Day 77: The Kingdom of God (541-546)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, we praise you and we thank you.  We thank you for sending your Son, not only to save us from our sins, but also to establish the kingdom. To make it possible that we can be part of your family, that we can be part of your Church. Because in our Baptism, Lord, you have brought us into the Kingdom. In our Baptism, you have not only made us new creations, you have made us your sons and daughters, but you have made us a people. People that transcend definitions and boundaries of race, ethnicity, of culture, of nationality. But, a people united in your Son. People united in your Holy Spirit, and people united because you are God our Father. And we get to be part of your family. We get to be part of your Church. We get to be part of your Kingdom on Earth, and ultimately your Kingdom in Heaven. Thank you. Receive our praise and receive our thanks this day, in Jesus’ name. Amen”

"The Kingdom of God is at Hand"

Notes compiled by Andrew Adamany

Catechism of the Catholic Church

541 "To carry out the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth." Now the Father's will is "to raise up men to share in his own divine life". He does this by gathering men around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, "on earth the seed and beginning of that kingdom"."

The Backdrop for "Kingdom of God"

What was happening in AD 1st Century Israel:

Roman Occupation- the fourth empire to occupy Israel since the Babylonian Exile During the Babylonian Exile, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream:

"You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it smote the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces; then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:31-36)

Daniel then interpreted the dream:

"you [Nebuchadnezzar] are the head of gold. After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things; and like iron which crushes, it shall break and crush all these. And as you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with miry clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay." (Daniel 2:38–43)

The four different metals of the same statue represent four kingdoms, the first being Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian Empire.  Each kingdom replaced the previous one.

The Babylonian Empire (head of gold) was replaced by the Medo- Persian Empire (breast and arms of silver), which was replaced by the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great (belly and thighs of bronze).  

While under Greek occupation, in the midst of the Maccabean Revolt, Israel formed an alliance with the emerging Roman Empire (iron)  in order to break free from Greece:

"So Judas chose Eupolemus the son of John, son of Accos, and Jason the son of Eleazar, and sent them to Rome to establish friendship and alliance, and to free themselves from the yoke; for they saw that the kingdom of the Greeks was completely enslaving Israel." (1 Maccabees 8:17–18)

With Rome’s help, the Maccabean Revolt defeated the Greek Occupation.  But then Rome began to occupy Israel (legs of iron).  

By the AD 1st Century, the Roman empire was strong in its military and occupation, but politically becoming unstable (feet of iron and clay).  Israel by this time was anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of Daniel’s interpretation of the next part of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream where a smalls stone would conquer the fourth and last kingdom, and become a mountain that filled the whole earth:

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever

just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” (Daniel 2:44–45)

The Emergence of the Stone Made by No Human Hand

Many of the Jews in the A.D. first century expected the stone of Daniel’s Prophecy to be the foretold Messiah, and was to come soon since the fourth empire currently occupied Israel.  Many Jews, like the Zealots, believed the Messiah would be a military conqueror to defeat the Roman Empire, and conquer the world.  John the Baptist emerged at this time, foretelling the Messiah was coming soon:

“And he [John] preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7-8)

Immediately came Jesus of Nazareth, who proclaimed the prophecy of Daniel is now fulfilled:

The Kingdom of God, which the angel Gabiel proclaimed would have no end, Jesus called his church:

"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; 

and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 

and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; 

and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

"on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

Jesus entrusted his kingdom, the church, to his apostles, and commissioned them to spread it through the world:

"and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:29–30)

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18–19)

“Christendom”- The Stone Becomes a Mountain that Fills the Earth

Hebrews refers to the Word of God, who is Jesus, and the Gospel, to be “a two edged sword:”

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

In John’s Revelation, writing of things to happen “soon” for the Christians of the 1st Century (Revelation 1:1), he wrote: 

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 19:11–15)

The defeat of the beast, false prophet, and kings of the earth that John saw occur next was conquered by the sword that came from the mouth of Christ, the Word of God and the Gospel.  

“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth” (Revelation 19:19–21)

By the Church’s witness and willingness to suffer persecution and martyrdom for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel, the Roman Empire that controlled the known world, would eventually legalize Christianity, and later convert to it, leading to the conversion of the world. Rather than conquer the world by earthly warfare, the Church conquered the pagan world through the Gospel and conversion. 

The once Pagan world converted to Christianity, the world became known as “Christendom,”, Satan was bound- his influence to return the world back to Paganism limited for a long period of time represented by “a thousand years” as Christ reigns from Heaven through his Church on earth, and will reign for ever:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while.” (Revelation 20:1–3)

The Second Coming: Christ Conquers His Enemies and Delivers His Kingdom to God

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feetThe last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26)

“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;  and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”” (Revelation 20:7-21:4)

“There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads.  And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever,” (Revelation 22:3-5)


The Holy Bible- RSVCE

The “Case for Jesus” by Dr. Brant Pitre (Watch on FORMED regarding Daniel 2 and Mark 1)

Revelation Bible Study Ch 19 by Dr. Taylor marshall