The Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ

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And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev. 11:15).

This verse has always stood out in the Book of Revelation. Most notably, historically speaking, it has been said that when this verse was sung as part of the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s Messiah, King George II stood to honor the King of kings and Lord of lords. Elizabeth Carson, in a dissertation about the life of Reformed Presbyterian minister James Renwick Willson, wrote: “For the Covenanters, the central statement of that book was in the eleventh chapter: The kingdoms of this world [shall] become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.’ This was their desire and goal in the realm of politics, but was simultaneously the definition of the coming millenium [sic]. The two were virtually inseparable parts of the same picture…”

Carson also tells that Alexander McLeod’s Lectures Upon the Principal Prophecies of the Revelation was “well-known beyond Covenanter circles.” According to Fred Hood, Alexander McLeod was one of “the two comentators [sic, on the millennium] read most widely by Americans in the middle and southern states" (Fred J. Hood, Reformed America: The Middle and Southern States, 1783-1837, p. 69). McLeod’s Lectures were reviewed very favorably by James Renwick Willson in his Evangelical Witness (April-June 1823). John Black’s review of the same appears in Samuel B. Wylie’s Memoir of Alexander McLeod.

McLeod had this to say about this very special verse:

The existing sovereignties of nations constitute the subject of this prediction. The kingdoms of this world, are the political constitutions which are on earth, and which have derived their form and character from the men of the world: and particularly the several kingdoms which are found within the precincts of the old Roman empire. The reformation which they undergo changes effectually their character. They become the kingdoms of our Lord. They were, heretofore, of this world, of the earth, earthy: but now, they are of the Lord. They were always in fact, though unknowingly and unwillingly, under the power of Jehovah, and made subservient to Jesus Christ: but they are now professedly and with understanding subject to the law of God, and the revelation of Jesus Christ. True religion now comes to be formally avowed by them in their political capacity. There were Christians residing in these nations before this time: the nations were actually called Christian nations: some really supposed that they were Christian states: many pretended that they were so: during all this time, they have been in the estimation of our Lord Jesus Christ, only "kingdoms of this world." Now however they understand, they profess, and they support, not a state religion, nor a worldly sanctuary, but the pure religion of the Bible, in a consistent manner.

J.R. Willson adds in his review:

Heretofore, they [the nations of the earth] have been devouring beasts of prey — "thrones of iniquity having no fellowship with God;" but when the seventh trumpet shall have done its work, they shall all become voluntarily subject to our Lord and his Christ. The nations then shall avow the true religion in their national capacity; and for the first time since the commencement of the gospel dispensation, the religion of the Bible really, and its true spirit shall influence the policy of the nations, and they publicly proclaim their subjection to Messiah and their obedience to his law.

According to these two leading 19th century American Covenanters, there is a promise from God that the Lord Jesus Christ, as mediatorial King, who is given power and authority over all creation, will, in his own time, accomplish by the power of His Spirit, a mighty work of reformation throughout the whole earth, which will encompass all nations.

The Ecclesiastical Catechisms of Alexander McLeod and Thomas Smyth

Most Presbyterians are familiar with the Westminster Shorter/Larger Catechisms, or the Heidelberg Catechism. But have you heard of Ecclesiastical Catechisms? At least two were written by Presbyterians in America in the 19th century: one by Alexander McLeod (1806) and one by Thomas Smyth (1843). (Another was written by Luther Halsey Wilson titled The Pattern of the House; or, A Catechism upon the Constitution, Government, Discipline and Worship of the Presbyterian church, which we hope to add to the site in the future.) These books present the doctrine of the church in question and answer format, so that God's people might more easily understand what the Scriptures teach about the institution that Jesus is building. McLeod and Smyth won't agree on everything (for instance, the number of offices Jesus has appointed in His church), so comparing and contrasting these two documents, written 40 years apart, will undoubtedly be an edifying and rewarding use of your time. 

Note: This blog post was originally published on November 8, 2017 and has been slightly edited.