A Question About the Kingdom Answered

A young preacher from Africa forwarded the following request to me: “Give more details between Psalm 45:6-7 and 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 in accordance to the longevity of Jesus’ rule/kingdom.”

Psalms 45:6-7 reads, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever and the sceptre is equity of the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated wickedness: therefore God, thy God had anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” First Corinthians 15:24-28 reads, “Then cometh the end when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For, He put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he saith all things are put in subjection, it is evident that he is excepted who did subject all things unto him. And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.”

I understand our brother’s request is that we explain why in Psalm 45:6-7 the throne of God is said to be “forever and ever,” yet in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 it implies there will be an end to His rule.

Our brother is correct to understand that Psalm 45:6-7 refers to the coming Messiah, Jesus. This was the use the Hebrew writer made of the same psalm when he showed in Hebrews 1 that Jesus was higher than angels, observing that angels are messengers — but that the Messiah is called God. First Corinthians 15:24-28 is also rooted in the Psalms, echoing Psalm 110:1: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make all thy enemies thy footstool.” Thus, while Psalm 45 tells that the throne of the Messiah is “forever,” Psalm 110:1 is the basis of 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 which shows the end of that rule at the end of our present age. How can both passages be correct?

The answer to that lies in the word translated “forever” in Psalms 45:6, the word olam. The word literally means “age-lasting.” It does not mean “without end.” Let us study some other things affirmed to be “forever” or “perpetual,” all from this Hebrew word olam to see this truth illustrated.

First consider the covenant of circumcision God made with Abraham. It was to be an “everlasting” (olam) covenant (Genesis 17:13). The early church had to deal with this issue in regard to Gentiles becoming part of the church for some insisted “it is needful to circumcise them and to charge them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). Bible students know the significance of the meeting in Jerusalem when the decision was “trouble not them (i.e. they are not to be circumcised, jm) that from among the Gentiles turn to God” (Acts 15:19). Three times Paul emphasized that circumcision was not essential with this expression or one similar: “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing” (1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:6; 6:15). Please read the three verses to see what really is important. True circumcision is done in the heart (Rom. 2:28-29); physical circumcision had a purpose in God’s plan for bringing His Son into the world, but the need of the purpose is past. So also the need of physical circumcision.

The Sabbath was given to be a perpetual (olam) covenant (Ex. 31:16). While the covenant was “forever,” those under the New Covenant are dead to it (Rom. 7:4, 7). We are not to be judged regarding the Sabbath (Col. 2:16). True, there is a “sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9), but that rest is heaven.

In Exodus 40:15 when sons of Aaron were appointed as priests, the Lord told Moses “and their anointing shall be to them an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” The word “everlasting” in this passage and the word “forever” in Psalm 45:6 is from the same word olam. One of the sins of Jeroboam was that in his institution of calf worship, he “made priests from among all the people, that were not of the sons of Levi” (1 Kings 12:31). During the “age of the law” even Jesus could not have served as priest because He was not from Levi, but from Judah (Heb. 7:14). Are the only lawful priests today from Aaron? No, the psalmist looked to a time when a priest would come after the order of Melchizedek, not just Levi (Psa. 110:4). The law has ended, a new law has been given (Heb. 8:7-13; 10:9-10).

Solomon wrote, “One generation goeth and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever” (Eccl. 1:4). Once more the word “forever” is found and once more the Hebrew word it is translated from is olam, the word translated “forever” in Psalm 45:6. Is our earth indestructible, then? Will it never cease existing? If Peter and John are to be believed, the earth will be destroyed when Jesus returns (2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 20:10; 21:1). It is age lasting, but one day it will come to an end.

First Corinthians 15:24-28 looks to a new era after our present age has ended at the coming or revelation of Jesus. That will occur, just as Psalm 110:1 predicted, when all His enemies are defeated and put under His feet. His throne is eternal or age lasting. It will last from the time He began His reign by sitting down at God’s right hand (Acts 2:33-36; cp. Psalm 110:1) until this age, our world, has ended. It is, and will be, eternal: age lasting, lasting until the end of the world.

Jim McDonald