Category: Human Kingdoms

Nine – Our Purpose, pt. 2 – p. 323

1 Understanding our purpose 2 Rule of God

February 6

Of kingdoms and kings (cont.)

The driving force behind any kingdom is the desire and will of the king.

Now, the king’s desire and will is formed and determined by the nature and character of the king himself. Those attributes which abide within the king, are going to be revealed through the will and desires of the king, and will be the foundation of what defines and describes his kingdom. All kingdoms are established to be the reflection of their king.

If, for example, we observe an evil, self-serving king, we will note that he is consumed only evil-king.pngwith his own pleasure and power. He will undoubtedly desire only to exercise his sovereign authority to satisfy his own pleasures and extend his own power – without any real regard for those under his rule. He will do whatever he wants, take whatever he wants, kill whomever he wants, decree whatever he wants – all in line with whatever satisfies the requirements of his own desire to meet his own ends.

Scripture affirms this: “For (the king) will do whatever he pleases…” (Ecclesiastes 8:3) A king with a self-serving character and nature will care little or nothing for his subjects – and will see them only as property to be used and utilized for his own pleasure and power.

The resulting devastation upon the king’s subjects, in this manner of kingdom, is immense. There will be only hardship, sacrifice, and helplessness for those who are subjugated to this type of ruler and rule. A selfish ruler will make life, for those beneath his rule, a life of adversity, tyranny, slavery and discord – all to satisfy his own self-serving interests. Life, for the subjects under the sovereign rule of a selfish king, is mostly characterized by hardship, loss, “legal” theft, destruction, and death.

If, on the other hand, we observe a good, conscientious king, we discover that the results will king-davidbe entirely different. A good king will also seek to shape his kingdom to his own wishes and desires. But because he is mindful and considerate of his subjects, and of his responsibility for their care and protection, he will seek to build a kingdom that affirms all the qualities that he finds virtuous and edifying for his people. He will promote peace, justice, and a sense of opportunity and hope that will permeate throughout his kingdom.

The people will have an inclination of affection for their king, because they have a real sense of his concern for their care and welfare. They will desire to please the king, because pleasing the king actually means something of value in their own lives. The subjects of this manner of kingdom are not seen as property, but as significant pieces that supply the necessary framework for a vital and growing kingdom.

A good ruler will make life, for those beneath his rule, a life of vibrancy and vitality – a life mostly filled with meaning, purpose, possibilities, and security. A good king will seek to make the character of his kingdom a place of abundant living…

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 300

1 K of God ch 8

December 19

Jesus and the King’s will

The very essence of Jesus’ earthly ministry is discovered in an event recorded by Luke…

Jesus in the synagogue

Jesus came as the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Isaiah as recorded in Isaiah 61:1-4. The context of Isaiah’s words were aimed at the consequences of God’s people who had forsaken their King, and as a whole nation, fallen into the depths of sin. As a result of forsaking their King, they had removed themselves from the covenant protection of their King, and found themselves attacked and defeated by invaders from Babylon.

Those who survived the attack were subjected to Babylonian captivity and slavery. It was a cruel and oppressive 70 years. Toward the end of this captivity, Isaiah was inspired to speak the King’s words to His people.

Isaiah speaks to the people

Isaiah’s words were prophetically focused on two most prominent things…

First, his words were aimed at reminding God’s people that they were the focus of God’s attention – even in the midst of their exile into Babylon for their unfaithfulness to their true King. Their condition was produced because the kings and the kingdoms of this world are intent upon establishing and upholding their own kingdoms based upon their own flawed and self-serving intentions.

Old Testament Scripture provides ample evidence that whenever God’s people become disloyal to their true King, they soon found themselves subjected to the power-hungry whims of ungodly kings and kingdoms. This status, of subjugation to other kings and kingdoms, brings a condition of poverty, slavery, oppression, brokenness of heart and spirit, and utter darkness or blindness (an inability to see the hope and blessing found, and experienced, when living in submission to the rule of the true King).

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We clearly conclude that the condition of humanity, outside of submission to the true King of Creation, can only end as a state of misery, shame, poverty and brokenness. But God, the King, offers some good news in the midst of all the suffering and sorrow…

Two – Understanding Jesus – pg. 55

February 25

The kingdoms of men. Jesus confronted the individual kingdoms of men with truth in all its tenderness. His words and His actions proclaimed, and demonstrated, that being a servant/child in the Kingdom of God was infinitely better than being a “ruler” trying to “reign” over one’s own life and destiny. He brought the promise of hope, joy, and happiness (i.e. being blessed; see Matthew 5:3-12) and of having a significant purpose, in encountering the certain challenges of this life.

Of these individuals, seeking desperately to reign over their own lives, it was said, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Jesus came and sought to be the compassionate Shepherd of their souls. He reached out to them, He touched them, He met them at their point of need – and He tenderly invited them to come and discover the riches of the Kingdom of God.

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Fire!

Before we close our thoughts on the three kingdoms, one other note bears mentioning. Jesus exclaimed, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) Fire in the Scriptures almost always refers to judgment or purification. When Jesus mentions that He came to this earth to bring fire, He is expressing God’s Own desire to see His people purified of all religious falsehood and hypocrisy.

fire

By necessity, this must happen through great resolve. Those dedicated solely to God, and to His truth, are destined to go directly “against the grain” of this world’s secular and religious kingdoms. The ways of this world and the dogmas of false thinking and religion are not easily swayed.

