The Plan Of God In Brief
STUDY 10—The Kingdoms of This World
In the first chapter of the Divine Revelation, God declares His purpose concerning His earthly creation and its government: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing...So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said…Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish (fill) the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing...upon the earth." (Gen.1:26‑28)
So the dominion of earth was placed in the hands of the human race as represented in the first man Adam, who was perfect, and therefore fully qualified to be the lord, ruler, or king of earth. This commission to multiply, and fill, and subdue, and have dominion over the earth was not to Adam alone, but to all mankind: "Let them have dominion," etc. Had the human race remained perfect and sinless, this dominion would never have passed out of its hands.
It will be noticed that in this commission no man is given dominion or authority over fellow‑men, but the whole race is given dominion over the earth, to cultivate and to make use of its products for the common good. Not only its vegetable and mineral wealth is placed at man’s command, but also all its varieties of animal life are at his disposal and for his service. Had the race remained perfect and carried out this original design of the Creator, as it grew in numbers it would have been necessary for men to consult together, and to systematize their efforts, and to devise ways and means for the just and wise distribution of the common blessings. And as, in the course of time, it would have been impossible, because of their vast numbers, to meet and consult together, it would have been necessary for various classes of men to elect certain of their number to represent them, to voice their common sentiments, and to act for them. And if all men were perfect, mentally, physically, and morally; if every man loved God and His regulations supremely, and his neighbour as himself, there would have been no friction in such an arrangement.
The original design of the Creator for earth’s government was a Republic in form, a government in which each individual would share; in which every man would be a sovereign, amply qualified in every particular to exercise the duties of his office for both his own and the general good.
This dominion of earth conferred upon man had but one contingency upon which its everlasting continuance depended; and that was that this divinely‑conferred rulership be always exercised in harmony with the Supreme Ruler of the universe, whose one law, briefly stated, is Love. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…and…you shall love your neighbour as yourself."—Rom.13:10; Matt.22:37‑39 RSV.
Concerning this great favour conferred upon man, David, praising God, says: "You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honour. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands." (Psa.8:5,6 NKJV). This dominion given to humankind in the person of Adam was the first establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Man exercised dominion as God’s representative. But man’s disobedience to the Supreme Ruler forfeited not only his life, but also all his rights and privileges as God’s representative ruler of earth. He was thenceforth a rebel, dethroned and condemned to death. Then speedily the kingdom of God on earth ceased, and has not since been established, except for a short time, in a typical manner, in Israel. Although in Eden man lost his right to life and dominion, neither was taken from him suddenly; and while the condemned life lasts man is permitted to exercise the dominion of earth according to his own ideas and ability, until God’s due time for him whose right it is to take the dominion which He purchased.
Our Lord’s death redeemed or purchased not only man, but also all his original inheritance, including the dominion of earth. Having purchased it, the title is now in Him: He is now the rightful heir, and in due time, and shortly, He will take possession of His purchase. (Eph.1:14). But as He bought man not for the sake of holding him as His slave, but that He might restore him to his former estate, so with the dominion of earth: He purchased it and all of man’s original blessings for the purpose of restoring them when man is again made capable of exercising them in harmony with the will of God. Hence the reign of Messiah on earth will not be everlasting. It will continue only until, by His strong iron rule, He will have put down all rebellion and insubordination, and restored the fallen race to the original perfection, when they will be fully capable of rightly exercising the dominion of earth as originally designed. When thus restored, it will again be the Kingdom of God on earth, under man, God’s appointed representative.
The kingdom of Israel is the only one, since the fall, which God ever recognized as in any way representing His government, laws, etc. There had been many nations before theirs, but no other could rightfully claim God as its founder, or that its rulers were God’s representatives. When the diadem was taken from Zedekiah and the kingdom of Israel was overturned, it was decreed that it should remain overturned until Christ, the rightful heir of the world, should come to claim it. So, inferentially, all other kingdoms in power until the re‑establishment of God’s kingdom are branded "kingdoms of this world," under the "prince of this world;" and hence any claims put forth by any of them to being kingdoms of God are spurious (not genuine). Nor was this Kingdom of God "SET UP" at the first advent of Christ. (Luke 19:12). Then and since then God has been selecting from the world those who shall be accounted worthy to reign with Christ as joint‑heirs of that throne. Not until His second advent will Christ take the kingdom, the power and the glory, and reign Lord of all.
