Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Praying for the Kingdom of God

Mat 6:10  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Rev 4:8  And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"
Rev 4:9  And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
Rev 4:10  the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Rev 4:11  "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

As I was preaching through Revelation 4 Sunday Matthew 6:10 popped into my mind.  John sees in his vision, among other things, Cherubim standing by the throne of God.  Ezekiel sees them in his vision of the throne of God back in Ezekiel chapter 1.  In both cases the prayer that the Lord taught us to pray comes to mind. 

In Ezekiel these living creatures appear to be inside of wheels that turned in every direction.  When the Spirit of the Lord gave a command they flashed away like streaks of lightning without turning.  I take this to mean that their obedience was instantaneous so much so that they didn’t even have to turn around; they just went.

What we find them doing in Revelation is constantly proclaiming the holiness of God along with his eternality and omnipotence in their praise in verse 8.  It appears that every so often at some prearranged signal the elders (who I take to be angels as well) join them in verse 11 and proclaim that the Lord God deserves all praise and honor and power because of his right as the creator of all things.

In Matthew 6 Jesus tells his disciples that the first things they should pray for is the proper respect for the Father’s name and that his will would be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  From Ezekiel and Revelation it would seem that God’s will is being done instantaneously and everything that is being said and done ends up in worship and honor of the Lord. 

To see this as merely praying that the Lord would come back and set up his kingdom on earth I think pretty much misses the mark.  First of all, his kingdom has already been established on earth but I will not take time to develop that thought.  I see his kingdom being established on earth as it is in Heaven in a two-fold way.
First of all in an evangelistic sense.  The world of the lost is not obeying or honoring God at all.  And so one way we see the kingdom advancing is when souls are brought into the kingdom by the preaching of the gospel and all of the sudden where you had rebellion you now have obedience to the will of God.  And so we are to pray that the Lord would use the gospel to convert sinners, subdue their hearts and bring peace and holiness to their lives where before there was conflict and unrighteousness.

But an even more practical way to ask for this kingdom on earth is to ask God to work in our hearts so that our obedience and worship looks more like what John sees in Revelation and less like what we see in the world.  I think the thing that hit me while I was preaching was how unlike the throne room my life really looks.  I do not see the constant worship of God in my heart as I ought; too many times my prayers do not have the glory of God as their focus; too often I make my normal decisions during the day based on what pleases me in the immediate and I don’t stop and consider what would bring the most glory to the Lord nearly as much as I should; too often my obedience is not immediate but only after I make some initial unfortunate remark or display some ungodly attitude. Then I remember that it is not I that am to be served but the Lord and then I obey but not nearly as soon as I should have. 

So while I want the Lord to come back and set up the consummated kingdom soon, I have much more pressing things to pray for.  I need to be burdened for the salvation of the lost so that more and more sinners are saved from Hell’s fires and are transformed into Christ’s image.  But really my first prayer needs to be that my life, my heart, my mind becomes more and more a place that looks like the very throne room of God in Heaven.

2 comments:

  1. Nathan, I appreciate and can relate to what you shared in your walk with God. I am often reminded of the following words of a hymn which describes some of my own short comings:
    “Ode to grace, how great a debtor
    Daily I'm constrained to be
    And let Thy goodness like a fetter
    Bind my wandering heart to Thee
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
    Prone to leave the God I love
    Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it
    Seal it for Thy courts above”
    Paul was enabled to write” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” As I write this, I would not dare to say anything similar but I hope to one day. May God grant us all to one day to be able to say that and mean it.

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