A King and His Kingdom (Part 3)

As mentioned previously, every kingdom has its own unique culture and ways. The kingdom of God is no exception. In His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus describes the culture and customs of His kingdom. The foundational aspect of the kingdom is repentance and surrender to God. Jesus says, “Blessed are: 

  • the poor in spirit,
  • those who mourn, 
  •  the meek, 
  • those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
  • the merciful,
  • the pure in heart, 
  • the peacemakers, 
  • those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, 
  • are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account (Matt. 5:3-11).

The first four Beatitudes represent recognition and sorrow for sin, and the desire for God’s mercy. The remainder of the Beatitudes show the inner work of sanctification, which results in the scorn and persecution of non-citizens. 

In the remainder of the Sermon Jesus explains further customs of His kingdom: the upholding of God’s Word, purity/fidelity, peace, truth, integrity, mercy/compassion, and the like. Towards the end of His Sermon, Jesus notes that very few will truly become citizens of His kingdom (7:13-14). Furthermore, many will give pretense of being citizens, but their words and behaviors will betray them. The issue isn’t the imperfection, but the very lawlessness and the refusal to surrender to God of the unregenerate (7:18-23). Many want the delicacies of the kingdom but not its ways or it’s King, but to scorn the latter is to be deprived of the former. 

A synopsis of the Sermon on the Mount can be seen in one of Paul’s letters:

By the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect…. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:1-2, 9-21

The kingdom of God is established upon absolute righteousness. In this world, it is true, no one is perfect. No one measures up to the King’s high standards. However, persons are permitted to become citizens of His Kingdom by coming through the only entrance:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber…. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~ John 10:1, 9-10

To enter through the Door, one must come humbly, repentant, and a willingness to be changed by the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. There are many who profess to be of the kingdom but they are not its citizens, for they refuse the King’s terms. They want a treaty with a world that is hostile towards Him and His holiness. They want a duel citizenship, not understanding neither kingdom accepts this. Jesus tells a parable describing such individuals who will be utterly shocked when they are called out for their refusal of His terms.

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen. ~ Matthew 22:11-14

The expectation of the citizens of the kingdom of God is to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, which is provided by Him. To refuse His providence is to reveal one’s contempt, like that of Cain (Gen. 4).

The King reveals His kingdom in further detail, as we receive glimpses of the splendor of Heaven—the New Jerusalem. Yet, let us be very mindful of what we are told within the descriptions:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death…. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ~ Revelation 21:8, 27

There are many who bulk at such revelation, but this does not reveal any injustice or malignity within God. Rather, this reveals the truthfulness of God’s Word when it reveals humanity’s corrupt and unrighteous nature because of sin. When persons are shut out of the kingdom of God, it is not because of hostility within God. He has long offered peace and reconciliation. No, but the fault lies within people, for:

The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. ~ John 3:19-20

A King and His Kingdom (Part 2)

We have lost much of the concept and truth of kings and kingdoms of old. These were not democracies or republic. A king’s edict was not to be trifled with or trivialized. His commands were not a smorgasbord to choose from. The power of life and death were in their pronouncements. Consider Esther and Nehemiah. Living in different times and places, yet both were understandably afraid of entering the presence of their kings. They knew such an action could be their death sentence.

Jesus is known as King of the Jews. His kingdom is not a democracy or republic. Neither is it run by arrogant aristocrats or corrupt bureaucrats. His is an absolute and eternal monarchy established on righteousness. Paul declares that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).

The common misperception—and misrepresentation, I will add—is the portrayal of Jesus being meek, mild, and timid. Indeed, Jesus is marvelously gentle with those who are repentant and incredibly patient with those being sanctified by His truth and grace; however, all one has to do is read through His teachings and parables to know He is a King not to be dismissed or disregarded.

The psalmist writes,

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” … The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. ~ Psalm 2:1-3, 7-12

Jesus, in one of His parables, commends those whom He finds faithful when He returns. But He continues by saying, 

But if that wicked servant says to himself, “My master is delayed,” and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 24:48-51

Elsewhere, Jesus says the wicked and righteous will be separated like goats and sheep. “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46).

Again, Jesus teaches about the separation of the wicked and righteous, the hypocrites and the true:

The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. ~ Matthew 13:38-43

In Revelation, we are told of events to come:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. ~ Revelation 19:11-16

Notice, in righteousness He judges and makes war. There are many who scorn His judgment, feeling they are unjust. However, King Jesus came into our world with grace and truth  (John 1:14). Displaying His coming in peace He rode a donkey (Matt. 21:5), but when He returns He will be displaying His sovereignty and victory, for He will be riding a white stallion (Rev. 19:11). Although He came in peace, the world mocked, spat on, tortured, and crucified Him. After being raised from the dead, He continues to send His messengers and ambassadors for the sake of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19-21), yet the world still shows itself to be cruel and unworthy.

