Over the past two weeks I have laid out a biblical case for understanding the reality of two kingdoms: a universal kingdom, God’s sovereign superintendence over all things, including creation and human institutions, cultures, and societies, and a redemptive kingdom, God’s specific rule over his redeemed people. Because of Adam’s failure, these two kingdoms are at this present time distinct, but God intends one day to unite them into one Kingdom. This is the third, and perhaps most prevalent and concrete way Scripture uses “kingdom” terminology: it describes the reign of a perfect King in which he will unite God’s universal reign with his redemptive reign, a day when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa 11:9).
The basis for this is found in God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12. In this covenant, God formally established his redemptive kingdom in which he distinguished his chosen people from the rest of the human race. He promised to make of Abraham’s descendants a great nation, and that through this great chosen nation, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed” (Gen 18:18, 22:18, 26:4, 28:14). In other words, God chose the nation of Israel to be a model of the union between the universal kingdom and the redemptive kingdom, and he also established Israel as the agency through which God would one day unite the two into one universal redemptive kingdom. The Mosaic Law given at Mt. Sinai united redemptive qualifications with moral and civil in which the Law governed every aspect of their society. This was an earthly picture of what the united universal redemptive kingdom would look like. But, because of Israel’s continual rebellion, idolatry, and eventually indifference, God terminated that united kingdom when his Shekinah-Glory departed from the Temple in Ezekiel 11.