The Miraculous Fulfillment of Jeremiah 33:20-21explains why Christ Rules from a Heavenly, Not Earthly, Throne
What is the Messianic Kingdom? Was the Messiah Expected to Rule from an Earthly Throne?
The Messiah was to reign in Jerusalem. (Psalms 2, Isaiah 24:23) And after the end of the age, Zion or Jerusalem was to become the capital of the Messiah’s kingdom. (Isaiah 2:2) But which Jerusalem? According to Hebrews 12:22 and Galatians 4:26 there is also a Jerusalem in heaven. Hebrews 12:22 reads, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly[.]” Galatians 4:26 also mentions a Jerusalem that is in heaven: “But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” Daniel 4:26 suggests that Christ will reign from the Jerusalem that is in heaven during the Messianic kingdom since according to Daniel 4:26 it is heaven that rules over the earth: “The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules [emphasis mine].” Isaiah 25:6-8 appears to echo Daniel 4:26. In these verses, the Messiah is said to hold a banquet in Zion or Jerusalem for those raised from the dead.
In John 18:36 Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” In this simple statement, Jesus clarifies why he advocates paying taxes to Caesar in Matthew 22:21. Jesus never intended to be the earthly king over a sovereign Israel. When Jesus declares that His kingdom is not of this world, Jesus is saying that His kingdom is in heaven. In Acts 7:56 Stephen looks up to heaven and sees Jesus at the right hand of the Father. Acts 7:48-49 states, “[T]he Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.’” The fact that Jesus rules at the right hand of the Father places the throne of the Messianic kingdom in heaven. The Messiah rules the earth from a heavenly, not an earthly throne. Peter makes this fact clear in Acts 2:22-36. The fact that Jesus rules the world at the right hand of God in heaven is also indicated in Hebrews 8:1 and Revelation 3:21. This is why Jesus calls His kingdom the kingdom of heaven throughout the Gospels. The kingdom of heaven is the Messianic kingdom.
Interesting historical evidence suggesting that the Jesus taught His disciples that the Messianic kingdom was to be in heaven is found in Hegesippus’ commentaries on the Acts of the Church written between A.D. 165-175. According to Hegesippus the grandsons of Jude, the brother of Jesus, were brought before Caesar Domitian where they were asked what the nature of Christ and His kingdom was and when and where it was to appear. To which these men replied “that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels[.]”1
Jesus’ kingdom, the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, is a spiritual kingdom centered in heaven which is why it is called the kingdom of heaven. Though this kingdom is centered in heaven with God’s throne, it is also present on earth in the midst of the saints. The fact that the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven is also present on earth in the presence of the saints is explicitly indicated in Luke 17:20-21: “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” The kingdom of God is present in the midst of the saints whether they are in heaven after the resurrection or still living on earth. In other words, the saints in heaven and earth as a collective whole are the kingdom of God. Notice that Luke 17:20-21 says that Jesus’ kingdom “is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is[.]’” Luke 17:20-21 clearly dispels the idea that the Messianic Kingdom was to be a visible kingdom in which Jesus would reign corporally on earth in a physical kingdom centered in Jerusalem. Rather, the Messianic kingdom is a spiritual kingdom present with the saints whether they reside on earth or in heaven after the resurrection. In confirmation that Jesus rules the earth from heaven, Mal Couch says that the Dead Sea Scrolls “continually refer to the coming messianic kingdom in which the Messiah’s rule encompasses both heaven and earth.”[i]
What is the Messianic Kingdom? Who are the People of the Messianic Kingdom?
Who then are the people of the Messianic kingdom? According to Hebrews 11:8-19, Abraham while he lived in the Promised Land desired “a better country, a heavenly one.” (Hebrews 11:16) According to Galatians 3:6-14, 26-29, the true Israel, the descendants of Abraham, are those Jews or Gentiles who have placed their faith in Christ. Confirming Abraham’s hope for “a better country, a heavenly one[,]” Philippians 3:20 indicates that the true citizenship of Abraham’s descendants, the people of God, is in heaven. It in heaven that the Messiah sits on David’s throne according to Acts 15. In Acts 15:14-17 James indicates that the conversion of the Gentiles fulfills Biblical prophecy concerning the rebuilding of the house of David:
Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,
‘After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’
In the verses above, one can see that the Messianic Kingdom is in heaven where the Messiah, Jesus Christ, rules over the true Israel, those Jews and Gentiles who are the spiritual descendants of Abraham.
What is the Messianic Kingdom? The Messiah’s Throne is in Heaven in Fulfillment of Jeremiah 33:20-21.
The Prophet Jeremiah predicted that if day and night do not come at their appointed time, then the Messiah would not rule the earth on David’s throne:
This is what the LORD says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant . . . can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne (Jeremiah 33:20-21).’
Jesus was a descendant of King David and many expected him to rule over a sovereign Israel as did His ancestor King David. However, the Bible records the breaking of the covenant of the day during the crucifixion; and Josephus records the breaking of the covenant of the night in A.D.66, the year of the initial appearance of Christ during his second coming. See Jesus, the Son of Man, was LITERALLY Seen in the Clouds in A.D. 66.