The King reveals explicitly the reason the world is so hostile towards Him. In John, after explaining that He came into the world not to condemn it but to save all who put their trust in Him, He goes on to explain the condemnation:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. ~ John 3:18-19

Later, He again declares the reason for the world’s hatred toward Him, saying, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).

The King continues to extend His offer of peace and reconciliation to all who repent and believe on Him. Yet, many will scorn His invitation and reveal the wickedness in their hearts through the vile things they say and do. The judgment to come is completely just, because the unrepentant reveal they love darkness rather than light, evil rather than good, and enmity rather than reconciliation.

*The Wonder of His Glorious Majesty

Today, Jesus is the object of ridicule, mockery, and scorn in Hollywood, Washington, the media, our universities, and public squares. Even from many pulpits Jesus’ person and works are trivialized. The time is coming, however, when the snide and blasphemous comments will be silenced, the arrogant and condescending smirks will be wiped off faces, and the confident defiance will turn to dread. Jesus came the first time as a gentle Lamb, setting aside His crown and glory, to be slain for the sins of humanity. He will return as a majestic and conquering Lion.

John writes,

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. ~ Rev. 1:7

And Paul declares confidently,

Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Phil. 2:6-11

While on earth, kings, rulers, and their councils stand together “against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’” (Ps. 2:2-3). The Bible is clear that even the kings and leaders of the earth, militant atheists, Communists, and even Satan and the demons will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is both King of kings and Lord of Lords, to the glory of the Father (see Rev. 17:14: 19:16).

The glorious reign of Christ will not be stained by sin or contaminated by corruption. His rule is one of righteousness. His kingdom is one of holiness, purity, and joy. His leadership is perfectly just. He cannot be bribed or bartered, and He shows no partiality.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ~ Rev. 21:22-27 (emphasis added)

There will not be human trafficking or any form of exploitation of others in Christ’s kingdom. There will not be lying, cheating politicians or violent, drug smuggling gangs. There will not be pornography or any other form of perversion. By the complete transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the citizens of the kingdom will be honorable, pure, and honest. The citizens will have genuine love for one another and heartfelt devotion to the Eternal King.

The world mocks such a kingdom, accusing it as sounding “boring.” The kingdom, however, will reflect in a grander way what humanity and life were intended to be. There will be no diseases or death. There will be no crime or ill intentions. This there will be no cause for sorrow or tears. There will no longer be such feelings of shame, guilt, loneliness, or rejection.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ~ Rev. 21:3-4

The citizens will live in the peace and presence of their God and King. No longer will there be sin to drive a wedge between people and God, people will have no reason to try to hide, and God will have no reason to hide His face. The redeemed ones will have the privilege of walking with God in true fellowship.

There was a time when the church reflected with longing the glory to come and to dwell in the very presence of God. Today, we seem quite content with football, concerts, and the like. We have lost the wonder of the splendor and majesty of the great King. So much of what we call “worship” seems to be less to do with whether God likes it and is truly glorified, and more about our preferences, whether we like what we are singing, and the way these make is feel. But how often do we come with a hushed reverence, recognizing we are in the presence of Cosmic Royalty? How often do we ever see the great King by faith, and are completely aware that our opinions, preferences, and feelings are inconsequential? Do we ever come to the point of understanding that the only thing that matters is if the King is pleased, honored, and magnified? Are we willing to be uncomfortable, to let our feelings be hurt by conviction, and to yield ourselves completely to the service of His Majesty?

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” ~ 2 Chron. 7:1-3

It is important to understand that Jesus’ kingship is not a democracy or a republic. Rather, His is a monarchy. Furthermore, He is King today. He is not waiting to reign. The question is, do we recognize Him to be the rightful King over our lives today? Are we yielded to His kingship?

Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). Likewise, when the King returns, will He find those who profess to be His serving Him faithfully? How could He if His people are no longer filled with wonder concerning His glorious majesty? O that the Holy Spirit would help us to recapture the wonder of the majesty and grandeur of Jesus Christ. O that our hearts would cry out, “Long live the King!” And O that we would yearn for that day when every knee will bow and confess that Jesus, indeed, is Lord! Amen.

* From, Recapturing the Wonder of God, by Geno Pyse, (c) 2021.