I thought about that this morning and went on a rambling train track of other doctrines. Finally, I hit the premillenial kingdom. Do you realize that no one even heard of that until the mid-1800s? How can we possibly believe that the men who stood by the Lord as He proclaimed His kingdom and the others who learned directly from them could have missed it? How can it be that everyone in the next 1800 years was wrong?
The problem with that doctrine is the same one the apostles first had. They thought that the kingdom was a physical one, one that included physical armies that would destroy Rome and install a Jewish Messiah on the throne in Jerusalem. Even they should have known better. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied that no descendant of Jeconiah (a Davidic king shortly before the captivity) would ever reign in Jerusalem, Jer 22:28-30. That includes the Messiah.
Finally those men got it, and they fought that carnal notion of anything physical, or even future, about the kingdom for the rest of their lives. John made it plain that he was in that kingdom, even while he sat on the isle of Patmos writing the book of Revelation, 1:9. We are in a spiritual kingdom, one where we win victories by overcoming temptation and defeating our selfish desires, one where two natural enemies, like a lion and a lamb, can sit next to each other in peace because we are all “one in Christ Jesus.”
The belief in a physical kingdom here on this earth? Isn’t that a bit like an astronaut candidate stepping out of a training simulation and proclaiming, “I just landed on the moon?” Our inheritance is far better than a physical earth--it is “incorruptible, undefiled, [one] that fades not away, reserved in Heaven,” 1 Pet 1:4. Why should I want something on this earth when I can have that?
But it will be newly created, you say? No, Jesus said my reward is already created, “from the foundation of the world,” Matt 25:34.
It will last a thousand years? Then what? We cease to exist? No, no, no. I was promised “eternal life” Matt 19:29; 25:46; John 3:16; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40; 10:28; Rom 2:7; 5:21; 6:23; 1 Tim 6:12, and—well, there are dozens more, but surely that makes the point. No wonder no one in the first 18 centuries after Christ lived believed such a doctrine.
We are supposed to have matured in Christ, to have gone beyond the belief in a material, physical kingdom, just as those apostles finally did. Our kingdom is one in transit. It may not look like much to the unbeliever, but we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18. We have a kingdom right now far greater than anything a mortal man can dream up. It’s just that only those with spiritual eyesight can see it.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, and 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 the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel…At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens…Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:22-29.