Month: November 2018

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 288

November 30

A divine promise

divine promise to david

According to God’s revelation, it is David’s son who would build a “house” for the Lord. It is David’s son whose throne, and kingdom, would be established “forever.” It is the son of David that would become the central figure in an earthly kingdom that would be established and upheld by God Himself. It is the son of David who would live in God’s eternal and permanent love. It is David’s son that would know and experience God, as “His Father,” and God Himself would call David’s son, His very Own Son. It is this Son of David of Whom God promises, “I will set Him over My house and My Kingdom forever.”

With these words we begin to see the depth and scope of God’s promise. We catch a glimpse of the extent of His plan, and the fullness of His handiwork. The promise of God reveals a central figure that would bring the culmination of God’s desire for all of humanity – and for the everlasting establishment of His Kingdom on this earth.

There is no doubt that the initial fulfillment of God’s promise came through David’s son, Solomon. He was the one who built God’s “house” – a glorious temple that became the centerpiece of the people’s worship. Under Solomon’s reign, his kingdom reached a magnitude that was unparalleled in those days. The people of God dwelt more securely and prosperously than ever before, under the reign of this initial “son of David.”

Artwork by Alex Levin, Israel.

But Solomon’s kingdom was not an eternal kingdom – and Solomon did not remain true in his devotion to God. Solomon was only a partial fulfillment of God’s plan. He is best understood, as a forerunner of One Who would come as the complete fulfillment of God’s promise. As we see so much of the time in the pages of the Old Testament, the fulfillment of God’s promises and the results of God’s work in Old Testament times are but a foreshadow, or a preliminary view, of a greater promise and a greater work to come at a later time. King David was also a “type” of Messiah – his life, a foreshadowing, or a partial fulfillment, of the true Messiah yet to come. In the same way, Solomon, the “son of David” – was a foreshadowing of the true “son of David,” and of an everlasting Kingdom yet to come…

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 287

1 K of God ch 8

November 28

Divine restoration (in the O. T.) cont…

So far, we have seen that the Old Testament is a picture of human flaw and frailty.

But even in the midst of all this… God is not deterred in His desire to establish His Kingdom in the hearts of His people. Though rejected (through the whole Saul fiasco), God raises up a man with a heart that is eager to please the true King. Eventually Israel’s first human king, Saul, is himself, rejected and a simple and courageous shepherd, named David, is anointed to take his place as king over God’s people. Scripture records that David has a “heart after God’s Own Heart,” (Acts 13:22) and for living in His ways.

david AMAGOH

David’s own devotion to the true King makes him the greatest earthly king in Israel’s history. His kingdom begins to reflect the Kingdom of God. The King’s people are immensely blessed and, once again, true devotion to the true King, and to His ways, becomes the typical pursuit for God’s people. David’s kingdom itself becomes the standard, or the symbol, of the true Kingdom, where the true King is honored and worshiped by His people.

The culmination of God’s great plan begins to take shape with a divine promise given to king David as recorded in 1 Chronicles 17 and 2 Samuel 7. The context is that king David is reflecting upon his situation, and how good God has been to him. From relative obscurity, David has ascended to rule over God’s people, in God’s promised land, and has been blessed beyond measure. David rules the people with a heart for The King – his rule aligned with the rule of God, the true King.

But, in David’s mind, there is a problem. He is dwelling in a glorious house, made of the finest materials, and God’s ark of the covenant (i.e. representing the presence of God Himself!) is dwelling among God’s people in a tent. David discusses this issue with Nathan, the main prophet of this time, and Nathan, initially, tells David: “whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.” (1 Chronicles 17:2)

nathan-and-david.jpg

So David intends to build a fine “house” in which God may dwell among the people. But in the night, God speaks to Nathan and commands the prophet to bring David a different message, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 17:3-10. God’s message, through Nathan, prohibited David from building God’s House (because, God later explains, David has shed too much blood in His sight; see 1 Chronicles 22:8).

But with God’s instruction to David also came a wonderful and powerful promise…

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 286

1 K of God ch 8

November 27

Divine restoration (in the O. T.) cont…

The time of the Judges reveals God’s dealings with His people after they had entered the land of promise (the designated territory of the King’s earthly Kingdom for His people). We see that whenever God’s people honored the King as their King, He would send forth the fullness of His royal blessing upon them. But when they would turn away from their true King, to chase after selfish ambitions or to devote themselves to false kings (i.e. false gods or idols), the King would “give them over” to be subjugated to the abuses of some other earthly king (see Judges 3:8, 12; 4:2; etc.)

