Thursday, December 29, 2011

Displacing Kings

The coming of Jesus the Messiah into the world does not just add another king into the mix. No, He is the King, whose kingdom displaces all other kingdoms.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)
King of the Jews? Herod was under the impression that the Jews already had a king — him! He had worked hard to win that appointment from Rome, and he had already killed two of his own sons to protect it. Now come these foreigners looking for a king who was not him. He was not happy about that.

The Jews had been looking for the king God promised David centuries earlier, the king who would rule over Israel and subdue all her enemies, the king who would reveal the rule and reign of God in all the earth. Not a king, the King. With each successor to the throne of David, the Jews hoped that this would be the one. But they were always soon disappointed.

Now they had Herod, an Idumean whose family had been converted to Judaism, and who was selected by the Roman senate to be “King of the Jews.” His rule, which began about 40 BC, lasted for about 36 years, until his death in 4 BC, not long after Jesus was born. Though he built many cities and reconstructed the Temple in Jerusalem, he was not well-liked among the Jews. The Sanhedrin condemned his brutal ways, the Sadducees did not care for the way he ruled, the Pharisees hated the way he lived, and the Zealots wanted to kill him. Not to mention the public that was heavily taxed to support all his building projects.

So Herod was very paranoid. But the wise men, being out-of-towners, asked where they might find the King of the Jews. Not Herod, of course, but the newborn King, the one promised long ago, whose coming would put Herod out of his place. Faux pas?

Herod obliged them. Not because he was a nice guy but because he wanted to find this King himself and put an end to him. So he asked the chief priests and scribes where Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said. Herod told the wise men and sent them on with instruction to return when they found the Child, so he could worship Him also. Liar!

As the wise men approached Bethlehem, they saw the star again, the one that had alerted them to the birth of the Messiah King, and they rejoiced. After honoring the newborn King, they were wise to Herod’s deceit, being warned in a dream not to return to him, and they went back by another way to their own land.

The coming of King Jesus the Messiah into the world displaced Herod as King of the Jews, but that is not all, for He comes as King over all the nations of the earth. He displaces every king. The prophet Zechariah spoke of what the coming of Messiah would mean, not just for Israel and the Jews, but for the whole world.
And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be — “The LORD is one, and His name one.” (Zechariah 14:9)
The announcement of the gospel is the good news that the King has come into the world, and with Him, the kingdom — the rule and reign of God over all the earth. That is how the apostle Paul understood it.
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name. (Romans 1:1-5)
The faith to which all nations are called to be obedient is the truth that Jesus the Messiah, born to the throne of David and declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead, is Lord. This term, “Lord,” is not just some religious expression, as it so often seems to be reduced to today. Jesus is not Lord merely over “spiritual” matters (as if spiritual could be separated out of every other aspect of life and the world), He is Lord over everything in heaven and earth — which is to say, He is King over all! Before He ascended to heaven, to His throne at the right hand of the Father, He announced to the disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus is King and the nations must reckon with that. Paul said, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus [Jesus is Lord] and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). That is the central confession of the apostolic Christian faith.

Paul was playing with dynamite, preaching a message that was both powerful and subversive. Throughout the Roman Empire in those days the only acceptable confession was “Caesar is Lord.” It was the time of the Imperial cult, when emperors were worshiped as gods and each new Caesar was thought to be the son of God, honored as savior and king of the world. But Paul’s declaration of the gospel repudiated this. Caesar is Lord? NO! Jesus is Lord and God and King over all the earth.

Jesus is far greater than every king, every president, every head of state — all put together! They will all eventually bow their knees before Him and agree that He is Lord and God and King over them all.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
The King has come, and is coming again. His kingdom displaces every other kingdom and His rule shall never end.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

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