Already Not Yet
During the month of October my wife and I went to the State Fair of Texas held in Dallas, Texas. As we were browsing some of the exhibits, we came by a group who seemed to be very focused on dispensational eschatology. I did not realize this at the time, but a young woman said, “Sir, do you know what age we are now living in?” I looked up and there was a large poster with different time periods depicted. She offered me something that she called a map of the ages. I did not really give an answer; for one, I was with my wife going through the exhibits, and two, I wasn’t sure exactly what she was asking. Later I thought about what she had asked, and put together the brief pictures of the scene. I would like to answer that young woman’s question today, though she will likely not read; someone else who needs to hear it may.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living creature that moves on the earth.” (Gen.1:1,1:27-28) Thus, the kingdom of man was inaugurated on the earth, but soon fell into sin and death. (Rom.5:12)
From the time of the fall of man the Lord began to prophecy of a new and better kingdom to come. (cf.Gen.3:15) The prophets spoke and wrote of the coming kingdom of God and His Messiah. Micah wrote,
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity. (Mic.5:2)
Joseph while in “Bethlehem, because he was of the house of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luk.2:4-7) The babies name was Jesus, “the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” (Luk.2:21)
“John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mar.1:4) John baptized Jesus in the Jordan. (Mar.1:9) The time of waiting for the kingdom of God was over, “Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mar.1:14-15)
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1Cor.15:3-4) After His resurrection, Jesus sent His disciples into all the earth to make disciples, and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe His commandments. (Mat.28:16-20) These men witnessed His ascension into heaven and were told by two angles that He would return in the same way in which they saw Him go into heaven. (Act.1:9-11)
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.” (Mat.25:31-33)
In this text of Scripture, the nations, the sheep, and the goats are all metaphors. The nations represent every single person who would ever come to live on the earth. The sheep represent the redeemed citizens of the kingdom of God. The goats represent the condemned citizens of the kingdom of man.
The age that we are now living in is the already not yet. In this present age, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man exist side by side. The kingdom of God is eternal, but the kingdom of man will come to an end “when the Son of Man comes in His glory.”
Are you a citizen of the kingdom of God or are you a citizen of the kingdom of man? The citizens of the kingdom of God have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ through faith; (Rom.3:24-25) therefore, they hear His voice, and He knows them, and they follow Him and He gives eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of His hand. (Jn.10:27-28) The citizens of the kingdom of man reject Jesus and do not receive His sayings. (Jn.12:47-49)
The kingdom of man was inaugurated in the beginning, but condemned to death because of sin in the garden. The kingdom of man will come to an end “when the Son of Man comes in His glory.” The kingdom of God was inaugurated when Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Mat.28:18) The kingdom of God is eternal.
Of that day and hour of His return no man knows. (Act.1:7) At some point, in time your life will end “and after this comes judgment.” (Heb.9:27) The goats will go away into eternal punishment, (cf.Rev.21:8) but the sheep into eternal life. (Mat.25:46) The age that we now live in is the already not yet; the kingdom of God is already among us; “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mar.1:14-15)