Israel in Hebrews — [Kingship of Christ]

 

All Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

Hebrews 1:3,8,13

3 who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

8 but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

13 But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet?

 

Hebrews 2:9

9 But we behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man.

 

Hebrews 8:1-2

1 Now in the things which we are saying the chief point is this: We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.

 

Hebrews 10:11-13

11 And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins: 12 but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet.

 

Hebrews 12:2

2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Introduction

In the overview I provided all the scriptures of the book of Hebrews that speak of Christ’s sitting upon His throne at the right hand of the Father. I pointed out that He rules in His kingdom as King and serves as Priest (High Priest). I mentioned that His dual role of Priest and King is significant, and that we would learn why as we continued our study. I’ve provided those same scriptures above, and in this study we’ll take a close look at two of those passages as it relates to the Kingdom of Christ.

Premillennialism teaches that Christ will return to set up an earthly millennial kingdom, where both glorified and non-glorified believers will dwell together, and where the temple and animal sacrifices will once again be instituted. As we go through this series, we’ll see that the book of Hebrews doesn’t teach or allow such a kingdom.

 

Kingship of Christ

In this study, our focus will be on the Kingship of Christ, that His rule is both now and heavenly, where the Church is central. We’ll see that this idea is in perfect harmony with what the Apostle Paul taught. We’re going to see that when Christ returns, He will lead us directly into the Eternal Kingdom, not into an earthly kingdom of this world.

 

Hebrews 1:13 and Hebrews 10:12-13

1:13 But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet?

10:12 but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 

10:13 henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet.

 

These two passages are key to identifying the Kingdom of Christ. These are quotes from Psalm 110:1:

 

(Ps 110:1) – 1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

 

This Old Testament passage is also quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:25, who reveals that the reign of Christ is now and within His Church. I discussed this passage in detail before, and so rather than repeating myself, I will provide the link for that below:

 

Kingdom of Christ Now — [1 Corinthians 15]

 

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul provides the meaning of our Hebrews texts, that Christ “reigns till he hath put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor 15:2). That is, He reigns NOW. Let’s take another brief look at our corresponding verse in Hebrews:

 

(He 1:13) – 13 But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet?

 

Think about that. If Christ sits at His Father’s right hand in Heaven till all His enemies are destroyed, how can He leave that heavenly throne to sit upon an earthly throne of a millennial kingdom, where there will still be unsaved enemies to judge? I think the answer is clear: He can’t! That would clearly contradict the statement of this verse.

Jesus will not leave His Father’s right hand till it’s time to destroy all His enemies (including death), which occurs at His second coming (Rev 19:11-21; Rev 20:7-10), which is immediately followed by the Judgment of His enemies (Rev 20:11-15), which is immediately followed by the Eternal Kingdom (Rev 21:1-5).

Whoever the writer of Hebrews is (which may have been Paul), it’s apparent that he understood the same thing that Paul did, that the prophecy in Psalms 110:1 is fulfilled now in the Church age, and that there is no allowance for a 1000 year kingdom prior to the Eternal Kingdom. That disallowance is reinforced by the Priesthood of Christ, which I will discuss in our next study.

We’ve established that the writer of Hebrews views the Kingdom of Christ to be now and within the Church, where He reigns from His throne in Heaven:

 

(He 1:13) – 13 But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet?

 

Again, if Jesus must sit at the right hand of His Father till His enemies have been destroyed, then there is clearly no allowance for a millennial kingdom between the return of Christ and the Eternal Kingdom of Revelation 21 & 22. If Jesus leaves the Father’s side to come and reign in such a kingdom, then it would violate what God Himself says regarding His Son.

That being the case, we must conclude that Christ is currently reigning over His people, which will lead us directly into the Eternal Kingdom upon His return. Note the following passage:

 

(Col 1:1-3) – 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (ESV)

 

Jesus reigns from the right hand of His Father. This is the Kingdom and the reign that was prophesied in the OT. The emphasis of the NT is on the spiritual, not the “earthly.” The nation of Israel and the land of Canaan and the kingdom to come was all a type of the spiritual that was to come, the Kingdom that now is, which is the Church in Christ. This kingdom continues into the Eternal Kingdom of the “New Heaven and New Earth” (Rev 21:1-2).

There is no millennial kingdom of this world before that, as Colossians 1:4 confirms. Notice that “when” Christ returns, “then” we also will appear with Him in glory.” There is no harmony between a glorified (resurrected) body and a worldly kingdom. Our sinless, glorified bodies are made for a sinless, glorious kingdom. Our sinful, earthly bodies are made for a worldly kingdom. Once glorified, we will go immediately into our glorious eternal dwelling place.

As we’ve learned throughout this extensive study of Israel and the Church and the Kingdom of Christ, the nation of Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ as a spiritual nation, as a spiritual people, consisting of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles. Together we are true Israel or New Israel. The kingdom that the Jews looked forward to and still do today, is the spiritual kingdom that is the Church — they just don’t realize it. Nor do premillennialists, especially dispensational premillennialists, who don’t recognize the Church as Israel of the New Covenant.

Premillennialists have basically the same view of the Kingdom of the Messiah as the Jews do — that being an earthly kingdom where Christ reigns as King in the city of Jerusalem of present day Israel for a thousand years.

Now we’re going to look at the remaining passages in Hebrews regarding the Kingdom of Christ. We’ll see that both the writer of Hebrews and the OT prophets had the Eternal Kingdom ultimately in view. Nowhere in this book is there an earthly millennial kingdom in view. The Church is the Kingdom of Christ, which continues into the New Jerusalem of the New Heaven and New Earth (Rev 21:1-2).

 

Eternal Kingdom

Hebrews 3:1

1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus;

 

Ours is a “heavenly calling,” not an earthly calling. The view and emphasis of the NT is on the heavenly and spiritual, not the earthly.

 

Hebrews 11:8-10; 13-16

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God……

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own. 15 And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.

 

Abraham and his sons, Isaac and Jacob, were all called to the land of promise, the land of Canaan, which would become the land of Israel. God promised this land to Abraham and his descendants. However, the author of Hebrews reveals that Abraham and his sons were looking past this land to a heavenly land, of which the promised land was a type:

 

(He 11:13) – 13…..but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

(He 11:10) – 10 for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

 

The city that they were looking to “from afar,” that has “foundations,” is the city that has heavenly foundations, built by God Himself:

 

(He 11:16) – 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.

 

Here the writer of Hebrews provides the identity of this heavenly city in the following passage:

 

Hebrews 12:22-24, 28

22 but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel…..

28 Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken…..

Hebrews 13:12-14

12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us therefore go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come.

 

This “heavenly Jerusalem,” is of course the “New Jerusalem” of the Eternal Kingdom (Rev 21:1-2, 10-11).

What was the hope and expectation of the Jews at the time of Christ, at the time of the early Church, and in modern times? It’s that the Messiah would come to reign in His Kingdom upon the throne of David, from the city of Jerusalem of the nation of Israel, and that He would restore all things relating to Israel.

That was the understanding of the Jews of Paul’s day, and that’s still the understanding of the Jews today. Whoever the writer of Hebrews was – whether Paul or someone else – it seems clear that this writer was revealing the true nature of the Kingdom they were looking forward to. If there was a perfect opportunity to confirm this kingdom as they understood it, it would be at the time of this writing.

However, the writer of Hebrews didn’t do that. Instead, speaking to them from the perspective of Abraham and his sons, he was informing them that the kingdom they were looking forward to was actually the “heavenly Jerusalem” of the Eternal Kingdom which of course is the completed and perfect form of the kingdom of Christ that we are in now, which is His Church, of whom He is Head.

Since this earthly kingdom of the Jews was (and is) such a great hope, the writer of Hebrews found it necessary to reorient their thinking. They needed to understand that the land of Canaan, the promised land, was merely a type and shadow of the Eternal Kingdom. The land promises are fulfilled in the Eternal Kingdom of the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation 21 and 22. The emphasis of the NT is on the spiritual, not the earthly. This spiritual kingdom begins with the Church, which then continues into the Eternal Kingdom. Look again at the following verses:

 

(He 12:22-23) – 22 but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

 

We see here that the writer of Hebrews is speaking of the “heavenly Jerusalem” as though we were already there (as I discussed earlier). Furthermore, he places the “church” in the midst of it. The Church is the Kingdom of Christ, which consists of all believers, both Jew and Gentile. The prophesied Kingdom of the Messiah is fulfilled in the Church, which continues into the New Jerusalem of the New Heaven and New Earth.

Apparently, Abraham and his sons understood this. This is something that God had apparently revealed to them (He 11:8-10, 13-16). The common Jew missed what they understood. Premillennialists, too, miss what they understood. Again, considering the weight that the common Jew places on an earthly kingdom, the writer of Hebrews had the perfect opportunity to confirm their understanding of this kingdom. But he did no such thing. Rather, he revealed that the true nature of Christ’s Kingdom was both spiritual (the Church) and heavenly (Eternal Kingdom) — that the two are one kingdom…..which leaves no room for a so-called millennial kingdom.

 

Conclusion

The emphasis of the New Testament is on the spiritual and heavenly, not on the earthly or worldly — which is what the millennial kingdom of Premillennialism is. The idea of such a kingdom is completely out of harmony with what the book of Hebrews reveals, which was written by a Jewish believer, who would have had a correct understanding of Christ’s Kingdom. Because of his understanding of the OT Scriptures, he may have been a pharisee or a scribe or a Levitical priest. It may have been Paul, who was himself a pharisee. Whoever it was, he was well-versed in both OT and NT revelation, and was able to harmonize the two.

Furthermore, as you’ll see in our next study, the idea that the Kingdom of Christ is of this present earth and present world, is out of harmony with the Priestly ministry of Christ.

 

Question to ponder: Does it not seem very odd to you that we as Christians would view the kingdom of the Messiah in the same basic way as the unbelieving Jews? Should this not raise a red flag? The Jews didn’t (and don’t) have a correct understanding of their Messiah, so why would they have a correct understanding of His Kingdom?