For eons of time, since before the foundation of the earth, God’s plan is ever moving forward toward His goal of complete reconciliation of all creation to Himself.
“and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20 NASB
God is in control, and like the gears in a fine Swiss watch, God is synchronizing large and small events exactly, according to His plan and schedule.
Divine prophecy is history that hasn’t happened yet. It reveals the future outworking of God’s plan.
The Next Milestone in God’s Plan
The next major event in God’s plan is the victory of His kingdom over the kingdom of this world.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 KJV
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 11:15 NASB
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of Empires
In a dream, ancient Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar saw an awesome statue of a man. The man had a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron. Its feet were iron mixed with clay.
The king ordered the wise men of Babylon to tell him both the dream and the interpretation, or he threatened, “if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap.”
Then God revealed the dream to a Hebrew captive named Daniel, who told the king:
“This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king. “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold.
Medo-Persia and Greece
“After you, there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.
Rome (or Islam?)
“Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. “In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. “As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. “And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.
The Divine Kingdom
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so, the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” Daniel 2:36-45 NASB
The statue represents the 4 pagan empires that that will dominate God’s people in this world before He establishes His kingdom rule over all the earth: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (or Islam). Most Bible teachers believe we’re now in the final stage of the fourth empire, symbolized by the feet of iron mixed with clay.
Daniel’s interpretation plainly says the stone is the kingdom of God. It was cut out of a mountain without human hands, then strikes the statue at its feet and completely shatters it. Then the stone (God’s kingdom) grows into a mountain that fills the whole earth.
The Kingdom of This World
The kingdom of this world is ruled by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He’s also known as:
“the great dragon, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” Revelation 12:9 NASB
The god of this world is Machiavellian; he accumulates power and rules the nations through violence, manipulation, fear, self-interest, and corruption. With few exceptions (Joseph, Daniel, etc.), success in the Dragon’s kingdom requires a person to put expediency and ambition above morality. The higher you rise in this kingdom, the more you’ll be required to compromise.
The inevitable destination for everyone in this kingdom is death, a reality most people avoid as they strive to enjoy a comfortable life before their clock runs out.
All nations, including the modern state of Israel and America, are members of the Devil’s kingdom. All have rejected righteousness. All have embraced the Machiavellian model. As a result, all will be shattered by the small stone.
The Kingdom of God
Unlike the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of God is founded upon and ruled by righteousness and peace.
No unrighteous person can enter God’s kingdom, but everyone who is born into the Devil’s kingdom has sinned. Jesus solved this dilemma by offering Himself as an offering for sin for everyone who repents and asks for forgiveness in His name. Every citizen of God’s kingdom has been born of water (baptism) and the Spirit. (John 3:5) Every citizen in God’s invisible kingdom is ‘born again,’ by faith.
Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of Your kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)
The kingdom of God is where God gives eternal life to everyone that asks.
Unlike the world’s kingdom, success in God’s kingdom requires us to place righteousness, peace, and sacrificial love above self-interest, wealth, and promotion.
To the carnal mind, God’s invisible, spiritual kingdom looks weak and insignificant compared to the Dragon’s physical kingdom, like a small stone compared to a large mountain. But this small stone is destined to shatter the Devil’s kingdom, crush it, and God’s Spirit will blow the dust away, never to be seen again. Then, that stone will grow into a mountain that fills the whole earth.
Jesus made it possible for us to literally become children of God.
“to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12 NASB
As His children, we’re to reflect His image, His nature, and His works. Our challenge:
Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
If we abide in Him and walk in His Spirit continuously, we will overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Our personal character and behavior are transformed into a unique facet of God’s image. Having been thus transformed, a day is soon coming when God will manifest His glory on His spiritually-mature, righteous sons and daughters.
The Manifestation of God’s Glory
Since the Garden of Eden, all creation yearns for the glory of God to be manifested in His children:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21)
I believe the next milestone in God’s plan, before the great tribulation, is when He reveals His glory in His spiritually mature and righteous sons and daughters. This will fulfill Isaiah 60:1-3
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the LORD will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you.
Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Almost all Bible teachers believe Isaiah chapter 60 refers to events in the Millennium, after Armageddon and Jesus’ second coming. Here’s why I believe it will happen before the great tribulation:
- Most prophecy teachers today either focus on the rapture, or what Satan and the Antichrist are going to do to wreak havoc against mankind. This is a defensive attitude, with the Devil on the offense against us. In their theology, we are passive and defensive, suffering helplessly while we wait for Jesus to deliver us. There’s no place in their theology or eschatology for Christians to have an active, offensive role in end-time events.
- In contrast, when Jesus told His disciples that ‘the gates of hell will not overpower’ the Church, it’s apparent that the Devil is the one in the defensive position, and the Church is on the offense against his gates. (Matthew 16:18)
- The Devil and the Antichrist are not in control of end-time events, just as they weren’t in control when they crucified the Lamb of God. They’ll really be on the defensive when God unveils His glory in His overcoming saints. The visible glory of God radiating from them will shatter the darkness and lies that the Devil’s kingdom is built on. Billions of people will jettison the Devil’s kingdom to become born-again children of God.
- Finally, the Holy Spirit spoke to me in 2015 saying “Something wonderful” is coming. When I searched to find out what the Spirit was referring to, I believe He led me into this teaching. As a result, I wrote ARISE! SHINE!, which is available free online.
I believe the manifestation of the sons of God is the first culmination of the gospel message. It is the next step after Pentecost in the progressive, unfolding revelation of the corporate Body of Christ.
(Note: to fulfill Colossians 1:20, there will be other culminations of the gospel in ages to come, until everything in heaven and earth is reconciled to God through Christ.)
This visible manifestation of God’s glory in His overcomers is the small stone that shatters and crushes the devil’s kingdom. The glorious light of God, seen in His saints, will cause nations and kings to come to them, to learn the way of the Lord, to know the way of righteousness, peace, and life.
This brief article is focused on the ‘culmination of the gospel.’ I feel like I’ve covered that topic, but I realize I’m leaving many questions unanswered, such as:
- Why is it critically important for believers to be holy? What is holiness?
- What’s the back story that explains the conflict between God and His adversaries?
- What are the eons of God’s plan?
- What will the Antichrist do to believers during the great tribulation, especially the ones who visibly exhibit the glory of God?
- Why doesn’t God just put a stop to all the evil in the world?
- What role do saints play in the end-time spiritual conflict between God and the principalities and powers?
Rather than making this article a lot longer, you can find answers to these questions in these free online resources:
- To understand the cosmic battle between God and His adversaries, and our role in His victory, read http://standinfaith.org/home/the-overcomers-role-in-the-apocalypse/
- For more details about the manifestation of the sons of God: http://standinfaith.org/home/manifestation-sons-god/