Monday, November 25, 2013

The True King Reigns

It is difficult to overstate how enormously relevant to our day 1 Samuel is. It is particularly a good word for conservative Christians, mainstream evangelicals, and even those harbingers of doom, the pre-trib rapture types, supposing there are a few left in the world.
         1 Samuel gives us a good look at hope gone bad. Israel is in rough shape. Eli is a bungling priest. His sons are scoundrels but God provides a way out, Samuel, the prophet, the one who faithfully speaks God’s words and the one of whom God will not allow a word of his to fall to the ground.
         Messy Israel has hope again and their hope turns toward a full kingdom, free from the tyranny of enemies. They ask for a king in a sinful way but God gives them a man with a great deal of promise, Saul, the baggage hider. And for a short time, it looked as if Saul would unify the kingdom and despoil the enemies. But he acts like Eli, foolishly unwilling to restrain himself from growing fat with glory and God tears the kingdom from Saul. Israel is again lost.
         Samuel, himself, is distraught. He had high hopes for Saul and they are dashed. But God is not so easily deterred. When God makes a promise, He will provide a way to fulfill it. And God expects us to start figuring this out. On many occasions, the Lord has called His people up short for failing to remember God’s promises or for losing sight of hope in God in the midst of trial. First, we must remember and not forget what God has said. Second, when things look dim or even grim, we must renew our allegiance to God who controls all things. Indeed, we must look to Him as the One who does control all things.
         We live in a day in which many Christians are beginning to despair. It seemed to me that the fervor of the pre-trib rapture folks was starting to wane. It is difficult to keep saying that Jesus will return any day, certainly in the next ten or twenty years, if you have been saying that for one hundred years. At some point, people grow weary with the expectation of doom and turn to building rather than waiting.
         But to some degree, the hope of evangelicals is once again showing. In the advent of Obamessiah, Christians have become gloomier. This reveals where our hope is located. Is it in our government's ability to provide for us? Is it in our ability to be free from the government? Is our hope to be derived on whether or not the President, Congress and the Judiciary are godly? If so, then of course, we have reason to be gloomy. Our leaders are turning from the blessing of Christ at an astonishing rate. They have turned their backs from hearing the Word of God and our nation is receiving consequences as a result. So, what do we do? Turn to those same politicians to save us? Obama won’t, though he may try with all his heart. The republicans won’t, though they might stand against their foes for one hour. Wall Street won’t save us because they are too busy saving themselves. The National Education Association won’t save us because they are too busy appropriating budget money.
         Are these reasons for gloom? Failed hope? Mourning?
         I do not deny that I get exasperated with our current leaders. What we use to call liberals are now thought to be conservatives. There are few politicians who really hear the Word of the Lord and respond to God faithfully. I long for the day when God raises such men. But I do not think that will happen until we look to God for our salvation. When we will finish our mourning over the Clinton years, or the Bush years, or the current failure, the Obama years? Perhaps we needed just such men at just such a time to wake us up from our own pitiful lamentations.
         The Lord has provided a man for Himself who will do all His holy will. That man is the Lord Jesus Christ. We forget, just as Israel forgot, that God was King of Israel. The Lord Jesus has been enthroned on high and is ruling not only the United States but all Heaven and Earth. Did we forget? Did we think that Denethor was really king? Not so, the true king is revealed in Jesus and He is accomplishing what He would.
Now, we make the mistake if we think that Jesus reigns over the United States, as such. Jesus rules the entire Earth and He does so through the power of the gospel and the institution of the Church. Nations are legitimate institutions but they must all submit to the One True King. They might be like rogue districts that refuse to utterly submit to the Empire. Just because the King has not shown up and dealt with the rebels does not mean that He won’t or that He is slow about dealing with them. He will. At just the right time. But it does mean that as the All Powerful, All Wise King, He knows just the right time to show up. He knows if that rogue district needs humbled, needs chastised, needs to receive the consequences of their behavior.  Citizens in such a district would be wise to submit themselves to the True King’s Authority, rather than being scared into submitting to the rebellious ones. The King will deal gently with those who humbly submit themselves to Him.

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