This Kingdom of God is given, not to nations, but to one nation.
PROPOSITION 60. This Kingdom of God is given, not to nations, but to one nation.
This is distinctly stated, “a nation,” Matt. 21:43. It necessarily follows from our Scriptural propositions, and corroborates them. It is a logical sequence from the premises laid down. For, so long as one nation is chosen from among all others (Prop. 24), and the Kingdom is covenanted by oath to that nation (Prop. 49), it is impossible for other nations, in their national capacity, to be thus elected. It would be a violating of the most solemnly given covenants and assurances.
Obs. 1. Notice: the Kingdom is promised to the natural believing descendants of Abraham, and as the nation, then existing when the Kingdom was offered, refused to repent in order to receive it, God must now—to carry out His purpose—raise up a nation unto Abraham, i.e. a nation in some way still related to him. If a Gentile nation or nations (as many suppose) were chosen in place of the Jewish, this would ignore all the past assurances given, and overthrow the multiplied predictions of the prophets. It would nullify God’s covenants, and make it appear that He undertook a Plan which, owing to human depravity, He was unable to perform. It would lower the power of the Divine administration, and make God subject to change. Gentile nations cannot as nations be substituted for the one elect Jewish nation (as we have already abundantly shown). The importance, therefore, of tracing His chosen nation, and ascertaining how it becomes—to insure covenanted relationship—incorporated with the elect nation, the Abrahamic people, cannot be overestimated. Upon this largely depends our estimation of the covenants, the faithfulness of God, the continued election of the Jewish nation, the design of the Church, the nature of the Kingdom, and the inspiration and unity of the Word.[*]
Note. Therefore we cannot receive the idea advanced by Oosterzee (see Prop. 57, Obs. 5), that Jesus at His First Advent “put an end to the wall of separation between Israel and the nations.” Multitudes assert the same, misapprehending the nature and intent of the call of the Gentiles, as will fully appear in the course of our argument, satisfactory Scriptural reasons being assigned for every step taken.
Obs. 2. In the consideration of this matter it is requisite for the reader to keep in mind what has been proven (see Props. 24, 30, 49, 50, etc.), that the wall of partition between the Jewish nation, as such, and Gentile nations, as such, is not removed but only between believers of all nations and the Jewish nation. This is essential to a proper understanding of the truth, and is a feature clearly taught as already shown, over against the inferences of De Colanges (Ancient City), and many others.
Obs. 3. The entire tenor of the Old and New Tests. makes the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants subsisting and continuous (Prop. 51); and the Divine Purpose in reference to salvation and the Kingdom is inseparably (Prop. 50) identified with them. It follows, then, as a matter of moral necessity, that this nation or people must come in under these covenants. If the Divine forbearance toward the Jewish nation ceased for a time, owing to the rejection of the Messiah, God must now, in a way consistent with His own promises and faithfulness, raise up a people for Abraham. Jesus, in accordance with what was predicted (as e.g. Deut. 32:21), simply states the fact of such a calling, without any explanation as to the manner in which it would be accomplished, leaving it for the future to interpret His meaning. We cannot be too guarded in strictly following the plain narrative of the Word and in accepting of its teachings on this point, seeing that the Plan is of God’s, not man’s, devising.
Obs. 4. God does not change His Plan of having one nation (comp. e.g. 1 Pet. 2:9) identified with Abraham, in which is lodged the foundation of that Kingdom destined to attain world-wide dominion, and to bring all nations directly under its sway. To do this would be indicative of weakness in the formation of His Purpose (as announced and supported by oath), and in the power of His Divine administration (to carry into effect that which is promised). Therefore, let it be repeated as something specially worthy of attention, that, in view of the Divine character, attributes, and pledges given, we may rest assured that any change which may occur (dispensational or otherwise) will not affect the original design contemplated and covenanted, relative to the Kingdom, in its ultimate fulfilment.
Obs. 5. The original choice of one nation, and the continued selection of “a nation,” in some way identified with Abraham, enables us to appreciate the reason why God confined the acceptance of the Kingdom to one nation and ultimately gives it to one people. It was not merely (as Kurtz, Neander and others) to preserve the purity of religion, to perpetuate it, to make known the true God, etc., but the selection of a nation was made to be the nucleus of the Messianic Kingdom (comp. what was said under the Davidic covenant); (a) in the rulers or co-heirs with the Messiah selected out of nations forming the believing elect, who compose with Jesus a select body having the supremacy; (b) that afterward the nation itself might be incorporated (according to promise through the Davidic throne and Kingdom) in it, thus becoming the entering wedge or the fulcrum of universal dominion because of its Theocratic nature; (c) that in this way (owing to the foreseen depravity of man making such a foretold provision necessary), the highest and noblest of all earthly relations (viz.: that of nationality) is seized, appropriated, and through it (exhibited under direct Messianic rule), when all things are ready for its manifestation, the conversion and exaltation of the greatest number will be accomplished in the briefest time. For under such an ordering, a certain number saved (i.e. “a nation”) is secured to provide for the requisite establishment of a stable Theocratic government which cannot be moved by (as in the past) the outbreaks of depravity. The number of the elect completed, then the Kingdom is manifested, by which and its introductory judgments the conversion of the world in a speedy manner is insured. From this we infer, that the Proposition contains a Plan adopted by the wisdom of God, by which not only the required number of the elect is obtained in the soonest manner, but that it contains within itself the elements by which “the sure mercies of David,” and all the covenanted promises, will be realized in the briefest time compatible with the free agency of man.
