Before I begin, I think it would be useful and worthwhile to point out the perspective and worldview that this particular blog entry and the later blog entries that will follow to provide others with a point of either agreement or disagreement. Most importantly, as a premillennialist I hold to a view of biblical prophecy where Jesus Christ will return to this earth and set up His kingdom which will rule over the entire earth according to His laws and ways. There is no shortage of premillennial writing in the United States (the “Left Behind” series is merely one of a large number of such works). Some of the posts in this particular series of blog entries will be interpreted through the lens of premillennialism, and so it ought to be admitted forthrightly at the beginning so that those of other viewpoints will be sufficiently aware that I understand there is a dispute or disagreement about interpretation.
That said, there are other aspects of this work that are not going to be written explicitly from that point of view (even though I hold to it) but will rather seek to examine the often forgotten implications of very familiar biblical passages. Embedded within the heart of biblical religion is a long-term imperial project, and various essays will look at passages from the point of view of the enlightened imperialism of the Bible. The universal implications of biblical religion are not new within modern times, or even within Christianity. Rather, this goal for imperialism and universal rule of the world under God’s laws and ways has been a part of God’s plan from the very beginning. Included in this plan, it must be admitted, was the destruction of those forces of rebellion which were implacably hostile to God’s ways. In looking at the features of empires in our world today, we will examine the parallels that we find between the world’s imperial systems as well as the empire of the Bible.
We are often used to thinking either of biblical ways through the eyes of our own particular culture or historical and ethnic background or we are used to thinking of the Bible as some sort of archaic approach that bears no relations to the behavior and ways of our time. The relationship between biblical imperialism and the imperialism of the world at large is somewhat more complicated. There are, after all, aspects of the imperialism of biblical ages that were considered praiseworthy by the authors of the Bible. Two brief examples will suffice for here, as we will discuss these matters in much greater depth elsewhere. For one, the book of Isaiah explicitly praises Cyrus of Persia and offers a prophecy of this ruler about a hundred and fifty years before he was born . Both Cyrus and the Eternal show a broadly similar universal claim of rulership as well as a broadly similar view of ethics in ruling for the benefit of all rather than for merely one ethnicity . A second example is the nearly universal praise that the Bible has for Roman centurions, given the substantial and sometimes surprising agreement between the biblical support of order and discipline with the orderly and disciplined agents of often hated Roman imperialism . The biblical preference for enlightened rulership as well as order places the biblical government within the larger framework of imperialism.
This may be a somewhat shocking understanding, so there will be future essays and blog entries that will explore the many and varied ways that the plan of God for all mankind is itself an imperial mission. Included in these varied ways is the universal dominion of God’s kingdom, a concept that is explored in several well-known Bible passages, the universal application of God’s laws, often based on principles of universal morality as well as God’s status as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, as well as the use of force to subdue the imperial domain of God’s kingdom and punish those who would rebel against the legitimacy of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Likewise, the Bible’s explicit creation of an imperial elite, the “Israel of God” with its purposes in training and spreading the imperial culture of the Kingdom of God is a key aspect of imperialism as well as the promised development of urban places and trade routes, the subsidiary rulership of cities and tribes, and the establishment of policing and education and acculturation so that the many cultures of the world that exist now will become part of one universal empire.
The establishment of this empire does not in any way negate human choice (though it does simplify those choices in the future quite dramatically into the decision whether to obey God and follow His ways or to suffer the punishment for rebellion), although it does promise the ultimate unity of mankind into one system and one culture that will include a rich variety of people from all backgrounds, all created in the image and likeness of God Himself. Ultimately, the Kingdom of God will fulfill the longings of mankind for unity in diversity, for a shared relationship with all other beings as well as our own respected individual identity. God’s Kingdom is not a monolithic empire that destroys human individuality, but we ought to understand that it is an empire nonetheless, a realization that hopefully will become more plain as we continue.
 The prophecy, which will be examined in detail later on, reads as follows: “Thus says the Eternal to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held–to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut: ‘I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Eternal, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me. I am the Eternal, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, that they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the Eternal, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Eternal, do all these things.”