Believers are challenged to demonstrate their true allegiance as citizens of an everlasting kingdom.
If one thing is abundantly clear from the Bible, it is that the fate and longevity of the kingdom of Israel depended on the integrity and righteousness of the king. While there are numerous examples of this, Jeroboam son of Nebat , the first king over the ten tribes of the northern kingdom, set an awful precedent of idolatry which was followed by many kings after him. He created idols of golden calves in the north and south so people would not have to go to Jerusalem to worship. He created his own made-up holiday in the eighth month encouraging the Israelites to have a festival and make sacrifices. In short, he corrupted the northern kingdom with extreme idolatry. Other northern kings followed in his footsteps:
2 Kings 15:8-9 – In the thirty-eighth year of Judah’s King Azariah, Zechariah son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria for six months. He did what was evil in Yahweh’s sight as his fathers had done. He did not turn away from the sins Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to commit.
2 Kings 15:17-18 – In the thirty-ninth year of Judah’s King Azariah, Menahem son of Gadi became king over Israel, and he reigned ten years in Samaria. He did what was evil in Yahweh’s sight. Throughout his reign, he did not turn away from the sins Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to commit.
2 Kings 15:23-24 – In the fiftieth year of Judah’s King Azariah, Pekahiah son of Menahem became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned two years. He did what was evil in Yahweh’s sight and did not turn away from the sins Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to commit.
The two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin also had their own bad representative in the person of Ahaz.
2 Chronicles 28:1-4 – Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in Yahweh’s sight like his ancestor David, for he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and made cast images of the Baals. He burned incense in Ben Hinnom Valley and burned his children in the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations Yahweh had dispossessed before the Israelites. He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
The account in Chronicles relates that the result of this wickedness and rampant idolatry of Ahaz led to the humbling of the kingdom of Judah:
2 Chronicles 28:19 – For Yahweh humbled Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, who threw off restraint in Judah and was unfaithful to Yahweh.
I could equally list a group of good kings who did what was right and good in God’s eyes, such as Joash or Hezekiah, who accomplished great reforms and sought to remove all idolatry and wrongdoing from the land.
But the point remains that the conditions in the kingdom were dependent on the attitude and actions of the king. If they obeyed, they were blessed; if they disobeyed, they suffered from foreign oppression, poor harvests, and war.
The good news is that the eternal kingdom of God has a righteous king! When Yeshua arrived to announce the kingdom of God, he represented it as a kingdom of repentance, holiness, integrity, peace, and faithful obedience to God.
Matthew 5:3-10 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
The writer of Hebrews tells us that the kingdom of Messiah is patterned after the example of Melchizedek, whose very name means “king of righteousness.”
Hebrews 6:19-20 – We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Yeshua has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because he has become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:1-2 – For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, met Abraham and blessed him as he returned from defeating the kings, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means king of righteousness, then also, king of Salem, meaning king of peace.
However, Yeshua instructed Pilate that his kingdom was not one that was to be set up in this world. It was not to be a physical kingdom that would be established at that time to overthrow the Roman oppression that Israel was facing .
John 18:36 – “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Yeshua. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
The apostle Paul continued this teaching that the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, and not one that is on this earth.
1 Corinthians 15:50 – What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption.
The kingdom that was established at that time was a spiritual kingdom, because only a spiritual kingdom can last for eternity. And the king of this kingdom must be immortal, as Yeshua demonstrated by his resurrection. Anything that is physically of this world is temporary, even if it were a kingdom to last a thousand years or more. According to Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the kingdom that God set up through his Messiah was to be an everlasting kingdom.
Daniel 2:44 – “In the days of those kings [i.e., the Romans], the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever.
True to form, every kingdom of Daniel’s prophecy, including the rebellious kingdom of ancient Israel, had to be brought to an end. In the death of the national kingdom was the birth of the spiritual and everlasting kingdom. The physical kingdom by its very nature could not and would not last forever.
Daniel 12:6-7 – One of them said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river, “How long until the end of these wondrous things? ” Then I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river. He raised both his hands toward heaven and swore by him who lives eternally that it would be for a time, times, and half a time. When the power of the holy people is shattered, all these things will be completed.
The power of the holy people, national Israel, was shattered after three and a half years of fighting with the Romans, and the city and temple fell in 70 AD. That was the time of the end spoken of by the angel to Daniel.
Daniel 12:8-9 – I heard but did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these things? ” He said, “Go on your way, Daniel, for the words are secret and sealed until the time of the end.
Paul said that at the time of the end the kingdom of Messiah would be placed under the authority of God the Father for all eternity
1 Corinthians 15:24, 28 – Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power. … When everything is subject to Messiah, then the Son himself will also be subject to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.
This is the kingdom that exists today. All rightful rule and authority belongs Messiah under the auspices of God the Father, not to the temporary nations and kingdoms of this world. Believers may be living in various kingdoms and nations today, but they are first and foremost citizens of the eternal spiritual kingdom that continues to grow throughout the earth. This is the high calling of those who have been drawn to God through faith in his Messiah. The kingdom of Messiah is a kingdom of repentance, holiness, integrity, peace, and faithful obedience to Yahweh. Nations of this earth may come and go, but it is the kingdom of God which will last throughout all eternity, and the eternal open invitation will continually remain for all who will hear:
Revelation 22:17 – Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come! ” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come! ” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.
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