Jesus’ Kingdom is not about geography The kingdom would , in inaugurated in contrast to their expectations, spiritual in nature, international in membership and gradual in expansion. And the expansion of this kingdom throughout the world would specifically require their exile from the Land. They must turn their backs on Jerusalem and their hopes of ruling there with Jesus in order to fulfil their new role as ambassadors of the Kingdom. (Matt 20:20-28; 2 Corinthians 5:20-21). The Acts of the Apostles suggests that they needed something of a kick start to get going. It is only when the Christians in Jerusalem experience persecution following the death of Stephen and are scattered that they begin to proclaim the Gospel to others (Acts 8:1-4). The church was sent out into the world to make disciples of all nations but never told to return. Instead Jesus promises to be with them wherever they are in the world. (Matt 29:18-20)
Jesus redefines the boundaries of the Kingdom of God to embrace the whole world. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes a promise made to the Jewish people concerning the land from Psalm 37, and applies it to his own followers anywhere in the world (Matt 5:5)
The land had served its purpose, like an airport runway, to provide a temporary residence for the ancestors of the Messiah, David’s greater Son; to host the incarnation, a home for the Lord Jesus Christ; and so be made ever holy through the shedding of his innocent blood upon it. The land provided a base, a strategic launch pad for God’s rescue mission, from which the apostles would take the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. In the New Testament, the land, like an old wineskin, had served its purpose. It was and remains, irrelevant to God’s ongoing redemptive purposes for the world
Bruce Milne in his helpful commentary on John 15, notes that ‘Israel has failed God in the long trem role she was called to fulfil, that of being "a light for the Gentiles (Is49:6), to bring God’s salvation "to the ends of the earth".’
The church of Jesus Christ therefore brings together in a unity of faith and love his children under the old and new covenants, Jews and Gentiles who trust and believe in Jesus, the one looking forward, the other looking back to his first coming and upward to his second.
Those who hold to a Covenant Theology see in the process of redemptive history a dramatic movement has been made from type to reality, from shadow to substance. The Land that once was the specific locale of God’s redemptive working served well under the Old Covenant forms as a picture of paradise lost and promised, lost then promised, but under the New Covenant fulfilment this Land has been expanded to encompass the world, indeed the entire cosmos. The exalted Christ rules from the heavenly Jerusalem demonstrating His sovereignty over all the nations. A regression to the limited forms of the Old Covenant must not be encouraged. The reality must not give way to shadow. Why should we want the shadow when we have the reality? It is more than this though. Some would suggest that the warning contained in the calling to persevere found in Hebrews 10 is addressed to Jewish believers tempted to remain loyal to their legalistic Hebrew roots, locked into a theology based on land, temple, law and sacrifice. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:19-29) The choice before us is ultimately a choice between two theologies. One based primarily on the shadows of the Old Covenant and one based on the reality of the New Covenant. An exclusive theology that focus on the Jews in the Land and an inclusive theology that focuses on Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world. It is a choice between an exclusive Armageddon theology of racial segregation and war and an inclusive theology of justice, peace and reconciliation.
Ironically the Old Testament gives no hint about a 1000 year millennium on earth. The constant emphasis in the New Testament is upon the absolute nature of the Second Coming of Christ, a finality which allows no further work of salvation on earth.
In his letter to a predominantly Gentile church in Ephesus Paul applies the promise of the inheritance of the land specifically to Gentile children of Christian believers who are obedient. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honour your father and mother"–which is the first commandment with a promise "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Ephesians 6:1-3 The fifth commandment promised that obedient children would live long on the land the Lord God was giving them. Now Paul applies the same promise to the children of Christian parents living 700-800 miles from the land of the Bible. These children of Gentile and Jewish Christians who submit willingly to the authority of their parents will, Paul promises, enjoy long life on the ea
It must also have been the idea in the minds of the disciples, when, before the ascension, they asked, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6. John Calvin comments, "There are as many mistakes in this question as there are words." Jesus reply shows him correcting not only their concept of time but also their view of ministry. 7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:7-8 The nature of the kingdom of God now re-defines the meaning of chosenness. The extension of the kingdom of God throughout the world necessitates their exile from the land and indeed the turning of their backs on Jerusalem for ever. They are sent out into the world but never told to return.
Teaching about the Land is conspicuous by its absence in the teaching of Jesus. There are four or five explicit references to the Land in the Gospels and these are indirect. The strongest is found in the Beatitudes. In Matthew 5:5 Jesus quotes from Psalm 37:11. The blessing of the meek and the inheritance of the land as described in the Psalms is echoed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet it is not the Land but the earth that they will inherit. The Greek term for earth here is the same word used in the Septuagint for land yet the context of Jesus Beatitudes requires that the perspective be stretched beyond mere possession of Palestine. Either that or all Christians who live by the Sermon on the Mount possess the land of the Bible by their meekness. Since the Land was such a fundamental part of Judaism at the time of Christ, his silence can only have been deliberate. Jesus of Nazareth, who proclaimed the acceptable year of the Lord only to die accursed on a cross and so pollute the land, and by that act and its consequences to shatter the geographic dimension of the religion of his fathers. Like everything else, the Land also in the New testament drives us to ponder the mystery of Jesus, the Christ, who by his cross and resurrection broke not only the bonds of death for early Christians but also the bonds of the land. (W.D. Davies)