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In this article, we are going to look at two kingdoms: The kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. God’s kingdom is ruled by Himself and His laws, whether they be physical or moral. His kingdom has always existed and always will. However, rulers throughout the history of the world have not believed this and still do not. They believe and, with a few exceptions, have always believed they are the ones in charge over their, relatively speaking, pitiful domains. They are not. In fact, God created them.

“All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” (Psalm 86:9).1

Nevertheless, despite their arrogant error, Jesus has reigned over all the kingdoms of men from the beginning of time. The concept of kingship is His.

“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:27–28).

The kingdom of God, which includes the earth and the universe, is ruled by His laws, which are good, perfect, and just. They are manifestations of God’s character, holiness, and power. These laws are eternal. Nothing can be done by men to cause them to cease. Human governments cannot pass laws that will “cancel” them or overrule them. Can you imagine lawmakers attempting this? It would invoke this response of laughter from the Lord:

“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.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:1–4).

The laws of many nations may agree with three of God’s Ten Commandments, regarding murder, theft, and bearing false witness against another, all of which concern loving people, but our feebly constructed man-made laws are imperfect and destined to fail and fall.

And fall they shall.

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever’” (Revelation 11:15).

So, Christians yearn, as strange as it may seem, for their own nations to cease to exist when they pray in the Lord’s Prayer. “Your kingdom come”(Luke 11:2b). We long for Jesus to return and for God’s kingdom to come. We are not alone.

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:19–23).

While Christians pray for God’s kingdom to come, all of creation agrees and says amen.

If you are an unbeliever reading this, I urge you to bow your knee to Jesus, your Savior and Creator, and come out of spiritual darkness into the light of God’s grace and mercy. This king of all kings loves you and will love you forever.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

Before I begin this week’s post, I want to express my gratitude for the men and women who have willingly given their lives in service to the United States. My concern with the future of this country and my place as a Christian within it have nothing whatsoever to do with the high regard in which I hold these soldiers. I honor them.

In the movie Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddle spoke at a church in Paris on the Sunday he was scheduled to run the one hundred meters in the Paris Olympics. He had declined to run because he thought he would be dishonoring and disobeying God. (He later won the 400 meters, which was not his strong race, set a world record, and won the gold.) He taught out of Isaiah 40 that Sunday. Here is one of the verses Eric read: “All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17). 1 He addressed this passage because the British leaders of the Olympic team declined to be an advocate for him and ask the French to change the time of the race. They didn’t want to go “hat in hand to the Frogs.” Eric’s point was that, although his own country declined to help him because of their national pride, his country, along with all others, was meaningless.

This is the question that rang through my head this week: What does it mean to be less than nothing? Nothing is the absence of anything. But less than nothing? What does that mean?

We will be helped in our understanding by considering how the Lord God Almighty wants us to view Him in comparison to nations. In the verses that follow the one Eric quoted, the Lord informs us of His greatness in comparison to earthly rulers:

“Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness” (Isaiah 40:21–23).

Unlike the nations we create and their rulers, The Lord is not less than nothing and empty. He created all things that exist.

Less than nothing and emptiness can’t seem to manage that.   

To millions of Americans, including Christians, the thriving and survival of the United States and the freedoms it provides is the optimum goal. It is the reason for our security and safety. It is the reason for our prosperity. It is the reason for our happiness.

It is true that the Lord, according to His will, sustained and exalted this nation. However, God did not create the United States. Men did. Therefore, it should not be the highest hope of the American people. Jesus alone, our Creator and Savior, is our supreme hope and security.

The Bible says that United States is less than nothing. Its rulers are emptiness.

Of no consequence whatsoever.

If this biblical truth explodes our American belief that this country is the best in all the world and should survive and thrive no matter the cost, that notion should be exploded. We must be careful that we don’t make America an idol. We love God, and we love our country, but we can’t serve two masters. We have tried to walk the tightrope between the two. Our ability to continue that balancing act may be ending. The time may be near when we will have to choose between loving one and hating the other.

However, regardless of what our earthly future holds, our loving Creator will provide for us an eternal dwelling place. Like Abraham, we look “forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Like all the saints who have gone before, we “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16a).

There is no “less than nothing” here at all. No, it is a country that will exist eternally in righteousness and peace. We will not have an “empty” leader. We have a gracious King who will reign forever and ever.

That’s the better country I desire.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

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Sick to death of politics? Concerned about it? Even fearful?

God gets that. It’s not that He’s sick and tired of them or concerned. Of course not. But happy with the situation? Not at all. He never has been. But let’s look at biblical reality. He uses nations to perform His will. He is the great driver of human history, not kings or countries. For example, He chose pagan Babylon to punish His people, to destroy the temple as well as Jerusalem. He used pagan Rome to do the same. Finally, He will use nations to accomplish His will at the end of days:

“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army” (Revelation 19:19).1

Jesus will be, after all, king of all those gathered kings.

And He is king of all rulers and leaders, now, right at this moment.

One of the rivers running through Scripture is the kingdom of man in opposition to the sovereign kingdom of God. The biblical view of secular kingdoms is rarely positive. No secular government on earth exists today or ever has existed that was fatally not flawed from the beginning; and, yes, including the United States. Are the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights the best documents devised by mankind for principles and laws with which to govern people—a democratic republic? I believe so. None devised is better. But look where we are now. The United States has turned its back on God and found a way to allow godlessness to be the accepted law of the land. It is legal to murder children. It is settled law that homosexuality is acceptable. I understand the arguments for these things, and they are centered in the rights of the individual. Thus, we see that the rights of the individual, which at its genesis seemed so right and good, has now joined hands with the works of sin. We have seen and are seeing the devolovement of the idea of human rights in the U.S. today. Sad, but true.

