A Third Solution
Neither of these solutions does justice to the evidence of the biblical documents. In both cases large sections of the available data are simply not being taken into account. The suggestion that Jesus did not in fact claim to be the Messiah would render the whole New Testament fraudulent. But it is no less problematic to argue that Jesus abandoned the Jewish, Old Testament national hope for a worldwide Messianic government, foreseen by all the prophets. Ample evidence exists in the new Testament to show that he did no such thing. there remains, therefore, a third option. With his contemporaries, Jesus normally used the phrase "Kingdom of God" to describe the new worldwide political order on earth promised by sacred Scripture, but he and his Apostles sometimes extended the term to include a preliminary and preparatory stage in the divine plan for the Kingdom:
1. His announcement of the Messianic Kingdom of God in advance of its establishment worldwide at Jesus' return to the earth in power and glory.
2. A demonstration of the Kingdom's power invested in Jesus, and his chosen followers, manifested in their healing and exorcism.
3. The recruiting of disciples through Jesus' ministry and their training for leadership in the coming Messianic Kingdom, as well as participation in the announcement of the Kingdom prior to its coming.
4. The death of the Messiah for the sins of the world.
5. His ascension and session at the right hand of the Father (as predicted by the all-important Psalm 110:1) pending his return to inaugurate the Kingdom as the renewed social and political order on earth.
It is important to note that these preliminary developments in preparation for the Kingdom were not clearly distinguished by the Old Testament prophets from the full establishment of the Kingdom of God worldwide, though in retrospect we can see plain indications of the two phases of the divine program scattered throughout Old Testament Scripture. In traditional Christianity, talk of the Kingdom of god as in some sense a description of the Christian life now has overshadowed, to the point of obscuring and even eliminating, the Kingdom as the future establishment of the divine rule, as well as for the prophets, is to be the great event inaugurated by his Second Coming.
the Kingdom taught by Jesus is first and foremost the new order on earth associated with a great future crisis in history, to be marked by his return in power. For Jesus the Kingdom had not yet come. Its coming is to be prayed for. Certainly the power of the Kingdom had been displayed in his ministry, but this was only a foretaste of the coming Kingdom, which still lay in the future, and depended entirely on the return of Jesus, as King, to set it up.
If the New Testament is read from a perspective which allows for both a present preliminary manifestation of the spirit and power of the Kingdom as well as its future worldwide inauguration and establishment at the Second Coming, it becomes clear that Jesus never for one moment deprived the Kingdom of god of the political and territorial significance given to it by the prophets and incorporated in Jewish religion as the nation's great hope. Jesus did not, however, at his first coming expect to introduce the Messianic Kingdom as a worldwide political empire. Nevertheless, all his teaching was directed towards preparing his followers for the future arrival of theMeddianic Kingdom. At the end of his ministry he submitted himself to crucifixion at the hands of Roman and Jewish authorities, promising that he would return after resurrection and an interval unspecified, to inaugurate the Kingdom politically, both in Israel and universally. This resolution of the divine drama would fulfill in every detail the predictions of all Old Testament prophecy, as well as vindicating Jesus' claim to Messiahship.
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