Present or Future?

www.bible.com/1713/isa.12.2.csb

What’s next for you? Have you made it yet? Are you coasting to the finish line? Is it all downhill from here? I hope I never find myself there.

In my field, it’s not unusual to go from college to grad school, and not rare to go from grad school to doctoral work. But even to have those initials after your name, it’s still not enough, because you find yourself still yearning to learn. There is a constant need to build upon what you’ve learned, and after each hill you’ve surmounted, there’s still a higher one just beyond. The more you learn, the more you find you don’t know yet.

So while this text on the surface sounds very much like an encouragement to serve God and experience His power in your life, reading a bit before this verse in chapter 11 and then in verse 1 indicates that these are promises to Israel once she has returned to the land and conquered all her enemies and becomes the seat of God’s power on earth. All will look to Zion to find God. Hence the premise of the title. Is this a reference to present reality, or to something in the future? Because in Christ, all that this verse says is already fulfilled. The Lord is our salvation. He is our judge, but also our salvation from judgment. He did this when He took our penalty for sin on the cross.

So do we look to Zion because of a future King enthroned there, or because if a crucified Lord that was risen there? Because I enjoy the benefit of His salvation on account of His resurrection, and that all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Him. Jesus is the King we have been looking for, not sometime in the future, but now.

Are you waiting for Jesus to be King someday, or celebrating His Kingdom every day? Present or future?

God bless!

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A Royal Flush

Some believe that the kings of a playing card deck represent David, Alexander, Caesar, and Charlemagne. What people decide to use those cards for, well, you’ve probably seen poker being played, if you haven’t played it yourself. Basically the game is played on the basis of probability. Once the hand is dealt, each player jockeys to get the best cards in his hand, and then bets each other player that his hand is the best. The player with the best hand wins all the money in the pot.

As we move into this final group of kings, we leave the kings of Israel behind. Israel was conquered by Assyria in 722 BC and the ten tribes become the Dispersion, the lost Israelites. It is God’s judgment meted out to a nation that refused to obey Him and worshipped idols. Though they had decent kings, and greatness in King Jereboam II, they bet everything on the wrong god.

The kingdom of Judah to the south now plays the next hand. Up to now, they had done an adequate job of keeping the Temple and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as their object of worship. But nearly every king neglected the “high places”, private places of worship of its citizens. The Kings allowed individuals to worship as they chose, rather than enforce the worship of the One True God. Even though God had specific rules about worship, sacrifice, and sin, yet the people of Judah wanted to do things their own way, and this became the weakness of Judah.

Thankfully, this period of Kings highlights some very good kings, like Hezekiah and Josiah, who sought to serve the Lord with all their hearts. But there are also kings like Manasseh, and Uzziah, who are notorious for their evil.

The Kings of Judah are much like poker players. They bet their armies, treasure, and allegiance on different gods. Only those that bet on God, and give everything to Him come out winners.

There is a lesson here for all of us. All of us are given time, talents, and especially the Holy Spirit as gifts from God. They lay before us to use as we choose. When we use them for ourselves, we risk them on the whims of chance. But when we risk them on God’s purposes, we always win. If we learn anything from the Kings, is that those that bet on God come out winners. And the winnings God promises are truly out of this world.

Desiring a King

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Having a king was not God’s ideal for Israel. When God described rules about having a king in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, it would be 400 years before the Israelites actually asked for one. There had been a king, Abimelech, the illegitimate son of Gideon (also known as Jerubbaal) but his reign was short and only over the Shechemites (Judges 9). Not until King Saul was there a king over all Israel. The nation of Israel wanted a king like all the nations around them, but God had different plans.

From Genesis God had planned that Judah would hold the scepter (Gen 49:10), and as we move through the troubled reign of Saul, we rest the crown on the head of David and his descendants. Saul’s descendants would have received a crown, but Saul was a man who used religion, rather than believed it himself. He became the cause of his own disappointment. David and his sons would carry the weight of the crown in succession. But God’s vision is farther than that, for He looks forward to His own Son, who would be called the “Son of David” and fulfill His promise to David, that he would always have a descendant on the throne of Israel (2 Samuel 7:12-13). It is Jesus, crowned with glory and honor (Heb 2:9) who has received all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18) and is seated at God’s right hand (Eph 1:20) at the throne of Heaven.

There’s always been an undercurrent in our culture of kings and queens (consider the fast food royalty of Burger King and Dairy Queen). Though we haven’t had an official king since 1776, there are still those who have assumed such power, like Al Capone, John Dillinger, Bernie Madoff, and Richard Nixon to name a few. But these are examples that illustrate the oft-quoted proverb, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Though not a biblical proverb, the Bible does tell us such power in a single individual is disastrous. For every King David, there is a King Ahab. For every good King Hezekiah, there is a wicked King Manasseh. This is why when the founding fathers formed a new government for America, they borrowed from Isaiah 33:22, “For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us.” They saw in this that ideal government ought to have three separate but equally powerful branches of government, that no one man would have all the power to himself. So far, this experiment has worked. It has worked so well because those founding fathers realized the errors of the ages. The true King of any land is the Lord Jesus Christ. All of us are stewards of the land and the reigns of government. We are a nation “under God”.

What began as a sinful desire of Israelite Elders God turned to His good ends, that Jesus Christ would one day be declared King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16). Is there room in your heart for The King?