Its dull broken binding stood out among the shinny full-color books that covered the table. Leaning over the top of a plethora of self-help books, I pulled John Bright’s book “The Kingdom of God” out of the ink canyon.
A dusty order drifted up to my nose as I gently cracked its pages. Scanning the table of content, my mind wondered how this jewel found its way to the library used-book sale. Tearing my eyes away, I quickly scanned the table searching for a mate… sadly; the mountain of ink only relinquished one jewel that morning.
Yet, what a jewel.
Published in 1953, “The Kingdom of God” was written during that grand period in scholarship when everything was being unturned. The first bundle of the Dead Seas Scrolls had just been discovered, casting new light on last Second Temple Judaism. The time was dawning when the theologians would begin to recognize the cultural understanding of Jesus’ words in Mark 1:15, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
In fact, in a few short years, George Ladd would publish “The Gospel of the Kingdom” (1958) based upon his lectures at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary.
Yes. It was a jewel; a kinda “pre-jewel.”
So what did this jewel have to offer?
It offered a look at the “biblical concept of the people of God, and the concomitant expectation of the Kingdom of God” from their roots in the “Mosaic faith to the closing vision of the New Testament of ‘the holy city, the Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God’ (Rev 21:2).”
It offered a unique look at how the international politics and environment of the Ancient Middle East shaped the nation of Israel and, indirectly, the concept of who was ‘in’ the Kingdom of God.
It blended the writings of the prophets with the chronological history of nation of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament in an effort to bring new light the prophetic words of Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and others.
It showed the simple truth that not all those born under the nation of Israel are children of Abraham for the Kingdom of God is not depended on race, nationality, or organization. Those in the Kingdom are those who follow the King of Kings with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength.
It is to the remnant that the Kingdom comes.