Slaves-in-Egypt

The same pattern is repeated often in Old Covenant history: After years of cruel mistreatment, God’s people would once again seek to become the subjects of their true King, and God would restore them back to His favor, and cause them to thrive in His Kingdom territory (the land of promise). Always at issue is a loyal devotion to God as the true King over the lives of His people – the focal point is, once more, the Kingdom of God.

1 Samuel 8 records one other highly significant event in the early history of the earthly Kingdom of God. Samuel, God’s prophet (and special Kingly emissary), is aging, and the people have no faith in the leadership of Samuel’s sons to guide them in the coming days, so they make a request of Samuel: “”Give us a king to lead us… We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”” (from 1 Samuel 8:6, 19-20)

For the first time, the true King’s people are requesting an earthly king to lead them. Samuel is greatly disturbed by this request (8:6) and seeks the counsel of God, the rightful King. God’s response to Samuel’s prayer speaks volumes: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected Me as their King.” (1 Samuel 8:7) God does not deny His people’s request, though He certainly could. He offers to explain the “downside” to their request, and Samuel certainly does (8:11-18)! But in the end, the people are more comfortable with a man reigning over them, than with the God Who loves them.

saul-1

The people of God, the King’s Own people, rejected their true King for an earthly facsimile, and once again sought to assert their own will in their lives, rather than submit to the will of the One Who knows all, sees all, and loves all with an eternal love. We see in this, the bottom line: to reject the King is to reject His rule and His Kingdom – and leads those who reject Him to trouble, malady, and heartache.

 

 

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 285

1 K of God ch 8

November 26

Divine restoration (in the O. T.)

What sin devastated, God set about to restore. In Genesis 12, we see the Creator-King’s plan of restoration begin to unfold…

Through God’s interaction with the Patriarchs, The Creator began to restore His intentions within human hearts. The Book of Genesis records the account of God’s work of Abraham closereconnecting with humanity by means of “a chosen people” – the descendants of a promise made to a man by the name of Abram (later known as Abraham; see Genesis 17), who would become forever known as the “man of faith.” (Galatians 3:9; Romans 4)

Abram trusted God to be faithful to His promise, that “I will make you into a great nation” (Genesis 12:2) even though he was advanced in years, and childless at the time. Because of Abram’s unwavering trust, he received the fulfillment of God’s promise. He also became the recipient of God’s offer of covenant relationship – to restore an affiliation of communion and fellowship with Abraham and his descendants. The covenant with Abram is best seen as the Creator-King’s offer to make Abram, and His descendants, the King’s Own people – to wear His Name, and to honor Him as the King over their lives.

Genesis records how this covenant relationship was passed down through Abraham’s lineage – from Isaac to Jacob (who became known as Israel) to the rest of the generations of Abraham’s descendants.

Abe Isaac Jacob

Through this covenant, God would display His Kingly favor (blessing) and power, for all of creation to witness. At the heart of understanding the purpose of the covenant with Abraham, and His descendants, is the Kingdom of God.

Exodus through Deuteronomy records the emergence of God’s Law, and His dealings with His people underneath the canopy of His Law. The Law is best seen as the specific ways in which God’s people are to interact with their King – and how they are to conduct themselves as the Almighty King’s people. The Law is the record of the King’s terms and requirements – as well as a reflection of the King’s Own character and nature.

Moses_and_the_Ten_Commandments

As Our Lord Jesus, in the New Testament reminded us, the Old Covenant Law had its foundation in a relationship of love and devotion between the Creator-King and His Own people (see Matthew 22:37-40; also see Romans 13:10). God, the King, was to be the object of His peoples’ singular devotion and affection – and the outflow of this love and devotion was to produce a purposeful interaction with other people in a manner that reflected the King’s ways and the King’s heart.

God’s people were meant to live their lives reflecting their King – both in how they honored and worshiped their King and in how they interacted with other human beings. The foundational essence of the Law was to define how to live in relationship with the King, and how that relationship should form one’s relations with other people. At the core of grasping the purpose of the Law, once again, is the Kingdom of God.

