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The Timing of the Kingdom
Jesus clearly taught that His Kingdom was established in the first century. In Matthew 12:28, Jesus states, "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then is the kingdom of God come upon you."
Despite this clear teaching throughout the Bible, I am surprised at how many Christians don't really believe it or try to explain it away with fancy charts and graphs. Many of these well-meaning brethren try to correct me and say that the Kingdom is a future reality that is exactly 1,000 years from start to finish. They cite Revelation 20:2-5 for their position:
And he took the dragon that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and he bound him a thousand years: And cast him into the bottomless pit, and he shut him up, and sealed the door upon him, that he should deceive the people no more till the thousand years were fulfilled: for after that he must be loosed for a little season. And I saw seats: and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them, and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which did not worship the beast, neither his image, neither had taken his mark upon their foreheads or on their hands: and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead men shall not live again, until the thousand years be finished: this is the first resurrection.
To better understand this interesting passage we must realize that the events in the book of Revelation were to happen in the first century. The very first verse in the book of Revelation states, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly be done..." In verse 3 of chapter 1, we are told that "the time is at hand." So, if we take the Bible at face value, the beginning of this thousand year period must have began in the first century, when the book of Revelation was written. The first event of this period is the binding of Satan. Jesus tells in Matthew 12:29 that he has already bound Satan:
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. Else how can a man enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man, and then spoil his house?
We are told in Ephesians 1:20-22 that Christ was set at God's right hand in the heavenly places and that all things are subject to him. This is describing the reign of Christ which is a present reality! Then, in Ephesians 2:6 that we are told that we sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus! Revelation 20:4 teaches us that the first people to reign with Christ were those who were martyred beginning in the first century.
Now, if the thousand year period began in the first century did it end sometime around AD 1000? Good question. Actually, a thousand year period is Bible language for a very long time. In Psalm 50:10 God reminds us that, "For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills." This does not mean that God only owns the cattle on exactly one thousand hills. Rather, it means he owns the cattle on ALL the hills, which is a rather large amount. The thousand year period described in Revelation 20 is the Kingdom of Christ, which began in the first century and will be delivered back to His Father at the consummation of history. (1 Cor. 15:24)
The resurrection described at the end of this thousand year period is none other than the resurrection associated with the final, bodily return of Christ in the future. 1 Corinthians 15:23 Paul writes, "But every man in his own order: the firstfruits is Christ, afterward, they that are of Christ, at his coming shall rise again."
Once again we see that the Kingdom of Christ began in the first century, is a present reality, and will consummate in the future. Let us be encouraged that our Lord is on the throne and that he is putting all of his enemies under his feet!