kindle meat
offerings and to do sacrifice continually."
Obviously these wonderful promises are
fulfilled in Jesus Christ, raised from the dead and glorified
in heaven as a Priest after the order of Melchisedec, who was a king
as well as a priest (Heb. 7:1, 2). After the Christ was "cut
off" as foretold by Isaiah (53: 8) and Daniel (9:26), there was no
man on earth to sit on David's throne; and after the destruction
of Jerusalem (also foretold by Daniel 9:26) there were no priests on
earth to offer the appointed sacrifices to God. But there is now and
has been since the ascension of Christ, a Man in heaven to sit
upon the throne of the house of Israel (the Israel of God). Moreover,
God has also a Man before Him, as He said, to offer sacrifices
continually (Heb. 8:3; 13:15).
It is easy, therefore, for us to see, in
the light of the New Testament that Jeremiah's prophecy demanded that
Christ should be born while the house of David still had a known
existence in the world; and it demanded also the resurrection of
Christ and His exaltation to heaven as both King and Priest. In
other words, it demanded the very things which happened from and after
the incarnation of Christ. So we have again a prophecy very definitely
connected with David, and very definitely fulfilled in this gospel-era;
a prophecy which excluded the possibility of an earthly kingdom's being
announced at the Lord's first coming; if indeed such a thing were in
God's contemplation at all.
THE PROPHECY OF ZECHARIAH
Finally, we refer to the remarkable and
very precious prophecy concerning Christ (Zechariah 13:1-7), in which is
found the oft-quoted reference to the wounds in His hands with which He
was wounded in the house of His friends (v. 6). The chapter begins thus:
"In that day there shall be a fountain
opened to the house of David for sin and for separation for
Verse 7 indicates how the fountain was to be
opened. For there we have the words: "Awake, O sword, against My
Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow. Smite the Shepherd,
and the sheep shall be scattered." No doubt can exist as to the
fulfilment of this prophecy, for the Lord Himself has applied it (Mat.
26:31; see also verse 54).
To get the full significance of this
prophecy--one of the clearest of all the glorious gospel-prophecies--we
must go back to the word of the Lord spoken to David by the prophet
Nathan, whom God sent to bring home to David's conscience his awful sin
in slaying his faithful servant Uriah, in order that he might take his
wife. At that time Nathan said: "Now therefore the sword shall
never depart from thine house." This must be kept in mind if we
would understand David's connection with the gospel of God's grace. For
we have two seemingly contradictory promises concerning David: first that
God would build him a sure house and would "never" take away
His mercies from him, and that he should "never" want a
man to sit upon his throne; and second that the sword should "never"
depart from his house. The latter promise was fulfilled when the
sword of judgment was sheathed in the bosom of the Son of David; for by
that stroke the house of David was "cut off," and cut off
forever as an earthly thing. But the same stroke opened a
fountain for sin and for uncleanness, wherein, by God's amazing grace,
sinners of all nations may be cleansed from their sins. The other
promises of this passage are, as we have already seen, fulfilled by
Jesus Christ in resurrection.
In this connection we should recall
Simeon's inspired words to Mary concerning "the sword" which
was hanging over the house of David; for we remember that, after
speaking of Christ as the "Light" that had come "to
lighten the Gentiles" and to be the "glory of His
people Israel," Simeon said to her: "Yea, a sword shall
pierce through thine own soul also" (Lu. 2:35). This word spoken
shortly after the birth of Christ is quite sufficient without any other
Scripture, to prove that no earthly kingdom was in prospect at that
time. But the proof is greatly strengthened by the fact that what
Simeon's words indicated is just what was foretold by prophecies
concerning the promised Son of David.
The concluding portion of Zechariah's
prophecy foretells also the cutting off of the greater part of the
inhabitants of the land, which occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem
by Titus, A.D. 70; and the salvation of the remnant, of whom God said:
"They shall I call upon My Name, and I will hear them: and I will
say, It is My people; and they shall say, The Lord is my god"
(Zech. 13:8, 9).
This passage does not deal with
arithmetical "thirds." It does not foretell that a
mathematical "third" of the Jewish nation would be saved, and
the other two thirds be destroyed. What it indicates is that there would
be three distinguishable groups or parties in the land. And so it was.
For in Christ's day, as the Gospels make evident, there were (1) the
scribes and Pharisees (2) the Sadducees, and (3) the publicans and
sinners, It was the latter group which, as a class, listened to the
message of Christ, and from which His disciples were drawn. Verse 9 is
fulfilled in those who were saved through the Gospel. (Acts 2:21; Rom.
10:13; 1 Peter 2:9, 10.)
The promise of this prophecy of Zechariah
of a fountain for sin and for uncleanness is seemingly very
"Jewish," being limited to "the House of David." But
the "mystery of the gospel" is this, that whereas all
"the covenants and the promises" do indeed pertain to the
Israelites (Rom. 9:4,5), God has, in His grace, made believing Gentiles
to be "fellowheirs and partakers of His promise in Christ by (means
of) the gospel" (Eph. 3:6). And especially does the gospel offer to
all the world the unspeakable blessings of the "everlasting
covenant, even the sure mercies of David" (Isa. 55:3). And
moreover, it has now been revealed, as has been pointed out above, that
the name "Jew" belongs properly to one who is a Jew inwardly,
and "the Israel of God" embraces only the household of faith.
1. The definite article is in the original
2. See "Bringing Back the King,"
chapter on "The Sure Mercies of David."