In Proposition 58, George Peters states:
“Jesus, toward the close of His ministry, preached that the Kingdom was not nigh.”
Peters notes that at the end of the ministry of Jesus, in particular right before the events that led to his death, the message regarding the Kingdom changed. This does not mean that Jesus somehow changed the covenant promises or altered what had long been stated through the prophets. What changed was the result of the actions on the part of the nation in response to the message, namely the rejection of the need for repentance and the embracing of the promise with the Messiah as King. This change is revealed in passages such as Matthew 21:43 – Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” The offer was no longer being tendered because it was rejected. They would not forever be rejected and we must keep that in mind as we investigate this aspect of the doctrine of the Kingdom.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 58 is the following:
“But we have more explicit announcements. Thus, Luke 19:41-44, in which is found: (1) Jesus weeping over the city; (2) the things which belonged unto their peace, being rejected, were hid from them; (3) the evil results of their unbelief, in being given over to their enemies and continuing under their power; (4) this great evil brought upon them because they appreciated not the offer made, because “thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Here, instead of a Kingdom, is presented a direful threatening of fearful incoming evils. Again: in Matt. 23:37-38, we have: (1) the rejection of His message, evinced by the treatment of those sent; (2) Christ’s earnest desire that they might receive it; (3) but “they would not”, indicating a voluntary rejection; (4) then “the house left desolate,” no restoration being granted; (5) and Christ’s withdrawal from them for a time; (6) so that, instead of a Kingdom coming then to them, dispersion and the destruction of the city is determined, owing to their unrepentant state.”
Again, the evidence from Scripture is clear as we move towards the end of Jesus’ ministry. The message of repent for the Kingdom is at hand was replaced with weeping and a declaration of evil that would result from the people’s rejection of the Kingdom and their Messiah. As we noted in the previous post, this was not a total rejection by the people as not every single individual rejected the Messiah. But the nation as a whole did reject the Messiah and thus there would be consequences for that rejection. Instead of the full implementation of the Kingdom, as Peters notes, dispersion from the land and destruction of Jerusalem. Note Peters stated Christ’s withdrawal for a time. The rejection would not be complete and forever.