This has surprised Christians, but it shouldn’t. The United States is one the kingdoms of the world. It will never work its way toward godliness in its own strength, by passing laws. The future of Christian freedom in the United States is uncertain. But no matter: One day, this nation will no longer exist. Neither will any other government, no matter how good and godly they consider themselves. Why? Because God has ordained it. He has given the nations over to the evil effects of power, money, status, and influence. The greed of man. The sinfulness of man.

All the men and women of Scripture had to deal with such earthly systems, including and especially Jesus Himself. We see this vividly in His life. However, it was not a nation’s authoritarian power—Rome—that was His primary adversary. That role was fulfilled by another form of power, money, influence, and status: religion—in this case Judaism. Those religious leaders so lusted after and demanded power that they would not brook the existence of any rival even though that rival was God Himself. Jesus, of course, was not intimidated nor did He back down from that power. Jesus was not a revolutionary in the political sense, though some think Him so. True, He spoke “truth to power.” However, He spoke no truth except God’s truth—the only “true” truth. This speaking and accompanying actions infuriated the keepers of the keys to power, the scribes, lawyers, and Pharisees. If we consider their actions we will see how far men will go to retain their grasp on power. Yes, they will murder people they consider a threat.

Even God Incarnate.

Speaking the truth of God often makes people angry and desirous to stifle it. But we must speak it. Let us not be fearful as our nations descend. “For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread’” (Isaiah 8:11–13).

Do not fear what they fear, the Lord said, but fear Me. A kingdom is coming the ruler of which is the perfectly strong, perfectly wise, perfectly just, merciful God, one who cannot die, whose kingdom and the believers within it are eternal. Think about that for a moment. If you are a believer in Jesus, you are an eternal member of an eternal government. But the transitory nations of men?

“All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17).

Sick to death of politics? Concerned? Fearful? Lord, help us hold to the view that embraces the hope of eternity; to a time when the governments and things of man are accounted as less than nothing and emptiness.

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy giphy.com

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Tomorrow morning, all United States citizens will wake up with a new president. Well, probably, unless there is a recount or ballot-checking or…who knows?

Yes, it’s been that kind of election season.

Some Republicans believe the fate of the United States hinges on the outcome of this election.

Some Democrats think the same.

Neither are correct. Read the rest of this entry »

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Last week, I listened to a great message from Matt Chandler on the fourth chapter of Exodus. I’m going to draw from that message in this post and hopefully enlarge upon it somewhat. The points I will make here are not those Pastor Matt made. His primary emphasis was Moses’ obedience in faith that caused God’s power to be revealed, and he challenged his church to follow Moses’ example.

It is a wonderful teaching.

The Exodus 4 passage details the exchange between the Lord and Moses in the wilderness. Much can be taught here, but we’re going to focus on acts the Lord instructed Moses to do which were to prove to him, Israel, the Pharaoh, and Egypt that He, God, was sending Moses to bring His people out of Egypt.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I grew up as a kid watching WWII movies, stories of heroism. The Great Escape. The Dirty Dozen. And when I watch films today where the U.S. military is involved, such as Captain Phillips, I am moved, often to tears. Perhaps having lived abroad as a missionary has made me very aware of the relief I would experience if I needed rescue as a foreigner in a distant land. It is difficult to experience the feeling of home I felt as I walked into U.S. embassies in other countries. It sounds weird, I suppose, because I wasn’t really home. I still resided in a foreign nation. Nevertheless, that is how I felt. I also came to understand the comforting nature of the “golden passport”—the support, the justice, and accompanying power that stands behind that document. Therefore, I am extremely grateful to be an American citizen.

As much as I am thankful for that security, I must not compromise myself as a Christian in order to maintain that wonderful sense of safety that I enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m taking another break from the series, The God Who Is Low and Humble in Heart, to look at this article from the Motley Fool. The text is included below, and here is the link: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/01/29/50-reasons-were-living-through-the-greatest-period.aspx

Before the article, however, a hopefully brief introduction.

Except for my time abroad as a missionary, I have lived most of my life in the United States. I grew up here. I went to school and worked here. I consider myself a patriot, one who loves the freedoms that we enjoy and the benefits of living in this nation. However, I have grave concerns about the degradation of our culture.

Read the rest of this entry »

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After the failure to put Mitt Romney in the White House in the election of 2012, conservatives were seeking answers. The defeat of their candidate caused conservatives to come to this shocking truth: In a democracy, the majority rules, and the majority of people in this nation voted for a man that many thought was a socialist who was actually trying to bring down this nation, a man who promotes gay rights and abortion. It seemed to be a surprise that this was the man the culture wanted, but if this was the man the culture wanted, the answer is to change the culture, they say.

Change the culture, huh? Good luck with that. But I don’t believe in luck. It’s a superstition, like keeping your fingers crossed, hoping that gesture will somehow change the outcome of something. God is sovereign, not luck.

Read the rest of this entry »

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My software engineer friend and I got together for our weekly coffee meeting on this 28th day in June, 2012, and lamented over the state of our country, the United States of America. It was the survival of the president’s health care law that spun us off in that direction, but it was—and is—more than that.

What baffles me, regardless of one’s political persuasion, is how those in power continue to think that we can spend more than we take in. Adding a mind-boggling expense/tax at this time in our economic state just defies imagination. I just don’t get it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I was reading the other day and came across this passage of Scripture, spoken by the prophet Joel, hundreds—actually over two thousand—years ago:

“I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land.”

This is a prophecy about the last days, when the Lord will bring nations to a place called the Valley of Jehoshaphat, to fight what is called the Battle of Armageddon. Joel is saying that what will happen there will be the result of what the nations have done to His people, “my heritage Israel.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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