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The Kingdom

Posted by Van Barnhill on

The spiritual definition of the word kingdom is “the domain over which the spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ extends, whether in heaven or on earth.” Mainly, the domain over which God is sovereign. And because the Bible says, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) that means everything. God is the sovereign ruler of everything – all of creation. Therefore, the most significant thing about a Kingdom is who the King is. It defines the Kingdom. Everything (should) center, focus, revolve and be for and about the King. The health and status of the Kingdom is the King’s responsibility. The King may delegate through orders and commands who is in charge and responsible for certain areas of the Kingdom but at the end of the day, how those appointed officials perform falls solely on the King’s shoulders. That is why the expression ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown’ exists.

Consider the Kingdom of God. We, from the beginning, have attempted to resist the authority of God. Allured by sin, we have believed the lie that somehow we are better suited and equipped to be “Lord” of our own life, and as a result deemed God as unnecessary. We want to live (and rule) as we see fit and not have to live with the consequences of adhering to the law of God. So we allow ourselves to be seduced and enslaved by sin so that now our status in the Kingdom of God is that of rebel and enemy. Our disbelief in God’s sovereignty and our desire for us to call the shots has no bearing on the sovereignty of God. Whether we declare Him Lord or not, God reigns. He does not change based off of our whims, desires, and beliefs (or lack of). He is who He says He is despite what any of us may want to believe. He is King. Whether we want it or not. So, as rebels, and enemies of God, what is to be done? We have earned a bounty on our lives for our crimes. We are in debt and the penalty must be paid. Do we run? Hide? Where to? We cannot run or hide or flee from His Kingdom because, remember, everything is His. He created creation. It is all under His domain. We are without excuse. 

So how does the King respond? Treason is worthy of death and it is what we deserve. Blood must be shed. Are we to be thrown in the dungeon to rot while we await sentencing and execution? 

No. The King offers someone in our stead to act as our scapegoat. To be our sacrifice. Someone to absorb the punishment and wrath of the King. 

A reasonable question to ask here would be, if the King is willing to dismiss our crimes by pardoning someone else, why couldn’t He just forgive us and forget any rebellion ever happened? Mainly, because we would rebel again. Our every reflex and breath is marred by sin. Left to ourselves we want nothing more than to live according to our desires. But more importantly, because the King is just. There is a debt that requires payment and for the King to simply forget it would be to ignore what is owed. Mercy minus justice equals injustice. And the King is just.  But by providing someone to atone for our sins, the King shows both justice and mercy. He provides grace.

So who is it the King sends to take our place? Someone of little to no value to the Kingdom? Another criminal to be offered up as a sacrifice? No, it is not just anyone, but someone. A very particular someone. His Son. His only Son. To pay our penalty, to be punished for our rebellion, to absorb His Father’s wrath.  By the sacrifice of His Son, the King forgives us. Not only for our past crimes but our present offensives and our future rebellions as well.  His Son died, once for all.

And what is to become of us? Once rebels, now given pardon? Are we to live out our existence quietly in exile in the Kingdom we were once enemy to? No. Instead, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the very King we once offended. We are made heirs.  Co-heirs with the Prince of Peace who died so we might live.

What should be our response? How are we now to honor this King who brought us from death to life? The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, asks “What is the chief end of man?” The response is simple but revolutionary to how we spend our days: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Seeking the Lord is (or should be) our primary focus, aim, and pursuit. 

Praying to that end,

Van

 

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