Monday, September 22, 2014

"A glimpse of God's kingdom ..."

Day #269:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - September 23rd

Scripture Reading:  II Chronicles 6 - 10 … 

The purpose of ALL that God is doing and has done and will do is for the establishment of His kingdom, of His reign on the earth.  Some people ask, "Where is all of this heading?"  All of "this," meaning national and world events, is heading towards Isaiah 2:2-4:  "In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.  Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.' The law will go out from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."

Jesus Christ, the LORD's anointed, will reign in Jerusalem over all the nations of the earth.  "The LORD will be King over the whole earth.  On that day there will be one LORD, and His Name the only name. ... Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:9,16).  This will all take place after Jesus raptures His Church, after God pours out His wrath on the rest of mankind, after Jesus returns with His heavenly army and the Antichrist and the False Prophet are defeated, along with all the nations that are gathered against Jerusalem, and then Jesus establishes His reign in Jerusalem.  For a thousand years the kingdom of God will exist on the earth ... followed by the final judgment and the new heavens and the new earth, where God will live with His people throughout all eternity, forever and ever.

THAT's where all of "this" is heading ... but in the reign of Solomon God gives us a glimpse of His kingdom.  The building of the temple is completed and the Ark of the Covenant has been placed in the Most Holy Place.  And the presence of God descends like a cloud into the temple so that the priests could not perform their service because "the glory of the LORD filled the temple" (5:14).  Solomon knew God's promises ... that he had promised to establish David's descendants on the throne of Judah (6:4) and to place His Name on Jerusalem and Israel.  So now he testifies, "The LORD has kept the promise He made" (6:10).  Joshua, who had led the people of Israel into the promised land, had also testified to God's faithfulness when shortly before his death he gathered the people together and said, "You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed.  Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed" (Joshua 23:14).

You and I can testify to that same thing today, for through Jesus Christ, the descendant of David, God has kept every promise He has made regarding our salvation.  "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ.  And so through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God.  Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come" (II Corinthians 1:20).  And what is to come?  Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."  So it shall happen!!

As Solomon prayed, he pointed to God's covenant:  "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth - You who keep Your covenant of love with Your servants who continue wholeheartedly in Your way ..." (6:14).  Solomon knew that the people of Israel would be unfaithful and would not always obey God, so he prayed that God would hear and forgive when His people sinned, but then repented and cried out to Him.  Unlike many then and now, Solomon knew that God's relationship with His people was a gracious one, based not on what the people had done, but on God's sovereign choice.  He did not imagine that God could be "contained" in the temple he had built.  But in his words and in his questions, he pointed to the future.

"Will God really dwell on earth with men?  The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain You.  How much less this temple I have built" (6:18).  Yet here, among the nations, was a brief testimony to the wisdom and power of Israel's God, and of His anointed king.  God had established these people to reveal HIS wisdom and power through them.  For a brief time it was seen clearly in the reigns of David and his son, Solomon.  When the queen of Sheba came to see what she had only heard about, she heard Solomon's wisdom and saw his riches and proclaimed, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true ... indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard" (9:5-6).  Then she said, "How happy your men must be!  How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!" (9:7).  If that was true of Solomon, how much more so of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God?!!!

When He was but twelve years old, having taken upon Him a human nature like ours, except without sin ... Jesus was found in the temple TEACHING the religious leaders and the teachers of the law.  Imagine living with Jesus every day in the glory of heaven, and then in the new heaven and the new earth.  God's wisdom so far exceeds that of Solomon that there is no comparison, and we shall behold HIM and live with Him, forever, to praise and glorify HIM!!!  His kingdom will be established and unlike that of David and Solomon, of Israel and Judah, it shall NEVER END!!!  As you read the historical account of Solomon's kingdom, remember that it is only a glimpse of God's eternal kingdom.  "King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.  All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart" (9:22-23).  How much more when Jesus reigns over ALL the earth!

But Solomon's kingdom would soon be torn apart, as God had predicted.  Though God had answered Solomon's prayer and had given him wisdom and made him great, yet Solomon married many foreign women and they turned his heart away from his devotion to the LORD and he built altars for their foreign gods.  It is impossible for us to understand how Solomon, of all people, could do such a thing.  But the sinful heart is always vulnerable to temptation and only by God's grace do you and I stand firm.  Were it not for God's Spirit in us, following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, we would do the same ... and even now there are times when we turn aside to the things of the world, having a divided heart.  How desperately we need the love and forgiveness of our Father in heaven.  As the temple of His Spirit, how thankful we must be that He hears our prayers and forgives our sins, for the sake of Jesus and through His sacrifice on the cross.

Rehoboam, Solomon's son, would display the foolish judgment of youth and the nation of Israel would soon be divided ... until ... until God's promise to bring them back together again under another King ... a King who would never turn away from devotion to His Father ... One who would be the King of kings and the Lord of lords ... JESUS, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ.  Here is a glimpse of God's kingdom, but there is SO much more!!  We who acknowledge Jesus as our King today will soon enter into His glorious kingdom.  Submission to Him is the wisest thing anyone can do, for there is no other King who will reign over God's people and over all the peoples of the earth.  How much better to worship Him, to praise Him, to honor Him today, willingly, eagerly, as His Spirit works in you, than to be forced to bow your knees before Him later and then be separated from Him and His kingdom.

Through His Word and Spirit God is calling people into His kingdom today, but the time is short.  As you see this glimpse of His kingdom may you rejoice that HE "has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:12-13).  Praise the LORD our God, for our God reigns!!

"O LORD, my God, You are high and lifted up!  You are King above all kings and I praise Your great and glorious Name!  I rejoice in Your kingdom and give You thanks for sending Jesus to establish Your kingdom through His death, resurrection and ascension ... freeing those whom You have chosen from the guilt and power of sin and bringing us into the kingdom of Your Son.  Give me grace to stand firm in my faith and to worship my King, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Lord, and to declare to all that HE reigns at Your right hand even now.  Thank You, Father, for this glimpse of Your kingdom, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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