The Old Testament continually prophesied about the coming of the Messiah to Israel. It described when it would occur; where it would occur; how it would occur; and why it would occur! Most of the Jews, however, did not believe in Him. They expected a physical kingdom and not a spiritual kingdom.
“36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is NOT OF THIS WORLD. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is NOT FROM HERE.’” (John 18:36).
“20Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The Kingdom of God does not come with OBSERVATION; 21nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or, ‘See there!’ For indeed, the Kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.’” (Luke 17:20-21).
Jesus did not have to prophesy to His disciples about His first coming because He was already there with them. He ministered for three and one-half years in their presence. He fulfilled all of the previous Old Testament prophecies about His first coming. He was crucified, physically died, and was buried in their presence. He then was resurrected and appeared to them and many others to show that He was alive and had defeated death. (Acts 13:30-31).
“44Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that ALL THINGS MUST BE FULFILLED which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” (Luke 24:44).
So Jesus taught that ALL THINGS MUST BE FULFILLED which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Him. This referred to the Old Testament Scriptures and His coming as Messiah to the Jews. Jesus and His disciples would proclaim the gospel, which would be a light to the Jews and also to the Gentiles. All of these things were fulfilled at His first coming in AD 26-30 (John 19:28; Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47).
“18But THOSE THINGS which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, HE HAS THUS FULFILLED.” (Acts 3:18).
“29Now when they had FULFILLED ALL THAT WAS WRITTEN CONCERNING HIM, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.” (Acts 13:29).
“22Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I (Paul) stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come — 23that the CHRIST WOULD SUFFER, that He would be the first to RISE FROM THE DEAD, and would PROCLAIM LIGHT to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23).
Those who advocate a physical “thousand year” millennial kingdom for Israel in the future are offering exactly what Christ rejected. The Jews looked for a physical kingdom, but Christ said “NO” to that idea. His Kingdom is not of this world or a physical kingdom as thought of by the nation of Israel. It is an eternal re-united Kingdom which consists of both a seen earthy realm and an unseen heavenly realm (Eph. 1:10). This was fulfilled and consummated in AD 66-70 at Christ’s Parousia.
This One eternal Kingdom will continue growing and spreading throughout the SEEN realm on earth, but it will never reach perfection here on earth (seen realm). Perfection is only found in heaven (unseen realm). The earth is where the visible church has its activity. The Cross and the Parousia were two world-changing events, which forever and irreversibly affected both the seen and unseen realms.
Earthly realm aspect:
The earthly Kingdom’s realm existence is in the church. This earthly realm aspect is much like Isaiah was prophesying about in Isaiah 65:20-25, 66:18-24. This also corresponds to the earthly life in the Kingdom as spoken of in Ezekiel 47 where the river of life will grow and bring life wherever it goes, but that there will always be the evil and darkness around us (swamps and marshland) (Ezek. 47:11).
This aspect is speaking about us as true members of Christ’s body in the church à we have free unhindered entrance into the earthly aspects of the Kingdom city, God dwells with us, we are blessed with His Holy Spirit living with and guiding us, and we have the guarantee of the inheritance of eternal life in the heavenly city once we leave this earthly life. No “unsaved” person can truly enter the body of Christ in the earthly church, nor have these rights or access to the Tree of eternal Life in the heavenly city upon physical death (they must first be born again. John 3:5). (Outside of the gates of the earthly church body are the “dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolater, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”)
Heavenly realm aspect:
The New Jerusalem is in the heavenly unseen realm where God dwells. The Tree of Life is in this heavenly city. Jesus brought this heavenly city down with Him when He returned at His Parousia. At His Parousia He raised the dead righteous souls in the unseen realm out of Hades/Sheol, changed the living righteous into the unseen realm, and gave them all new immortal heavenly individual bodies, and they inherited their eternal life and entrance through the gates into the heavenly Jerusalem with access to the Tree of Life.
It is in the heavenly afterlife aspect of the New Jerusalem where the Tree of Life is. And like Jesus prayed in His model prayer, the Kingdom has both earthly and heavenly aspects: “May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It is NOT an either/or situation, but rather a both/and situation.
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 8 Rev. Chapter 20 (sub study on Millennium)”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 9 Rev. Chapter 21”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 10 Rev. Chapter 22”]