3.2.3. Kingdom of God
With or without a human king at its head, many Jews expected God and God’s people to be their own kingdom . The idea that survived the longest was the idea that the Jewish people can live their way of life under foreign rule and dominant cultures. They thought that God’s people should be free of foreign rule, and perhaps themselves be the rulers of the world. They looked at the great empires of the world (the Persians, Medes, Seleucid Greeks, Romans) and thought their power was inversely proportionate to their virtue. Why would God allow that? Shouldn’t the righteous people be the ones in charge? Surely God is getting around to defeating the current great empire and setting up the Jews in their place.
To be clear, the kingdom of God (or God’s people) was originally meant very literally as an earthly, political kingdom. This was true before Jesus, and well into the early days of the followers of Jesus. Many early Christians expected Jesus to come back soon, overthrow the Romans, and establish a political kingdom. As that did not become the case, Christians began to reflect on Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of God as something that can exist in their hearts, or in small communities of Christians sharing in a common life in the body of Christ. Some argue that the followers of Jesus came to understand the kingdom of God not as an alternative kingdom, but a critique of the very idea of domination in all aspects of life. Today most Christians will say that the kingdom of God is both already and not yet. It is already with us in the faith Jesus has given us, and remains not yet fulfilled until Jesus returns and makes manifest his victory over sin and death. To this we shall return. The term “realized eschatology” refers to the idea that the fundamental change (if not end exactly) in the world has already taken place.
3.2.4. Daniel 7
The Book of Daniel is probably the last book of the Hebrew Bible (this chapter is actually in Aramaic) to be completed in about 164 BCE (some books in the Jewish Greek Bible, which became the Catholic Old Testament are later). It is set in the sixth century BCE, during the time of the Babylonian Exile. Although most Jews recognize the decree of Cyrus the Persian in 538 as ending The Babylonian Exile , Daniel seems to suggest the Babylonian Exile didn’t really end in the sense of properly restoring the kingdom of God. Daniel 7 uses the literary genre “apocalypse” to describe the revelation of the real pattern of history.
In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, as Daniel lay in bed he had a dream, visions in his head. Then he wrote down the dream; the account began: 2 In the vision I saw during the night, suddenly the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea, 3 from which emerged four immense beasts , each different from the others. 4 The first was like a lion, but with eagle’s wings. While I watched, the wings were plucked; it was raised from the ground to stand on two feet like a human being, and given a human mind. 5 The second beast was like a bear; it was raised up on one side, and among the teeth in its mouth were three tusks. It was given the order, “Arise, devour much flesh.” 6 After this I looked and saw another beast, like a leopard; on its back were four wings like those of a bird, and it had four heads. To this beast dominion was given. 7 After this, in the visions of the night I saw a fourth beast, terrifying, horrible, and of extraordinary strength; it had great iron teeth with which it devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet what was left. It differed from the beasts that preceded it. It had ten horns. 8 I was considering the ten horns it had, when suddenly another, a little horn , sprang out of their midst, and three of the previous horns were torn away to proceed this link here now make room for it. This horn had eyes like human eyes, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly. 9 As I watched, Thrones were set up and the Ancient of Days took his throne. His clothing was white as snow, the hair on his head like pure wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. 10 A river of fire surged forth, flowing from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads stood before him. The court was convened, and the books were opened.