Jesus came as the Initiator of dynamic change – but this change does not come without the promise of confrontation, conflict, and the necessity of refining fire. Jesus warned His disciples of this difficult fact: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven… Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10, 12)

Jesus came to this earth to lovingly confront sinners with the liberating power of the truth – but always in compassion. He also came to confront hypocrisy and false religion with the fire of truth. In Jesus, we see that both are required, and both are part of the divine character.

The Wonder of the Kingdom

Jesus came to set the wonder of the Kingdom of God in motion within our hearts and to be the Instigator of the confrontation of false faith on this earth. He did not come merely to initiate Christianity, but true Christianity, for this is what truly conveys and reveals the very heart of God. In Jesus, we discover that God is supremely dedicated to that which is absolute and true.

Two – Understanding Jesus – pg. 54

February 24

The religious kingdom. Concerning the “kingdom” of the Jewish leaders, Jesus’ confrontation was the harsher side of truth. It was this kingdom that provoked His greatest passion and garnered His deepest indignation. This is somewhat surprising – and illuminating.pharisees1.jpgIt is surprising in the fact that these Jewish leaders were the moral stalwarts of society. When it came to issues of observable morality and righteousness, the Jewish leaders set the standard. Of all people on this earth, it would seem that these would be the people who would be the most pleasing to God. But, through the words and actions of Jesus, we see that this was definitely not the case.

 

It is illuminating in the fact that Jesus was so often observed in direct disagreement with most of what these leaders did – in spite of their apparent “right standing” with God. This tells us a great deal about how God is unimpressed by moral piety that does not resonate from a heart desiring to lovingly please God, and willingly serve others. In this, we discover that righteousness is not really right actions – it is actions that imitate and exhibit God’s own character, from a heart in love with God.

vs the Pharisees

So why was Jesus so confrontational with the Jewish leaders?

It was because they had been entrusted with upholding the truth and the purpose of being God’s people. They were assigned the responsibility of perpetuating the spirit of the Law, of portraying God’s nature accurately, and of keeping the heart of God ever before the people who were under their charge. At this, they failed miserably.

Through their actions and their leadership, they turned the One True God into a false god, by making Him out to be a god intent only on enforcing a plethora of moral obligations. They used the Law to beat God’s people into submission and to coerce the people’s obedience (often to seek their own personal “honor” and benefit; see Matthew 23:2-7!). Their offense was even greater because they virtually controlled the life (and religious practice) of every person within the Jewish community and culture. To be “Jewish” came to mean that you were required to “play the game” by the leaders’ demanding rules – or face the consequences of being an outcast from your own people.

pharisee judge

It was primarily this system, and this kingdom, that The Christ came to confront… and to be the catalyst for conflict and division. In the Kingdom that Jesus came to proclaim, the rules of the King are not meant to enslave subjects to the tiniest nuances of the Law, but to provide an enlightening guide into all the things which please God, and to provide revelation and insight into God’s Own heart and character.

The Jewish Leaders were so diligently dedicated to the Law of God that they had actually lost sight of the God Who gave them the Law. They had become blind to the One Whom they thought they were seeing so clearly (Matthew 15:12-14; 23:16-26). It should be no surprise that Jesus’ harshest words and actions were directed toward those who should have known better (see Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; John 2:13-17). In Jesus, we are seeing The One Who is Truth taking the battle to everything that is religiously false, hypocritical, and misleading.

The Kingdom of God is the proverbial line drawn in the sand. In Jesus’ day, those who would cross that line, and come to The Savior, would find themselves chastised, ridiculed, and outcast to most of what they had previously known and embraced. Jesus came to draw that line, and to be the One waiting with open arms on the other side.

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Two – Understanding Jesus – pg. 53

February

Three kingdoms… plus one

When Jesus came to live among us, there were basically three different “kingdoms” at work in society.

One was the rule of the Romans – intent on conquering the world and bringing its inhabitants under the influence of Greek culture and values.

roman rule

A second kingdom was within the Jewish culture itself. It was the “kingdom” established by the Jewish leaders – intent on enforcing the letter of Jewish Law.

pharisees

The third “kingdom” was the individual “kingdoms” that existed within the hearts of every human being – intent on establishing and maintaining reign and control over their own lives.

Each of these “kingdoms,” by their very nature, were an enemy to the rule and reign of the One True King of the Kingdom that Jesus came to offer. The battleground was set.

The battle is eternally epic.

spiritualwarfare1

The Roman kingdom. It is most interesting, and revealing, that Jesus made no real attempt to confront or change the Roman “kingdom.” He never really directly confronted the secular world, nor its secular systems and values. Even when He had the opportunity to do so, Jesus did not seek to specifically confront the Roman kingdom (see John 18:33-37; Mark 15:1-5; Luke 23:1-4). Jesus made only the succinct claim, “My kingdom is not of this world… My kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)

From Jesus’ attitude and actions, we learn an essential truth. The Kingdom of God was not established to attack the secular world directly (something modern Christianity seems prone to do). On the other hand, the Kingdom of God would become a focus of secular attack. History reveals, as the Roman rulers began to mercilessly persecute Christians, that the clash of kingdoms was unavoidable.

Every earthly kingdom (secular or religious), will eventually declare war upon the Kingdom of God. Scripture records that Jesus, and His kingdom, would be the indirect crux of this conflict.