Friday, May 22, 2020

Reflections on God: His Kingdom

We’re back to take a look at God. Once again, we’re going to use something from the Lord’s Prayer to guide us: ‘Thy kingdom come’.

So, what’s this about? God is a king who rules over creation. This is a common enough theme of the Scriptures. Here’s just one sample:
The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Psalm 97.1
However, you may have noticed that not everyone is all that glad when it comes to God’s rule. There is a rebellion against the King. It is a rebellion that started back in the Garden of Eden. Obviously, that’s not good, and something needs to be done about it.

Appreciating this problem for what it is can lead to seeing another Scriptural perspective on Jesus’ mission. He has come to fix what’s going on. He has come to deal with the rebellion so that God’s kingdom will be restored to what it was before that first sin so long ago. That’s explains why Jesus begins His ministry with these words:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1.14-15
The Gospel of God includes the restoration of the Kingdom of God.

So, how is Jesus going to deal with rebels? Well, I’m sure that your mind quickly went to something like, ‘He will change malcontented rebels against the King into willing subjects of the King’. And that’s exactly right. He will transform rebels into subjects by causing them to repent of their sin and to believe in the Gospel. And thanks be to God for that.

However, that’s only partially right. And that’s because it’s only a partial answer. There’s more. Jesus will also deal with the problem of rebellion by condemning some rebels. That’s what He’s doing here as He speaks to the people of Jerusalem:
For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19.43-44
And it’s not as if He didn’t warn them.
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13.1–3
Jesus was fulfilling His role as a prophet in saying such things. And His prophecy was fulfilled about forty years later when the Roman armies came and slaughtered countless rebels.

Now, what does this say about God? One of the Psalms answers this question.
O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out. Psalm 94.1,2,23
He is the God of vengeance who wipes out rebels.

So, what are you asking for when you pray, ‘Thy kingdom come’? You’re asking that God complete His work of dealing with the rebellion. You want Him to make things like they were when the Garden of Eden was brand new. And you are asking Him to do that by graciously changing some rebels into subjects through repentance and faith and also by justly condemning other rebels for their sin. You’re asking God to be the God that He is, the God of grace and the God of vengeance.

If you’re really getting this, you will be quick to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving. Think about it. You started out this life as a rebel. But here you are, a subject. How did that happen? Why the change? Have you somehow deserved it? What a foolish question! God has blessed you by changing you into a subject instead of condemning you for your rebellion. And that was an act of His amazing grace in Jesus. He really is the God of grace to you and not what He could have justly been against you, the God of vengeance.

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