The Kingdom of God in the Old
Testament

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Question
Where can we find a concept of the kingdom of God in the Old Testament?
Answer
This is a good example of how sometimes a mere word study is not enough, because the phrase the kingdom of God, doesn't really appear in the Old Testament, but the concept of God's reign is everywhere in the Old Testament. That phrase the Lord reigns, of course, is repeated throughout the Psalms. But this concept really starts in the very beginning of the Bible where God creates Adam and Eve as his image bearers, and this notion of bearing the image of the king is a concept that's very important in the ancient Near East as kings would want to let people know who was in charge by reproducing their image and putting their statues all around their territory, their kingdom. And so, right from the beginning of the Bible we see this concept of the reign of God through image-bearing. And then it continues in covenant-making. The way kings did business in the ancient Near East was to make treaties with one another, to make these covenants. And so with Abraham we see God as the great king granting land to Abraham by using these same treaty forms that the kings would use in the ancient Near East. But of course, the kingdom of God really comes to its fullest expression in the Old Testament in this covenant with David's house, and we see that the kind of king that reflects the character of God is this man after God's own heart. And so, Psalm 72 gives us a really great example of what should the kingdom of God look like. And so, when dignitaries come to visit Jerusalem, to visit Solomon, they see that the poor are defended, that there's righteousness, there's justice, that there's mercy, that there's economic flourishing, that the way a king is to do business in terms of reflecting God's character is the way it's conducted under David's household.

Answer by Dr. Gregory R. Perry

Prof. Greg Perry is Associate Professor of New Testament and Director of City Ministry Initiative at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO.