The main theme of the Bible is getting the right king on the throne of the kingdom of heaven. The sub-theme is the salvation of man, granted to any man who does by faith what God commands him to do, in the time period in which he lives.
In the history of creation, God created the heaven and the earth [Gen 1:1]. In Gen 1:2, water covered the earth. Then God made light, outer space, grass, herbs, trees, the sun, moon and stars, fowls, fish, cattle, creeping things, beasts, and man (male and female). He gave man dominion over the earth and everything in it [Gen 1:26-28]. Adam was the first “king” of the earth, the kingdom of heaven. Adam and his wife resided in the garden of Eden.
Adam received his dominion and authority from God. God gave Adam instructions and one commandment in Gen 2:15-17: dress and keep the garden, eat freely of every tree in the garden, and don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The consequence of disobeying the command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was death.
In Gen 3, the devil tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden tree. She ate and gave her husband the fruit to eat, as well. Everything God made was corrupted by this disobedience [Rom 8:21-22]. Sin and death entered into the world [Rom 5:12]. Every descendent of Adam and Eve has either sinned and died or will sin and die, as a result [Rom 3:23; Rom 6:23]. Take Cain, Adam and Eve’s first son, for example. Cain’s works were evil [1 Jn 3:12], he didn’t rule over sin in his life [Gen 4:7], and he killed his brother, Abel [Gen 4:8].
The earth became so corrupted by sin that God destroyed, by the flood, everything in the earth that breathed [Gen 6-8]. Notice that Noah and his family survived the flood because he found grace in the eyes of the Lord [Gen 6:8]. He did by faith what God told him to do [Gen 6:14-22; Heb 11:7]. He built the ark. This was his righteousness. In essence, Noah became the ruler of the world, or the king of the kingdom of heaven.
After the flood, men and some beasts became carnivores [Gen 9:2-3]. Furthermore, God made a covenant with Noah to not destroy the earth with a flood and gave the rainbow as a token of this covenant [Gen 9:8-17]. It was through the three sons of Noah that the earth became populated with the nations of the world [Gen 10-11:9]. Generally, Japeth’s descendants went into Europe; Shem’s descendants went into Asia; and Ham’s descendants went into Africa. All of their descendants were given different languages.
God chose Abram and his descendants (what became the nation of Israel) to be his people [Gen 12-21]. God granted Abram the land of Canaan, and eventually all the land from the Nile River to the Euphrates River [Gen 15:18]. Notice that Abram believed God concerning the multiplication of his seed [Gen 15:6] and he and Sarai conceived Isaac when she was beyond child-bearing age [Heb 11:11-12; Rom 4:16-22]. They did by faith what God commanded them to do. This was their righteousness.
Abraham (Abram’s new name) even attempted to offer Isaac in obedience to the Lord, believing that God would raise him from the dead to fulfill his promise to multiply his seed into a nation through his son [Gen 22; Heb 11:17-19]. Notice that he did by faith what God commanded him to do. Through this sacrifice, he foreshadowed the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ [Jn 8:56-58]. In essence, Abraham became the “ruler” of the world. The nation descending from him will become the ruling nation of the world [Is 60:1-12] when Jesus returns to be the king of the world [Dan 7:27].
To insure that the covenant with Abraham continued to his seed, Abraham’s son, Isaac, was given the promise that God gave Abraham [Gen 26:3-5]. Isaac’s son, Jacob, was also given this same promise [Gen 28:10-15]. And Jacob’s twelve sons and their descendants (who became the twelve tribes of Israel) were given this same promise, as well [Num 24:2, 9; Deut 1:6-8].
At the end of Genesis, the descendants of Jacob were in Egypt, where they went to escape a famine. Their brother, Joseph, had become the second ruler in the country and he was given permission by Pharaoh to care for them in Egypt. Eventually, they were enslaved by Pharaoh (the title of the king, not the same man under whom Joseph ruled) and the book of Exodus describes the events that led to their deliverance from Egyptian bondage [Ex 1-14].
