Friday, December 17, 2010

Christ's Kingdom

In the first couple of chapters in 1 Kings we read of the establishment of Solomon as the King of Israel.  His immediate concern is his older brother Adonijah who wants to be king. Having secured himself on the throne, he goes about and puts to death not only Adonijah but all those who supported him and installs into positions and rewards those loyal to himself.  1 Kings relates this in an interesting way that parallels the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

After the immediate threat to the throne is put down we read in 2:12 that "His kingdom was firmly established".  Then we read of him weeding out those who were loyal to Adonijah and after they were all disposed of it says in 2:46, "So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon". There was a sense in which Solomon was a reigning king with a kingdom but this kingdom had a lot of work to be done before it was what it was intended to be.

As we come to the New Testament this already, not yet aspect of Christ's kingdom is seen throughout.  In Acts 2 Peter teaches that when Christ ascended on high it fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy of him being established on the throne of David.  Act 2:30  Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, Act 2:31  he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. Act 2:32  This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Act 2:33  Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. Act 2:34  For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, Act 2:35  until I make your enemies your footstool.  Notice the word "until" in vs. 35.  He reigns but the kingdom is not in the final form.

Perhaps 1 Cor. 15 is one of the clearest texts where it says he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet.  Christ is calling out his people and they are reigning with him.  He is also judging rebels in various ways both in this life and when they die.  But on the last day he will take all rebellion and cast it into the Lake of Fire.  And then  1 Cor. 15 says he will hand that perfected kingdom over to the Father.  So 1 Kings 1-2 seems to be a shadow of the Greater Kingdom that was started when Christ came to earth and did his work of redemption.

But let me add a practical application.  If we are children of the kingdom and the essence of the kingdom is within us as Christ has said, then can we expect any less of a work of putting down rebellion as he is doing everywhere else?  In other words, we can expect that the Holy Spirit is mortifying our sinful passions and establishing his loves and desires in us.  Mortification is always painful; our rebellion doesn't die easily and suffering and trials are the general and most effective means the Holy Spirit uses to establish Christ's reign in our hearts.  So let's be aware of how the kingdom works and be ready to submit to his work.  And let's remember that he works in us as we help in the work.  We are told to put off the old self with its sinful passions and ways of thinking and to mortify this flesh.  We are to control it for the glory of Christ.

Living in the kingdom is bringing all things under subjection unto Christ.  That which first defines Christians is that their primary desire and the general direction of their life is to do all for the glory of God.  If this doesn't describe you, then the question remains are you a servant of the king or a rebel running loose for now but headed for destruction.

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