Obs. 6. It is extremely satisfactory to find that nowhere in the Scriptures does the now prevailing view, that the Gentile nations, as nations, are called, find the least support. This is precisely what the covenanted Word requires. This one nation to whom the Kingdom is to be given, which shall inherit it, is composed of individuals out of all nations. To no one Gentile nation is the Kingdom offered as it was to the Jewish, viz.: that on their national repentance the Kingdom of God would be established among or within it. This could not be done without doing violence to pledged covenants, seeing that the Theocratic-Davidic throne and Kingdom pertains nationally to the Jewish nation. But God can tender this Kingdom, on certain conditions, to individuals of all nations; and therefore all nations are invited in their individual capacity to receive the gospel and by the obedience of faith secure, through believing ones, the blessings of the Kingdom; i.e. in the persons thus believing “a nation” will be gathered to whom the Kingdom will be given.[*]
Note. The proof will be adduced, and the manner of incorporating this nation in the Abrahamic line will be presented, as we progress in the argument. Attention is merely called to the matter now, so that the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations, including the Jews, may not be mistaken for the bestowal of the Kingdom to a people to be chosen out of all nations according to the foreknown and declared will of God. But comparatively few families in their entirety have accepted of the Gospel, so that we need not expect entire towns, cities, and nations to receive it. It will remain true down to the end of this dispensation, that “many are called but few chosen;” these few, in their grand aggregate, forming this chosen “holy nation.” For we must bear in mind that God also foreknows, which He has plainly predicted, that no Gentile nation, as such, will receive the gospel, which is evidenced by the fact that at the very close of the dispensation the nations of the earth (Rev. 19, etc.) will be arrayed against the Messiah. God’s Plan is made and carried on in view of this very foreseen depravity of nations, and hence it is not His purpose to make all nations this “peculiar people,” but to gather them out of the nations. We must therefore distinguish between “the Gospel of the Kingdom” being given to all nations, the result of the Gospel in individual believers, the people to whom the Kingdom is bestowed, and the Kingdom itself and the giving of the Kingdom to a nation. The former is done that the latter may be realized.
Obs. 7. It is proper to remind the reader that this bestowal of a Kingdom to “a nation” that is to be gathered does not result from Gentile nations being better than the Jewish nation; this is evinced by their possessing a common depravity, that justification is accorded to both Jew and Gentile on precisely the same grounds, and that the Gentiles, like the Jews, will ultimately be found arrayed against the grace of God in Christ. It arises solely from the mercy and favor of God, who, out of the Jewish and Gentile nations alike, is ready and willing to accept of believers in Christ to form that nation to whom the Kingdom is to be given. This gives us the true standard by which to judge of the harsh and unjust opinions and proceedings of Gentile nations toward the Jewish nation, just as if they were better than the latter, and not entirely dependent on grace for the call to the Kingdom.
Obs. 8. It may be added, that this feature throws light upon the question of nationalized churches as representative of the Kingdom of God. Such certainly do not enter into the Divine Plan, seeing that since the Jews as a nation were for a time rejected, it is only part of that Plan to gather out of the nations “a peculiar people,” and not to exalt any Gentile nation to the Theocratic position which the Jewish nation alone by covenant privilege possess; and which union of Church and State shall be only, in the way contemplated by God, exhibited when this “peculiar people” or “nation” has been gathered out. In other words, individual persons, and not nations, are chosen; after the establishment of the Kingdom, then, as we shall see, all nations will also come under its dominion and blessings.[*]
Note. Hence we need not wonder at the lamentable corruptions and failures of State churches, as well as others, in establishing what was wrongfully thought to be the Kingdom of God, as e.g. was done in the Constantinian period (which every historian, excepting Roman Catholic, informs us resulted in injury to the Church, both in doctrine and practice). We need not be surprised that, at the close of this dispensation, the nations most highly favored with the preaching of the Gospel shall be severely punished as the enemies (Rev. 19, etc.), either directly or indirectly, of the Christ. The secular governments of the earth, of whatever form and however they may result from expediency, moral and civil necessity, etc., are not chosen by God, out of which and in which to develop the Messianic Kingdom; they all lack the great essential, fundamental feature, viz.: the Theocratic; they all, while under the Divine Sovereignty and control, have not God acting in their behalf as an earthly Ruler; long ago that choice was made, and it is inseparably connected with the Theocratic-Davidic throne and Kingdom. The only national election is that of the Jewish nation, and with that election, as we shall see, the Kingdom of God is fully blended. This at once removes many wild and untenable theories advanced concerning the union of Church and State in Gentile nations, and also the predictions of fallible men respecting the nationalized glory of Gentile nations thus distinguished by such a union. God does not recognize, either in Daniel or Rev., the alleged and professed conversion of the Roman Empire, for down to the Sec. Advent it retains its bestial character. God looks at nations from a standpoint very different from that assumed by their eulogizers (comp. Prop. 164).