by Jack Kelley
After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?”
“From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” (Matt. 17:24-27)
Who Are We, Really?
The Bible doesn’t give us very much detail about the Church in the New Jerusalem. Most of what we can read about the Kingdom Age (Millennium) is in the Old Testament and concerns Israel’s life on Earth during that time. But the New Testament does contain two models of the Church. One is the Bride of Christ and the other is the Royal Family. Most of us are more familiar with the Bride model, probably because it’s more pertinent to our earthly relationships.
The other model, that of a Royal Family, is actually more relevant to our life in the Millennium. For example, I think the phrase “rule and reign with Him” really describes the Royal Family model. Although the Bible has more to say about the Royal Family than it does about the Bride, most of aren’t as familiar with what it says. For this reason I want to focus on the Royal Family model in this study.
This idea has been running around in my mind since I did some additional research on Rev. 5:9-10 recently for my series on Rapture References. There’s no question that verse 9 describes the church. At issue is whether verse 10 should be read as “Kings and Priests” or as “a kingdom and priests”. (I’ll compare the two versions for you later.) As the Mathew passage above shows, there’s a big difference between being part of a kingdom and being in the Royal Family. And it’s not just about paying taxes. The life of the Royal Family is very different from that of other members of the kingdom.
Yet to all who received 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 1:12-13)
The first time we were born we were merely part of the vast creation. But when we were born again we received the authority to become members of God’s own family. Paul said it like this.
“When we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir” (Gal.4:3-7).
Just so you would know he was serious about being one of God’s heirs, Paul said it again.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ … (Romans 8:17).
Think about that for a minute. Co-heirs with Christ. What does that mean? Remember, in the Temple Tax incident above Jesus didn’t say “The Son is exempt,”meaning Himself, but “The sons are exempt,” including us.
In Psalm 2:8 God said to Him, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”
If Planet Earth is His inheritance and we’re co-heirs with Him, then everything that comes from it will accrue to our benefit. Royal Families don’t have to worry about supporting themselves. Their support comes from the proceeds of the kingdom. Since the Earth is our inheritance, should we expect the people of Earth to support us in the Millennium? Let’s ask John.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Rev. 21:22-26)
The splendor, glory and honor of Earth will be brought to us in the New Jerusalem. The very best the planet has to offer during a time when there’s no more curse to inhibit its production will be reserved for us.
It was always in God’s mind that His Church would become His Royal Family. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
Do You Work Here?
People often ask me, “What are we going to do in the Millennium?” or “What kind of work does God have in mind for us?” Here’s where Americans have to read our world history again. Did royals ever work? No. They always pursued the finer things of life. One of the reasons they’re called nobility is because their lives are devoted to more noble pursuits. They get the best of everything and their every need is met in a luxurious way. Because they’re fallen, sinful beings some of them have wasted their lives and disgraced themselves, but you and I will be divested of our sin nature. We’ll be pure and perfected, and instead of acting in a manner that’s beneath us like some earthly nobles do, we’ll aspire to be our very best. And the prototype for the very best is King Jesus, to whose likeness we will have been conformed.
As John wrote, Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
Paul always encouraged us to see ourselves that way now, like royalty in training. He wanted us to start living our destiny immediately by becoming worthy of our calling now. “Only let us live up to what we have already attained,” he said. (Phil. 3:16)
And Peter agreed.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Calling us a royal priesthood is the same as saying we’ll be Kings and Priests.
And that brings us full circle to the verse that started me thinking along these lines in the first place. So what do we think? Should it read,
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:10 NIV, etc.).
Or does this version seem to be more consistent with the other Scriptures we’ve looked at,
You have made us to be kings and priests to serve our God, and we will reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:10 KJV, YLT)
Remember, the Greek word for King and Kingdom is the same, differing only by gender. King is the masculine form, and according to Strong’s concordance it’s the one used in Rev. 5:10. In 118 appearances in the New Testament it’s never translated Kingdom, which is the feminine form of the word and has a different Strong’s number. So the verse is more grammatically and theologically correct when it’s translated Kings and Priests, which defines only the Church, rather than a kingdom and priests. The Royal Family model gives us an another exciting glimpse into the nature of our eternal destiny.
This Is Your Life
For a good part of the Kingdom Age life on Earth will be a very pleasant, trouble free existence, especially in Israel.
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. (Amos 9:13-14)
“Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” (Zechariah 8:4-5)
Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. (Micah 4:4)
But life in the New Jerusalem will exceed this by such an order of magnitude that there’s no comparison. I’m convinced that the reason the Bible doesn’t say much about what’s in store for us is because it defies description. We simply could not believe it.
As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:8-10). We can only imagine.