All other kingdoms than that of Israel are Scripturally called heathen or Gentile kingdoms—"the kingdoms of this world," under the "prince of this world"—Satan. The removal of God’s kingdom in the days of Zedekiah left the world without any government of which God could approve, or whose laws or affairs He specially supervised. The Gentile governments God recognized indirectly, in that He publicly declares His decree (Luke 21:24) that during the interregnum (intervening period) the control of Jerusalem and the world should be exercised by Gentile governments.
This interregnum, or intervening period of time between the removal of God’s sceptre and government and the restoration of the same in greater power and glory in Christ, is Scripturally termed "The Times of the Gentiles." (Luke 21:24) And these "times" or years, during which the "kingdoms of this world" are permitted to rule, are fixed and limited, and the time for the re‑establishment of God’s Kingdom under Messiah is equally fixed and marked in Scripture.
Even as these Gentile governments have been, they were permitted or "ordained of God" for a wise purpose. (Rom 13:1). Their imperfection and misrule form a part of the general lesson on the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and prove the inability of fallen man to govern himself, even to his own satisfaction. God permits them, in the main, to carry out their own purposes as they may be able, overruling them only when they would interfere with His plans. He designs that eventually all shall work for good, and that finally even the "wrath of man shall praise Thee (Him)." The remainder, that would work no good, serve no purpose or teach no lesson, He restrains.—Psa.76:10.
Humankind’s inability to establish a perfect government is attributable to his own weaknesses in his fallen, depraved condition. These weaknesses, which of themselves would thwart human efforts to produce a perfect government, have also been taken advantage of by Satan, who first tempted man to disloyalty to the Supreme Ruler. Satan has continually taken advantage of man’s weaknesses, made good to appear evil, and evil to appear good; and he has misrepresented God’s character and plans and blinded men to the truth. So working in the hearts of the children of disobedience (Eph.2:2), he has led them captive at his will and made himself what our Lord and the apostles call him—the prince or ruler of this world. (John 14:30; 12:31). He is not the prince of this world by right, but by usurpation; through fraud and deception and control of fallen men. It is because he is a usurper that he will be summarily deposed. Had he a real title as prince of this world, he would not thus be dealt with.
So it will be seen that the dominion of earth, as at present exercised, has both an invisible and a visible phase. The former is the spiritual, the latter the human phase—the visible earthly kingdoms measurably under the control of a spiritual prince, Satan. It was because Satan possessed such control that he could offer to make our Lord the supreme visible sovereign of the earth under his direction. (Matt.4:9). When the Times of the Gentiles expire, both phases of the present dominion will terminate: Satan will be bound and the kingdoms of this world will be overthrown.
The fallen, blinded, groaning creation has for centuries plodded along its weary way, defeated at every step, even its best endeavours proving fruitless, yet ever hoping that the golden age dreamed of by its philosophers was at hand. It knows not that a still greater deliverance than that for which it hopes and groans is to come through the despised Nazarene and His followers, who as the Sons of God will shortly be manifested in kingdom power for its deliverance.—Rom.8:22;19.
The world is in fact coming to realize that the "kingdoms of this world" are not Christlike, and that their claim to be of Christ’s appointment is not unquestionable. Men are beginning to use their reasoning powers on this and similar questions; and they will act out their convictions so much more violently, as they come to realize that a deception has been practiced upon them in the name of the God of Justice and the Prince of Peace. In fact, the tendency with many is to conclude that Christianity itself is an imposition without foundation, and that, leagued with civil rulers, its aim is merely to hold in check the liberties of the masses. O that men were wise, that they would apply their hearts to understand the work and plan of the Lord! Then would the present kingdoms melt down gradually—reform would swiftly follow reform, and liberty follow liberty, and justice and truth would prevail until righteousness would be established in the earth. But they will not do this, nor can they in their present fallen state; and so, armed with selfishness, each will strive for mastery, and the kingdoms of this world will pass away with a great time of trouble, such as was not since there was a nation. Of those who will be vainly trying to hold to a dominion which has passed away, when the dominion is given to Him whose right it is, the Lord speaks, urging that they are fighting against Him—a conflict in which they are sure to fail. He says: "Why do the nations tumultuously assemble, and the people meditate a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure [saying], I have anointed My king upon My holy hill of Zion…Be wise now, therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss [make friends with] the Son [God’s Anointed] lest He be angry, and you perish in the way; for His wrath may soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that trust (take refuge) in Him."—Psa.2:1‑6;10‑12.