THE THEMATIC STRUCTURE OF THE BIBLE AND PROPHECY. Every prophecy and teaching contained in the Bible relates, in one way or another, to four primary themes: Kingdom, Covenants, Messiah and Land.
Intrinsic to these four themes is man’s need for relational experience and quest of place. In the Fall of Man, Adam and Eve lost their perfect relational experience with God and each other. Hence, they were banned from the Garden of Eden, where they had apparently walked with God in the cool of the day. Consequently, begins man’s need and desire for a relational experience with God and neighbor, as well as his quest for place—to regain Paradise lost.
Man, now unrighteous in the eyes of God and in his own sinful nature, is no longer at peace (rest); turmoil rules his soul. The very soil (land), from which Adam had been formed, has been cursed by God because of his rebellion. The rule of this world (kingdom) has been forfeit to Satan. Thus, begins the story of God’s outworking (covenants) of reconciliation, which eventually culminates in the Messiah (Christ) Jesus, who provides imputed and imparted righteousness—the holiness—that is required to enter the Paradise of God— the holy city, the New Jerusalem—to the praise of God’s glory.
The Book of Revelation reveals how Yahweh intends to fulfill the promises He has made in His Covenants of the Kingdom, the Messiah, and the Land. Therefore, it is important to grasp the fourfold structure of the Bible, and the prophecy contained it, before attempting to understand the last book of the Bible.
The Kingdom of Heaven/God
There are several paradoxes associated with the Kingdom of God:
Always Existed – Historical Beginning
Universal in Scope – Local Rule on Earth
God Rules Directly – God Rules through a Mediator
Future Existence – Present Reality
Unconditional Rule – Covenant with Man
The Bible presents the Kingdom as always existing (Psalm 145:13; Jeremiah 10:10); yet in other places it seems to have definite historical beginning among men (Psalm 10:16; Daniel 2:44). It is universal in its scope, outside of which there is no created thing; yet again the Kingdom is revealed as a local rule established on earth (Psalm 103:19; Isaiah 24:23). Sometimes the Kingdom appears as the rule of God directly, with no intermediary standing between God and man; yet it is also pictured as the rule of God through a mediator who serves as channel between God and man (Psalm 59:13; 2:4-6). The Kingdom is set forth as an unconditional rule arising out of the sovereign God; yet it sometimes appears as a Kingdom based on a covenant made by God with man (Daniel 4:34-35; Psalm 89:27-29).
The Kingdom of God/Heaven is a present reality (Matthew 12:28), and yet future in its blessing (1 Corinthians 15:50). It is an inner spiritual redemptive blessing (Romans 14:17), which can be experienced only through new birth (John 3:3), and yet it will have to do with the government of the nations of the world (Revelation 11:15). The Kingdom is a realm into which men enter now (Matthew 21:31) and yet is a realm into which they will enter tomorrow (Matthew 8:11). It is at the same time a gift of God which will be bestowed by Him in the future (Luke 12:32) and yet which must be received in the present (Mark 10:15). This now/yet tension of the Kingdom is apparent in Luke 17:20-25:
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.