In Exodus 12, each Jewish family killed a “passover” lamb and applied its blood to the door posts and upper lintels of their homes to protect their firstborn against the death of the last plague brought upon the Egyptians [Ex 11:4-7]. This passover became a memorial in Israel kept on the 14th day of the first month of each year (still observed today). The passover lamb foreshadows the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ to deliver us from sin and death [Jn 1:29; 1 Cor 5:7].
After Israel left Egypt, they were given the laws, ordinances, judgments, and statutes that the Lord commanded them to keep as his chosen people [beginning in Ex 20]. Their deliverer and leader was Moses. God set up the priesthood, through Aaron, Moses’ brother [Ex 28]. God selected the males in the tribe of Levi to serve his tabernacle [Num 3]. They constructed the tabernacle and all the articles and furniture for it. They were given the annual feasts [Lev 23], the three most important of which are the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of weeks, and the feast of tabernacles [Deut 16:1-17]. After Ex 20, to be righteous, men had to do by faith what God commanded them to do in the law [Deut 6:24-25; Hab 2:4]
Israel wandered in the wilderness between Egypt and the land of Canaan for forty years, the events of which are recorded in Exodus through Deuteronomy. Following Israel’s wilderness journey, the Jews entered the land of Canaan, the land promised to Abraham and his seed. They conquered this land under Joshua [the book of Joshua]. For the next approximately 350 years, the Jews had no king and “did that which was right in their own eyes,” [Jud 17:6]. These events are recorded in the book of Judges. So, they vacillated between idolatry and serving the Lord under various judges who delivered them from the enemies who oppressed them when they got out of line with God.
Eventually, Israel asked for a king to rule them, because they had rejected God [1 Sam 8:5-9]. God gave them a king to rule in Israel, the first of whom was Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin [see 1 Sam 9-10]. 1 Samuel is about the rule of Saul. Saul disobeyed God’s commandment [1 Sam 13:11-14; 1 Sam 15:22-24] and so God selected a king from the tribe of Judah to succeed him. The successor king was David, whom God chose to establish his throne in Israel forever [2 Sam 7:12-17]. 2 Samuel is about the rule of David. The descendants of David were chosen to be the future kings of Israel. The right king of the kingdom of heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, is a descendant of King David.
David’s son, Solomon ruled after David [1 Ki 1] and he was the wisest and richest king of his day. But he disobeyed the command of God and married strange wives who turned his heart away from the Lord to serve other gods [1 Ki 11]. Therefore, God split his kingdom into two kingdoms. The ten northern tribes became Israel, under kings who were not descendants of David. The two southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin) became Judah under the rule of the descendants of David. The books of 1 and 2 Kings are about the kings of both Israel and Judah. 1 and 2 Chronicles are just about the kings of Judah, with 1 Chronicles being mostly about the reign of David.
The ten northern tribes went so far into idolatry that God eventually sent the Assyrians to take them captive [2 Ki 17]. Over 100 years later, God sent the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar to take Judah captive [2 Ki 25]. The Chaldeans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Later, the Chaldeans were defeated by the Persians, after which the Jews returned to Judah. Under Cyrus, king of Persia, the temple was rebuilt [Is 44:26-28; Ezra 1:1-4]. Nevertheless, Israel and Judah were continuously under foreign domination through the reigns of Persia, Greece, and Rome (who ruled Israel when Jesus was here) [Dan 2:36-45]. Notice these were all world dominating powers. See Dan 2:38, for example. The question, as you see, has always been, “Who’s going to rule?”