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 284

1 K of God ch 8

November 19

A Divine Requirement

But placed into all this delightful and satisfying beauty of the Garden of Eden, there is a specific requirement of the Creator-King. A test of willful devotion…

Scripture tells us that: “In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9b)

two trees

Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God issues His Kingly command: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) This singular command is issued for only one obvious reason: to establish the terms and requirements of the King. The man and woman are given amazing freedom in the King’s territory (the garden of God), but there is one thing they are not allowed to do: eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they make the decision to do the one thing that the King forbids them to do, they “will surely die.”

This impending death, as we have already observed, is best understood as a separation from God – it is the result of a rebellious renunciation of the King’s right to rule over their lives. This “separation” is a certain disconnect from all the kindness, favor, and goodness that the Great King has demonstrated. The benefits of this Good King are directly tied to submission to His rightful and benevolent rule over His subjects.

out of the gardenThe parameters of the Kingdom of God were established in the very beginning of His creation. When the willful rebellion came, and sin entered the world, the first humans lost their intimate connection with the King. In this state, they became detached from all the benefits of His Kingdom.

But worse yet, not only did the first man and woman become disconnected from the King, they also became estranged from the King’s purpose for humanity. The result of this separated condition brought, not only the loss of the King’s blessing, but also the loss of the King’s intent.

Soon after this “death” occurred, Scripture informs us that all humanity was morally and spiritually spiraling out of control. Scripture eventually declares: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain.” (Genesis 6:5-6)

The inevitable result of rebellion to the King, is the rejection of the King, along with the devastating loss of His favor – and our divinely-designed purpose. Left to our own devices, human beings turned to the empty course of self-serving satisfaction, and progressively drifted away from the Creator-King’s original purpose and plan. The early chapters of Genesis record the course of this devastating fall from divine purpose and favor.

But all was not lost…

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 283

1 K of God ch 8

November 16

The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

The essential concepts of the Kingdom of God are established in the very beginning of all things. Upon the creation of humanity (Adam and Eve), God sets the parameters of a Kingdom relationship. For any kingdom, there are certain things that are required: 1) A King to rule; 2) Subjects of the King; 3) Terms and requirements of the King; and 4) A territory of the King’s rule. All these things are a part of The Creator’s original design and setup.

When God, The King, created this world, He also specifically created a Garden in which to place His first subjects. This “territory” carries a special significance in that it was Personally “planted” by God Himself. We read: “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.” (Genesis 2:8)

garden-of-eden

In much the same way as the Creator had specially formed the Man (Genesis 2:7), He had also given special divine attention to where this Man was to reside. The term “Eden” literally means “delight” – so this special garden was a particular delight to God (according to His standards) and was certainly a magnificent delight to the Man He had formed.

Scripture makes the point to observe that at the very heart of God’s intent for this garden was pleasure and provision. We see that, “The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” (Genesis 2:9a)

trees-in-the-garden.png

This act of the Creator tells us that the Creator-King’s intentions are to supply the best of things to His people. God, the King, is good – and what He does, in relation with humanity, is a direct reflection of His goodness. This also tells us that the King does not just summarily demand servitude and obedience (even though, as Creator, it is something that He rightfully deserves) – He demonstrates His kindness, His favor, and His goodness, and then seeks the willing response of His subjects to His kindness, favor and goodness.

God is good

The fundamental foundation of the King’s Kingdom is the demonstrated best of all possible situations for His people. The guarantee of this foundation is the King Himself – everything that He does proves His worthiness to be lovingly and willingly obeyed.

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 282

1 K of God ch 8

November 15

There is yet one more preliminary observation we must understand whenever we talk about the Kingdom of God…

The rule of The King, with all its benefits and blessings for His people, is meant to be observed and considered by the nations, so that all of humanity might know, and desire to embrace, the goodness and blessing of the One True King over all the earth.

We see this hope as the essence behind Isaiah’s prophetic words:

like the dawn

Even from the beginnings of God’s offer of covenant with humanity, this impact upon the nations was to be the result of the rule of the King within the hearts of God’s people. This is just as the Lord Himself promised to Abraham: “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me.” (Genesis 22:18; see also 12:3; 18:18; 26:4; 28:14)

There is no mistaking that God’s intent, from the very beginning, has been to establish His rule on this earth through human beings dedicated and submitted to His rule over their lives – and that all creation would see Him as the Good King through His loyal subjects. What we see throughout the pages of the Old Testament confirms this conclusion.

In the next few pages, a brief overview might allow us to see the framework of God’s plan, and help us to tie things together…