Jeremiah 33:20-21 Fulfilled: Day Becomes Night
Night came in the middle of the day during Jesus’ crucifixion. For three hours darkness covered the land until Jesus’ death at the ninth hour according to Matthew 27:45. This miracle is a sign of the breaking of God’s covenant with King David according to Jeremiah 33:20-21. Since the Israelites had killed their Messiah, Jesus would not rule over them on earth.
Jeremiah 33:20-21 Fulfilled: Night Becomes Day
Day came in the middle of the night in A.D. 66, the year of the initial appearance of Christ during His second coming: “[O]n the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright daytime; which light lasted for half an hour.”[ii] This omen is a sign pointing to the complete fulfillment of Jeremiah 33:20-21. On the eighth day of Nisan in A.D. 66 day came in the middle of the night pointing to the fact that the Messiah would also not rule corporally on earth upon his return. On the 21st day of Iyyar, a little over one month later, Jesus came on the clouds of heaven in the presence of the heavenly host as He had so often promised. As a result of the miraculous breaking of the covenant of Jeremiah 33:20-21, Jesus did not reign corporally in Israel after His second coming. Both miracles which fulfilled Jeremiah 33:20-21 occurred in the middle of the month of Nisan at the ninth hour. Darkness covered the land during Jesus’ crucifixion around Passover during the ninth hour of the day according to Matthew 27:45, and a mysterious light turned night to day at the ninth hour of the night on the eighth of Nisan according to The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
The Messianic Kingdom is Centered in Heaven: Evidence from Near-Death Experiences suggests that the New Jerusalem Exists Right Now!
The next logical question might be, “If Jesus already returned, then where is the utopic new Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22?” The New Jerusalem is the church present on earth and in heaven described in the image of the Jerusalem that is in heaven. In other words, the New Jerusalem is the Messianic kingdom centered in heaven where Jesus rules in the flesh, so to speak (see the preterist commentaries on Revelation 21 and Revelation 22). Many people who have had near-death experiences describe seeing cities of light of inexplicable grandeur much like the new Jerusalem. Don Piper, an ordained minister since 1985 describes one such city. After being brought back to life after a near-fatal car accident, Piper describes seeing a city of immense beauty strongly resembling the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21. In his book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, he writes:
One thing did surprise me: On earth, whenever I thought of heaven, I anticipated that one day I’d see a gate made of pearls, because the Bible refers to the gates of pearl.[iii] The gate wasn’t made of pearls, but was pearlescent—perhaps iridescent may be more descriptive. To me, it looked as if someone had spread pearl icing on a cake. The gate glowed and shimmered. I paused and stared at the glorious hues and shimmering shades. The luminescence dazzled me, and I would have been content to stay at that spot. Yet I stepped forward as if being escorted into God’s presence. I paused just outside the gate, and I could see inside. It was like a city with paved streets. To my amazement, they had been constructed of literal gold. If you could imagine a street paved with gold bricks, that’s as close as I can come to describing what lay inside the gate. Everything I saw was bright—the brightest colors my eyes had ever beheld—so powerful that no earthly human could take in this brilliance.[iv]
The Messianic kingdom is called the kingdom of heaven throughout the gospels because it is centered in heaven; and it is here that the saints will ultimately experience a blissful, loving existence with their king and Messiah after death.
Did God ever Intend Christ to Rule on Earth? If Israel sinned when It asked for It’s First King, Why Would the Messiah Rule as King over Israel on an Earthly Throne?
Sadly many Christians today expect Jesus to return in the future and reign physically on earth as king in Israel. Many of these Christians also believe that Satan is the ruler of the earth and “god of this world” and yet “there is no material demonstration of his supposed earthly kingdom.”2 If it was ever God’s intention that Christ reign as king on an earthly throne, then why did the Israelites sin when they asked for an earthly king?
But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Sam 8:6-7)
“Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.” So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.” (1 Sam 12:16-19)
Wasn’t God already ruling spiritually over Israel from His throne in heaven prior to the coronation of Israel’s first king? If Israel sinned when it asked for an earthly king to reign over earthly Israel, does it make sense for Christ to reign as king on earth over the earthly kingdom of Israel after the end of the age? Wouldn’t one expect that after the end of the age Christ would rule over His kingdom in a manner similar to the way in which God ruled over Israel before Israel sinned against God?[v] Furthermore, if “heaven rules” according to Daniel 4:26, how could Jesus rule over heaven and earth if His throne on earth is subordinate to heaven?
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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
[i] Mal Couch, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), 266, cited in Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology, third ed. (USA: Apologetics Group Media, 2009), 149.
[ii] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
[iii] Revelation 21:21.
[iv] Don Piper and Cecil Murphey, 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2004), 34-35.
[v] Brian L. Martin, Behind the Veil of Moses: Piecing Together the Mystery of the Second Coming, (USA: Xulon Press, 2009), 136-137.
The Fact that Christ Rules from a Heavenly, Not Earthly, Throne Fulfills Jeremiah 33:20-21: Conclusion
The fulfillment of Jeremiah 33:20-21 in the miraculous darkness of A.D. 33 and light of A.D. 66 explains why Christ did not rule corporally on earth in the Messianic Kingdom.
- These men then went on to say that Christ’s kingdom “would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge the living and dead[.]” www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/hegesippus.html, cited in Gary DeMar and Francis X. Gumerlock, The Early Church and the End of the World, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, Inc., 2006), 43.
- Gary DeMar and Francis X. Gumerlock, The Early Church and the End of the World, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, Inc., 2006), 51.