In due time, Jesus, a descendant of David and Abraham [Matt 1:1], was born the King of the Jews [Matt 2:2; Lk 1:30-33]. He was born of a virgin [Matt 1:18-23] and thus he was God manifest in the flesh [1 Tim 3:16]. He came to deal with the consequences of Adam’s sin and thus he died for our sins [1 Cor 15:3-4] and defeated death [Heb 2:14-18] when he rose from the dead [1 Cor 15:20-22; 42-57]. But he was rejected by Israel who would not accept him as their king [Jn 19:15; Acts 3:13-15] and who refused to keep the law given to Israel through Moses [Acts 7:51-53]. So, after his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven [Acts 1:9-11] where he sits at the right hand of God [Heb 1:2-3] awaiting the time of his return to rule over the kingdom of heaven [Rev 11:15; Dan 7:13-14]. See note below
In the meantime, kings and heads of countries have tried to dominate the world under their rule. These include such rulers as Caesar, Constantine, Charlamagne, Napoleon, and Hitler. In the future, the devil is going to be manifest in the flesh as the Antichrist, and rule the world from a restored temple of God in Jerusalem, professing himself to be God [2 Thes 2:3-4]. He will demand worship from everyone in the world [Rev 13] and will kill all those who refuse to worship him. His main objective will be to destroy Israel as a nation [Ps 83, Rev 12] so that God cannot fulfill his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [Ps 105:6-12]. And thus, he, not Jesus Christ, would be the king of the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus will return to destroy the devil’s kingdom and set up his own kingdom, ruling the world from the throne of David in Jerusalem [Is 9:6-7; Zech 14]. Because he rose from the dead and is the resurrection and the life [Jn 11:25-26], Jesus will save Israel [Rom 11:25-27] and raise the dead saints of Israel [Ezek 37:1-14]. Judah and Israel will be reunited as one kingdom [Ezek 37:15-17], David will be their king [Ezek 37:24], and all Israel will know the Lord and be his people with their sins forgiven [Jer 31:31-34]. They will inherit the land granted to Abraham [Ezek 47:13-48:35] and their temple will be completely rebuilt [Ezek 40-48]. Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord [Jer 3:17] because “the Lord is there,” [Ezek 48:35]. Many Old Testament prophecies deal with the tribulation of Israel during the reign of the antichrist, the restoration and salvation of Israel at the return of Jesus Christ, and the future status of the countries who oppose Israel and the return of Jesus.
After his return, Jesus will rule on the earth for one thousand years. His reign will be a peaceful reign [Is 65:25; Is 11:1-9; Is 2:1-5] without any national opposition. The devil will be bound in a bottomless pit during his reign [Rev 20:1-6]. At the end of the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth, there will be a final showdown between Jesus and the devil and any nations that follow the devil in that last battle [Rev 20:7-9]. The devil will be cast into the lake of fire [Rev 20:10].
The dead will then be judged at the White Throne judgment [Rev 20:11-15]. Following this judgment, the Lord will make new heavens and a new earth [2 Pet 3:10-13] and there will be no more death [Rev 21:1-4; 1 Cor 15:24-26]. God will be all in all [1 Cor 15:27-28]. The Lord will be the King.
Note: After Israel’s rejection of Jesus, God opened the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to the Gentiles [Acts 10; Acts 28:25-28], allowing Jews and Gentiles to be saved by simply believing on the Lord Jesus Christ [Acts 16:30-31]. We are saved when we do by faith what God commanded us to do, which is to believe on Jesus [Jn 1:12-13; 3:18; 3:36; Eph 2:8-9]. We do not keep the law to be saved, like Israel did in the Old Testament, because Jesus has fulfilled the law [Rom 10:1-4] and gives us his righteousness when we accept him [2 Cor 5:21; Gal 2:16].
When we are saved, we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ [1 Cor 12:13], which is the church, over which Jesus Christ is the head [Eph 1:20-23]. Each saved person is a member of his body with spiritual gifts that benefit the church [1 Cor 12; Eph 4:11-16]. The church is the bride of Christ [Eph 5:22-32] and we are spiritually seated with Christ in heaven [Eph 2:6]. Before the antichrist begins his rule on the earth, the saved in Christ will be bodily taken to heaven at what is commonly called the “rapture,” [1 Cor 15:50-55; 1 Thes 4:13-18]. We will return to earth with Christ when he comes to rule. We can then reign with Jesus as kings and priests on the earth when he reigns [Rev 1:5-6; Rev 5:9-10; Dan 7:18].